Apple Sues HTC Over iPhone Patents, Google Backs HTC

AppleIn a recent Press Release, Apple announced that they have sued HTC for infringement of 20 different patents related to the hardware, architecture and interface of iPhone. Some of these patents date as far back as 1995 while some are as recent as February 2nd of this year. As Engadget reports in its complete breakdown of patents, some of them are too specific while some of them are surprisingly broad and Apple suing someone based on them is interesting.

In suing HTC for patent infringement, Apple is actually declaring war on Android based phones since HTC is one of the biggest manufacturers of such devices. With speculations of tens of more Android based phones jumping in the market soon and Android increasing its market share gradually, Apple has decided to try to stop Android from taking over the iPhone. This, however, has not scared Google away. Rather, Google says they will back HTC over the issue and stand behind them.

As it clearly seems, this is more of an iPhone vs Android battle rather than Apple taking out an equipment manufacturer. If Apple can prove their point, the courts have the power to stop HTC from selling further units which would be a HUGE blow to Android and Google. Apple has filed suits both with US District Courts as well as ITC (International Trade Commission) and either of the regulatory authorities can make it or break it for HTC.

Twitter Tuesdays | 3 Great Tools To Publish Your Feeds To Twitter

Every blogger understands   the importance of social media in today’s world. Keeping connected with your followers on Facebook and Twitter and sharing your content with them through these networks has become increasing important for any good blog or website. While you could always share your stuff on Twitter manually, it would be like re-inventing the wheel since you can automate the whole process within seconds. Here are 3 excellent tools to do that with:

1. RSS2Twitter:

RSS2Twitter might not have an appealing interface but it does the job quite well. You can link an RSS feed to more than one Twitter accounts and choose to only include title or title and description. The tools also allows you to insert a prefix and exclude/include tweets with specific keywords. You can also view complete analytics including number of clicks on each post.

RSS2Twitter

2. TwitterFeed:

TwitterFeed is probably the most popular tool to publish feeds to Twitter. In addition to all the basic settings, the tool also lets you choose an update frequency, insert a suffix and select a URL shortener of your choice. You can also test the validity of a feed from inside the tool and make it inactive with a single click.

TwitterFeed

3. DlvrIt:

DlvIt is a hidden gem when it comes to publishing feeds to Twitter. Instead of connecting a feed with a Twitter account, DlvrIt lets you group feeds together into a route and publish that route to a set of Twitter/Facebook accounts. It offers all the advanced features to filter your feeds or insert prefix/suffix along with detailed analytics report. The tool has another unique feature of letting you post to your Twitter account directly.

Dlvr It

All 3 tools are great and achieve the purpose of publishing your content on social media. However, each one of them has some uniqueness to it that might make it the right one for you.

Gmail Makes 6 Lab Features Permanent and Removes 5

Gmail Labs has been an interesting place for Google engineers to experiment with new Gmail features. Once Google knows how people react to the new features and how useful they are going to be, they decide to either Graduate or Retire a feature. When a feature is graduated, it is moved into Gmail as a permanent one while a retiring feature is completely removed due to lack of usage or other factors.

Today, Gmail has made 6 more features permanent so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find forgotten attachment detector enabled in your inbox. Here is the complete list of features that Google has graduated from labs:

1. Forgotten Attachment Detector

2. YouTube Previews

3. Custom Label Colors

4. Go To Label

5. Search Auto Complete

6. Vacation Dates

Google usually graduates a feature based on usage and feedback from users. On the other hand, if a feature is not being used much or has received poor feedback, Google retires them from the labs. There are 5 features that have met this faith including Muzzle, Fixed Width Font, Email Addict, Location in Signature and Random Signature. So if you login to your Gmail and don’t see the Take a Break option on top, you know what happened.

Retiring so many features at the same time might make people annoyed a little bit if they used some of them. I believe Google could do it more gradually to make the transition easier. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be any replacement for these 5 features so if you liked any of them you’ll just have to do without it.

Twitter Tuesdays | 10 Really Amazing and Extraordinary Uses Of Twitter

We all use Twitter for status updates, sending messages or, if we go really far, sharing media. These are the only uses we could think of when we came to know about Twitter. However, there are people who saw much more potential in the 140 character technology. Here are some really amazing and out of the box things they came up with:

1. Tweet Museum:

Odessa Begay is a graphic designer who thought tweets are too texty. So every Tuesday this designer turns a celebrity tweet into an awe-inspiring illustration. The collection is called the Museum of Modern Tweets.

Tweet Museum

2. Twitter Powered Pop Corn Machine:

You read it right! When somebody mentions #popcorn on Twitter, this machine serves up a fresh batch of popped corn. The process includes tweet triggering the movement of a belt and transferring a kernel of unpopped corn into the popper. The video below explains exactly how it works.


3. Twitter Powered Laundry Room:

If the popcorn machine isn’t good enough for you, meet the laundry room that tweets every time a washer or dryer gets empty. The room is locates in a dormitory building at Olin College.

LongBets: Bet On Long Term Scientific Predictions

LongBets is an interesting community-driven website for people to make bets for long-term predictions that are accountable. The predictions have to be socially or scientifically important and have to be for a period of 2 years or longer.

People making predictions have to pay a $50 publishing fee and can then be taken up by any challenger. Other users can log in and vote for either the predictor or the challenger. Detailed listing of a bet also provides explanations/reasoning from both predictor and challenger and comments from regular users. Stakes on some bets are as high as $1 Million and duration as long as 30 years.

The website, though geared towards having fun and indulging in healthy discussions, also allows people to think outside the box and make bold predictions about the future in different fields. Another interesting fact is the group of people who make these bets. For example, the CTO of Microsoft Craig Mundee predicted that commercial planes will be pilotless by 2030, but the prediction was challenged by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google.

Features:

  • Bet on long term predictions.
  • Read interesting predictions and points of views.
  • Read user comments or post your own.
  • Vote to side with the predictor or the challenger.

Visit LongBets @ LongBets.org

ScreenPresso: Free Desktop Client To Capture and Edit Screenshots

Most of the screen capturing tools that are feature-rich, cost an arm and a leg. There are of course a lot of free tools, but they are not nearly as good as the paid ones. One of the exceptions is ScreenPresso, a desktop based free screen capture utility that lets you capture, retain and edit screenshots with ease.

Once installed, you can just used the PrntScrn key on your laptop to initiate a screen capture. Drag to focus on the area you want to capture and ScreenPresso will display your captured image along with previous screenshots you have taken. You can then save it to your hard drive, share it on Twitter, drag it to an email client to email it or drag it to a windows folder to save it there.

If you desire to edit the image, you can do so with the built-in editor or any other image editing software installed on your machine. The editor allows you to resize the image, add shapes and text, crop the image or add borders and effects to your image. The editor also has a built-in zooming utility allowing you to do some really detailed editing. The software has almost all the basic features that a premium utility like SnagIt offers, except the hefty price.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

When it comes to free utilities to capture screen shots, ScreenPresso is probably one of the most feature-rich and intuitive ones.

Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

[Via MyDigitalLife]

Hey Apple! Workout Clothes Are Overtly Sexual and PlayBoy Is Not?

Apple has been constantly criticized for their app store’s policies by developers and bloggers alike. Earlier it was the mysterious process of rejecting apps for almost stupid reasons and now it is the removal of over 5000 apps without any prior notice. Apple started removing these apps couple of days ago along with sending emails to developers stating that their app is being removed due to overtly sexual content.

The developer behind famous app Wobble talked to Apple after his app (which does not actually contain any sexual content) was removed and was told that anything that is sexually arousing would not be admitted including images of women in bikinis and even silhouettes depicting sexual content. However, one of the most interesting parts of the story is that Apple didn’t touch the famous PlayBoy app that made to the app store late last year.

The web page of the app explicitly claims that the app has frequent/intense sexual content or nudity. The developer claims that the app has no nudity, but it definitely has a lot of skin which is also termed as sexual content according to Apple. Here is an actual picture from the PlayBoy app’s web page on the app store:

Some people might suggest that Apple is still in the process of removing apps and might not have gotten to Playboy yet. This doesn’t sound too probable as it should have come up on the top of the list no matter what criteria they used to identify these apps. Adding more mystery to the issue is Apple’s removal of an app that showed a woman in work out clothes. So let me get this right: A female model in work out clothes is overtly sexual but a playboy playmate posing to turn you on is not??

What do you think about this whole issue? Shouldn’t Apple at least release a statement explaining the situation?

Facebook Acquires Malaysian Startup Octazen

Unlike Google, Facebook is not going crazy making acquisitions. In fact, thy Malaysian based Octazen Solutions is only their third acquisition following Parakey and FriendFeed. GigaOm breaks the story about Facebook acquiring Octazen last week for an undisclosed sum. Octazen is a relatively small and unknown startup that developed solutions allowing social network users to import contacts from other services.

Facebook says the acquisition is purely a talent acquisition and the two people behind Octazen are now Facebook employees. Octazen has stopped signing up new customers and are apparently in a transition phase to bring everythin over to the biggest social network of the world. They say they will honor their existing contracts.

This is what old Octazen website claims they did:

Octazen Solutions is the leading provider of address book contact importer scripts and social network scripts that empower you to do exactly that !

Octazen has been criticized by many to collect and retain data without being detected and use it for much more than just allowing users to importing contacts. The absence of a statement from Facebook is also not helping the speculations going around about the reason for this acquisition. People have even suggested that Octazen resold the data it collected and involved in some other shady practices. Here is a demo of one of their scripts. What do you think about this acquisition, is there more to it than meets the eye?

Sex.com Up For Sale, Can It Fetch $14 Million Again?

People who have sold/bought domain names know that there is a huge market out there for premium names and it does not get more premium than Sex.com. Reportedly, one of the most wanted domain names is going up for sale again through an auction on March 10, 2010 at the law office of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP. The law firm is acting as an escrow agent for the deal and would require a certified check of $1 Million from anybody planning to bid for the domain.

Previously, sex.com was sold for $14 Million back in 2006 to ESCOM LLC. As the current notice of auction states, the domain is being sold by DOM Partners LLC after ESCOM LLC (the borrower) failed to repay the amount borrowed from DOM Partners. The domain name sex.com was the collateral that ESCOM LLC used to borrow money and the lender is now selling it to recover their money. The complete notice of sale can be read here.

With Internet companies also being affected by the recession, will Sex.com fetch at least what it cost the last buyer? According to Compete the site receives a total of 120,000 unique visits each month so its easy to assume that the site is not making the kind of money that would justify a $14 Million selling price. However, it is also one of the most wanted properties on the web and there is a chance the new buyer might be able to turn it around. Previously, Toys.com was sold for $5.1 Million and Candy.com sold for $3 Million. What do you think, are these premium domain names really worth millions of dollars or are they seriously over valued?

Hackers Breached Into 2,500 Companies and 10 US Govt Agencies

The hacking attack issue Google mentioned around a month ago has taken a much more serious turn. Wall Street Journal reports that the attack is much wider and has probably affected computers at 2,500 corporations and 10 US government agencies. At least two large companies that had been infiltrated are Merck and Cardinal Health, even though they claim to have isolated the incident.

The far reaching effects of this attack came in to notice when an employee of NetWitness –a cyber security firm– tried to install protective software on a client’s machine. The attack apparently started by enticing company employees to click on false anti-virus advertisement. Hackers used that information to get into corporate databases and in one case might even have gotten in to a soldier’s military email account. NetWitness –still closely involved in the investigations– says the full implication of the attack has still not been estimated.

The global attack started back in 2008 from a command center in Germany and has been operated from Europe and China. Some accounts state that nearly 75,000 computers in 196 countries have been effected. There is also speculation that an eastern European criminal group is behind the attack and a commonly used spyware called ZeuS was used to initially infect the computers. A full fledged investigation has been launched by the FBI to look into the matter.