Stanford researchers are trying to act like the NSA in order to learn about the NSA. Researchers Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler created MetaPhone, an Android app which collects a phone’s metadata and compares it to basic information on Facebook. After learning that the NSA collects phone metadata from Verizon such as calling and texting logs, the researchers wanted to test how revealing this metadata is. “Some defenders of the NSA’s bulk collection programs have taken the position that metadata is not revealing,” Jonathan Mayer told MIT Technology Review. “We want to provide empirical evidence on the issue.… Our hypothesis is that phone metadata is packed with meaning.” More →
Google is joining in on the Black Friday festivities by announcing its Google Play store Cyber Weekend Deals on Friday. Android users can find great deals on music, books, TV, movies, and apps. Some of the best deals on the Google Play store include Kanye West’s Yeezus for $1.99, and each Lord of the Rings movie for $1.99. In addition, is offering a $25 Google Play store credit for anyone who buys a Nexus 7, which is unfortunately itself not on sale. Google did not specify how long this particular deal will last, only saying that it is “for a limited time.” Google’s Nexus 7 deal is similar to Apple’s Black Friday offer of Apple gift cards instead of discounts with the purchase of Apple hardware.
Apple has officially confirmed that the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote will be held at 10:00am on June 11th at Moscone West. Surprisingly, Apple has not confirmed who will in fact be delivering the keynote. Traditionally Apple’s CEO has participated, with Steve Jobs famously speaking for many years, and Tim Cook filling in for him among other executives. We’ll be covering the WWDC keynote live.
According to DigiTimes, Amazon’s rumored Android tablets could launch as soon as this August or September. The online retail giant has a global sales target of 4 million units, with 700,000-800,000 units shipping monthly, and it hopes to get its products in customer hands during the peak sales period of the year — just before Thanksgiving and the holidays. We’ve reported exclusively that Amazon will launch the dual-core “Coyote” and quad-core “Hollywood” tablets sometime this year, and early reports suggested the tablets are already in the manufacturing stage. Reportedly, Amazon has contracted Texas Instruments, Wintek, ILI Technology, and Quanta Computer for parts and assembly. It’s been widely expected that Amazon will launch a streaming movie service on its tablets, too. More →
On Monday, Huawei officially announced the MediaPad, a 7-inch tablet powered by Android 3.2 (Honeycomb). The MediaPad sports a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 5-megapixel camera, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chats, support for HSPA+ and 802.11n Wi-Fi networks, HDMI-out, and a microSD card slot for adding up to 32GB of storage. Huawei also says the MediaPad’s 4,100mAh battery should provide more than six hours of battery life. The MediaPad is expected to launch this fall, although Huawei did not provide a price. More →
On Tuesday morning, the Greenwich, Conn. Apple Store was allegedly robbed by five men, and we decided to drop by the scene today to see for ourselves. The store is now open for business, though one of two main entrances to the location is still blocked off ahead of repairs, which should take place soon.
According to reports and surveillance video, the suspects broke in through the large glass doors by smashing the glass. They proceeded to grab items on display in the store and apparently made off with tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise. No arrests have been made at this time.
Finally, Congress passes a piece of legislation that citizens on both the right and left side of the political spectrum can get behind. Late yesterday, Congress approved the CALM (Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation) Act, which “requires TV advertisers to ensure their ads don’t play at a volume louder than regular TV programming.” The new bill requires ad makers to use “industry technology” to prevent the volume annoyance from occurring.
“Consumers will no longer have to experience being blasted at,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California. “It’s a simple fix to a huge nuisance.”
The bill currently awaits President Obama’s signature. Once enacted, commercial makers will have one year to comply with the new law. More →
After being ousted by Amazon’s Web Services, the controversial site WikiLeaks has run into another snafu, this time with its DNS provider, EveryDns.net. Via a statement, EveryDns stated that due to “interference issues” that are affecting the service of others, the company has ceased resolving wikileaks.org; the service was provided to WikiLeaks for free. In response to the DNS shutdown, WikiLeaks tweeted the following message:
WIKILEAKS: Free speech has a number: http://126.96.36.199
In a subsequent tweet, the company then announced that it had moved to Switzerland; the site’s new domain name is now wikileaks.ch.
A very vocal opponent of the WikiLeaks cable publishings has been the Independent Senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman. The Senator has introduced legislation, dubbed the SHIELD (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) Act, that would make it illegal to publish information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government” or information relating to “a classified source or informant.” We have to wonder where Sen. Lieberman’s legislation was when CIA operative Valerie Plame was outed. No word on when the new legislation will hit the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, Amazon has released a statement stating that the reason for its removal of WikiLeaks’ data from its AWS servers was not a result of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or government pressure, but rather the fact that the site did not operate within Amazon’s terms of service. More →
Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström — the founders of the wildly popular torrent site The Pirate Bay — have had their previous convictions upheld by a Swedish court of appeals. While the three defendants did see their prison sentences reduced, the court did increase the fine levied on the the trio from 30 million kronor to 46 million kronor (USD $6.5 million). In April of 2009, a 1 year jail sentence was handed down to all three defendants, the new sentencing has the Swedish residents spending between 10 and 4 months behind bars: Neij, 10 months in prison; Sunde, 8 months in prison; Lundström, 4 months in prison.
“In two years, this type of piracy will be over,” said Ludvig Werner, chairman for the Swedish arm of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. ”After a ruling like this and all the pioneers start to get older and have children and families, piracy won’t occur to this extent.”
Christian Engström, a Pirate Party member of the European Parliament, refutes that claim, “The judgement has no meaning for file sharing. It has continued to increase from year to year and the technical capabilities continue to develop.”
No word on what impact, if any, this ruling will have on The Pirate Bay website. More →
Foxconn finds itself in more hot water Wednesday as new reports emerge concerning working conditions at a factory operated by sister company Foxteq. Workers at the packing plant, located in Rydalmere, Australia, have come forward with allegations of exploitation and poor working conditions. Some went as far as to describe conditions at the plant as “depression-era,” with employees required to work long hours and no guarantee that they would be asked to return the next day. Foxteq performs packing services for HP, IBM and other large companies, and is currently being investigated by several of its clients as a result of the accusations. Sister company Foxconn, which manufactures electronics for giants like Apple and HP, fell under the microscope earlier this year when a string of employee suicides took place on the company’s campus. The suicides were blamed on poor working conditions and low wages. More →
Canesta, a company specializing in motion-sensing and 3D gesture controls, have just announced that they are being acquired by Microsoft; a deal that is expected to be finalized by the end of 2010. Canesta was founded in 1999 and they specialize in “NUI’s” or natural user interfaces. Their technology allows users to do away with the traditional mouse and keyboard combo for most of their computing needs. They are also experts in 3D tracking; a very useful purchase for the future development of the Kinect platform. The Silicon Valley company holds 44 patents with regard to 3D sensing technologies, which will protect Microsoft in any patent litigation they may find themselves in. The acquisition could usher in a new revolutionary GUI/NUI for Windows 8. Minority Report computing might be around sooner than you think. Hit the break to watch Canesta’s technology in action. More →
Picture this: you are at the base camp of Mount Everest, only to realize it’s your girlfriends birthday and you forgot to send flowers; what do you do? Grab your cell phone and call the florist of course, as Ncell, Nepal’s mobile operator, now has you covered. The carrier has announced its first 3G base station on the the world’s tallest mountain, allowing users to make calls and connect to the internets from GSM enabled phones. Previously, mountaineers and adventurers had to resort to expensive satellite phones to make calls. Ncell is a joint venture between private investors and Sweden’s Telia Sonera, and currently cover one-third of Nepal. Ncell tested their latest base station by placing the world’s highest video call at 17,388 feet. Telia Sonera’s CEO had the following to say: “This achievement is as mighty as the altitude, as 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services to the people living in the Khumbu Valley, trekkers, and climbers alike.” More →
Those curious as to whether or not we might actually see the often-rumored 7-inch iPad become a reality can rest assured that we have our answer: no. During a rare appearance on Apple’s Q4 earnings call Monday evening, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on a no holds barred tirade that ran the gamut from ragging on RIM to gibing Google, and even to nudging Nokia. Amidst the stabs and jabs, Jobs quelled rumors that Apple would soon release a smaller version of its magical iPad. The pertinent point:
We’re not not making a 7-inch tablet because we don’t want to hit a lower price point; we just believe it’s too small to hit the user experience people want. When we make decisions, it’s not about cost, it’s about value when you factor in the software. We’re all about the best products at aggressive prices.
There you have it folks… there’s not much room for interpretation. According to Jobs, bigger is better and 7-inches just isn’t enough real estate to get the job done. On the other hand, Apple has reversed its stances countless times in recent history — most notably, perhaps, when it launched the App Store after Jobs had previously claimed native apps were unnecessary on the iPhone — so no one really knows what the future holds for Apple’s magical tablet.