Hugh Pickens writes "Neal Ungerleider notes that cryptography pioneer and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) creator Phil Zimmermann has launched a new startup that provides industrial-strength encryption for Android and iOS where users will have access to encrypted phone calls, emails, VoIP videoconferencing, SMS, and MMS. Text and multimedia messages are wiped from a phone's registry after a pre-determined amount of time, and communications within the network are allegedly completely secure. An 'off-shore' company with employees from many countries, Silent Circle's target market includes troops serving abroad, foreign businesspeople in countries known for surveillance of electronic communications, government employees, human rights activists, and foreign activists. For encryption tools, which are frequently used by dissidents living under repressive regimes and others with legitimate reasons to avoid government surveillance, the consequences of failed encryption can be deadly. 'Everyone has a solution [for security] inside your building and inside your network, but the big concern of the large multinational companies coming to us is when the employees are coming home from work, they're on their iPhone, Android, or iPad emailing and texting,' says Zimmermann. 'They're in a hotel in the Middle East. They're not using secure email. They're using Gmail to send PDFs.' Another high-profile encryption tool, Cryptocat, was at the center of controversy earlier this year after charges that Cryptocat had far too many structural flaws for safe use in a repressive environment."
another random user sends word of a case in Pennsylvania District Court in which Judge Michael Baylson has ordered a trial to resolve the issue of whether an IP address can identify a particular person. The plaintiff, Malibu Media, has filed 349 lawsuits against groups of alleged infringers, arguing that getting subscriber information from an ISP based on an IP address that participated in file-sharing was suitable for identification purposes. A motion filed by the defendants in this case explains "how computer-based technology would allow non-subscribers to access a particular IP address," leading Judge Baylson to rule that a trial is "necessary to find the truth." "The Bellwether trial will be the first time that actual evidence against alleged BitTorrent infringers is tested in court. This is relevant because the main piece of evidence the copyright holders have is an IP-address, which by itself doesn't identify a person but merely a connection. ... Considering what's at stake, it would be no surprise if parties such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are willing to join in. They are known to get involved in crucial copyright troll cases, siding with the defendants. We asked the group for a comment, but have yet to receive a response. On the other side, Malibu Media may get help from other copyright holders who are engaged in mass-BitTorrent lawsuits. A ruling against the copyright holder may severely obstruct the thus far lucrative settlement business model, meaning that millions of dollars are at stake for these companies. Without a doubt, the trial is expected to set an important precedent for the future of mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. One to watch for sure."
redletterdave writes "At the company's media event last month, Apple introduced its fifth-generation iPod Touch and seventh-generation iPod Nano, but only mentioned an October timeframe for when it would start filling pre-orders. Without an official word, it looks like the official launch day for the new iPods is today. Apple Stores around the country are currently stocked with the new iPods and customers who pre-ordered are finally receiving email notifications that their orders have shipped, or are 'preparing to ship.' Still, it is interesting to note that Apple didn't make a special announcement or even post a press release to announce the launch of its newest media players, especially as the competition heats up before the holiday season."
colinneagle writes with news that Facebook is beginning to roll out tests of "want" and "collect" buttons in an attempt to bring users and retailers closer together. "The company is working with Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn, Michael Kors, Wayfair, Neiman Marcus, Fab.com and Smith Optics. The difference between 'liking' and 'wanting' would be like discovering the holy grail of datamining. Inside Facebook said that although the 'Want' button is different than the Want plugin that developer Tom Waddington noticed in June, the company may eventually offer it as a plugin. Unsurprisingly, Facebook wants to keep people on the site as opposed to leaving to visit Pinterest. Collections will offer retailers a Pinterest-like option to engage buyers, offer users a way to collect images, while also collecting even more data about users. For example, Facebook asks, 'Why are you collecting this?' Regardless of a user's answer, the wants and collects will surely be used to deliver targeted ads. Eventually, the Collections feature could help Facebook generate more revenue."
An anonymous reader writes "Today in a blog post, Pandora has shared some details of the fees they pay to musical artists for playing songs over their music streaming service. Over 2,000 different artists will pull in $10,000 or more in the next year, and 800 will get paid over $50,000. They provided a few specific examples as well. Grupo Bryndis, who has a sales rank on Amazon of 183,187 (in other words, who is not at all a household name), is on track to receive $114,192. A few earners are getting over $1 million annually, such as Coldplay and Adele. 'Drake and Lil Wayne are fast approaching a $3 million annual rate each.' The post segues into a broader point about the age of internet radio: 'It's hard to look at these numbers and not see that internet radio presents an incredible opportunity to build a better future for artists. Not only is it bringing tens of millions of listeners back to music, across hundreds of genres, but it is also enabling musicians to earn a living. It's also hard to look at these numbers, knowing Pandora accounts for just 6.5% of radio listening in the U.S., and not come away thinking something is wrong. ... Congress must stop the discrimination against internet radio and allow it to operate on a level playing field, under the same rules as other forms of digital radio.'"
An anonymous reader sends this quote from The Guardian: "Doctors and government health officials should set limits, as they do for alcohol, on the amount of time children spend watching screens – and under-threes should be kept away from the television altogether, according to a paper in an influential medical journal published on Tuesday. A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm. Doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which co-owns the journal with the British Medical Journal group, say they are concerned."
theodp writes "A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "VMware has updated its cloud-management portfolio to support alternative tools, including Amazon's platform. That's a big step for the company, which for some time seemed to shy away from the idea of backing heterogeneous cloud environments. VMware's vFabric Application Director 5.0 is designed to, in the company's words, 'provision applications on any cloud.' That includes Amazon's EC2. The platform includes pre-approved operating system and middleware components for modeling and deploying those aforementioned applications, with the ability to use the platform's blueprints for deploying applications across 'multiple virtual and hybrid cloud infrastructures.' The other platform, vCloud Automation Center 5.1, enables 'policy-based provisioning across VMware-based private and public clouds, physical infrastructure, multiple hypervisors and Amazon Web Services.'" It's quite possible that this move is in response to Microsoft building similar functionality into Hyper-V 2012.
Zothecula writes "Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon's poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists."
Several readers sent word that KDE has published a manifesto. According to its official announcement, the KDE community's growth over the past 15 years has "created a need for clarity about what pulls us together as a community." It continues, "The KDE Manifesto is not intended to change the organization or the way it works. Its aim is only to describe how the KDE Community sees itself. What binds us together are certain values and their practical implications, without regard for who a person is or what background and skills they bring." The manifesto opens boldly, saying, "We are a community of technologists, designers, writers and advocates who work to ensure freedom for all people through our software." It comes along with more detailed descriptions of the benefits and principles of a KDE project.
concealment points out a rebuttal from PCWorld of the increasingly common claims that we live in a post-PC world. "It's an intriguing proposition, but don't count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you're trying to conduct business on the go, it's nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you're trying to complete serious work in an office environment. Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it's computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag."
another random user tips this quote from the BBC: "A wrist-worn sensor that creates 3D-models of the user's hand movements in real-time has been built by Microsoft. The Digits prototype is part of an effort to create a mobile device that would allow its owner to control a range of equipment using hand gestures. The firm said it could be used as a virtual TV control, a way to operate a smartphone while it is in the user's pocket, and to play video games. It is designed to be less cumbersome and uncomfortable than sensor gloves. However, some experts question whether consumers would want to wear such a device during their day-to-day activities." ACM has the research paper (PDF) describing this device and its use.
Following on the success of the various Humble Bundles for DRM-free video games, the organization has just launched its first Humble eBook Bundle. It includes Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Invasion by Mercedes Lackey, Stranger Things Happen, and Magic for Beginners, both by Kelly Link. If you choose to pay more than the average (about $11 at this writing), you also get Old Man's War by John Scalzi, and Signal to Noise, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The books are available in PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats, without DRM. As with all the Humble Bundles, you can choose how much you'd like to pay, and how the proceeds are split between any of the authors and/or among three charities.
MrSeb writes "A few hundred million miles away on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars rover Curiosity has photographed an unidentified, shiny, metallic object. Now, before you get too excited, the most likely explanation is that bright object is part of the rover that has fallen off — or perhaps some debris from MSL Curiosity's landing on Mars, nine weeks ago. There is the distinct possibility, however, that this object is actually native to Mars, which would be far more exciting. It could be the tip of a larger object, or perhaps some kind of exotic, metallic Martian pebble (a piece of metal ore, perhaps). Close-up imagery will now be captured and analyzed, and within the next few days we should know if it's simply a piece of Curiosity — or something a whole lot more exciting."
Today Mozilla released the final version of Firefox 16, which includes a number of new tools for developers. "A number of HTML5 code has been 'unprefixed,' which means that Mozilla has decided it has matured enough to run in the browser without causing instability. The newly unshackled HTML5 includes CSS3 Animations, Transforms, Transitions, Image Values, Values and Units, and IndexedDB. Two Web APIs that Mozilla helped to create, Battery API and Vibration API, are also now unprefixed. These changes help keep Firefox competitive, but it also sends a signal to developers that Mozilla thinks these are good enough to begin baking into their sites. It's a strong endorsement of the 'future-Web' tech." Here's the complete change list and the download page.