SOPA explained in plain langugae

19 01 2012

A number of important sites voluntarily went dark yesterday (BoingBoing, Wired, Wikipedia, etc.) to protest SOPA/PIPA legislation in the United States. There are many places to read about this legislation, but if you want a plain language summary of the implications of the legislation, check out Khan Academy’s explanation:


“Avoid Ghetto”

9 01 2012

CBS Seattle has a story about one of Microsoft’s latest GPS patents. Apparently, this patent is aimed at pedestrians who use GPS on their phones to find walking directions. When recommending a walking route, the software directs you around unsafe neighbourhoods (or open air areas that are subject to harsh temperatures). On the surface this seems like a great feature, but you have to wonder how Microsoft (or anyone else) defines “unsafe.”

As The Consumerist points out there is a strange sounding “reward scheme” in one of the claims for pedestrians or advertising providers. Perhaps this opens up the door to GPS systems that deliver preferred routes as deemed by advertisers that pay for pedestrian traffic – and not the GPS routes that are the most efficient.  So you can avoid the ghetto and get rewarded for walking by a business: win, win.

Check out the CBS story here – or The Consumerist version here.

SOPA opera

16 11 2011

The Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) is set to be debated today in the U.S. House of Representatives – and it’s bound to be an interesting discussion. The proposed legislation would give new powers to content producers and copyright owners as they battle against online piracy. One side of the debate features major content producers like the music and film industries, who obviously want more control over how their content is consumed. If this legislation passes as is, then they will be able to seek court orders to make ISPs, search engines and payment processors block access to sites linked to online piracy. The other side of the debate features Internet heavyweights (Google, Twitter, eBay, etc.) who claim that this legislation will wreck the Internet as we know it. Allowing content providers to have this kind of authority in matters of piracy means that some content will be unfairly censored and this practice may stifle longer-term innovation.

Let the lobbying begin (well, let it continue…)

Read a brief update from the BBC here.


R & D Decline

14 11 2011

The CBC has an interesting story on the reduction in R&D spending for Canadian firms. Apparently, companies aren’t investing in research and development like they used to – although if you remove a few of the anomalies (e.g. Nortel) the picture isn’t quite as bad as the headline suggests. The article contends that universities and governments (at all levels) in Canada are doing their part to push the innovation agenda and now it’s time for the corporations to step up. When you look at the companies who are investing in R&D, Research In Motion (RIM) out invests everyone by a long shot. Although RIM has had some rough times recently, they still remain one of this country’s most important companies – especially when it comes to the government’s much vaunted innovation-agenda.

Read the full story here.

The changing nature of piracy

12 01 2011

A recent study by MarkMonitor suggests that popular piracy sites generate billions of visits per year. In fact, their estimate puts the number at over 53 billion visits.  Of course, not every visit constitutes an act of illegal downloading, because many of these sites have links to legitimate and licensed content as well.

What is interesting is that many of the popular sites for piracy are not the typical peer-to-peer networks, they’re upload sites like and Megavideo. For most of these upload sites the “pirates” aren’t actually stealing anything, because they’re not copying media to their own computers; instead, they’re simply streaming it. Once they’ve watched the latest episode of Jersey Shore, they move on. This new generation of pirates just need to watch the booty, they don’t need to take it (sorry!).

Read the story from the BBC.

(In)decent proposal

22 10 2010

One of the “hottest” domain names online sold this week for a reported $13 million dollars. The domain in question was “” Apparently, the owner was unable to profit from the domain name and went bankrupt. The new owner (if the deal is approved) will be a company called Clover Holdings.

Here are some other interesting domain name sales in recent memory: ~ 10 million (2008) ~ 9.5 million (2007) ~ 5.5 million (2010)

Sex, money and gambling…

Read a little more on the saga from

Who owns your location?

8 10 2010

According to US Patent 7,809,805, if you’re using location information on a social network, then Facebook does. This patent gives the company onwership of location-based social networking updates. This spells trouble for other social networks that are less popular than Facebook but rely on location information for their service (e.g. Foursquare).

Read a full overview from TechCrunch.