Mega Upload was shut down last week for making pirated content available to its customers. The owners enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and ended up getting busted by the FBI when they moved two of their data centers to the US from Honk Kong. Now other filesharing sites are starting to shut their doors as they look at the possibilities of also being arrested and shut down. The FBI already got rid of peer to peer file sharing sites, but this is a new breed of members only pay sites that were harder to crack.
In retaliation Anonymous put out a website link that attacked our government. If you clicked a link distributed by Anonymous yesterday, you may have unwittingly helped the online activists in their attacks against U.S. government and entertainment industry sites that were organized to protest proposed antipiracy legislation. Anonymous has launched distributed denial-of-service attacks, designed to shut down Web sites, against government and corporate sites in the past. Typically, supporters download software called Low Orbit Ion Canon (LOIC) that directs their computer to repeatedly try to connect to a target Web site. So many digital knocks on the door, as it were, can shut a site down so no one can get in. However, the source of the attack--the IP address for the individual computers attempting to access the site--can easily be traced when LOIC is used, putting participants at risk of prosecution. (Despite that threat, people have been downloading LOIC like mad since Wednesday, including more than 19,000 downloads in the last day, according to a blog post by security firm Imperva.)
Anonymous is planning another attack on Facebook, and this time they want your help. "While SOPA and PIPA may be postponed from congress, this does not guarantee that our internet rights will be upheld," said an Anonymous member in a YouTube video proposing the take-down. Last week websites "blacked out" as a form of protest against SOPA and PIPA, bills aimed at reducing copyright infringement at the cost of what some say will be censorship. Soon thereafter the government took down file sharing website Megaupload for copyright infringement, sending Anonymous on a hunt to take down various record label's websites, as well as the Department of Justice. Now, for at least one Anonymous member, taking down Facebook is the next message US citizens can use to get the government's attention.
Apple has gone into the book publishing business with iBooks. This new app is driving authors who otherwise would not be able to publish their own books. Apple keeps a large portion of the proceeds, and you cannot sell the book to anyone else except through iBook, but they do make it easy for authors to create their own formats and create a large audience to sell books. They have also hit into the lucrative business of college textbooks and making them available online. This is one area that still brings in a huge amount of money for bookstores so this could be a big change for the industry.
Amazon app users on the iPad and iPhone no longer have the ability to buy books inside the app itself. You now have to go Amazon's website and buy the app and link it back to your account in your app. Apple did this because Amazon didn't want to pay 30% back to Apple, and Apple decided to go into the publishing business anyway. This war is just getting started.
Is Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins in denial? The newly minted chief executive and company president told a teleconference audience that he never felt constrained in his previous roles at RIM to do the things he needed to do at the beleaguered Canadian tech company. "I don't think there is a drastic change needed. We are evolving," insisted Heins. He was willing to admit, though, that RIM needs to get better at "process discipline." During the roughly 40-minute call, Heins mostly defended RIM and its products. Heins, who joined RIM four years ago and served as senior vice president of the BlackBerry handheld business and then COO (a role he assumed last summer), appears to believe most of the company's troubles revolve around marketing. In fact, he's very focused on the issue. "I want to focus more on consumer/consumer marketing. That is a major change for us," said Heins. He's now actively looking for a chief marketing officer, someone who can strengthen communication to RIM's markets and customer base "but also to listen."
Ownership of tablets and e-book readers saw a big spike over the holidays - in fact, it nearly doubled in the United States, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. The study was based on telephone surveys conducted in mid-December and January, which found that ownership of both device types nearly doubled in just a month. Now a total of 29 percent of US adults own a tablet or an e-reader, or possibly both. The jump follows a period during the fall of 2011 where the numbers seemed relatively stagnant. Over at The Atlantic, Megan Garber uses that fact to ask if these sales are just a fad. Her comparison to Tickle Me Elmo feels like a bit of a stretch, and I don't think there's anything unusual about gadgets seeing sales growth over the holidays, but she's probably right to be wary of premature pronouncements on the inevitability and ubiquity of tablet ownership.
The first measure of interest, provided by Global Equities Research's independent analysis of Apple's online store traffic, is that within three days of the event, somewhere between 350,000 and 375,000 textbook files were downloaded from the company's iBookstore and between 90,000 and 110,000 copies of iBooks Author (a free app for creating iPad textbooks) were snapped up from the Mac App Store. Global Equities is bullish on Apple's initiative, despite significant hurdles: e.g. the cost of dressing up old textbooks with new interactive bells and whistles, the $14.99 price cap, Apple's 30% cut of the revenue, and the fact that the finished products run only on a device -- Apple's iPad 2 -- whose cost starts at $499. In Global Equities' analysis, publishers stand to make more profit creating and selling iTextbooks than they would from paper textbooks that typically go for $125.
An IT security professional showed in an independent investigation that the average person with coding knowledge could access the world's most important boardrooms unnoticed. Cameras, ideally perched on televisions or desks, can let hackers survey sensitive documents, passwords and financial data while listening in on confidential conversations. Advanced video conferencing cameras make it all too easy with panning, tilting and zooming capabilities. The New York Times reports HD Moore, chief security officer at Boston-based Rapid7, remotely entered 5,000 wide-open conference calls in two hours with a program he had written. The scan only reviewed 3% of the Internet and exposed a huge security threat. Moore gained entry into law firms, prisons, pharmaceutical companies, oil refineries, universities and medical centers, hearing countless bits of sensitive information.
Google has announced that uploads to YouTube now total one hour of video every second. In addition to this prodigious rate of precious cultural artifacts being uploaded to YouTube, Google says that each and every day over 4 billion videos are viewed per day worldwide - "the same number as there are US $1 bills in circulation, the same as number of years since there was water on Mars," the company notes.
email from listeners:
Judy from Portland asks "I have a new Android tablet but I don't see flash videos. How do I see flash when I know it's supported?"