Let’s Cut the Cord on Proprietary Wireless Adapters

The Bluetooth standard has been pretty solid for a handful of years. So why are hardware makers still using proprietary wireless dongles for mice? That causes a big issue when your mobile device only has a few USB ports. Why waste that Bluetooth radio?

Apps in Windows Marketplace for Mobile Have Remote Kill Switch

windows-mobileMicrosoft (s msft) is readying the Windows Marketplace, which is expected to launch in just a few weeks. The Marketplace, an online shop for finding and buying apps for Windows phones based on the Windows Mobile OS, is Microsoft’s answer to the Apple (s aapl) iTunes App Store. The store will carry apps for the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 platform at first, with support for the older 6.1 version later this year. Troubling information about the Marketplace has appeared at the Microsoft Tech.Ed in New Zealand. Microsoft has admitted that apps sold in the Marketplace have a remote kill switch, and that approved apps sold in the store that are subsequently removed will be automatically deleted from customer devices — reminiscent of the Amazon (s amzn) Kindle book deleting.
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This Week’s Gmail Outage: It’s Only Email, Get Over It

box_carton_143186This week Gmail went down and you would have thought the world stopped. The reaction all over the web was overwhelming, and Twitter became nearly useless if you wanted to hear about anything else. I mean, come on, it’s only email, not the end of the world. Now, hear me out before you start railing against what I’m saying.
My email is pure Gmail (s goog), so the outage affected me like all the other Gmail users. My email went down, stayed down for a while, and then came back up just like yours. Did I panic? No, I knew it would come back, and pretty soon at that. Did the lack of email kill off my productivity? Nope. I just worked on other things.
Let’s face it, email is hosted on servers, whether Google’s or someone else’s. And servers go down from time to time. It’s a fact of life — nothing runs forever. Sure we can jump up and down and scream at Google, but why? I knew Gmail would come back and sure enough it did.
I heard all kinds of complaints when Gmail went down. People saying that email service X would never go down like that. Or others saying that Google OWED us to keep Gmail up and running. Give me a break, stuff happens. When I was in the corporate world it was oh, so common to hear employees at some large company or another wandering down the halls claiming that “email is down again.” And this the fancy corporate Exchange Server (s msft) that only has to keep their own employees working. Stuff happens.
I had my own hosted Exchange Server for a long time and while it rarely went down, sometimes it did. The fact is that email servers are on the web and sometimes access to the server (or the web) is cut off. Stuff happens and we just have to get over it.

Qualcomm Hit With Restraining Order Over Smartbook Name

smartbookThe trademark fight we first covered recently over the “smartbook” trademark in Germany has heated up as we have received word that Qualcomm (s qcom) has been hit with a restraining order in Germany over the use of the term.  A press release has indicated that a German court has issued an order for Qualcomm to stop using the “Smartbook” term in Germany, with a 250,000 euro ($357,275) fine as penalty for failure to do so. From the press release issued by Smartbook AG:

Qualcomm Inc. as well as Qualcomm CDMA “are not authorized to use without approval of the Smartbook AG the character sequence ‘Smartbook’ in all notations in association with mobile computers — such as laptops (notebooks) — in the context of business communications expressed in technically retrievable Internet offers in the area of the Federal Republic of Germany without providing information that in the region of the Federal Republic of Germany any usage of the sign ‘Smartbook’ in association with mobile computers is exclusively reserved to the SMARTBOOK AG.”
According to this resolution, the fine applies — alternatively an arrest for contempt of court — in the case of a non-compliance.
“Internet sites of the Qualcomm Inc. such as www.hellosmartbook.com and Internet sites of the German branch office Qualcomm CDMA GmbH, which refer to the U.S. web site of the Qualcomm Inc., were already blocked for users with a German IP address,” according to Dirk Pick, CEO of Smartbook AG.
“We are confronted with an almost absurd but at the same time bold attack against our brand name. It is Qualcomm who forced us to implement defensive measures. We will protect our brand.”

Qualcomm is a maker of the chips used in smartphones and has recently been pushing the “smartphone” concept, a small netbook-like device that runs the processors that the company produces. Smartbooks are touted as connected notebooks that bridge the gap between a smartphone and notebook computer. The press release does not state exactly when Qualcomm web sites were blocked for those with a German IP address.
Smartbook AG is not a company that we have run across before this trademark situation, but from its web site says it sells traditional notebook computers.
(Photograph courtesy of Qualcomm)

German Company to Blogger — We Own the Smartbook Name, Stop Using It

bullyWell, we predicted another trademark fight was coming over the term “smartbook”, and it turns out we were spot on. The same type of fight that was fought over the term “netbook” is now being fired up for the “smartbook” term. Sascha Pallenberg of Netbooknews is a friend of ours and he has received a take-down notice from a German company. The notice has been published on Sascha’s site and demands he remove all instances of the term “smartbook” from his two sites within the next two weeks or face the consequences.
The company is Smartbook and I suspect they went after Sascha as he is German and netbooknews.de is a German language blog covering netbooks. The tactic is similar to the one used by Psion in their trademark fight over the “netbook” term. Psion’s fight went on to include Intel and Dell and was eventually settled out of court.
I feel for Sascha and urge him to hold on. The company is trying to bully him to get publicity for their cause. I suspect they will eventually go after Qualcomm and other companies actively promoting the smartbook name.

Windows 7 Runs XP in Virtual Machine– Sony Says Not Here

notebook5121_003012One of the best inclusions in Windows 7 is the ability to run XP in a virtual machine. This move by Microsoft (s msft) is to insure that customers who have programs that will only run in XP can still be used under Windows 7. This is a great way to address the need to run XP from time to time — except on Sony (s sne) VAIO laptops. The notebook maker has admitted it has disabled the virtualization technology (VT) built into Intel (s intc) processors for “security reasons.”
We’re not talking about disabling it by default, no, Sony has deemed it wise to make it impossible to ever run VT on VAIO laptops. When will companies learn that customers do not want functions disabled on purchased products, especially expensive ones? In response to the building uproar, Sony is now backing down slightly and stating that they will enable VT on “select” VAIO models in the future, although they are not elaborating on which ones. It’s just one other thing to check into before buying that new notebook. Sheesh.
(via CNET)

Texting Teen Tendonitis- Another Technology Abuse Ailment

Image courtesy adotjdotsmith

Image courtesy adotjdotsmith

The human body doesn’t like it when we do things repetitively. That’s why the number of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome cases has increased with the computer age. We often hear of other afflictions caused by “technology abuse,” the latest that doctors are reporting being Texting Teen Tendonitis. This is a new syndrome caused by teens who are texting a lot, often for hours a day. The affliction affects the back, neck, arms and of course, the thumbs. Symptoms include pain in all of the above, along with numbness of the thumbs.

We hear of teens who set records for texting, and we adults think how crazy those kids must be. The fact is, parents rarely have a real idea just how many text messages their kids are sending and receiving each day. It is a lot more common than adults are comfortable thinking about, but many teens are texting hundreds of messages daily. The wise parent got an unlimited texting plan long ago for their kid, and that has let teens go wild. This is why Texting Teen Tendonitis is being diagnosed more often. Hey it must be, it’s got its own syndrome name.

Amazon Reminds Us — We Don’t Own Ebook Content

Far less than actual size

Think you own that digital content on your Amazon Kindle (s amzn), or any other device, for that matter? Think again. Although it appears we follow a “buy to keep” business model, consumers ultimately license most digital content. Not too many years ago, this wasn’t much of a problem because most media was physical — CDs, DVDs, printed books, etc…

Today, it’s a digital world which presents unique problems. Problems like the one that David Pogue shares today at the New York Times:

“This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.”

Although Amazon certainly did the right thing by crediting back the purchase price, what kind of precedent does this set for the future? Can you imagine if this same thing happened with digital files like your music, software, or videos? This situation also shines the ugly spotlight on DRM in general. Had the content not been locked into Amazon’s infrastructure, customers could have maintained control with a backup copy. In reality though, we’re just renting what digital content providers allow us to.

One of our readers tells me via email that his Kindle was hit with this content removal. I feel badly for him and for anyone else that lost their rights to the digital content. Ironically, the content in question was none other than “1984” and “Animal Farm” from George Orwell. Talk about “big brother” — rather fitting in this case, no?

Verizon: Please Stop Disabling GPS in Smartphones on Your Network

ambitions_course_186455Smartphones have grown in capability over time, and that growth has led to a great deal of usefulness that extends far beyond the simple phone call. Today’s smartphones can tap into the web at a deep level, keeping owners connected in numerous ways. Many smartphones now have dedicated GPS chipsets on board, providing complete navigation systems to rival, standalone GPS units. That is unless the smartphone is on the Verizon (s vz) network, in which case there is a good chance the carrier has disabled the GPS hardware. This is an open letter to Verizon to stop this practice.

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$55 Extra for iPhone Tethering? I Don’t Think So, Nor Does AT&T

iphone-internet-tetheringThe timing of this news is quite ironic, but Appmodo reports that AT&T (s T) will charge $55 extra to tether an iPhone to a laptop for modem use. The irony is that I just used the service on my iPhone 3GS and we’ve had some good debate and commentary on what, if anything, this should cost. With the adamant “$55 extra” claim, two words come immediately to my mind: no way.

Let’s think about this for a second. Folks who would likely want, need or use such a feature probably already have an idea of what 3G data plans do or should cost.

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