Boghound's World News

A Humorous Look At News Events And Life Around The World

I Don’t Believe It!!

Posted by Boghound on August 24, 2013


UK Connection Speeds Increase 64% Annually

The latest research carried out by the British Internet watchdog Ofcom revealed that average speed for urban households is 26.5Mbit/s, while rural homes are lagging behind at 10MBit/s. About 20% of households can currently boast super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s. As such, home broadband speeds are estimated to have increased by 64% within a year, though rural households are growing not that fast.

According to the results of Ofcom’s research, the average download speed for an urban household in May 2013 was about 26.5Mbit/s, while rural areas showed almost 10MBit/s. In the meantime, the difference between the two has increased since the watchdog conducted similar research two years ago.

Despite the fact that average connection speeds were increasing in rural areas, the problem was redoubled by the lack of superfast services and slower ADSL. Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack said that taking into account the fact that the average household currently owns more than 3 types of Internet-connected devices, subscribers are now demanding more than ever from their Internet service providers. The ISPs are responding by upgrading subscribers to higher speed services and launching new superfast packages.

Pollack admitted that the UK people are yet to see the full effect of government measures to improve Internet availability in rural areas, which should also help to increase speeds. Ofcom also expects that 4G mobile will also have a positive effect on mobile broadband availability across the country. It should be noted that average British connection speeds have increased fourfold since the watchdog first published its speeds data five years ago.

About 20% of households today have super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s, up 8% a year. The organization singled out network upgrades to Virgin Media’s cable service as a major driver of faster fibre services that had managed to double speeds for many people. Indeed, the research revealed that Virgin’s “up to” 120 MBit/s service offered the fastest download speeds with an average of 113 Mbit/s. At the same time, BT’s “up to” 76 MBit/s have shown 61 MBit/s. Finally, Plusnet’s “up to” 38 MBit/s delivered almost 34 MBit/s.

Hopefully, the United Kingdom will soon be entirely covered with fast broadband access points to make lives easier.

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Oh Dear!…Firefox Not Playing The Game?

Posted by Boghound on August 24, 2013


Advertisers Angry with Mozilla

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is not happy with the open source browser Mozilla’s anti-tracking features. Although it is perfectly normal that Internet users are concerned about companies spying on them, the outfit has been attacking Mozilla on the grounds that it insisted on defending the people’s rights to control the use of cookies on their systems.

Apparently, if your browser refuses to hand over all your personal information to advertisers then there must be something wrong with it. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is a trade organization representing marketing and advertising companies across the US and Europe. After the outfit received much abuse for its stand, one would have expected advertisers to have given up and waited for the dust to settle on this privacy debate.

However, the IAB placed a full-page advert in Advertising Age calling for users to stop Mozilla from hijacking the Internet. The ad insists that you can only find what you want online with the help of advertising cookies. The outfit believes that Mozilla is going to eliminate the same cookies which enable advertisers to reach the proper audience, with the proper message, at the proper time.

In fact, Mozilla lets users control cookies and stop them from websites they haven’t actually visited being dumped on the system. Instead of eliminating cookies, the browser is providing users control over annoying advertisements for stuff they don’t want. However, the IAB claims what Mozilla is doing isn’t in the interest of privacy but rather about helping some business models gain a marketplace advantage and reducing competition.

And this is said about Mozilla and its open source coders, dedicated to overthrowing the man with free coding. It is hard to believe that Mozilla is helping someone play monopoly, because the whole point of Mozilla was to kill off a Microsoft monopoly. The Interactive Advertising Bureau claims that Internet users already have control over whether they receive interest-based adverts through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program, which is something new, as the program in question appears to be designed to promote better advertising rather than helping users out.

Apparently, this is just a huge PR own goal of the kind which is usually only tried by the entertainment industry against pirates, while the users might want to download Firefox and disable all cookies after reading the ad.

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Every Cloud??

Posted by Boghound on August 24, 2013


Apple Keeps Losing Market

It might remain invisible, but Apple keeps fast sliding towards a state where it would end up with the same share of smartphones market that it has for personal computers. Although many reports claim that Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer, such claims don’t really shine any light on how enormous or competitive the market really is.

According to the latest research, Apple accounts for only 13% of the smartphones on the market – moreover, this number keeps falling. For example, last quarter it was 16%. In the meantime, Samsung has a larger market share than Apple, while the rest of the market is mainly occupied by other Android devices. Indeed, Google’s Android OS has increased its global market share to almost 80% in the 2nd quarter of 2013 from 70% at the same period in 2012.

The worst result was shown by BlackBerry, whose market share dropped to 3% from 5% last year, falling even behind Microsoft – the latter is now number 4 in OS share. The industry observers admit that the main reason Apple is still doing so well is because its iPhones are so much more expensive than Android gear, which means a higher profit margin. If you exclude subsidies from phone companies, you will figure out that an average iPhone cost $710 last year, which is almost $300 more than the average smartphone.

On the other hand, that higher price tag is also denting mass sales, with the experts estimating that the company’s 2nd-quarter profit was $6 billion with an operating margin of 33%. Now compare that to Samsung’s profit of $5.6 billion with a 19% operating margin and make a conclusion.

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Sing Along?……….No!

Posted by Boghound on July 20, 2013


Bar Was Fined for Pirated Karaoke Music

A number of music label affiliates in cooperation with the royalty collection agency called BMI have recently won a legal battle against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The court decided that the establishment was hosting unauthorized karaoke events which featured music from Otis Redding, Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash. The court awarded copyright owners $45,000 in damages. This was just one of more than 80 lawsuits of such kind filed this year.

Royalty collection outfits often go to extremes as they go about extorting money on behalf of performers and music composers. For instance, in the US alone, this has resulted in hundreds of lawsuits, mostly filed again pubs and bars playing music without a proper license. Back in 2012, over a hundred of these cases were launched and in 2013 there are already over 80.

Most of these cases are resolved with a settlement, with bars or restaurants paying a few thousand dollars to eliminate the problem. Nevertheless, sometime a judgement is entered, like in the recent case against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The royalty collection outfit BMI and a number of copyright owners, including Sony and Universal, have filed a lawsuit against the bar for playing karaoke songs without a proper license, claiming to have suffered considerable damage and demanded compensation.

In response to the accusations, the bar didn’t argue that it offered karaoke to the visitors, but the bar manager testified she wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing of the karaoke provider, because they are usually independently licensed. So, the manager claimed she didn’t intentionally violate any copyrights, and if she knew the service was illegal, she would have not allowed the performance.

However, the court dismissed her testimony and innocent infringer defense and awarded a summary judgement in favour of the music industry. The judge also pointed out that the Clarion Inn had already been warned on numerous occasions before and therefore can’t be considered innocent infringers. The court ruling resulted in a permanent injunction against the bar – for the 15 infringements the judge awarded $45,000 in statutory damages to the copyright owners and over $10,000 for attorneys’ costs.

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Smarty Pants??

Posted by Boghound on June 2, 2013


Who Is Who in Smartphone Sector

According to the recent statistics, Apple’s overly hyped iPhone is slowly dying and may soon fall behind Microsoft. Indeed, the excessive growth which has characterized Apple sales in the smartphone sector has recently slowed and the company now has only 19% of the market. Some industry observers put this market share figure in perspective and pointed out that the company is currently one point ahead of the much maligned Microsoft.

In the meanwhile, the winner now is Android, dominating the mobile market and making up almost 60% of those shipments. However, Microsoft has patent which Android uses, and therefore makes $8 out of each phone sold, so it is winning in this situation as well.

As for the top manufacture, the first place is taken by Samsung, which grew its volume by 64% annually. Apple takes the second place and is followed by Huawei, LG and ZTE. However, those make up less than 5% of the market share.

The industry experts wonder how Apple not only dropped the ball, but gift wrapped it and gave it to its rivals. One answer is that this wouldn’t be happening if Steve Jobs were alive, but saner appeals suggest that the company simply fears to modify Jobs’ vision. Some experts claim that the iPhone user interface is already 6 years old and needs an urgent refresh. In addition, Apple keeps ignoring the trend for larger displays in premium smartphones.

In the meanwhile, Apple can’t claim that the market is saturated, as global shipments for notebooks, tablets and smartphones were over 308 million in the first quarter of the current year, which represents 37% growth from the same quarter of 2012. The statistics shows that tablets are the fastest growing among the three markets, growing 106% year-over-year to 41.9 million units. Here Apple is still the leader, holding a 46% market share, but it has lost the level of dominance it once enjoyed.

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FBI…Don’t You Just Love Them!!

Posted by Boghound on May 21, 2013


FBI Can Read E-mails without Warrant

According to recently released documents, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) of Federal Bureau of Investigation allows agency reading your e-mail without having a warrant.

The American Civil Liberties Union published a copy of 2012’s edition of FBI’s Guide for Federal Bureau of Investigation, which basically allows the Bureau reading your e-mail whenever it sees fit and without a warrant.

In short words, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, better known as ECPA (a privacy law of 1986), the law enforcement agencies are able to read your e-mail before being opened by an addressee as long as a warrant exists. However, there’s a problem: once the e-mail is opened by an addressee, or hasn’t been opened within 6 months, a warrant is not needed anymore. A few months ago, the Department of Justice of the United States attended a Congressional hearing, where it admitted that ECPA needs to be revised and even offered to support ECPA’s revisions.

Worse still, one of the circuit court of appeals recently handed down a decision that federal authorities need a warrant before accessing an e-mail address, but the problem is that the ruling only applies in the 4 states covered by the Sixth Circuit. This is why American Civil Liberties Union filed a request to find out whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and similar agencies are taking advantage of a loophole in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act and accessing some electronic communications without a warrant. Any person is able to find Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide for 2008 and 2011 on the FBI’s official website.

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Fly Me….But Not Here!

Posted by Boghound on May 20, 2013


Couple flown to wrong continent after airline error

Two US holidaymakers found themselves a long way from their intended destination after an airline confused two airport codes.

Sandy Valdiviseo and her husband Triet Vo were intending to fly from Los Angeles to Dakar in Senegal with Turkish Airlines. However, instead they ended up almost 7,000 miles away – on an entirely different continent – in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, after the airport codes were mixed up, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The airport code for Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is DKR, while the code for the airport in Dhaka, which is the capital of Bangladesh, is DAC.

After arriving in Istanbul, the couple had boarded a connecting flight. It was only after seeing the route map of the flight’s progress, which showed the plane over the Middle East, that they realised the error.

“When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced ‘Dakar’ with a Turkish accent," Ms Valdivieso said.

When they arrived in Bangladesh, the pair informed Turkish Airlines about the mistake, and tried to arrange a transfer to Senegal.

According to reports, the airline insisted on tracking down the recording of the initial booking before acknowledging the error and installing the couple on flights to West Africa, 12 hours after their arrival in Bangladesh. Their baggage arrived in Senegal two days after they did.

The incident happened in December last year, but has only just been reported after the couple’s long battle to obtain compensation.

"I have called them [Turkish Airlines] every Friday for the past four months," said Ms Valdivieso. "They told me each time that they will review my case and get back to me. But they never do."

"We are very, very sorry that this happened," a Turkish Airlines spokeswoman said. The couple have since been offered two free economy-class tickets to anywhere on the airline’s flight network.

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Big Brother?

Posted by Boghound on May 18, 2013


US President Planning Online Wiretapping Law

As you know, the British Labour Government will surely go down in history for its extensive use of CCTV cameras, but in the meanwhile, Barack Obama can become known for his online wiretapping laws.

Media reports say that Barack Obama is going to end the long-running debate over online snooping with a legislation allowing law-enforcement agencies tapping into many types of online communications.

Everyone understands that bringing in this law will surely have political, technical and legal obstacles. Indeed, if Obama gets it through it would really represent a sea change in American culture. Industry experts point out that if he succeeds, the FBI and other agencies will have a right to snoop on voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) services like Skype and real-time chats.

Apparently, it would end a regime where the FBI has difficultly snooping but is able to eavesdrop on traditional telephone calls. Of course, tech firms hate the idea, which would likely face stiff opposition in Congress. At the moment, spooks can ask the courts to wiretap almost anything, but only traditional telecommunications carriers are demanded to make it easy.

The law in question – Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act – doesn’t apply to any of Microsoft’s services, for example. This includes Skype, as it doesn’t class Microsoft as a traditional telecommunications carrier.

Thus, Obama’s new legislation would encompass VoIP, chat and any other online communication services. However, it is still unclear how tech companies could be compelled to help the authorities unscramble encrypted communications, apart from providing access. Actually, Obama’s proposed legislation is a slightly watered down version of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants. The FBI had called for a blanket requirement that ISPs provide authorized officials the same kind of sweeping, turn-key access to their networks that phone companies do.

However, tech firms, civil libertarians and some government officials claimed that it was impractical for smaller firms and such back doors can present serious security risks. Some of the critics insist that the fact the President would end up pushing the legislation will make him the punching bag for every American citizen who is already worried about their government.

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What’s In A Name?

Posted by Boghound on May 14, 2013


Apple Called Outdated iPhone “Vintage”

A new marketing spin from Apple can be seen as an insult to the intelligence of the American nation. Now Apple is peddling a phone it has dubbed “obsolete” in the rest of the world as “vintage” in the United States.

Media reports reveal that starting 11 June, the original iPhone 2G model will gain “obsolete” status – in other words, the device won’t any longer be serviceable in the Apple care centers. According to press reports, the “obsolete” status for the iPhone model will apply in Canada, Asia, Europe, Japan and Latin America.

This wasn’t a great surprise for many – after all, the Apple 2G is really outdated – but for some reason the company doesn’t want to admit that in the United States. Instead, the first-generation mobile device will be given “vintage” status – may be in the hope that the terminally dumb will suddenly want to buy it. Moreover, they will even be given limited support to do so: currently running iOS 1.0, the iPhone can be upgraded to iOS 3.1.3, but couldn’t manage anything more advanced than that.

The critics point out that only Apple could take the word “vintage” (normally applied to fine wines and cheese) and stick it on something the rest of the world called obsolete. The most amusing thing is that the company clearly understands that the rest of the world isn’t so dumb to fall for the marketing scam. Therefore, Apple isn’t even trying it on in nations where its customers are a little more discerning.

In the meanwhile, Apple is also rendering many other technological gadgets “obsolete” – for example, the 17-inch and 20-inch iMac G5, the late 2005 Mac mini, and the 15-inch and 17-inch versions of the Apple PowerBook G4. Among the list of retired devices you can also find the mid-2007 iMac, Mac Pro, late-2007 iMac, Xserve and AirPort Express Base Station. However, none of these gadgets are considered “vintage” – instead, some of them should probably be labeled “fire hazard”.

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The U.S. Rules?…Yeh Right!

Posted by Boghound on May 9, 2013


Spain Removed from Watch List, Ukraine under Scrutiny

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has recently released its 2013 report, known as the “Special 301”. There, Ukraine found itself at the top of the notorious list, marked as a “Priority Foreign Country”.

In the meanwhile, Spain and Bulgaria managed to make it out of the “Special 301”, but they aren’t off the hook completely, because the United States Trade Representative will keep conducting reviews on both of them. The “Special 301” also reveals that Canada’s grade has been modified, from “Priority Watch List” to “Watch List.”

The report noted that a year ago, the United States welcomed the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act. The latter, among other things, was created to implement Canada’s obligations under the WIPO Internet Treaties, as well as to address the challenges of copyright piracy. A few months ago, Canada also implemented the Combating Counterfeit Products Act in order to strengthen IPR enforcement. The latter included provisions which would provide ex officio authority to the local customs officials to seize pirated and counterfeit goods at the border.

Along with Canada, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, and Brazil also made it to the “Watch List”, while such countries as Algeria, Argentina, China, Chile, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela had less luck and were all tagged under the “Priority Watch List.” In addition, the report says that obtaining effective enforcement of IPR in China is still its central challenge. The matter is that more than 90% of the revenue generated by American movies in China is represented by box office revenues, compared to 25-30% in the US. This difference is explained by widespread piracy of films in the Internet and on optical discs.

Finally, the American government discovered that some trends are blossoming – for example, the “emergence of Media Box piracy, whereby “boxes”, usually having capability to play high definition content, are loaded with lots of pirated works. Such boxes may be sold with preloaded content, while later offering to upload new content for a relatively low fee. Of course, the entertainment industry was quick to respond – it pointed out that Ukraine and Thailand still need better copyright laws and congratulated Spain for a job well done.

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