Apple has a reputation for being rather controlling when it comes to its hardware and software designs, but a new story coming out of Gizmodo really pushes this perception to a new level. Ex Apple employee Mark Burstiner is in legal hot water with Apple over allegations of theft, but his story isn't as clear-cut as it might sound.
Over a year and a half ago Mark was coming off a shift at the Fifth Avenue New York Apple store, while construction workers were hauling away pieces of a broken step that needed to be replaced near the entrance. Mark was dressed in civilian clothing, and for some unknown reason, asked if he could keep the cracked 250lb glass step that was presumably being hauled away to the dump. The construction crews helped him load up his price, and if this were a normal story, it would end here.
Fast forward to eight days ago when Mark was preparing to move, and decided to list his prize on Ebay. Rather than being mocked and ridiculed for attempting to sell a broken piece of trash, he received several bids, and was eventually contacted and harassed by Apple legal representatives who requested he return the broken step. You could argue the legality of this case on behalf of Apple, or squatter's rights, but either way it is a bizarre story.
Feel free to read his entire testimony for yourself, but can anyone come up with a plausible theory for why Apple would care? It certainly adds evidence to the theory that some people will buy anything from Apple, even trash. The current bid was $6,300 at the time of this posting, go figure.
No sooner did Microsoft settle its antitrust woes with the European union, than it turned around and allegedly threw Google under the very same bus. Up until now little has been known about Redmond's involvement, but ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley has confirmed Microsoft executives have been in contact with EU regulators in recent months about Google's monopolistic position in search. In addition to direct involvement, they even owned up to encouraging others to come forward to register similar complaints. As many commenter's are likely to point out, the irony of Microsoft's complaint isn't lost on us. Based on all the antitrust woes they have been forced to endure in the past, they seem likely a pretty unlikely candidate to spark this debate against Google.
For its part, Microsoft is trying to explain its viewpoint with its "On The Issues Blog", but it's a pretty thick read full of legalese. The closing arguments however do a pretty good job of summing it up. "Microsoft would obviously be among the first to say that leading firms should not be punished for their success. Nor should firms be punished just because a particular business practice may harm a rival-competition on the merits can do that, too. That is a position that Microsoft has long espoused, and we're sticking to it. Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content (like Google Books) and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly."
This could be the start of a very public, very bloody war between Google and Microsoft.
Are you worried Fermi is going to make your GeForce 8800 look a bit long in the tooth? Well just be glad you're not stuck trying to run Crysis on the Secret Service's mainframe featuring state of the art technology from the 1980's. A classified review of the aging computer system has revealed that the system is now only operational about 60 percent of the time, and frequently prevents them from accessing the master database of mission critical information and apps.
"We have here a premiere law enforcement organization in our country which is responsible for the security of the president and the vice president and other officials of our government, and they have to have better IT than they have," said Lieberman, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Currently the NSA runs 42 mission-oriented applications on a 1980s IBM mainframe, and are hideously underpowered based on the agencies current requirements.
The price tag for updating the system is a mere $187 million, and far below the $33 million they currently have in the budget. If I were president, I would probably check the seat cushions on Air Force One to make up the difference, they are charged with saving his life after all.
Back in November we found ourselves sympathizing with a UK bar owner who was facing a $13,000 fine for copyright infringement as a result of operating an open hotspot, but little did we know this was only the tip of the iceberg. It was a clear cut case of misplaced accountability, but it looks like the UK government is planning to go one step further to keep this from happening in the future. A new "Digital Economy Bill", if passed, would ban the use of open Wi-Fi hotspots outright anywhere in the UK. The bill would ultimately make any home or business operating an internet connected router 100 percent accountable for the traffic that passes over it.
Making users accountable for locking down their own connection doesn't sound like a bad idea in principal, but it ultimately closes off opportunities for businesses to offer internet access to the latté sipping masses at the local coffee shop. The bill will require all networks to be secured with a password, and to maintain a log of all users who access it in order to be in compliance with the new law. "This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in," said Lilian Edwards of Sheffield University.
I'm sure nobody here minds trading up a few more civil liberties in exchange for giving the folks over at the RIAA a good nights sleep do you?
They might take our lives, but they will never take our Freedom Tower! Well, we'd rather they didn't take either, truth be told - we're rather fond of our lives, and also of this excellent and well priced cooler. Read on to see why (and we promise no more Braveheart references).