April 20, 2006
Google First Quarter Profits Rise 60%
But the more interesting statistic is that 60% of Internet searches in February were made on Google, up from 50% last year. Yahoo! had 20% and Microsoft had 9% for the same time period.
The Chicago Tribune has the details.
Opera 9.0b Beta is Available for Download
The beta version of Opera 9 is now available for download. Reports indicate the new version of the browser supports widgets and has integrated BitTorrent into the software. Take that Hollywood!
Apple Squares Off in Court to Enforce ISP Subpoena
Apple is back in court attempting to enforce a subpoena against an Internet provider seeking the names and communications of individuals who leaked product information to blogger Jason O'Grady and his blog PowerPage. The product in question is code named "Asteroid."
A simple search in a popular search engine gives results that Asteroid is not much more than an audio break-out box/audio interface that will work with Apple's GarageBand application and possibly other third party applications. There are plenty of devices such as this on the market but this product seems aimed at people who don't necessarily need pro audio equipment or have the expertise to use it. At least that's the web assessment from the innuendo and rumor about the product. If interested, do a search (no links here and, please, no law suits) and draw your own conclusion.
Apple is arguing that there is no First Amendment right in cases where trade secrets are leaked. One question in the case is whether bloggers are afforded the same rights as journalists. A report of today's oral argument in MacWorld indicates the issue centered around whether Apple met the Mitchell test which is the standard for when journalists could be compelled to identify informants under California law. A discussion of the Mitchell test is here as well as past developments in this case. At least one judge seemed hostile to Apple's arguments suggesting Apple liked the First Amendment when it helped the company but not when it didn't. Quote the judge: “I know they recognize it, but then they discard it in the interest of making another machine.” (Thanks again to the MacWorld report.)
O'Grady was represented by EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl who argued that Apple had not exhausted its investigative options and that the communications are protected under the federal Stored Communications Act 18 USC 2701 et seq.
The California Appellate Court has 90 days to issue a ruling. In any event, the next step is likely the California Supreme Court. Who knows if this will get as far as the U.S. Supreme Court. No reports are available if Justice Scalia ever went hunting with Steve Jobs.
April 19, 2006
China, Bill Gates, Yahoo! in Recent News
China and technology have been in the news more than usual lately. Lets start off with Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting the U.S. He started with dinner with Bill Gates and local corporations who paid $20,000 apiece for the privilege. At that rate, Hu might have a future on the political fund raising circuit.
Copyright violation is always a touchy subject between the U.S. and Beijing, but Lenovo, the company that bought IBM's PC business announced a $1.2 billion deal to pre-install Windows on their PCs. China recently passed a law to ban computers sold without an operating system pre-installed.
Then there's Yahoo! getting in trouble again for allegedly assisting the Chinese government in the jailing of another dissident. Yahoo! is accused by Reporters Without Borders of turning over email from Jiang Lijun to Chinese authorities. Jiang's case is not new, but recent documents from the case show that Yahoo! was the source of information that led to jailing of the dissident. There are three cases so far where Yahoo! has been implicated in providing assistance to the Chinese government that led to prison terms.
Yahoo! ran commercials several years ago featuring unlikely people using the service with the tag line "do you Yahoo!" or something like that. One featured an eastern European villager using Yahoo! personals to find a more compatible mate. I guess we missed the one where armed Chinese soldiers break into an apartment and arrest the occupant while he's sending an email. Cue the cutesy music played at the end while the guy's led down a prison corridor. Yahooooooooooooooo!
And in irony upon ironies, a story surfaced in the past few weeks that Yahoo! could face penalties in Hong Kong for divulging personal data that sent Shi Tao to jail. Shi was jailed in 2003 for divulging state secrets, specifically the government warning to be on guard against dissidents on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Cindy Sheehan wouldn't last an hour there. Hong Kong legislator Albert Ho filed a complaint with the Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. The commissioner's office has 45 days to respond to the complaint. A civil suit against Yahoo! is also possible. The company denied any involvement from its Hong Kong offices. This may get interesting by the time Hu gets to Washington.
April 18, 2006
Microsoft Loses Attempt to Get Documents in EU Case
The attempt was in a federal district court in Boston. In this case, Microsoft sought documents from Novell to bolster its defense in its antitrust battle with the European Commission. The EU would not give Microsoft the documents directly, citing them as confidential. Microsoft then went to U.S. Courts under a law that allows discovery of information to assist foreign tribunals.
Microsoft was criticized by the judges in this case another seeking similar documents from Sun Microsystems and Oracle. Both had said Microsoft mis-characterized the European Union as being unable to supply the documents Microsoft was seeking. The EU filed briefs in the cases stating that Microsoft's filing was a "thinly veiled attempt to circumvent the procedures for and limitations on proof-gathering established by the laws of the European Community." Judge Mark Wolf agreed, even quoting that language in his opinion.
A similar case is pending in New York against IBM.
April 17, 2006
TiVo Wins Patent Suit Againts EchoStar on DVRs
TiVo won $73.9 million in damages last Thursday against EchoStar Communications, operator of the Dish Network satellite television provider. The suit contended that EchoStar violated the patents held by TiVo in the ability to pause, rewind, or fast-forward live television using a digital video recorder (DVR). TiVo claimed the technology under the name of the Multimedia Time Warping System and said EchoStar violated the patent when that company created its own DVR. A jury of 10 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and made the award, giving TiVo almost the entire $87 million it sought in damages. It took the jury about two hours to come to its decision, including a cigarette break.
Stories are in Trading Markets, Fox News, PC World, and Ars Technica. Some of the documents in the case are posted at Dale Dietrich's iMedia web site. Mr. Dietrich is a lawyer licensed in Ontario and California, and has quite a few different media items posted on his interesting site.
Rev. Falwell Denied Web Site Appeal in SCOTUS
The Rev. Jerry Falwell was denied an appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday in a case where he tried to shut down a web site that was critical of his views on homosexuality. The difference in names between the two sites is an extra letter l. The Reverend's site is http://www.falwell.com and his nemesis is http://www.fallwell.com.
According to the AP article on the denial of certiorari, Falwell won at the trial level arguing that the offending web site put together by Christopher Lamparello had a nearly identical domain name which would cause confusion among web surfers. The Fourth Circuit overturned that decision noting that Lamparello created his web site to criticize ideas rather than to steal Falwell's customers. A visit to each site shows no similarities whatsoever other than the reaction to Falwell's views on the subject of homosexuality. Disclaimers of non-affiliation abound, with even links to Falwell's ministry pages for those truly misguided in their spelling.