Roundup: Vacay’s over, homie

Good day, ladies and gentlemen (and our usual readers as well.) I’ve just returned from a quick vacation that involved driving through Mississippi. Glad to be home.

 It appears that Skype (and owner Microsoft) have tweaked the routing for calls that use the Voice over IP (VoIP) service.

Skype, the big name in voice (and video) calls, was purchased by Microsoft in May of last year, which lead to a lot of comments and pondering about the service’s future, as well as questions about integration into Microsoft’s operation systems. We’ve heard that Skype won’t be integrated into WP8, but it will have deeper access. Now, Microsoft has changed the way calls from the service are routed, pushing the load onto Skype’s own computers. What does it mean? Well, when bundled with the patent that allows them to intercept calls, it means that Skype now has the ability to access your calls. This, of course, is to be used for law enforcement purposes such as wiretap warrants, and not for the pleasure of some creepy Skype employee. When asked, Skype responded with “Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as much as is legally and technically possible,” which is nothing special. Just remember, as long as they require a valid warrant, there’s nothing to worry about. Law Enforcement has recognized that standard wiretaps (phone line) do not work as well as they used to, because of encrypted services like Skype, yet they still serve a purpose. If Skype’s lawyers don’t just hand over the keys at the drop of a hat, we’ll be ok.

Apple asks for the sky to fall on Samsung.

Apple, butthurt capitalist kings, have asked for a cool $2.5 billion-with-a-b from Samsung for patent infringement for such intellectual gems as “over scroll bounce” ($2.02/unit), scrolling API ($3.10/unit) and “tap and zoom to navigate”  ($2.02/unit) as well as $24 per unit sold for trade dress infringement. As we’ve discussed many times on the podcast (Tune in on Sunday evenings!) we hate these patent wars. Little gimmicks like this should not be patented, nor should they be approved for patents (seriously, read that article). Of course, Apple lost a similar fight in the UK, and was even ordered to proclaim to the world that they lost. Maybe some more logic will sprout in the US over these cases so we can all move into the future, unfettered by animals that spend tons of stockholders’ money on a “scroll bounce” at the end of a list.

Is there an optical drive cartel?

According to the European Union Commission, there very well could be. Thirteen companies that sell optical drives in the EU have been notified that they are under investigation for participating in a worldwide cartel. Way to make nerds sound exciting, guys. They are alleged to have been participating in bid rigging over the past five years, which would drive up the prices for optical drives and affect the price a consumer pays for a product containing such drives.

Man fights against copyright trolls.

Being hit with a letter that says you owe thousands of dollars because you illegally downloaded porn has got to be kind of tough on someone. You have two options: Pay the hush money settlement, or go to court and have your name forever connected with porn. Well, Jeff Fantalis found the will to fight against these trolls, who send the letters out knowing that people would rather pay up than fight (due to the settlement amount being less than hiring a lawyer.) He has filed suit against Malibu Media, the company that sued him, for defamation, emotional distress, abuse of process and invasion of privacy, asking for loads of money. He points out that an IP does not identify a person, and the counter-suit details the ways in which the copyright trolls operate (extremely amusing summary in link), including setting up honeypots with the movies available for download so that they may collect IP information for future copyright infringement lawsuits, instead of having the movies removed from torrent sites. Oh, and he’s also asked that the courts to rule that porn can’t be copyrighted, as copyrights are meant to promote “progress of science” or be a “useful art,” and he argues that pornography is none of those. That’d make all these porn-troll cases disappear rather fast.

Someone’s trolling Iran, hard.

Seriously, this is kind of funny. Well, it’d be funnier if it didn’t involve nuclear equipment, but it’s still good for a giggle. Iranian nuclear facilities have been hit with a virus that turns lab PCs on at midnight, blasting AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. An unnamed Iranian scientist wrote Mikko Hypponen, Chief Researcher at F-secure (a Finnish digital security firm,) which he published. The letter states that enrichment labs in Natanz and a secret lab in Fordo have been hit with the virus, which shut down the equipment. Siemens, a German engineering firm who supplies the equipment to Iran, has been targeted before.  While the reporting scientist claims to have no idea how the virus works, we’re glad to have his report, although we wish it’d been a more appropriate song.

edX is open!

edX, the collaborative online education effort from MIT, UC Berkley and Harvard, is live. The participating schools have put almost $30 million each into the project, which offers free online courses such as “Software as a service” as well as chemistry and others. If you want to learn something, for free, head over to see what’s up.

YouTube wants to weed out trolling with real names.

There are many places on the internet where I try to stay anonymous: Reddit is a good example, YouTube is another. However, YouTube plans to change that. There are many reports of YouTube asking users to ensure their real name is correct, because that is what will be displayed when you comment. As of now, you can opt out, but you are prompted about your reasoning. I’m sure that bands/groups/websites won’t have a problem, but it may come to pass that you are required to use your real name or have your commenting ability revoked. Now, lying is still an option, but I hope this brings the average YouTube comment up to some sort of par.

Steve Jobs to be put in Russian monument. 

In an odd move, a private organization in Russia has announced a competition to design a memorial to Steve Jobs that will be placed in St. Petersburg. There’s no limit to what you can submit, although I assume a statue of the late Apple CEO flogging Chinese workers would not pass the panel of judges, which includes “Advanced IT specialists,” whatever that means. Hungary already has a statue of the man, and he’s had other countries naming stuff after him, all due to his large presence in the IT world. I think it’s a little nutty to idolize the guy who ensured that people walking down the street no longer have to make eye contact with bears

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