Apple abused by judge and her prosecutor friend in antitrust suit 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.

Codeacademy: Hour of Code teaches you programming on your iPhone

When someone says that they want to learn programming, the mental image that you’ll have is usually of someone tapping away at their desktop keyboard and reading reference materials in order to get started. Codeacademy is looking to change that.

The Codecademy: Hour of Code iPhone app which was just released aims to teach users the basics of programming within one hour. This is meant to be achieved in short bursts throughout the day.

While I’m not sure if learning to program from your phone and in short bursts is the way to go, but you can be rest assured that Codeacademy knows how to teach programming. The online programming tutor was founded back in 2011 and has raised a good $12.5 million in order to achieve its goal of bringing programming to the masses.

If you’re planning on learning how to code and want to get your feet wet, give it a shot.

Codecademy: Hour of Code app teaches programming skills to iPhone owners

The company’s first mobile app is starting with a simpler goal: to help iPhone owners “learn the basics of coding in under one hour” through a set of quick demonstrations and exercises designed to be completed in short bursts throughout the day.

Not to be confused with hacking in the movies.

Facebook runs giant stacks of Mac Minis reports that Facebook employs Mac Mini farms in its data centres.

Facebook’s iOS app is so complex — designed to run on so many mobile devices across the world, and built with code written by so many Facebook engineers — that the company needs an enormous network of machines to test it. “We run hundreds of thousands of tests every couple of hours,” says Christian Legnitto, the ex-Apple man who oversees the Facebook engineering team responsible for the final release of the company’s mobile apps. “When you’re shipping [an app] to hundreds of millions of users, those one-in-a-million bugs can happen hundreds of times.”

But because Apple insists that all Apple software run on Apple machines, Facebook can’t test its iOS app on the Linux servers that drive the rest of its empire — or on the popular cloud services offered by tech giants like Amazon or Microsoft. So, says Legnitto, the company operates “racks and racks” of Mac Minis that run Apple’s Mac OS X operating system.

Last week, I reported on Google using 40,000 Macs.

Square Reader refined

The team behind the Square Reader have a keen eye for detail, so it’s no surprise that a lot of thought went into the redesigned Square Reader.

How Apple’s Lightning-Plug Guru Reinvented Square’s Card Reader

The friction felt when a user swipes their card is a good example of how the team kept an eye on the fine points of the device.

The redesign also gave Dorogusker and company a chance to tweak the feel of the swipe itself, which is a crucial detail that makes the product itself feel trustworthy despite its tininess. By tweaking the design of the spring to which the magnetic read head was attached, the team was able to fine-tune the friction customers feel when swiping their card. At one point in development, they found that the level of contact they needed to successfully transfer data from a card resulted in a swipe that felt too loose. And when the swipe felt too loose, it felt like it wasn’t working, and would thus require another swipe. So they increased the friction above what was actually needed–an adjustment that was overkill from a technical point of view but resulted in a swipe that felt perfect to the hand.

One of the greatest improvements in the new Square Reader is that it doesn’t require a battery to operate anymore. Simplifying the device, and removing an additional point of failure.

In terms of the design of the internals, though, the chip offered another fantastic advantage: an opportunity to ditch the Reader’s battery. The old version relied on a coin cell, which added around two millimeters to the overall thickness of the device. With their own chip, though, Square was able to be much more efficient in their use of power, to the point that they could draw all they needed from the smartphone via the audio jack. As a result, the new Reader dropped the battery and two millimeters along with it. “For the nerds on the team, that is crazy awesome,” Dorogusker says.

Large tech companies seek global government surveillance reform

The issue of government spying has been in the spotlight ever since Edward Snowden’s exposé. Now several major tech companies are banding together at to call for the reform of government surveillance. We’re talking about heavy hitters, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, AOL, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yahoo.

The principles that they’re calling for include:

  • Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
  • Oversight and Accountability
  • Transparency About Government Demands
  • Respecting the Free Flow of Information
  • Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments

There isn’t any promise that the government will listen and implement any recommendations from these companies, but they have a much larger voice than the average privacy advocate on the street, so hopefully their collective voice (and clout) will count for something.

Eight Big Tech Companies Demand That The Government Changes How It Spies And Handles User Data