Get intellectual about your property rights

Get intellectual about your property rights

Some businesses still think they can dominate their customers. A good case in point is the recent Instagram initiative to change the terms of use on the Facebook-owned social network so it could use member's photos and sell them for profit, without any compensation. The response from members was instant, and not a very nice one. Facebook made a fairly quick about face on the issue but they never should have tried it in the first place.

According to the tracking group AppStats, Instagram lost half its active users since the story first came out and this is still sliding in a non-business friendly direction. Contrary to what online service providers think, users are interested in copyright and don't want someone to unilaterally decide that pictures or videos they take suddenly belong to them. For those in the UK there may not be any choice as the current coalition government wants to grab your stuff off the net and use it for their own commercial purposes, without citizens having any say. This will amount to government-sponsored intellectual property theft.

Justification is made by claiming that photos without any ID assigned is "orphan work" and by removing any international protection for this kind of image they can be commercially exploited. In essence photos from anywhere will be open to the voracious UK government, and photography groups in the US are already preparing to bring cases against the UK if the laws are enacted. Many photo editing products, e.g. Lightroom, allow you to include an owner's tag. The scheme will also have some kind of opt out feature for each photo, which is of course counter-intuitive and like putting "please do not steal" labels on all of your stuff.

According to some security researchers in China there is a million-unit botnet currently active on Android devices there. The Android.Troj.mdk Trojan may be lurking in as many as 7,000 apps. When installing an app, look for strange permission requests like wanting to access SMS. You will also want to keep an eye on your data traffic and call history, looking for anything out of the ordinary. The Trojan allows a remote user to grab info, use your phone to make false advertising clicks, and download extra apps to your smartphone. In response, I installed the free Vipre mobile antivirus product to protect my phone.

After a decade of research at Rice University, an international team has successfully created a thread that is a quarter of the thickness of human hair by spinning tens of millions of carbon nanotubes into a flexible conductive thread. It is 10 times stronger than steel, can be wound on a spool and is as conductive as copper. This will mean thinner, lighter cables for our computer peripherals, smart clothing, and myriad other uses for manufacturers.

HP is still king of the PC pile, just. Dell sales have fallen, Apple doesn't make the top five and overall shipments are down about 5%. On the plus side it is the higher end PCs that are more in demand since the lower end is now covered by tablets and smartphones. According to Gartner, Windows 8 apparently had no impact on PC sales either. Lenovo is No.2.

Apple has cut orders for iPhone 5 screens by 50% after poor sales, even with an expansion to more than 100 countries this time around.

South Korean scientists have found a way to make flexible lithium-ion batteries that could lead to bendable smartphones. The discovery has come from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology by developing flexible solid materials that are fluid-like rather than a liquid. The result is a stable battery that performs better than the rigid ones we have today. They are a lot safer than the liquid varieties, reducing the likelihood of a fire or an explosion. I consider that a good advancement. The manufacturing process will also be a lot faster than for conventional batteries. It will still be a while before the technology is ready for the commercial marketplace, but this is one step closer.

I don't know about you, but I find those plastic figure based games lame. You need to buy different figures for different abilities called power-ups, when in a traditional computer game you just restart with a new character type. It might be a great way for companies like Disney to make a lot of money at parents' expense, but that is about all it brings to the computer game genre.

Finally for this week, Google has been blamed for a knocking down a donkey in Botswana during their Street View sessions there. Unlike the infamous Bambi incident of 2009 in Five Points Road, Rush, New York, they appear to be in the clear in this case. According to a Google spokesperson: "Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously."


James Hein is an IT professional of more than 30 years' standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com.

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

Email : jclhein@gmail.com

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