Monthly Archives: February 2009

  • After yet another privacy row, Facebook rebuffed the critics by essentially opening up its terms of service to user input. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reiterated that “Facebook does not own users’ content.”

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At last, a use for all that EU bureaucracy. With 23 official languages, the European Union employs an army of translators to produce massive multi-lingual stacks of laws, regulations and other documents each year.

Those heaps of offial translations have been a boon for Google, providing fodder for its own automated translation service to “learn” from, and they explain why Maltese speakers can now use the Google Translate service when they surf the Web while the many more numerous speakers of, say, Farsi can’t. Read more

Carol Bartz’s first blog post announcing a new management structure for Yahoo was missing any actual details of the changes, but the company has now been briefing on what the new CEO has in mind.

Yahoo is combining its Tech and Product groups into a single organisation called, rather unimaginatively, Products. Ari Balogh, the chief technology officer who joined from Verisign only a year ago, is the coming man who has been put in charge. Read more

  • Microsoft filed a suit of its own, alleging that in-car navigation system maker Tom Tom is violating eight of its patents, including three relating to Tom Tom’s use of open-source operating system Linux. This is believed to be the first time Microsoft has filed suit over Linux, which it has repeatedly said violates its patents.

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Intel, the world’s biggest chip maker, is warning that companies taking advantage of government stimulus packages to build future infrastructure and transportation projects are relying on tools of the past that waste energy and cost more.

Speaking at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president, urged the adoption of 3D simulation software to improve design and implementation. Read more

Browser-based gaming has been confined largely to simple casual games to date, but a new service launching today promises to bring next-generation console quality to the experience.

InstantAction says it has developed technology that can convert any console game to play inside a web browser without any noticeable reduction in performance or quality. Read more

The venture capital business needs Washington’s money like it needs a hole in the head (with apologies to Thomas Friedman).

Silicon Valley is just getting to the long-overdue end of one bubble. It really doesn’t need another one, courtesy of government bureaucrats. The contraction that is coming will be painful, but that’s no reason to put it off in the misguided name of stimulus (or the equally woolly “innovation”). Read more

Forget the vanity licence plates and the personalised URLs: what about owning your own top-level internet domain name, to put yourself on a par with the .coms and .govs? You’ll probably be able to apply for one by the end of this year – though it’ll cost you $185,000.

There is a serious side to the explosion in top-level domain (TLD) names that is about hit the internet. When anyone can pay up to create one – not to mention the myriad of new URLs that will suddenly become available – how on earth will companies protect their trademarks? And how will internet users find their way around a confusing virtual world in which www.coca.cola could be competing for attention with www.cola.coke? Read more

Yelp has won fans around the globe by providing a neutral platform where users can share reviews of local businesses. If a Vietnamese sandwich shop makes the best banh mi around, reviewers will rave and send more customers that way. If a kosher deli’s pickles are stale, reviewers will say as much, and other readers will steer clear.

But what if it wasn’t users, but Yelp’s own advertising team that determined the balance of — and in some cases wrote — the reviews that make up the meat of the site? Worse, what if Yelp’s advertising reps punished businesses that refused to advertise by the deleting positive reviews and promoting negative ones?

These are the claims being leveled against Yelp in a raft of recent articlesRead more

Facebook is always walking on eggshells when privacy is concerned. Last year it came under fire for storing user information after an account was deleted.  In 2007, it revised its Beacon service, which shared users’ activity on other sites with their Facebook friends. Now Facebook is facing allegations that it is trying to take ownership of users’ content.

The latest row occurred after the blog Consumerist called attention to minor but potentially wide-reaching changes to Facebook’s so-called terms of service (TOS), the set of rules users tacitly agree to when using the site. Read more

It has only been a month, so I suppose some patience is needed. But so far, the new Obama White House has shown little of the Internet savvy that was on display during the campaign.

That has been brought home by the handling of public “discussion” surrounding the stimulus package (which was signed into law on Tuesday). Before assuming office, Mr Obama promised to open all non-urgent legislation for online comment five days before signing it. The stimulus package got nearly that amount of time (according to TechPresident) – but the discussion was entirely one-way, which doesn’t really make it much of a discussion at all. Read more

As expected, smartphones have taken centre-stage at the big mobile industry bash in Barcelona (our coverage from the Mobile World Congress is here).

Also as expected, a company not even represented at the show is very much on everybody’s mind: Apple.

The fact is, Apple’s rivals have fallen badly behind in the smartphone business – even companies like Nokia and Microsoft, which have dominated the segment. Just how far behind was apparent when my colleague David Gelles and I set out to talk to independent developers to find out what they thought of the coming wave of App Store copy-cats and iPhone wannabes. Read more

Energy harvesting – drawing power from our surroundings – has seemed a tad futuristic, but a new advance by chipmaker Freescale being unveiled today promises practical applications within a year.

Freescale has found a way of tapping tiny amounts of voltage and amplifying them to usable levels. Read more