DigitalOutbox Episode 103
In this episode the team discuss SOPA Protests, Extradition Worry, Google dabbles with Evil, Facebook spreads outside its domain and Apple solves all problems everywhere.
1:05 – SOPA protests
- The Stop Online Piracy Act is an act currently wending it’s way through american government. Key legislators have backed away from it, one of its central provisions was shelved and the Obama administration has denounced the more controversial aspects of the bill and hinted at a possible veto should something resembling SOPA land on his desk.
- However SOPA, despite being an American law, affects everyone!
- Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers from resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos.
Order search engines like Google to modify search results to exclude foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
Order payment providers like PayPal to shut down the payment accounts of foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
Order ad services like Google’s AdSense to refuse any ads or payment from foreign sites that host illegally copied content.
(These rules don’t apply to domains that end in .com, .net, and .org, which fall under US law — the government has been seizing US domains used for piracy since 2010, and just seized 150 domains last month.)
- Large disapproval in the tech industry, wikipeida goes dark as do many sites on Jan 18th to highlight protest
- Many senators start to backtrack and withdraw their support – A freshman senator, Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, was first out of the starting gate Wednesday morning with his announcement that he would no longer back anti-Internet piracy legislation he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure that had been set for a test vote next week.
By Wednesday afternoon, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah and one of the Senate bill’s original co-sponsors, called it “simply not ready for prime time” and withdrew his support.
- Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of SOPA
7:27 – Piracy student loses US extradition battle over copyright infringement
- A judge ruled on Friday that a 23-year-old student can be extradited to the United States for running a website posting links to pirated TV shows and films, despite significant doubts over whether such sites break any UK laws.
- The ruling threw Britain’s contentious extradition treaty with the US, which critics allege is greatly biased against UK nationals fighting their removal to America, under further scrutiny. It came just hours after a businessman from Kent lost an appeal against the decision that he should be sent for trial in Texas for allegedly plotting to send missile components to Iran.
Richard O’Dwyer, a computing student at Sheffield Hallam University, faces a potential 10-year term in a US jail despite never having been to America or using web servers based in the country. When still a teenager O’Dwyer set up a website, TVShack, which posted links to pirated material. It did not directly host any files, which meant, according to the student’s lawyers, that it acted as little more than a Google-type search engine and did not breach copyright.
- The defence team pointed out that the only UK prosecution of a similar site, TV-Links, ended last year with the case being thrown out.
- But the district judge, Quentin Purdy, ruled that O’Dwyer should nonetheless face trial in the US. “There are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O’Dwyer in the USA, albeit by him never leaving the north of England,” Purdy said. “Such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act, and does, in my judgment, permit one in the USA.”
- O’Dwyer said he planned to appeal.
11:10 – Google – What Were You Thinking
- In September, Google launched Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO). Whilst we saw aspects of their program that were competitive, we welcomed the initiative, as Kenya still has enough growth in it that every new entrant helps the overall market. We are also confident enough in our product, our local team, and our deep local commitment that we believe we can hold our own against any competition, playing fair.
- Shortly after that launch, we started receiving some odd calls. One or two business owners were clearly getting confused because they wanted help with their website, and we don’t currently offer websites, only a listing. Initially, we didn’t think much of it, but the confusing calls continued through November.
- Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so. As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.
- Furthermore, they now seem to have outsourced this operation from Kenya to India.
When we started this investigation, I thought that we’d catch a rogue call-centre employee, point out to Google that they were violating our Terms and conditions (sections 9.12 and 9.17, amongst others), someone would get a slap on the wrist, and life would continue.
- I did not expect to find a human-powered, systematic, months-long, fraudulent (falsely claiming to be collaborating with us, and worse) attempt to undermine our business, being perpetrated from call centres on 2 continents.
- Someone, somewhere, has some questions to answer.
These are my personal top 3:
If Google wanted to work with our data, why didn’t they just ask?
In discussions with various Google Kenya/Africa folks in the past, I’d raised the idea of working together more closely in Kenya. Getting Kenyan businesses online is precisely what we do.
Who authorised this? Until we uncovered the ‘India by way of Mountain View’ angle, I could have believed that this was a local team that somehow forgot the corporate motto, but not now.
Who knew, and who SHOULD have known, even if they didn’t know?
- Update – Google mortified -
- “We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites.
“We’ve already unreservedly apologised to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved.”
- Also, vandalising OpenStreetMap -
- Alleged to make thousands of wrong edits
- Google sacked the contractors involved, but said it detected only 20 changes
15:55 – Jerry Yang quits Yahoo
- Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo!, has resigned from its board.
- Mr Yang founded the online company in 1995 with David Filo and was its chief executive from June 2007 until January 2009.
- His resignation comes two weeks after the company hired former PayPal executive Scott Thomson to be its new chief executive.
- Mr Yang annoyed some shareholders by turning down a $47.5bn (£31bn) takeover offer from Microsoft in 2008.
- The company’s current market value is about $20bn.
- Mr Yang has also resigned from the boards of Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group and said in a statement: “The time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo!”
16:22 – A big year…for Flickr?
- Once the darling of photographers other sites like Shutterbug and 500px (and Google+ and Facebook) have taken much of the mindshare when it comes to photo’s
- Unloved, very little innovation and some big behind the scenes names leave the company
- No Flickr have started 2012…by removing some features
- They say it’s a big year so to start off, they are removing features that don’t meet their core vision
- Doing so will clear the decks for their upcoming announcements
- They are also hiring which is a good sign. Here’s hoping for some improvements.
17:29 – Kodak files for bankruptcy
- Kodak has filed for bankruptcy in a bid to survive a liquidity crisis after years of falling sales related to the decline of its namesake film business as digital cameras have taken over the market.
- Eastman Kodak Co, the photographic film pioneer, which had tried to restructure to become a seller of consumer products like cameras, said it had also obtained a $950m, 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to keep it going.
17:59 – Listen to music with Friends
- Today, with music services on Facebook, there’s a new way to listen with friends. This feature lets you listen along with any of your friends who are currently listening to music. You can also listen together in a group while one of your friends plays DJ.
- You can listen to the same song, at the exact same time—so when your favorite vocal part comes in you can experience it together, just like when you’re jamming out at a performance or dance club.
- Look for the music note in the chat sidebar to see which of your friends are listening to music. To listen with a friend, hover over their name, and click the Listen With button. The music will play through the service your friend is using. When a new song plays, you’ll come along for the ride, discovering new music while your friend DJs for you.
19:19 – Facebook Apps
- Facebook’s Open Graph app launch event is underway here in San Francisco, where over 60 new Open Graph websites and apps are either demo-ing or launching remotely. The apps can publish user activity back to Timeline and Ticker, even from offsite. Launch partners include Pinterest, Ticketmaster, Gogobot, Rotten Tomatoes, and many others. Carl Sjogreen, Facebook project manager, also announced that Facebook will now begin approving apps from third-party developers who aren’t partners.
The Open Graph platform was first announced at f8 in September. There, music, news reader, and video apps debuted showing how users could share what they listened to, read, or watched. With today’s launch, a wider variety of activity will begin to appear on Tickers, Timelines, and the Facebook news feed. This includes what users have pinned, tickets they’ve bought, trips they’ve planned, and movies they’ve reviewed.
22:07 – Facebook Verbs
- Already apps like Fab.com, Foodspotting, Foodily, Ticketmaster, Pinterest, Rotten Tomatoes, Pose, Kobo, Gogobot, and TripAdvisor have signed on to share these stories — which go beyond what we’re used to on Facebook.
“When we say anything we really mean anything,” Facebook Director of Product Management Carl Sjogreen said as he took the stage and announced that verbs like “knitting,” “shared” are now a part of Timeline story options.
- The new app actions are basically a conceptual expansion of actions posted by apps like Spotify and the Washington Post, and use verbs and nouns that go beyond the non custom actions like “listen” “watch” and “read” to “bought,””spot,””pose,””want,””love” and “become an expert.”
23:55 – Apple Education Event
- Apple® today announced iBooks® 2 for iPad®, featuring iBooks textbooks, an entirely new kind of textbook that’s dynamic, engaging and truly interactive. iBooks textbooks offer iPad users gorgeous, fullscreen textbooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, unrivaled navigation and much more. iBooks textbooks can be kept up to date, don’t weigh down a backpack and never have to be returned. Leading education services companies including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will deliver educational titles on the iBookstore℠ with most priced at $14.99 or less, and with the new iBooks Author, a free authoring tool available today, anyone with a Mac® can create stunning iBooks textbooks.
- The new iBooks 2 app is available today as a free download from the App Store™. With support for great new features including gorgeous, fullscreen books, interactive 3D objects, diagrams, videos and photos, the iBooks 2 app will let students learn about the solar system or the physics of a skyscraper with amazing new interactive textbooks that come to life with just a tap or swipe of the finger. With its fast, fluid navigation, easy highlighting and note-taking, searching and definitions, plus lesson reviews and study cards, the new iBooks 2 app lets students study and learn in more efficient and effective ways than ever before.
- iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. Authors and publishers of any size can start creating with Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. iBooks Author lets you add your own text and images by simply dragging and dropping, and with the Multi-Touch™ widgets you can easily add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote® presentations and 3D objects.
- Apple today also announced an all-new iTunes® U app giving educators and students everything they need on their iPad, iPhone® and iPod touch® to teach and take entire courses. With the new iTunes U app, students using iPads have access to the world’s largest catalog of free educational content, along with over 20,000 education apps at their fingertips and hundreds of thousands of books in the iBookstore that can be used in their school curriculum, such as novels for English or Social Studies.* The iTunes U app is available today as a free download from the App Store. Over 500,000 lectures, videos and books
- Some of these books are massive – 2.7GB for example? A 16GB iPad isn’t going to be an option really
- While impressive, they remind me of Encarta!
- Love the look of notes and study cards though – they look great
- Seemingly the new iBook format is wrapped epub – not another format war?
- Create a book in iBooks Author – must be sold via Apple or given away for free
- iBooks and iTunes U content updates – always fresh. Pretty impressive – the book is finally an app?
- A whole 8 textbooks available today
33:20 – Worlds first self healing iPhone case….from Nissan
- Nissan on Monday announced the company’s new Scratch Shield case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The case is made of ABS plastic that is designed to create a rigid, robust and tighter-fitting case. Perhaps the most exciting news is the case’s unique ability to heal itself. Nissan’s Scratch Shield paint is the world’s first paint technology that allows fine scratches to quickly mend themselves. The paint is the same that is featured on numerous Nissan and Infiniti automobiles throughout the world. When damage occurs to the coating, the chemical structure is able to react to change back to its original shape and fill the gap, thus “healing” the blemish. The healing process takes between an hour and a week depending on the damage.
- Released…later this year
34:25 – Lucas calls it quits
- George Lucas has announced his retirement from the movie business.
The director blurted the news to the New York Times in an extensive interview centred on Lucasfilm’s upcoming flick, Red Tails.
- “I’m retiring,” Lucas told the paper. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”
- While reports suggest a fifth Indiana Jones movie is in the pipeline – a rumour Lucas was hesitant to quash – Red Tails is apparently the last blockbuster in the man’s plans.
- Long-time Lucas producer Rick McCallum fuelled the claim saying: “Once this is finished… He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”
- USB converter and mic preamp combo that allows you to connect any XLR microphone directly into your computer via USB
- Good quality
- Easy to setup