Do you remember reading about something called the SarcMarc here last week? It is a downloadable punctuation mark for giving adequate notice of the sarcasm that precedes it. Though it may appear rather impractical to the vast majority, especially considering the fact that it costs $1.99, a certain Paul Chambers might even kill for such a contrived punctuation mark after a frivolous Twitter post got him booked under the UK's Terrorism Act.
"I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it," Chambers is reported to have said. "Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things. The lead investigator kept asking, 'Do you understand why this is happening?' and saying, 'It is the world we live in'." Do you still remember the SarcMark? I think “the world that we live in” certainly needs it.
Chambers was released on bail a few hours after his arrest and remains in danger of being tried for perpetrating a bomb hoax. Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that the authorities have banned him from the airport for life and his employer has suspended him until it completes an internal probe.
Should consumers be the the ones to foot the bill to fight piracy? That's what will happen to UK residents should a new proposal go through that would suspend Internet service to those accused of illegally sharing music and movies online.
It's called the Digital Economy Bill and it would make it mandatory for ISPs to send warning letters to anyone caught swapping copyrighted material illegally, as well as slow or suspend connections if the letters don't work. So what's the big deal to consumers? Ministers have admitted that the initial letter-writing campaign could cost an extra $2.02 per subscription. Other estimates include 40,000 households giving up their Internet service, $2.45 billion in extra sales for the film and music industries over the next decade, and $505 million for the Government in extra VAT, the UK's Times Online reports.
While ISPs are ready to comply with the new rules, some have stepped forward in opposition of passing costs on to the consumer.
"Broadband consumers shouldn't have to bail out the music industry," said Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, whose subsidiary TalkTalk is the No. 1 consumer provider of broadband in the UK. "If they really think it's worth spending vast sums of money on these measures then they should be footing the bill; not the consumer.
Losing a laptop full of travel photos and bookmarks hurts, but losing the laptop and USB decryption key for a high-ranking Royal Air Force officer stings just a tiny bit more. Great Britain authorities are on the hunt for suspects in a high profile laptop theft, but you might be surprised to learn that it is but one of 66 so far this year, bringing the grand total up to 658 machines in the past four years.
I’m not sure whats worse, the fact that top-secret information is contained on mobile computers at all, or that the thief managed to sneak it out of the Ministry of Defense, an ultra secure government facility without anybody noticing. “This has the potential to become one of the most serious security breaches at the Ministry for a very long time” said a spokesman for the MoD. “An investigation by the MoD police is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further”.
According to Intel stolen laptops cost companies almost $50,000 per year, per machine, so I don’t even want to speculate on what a laptop full of “top secret” government data would fetch. I suppose the only consolation is the fact that so many are stolen, I doubt anything contained on the laptop was still a secret anyway.
GPS tracking? Biometric readers? Anyone else have a few suggestions for these guys? Clearly they need them.
According a new study, UK's IT workers rank as the least active professionals with the unhealthiest diets. The study, which was commissioned by weight loss and personal training agency Fat Free Fitness, pinged more than 1,700 professionals running the gamut from Taxi drivers and shop attendants, to marketing gurus and customer service reps.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that those paid to sit in front of a PC all day tend to lead sedentary lifestyles (Maximum PC notwithstanding), but what's a little shocking is that only 19 percent of those surveyed met the government's activity guidelines recommending 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. That puts IT workers in last place by a wide margin. Receptionists ranked as the second unhealthiest bunch, with 26 percent meeting the government's guidelines.
Just 14 percent said they ate five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but even more startling, the study found that the average IT worker consumes the caffeine equivalent of 10 cups of coffee every day.
A couple of weeks after eBay agreed to sell 65% of Skype to a group of investors, the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, contrived to gatecrash eBay’s party. Joltid, a company in which the two Skype founders are stakeholders, filed a copyright lawsuit on Wednesday against Skype. Skype's founders retained control over the peer-to-peer technology at the VoIP client’s core even after selling Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion. They had agreed to license the source code to eBay.
Joltid has accused eBay of unlawfully modifying and sharing the source code. An adverse decision could even force eBay to shut down Skype until it can come up with an alternative version. The San Jose-based internet company has said that it is making arrangements to face any such eventuality. However, the presence of a contingency plan should not be construed as a lack of confidence on its part. “We remain on track to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2009,” an eBay spokesperson said.
An Amazon.co.uk spokesperson told Cnet that this unbelievable price is to stay indefinitely. However, Microsoft is still to return the website’s call for comment on the issue. Ask your British cousins to carry some spare Windows 7 Home Premium copies in their baggage the next time they sail across.
Broadband subscribers living in the UK will soon be able to watch TV shows over the Internet with a new online TV player Microsoft plans to launch next week, UK newspaper Guardian reports. Dubbed the MSN Video Player, the move fills a void left by the defunct Project Kangaroo and gives MIcrosoft a head start on other competing services like Hulu and Arqiva.
"The hole left by Kangaroo was something that provided a catalyst," said Ashley Highfield, the former BBC director of future media and technology who was briefly Project Kangaroo chief executive before moving to Microsoft. "To some degree there is a void left by Kangaroo, there is a gap for an aggregator."
Microsoft has already struck programming deals with both BBC Worldwide and All3Media. As such, the ad-funded video service will launch with over 300 hours of content from BBC shows, including Peep Show, Shameless, The League of Genlemen, Hotel Babylon, and The Young Ones.
Looking long term, Microsoft hopes to expand its service to the Xbox 360 and to mobile devices.
Microsoft is preparing to launch a music streaming service by the end of July. Peter Bale, executive producer of MSN, told UK’s Telegraph about Microsoft’s plans to foray into the music streaming industry in the UK. Its service will rival Spotify – European company that provides both ad-supported music streaming and paid downloads. In fact, Bale said that Microsoft’s music streaming service will mimic Spotify’s revenue model.
“We are looking at how other similar businesses have structured their business models and trying to figure out what will work best for both consumer and Mircosoft.” Bale said. He added that the service may eventually become associated with the Xbox 360, though he would not say how.
Youtube was probably as tailor-made for copyright woes as it was for success. Apart from a copyright infringement law suit filed by Viacom, it is also contesting the claims made by a group of copyright owners in a separate class action law suit.