Lenovo blocked from acquiring BlackBerry by Canadian government

The Globe and Mail reports on the Canadian government’s rejection of Lenovo’s plan to acquire BlackBerry.

Beijing-based computer manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd. actively considered a bid for BlackBerry Ltd., but the Canadian government told the smartphone company it would not accept a Chinese takeover because of national security concerns, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Ottawa made it clear in high-level discussions with BlackBerry that it would not approve a Chinese company buying a company deeply tied into Canada’s telecom infrastructure, sources said. The government made its position known over the last one to two months. Because Ottawa made it clear such a transaction would not fly, it never formally received a proposal from BlackBerry that envisioned Lenovo acquiring a stake, sources said.

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise for Lenovo.

Microsoft makes $2 billion from Android patents, loses $2.5 billion on Skype, Xbox, and Windows Phone

Business Insider reports on comments made by analyst Rick Sherlund on Microsoft.

For the past few years, Microsoft reported the revenue and operating losses of Entertainment and Devices, which was the group that housed Xbox, Windows Phone, and those Android royalty payments.

That group always seemed to be profitable, but Sherlund says it’s largely because of the Android money.

Sherlund says that if you back out the Android profits, Microsoft is probably losing $2.5 billion on Skype, Xbox, and Windows Phone. Of that, $2 billion in losses are attributable to the Xbox platform.

It is interesting to note that Google does not charge licensing fees for Android but Microsoft ends up making big earnings purely through patents.

And of course, do note that these claims are not official figures.

About the new iWork for Mac

Apple’s support document regarding iWork for Mac.

In rewriting these applications, some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release. We plan to reintroduce some of these features in the next few releases and will continue to add brand new features on an ongoing basis.

Good to know that they have not ditched these features. I believe it is a step backwards on the OS X front for iWork so that the suite can move forward together with iOS and iCloud versions of the apps.

I will gladly bite the bullet now and look forward to a future where the apps are compatible and transferable across platforms.

Apple has left the older version of the apps available because they know that people will still want the features and made sure that users had a choice which version of the apps they want to use.

In the meanwhile, you can continue to use these features by accessing the previous versions of the iWork applications which remain installed on your Mac. The previous versions can be found in Applications > iWork ’09.

Apple employs ‘warrant canary’ to warn users of future compliance with Patriot Act info requests

Apple reports on government information requests(PDF) includes a silent alarm to warn users if it had been forced to comply to such requests.

But another aspect of Apple’s report today stands out as a bold and clever move. Senior Counsel & Free Expression Director at Center for Democracy & Technology Kevin Bankston, formerly an EFF Attorney, noted an interesting claim in the document. Specifically, Apple stated specifically that it had never received a PATRIOT 215 order.

The very last line of Apple’s report today states “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

The cleverness of this becomes evident when you realize that if it had received such an order, it could not disclose it under current rules surrounding national security orders for user data. This tactic of announcing ‘nothing’ with regards to a government subpoena for data is known as a kind of ‘warrant canary’. Basically, Apple says that at this point it has not received any such order. But, if that phrase stops appearing in future transparency reports, this acts as a ‘canary in a coal mine‘ that indicates to users that it may have been forced to comply with such an order and not disclose it in the future.

Clever indeed. Apple is trying its best to be socially responsible by including such a silent alarm.

OS X Mavericks Mail app updated

Apple has updated the Mail app for OS X Mavericks with a few fixes.

  • Fixes an issue that prevents deleting, moving, and archiving messages for users with custom Gmail settings
  • Addresses an issue that may cause unread counts to be inaccurate
  • Includes additional fixes that improve the compatibility and stability of Mail

Previously I reported on problems using Gmail with the Mail app on Mavericks and some people are even ditching Gmail due to the issues with Mail app.

Instagram rival Mobli to be pushed to millions of phones

There are no shortage of social apps out there, though with the support of Billionaire Carlos Slim and Latin America’s biggest wireless carrier, Mobli could be a force to be reckoned with.

How Billionaire Carlos Slim Is Pushing Instagram Rival Mobli Onto Millions Of Phones

Mobli is like Instagram but with extra features, including hash tagging for locations and a direct messaging service. Hogeg got the idea for the app when he was at a concert and saw the audience filming and photographing the performers. “I wanted to connect the eyes of everyone,” he said, adding that Mobli now has the second-largest database of photos and videos among mobile apps, after Instagram.

International hypocrisy on privacy

With the U.S., and its NSA in particular, increasingly in the spotlight over ignoring privacy issues, many companies and individuals are beginning to look to other countries for alternatives. Germany has always been an option, though it’s best to know the differences of each country before diving in.

Apple just revealed Germany’s conflicted attitude to privacy

The fact remains that Germany has built up a solid reputation as a vanguard for its citizens’ privacy. It has some of the harshest data protection rules in the world and was the first to go after Google for picking up Wi-Fi data while collecting imagery for its Street View project. Less well known is that the fine was lowered after Google shared the data with the government.

Switzerland is another country that is well known for its stance on privacy, but even with those measures in place, once your data crosses borders, the rules will change.

Swisscom builds ‘Swiss Cloud’ as spying storm rages

Yet while Swiss privacy laws will govern data stored locally in Switzerland, Swisscom says it is hard to guarantee the security of data that crosses borders, such as information exchanged by employees working in different countries.

Bookstores don’t want to offer Amazon’s Kindle

It’s not hard to imagine why bookstores generally aren’t too fond of Amazon, but in the end, the bookstores will need to crunch the numbers and decide if they’re willing to ignore customers who are looking to get eBooks instead of physical books.

As for Amazon, this is a smart move to expand the reach of its Kindle readers, as well as a potential trojan horse.

Amazon’s New Kindle Offer Rejected by Indie Bookstores

But to many booksellers, the offer is about as subtle as the Trojan rabbit in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and they seem just as willing to fling it back in Amazon’s face. Jeremy Ellis, the manager at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, tells us he can see “how a store that feels a need to be in the e-book market could see a Kindle in their store as a benefit.” But ultimately, he calls this notion “a lie.”

“You are putting your competition inside your store and selling their books for them,” he says of stores who embrace the Amazon program. “That ultimately will not lead to a successful business model.”

Google+ profile photo to automatically become your caller ID photo

Google’s revamped dialer for Android 4.4 KitKat which pulls information from Google Maps is pretty awesome. The news that Google is going to automatically use your Google+ photo for your caller ID might cause a privacy uproar by some folks though.

Google will show your Google+ photo to Android callers starting early next year

Android 4.4 KitKat debuted last week with a smart new phone dialer that matches incoming calls to businesses with a Google Places listing, but that’s just the start of Google’s plans for caller ID. Early next year the search giant plans to link Google+ profile pictures to mobile phone numbers. Google accounts that have a verified phone number will be automatically opted in and linked to the associated Google+ account. In reality this means that anyone using Android to call, or receive a call, from a number linked to a Google+ account will see a profile image automatically without the need to have contact information stored.

Lavabit not as secure as previously thought

A lot has been made recently over the NSA’s actions, but regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, having the option for secure, encrypted emails is always important. It’s possible that Lavabit wasn’t as secure as it was marketed to be, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the importance of encryption, especially in this day and age.

Will we ever have truly private and secure email?

Despite the use of cryptography, Lavabit is also vulnerable to all three just like a conventional (unencrypted) e-mail service. The operator can, at any time, stop averting their eyes, an attacker who compromises the server can log the password a user transmits, and an attacker who can intercept communication to the server can obtain the password as well as the plaintext e-mail.

Even though Lavabit’s security page went on at length about how, in the age of the PATRIOT act, users shouldn’t accept a Privacy Policy as enough to protect them, that is almost exactly what it implemented. The cryptography was nothing more than a lot of overhead and some shorthand for a promise not to peek. Even though it advertised that it “can’t” read your e-mail, what it meant was that it would choose not to.