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Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Facebook Really Trying To Compete Against Nintendo’s Switch?

April 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

In a move that positions the social giant against video platforms like Twitch and YouTube, Facebook today has announced that people can now live broadcast from a PC or laptop – something that was only possible via mobile devices since last year. More importantly to the game industry and the world of online influencers, this expansion of Facebook Live also extends to live streaming of PC software.

“If you’re a gamer, this new feature makes it easier than ever to stream your PC gameplay to friends and followers and engage with them while you play,” the company stated. “If you’re giving your friends or followers a tutorial or how-to guide, you can incorporate on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays. Or if you’re an artist, you can go live and switch seamlessly between cameras as you narrate the process.”

It’ll be interesting to see how much of the market Facebook will be able to wrangle away from rivals Google (YouTube) and Amazon (Twitch) as the rise of streaming and influencers continues. It’ll also be important for developers to keep a close eye on how Facebook Live streaming fares, as it could be another valuable marketing tool – for both AAAs and indies, as Innervate consultant Becky Taylor observed during the Game Developers Conference.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Facebook VR Ambitions Threatened By Fight With ZeniMax Media

March 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc’s big ambitions in the ever expanding virtual reality industry could be threatened by a court order that would prevent it from using critical software code another company is laying claims to, according to legal and industry experts.

Video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc has requested that a Dallas federal judge issue an order barring Facebook unit Oculus from using or distributing the disputed code, part of the software development kit that Oculus provides to outside companies creating games for its Rift VR headset.

A decision is likely a few months away, but intellectual property lawyers said ZeniMax has a decent chance of getting the order, which would mean Facebook faces a tough choice between paying a possibly hefty settlement or fighting on at risk of jeopardizing its position in the sector.

For now, Facebook is fighting on. Oculus spokeswoman Tera Randall said last Thursday the company would challenge a $500 million jury verdict on Feb. 1 against Oculus and its co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe for infringing ZeniMax’s copyrighted code and violating a non-disclosure agreement.

Randall said Oculus would possibly file an appeal that would “allow us to put this litigation behind us.”

An injunction would require Oculus, which Facebook acquired for $3 billion in 2014, to stop distributing the code to developers or selling those games that use it.

Such a court order “would put a huge stumbling block in front” of Oculus, said Stephanie Llamas, an analyst with gaming market research firm SuperData. It would offer the company’s rivals in the new market, which include HTC, Sony Corp, Alphabet Inc and others an “important opportunity for them to become first movers.”

Sales of the Rift itself would not be barred, but Llamas, said a lack of available titles could hinder Facebook’s offering relative to HTC’s Vive headset and Sony’s Playstation VR.

That market is relatively small at the moment – sales of VR hardware and software totaled $2.7 billion in 2016 – and mainly limited to gaming. But Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has predicted the technology “will become a part of daily life for billions of people,” revolutionizing social media, entertainment and medicine.

SuperData says the VR market will be worth $37 billion by 2020. Likewise, investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald last year issued a report predicting VR would account for 10 percent of Facebook revenue in four years’ time.

Self-driving Car Wars Heat Up In Waymo, Uber Lawsuit

February 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s  Waymo self-driving car unit filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies and its autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto last Thursday over allegations of theft of its confidential and proprietary sensor technology.

Waymo accused Uber and Otto, acquired by the ride services company in August, with stealing confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.

“Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology,” said Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California.

Uber said it took “the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully.”

Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems. Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.

Otto launched with much fanfare in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project. Uber acquired the company in August for what Waymo said in the lawsuit was $680 million.

Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google, whose self-driving unit was renamed Waymo in December, he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” via a reformat of his laptop.

“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.

Last month, Tesla Inc electric car company sued the former head of its Autopilot system. It said he tried to recruit Tesla engineers for his new venture with the former head of Google’s self-driving program while still working there, and said he stole proprietary data belonging to Tesla.

Waymo’s lawsuit said it learned of this use of trade secrets and patent infringement after it was inadvertently copied on an email from a component vendor that included a design of Uber’s Lidar circuit board, which bore a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design.

Waymo noted that Google devoted over seven years to self-driving cars and said Uber’s forays into the technology through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University had stalled by early 2016.

Microsoft Goes After Repeat Software Pirate In Court

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-bldg-150x150Microsoft filed suit against a Wisconsin man for allegedly selling stolen Windows and Office activation codes, claiming in court documents that he is a repeat pirate who still owes the company $1.2 million from an earlier judgment.

In a complaint filed Sept. 8, Microsoft accused Anthony Boldin, of Brookfield, Wisc., of selling software activation codes to company investigators from four different websites he maintained. Two of those websites are now shuttered — only a message stating that the sites are no longer selling software remained Monday — but two others continued to operate.

The 25-character activation codes are a core component of Microsoft’s anti-piracy technology. Although the software can be copied an unlimited number of times, the keys individually lock a license to a device or a specific user. Minus a legitimate key — and thus, activation — Microsoft’s software retreats to a hobbled or even crippled mode.

Although Microsoft did not name the sources for the keys it said Boldin sold illegally, the firm pointed a finger at China. “Over the past several years, criminals in China and elsewhere have created a global black market for decoupled product activation keys that have been stolen from Microsoft’s supply chain,” the complaint stated. “The decoupled product activation keys end up in the hands of downstream distributors, such as Defendants, who then pass off the stolen keys to the general public as licensed software.”

According to that complaint, and other documents Microsoft lawyers submitted to a Wisconsin federal court, company investigators bought activation keys to licenses of Windows 8.1 and several versions of Office, some at significantly reduced prices, from Boldin’s websites. All the keys were illegitimate: Two were issued for use with academic programs in China, one was for Microsoft’s internal use, and four keys were stolen “tokens” assigned to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for pre-loading software on a new device.

Microsoft also said that Boldin was well known to the company’s legal team.

“Microsoft sued Boldin in this Court on two prior occasions for violating its intellectual property rights (in March 2000 and again in December 2006),” the complaint read. “Notably, this Court entered two separate orders permanently enjoining Boldin from any infringing use or distribution of Microsoft software.”

Not only did Boldin continue to sell stolen or misappropriated activation keys, Microsoft alleged, but a $1.2 million judgment levied in the second case has gone unpaid.

Microsoft asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Boldin from illegally selling Microsoft software, and to expedite discovery so that the company may determine whether there are others in cahoots with Boldin and locate his financial accounts.

Napster Brand Making A Comeback

June 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Napster name, once widely known for illegal music sharing, is now respectable enough to carry the flag for one of the oldest names in paid music streaming.

Rhapsody will soon change its name worldwide to Napster, the listening service has announced. It already uses the Napster brand in Europe.

“Napster is coming,” the post said. “No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!”

The name change in the U.S. could be another attempt to catch up to Spotify, which recently passed 30 million subscribers. Rhapsody said late last year it had about 3.5 million.

Napster began in the late 1990s as a service for sharing and downloading mp3 music files and quickly attracted a large following, especially among college students. The Recording Industry Association of America sued the company for copyright infringement in late 1999 and won an injunction that shut down Napster in 2001.

A series of acquisitions by companies including music publisher Bertelsmann and retailer Best Buy put Napster on a path to respectability, but it also faded amid the growth of legal music stores like iTunes and then streaming services like Spotify.

Rhapsody, which has been around since 2001, bought Napster in 2011 and set out to replace Napster’s brand with its own in the U.S. Later it bought Napster International to expand into Germany and the U.K., where it decided to keep the Napster brand.

With the latest change, that moniker has won out. A formerly infamous brand now seems to carry more clout than one that once was almost famous.

 

 

Facebook Deploying New Technology To Catch Pirated Videos

August 31, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is enhancing its technology to better identify videos uploaded to its site without the proper permission of copyright holders.

The move comes amid an explosion in the amount of video viewed on Facebook, posted by regular users, publishers and advertisers alike.

Alongside the uptick in video content, copyright holders have complained about videos posted without their permission. A recent report by video marketing and social media consulting companies Tubular and Social@Ogilvy estimated that a majority of the most popular videos on Facebook were pirated.

On Thursday, Facebook said it would be deploying new video matching technology that will be available to a small group of partners. The tool, Facebook said, will let select media companies, multichannel networks and individual video creators identify matches of their videos posted across Pages, profiles, groups and geographies on the site.

The tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly. When matches surface, publishers will be able to report them to Facebook for removal, the company said in a blog post.

Facebook has already been using a system called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way to the site.

But the video matching tool, currently in beta, is a new step in Facebook’s broader efforts to establish a content ID system akin to what YouTube uses to quickly identify copyright violations.

On YouTube, copyright owners have the option of running ads against videos that the video sharing site has identified as matches.

 

 

 

China’s Alibaba Sued Over Selling Fake Luxury Goods

May 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A bevy of luxury goods brands filed suit against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, contending the Chinese online shopping giant had knowingly made it possible for counterfeiters to sell their products throughout the world.

The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court by Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands owned by Paris-based Kering SA seeking damages and an injunction for alleged violations of trademark and racketeering laws.

The lawsuit alleged that Alibaba had conspired to manufacture, offer for sale and traffic in counterfeit products bearing their trademarks without their permission.

A spokesman for Alibaba declined to comment.

Concerns over fake products on Alibaba’s platforms, including online marketplace Taobao, have dogged it for years, although the U.S. Trade Representative removed Taobao from its list of “notorious markets” in 2012 in light of progress made.

Friday’s lawsuit marked the second time in less than a year that the Kering brands had sued Alibaba over the alleged sale of counterfeit products.

An earlier lawsuit was filed in July only to be withdrawn the same month with the ability to refile it while the Kering units worked toward a resolution with Alibaba, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleged that Alibaba and its related entities “provide the marketplace advertising and other essential services necessary for counterfeiters to sell their counterfeit products to customers in the United States.”

The lawsuit cited, for example, an alleged fake Gucci bag offered for $2 to $5 each by a Chinese merchant to buyers seeking at least 2,000 units. The authentic Gucci bag retails for $795, the complaint said.

Alibaba has allowed for counterfeit sales to continue even when it had been expressly informed that merchants were selling fake products, the lawsuit said.

 

 

Governments Increasingly Requesting User Data From Twitter

February 11, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Governments are increasingly interested in Twitter data, expanding the number of requests for user information by 40% between the first half and the second half of 2014.

“Providing this level of transparency is not without its complications and sometimes means we get tough questions and criticism about our decisions,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post Monday.

Twitter received 2,871 account information requests from various governments, targeting 7,144 accounts, during the second half of 2014, and the company complied in 52% of the cases, it said in a new transparency report.

Russia, Turkey and the U.S. were among the countries where requests for Twitter user information increased significantly.

Twitter received more than 100 requests for account information from the Russian government in the second half of 2014, from previously “having never received a request,” Kessel wrote. Twitter declined to honor any of the Russian requests.

Turkey requests rose by 150%, while those from the U.S. government increased 29%. Turkey didn’t honor any of Turkey’s requests, but it did comply with 80% of the U.S. requests.

Meanwhile, government and government-sanctioned requests for content removal jumped 84%. Leading this category were Turkey with 477 requests, Russia with 91, and Germany with 43.

During the second half of 2014, Twitter received 376 court orders for content removal and 420 other removal requests from police and other government agencies. Twitter honored the removal requests in 13% of those cases, covering 1,982 tweets.

Twitter also saw an 81% increase in the number of copyright infringement takedown notices allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA], during the second half of 2014. The company received 16,648 DMCA takedown notices during the six-month period, and the company removed content 66% of the time.

 

 

Is The FBI Running The Pirate Bay?

February 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Rebirth of The Pirate Bay that we reported on recently could be a sham site set up by the FBI with the intention of snagging punters.

It could not be, but there are increasing suspicions that this is the case, and there were probably some clues at the time.

We reported on the Pirate Bay relaunch earlier this week, saying that there was some kind of divide between the members of the site.

The new service was considered to be something of a spin-off that had done away with a number of administrators in order to be more hands-off.

However, it has the hallmarks of something that is hands-on, according to Twitter messages from an account used by the Anonymous hacker collective.

Questions were raised about the new site, including the passing of the old admins and the decision to use Cloudflare integration.

In some cases people pointed to FBI-like flags. The use of Cloudflare suggests that user information might be exposed to the warrant-like demands of the surveillance agencies.

pic.twitter.com/ED8mZ1A1mZ

— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) February 1, 2015

The Pirate Bay people have denied that the site is a puppet for the FBI and  have explained away the use of Cloudflare in a statement sent to TorrentFreak.

“We have seen that there has been some question to why we are using Cloudflare. This is only initially to handle the massive load on the servers. It will be removed shortly,” the statement said.

But, while the Pirate Bay is linked with the US-based Cloudflare it will be associated with the risk of national security investigations and warrants. Cloudflare has not commented.

TorrentFreak added in a later article that the Pirate Bay has moved away from its previous service provider, Trabia, and is now the guest of an unknown, or hidden, provider.

Taken together these things add up to a site that you may choose not to use. Of course, it might not be an FBI plant, and it might be the FBI, or someone else, that has started raising suspicions in order to keep people away from the magnetic phoenix. Take care out there.

Courtesy-TheInq

Has Pirate Bay Found A Way To Avoid Detection?

September 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Computing

The staff of The Pirate Bay have been telling the world+dog how it uses a mix of servers to avoid detection and police raids. Speaking to Torrent Freak, the site said the site uses a series of virtual machines to fool companies into hosting the torrent site.

The Pirate Bay doesn’t own any physical servers. Rather, the site is spread across different commercial cloud hosting providers. Twenty-one “virtual machines” are scattered around the world and are used to handle different functions of the site.  The Pirate Bay uses the virtual machines to break the site’s functions down onto different hosting platforms. The cloud hosting is split up amongst its virtual machines: eight web, six search, two database, one Linux virtual server as a load balancer, one stats and one handles proxy sites. Another runs torrents and another is the control.

The load balancer distributes the traffic to the virtual machines and masks what they are actually doing. Investigators can’t actually “see” where Pirate Bay’s web site actually is, and Pirate Bay can host its site on commercial cloud hosting servers without worrying about discovery.

The sophisticated hosting set-up means that if anything happens to one of the site’s hosting providers, the virtual machine can be quickly moved to another hosting company.

But cloud hosting means that The Pirate Bay is virtually raid-proof as there are no physical servers to seize. The underlying servers powering the virtual servers don’t know they’re hosting Pirate Bay — so it’s difficult for police to actually take the site down.

Courtesy-Fud

The Pirate Bay Goes To Smartphones?

July 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Mobile

The Pirate Bay, the self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site”, has released a mobile version of its website for the first time.

The Mobile Bay taps into the increasing storage capacity of mobile devices and the growing number of uncapped 4G data plans.

Offering millions of uploaded torrents from blockbuster movies and TV shows, cracked software packages and pornography, the vast majority of its content is considered illegal in almost every country of the world, leading to a global game of cat and mouse as the outfit adapts to stay online.

Up to now, the only version of the website has been the desktop version which simply resizes, however a spokesperson for The Pirate Bay admitted to Torrentfreak that “the normal version of the site renders like crap on a mobile device”.

The mobile website appears not to have been blocked by UK ISPs as yet, as we were able to access it this afternoon. It has all the functionality of the regular website but with a mobile friendly page format.

Unfortunately, that includes the many adverts for casinos, clandestine video websites and other nasties that manifest as pop-unders on the desktop version.

The Pirate Bay already has its own web browser for the desktop, an adapted version of Firefox that uses privacy tool Tor, and a number of unofficial web browsing apps exist for The Pirate Bay in mobile app stores.

Peter Sunde, a co-founder of the Swedish torrent tracker was recently arrested after being on the run for eight years, having been convicted of aiding copyright infringement in 2009.

Courtesy-TheInq

Did Apple Lose A Trademark Battle In Mexico?

June 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A battle over the name iPhone has resulted in Apple’s Mexican business partners being forbidden from advertising the iPhone.

Earlier this year, the tame Apple press claimed that Apple had won a trademark lawsuit against Mexican telecommunications company iFone over the use of the phonetically-identical “iPhone” brand. The iFone trademark was originally filed in 2003, and in 2009 the company filed a suit against Apple to stop it confusing its telecommunications busienss.

The press claimed that Apple won that war on the basis that iFone flogged telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones. But the problem with the ruling was that Jobs’ Mob’s carrier chums offer telecommunications services, the IMPI (Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) ruled that carriers selling the iPhone could no longer use the name in their advertising materials.

To make matters worse Telcel, Movistar, and Iusacell are now being charged fines for infringing on iFone’s trademark and have been ordered to remove the word “iPhone” from all marketing materials within the next 15 days. Needless to say the Presstitutes in the Tame Apple Press are saying this is terrible because Apple was found blameless in its actions and pure as the driven snow.

However what is clear from the result was that original reports claiming that Apple had won the ruling were incorrect and spun in Apple’s favour. iFone had successfully defended its trademark against Apple and the company’s cargo cult could not use the name to interfere with iFone’s business.

This is one of the problems when journalists sell out to companies and interpret news stories in favour of their corporate sponsors. The facts of the case were lost and now people are wondering why Apple can’t really advertise in Mexico.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Nokia And HTC Finally Settle Patent Dispute

February 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia and HTC have finally ended their long-running patent infringement battles, which played out in several countries and have seen a handful of HTC phones banned from sale in Europe.

The two companies, both major players in the smartphone industry, said they have agreed on a “patent and technology collaboration” that will settle all outstanding litigation.

Precise details were not revealed, but the companies said HTC will pay Nokia an undisclosed sum and the collaboration will involve HTC’s patents on LTE technology. LTE, often called 4G, is a high-speed wireless data transmission technology being rolled out by carriers in many countries.

Nokia’s chief intellectual property officer, Paul Melin, hailed the agreement as validating Nokia’s patents while HTC’s general counsel, Grace Lei, said her company was “pleased to come to this agreement.”

Nokia had asserted since 2012 that HTC infringed on about 50 of its patents and engaged in unauthorized use of proprietary innovations.

The cases had been making their way through the courts in countries including the U.K., Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S.

In March 2013, Nokia won an injunction in Germany against some HTC smartphones that were found to infringe upon a power-saving technology.

In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission A ruled HTC infringed two patents held by Nokia related to cellphones and tablets, and in October the High Court of England and Wales ruled that some HTC devices infringed on a Nokia mobile network standard patent.

Nokia won a sales ban against the HTC One Minismartphone in the U.K. as a result of that latter judgment.

Patent battles between major smartphone manufacturers have become a common part of the industry in the years since Apple introduced the iPhone and sparked the smartphone boom. Faced with a highly competitive marketplace, companies have been suing each other when one considers a competitor’s products look too similar to their own.

 

 

Twitter Acquired 900 Patents In Deal With IBM

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc has purchased 900 patents and inked a cross-licensing agreement with IBM, making peace with Big Blue and bulking up on its intellectual property portfolio as it takes on larger rivals Google and Facebook.

The agreement announced on Friday comes after International Business Machines Corp accused Twitter in November – on the eve of its high-profile initial public offering – of infringing three of its patents. At the time, it underscored how few patents the six-year-old social media company possessed in relation to more established rivals.

A cross-licensing agreement will help safeguard Twitter against similar claims in the future.

IBM is one of the industry’s largest research spenders and stockpilers of intellectual property, a consistent leader in U.S. patent filings and the owner of some 41,000 patents.

Twitter is following on the heels of Facebook, which itself faced similar claims before its own 2012 IPO. The world’s largest social network has since gone on a patent-buying spree, acquiring intellectual property from tech bellwethers, including Microsoft Corp and IBM.

“This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provide us with greater intellectual property protection and give us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service,” Ben Lee, Twitter’s legal director, said in a joint statement with IBM on Friday.

 

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