Archive for the ‘PROBLEMS FAQ’ Category

ANDROID PHONES AND APPLE FALSE PATENTS

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

IS GOOGLE ANDROID -SAMSUNG THREATENED BY APPLES FALSE PATENTS?

Google’s chief legal officer has launched a blistering attack on competitors, including Apple, for attempting to stifle innovation by using “bogus patents” to target Google’s Android partners including Samsung.

David Drummond, who is also Google’s senior vice-president, wrote in an explosive blog post that the patent wars were pushing up the prices of Android smartphones and tablets. This was part of a “hostile, organised campaign” being waged by Apple, Microsoft and others to “strangle” Android, which Google provides free of charge.

His remarks come after Apple succeeded in hobbling the Australian launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 after accusing it in the Federal Court this week of infringing 10 Apple patents including the “look and feel” and touchscreen technology of the iPad.

Mr Drummond implied that Microsoft and Apple were getting “into bed together” to stifle Android’s success. He revealed that more than 550,000 Android devices were being activated worldwide every day through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers.

He said this competition was yielding “cool new devices and amazing mobile apps for consumers”.

“But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organised campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” he wrote.

Apple sought injunctions preventing Samsung from selling or advertising the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia – and demanded all of Samsung’s stock be sent to it to be destroyed.

Samsung has agreed not to market the US version of the tablet in Australia but has said it will launch a modified version and has agreed to send Apple samples of the device seven days before it goes on sale. It is likely Apple will also seek injunctions preventing the sale of the Australian version upon receiving the samples.

Patent experts claim that Samsung will not be able to modify the tablet sufficiently to avoid infringing Apple’s broad and far-reaching patents on multi-touch, gestures, list scrolling and other features.

Separately, the FOSS Patents blog has broken down some of the patents in question and argues it will be difficult for any Android maker to escape an Apple infringement suit.

Apple is suing Samsung in nine other countries as well and has launched other legal attacks on HTC and Motorola for allegedly infringing its patents with Android devices and stealing its ideas. Google itself faces patent suits from Oracle, which seeks billions of dollars in damages, claiming Google’s Android infringes its Java patents.

Mr Drummond cited these patent battles as well as the fact that a consortium including Microsoft and Apple recently bought thousands of Novell and Nortel’s old patents and were using them to demand a $US15 licensing fee for every Android device. He said this would make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android than Windows Mobile.

“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he wrote.

“A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a ‘tax’ for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”

Mr Drummond said this was an “anti-competitive strategy” designed to “strangle” Android.

Google has responded by attempting to buy up its own cache of patents and has hired one of the US Federal Trade Commission’s top patent lawyers. Despite its criticisms of Apple and Microsoft for joining to buy Nortel’s patents for $US4.5 billion, Google also put in a bid.

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith fired back with a tweet: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Microsoft’s PR team backed Smith’s tweet up with a picture of an email that appears to corroborate his remarks.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has previously accused Apple of responding to Android’s success with lawsuits rather than innovation.

“We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success,” he said last month, commenting on Apple’s battle with HTC.

Kimberlee Weatherall, an Australian intellectual property lawyer, blogger and academic, wrote on The Conversation website that “the breadth of monopoly Apple is claiming” over basic smartphone features was “breathtaking”.

“I’d like to think Apple won’t be able to maintain a claim that broad, but in patent law, you never know – it all depends on what existed before the date of the patent,” Ms Weatherall said.

One of the patents “seems to cover most commands given using more than one finger on a touchscreen of any computing device (mobile phone, tablet, or anything else). Think ‘pinch to zoom’ and everything else”.

Technology companies, particularly Microsoft, Apple and Google, are buying up stacks of technology company patents in order both to demand licensing fees and to protect themselves from patent litigation by other companies.

In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Google general counsel Kent Walker argued that a patent wasn’t innovation but rather “the right to block someone else from innovating”.

“Patents are government-granted monopolies. We have them to reward innovation, but that’s not happening here.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

GOOGLE ANDROID & VIRUS VULNERABILITY

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Google’s Android

more vulnerable to

viruses than Apple’s

iOS:

Security firm states

January 13, 2011

Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices is more vulnerable to hackers and viruses than Apple’s iPhone platform, according to security software maker Trend Micro.

“Android is open-source, which means the hacker can also understand the underlying architecture and source code,” Steve Chang, chairman of Trend Micro, the world’s largest provider of security software for corporate servers, said in an interview. “We have to give credit to Apple, because they are very careful about it. It’s impossible for certain types of viruses” to operate on the iPhone, he said.

Google, owner of the world’s most-popular online search engine, offers Android for free and allows developers access to its code for writing software. Apple, whose iOS software trails Android in smartphone market share, requires every application to be approved before being sold in its online store.

“On all computing devices, users necessarily entrust at least some of their information to the developer of the application they’re using,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in an emailed statement. “Android has taken steps to inform users of this trust relationship and to limit the amount of trust a user must grant to any given application developer.”

‘The next PC’

Chang said he’s betting Android users will start to buy more security software for mobile devices.

“Smartphones are the next PC, and once they’re adopted by enterprises, data loss will be a very key problem,” he said.

On January 7, Tokyo-based Trend Micro released Mobile Security for Android, software that users can install on a mobile phone to block viruses, malicious programs and unwanted calls. Trend Micro aims for the $US3.99 application to help it gain revenue from the more than 250 million phones Gartner expects will run on Android by 2014.

“Apple has a sandbox concept that isolates the platform, which prevents certain viruses that want to replicate themselves or decompose and recompose to avoid virus scanners,” Chang said.

Apple’s iOS isn’t fully immune to security threats and may be hit with so-called social-engineering attacks, which trick users into authorising the download or installation of malicious software, Chang said. Trend Micro offers a security application for Apple’s iOS, he said.

Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Market share

Phones using Android accounted for around 26 % of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, behind Symbian, used in Nokia Oyj handsets, and ahead of iOS, which had a 17 % share, researcher Gartner said November 10.

In 2014, 259 million devices, or 29.6 per cent of all smartphones, will use Android, trailing 30.2 per cent share for Symbian and ahead of 15 per cent share for iOS, Gartner predicted in September.

Trend Micro’s 2010 revenue is expected to have dropped 1.3 per cent to 95 billion yen ($1.16 billion) and net income is forecast to be 22 per cent lower, at 13.7 billion yen, according to the average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

TEXTING WHILE WALKING IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH & WEALTH

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Water fall:

texting woman

who stumbled

into mall fountain

threatens to sue

January 21, 2011 – 1:14PM

Texting woman falls in fountain, sues mall

A woman accidentally fell into a fountain while text messaging and is now suing the shopping centre.

A US woman whose fall into a shopping centre fountain has become a viral video sensation is threatening to sue the mall.

Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, was texting on her mobile phone when she tumbled head first into a shallow fountain in a mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, this month.

“I saw the water coming at me, I could see the pennies and nickels at the bottom of the fountain and then I was in it,” Marrero told local newspaper the Reading Eagle.

Advertisement: Story continues below
Oblivious ... Cathy Cruz Marrero texts while she walks towards the fountain.
Oblivious … Cathy Cruz Marrero texts while she walks towards the fountain.

A video of her fall, which was captured on the centre’s CCTV cameras, was posted on YouTube and has since attracted more than 1½ million views. Laughter could be heard on the footage while it was being played.

Marrero, who works at a store in the centre, told US television network ABC’s Good Morning America she had initially laughed at her fall but added that no one had taken her feelings into consideration when they posted the video on the internet.

“It shows in the video. Nobody went to my aid. Not one single person … it could have been anybody’s mother. It could have been a senior citizen falling and would they have gotten the same treatment as I did?” she asked.

Stumble ... Cathy Cruz Marrero walks into the side of the shallow fountain.
Stumble … Cathy Cruz Marrero walks into the side of the shallow fountain.

“I didn’t get an apology, what I got was, ‘At least nobody knows it was you.’ But I knew it was me.”

Marrero’s lawyer, James Polyak, said they suspected someone in the mall’s security office recorded the footage on a mobile phone.

“We intend to hold all responsible parties accountable whether that means requesting or demanding an apology – certainly requesting an explanation for why this happened, how this happened,” he said.

Head first ... Cathy Cruz Marrero falls towards the water.
Head first … Cathy Cruz Marrero falls towards the water.

Marrero, who has convictions for theft from the 1990s, is free on $US7500 ($7600) bail for theft by deception and receiving stolen property charges from 2009, the Eagle reported.

She is due back in court in April and could face six months of house arrest and be forced to wear an electronic tag.

Marrero admitted to Good Morning America‘s host George Stephanopoulos that she did learn a lesson from her fall.

Making a splash ... Cathy Cruz Marrero's leg flails in the air as she goes under the water.
Making a splash … Cathy Cruz Marrero’s leg flails in the air as she goes under the water.

“Do not text and walk,” she said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

VODAFONE DEALERS BENDING THE RULES &…

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Revealed:

How Vodafone dealers

bend the rules

posing as customers

Asher Moses

January 21, 2011 – 12:41PM

Vodafone customers vent their frustration

Vodafone customers give their verdict on connection problems and the standard of service.

    A Vodafone dealer’s staff have been caught posing as customers to cancel the customers’ original accounts in order to sign them up for new contracts with higher commissions.

    The staff members of Communications Direct Pty Ltd have also breached privacy by forwarding detailed customer call records outside the company.

    Evidence seen by this website, including internal emails, shows managers at the dealer initiated and encouraged some of the behaviour. They are still employed with the company, which remains a Vodafone agent despite Vodafone saying in a statement that it had rectified the issues and took “all allegations of unethical business practices extremely seriously”.

    Advertisement: Story continues below

    The Privacy Commissioner is already investigating Vodafone over the security of its customers’ information and said yesterday that the new information provided by this website would be included in its investigation.

    The privacy investigation comes after just under 20,000 customers signed on to a class action lawsuit targeting Vodafone over network issues that caused poor reception, dropped calls and delayed voicemail and SMS.

    The email documents, sent over the first half of last year, show that staff at Comms Direct, which acts as an agent for Vodafone, had top-tier access to the database containing personal details and call records of all of Vodafone’s customers. These sensitive details, contained in a system provided by software maker Siebel, could be accessed by Comms Direct call centre staff without customers giving their permission.

    Comms Direct’s managers instructed staff to use the system to search for customers who were approaching the end of their contracts with Vodafone and to offer to re-sign them with a better deal.

    “Take a look at the spend and usage. See if we can offer a better deal and then close them,” one wrote in an email.

    This method was used to acquire customers from other Vodafone dealers, who may not have the same level of access to Vodafone’s customer database. It was referred to internally as “Siebel farming” and the email evidence includes complaints to Comms Direct from dealers who lost customers as a result of the practice.

    “Other dealers would say we built up the relationship, they fell into our database, you took advantage of the system and accessed it and stole our customers – internally there’s lots of issues that way,” said a former Comms Direct staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The dealer earns more commission from connecting new accounts than upgrading existing ones, so managers encouraged staff to call Vodafone customer care, pretend to be the customer, and ask that the original service be disconnected, sources said.

    The dealer could then sign them up as a new connection, with individual sales staff receiving double the normal commission ($50 instead of $25).

    However, in some cases, Vodafone has failed to disconnect the old accounts and customers were unwittingly left with multiple accounts and multiple charges.

    “Anyone who does a wireless broadband sale to a male customer needs to take ownership of calling customer service to have the old wireless broadband disconnected,” a manager wrote in an email to staff in March last year, adding that by doing so they would earn an additional $25 commission.

    “If it is a woman customer that you are making a sale to, this will be still classed as a new connection as the operations team can disconnect these girls over the phone.”

    Comms Direct’s website says it is “Vodafone’s largest premium partner”.

    This website has also seen evidence that on several occasions last year at least one Comms Direct staff member accessed the unbilled call history of a man and forwarded the details on to a private Hotmail account.

    Other internal Comms Direct emails suggest the dealer engaged in “SIM stacking”, whereby extra mobile numbers are added to a business customer’s account without their knowledge. This helps dealers earn more commissions and hit their monthly connection targets, a source said.

    In one email, a customer emailed a manager to ask why they were given 11 phone numbers when they needed only one. The manager replied that “the rest are spare”.

    Vodafone Hutchison Australia, Comms Direct and the NSW Police have been provided with the documentary evidence containing the above allegations.

    NSW Police said it had assigned an officer to examine the allegations, while Comms Direct said it was drafting a response but this had not arrived at the time of publication.

    Vodafone refused to respond to the individual allegations but said it had “already taken action to address” the issues and some sales staff at Communications Direct who were involved in the activities no longer worked there.

    Vodafone said it had also restricted access to its systems “to prevent this type of unauthorised business practice”.

    “VHA takes all allegations of unethical business practices extremely seriously and as a direct result of issues raised by VHA, a number of staff from Communications Direct had their employment terminated last year,” a spokesman said.

    However, the top managers who were revealed in the email documents to have condoned some of the activities are all still employed at the company.

    “If a blind eye is turned to this kind of chicanery where does it end and who takes responsibility? Does Vodafone just wash its hands and say well it’s the dealer’s responsibility?” said Christopher Zinn, spokesman for consumer group Choice.

    “When consumers go to a shop and it says Vodafone on the outside, they are not necessarily cognisant of the difference between what is a Vodafone store and what is a Vodafone dealer store.”

    This month it was revealed that the personal details of millions of Vodafone customers, including their names, home addresses, driver’s licence numbers and credit card details, had been available on the internet. They could be accessed using generic login details that unscrupulous dealers reportedly gave or sold to people, including criminals.

    Vodafone said it had implemented a number of security measures to prevent similar security breaches in future. It would not detail what these were, but, in an email sent to dealers on Wednesday, Vodafone said it would now require each dealer to provide a static IP address for their internet connection in order to access the customer database.

    This would allow Vodafone to track which stores are accessing particular pieces of information and ensure that they only accessed the database from the store itself.

    However, Elissa Freeman, policy director for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, said the step came “after the horse has bolted”.

    “ACCAN is concerned that it may in fact not be possible for Vodafone to trace back and uncover which customers have had their privacy breached, by whom, and what information has been passed on to who, for what purpose,” she said.

    “If this is the case then Vodafone needs to be upfront and inform all its customers directly, in writing, without delay.”

    Vodafone claims it has invested over $550 million in its network since June 2009 and will spend a similar amount over the course of this year.

    It says performance has already improved but a significant number of customers have already jumped ship to competing telcos. Many complained that it took in excess of two hours to reach Vodafone’s customer care line and even then they were connected to people in overseas call centres who were not aware of the issues affecting Vodafone’s network.

    Vodafone this week gave dealers a question and answer sheet containing pre-written responses to many customer complaints. It can be found here.

    Adam Brimo, who created the Vodafail.com site out of frustration at Vodafone’s network issues, has today sent a report to Australian regulators summarising the issues affecting the tens of thousands of Vodafone customers who used the site to register their complaints about the telco.

    The 27-page report can be found here.

    The telecommunications industry is self-regulated under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code. However, ACCAN said holes in the code meant that, even with the current Vodafone issues, the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), would struggle to find a clear breach.

    And even if it did find a breach, the most it could do was order Vodafone to comply with the code.

    ACMA has been conducting an inquiry into customer service in the telco sector and its findings are due to be released in March.

    Do you know more? asher.moses@smh.com.au

    Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


    APPLE HAS GRIEF WITH CHINESE AUTHORITIES

    Friday, January 21st, 2011

    Green group

    accuses Apple of

    not being green

    January 21, 2011 – 9:33AM

    iPhone maker Apple was criticised by Chinese green groups for lax corporate oversight of its suppliers in China, leading to poor environmental and work safety standards that poisoned dozens of factory workers.

    Apple, which announced blockbuster profits and a dazzling outlook for iPhone and iPad sales earlier this week, continues to be dogged by accusations of aggressive pricing and secretive supply chain management in Chinese factories where they now assemble most of their products.

    “We’ve found that Apple isn’t honouring its commitment in ensuring its supply chain’s work safety and environmental responsibility and giving dignity and respect to the workers,” said Ma Jun, of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) which published a detailed report on Apple supply chain malpractice this week, in conjunction with other green groups.

    Advertisement: Story continues below

    “[Apple] only care about the price and quality [of their products] and not the environmental and social responsibility issues. In some ways they drive the suppliers to cut corners to win their contracts,” Ma said.

    Apple said it had a rigorous auditing regime and all its suppliers were monitored and investigated regularly.

    “Our supplier responsibility reports document the progress of our extensive auditing program since 2006,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

    Foxconn suicides

    Last year, Apple’s main China supplier Foxconn was hit by over a dozen worker suicides that critics blamed on harsh factory conditions and a militaristic culture. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has denied the allegations, saying that Foxconn is not a sweatshop.

    Many Western multinationals – including toymaker Mattel which suffered a toxic lead paint scandal in 2007 – have struggled to regulate product quality across scores of suppliers in knotted Chinese supply chains, but the report said Apple’s standards fell far short of its status as a leading global brand.

    “It’s not easy to control [the supply chain] but peer brands are doing a lot more [than Apple] to deal with this,” said Ma.

    The nine-month survey “The other face of Apple” found that at least 49 factory workers in eastern China working in factories assembling products for Apple, had fallen ill.

    Lianjian Technology in the eastern city of Suzhou which the green group claims is one of Apple’s major touchscreen suppliers, was accused of using N-Hexane, a toxic solvent, to clean touch screens, leading to at least 47 factory workers being poisoned.

    Another company named by the green group as a user of N-Hexane was Taiwan-based touchscreen chip maker Wintek. A Wintek spokesman said it had stopped using the chemical and all its employees had recovered.

    “Apple’s lack of responsiveness eventually made us quite shocked. It’s the whole complacency that it doesn’t have to be accountable to the NGOs, to the communities, even to the poisoned workers,” Ma said.

    Reuters

    Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


    SUPER TOUGH SMARTPHONE GLASS COVERS RELEASED BY ASAHI GLASS MAKERS OF JAPAN

    Friday, January 21st, 2011

    Asahi Glass unveils

    super-strong

    smartphone cover

    January 21, 2011 – 9:33AM
    A reporter tries to scratch the surface of a Dragontrail glass developed by Asahi Glass with a key.A reporter tries to scratch the surface of a Dragontrail glass developed by Asahi Glass with a key. Photo: AP

    Gorilla glass, meet Dragontrail.

    Asahi Glass, Japan’s largest glass maker, this week released a super-tough, scratch resistant cover for gadgets that it says is several times stronger than conventional glass.

    Called “Dragontrail”, the product represents Asahi’s intensified ambitions to grab a chunk of the surging global market for smartphones and tablets. All those devices need a durable sheath to protect what’s inside from the bumps, nicks and falls that inevitably come with usage

    The biggest player in the market now is Corning, which makes the much-heralded “Gorilla” glass.

    Gorilla, a similarly ultra-strong glass, is used by more than 20 major brands in 200 million-plus mobile phones and mobile devices, according to the New York-based company. It’s in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets, as well as Motorola’s Droid phone and LG’s X300 notebook.

    It’s been rumored to be used by Apple, but neither company has confirmed the much-discussed mystery. Corning says not all customers want to be identified.

    Gorilla has been a huge success for Corning since it picked up its first customer in 2008. It generated $US80 million in revenue in 2009, and soaring demand could boost sales to $US1 billion this year as the glass begins to migrate to high-end TVs.

    So how does Dragontrail stack up against the Gorilla? Asahi Glass executives weren’t saying, declining to make any direct comparisons with competitors.

    Instead, the company says Dragontrail matches the best products currently available and describes Dragontrail as a “superior substitute to conventional cover material”. It is multiple times stronger than soda-lime glass commonly used in windows, resists scratches and has a “beautiful, pristine” finish.

    A brief test by The Associated Press resulted in the glass showing virtually no damage after being scratched hard for several seconds with a key.

    Asahi Glass hopes Dragontrail will generate global revenue of at least 30 billion yen ($366 million) and about 30 per cent market share next year.

    The product is already in some devices, but the company said it could not reveal details about customers or when it signed its first deal.

    President and chief executive Kazuhiko Ishimura called the new glass a “very important global strategic product”.

    “We aim for Dragontrail to serve as one of the foundations for growth for the Asahi Glass Group,” he said at a news conference.

    Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


    THE MIGHTY FROG BRINGS DOWN GOLIATH

    Friday, January 21st, 2011

    See the frog that cut off

    160 telco customers

    and EFTPOS

    January 20, 2011 – 2:36PM
    The frog that took down 160 customers.
    The frog that took down 160 customers. Photo: Supplied

    Due to the wet weather, the frogs in Childers, Queensland have been “breeding like crazy”, with one cutting off hundreds of telecommunications customers.

    The one pictured managed to squeeze into a Telstra roadside cabinet through a failed air filter and shorted out the power tracks of the main board of a Remote Integrated Multiplexer (RIM) unit, according to Telstra spokeswoman Karina Keisler.

    It resulted in over 160 customers not able to receive incoming calls and also took ISDN services (such as EFTPOS) “completely offline”, she said. 

    Communication technician Alan Williams inspecting the cabinet where the frog was found.Communication technician Alan Williams inspecting the cabinet where the frog was found. Photo: Supplied

    Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha