Operation In Our Sites

Late last month the United States authorities decided to take a bit stab at online piracy and counterfeit. This initiative that they are taking up, termed Operation In Our Sites, has been the undoing of more than 100 different websites that were involved in the distribution of copyrighted materials. These copyrighted materials ranged from fake designer purses, illegal copies of movies, games, software, and even jerseys.

Operation In Our Sites has the support from both the Department of Justice and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the entertainment industry. With these powerful groups backing this movement up, it leaves very little for website owners to do to protest this move.

One big hit to online piracy and counterfeit materials was the day after Thanksgiving. It was termed “Cyber Monday Crackdown” because it resulted in the complete takedown and seizure of eighty-two domains. The total of seized sites is now over a hundred and thirty and unfortunately they can’t protest it at all.

On top of seizing these sites, the officials wanted to ‘scare’ visitors and other website owners by putting up an official looking warning that states that the domain was seized and that penalties for those breaking copyright regulations were $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

However this isn’t the first time the government has taken a stab at the ever increasing problem of copyright infringement. Last year the sites that were targeted were mostly streaming websites, and other sites that offered free media. This year there were no streaming sites that were targeted at all; in fact they were all sites that charged their customers for the counterfeit products.

So what are the website owners doing about these actions? Well after the first few attacks the website owners learned quickly to back up their sites so nothing was lost but the domain, and on top of that many of the website owners have purchased several other domains to use instead.

It is certain that the seizures will continue and more and more counterfeit sites will be removed however will it make a difference? Isn’t the underlying problem the fact that most of the products that are counterfeited are so expensive that people wouldn’t/couldn’t pay normal price for them?


GoDaddy Loses 37k Members Due To Stance On SOPA

SOPA has enraged thousands upon thousands of internet users since its original proposal by the Texas Rep. Unfortunately SOPA is still being considered despite the continued opposition from people everywhere and it’s gained the support of over a hundred businesses and corporations.

Amongst the list of SOPA supporters (which can be found here) GoDaddy, the popular internet registrar, was amongst them. GoDaddy actually allowed the United States to illegally seize numerous domains in their “quest to stop internet piracy”. Now GoDaddy is reeling from the aftermath of their stance.

Many web businesses depend solely upon their website to function, their livelihoods depend on their site, and for GoDaddy and SOPA to compromise their livelihoods in such a way then they are rightfully concerned. Many of these concerned website owners have begun flocking in the thousands to other registrars in fear of having their site seized.

GoDaddy, due to their supportiveness of SOPA, lost over 37,000 members and the count is still rising. Since then GoDaddy has, conveniently, reversed their stance on SOPA to a neutral one and they are even calling website owners in a desperate attempt to regain some of their lost members however this attempt is being met with little success.

The fact that GoDaddy so quickly switched its support just goes to show that they only do what is more convenient for their company at the current time. They didn’t think about the consequences of their actions and how it would affect their customers, instead they only changed their “opinion” after they realized just how strongly many users felt about SOPA.

It is widely known how dangerous SOPA is and how devastating it would be to website owners because merely linking to a site that distributes pirated materials could result in extreme fines. Additionally SOPA would allow the United States to seize websites without due process and retain them from website owners – the owners basically have no way of fighting back and their entire lives could be destroyed due to an unfair act passed by greedy companies.

GoDaddy will likely think twice about risky stances in the future, especially after losing so many members after their recent fiasco. Unfortunately the damage is done and we can only hope that SOPA is voted down sometime in the near future.



Facebook’s In Trouble For Selling Your Personal Secrets!

Many Facebook users don’t think before sending messages to their friends that the contents of those messages could be read by anyone else. The incredible amount of trust put into Facebook has been betrayed and users are appalled to find out that their messages, activity, and all of their personal information has been released to advertising companies so that the advertising companies could display targeted ads to the users.

So does this happen to everyone? Don’t personal privacy settings have any bearing on this? Unfortunately it does happen to everyone no matter how strict your privacy settings are. Your sexuality, religious beliefs, and even political preferences are all given to advertisers. But that’s not all..

The Facebook information gathered and passed to advertising companies is much more extensive and intrustive than many believe. Not only does it track and store information on the user themselves, but also on their friends, their educational backgrounds, their status updates, and much more. Even chats that people have together are stored by Facebook, despite the users deleting them. For example a high school student getting ready to go to college may end up getting targeted ads for dorm room furniture, various college ads, and more.

This negligent violation of privacy has outraged many because of the fact that Facebook doesn’t notify its users that it will be utilizing their personal information in such a way. While many understand that advertising is a big profit and money is what makes the world go round, people simply want to be notified prior to their information being utilized.

The ?European Commission is planning on banning this advertising in a new directive that will be out in January. Unfortunately this move will threaten Facebook’s plans for next year’s stock exchange because it severely compromises one of the main ways they make money.

The European Commission is taking this violation of privacy very seriously and is meeting next week with the UK Information Commissioner to discuss their next moves.

So where did all of this information stem from? Who exactly noticed the vast amount of information retained by Facebook? The answer is an Australian student named Max Schrems. Max sent a request into Facebook asking what information was held on him and what he got back was astonishing…and incomplete. Max was sent a CD which contained 1,222 pages of information on him and after reviewing it he complained to the data watchdogs because it was clear that Facebook had even more information on him which they did not disclose.

How many pages of information does Facebook have on you? Perhaps you should call and find out!

Google + Failing Miserably – Find Out Why!

Facebook is the largest social networking site on the internet and there have been many failed attempts to recreate something similar in order to tap into the huge user count. Earlier this year Google, one of the biggest names on the web, decided to launch their own version of Facebook coined Google +.

Google + went up and into beta phases on June 28, 2011 and was invite only at first. This exclusiveness of the invite only caught the attention of many and when it went open to the public on September 20, 2011 there was an insane influx of new user registrations. People, dying to see what the famed Google had cooked up for them, were eagerly signing away and checking out the new ‘Hangouts’ and other various features that awaited them. After Google opened up their exclusive social network to the public, in one day there was 1200% increase in membership, however this would soon drop just as fast.

Since then there has been an astonishing 60% decrease (60% of total members!) in members but Google refuses to give up. With annoying +1 buttons sprinkled about everywhere and constant reminders to join up to this failed social network Google + has quickly turned from a novel attempt at usurping Facebook to another pitiful fail.

Surprising right? Especially from Google! Google, what is considered one of the leading innovators of online services, how could you fail so miserably? Perhaps it isn’t the lack of ingenuity for Google +, but rather the formability of Facebook that is to blame? Let’s take a look.

Facebook consists of millions and millions of active users who log in daily (sometimes multiple times a day). These users are then put into contact with all of their friends, friends of friends, family members, neighbors, and anyone else that may be connected with them. On top of that Facebook has provided innovative and highly addictive games, chats, and a variety of other novel ideas that were simply there first before Google.

So if someone already has 500+ friends on Facebook, all of their pictures uploaded, and a variety of other features provided to them why would some copy of Facebook, without all of their friends or photos on it yet, draw them away? Point is it won’t.

Google + simply didn’t come out before Facebook and doesn’t provide enough to be desired to draw users to it. Sorry Google, while you are a great innovator you can put Google + in your fail pile. Please try putting your efforts into something new!



Adobe Concedes In The Battle Between Flash And HTML5

Adobe Flash has long been the primary application used for web graphics, videos, interactive web pages, and more. With the recent development of smart phones Adobe began working vigorously to provide an acceptable Flash player however it has been a long and troubled road for them.

Adobe has been competing with HTML5 as the dominant graphics platform for smart phones however they were fighting a losing battle. HTML5 was by far the superior contender in the battle and Adobe finally conceded here recently.

In a statement about their recent decision regarding Flash for mobile devices Adobe said this:

“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations.”

So why exactly did Adobe cease attempting to optimize Flash for mobile devices? Let’s take a look at the key reasons:

  1. HTML5 was superior – Adobe Flash simply did not work well on mobile devices despite the extensive amount of time Adobe put into working on it. HTML5 arrived a year before Flash and was still providing superior performance results than Flash.
  2. Flash lost support – Many people remember Steve Job’s message about Flash. Jobs stated Apple would cease working with Adobe and the Apple products would be using HTML5 instead of Flash. For Adobe this was a huge blow and the repercussions of Jobs’ decision were a determining factor in Adobe ceasing their work with Flash for mobile devices.
  3. HTML5 wasn’t owned by any company – While Flash was losing support HTML5 continued to gain significant support not only because it was superior but also because it wasn’t owned by a single company. Some of the biggest names in the internet world have switched over to HTML5 along with Apple including: YouTube, Twitter, CloudReader, Vimeo, Vudu, Pandora, SlideShare, and now even Adobe itself is working with HTML5.

The switch was a smart move for Adobe due to the fact that HTML5 is simply superior in almost every way for mobile devices. Now that HTML5 is fully supported by some of the biggest companies, web developers and publishers can rejoice and smart phone users can now expect to see far superior devices sometime in the near future.

The Kindle Fire Lights Up The Competition

The competition for tablets has been fairly one sided so far, with Apple dominating the competition with its famous (yet expensive) iPad devices. Their cheapest iPads cost around $300-400 and from there the prices skyrocket. Thankfully the monopoly has been broken and Apple has some real competition in the tablet world now.

In a stunning move, Amazon announced that the new Kindle, named the Kindle Fire, will be out on the market on November 15 (you’ll find the specs of Kindle Fire)and has a staggeringly low price tag of only $199.

The new Kindle Fire isn’t just heating up the competition with Apple, but it has also crushed the competition between the Kindle e-readers and the Barnes & Noble’s version of the e-reader known as the Nook.

Right after the press release of the Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble stock dropped 9% in just one day! This is a true testimate of the effects of this brand new e-reader, and unfortunately for Barnes & Noble the new Kindle hasn’t even hit the shelves yet so it can expect its stocks to continue dropping.

So lets look at some of the sleek new features of this new Kindle. We know that the price tag is incredibly amazing, but will its other features live up to expectations?

– Gorilla Glass coating (chemically strengthen display glass that resists wear and is highly durable)
-Weight is only 14.6 oz.
– Android based operating system with a 7in. color touch screen display
– 8GB of storage
– 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU
– 512MB of RAM

It still is capable of installing all of your favorite apps, while maintaining that e-reading function that most people love. Unfortunately the iPad’s have cameras with FaceTime (You can see and talk to friends and family on Ipad, very similar to video conferencing / web chat), but is a camera function really worth several hundred dollars?

With the Kindle Fire hitting the market in a little over a month, it will be interesting to see how its competition will respond to this bold move.

Improve GPS Performance And Charging Time Of HTC Sensation

If you are unhappy with your HTC Sensations GPS accuracy then this news is sure to bring joy. First of it’s kind Over the Air software update (targeted mainly at bug fix but not feature enhancement) was rolled out recently. With a update file size of about 28 MB, the OTA updates version is 1.35.401.1.

To update your HTC with the latest bug-fix:

  • Go to ‘Settings
  • Then ‘About Phone
  • System Updates
  • and select the ‘Check‘ option for Update.

This has been tested by a few at XDA developers forum to be working fine. While talking about GPS accuracy, you should be aware of the fact that most Android phones still have issues with it and it’s one of the common complaints from Android phone owners.

The last couple of weeks has been good one for HTC Sensation owners as first it was Skype video calling which was enabled for HTC Sensation phones and now an update which promises to improve the performance and some at the same time improve some existing features on HTC.

Make Skype Video Call On HTC Sensation And Samsung Galaxy S2

Very recently I was pointing out that it was not possible to make skype video calls on  Samsung Galaxy phones. I was bit too early in voicing my concern as I just read that Skype video calling is indeed possible now !

Read the news on iGyaan, and they also linked to Droid-life who apparently have found a hack to get Skype video calling work with HTC Sensation.

I need to update my friend who was looking to get it work. Oh btw did I mention you need to be on Android 2.3 to enjoy this feature ? The earlier apps were fine on Android 2.2, so upgrading to 2.3 is the only homework you need to do to use skype video calling.

Why YouTube Is Staying With Flash Rather Than HTML5… For Now.

In an earlier post I discussed why Apple announced it would no longer be working with Adobe. To sum it up, Apple disliked Adobe Flash player for a variety of reasons. In Apple’s word’s Flash player had constant issues, was a closed system, and alternative solutions allowed web developers more options while allowing consumers to view web media without having to rely on a third party plug-in. Instead of choosing to stick with Flash, Apple is now relying on JavaScript, CSS, and the new HTML5. Unfortunately not everyone is cutting the cord from Flash and moving on.

One of the largest and most well-known video compilation websites is YouTube. Millions upon millions of people use YouTube each day and viral videos make it a great place for anyone looking for a few laughs. Here recently there has been a great movement to switch from Flash over to HTML5. YouTube, however, has decided to not make the leap over to HTML5…yet.

Since HTML5 is still a work in progress, it has a lot of issues that need to be fixed before it is a widely used by all browsers. It is for these reasons that YouTube has also not made the switch over. A big issue with HTML5 is that there are significant differences reported when viewing videos. YouTube has a trail session running for HTML5 and when you run the same video on it you can tell that HTML5 does not have as high of a quality as regular Flash. I tried it myself and noticed a difference in video quality when viewing HD, but didn’t see any difference in time delay which was also noted amongst other users.

On top of the lesser video quality and reported delays, there is also no set codec standard. Since there are users uploading video constantly, YouTube wants to minimize the amount of codecs it has to support. Then there are the limitations. HTML5 does not allow users to upload directly from YouTube’s built-in video recording software. The final issue with HTML5 issue is that YouTube wants to protect its Digital Rights so that no one is able to copy and spread the videos all throughout the web without the owner’s consent.

Despite YouTube’s current reluctance they are still waiting for HTML5. With their HTML5 trial running right now, YouTube is sticking with Flash, but is preparing for HTML5 in the near future along with all the other browsers.

Mac Users Can Now Use Staroffice Version 9

Mac Users Can Now Use Staroffice Version 9

The latest version of the StarOffice productivity suite from Sun Microsystems is now supported on the Mac. StarOffice 9 is the first version with native support for Mac systems, aiming to be a low cost alternative to the popular Microsoft Office.

Like the OpenOffice.org 3.0 which was released sometime back, StarOffice 9 is an open source as well, sharing the same code with the OpenOffice.org.

With this release, Sun Microsystems also added support to read Open XML files which was introduced by Microsoft in Office 2007, but options to edit existing XML files or to save new XML files are missing.

According to Iyer Venkatesan, the Product Manager for StarOffice, StarOffice may add full Open XML support in the future if the market demands it. Beside that, it also has support for other file formats like Open Document Format (PDF) which can be read and edited as well.

The software cost $35 for individuals and $25 for each user inside a business.