US House passes bill to expose patent trolls

WSJ.com reports that the US House of Representatives has passed a bill targeting patent trolls.

The House adopted an amendment from Rep. Jared Polis (D., Colo.) that would require patent holders to disclose their ultimate parent entity when filing lawsuits, to prevent them from hiding behind shell companies. It also approved an amendment from Mr. Rohrabacher that would preserve companies’ ability to appeal the decisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in U.S. district courts.

Opponents of the amendment, including IBM and Microsoft argue that the reform discourages innovation.

Twitter shows ads based on your browsing history

Mashable reports that Twitter will now.

The program, called tailored audiences, rolled out in a smaller scale in July. Using tailored audiences, advertisers can target users who have either visited their website or “shown an interest” in your brand’s category on and outside of Twitter. For advertisers, that means it’s now possible to identify people who are in the market for a product.

Why are people complaining when Google has been doing this all these while with Google AdSense?

Google and Oracle back in court over Java

WIRED.com reports that Google and Oracle are back in court after the later appealed against the decision in a previous suit.

The federal court had ruled in favour of Google after Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google claiming infringement of Java-related patents in Android’s APIs.

The judge originally assigned to the case, Judge William Alsup, went so far as to learn the Java programming language to better understand the technical details of the case, and he eventually concluded that APIs could not be copyrighted. He said that the Java APIs were kinda like the method you would use to organize a library of books, saying that you can copyright the content of the books on a shelf, but not the way they are organized.

Oracle disagreed, and filed an appeal in February, arguing that Google’s use of the Java API was akin to copying the chapter titles and topic sentences of a Harry Potter novel verbatim, paraphrasing the rest, and then trying to pass the whole thing off as an original work.

Path for Andriod allows sharing of moments to WordPress blogs

The Next Web reports that Path has added a feature that allows users to post moments from its Android app to their WordPress blogs.

I hope this comes to iOS soon. While Android is on Path 3.2.4, iOS is still on version 3.2.2.

Apple abused by judge and her prosecutor friend in antitrust suit

WSJ.com writes an editorial about Judge Denise Cote and her friend Michael Bromwich, who she appointed as an external monitor to review antitrust at Apple.

Then, shortly before Thanksgiving and out of the blue, Judge Cote proposed to amend her injunction to grant Mr. Bromwich even greater powers than he already claimed and also to make monthly briefings to her on what he finds—without Apple present. She denied any previous ex parte contact, but Apple’s lawyers say Mr. Bromwich told them that he doesn’t need to wait for the January deadline because Judge Cote privately instructed him during the interview process for the position to get off to a “fast start.”

Bromwich is alleged to be inexperienced in antitrust law.

While he has great political connections, Mr. Bromwich has no experience in antitrust law. The greenhorn is billing Apple at an $1,100 hourly rate and he was forced to hire the law firm Fried Frank to make up for his lack of expertise, at $1,025 a hour. He racked up $138,432.40 in charges for his first two weeks. A spokesman for Mr. Bromwich’s firm, the Bromwich Group, declined to comment on matters currently before the court.

Apple’s smart dock to allow devices to access Siri

Apple Insider reports on an Apple patent application for a smart dock that allows Siri to be used while the device is docked.

Apple’s “Smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device” filing clearly describes an iOS device accessory unlike anything the company has manufactured. Like third-party peripherals, Apple’s proposed dock can include a speaker, microphone and built-in screen, but goes further by allowing access to the Siri virtual assistant.

This means that the docks would be able to use the voice recognition features of Siri and the processing abilities of the virtual assistant.

In operation, a user would perform an initial setup that would include assigning an audio prompt, such as a spoken word or hand clap, that will be used to activate the unit and its services. For example, a user may want to set the prompt as a finger snap. When in listening mode, if the dock “hears” a finger snap, it will activate the iPhone’s voice recognition feature.

Apple celebrates life of Nelson Mandela

9To5Mac reports that Apple has stripped its homepage and replaced it with a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Only a few others have been honoured this way: Gregory Hines, George Harrison, Rosa Parks, Jerry York and Steve Jobs.

Tim Cook and Phil Schiller also tweeted their thoughts:

Apple stores activate iBeacons to push micro-location information to our device

Associated Press reports that Apple stores are now using iBeacons to provide precise location information as you walk around different parts of the store.

On Friday, Apple Inc. began using the technology at its 254 U.S. stores to send you messages about products, events and other information — tailored to where you are inside, provided you have downloaded the Apple Store app and have given it permission to send notices based on your location. You must have Bluetooth turned on and have the latest operating system, iOS 7.

Using the iBeacon feature, the app will notify you if the computer you ordered is ready for pickup, for example. Show a clerk your screen with the order number, and the clerk will get it for you. Walking by an iPhone table? You may get a message asking if you want to upgrade, check your upgrade availability and see if you can get money for trading in your old phone.

Samsung viral ad fumbles when Franz Beckenbauer tweets from iPhone

Apple Insider reports that Samsung’s #Galaxy11 viral campaign fumbles when Franz Beckenbauer tweets from iPhone. The football legend was the manager of Samsung’s Galaxy 11 dream team.

It is not the first time that celebrities who endorse Samsung actually use an iPhone.

John Legere:

Sending promotional tweets about other products from Apple’s iOS devices seems to be quite popular. In October, T-Mobile chief executive John Legere intended to use Twitter to direct attention to Samsung Mobile’s latest Note 3 phablet, but inadvertently did so via his new iPhone 5s.

David Ferrer:

Shortly afterward in April, Spanish tennis player David Ferrer tweeted his satisfaction with his #GalaxyS4 and that he was “configuring S Health on my new #GalaxyS4 to help with training @SamsungMobile,” all via Twitter from his que contento estoy con mi iPhone.

Oprah Winfrey:

Last year, Oprah Winfrey used an iPad to send out tweets endorsing Microsoft’s Surface, using the hashtag “#FavoriteThings” to say she had bought a dozen of them for Christmas gifts.

FBI could be quietly spying on you via your webcam

Whenver your webcam is active, you’ll see an indicator light, right? Wrong. According to Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, the FBI has been able to use emails with malicious links to send malware to their targets.

Once the malware has been deployed, the FBI have the abilty to turn on the target’s webcam without the indicator light coming on. If you think that the government is only using these techniques in order to monitor terrorists, it would be less worrying. The issue is that by now we all know that the government is pretty keen on spying on a lot more than just purported terrorists, and have used questionable methods that forced all the big players in tech to voice out against it.

How would you feel if you knew that the FBI have been quietly watching you through your webcam for a long time?

FBI can spy on you through your webcam without triggering the indicator light… and has had the technology for several years

The FBI has long been able to activate a computer’s camera without triggering the ‘recording light’ to let the owner know the webcam is on, a former assistant director of its tech division has said.