? All Tech Radio Episode 344
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  • A federal jury on Monday found that Google's (GOOG) popular Android mobile software infringes on copyrights held by tech rival Oracle (ORCL), but it deadlocked on the question of whether Google was excused under the legal concept of "fair use.'' While rejecting some allegations brought by Oracle, the jury found that the code in two files and the structure and design of certain elements in Android, known as Application Programming Interfaces or APIs, were substantially similar to APIs used in Oracle's copyrighted Java programming tools. But jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Google's argument that using the APIs was justified under a legal concept that permits "fair use'' of short excerpts from a copyrighted work under certain circumstances.
  • Speculation that the next Xbox will be built in Texas has been clarified. It's likely that only prototypes will be built in Texas but the production run will still happen in China. Meanwhile, Microsoft appears to be offering the current Xbox to go on sale for a mere $99, and it will include the Kinect wireless controller. There is a catch though. You will need to sign up for a $15 per month Xbox live account for 2 years or face an early termination fee.
  • Facebook's IPO will happen May 18th. In the meantime here's the latest privacy concern to rear it's ugly head. Consumer Reports released its annual report on Internet privacy and security Thursday, placing Facebook front and center. Issues covered by the influential consumer watchdog group included updates on data leaks, hacks, scams, and the like, while featuring a separate report focusing entirely on Facebook and how the social network deals with privacy, security and the very personal information we so willingly share.
  • The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance. In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned. The FBI general counsel's office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.
  • A pair of studies released Monday have revealed that nearly half of U.S. consumers own a smartphone, and more and more are turning to their phones to solve the problem of the moment. A study by Nielsen on Monday showed that 50.4 percent of all mobile subscribers owned a smartphone, as of March - the first time that smartphones outsold feature phones since Nielsen began tracking both several years ago. Moreover, the number of users with an Android phone continues to increase, reaching nearly half of all smartphone owners. Smartphones, almost by definition, include the ability to access the combined knowledge of the Internet, either through a browser or the thousands of apps available via online app stores. Not surprisingly, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that consumers tapped into the mobile computing and sharing power those smartphones offer
  • Amtrak, the government-owned corporation that provides passenger train service across the United States, has begun a program let conductors use iPhones with special software to check tickets, The New York Times reports. Previously, the ticket-checking process was cumbersome and time consuming, to say the least. After the ticket was hole-punched, it was sent to a central location to be scanned and entered into a database. But the iPhone-based system will allow conductors to scan paper or smartphone tickets to allow for real-time monitoring of the passenger count. "You don't even need to print the document and bring it with you," said Matt Hardison, chief of sales distribution at Amtrak, who helped plan the iPhone program. "We've made a number of important improvements for both our customers and Amtrak, all in one fell swoop."
  • Microsoft has given Windows users yet another reason to complain. The company revealed yesterday that Media Center will not be built into Windows 8 despite past assurances that it would be part of the new OS. Instead, users of the Windows 8 Professional edition will have to pony up money for a Media Center Pack. Those running the basic version of Windows 8 will have to pay for a Windows 8 Pro Pack just to get Media Center. The lack of Media Center also means that DVD playback won't natively be available in Windows 8 since that option won't be part of Windows Media Player. Users who want to play DVDs will either have to pay for the upgrade or rely on third-party utilities. Many of the people responding to Microsoft's blog discussing the decision are none too happy.
  • If a report from Cult of Mac this morning is true, we may have our first good sense of what Apple's long-rumored and much-hyped HDTV looks like and what features it contains. In the report, Cult of Mac cites an unnamed source who is said to have seen a prototype of the forthcoming device and who claims that it looks like "Apple's current lineup of LED-backlit Cinema Displays but is 'much bigger.' It [also] has a built-in iSight camera for making free FaceTime video conference calls. And it has Siri, the iPhone 4S' voice-activated virtual assistant." According to the report, the source said that Apple is readying the new television for market. But other recent reports have suggested that any Apple HDTV might not hit store shelves until 2014. In the interim, a J.P. Morgan analyst has opined, Apple would first enhance its existing Apple TV set-top box -- releasing that in 2013 -- and would wait until 2014 to put out the actual HDTV.
  • The No. 2 payments processor today unveiled PayPass Wallet Services, its own take on the digital wallet. Initially, it will pop up in the form of a payment icon at merchant Web sites. The wallet will allow users to store all of their cards, and MasterCard plans to distribute developer tools to allow other wallets to work with its network. The move is an attempt to broaden PayPass beyond contactless payments and into something more ubiquitous. Unlike other more ambitious attempts, which are trying to push smartphone tap-and-go payments, MasterCard will tiptoe into the mobile payment arena through online purchases on the phone.
  • Pull up a seat and get out the popcorn. High noon came and went with Yahoo refusing the demand by activist shareholder Dan Loeb and his investment company, Third Point, to fire CEO Scott Thompson. Third Point has just responded with a demand that the company turn over books and records related to Thompson and the board's vetting process. In a statement issued after Yahoo ignored the deadline, Third Point indicated it plans to scour Yahoo's internal records for evidence that it will no doubt use to press its escalating proxy fight for seats on the company's board of directors. The latest filing stems from the disclosure last week that Thompson had lied about having a degree in computer science. His undergraduate degree is in accounting.

email from listeners:

  • Bob from Portland asks "Will flat screen TVs just keep getting bigger, and is bigger sharper?"