People are willing to pay a reasonable amount of money for DRM-free content from a performer they love, even though it would be trivial for them to pirate the same content for free.
Twelve days ago, Louis CK decided to skip the distribution, DRM, ads and everything else that goes into marketing and sale of a video, and simply offer the video of his latest performance on his website for $US5.
It took four days for Louis to earn $US200,000, and another 8 days to earn a whopping $US1 million.
All of the buzz surrounding the video didn’t come out of nowhere: Louis has promoted it through various social media channels, including Twitter and Reddit.
It’s hard to say how easy it would be for someone – even Louis himself – to duplicate this success. His experiment proves, however that people are willing to pay for content if you communicate with them openly, shed the DRM and keep the price low
ANZ Bank acts on Stratfor hacking
Hackers yesterday released on the internet sensitive credit card and personal details of Stratfor customers who subscribe to its security-intelligence analysis.
the credit card details of millionaire MP Malcolm Turnbull and billionaire businessman David Smorgon – both Stratfor members – were exposed online
Foreign casualties include the US Army, the US Department of Homeland Security, Air New Zealand, the NZ Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Apple, Google, American Express, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Boeing and Sony.
STRATFOR uses human intelligence and other sources combined with powerful analysis based on geopolitics to produce penetrating explanations of world events. This independent, non-ideological content enables users not only to better understand international events, but also to reduce risks and identify opportunities in every region of the globe.
STRATFOR delivers critical intelligence and perspective through:
- Situation Reports: Snapshots of global breaking news
- Analysis: Daily reports that assess key world events and their significance
- Quarterly & Annual Forecasts: Rigorous predictions of what will happen next
- Multimedia: Engaging videos and information-rich interactive maps
- Intelligence Guidance: Internal memos that guide STRATFOR staff in their intelligence-gathering operations in the immediate days ahead
Noah Kravitz worked for popular mobile phone site Phonedog.com. He maintained the Twitter account @Phonedog_Noah which over the period amassed 17,000 followers.
Phonedog.com is now suing Mr Kravitz for compensation, arguing the Twitter following is a customer list and that it is entitled to $2.45 for each follower.
the company sued their former employee claiming that despite Mr Kravitz having changed his Twitter handle to @NoahKravitz it still retained ownership of the original 17,000 followers and deserved to be compensated.
The case is believed to be a world first and will likely set an international precedent in determining whether employees who use social media on behalf of their employers can claim ownership of their social media accounts.
Viral videos are being pitched against each other in a battle for popularity under YouTube’s new Slam service.
The Google-owned clip website has announced that it will put a new crop of videos “head-to-head” each week and ask users to vote for their favourite.
Users’ votes will determine where the clips end up on a leader board. Those taking part are promised “points for predicting the crowd favourites”, allowing them to see how their predictive power compared to other players at the end of each week.
it will pay Sony $939m in cash for its stake.
The move comes as Sony has been restructuring its TV business, which has been making a loss for the past seven years.
Samsung, meanwhile, has gone on to become the world’s largest maker of TVs and flat screen panels.
He receiving one of the Trustees Awards that recognise “outstanding contributions to the industry in a non-performing capacity”.
The iPod creator is honoured for his part in devising “products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences said.
Google Android and Apple iOS device activations shattered previous records this Christmas with a combined estimate of 6.8 million devices activated on December 25 alone.
Christmas 2010 saw 2.8 million device activations, which at the time was a single-day record
The 6.8 million activations this year is a 140 percent increase over the previous record.
estimated that 242 million apps were downloaded on Christmas Day, a jump of 125 percent over the 108 million daily average during the first 20 days of December.
Every month, Leo Laporte delivers technology advice to millions of people who download his podcasts and tune in to his syndicated radio show. He is, as one of his programs bills him, “The Tech Guy” whose digital savvy was recognized, near the dawn of the web, with an Emmy Award. But for all his expertise, Laporte still managed to clumsily broadcast an explicit Google chat with his lover, exposing the affair he’s apparently been carrying on with his CEO.
We started hearing gossip about a romance between Laporte, whose website says he’s married, and his hand-picked business chief Lisa Kentzell earlier this month. (That’s Laporte and Kentzell above.) But the evidence, provided by a suspicious Laporte listener, was only circumstantial; Laporte and Kentzell traveled to conferences in Las Vegas and Paris together recently, and Laporte uploaded pictures to his Google Plus account indicating he was vacationing at a San Diego resort hotel with Kentzell and her son. Laporte and Kentzell this past February announced a goal to double annual revenue to $8 million at TWiT.tv, the company where Laporte his co-hosts and staff stream and podcast some 27 different shows, all related to technology, to a monthly audience they estimate at more than 5 million. It makes sense that Laporte and his CEO would spend a lot of time together while working to achieve such rapid growth.
Then today another anonymous tipster, who has also been spending a lot of time watching and listening to Laporte’s shows, pointed us toward something much more concrete. “Download Leo Laporte’s This Week in Google podcast, episode 115,” this person wrote. “Go to 1:11:04.”
We pulled up the October show in its video version (Laporte typically offers his shows in audio and video, as well as live and for later download). In it, Laporte and his co-hosts (Kentzell not among them) were discussing a recent overhaul of the user interfaces for various Google apps like Gmail. Laporte frequently switched the video stream over to a live feed from his computer monitor.
At one point Laporte cut over to his Google Voice account to show a scam message he’d received there. As Laporte scrolled the screen, he revealed the next item in his Google Voice box: an intimate text-message conversation (shown in the image at the top of this post) that he’d concluded with Kentzell two hours prior. After a split second, Laporte or his producer cut away incongruously to a view of the home page of Laporte’s web browser. But the messages had already been exposed to the live audience:
Me [Laporte]: come over. I’m naked in bed (8:13 am)
[Laporte]: waiting for you. the door is open (8:13 am)
Lisa Kentzell: I love you. (11:48 am)
[Laporte]: i still smell and taste you. i adore you. (12:13 pm)
It’s not clear if Laporte realized he exposed the messages on the air. The file he subsequently uploaded for distribution via Apple’s iTunes included the steamy exchange, even though it would have been possible to edit it out.
The last time we checked, Laporte was married with two children. The bio on his website still lists his longtime spouse Jennifer as his wife (don’t be fooled by the 2007 date at the top—the bio has been updated with information about a new studio announced earlier this year and about a 2008 product launch). In September Laporte uploaded to his Google Plus account a picture of Jennifer and their daughter shopping together in San Francisco.
On other hand, the pictures Laporte publicly shared from San Diego seem to feature Kentzell’s son and no one from his own family. And Laporte’s Google Plus profile says he’s “In a relationship” rather than married, even though the latter is a listed option. Kentzel’s Facebook profile likewise lists her as “in a relationship.”
A phone call to Kentzell and multiple emails to both Kentzell and Laporte over several hours Thursday were not returned. Maybe Laporte just leaked his own full-blown extramarital affair. Or, less scandalously, maybe he’s separated from his wife and just gave an embarrassing public debut to his budding office romance. Or maybe this is all some sort of prank; Laporte does have a long history in local radio, where subterfuge and publicity stunts are common.
[Update: Laporte said he is indeed separated from his wife. It’s been abut a year, “it’s just not something I talk about on air,” he said in a Saturday morning tweet. Laporte later blogged that he “apologized abjectly and abundantly” to Kentzell for deciding to leave the chat in the video podcast he distributed after the live recording. He added that the relationship “may have come as a bit of a shock to our staff” but that his family was aware of it.]At the moment, it appears Laporte made a simple technological mistake that turned out to have much larger ramifications than its blink-of-an-eye duration would suggest. For all his considerable mastery of tech, Laporte uses it in such huge quantities that something like this was bound to happen. He’s constantly beaming his face and computer screen across the internet as the regular host on four of his company’s netcasts and as an occasional presence on many of the 23 others. He also hosts “Tech Guy,” a broadcast that Premiere Radio Networks syndicates every weekend to stations in 150 different cities, plus XM satellite radio. Like his internet shows, the old-fashioned radio program is livecast online as it’s recorded. The pressure is high; Laporte’s live audience is so large he can crash web servers merely by giving out a URL during the course of a show.
In the end, Laporte is a lot like his listeners: Constantly trying to educate himself about tech, and yet constantly using so much of it, so often, that he inevitably makes dumb mistakes. And while the Yale-educated tech-head’s stumble might be embarrassing, it also leaves him, possible broken vows aside, somewhat endearingly “naked,” as he himself might put it, to his audience.
Prospective investors and business partners, on the other hand, won’t take comfort in the hedonistic pleasures Laporte indulges with the business executive who was supposed to bring discipline and financial growth to his company. Quite the opposite, in fact.
[Image of Laporte and Kentzell (top) via This Week in TWiT. Image of chat (top) and of Laporte with co-hosts Jeff Jarvis and Gina Trapani (lower) via This Week in Google. ]
Apple iPhone, iPad batteries to last ‘days or even weeks’
December 27, 2011
How is this possible? By using hydrogen fuel cells, which convert oxygen and hydrogen into water, heat and electricity.
The US Patent & Trademark Office has recently published two Apple patent applications, detailing how fuel cells might power smartphones, laptops and tablets of the future.
Hydrogen fuel cells aren’t exactly a new technology; they’ve been used to power Honda cars, for example, and they bring their own set of problems, especially in the context of smartphones or laptops. “It is extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices,” admits Apple.
But Apple might have a solution. One of the patent applications describes a “fuel cell system which is capable of both providing power to and receiving power from a rechargeable battery in a portable computing device. This eliminates the need for a bulky and heavy battery within the fuel cell system, which can significantly reduce the size, weight and cost of the fuel cell system.”
And for how long these fuel cells (in its patent application, Apple explores other fuel possibilities besides hydrogen) could power a smartphone or a laptop? The answer is “days or even weeks without refueling,” according to Apple. This sounds like a dream to owners of most modern smartphones, which barely last a day of heavy use.
We’ll probably have to wait a while until fuel cell-powered iPhones and MacBooks hit the market, but a big breakthrough in battery technology is something we’ve been waiting for a long time, and it might change the face of the market forever.
Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.
Australian retailers finally click to online market
IT seems to have finally clicked for Australian retailers.
After more then a decade of resistance, big-name businesses are scrambling for a share of the country’s $30 billion online market, the Herald Sun reported.
A nightmare year for retailers has been the push many needed to explore new selling avenues online, but investors remain pessimistic about the sector’s outlook.
Department store Myer was one of the worst performers when the share market opened yesterday after the Christmas break, down 1.8 per cent in value to $1.955, the lowest since listing in October, 2009.
Rival David Jones lost 2 per cent in value to $2.38, while Harvey Norman was 2.1 per cent lower at $1.81 and electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi lost 2.5 per cent to $11.35.
The shareholders’ blow to Myer came despite a push into new territory for the business, which launched its stocktake sale on its website on Christmas Eve for the first time.
“We are really concentrating on the omni-channel approach,” Myer chief Bernie Brookes said.
“Whether you want to buy online, collect in store, get it delivered, try on in-store then buy online – whatever combination you want, we can provide that.”
Mr Brookes has ambitions for Myer to become the nation’s biggest online department store, with a $9 million investment in a website with the capacity to sell 250,000 items, while rival David Jones expects to launch its new 50,000-product website in 2013.
The internet is also fast emerging as the latest front in the Coles and Woolworths supermarket war, with both stores boosting their online and mobile services for 2012.
While online accounts for only $800 million, or 1 per cent, of supermarket sales in Australia, the potential has been demonstrated overseas, where online accounts for 3.2 per cent of the market.
Harvey Norman broke new ground last week by launching an Irish-based website to sell cheap video games by exploiting a loophole allowing goods under $1000 to be imported GST-free.
“If you can’t beat them, join them,” said Gerry Harvey, who earlier this year led a crusade to change the import laws.
The website attracted 147,000 visitors in its first 24 hours and sold just under 200 games.
Deakin University retail industry fellow Steve Ogden-Barnes said there were very few products that could not be sold online, forcing retailers to carve out a niche.
“Anyone who thinks their category is above all that is deluding themselves,” he said. “As a retailer, if you don’t tap into that, someone else will.”
Turnbull’s credit card details leaked by Robin Hood hackers
December 29, 2011 – 8:19AM
Millionaire MP Malcolm Turnbull and billionaire businessman David Smorgon have had their credit card details published on the internet by hackers.
The Robin Hood-style attack started on Christmas Eve and was aimed at clients of Stratfor, a security analysis company in Austin, Texas. Hackers obtained thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information from the firm’s clients and started making payments to the charities.
The group claimed to have diverted more than $500,000 from private bank accounts of Stratfor customers to charities including the Red Cross, CARE and Save the Children
Hackers posted a link online to what they said was Stratfor’s private client list. The Australian Department of Defence has a contract with Stratfor for a database subscription until November 2012.
The details of Mr Turnbull, the opposition communications spokesman, and Mr Smorgon, founder of Generation Investments, were also among those published online, The Australian reports.
A spokesman confirmed Mr Turnbull’s private details had been published.
Mr Smorgon said he had cancelled his credit card upon hearing the news.
”I was advised (by Stratfor via email) a few days ago on what had happened,” Mr Smorgon told The Australian.
”I was totally surprised (by the hacking) … I have cancelled my American Express credit card and I was obviously not the first to do so.
”This is a warning bell for everyone and I guess it’s the cost of doing business online.”
Stratfor’s chief executive, George Friedman, has told clients, including several US government departments, foreign embassies, Interpol, the US Army and the United Nations, to expect ”identity theft protection and monitoring”.
In the meantime, he urged them to regularly check their accounts and credit reports and issued his ”sincerest apologies” for the security breach, which makes it possible for anyone with access to the internet to download thousands of credit card account details, complete with security codes, in less than a minute.
The assault was believed to have been orchestrated by a branch of the loosely affiliated hacker group called Anti-Sec and appeared to be inspired by anger at the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, the US army private accused of leaking US government files to WikiLeaks.
An online statement from the group said the attack would stop if Manning was given ”a holiday feast … at a fancy restaurant of his choosing”.
Credit card account details belonging to Stratfor clients at companies including Goldman Sachs, Shell and Nestle were among those that appeared online.
”On 24 December an unauthorised party disclosed personally identifiable information and related credit card data of some of our members,” Mr Friedman said in a statement.
”We have reason to believe that your personal and credit card data could have been included in the information that was illegally obtained and disclosed. Also publicly released was a list of our members, which the unauthorised party claimed to be Stratfor’s ‘private clients’.
”Contrary to this assertion, the disclosure was merely a list of some of the members that have purchased our publications and does not comprise a list of individuals or entities that have a relationship with Stratfor beyond their purchase of our subscription-based publications.”
One member of the hacking group, who uses the handle AnonymousSabu on Twitter, claimed that more than 90,000 credit cards – including those of law enforcement agencies, the intelligence community and journalists – had been hacked to make donations.
The hackers linked to images online that purported to be receipts for charitable donations made by the group manipulating the stolen credit card data. ”Thank you! Defense Intelligence Agency,” read the text above one image that appeared to show an agency employee’s information was used to donate $250 to a charity.
The hackers mocked those who complained about having money stolen and plundered their accounts afresh.
They said in an online statement: ”Let us not forget dear old Victor Gebilaguin, who posted the following on Stratfor’s Facebook wall in defence of the company: ‘The hackers ought to be shot then hanged upside down in public.’ Well, since you feel so strongly about it, Victor, we went ahead and ran your card up a bit. Hope you don’t mind. Really guys, cry us a river.”
Stratfor urged its customers to exercise caution when complaining publicly.
The Guardian and AAP
Nearly seven million Apple, Android devices light up on Christmas Day
December 29, 2011 – 8:59AM
Apple and Android mobile devices lit up like Christmas lights on December 25 as people the world over pulled a smartphone from their stocking.
People fired up 6.8 million Apple and Android devices on Christmas Day, more than doubling the 2.5 million that they activated on the same day last year, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile metrics firm that tracks activity from 140,000 apps.
On the days leading up to Christmas, people activated about 1.5 million Apple and Android smartphones and tablets each day.
But on Christmas itself, activations shot up more than 350 per cent, to 6.8 million. (The report does not disclose whether Apple or Google-powered devices accounted for a larger share of that number).
Asked to comment on how many Australians had activated smartphones and tablets on Christmas Day, a Telstra spokesman said: “Unfortunately I can’t access those figures for you, however, Xmas is traditionally an extremely busy period for activations.”
Perhaps a bit predictably, Christmas Day app downloads began to rocket up around 6 a.m., and remained high throughout the day until they hit a peak around 8 p.m. – that is, after dinner, when sated revelers can play with their new toys in earnest.
More than 15 million apps were downloaded between 7 and 9 p.m. alone, if you line up all the world’s time zones.
The Flurry report notes that app downloads have shot up in 2011, with Apple users downloading close to 10 billion this year, as many as in the previous three years combined. Google’s Android devices have seen similarly rapid growth.
The Los Angeles Times and smh.com.au
Why Windows 8 Tablets Will Surprise Everyone
- December 28, 2011
Windows-based tablets haven’t been treated kindly by the test of time. Those released in the Windows XP era relied on wonky, stylus-based data entry, and even modern, touch-based tablets running Windows 7 are poor performers.
Indeed, Microsoft has a troubled tablet history that the public isn’t soon to forget. This November, Forrester released a study that showed consumer interest in a Windows-based tablet dropped significantly this year. At the start of 2011, 46 percent of potential tablet owners wanted a Windows device. By Q3, that number slipped to 25 percent.
Forrester’s report stated, “Windows 8 hasn’t entered the consciousness of tablet buyers yet.”
That’s a shame because Gadget Lab has seen a Windows 8 tablet in action, and the experience opened our eyes to just how useful — and, yes, even fun — a Windows 8 tablet might be. Sure, Microsoft was demoing a mere reference design, but what we saw was so intriguing, we’re legitimately excited to see final, shipping products.
Windows 8 is being developed from the ground up to elegantly run on both traditional computers (desktops and notebooks) as well as touch-based tablets. The OS can run on either ARM or x86 processors, though apps written specifically for the x86 desktop environment won’t be able to run on ARM-based mobile devices.
Is this a terrible handicap? No, not based on what we’ve seen. Windows 8 tablets will run an updated version of the Metro UI found on Windows Phones, and the UI appears to transfer remarkably well to larger touch screens. You’ll get that same fun, friendly and animated “Live Tile” home screen found on Windows Phones, but with (theoretically) much more processing power to drive more powerful apps.
Windows 8 will go beta in February, which would peg a full software release around June 2012. Everything we’ve seen thus far suggests that Microsoft has really taken the time to develop a platform that will succeed on tablets, without abandoning the company’s PC roots.
Still a skeptic? You should be. Windows tablet wanna-haves have been burnt before. But please consider these four reasons why Microsoft’s upcoming push into the tablet space may surprise everyone by ultimately proving successful.
Microsoft Has a Chance to ‘Think Different’
“If Windows is to have any hope, its product strategists must not only bring new features to the platform but also must fundamentally reinvent the experience,” analysts J.P. Gownder and Sarah Rotman Epps say in the Forrester report.
Many current upstart tablets are just iPad copycats. They share essentially the same UI (multiple pages of identically sized home screen icons), they operate with nearly identical touch gestures, and they basically look the same. But by being such a relative latecomer to the modern tablet party, Microsoft has a great opportunity to look at what’s not being done, what can be done better, and what can be donedifferently.
And all this observation can inform a better Windows 8 tablet. Take, for example, Windows 8’s ability to switch from a tablet UI to a desktop UI. This could be a winning innovation.
“We are reaching a point where ARM platforms can deliver us desktop experiences in mobile form factors,” mobile developer Kelly Sommers told Wired.com. If this is true, and if Windows 8 tablets in desktop mode can overcome the performance issues that plagued Windows 7-based tablets, Microsoft might strike gold by delivering two operational environments for the price of one.
“In my opinion, the ideal user experience allows both [a desktop UI and touch-based UI], but not at the same time,” Sommers told Wired.com. “What if you dock your tablet, and it becomes a desktop experience on your monitor, with keyboard and mouse, for non-power uses? Undock your tablet, and it transitions to a tablet experience.”
Indeed, who wouldn’t want a dual-OS device that can serve as both a casual tablet and as a no-excuses productivity computer? Neither Apple nor the Android contingent have answered this very real consumer problem.
Windows Phone Mango Shows Microsoft Can Do Mobile Well
Microsoft had a rocky start entering the mobile space, but has finally found its footing with Windows Phone 7 (and in Mango, Windows Phone 7.5, in particular). Consumers aren’t flocking to Windows’ new mobile OS like they are to iOS or Android, but if you haven’t gotten a chance to try it out, you should — it’s very well done. For a first-hand look, open uphttp://aka.ms/wpdemo in your mobile browser to give it a whirl.
“I think that what Microsoft learned with Windows Phone will carry over and influence Windows 8,” Display Search analyst Richard Shim says.
Microsoft is working hard to reach out to developers and provide support, marketing guidance, and app visibility through programs like BizSpark and Mobile Acceleration Week to fill out its still meager app offerings. These programs are by all accounts successful, so we can expect that Microsoft will continue them for Windows 8.
Indeed, if Windows 8 is as well-executed as Windows Phone Mango, it will be a positive experience for users. That’s something most Android tablets can’t claim.
And therein lies a very powerful strong point for Microsoft: The Windows Phone platform may not have a copious catalog of apps, or even that many adoptees, but most everyone who actually uses a Windows Phone enjoys the essential OS experience. So, if Windows 8 tablets can somehow get a foothold among vocal opinion leaders, consumer adoption could self-perpetuate as users evangelize the tablets on Microsoft’s behalf.
Windows Could Provide a Consistent Computing Experience
“I think that ultimately what users are looking for is for their computing experience to follow them around,” Shim says. “Creating a consistent UI across devices is the first step.”
It’s not exactly clear whether all Windows 8 experiences will be able to deliver on Shim’s vision described above, but if any platform has a chance to execute this, it will likely be Microsoft’s. Google doesn’t have a desktop environment to speak of (unless you include browser-based apps), and Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X environments are cleanly split with no easy paths to unification.
But Windows 8 will be a cloud-powered experience through Windows Live SkyDrive. As a result, data, apps and settings will be synced across Windows 8 devices using your Microsoft account. Much like whatiCloud is striving to accomplish with a more unified iOS experience, SkyDrive will similarly do for Windows 8.
“A truly consistent experience across every Microsoft device is something new to the space,” Resolve Market Research analyst Randy Hellman says.
So how will this work? Well, first it’s important to note that Metro apps (i.e., Windows 8 tablet apps) are HTML5-based, and will therefore work in any environment — on x86 and ARM devices, on tablets, laptops and full-fledged PCs. This alone provides a windfall for users seeking a harmonious computing experience.
It remains to be seen whether current Windows Phone apps will run on Windows 8 tablets; Microsoft hasn’t officially commented on that possibility. Nonetheless, by using HTML5 as a bridge between tablets and computers, Microsoft has a distinct advantage. For the broad swath of software that HTML5 can support, users should be able to appreciate seamless integration.
Microsoft Will Offer Differentiated, But Not Fragmented, Options
For Windows Phone, Microsoft provides a list of mandatory specs in order to ensure a quality experience across all Windows Phone devices. Microsoft will likely implement the same policy for its Windows 8 tablet devices.
Android, by comparison, lets manufacturers (and carriers) essentially do whatever they want with both software and hardware. This has led to some serious fragmentation issues ranging from OS version incompatibility to inconsistent home-button placement. Even the popular Kindle Fire tablet is a huge departure from other Android tablets, with its own Amazon-centric UI.
“Windows 8 tablets will come in different sizes and different orientations, and have different battery lives depending on their capabilities,” Microsoft representative Christopher Flores told Wired.
But fragmentation? “Never software fragmentation,” Flores said. Former Windows Phone 7 GM Charlie Kindel wrote in a recent blog post that Android “enables too much fragmentation,” which “will eventually drive end users nuts.”
This means Windows 8 could become a refreshing, consistent, easy-to-use alternative purchase for anyone not interested in an iPad, whether for philosophical or financial reasons.
Of course, there’s still much we don’t know about Microsoft’s tablet initiative, and all of the what-if’ing above goes out the window once we have real hardware to evaluate.
But Microsoft definitely has the potential to deliver, and from what we’ve seen of Windows 8 tablets so far, the future is promising. Could a Windows 8 tablet be the focus of Microsoft’s final CES keynote? We’re as excited as anyone to find out.