Category Archives: Tech News

The new Patent Troll in Town — Parallel Iron

Parallel Iron was in the headlines a few years ago when its patent on Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) was marked as a matter of concern. Last year, Parallel Iron started showing its true colors, and sued many big names in the world of technology like Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn and Oracle for using some of its patented file-systems including the HDFS file system. Parallel Iron is one of those typical opportunistic shell companies that just sit atop patents without creating anything using those patents. However, the most annoying part of this story is that Hadoop is a top level Apache project, and its development involved a number of reputed companies. The HDFS file system was developed form the Google File System, but Parallel Iron believes otherwise.

patent-troll

Parallel Iron claims that the HDFS file system was created by four innovators, who got patents for this technology, and then assigned the patents to Ring Technology Enterprises, now Parallel Iron. The lawsuit claim [link to PDF] says,

…Defendant has infringed and continues to infringe the ’388 patent in the State of Delaware, in this judicial district, and elsewhere in the United States, by, among other things, making, using, importing, offering for sale and/or selling high throughput computer data storage products and/or services covered by one or more claims of the ’388 patent. Such products and/or services include, by way of example and without limitation, those implementing GFS, which are covered by one or more claims of the ’388 patent…

Parallel Iron also sued Rackspace with its usual intent of extortion, but Rackspace is fighting back. The sad part is that a reputed internet company like Rackspace that can boast of thriving innovation is spending five times more on combating patent trolls than it used to spend in 2010. Like Rackspace, many other companies sued by patent trolls every year either succumb or incur heavy legal charges fighting worthless and prolonged court cases.

The patent system needs serious reforms, and the people at the top seriously need to realize this.

Top Best IPL 6 2013 Apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone Devices

The Indian Premier League is back, and it’s that time of the year again, where cricket fans across the world simply go out of control with excitement. IPL 2013 season 6 kicked off yesterday with a grand opening ceremony in Kolkata, India.

With over 76 matches to be played for nearly two months, cricket fans across the world are excited to catch the action live on televisions as the first IPL cricket match begins today. Android, iOS and Windows Phone users have yet another reason to celebrate and talk about cricket as we have compiled a short list of the top best apps for IPL 6 2013, which will keep track of all the latest news, scores, and schedule.

Top Best IPL 6 2013 Apps:

 

#1 BCCI Official App [Recommended] [Android/iOS]

BCCI Official Cricket App
The official Board of Control for Cricket in India app for Android and iOS will provide you with the latest score updates, news, upcoming matches, live play-by-play, stats, standings, and other relevant information for IPL 6 2013. Along with that the app also features live commentary, scoreboards and live score of all matches.

#2 Yahoo Cricket [Android/iOS/Windows Phone]

Yahoo! Cricket

Yahoo! Cricket is yet another awesome iOS and Android app that provides you with instant real time notification updates of a live match, be it a wicket, 4, 6 or an important milestone. With Yahoo! Cricket you’re sure not to miss anything important for you. The app also has a widget that can be placed on the home screen for Android users.

#3 IPL 2013 Schedule & Live score [Android]

IPL 2013 Live Score

As the name of the apps says you can now get IPL 6 schedule, live score, team records, team details, players records, and several other information right on your smartphone.

#4 ESPN Cricinfo [Android/iOS/Windows Phone]

ESPN Cricinfo

The ESPN Cricinfo app offers live score updates Indian Premier League 2013 providing with ball-by-ball commentary, latest news updates, match results, upcoming matches and more. The app now supports video and audio podcasts. Watch and listen to the latest ESPN Cricinfo video and audio podcasts and stay updated with the latest news of IPL 2013.

#5 Cricket LIVE Scores Cricitch [Android/iOS]

Cricket Live Scores

Stay updated with this app as the latest version offers the following features:

  • Event quick filter for match list view
  • LIVE match view fine tuning
  • Reducing the video ad view request only during wicket falls (to fewer times in a match)

Yahoo! Mail and Dropbox Join Hands to Solve the File Transfer Problem

The Internet is decades old, and has become an intangible force in our lives. However, it has failed to address a problem from decades ago — file transfer. Emails can be used to transfer files, but there is a size limit of 25 MB. There are file-hosting services, but they are unreliable and have speed limits and annoying popups. Currently, Dropbox is the best way to transfer files, but setting it up for the first time is a cumbersome process. There could not have been a better way to ridicule this situation than this xkcd.

file_transfer

So, how would you like the first and the last options from the above xkcd combined into one? That is exactly what Yahoo! Mail is planning to do. The Dropbox blog announces this partnership with simple reasoning,

Email attachments can be tricky: they’ve got file size limits, you can’t keep them updated, and when you add people to a thread, attachments are the first to get left behind.

The Yahoo! Mail-Dropbox integration will let Yahoo! Mail users add attachments to their mails directly from Dropbox and also save their mail attachments to Dropbox. The feature will be available globally for all Yahoo! mail users.

Yahoo! is getting serious about the one thing in which it still has a dedicated user base. Yahoo! Mail is the number #1 email service in the US, and this partnership will give Yahoo! Mail a competitive edge. While on one hand Dropbox will make more monetary benefits out of this integration, this is more of an aesthetic win for Yahoo! Mail.

List of Google’s April Fool Jokes for 2013

Every year the first of April is celebrated as April Fools’ Day across many countries. It is widely recognized and celebrated as a day where people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. Google is perhaps best known for playing such pranks on the Internet on this day and today is no exception.

Here’s a list of Google’s April Fool Jokes for 2013:

Google Maps Treasure Hunt Mode

Google has created a new treasure map mode on Google Maps. Google announced in a blog post about finding a treasure map belonging to the infamous pirate William “Captain” Kidd. The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean to expand its underwater Street View collection. It is said that the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols, which are not easy to decipher:

Google Maps Treasure Hunt Mode

To access Captain Kidd’s treasure map, click here or on the “Treasure” button in the top right corner of Google Maps.

Google SCHMICK

Google Australia blog announced Google SCHMICK — Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit. It definitely is a joke, but according to the post, the Street View service enables users to decorate their houses with any of “hundreds of themes or features.” You can find out more about the launch of SCHMICK here ;)

Google SCHMICK

YouTube Shutting Down

Not sure about the others, but this is one of the best pranks played. Google posted a video on YouTube stating that the company is going to shut down the world’s popular video sharing site YouTube. On that note, the tech giant also announced that YouTube was an eight-year competition to find the best video that was ever uploaded.

YouTube will re-launch in 2023 when a winner is announced. There’s even a video stream where all nominees will be announced starting tomorrow.

Google Nose – Smelling is Believing

Go beyond type, talk, and touch for a new notation of sensation. This is probably something that you will notice when you visit Google’s homepage. A link at the bottom of the search bar says, “What’s that smell? Find out with Google Nose.” The idea behind Google Nose is “smell-based” search.

Here’s the video explaining Google Nose search:

Google+ Photos +Emotion

The Google+ team too has come with a joke called as the “Google+ Photos +Emotion.” The tool lets you add emoticons to your uploaded images. That because “when it comes to expressing yourself, nothing beats the richness and elegance of a few properly placed colons, parentheses, letters and hyphens.”

Google+ +Emotion

Go to your uploaded photos on Google+ and open one of your pictures in the lightbox, click the “Add emotion” button at the top left of the screen, and then watch how Google figures out everyone’s emotion in the photo and adds an “emotion icon” to each.

Gmail Blue

The entire Gmail interface has been made blue in color. All buttons, menus, characters are blue now. Watch the video to learn more:

We’ll continue to update this roundup as the day goes along. Feel free to check back.

Raspberry Pi Model A Finally Goes on Sale in US

After Europe and Asia, the Raspberry Pi model A finally goes on sale in the US for the promised price of $25. This is great news for DIY and hardware mod enthusiasts as the Raspberry Pi has been hacked to create wonderful things. The models on sale in Europe and elsewhere are all priced above $25 or come as a combo, which defeats the purpose of the board being a low-cost no-strings-attached device. However, in the US, Texas-based Allied Electronics has started selling the Raspberry Pi for $25 only, which is great news for hobbyists.

RaspberryPi

The $25 Model A sacrifices the ethernet port and has only one USB port. Thus, the model A needs much lesser power than the Model B. The Model A is specifically designed for enthusiasts who want to work with low-power devices without any internet connection.

The Raspberry Pi is a revolutionary single-board computer based on the BBC Microcomputer System. It has been created for an educational purpose, same as its predecessor. However, the Raspberry Pi has seen a major reboot of the hardware and architecture as compared to the BBC Micro, and it  is strictly designed to serve an educational purpose by supplementing the existing computer market and not competing with it in any way. The low cost of Raspberry Pi is a big attraction and it has also been received well by the DIY and hardware enthusiast community. This device has a bright future, and the low-cost of $25 will give it a wider audience.

Allied Electronics has declared that it will not take preorders or backorders for the Raspberry Pi. So, it will be made available as and when they have the device in their inventory. Unfortunately, their stock has run out already. Also, if you are from outside North America, consider buying the device from here.

(Via)

Google Doodle Celebrates Cesar Chavez Birthday, Generates Controversy

Today Google is celebrating the birthday of Cesar Chavez by honoring the American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist with a Google doodle on its homepage.

Google Doodle Celebrates Cesar Chavez's Birthday

The doodle featured on Google’s homepage illustrates a photo of Chavez in the third letter, honoring him on his 86th birthday.  Chavez is known for co-founding the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW) along with Dolores Huerta.

In the year 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama proclaimed March 31 as “Cesar Chavez Day” to celebrate the work done by the American labor leader. Google frequently celebrates major U.S. and international holidays through the doodles, however, it is a bit surprising that the company did not want to celebrate Easter with an Easter Egg-type of doodle, since it is one of the most observed and celebrated religious holidays for Christians around the world.

Google doodles are something that users on the Internet enjoy a lot. However, in this case, the doodle has generated a lot of controversy. Users on Twitter are expressing anger over Google since the doodle features the labor leader instead of honoring the holiday. Bing, one of Google’s search engine rivals, is celebrating Easter by featuring Easter Eggs as the background image on its homepage.

Bing Celebrates Easter 2013

Angry twitters have gone on rage and are threatening to make a switch to Bing for what Google has done. Here are some of the tweets:

Tweets Over Google Doodle

Google Brings Play Movies To India And Mexico

Over the last few months, Google has been slowly bringing most of its features to India and other third world countries. This includes free turn-by-turn voice navigation, the ability to publish paid apps in the Play Store for Indian developers, INR currency support, and much more recently, the release of Play Books and directly selling the Nexus 7 via the Play Store in India.

play_movies

Today, Google has released another of its Play services for its Indian users to enjoy – Play Movies. Google has priced the movies at a pretty decent price, with the prices varying from Rs. 50 to Rs 120 to rent a standard definition movie. Users can directly purchase a movie as well with prices beginning from Rs 390 for a SD quality movie to a whopping Rs. 650 for a one in HD.

Android users can access the Play Movies service right from the Play Store application on their phone or tablet. You can also purchase or rent movies directly from the Play Store website.

In addition to Play Movies, Google has also enabled the option to buy paid movies from YouTube Rentals. Until now, users were only given the a catalogue of free movies, but from today, the catalogue has increased to include paid movies as well.

Along with India, Google has also brought its Play Movies service to its users in Mexico. Hopefully, Google will soon bring its Play Music and other Nexus hardware to the Indian Play Store sooner than later.

Early Build of Windows Blue Leaks

Windows Blue, the successor to Windows 8, which is expected to be released towards the tail end of this year, made an early appearance yesterday in the form of a leaked interim build. The leaked build is a 32 bit edition of Windows Blue with a build id of 9364.0.

Since its appearance, it has been thoroughly dissected by several Microsoft watchers, including the likes of WinSuperSite and The Verge. As anticipated, Windows Blue is an incremental update, rather than a major overhaul as Windows 8 was. It builds upon the foundation laid by Windows 8, and tries to alleviate some of the major pain points.

Windows-Blue-Split-Screen

Improved Multi-tasking
For me, the biggest enhancement is the new half-screen app snapping. The Metro UI is simply too inhibiting on larger form factors (especially on PCs) because it only allows 1 app to be in the foreground at a time. There is an app-snapping feature, but that only allows the second app to run in a mini-mode within a quarter of the screen. In Windows Blue, you can run two apps side by side in a 50/50 screen sharing mode. In fact, Blue supports as many as four apps side-by side.

Enhanced Metro Settings
One of the biggest problems with Windows 8 is its split personality. No where is the half hazard division between Classic and Modern UI more apparent than the Settings. While the Modern UI has its own PC Settings app, it’s woefully inadequate. Most crucial settings are present only in the classic Control Panel. Windows Blue takes a step forward by adding several more options to the new PC Settings app.

Enhanced Charms
Microsoft has added two new options to the Charms menu. The Share charms has received a new screenshot option for quickly capturing a screenshot and sharing it, while the Devices charm has been augmented with a play option.

Windows-Blue-2

Enhanced Start Screen
Windows Blue adds two new Tiles to the start screen – the first one is minuscule, while the second one is oversized. Additionally, Windows Blue prevents accidental modification of the Start screen by locking it down. You need to specifically select the Customize option to be able to modify the layout.

And More
There are several other changes including new apps (Alarms, Calculate, Sound Recorder, and Movie Moments), improved SkyDrive Modern UI app, Internet Explorer 11, and new gestures.

Windows Blue is a step in the right direction. It attempts to solve some of the biggest issues with Windows 8. However, Microsoft still has some distance to travel. Modern UI is growing up, but still isn’t mature enough to stand on its own. Windows Blue will be a cheap (possibly even free) upgrade for existing Windows 8 user, which is expected to be released later this year.

[ Images via The Verge ]

Ebay India Census 2012: A Look Into the State of E-commerce

Ebay has released its 2012 census, which offers a unique perspective at the state of e-commerce in India. Since, eBay sells pretty much everything under the sun, it’s in an unique position to offer us a glimpse at what Indians are buying and selling. You might be aware that a lot of youths are buying t-shirts and gadgets online, but did you know that every two minutes one note or coin is sold on eBay?

State-of-Ecommerce-in-India

Maharashtra grabbed the top spot in terms of buying and selling stuff online, largely due to Mumbai, which is most active city on eBay India. Other cities in the top ten were Dehi, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Pune. While mobile phones, watches, fragrances, and apparel dominated the list of products sold and bought, most cities had one or two surprise entries.

  • Delhi sold a lot of Indian notes, while Mumbai sold loads of Indian stamps. Mumbai also bought plenty of British India coins, and imported British Colonial Stamps. Chinese stamps are #1 on the list of goods imported by Chennai residents. Similarly, Hyderabad is fascinated with Malaysian coins.
  • Jaipur, the capital of the desert state Rajasthan, sold loads of room heaters.
  • Delhi bought the most chocolates, while Bengaluru exported the most Yoga videos. Kolkatans on the other hand are in love with Tibetian collectibles.
  • Top brands in India were Samsung, Apple, Sony, and Nokia respectively.

Head over to shopping.ebay.in/census to glance at the state of e-commerce in India.

Google Revamps Omnibox in Chrome; Replaces Google Search Box, Adds Google Instant Support

With the advent of Google Chrome, Google made it easier for users to search using the address bar, or what they call the Omnibox. However, it looks like the omnibox in the latest Canary version of Chrome has undergone a drastic change. The new omnibox in Google Chrome canary for Windows replaces two key components from Google Search; the search box and Google Instant and brings it directly to Chrome.

The search box has been a significant part of Google search for more than a decade and allowed users to type in their queries and view results. However, Google moved towards making the search box obsolete by introducing the Omnibox in Google Chrome and it looks like they are completely abandoning it now.

The latest version of Google Chrome Canary (Version 27.0.1446.0 canary) now directly uses the Omnibox as a search box and does not redirect to the usual Google search page as it did earlier.

Google Omnibox Search box
Google Search now uses omnibox as default Google search box

Additionally, it also does not replace the search keywords with the Google URL like it did earlier and continues to display it in the omnibox. The omnibox now also fully supports Google Instant with suggestions as displayed below. Earlier Google Instant was partially supported with no suggestions comping up for the entered terms.

Chrome Omnibox Google Instant
Chrome Omnibox Supports Google Instant

The new omnibox is definitely an improvement over the search experience since it now provides a single input for searching keywords as opposed to two (the address bar and omnibox) and also brings the power of Google Instant and its suggestions to the address bar.

The feature is currently in its infancy and only exists in the Canary version of Google Chrome. However, given the build lifecycle of Chrome, this might make it to the stable versions of Chrome pretty soon.