No one is quite sure what is going on with Apple and its recent application bans, but something is definitely not right over there.

Not too long ago we brought you the news that Apple had banned around 5,000 apps from the App Store for being too sexually suggestive.  Well, this past week, another round of bans happened, and this time it makes absolutely no sense.

In the first round, Apple eventually came out and explained themselves, but thus far there has been no word on why they removed Wi-Fi detection apps.  These are applications that actively searched for a Wi-Fi signal, but the ban does not impact applications that simply contain a database of Wi-Fi hotspots that can be accessed via the iPhone’s GPS or by entering an address on the iPod Touch.

Apple has offered no comment on why these applications were removed, although it may have something to do with the rule for developers about how an application may not duplicate functionality of the device, and the iPhone and iPod Touch do have the ability to scan for Wi-Fi signals.  The question then would be why were they approved in the first place?

With two rounds of purging, should we expect more?

Categories: Apple   
 

When you’re an unemployed late night talk show host, what do you do with your time? Well, if you’re Conan O’Brien, you change the life of one Twitter user with the simple click of a button.

On February 24th, Conan O’Brien launched a Twitter account that he has been posting to once a day ever since.  The Tweets have all been extremely random, and mainly make fun of his unemployed status since he left The Tonight Show.

As his follower count grew past the 500,000 mark, there was an oddity in that he was not following any one back.  Around 4 PM EST on March 5th, Mr. O’Brien decided to change all that with just one Tweet:

I’ve decided to follow someone at random. She likes peanut butter and gummy dinosaurs. Sarah Killen, your life is about to change.

Before this Tweet, Ms. Killen had three followers, but as I write this she has 9,438 followers.  She has received a free Mac as a gift, been extended an offer for a wedding ring for pending nuptials, been interviewed by MTV and who knows what else.

Will her new found Twitter fame last?  Who knows.  So long as Conan O’Brien follows only her, she will stay in the spotlight, and it does make for a heck of a joke.

Congratulations Ms. Killen on your new Internet fame, and on your impending nuptials.

(In case you’re curious, Mr. O’Brien’s people reached out to Ms. Killen prior to the Tweet via MySpace to make sure she would be okay with this, but she didn’t believe it would actually happen … apparently he is a man of his word)

Categories: Social Networking, Twitter   
 

While we already explained Chatroulette to you recently, The Daily Show did a video (mildly not safe for work due to some language) that not only demonstrates how odd the site is, but how potentially dangerous it could be for kids.  Yes, it is all done with humor, but in his effort to mock the site, Mr. Stewart and his writers may have done the most effective job of demonstrating the problems with it.

Sit back and laugh, but realize … this isn’t too far off from the truth.

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Categories: News   
 

This video played last night at the Shorty Awards, and while it’s only funny to people in the tech world … its hilarious to us.

Suze Orman, the financial guru receives a call from “Mark Z.”, an obvious nod to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who wants to buy Twitter for $1.5 billion.  It really is hysterical and well worth your time to take a look.

Categories: Facebook, Twitter   
 

TiVo has unveiled its latest home DVR devices, and they’re going to do a lot more than just record your shows for you now.

Known as HD Series 4 and as TiVo Premiere, the new set top DVRs are adding Internet connections to deliver even more content to your TV than the shows you choose to record. Both the TiVo Premiere (320 GB hard drive) and the TiVo Premiere XL (1 TB hard drive) will be able to deliver content from Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand, YouTube, Pandora and more.

Both units will have 1080P outputs and feature expansion slots for additional storage.  The Premiere will for $299 and can record up to 45 hours of content in HD recording, while the Premiere XL will sell for $499, record up to 150 hours of HD content and adds THX certification.

Both devices will include Ethernet ports, but if you want to go for a Wi-Fi connection, you will have to purchase a $90 dongle.  Also, there will be a Bluetooth enabled QWERTY keyboard released later in the year you will need to buy separably.

One of the biggest additions, and one I have wanted for ages, a meter will show you how much hard drive space you have left at any time.  Thank goodness!

Full press release after the break

Read More »

Categories: Gadgets, Home Electronics   
 

The state of Colorado really wants your tax dollars from items you buy online, and if the retailers aren’t willing to collect the taxes, the state wants them to tell you how much you owe.

States have been trying to figure out for some time how to collect sales tax from all of those sales made on sites such as Amazon.  The problem is that tax laws say a business must have a presence in a state for that state to collect taxes from it.  With online retailers, that has been tricky at best, so states have had to get creative in how they do it.

According to TechFlash, Colorado’s latest gambit is that retailers are supposed to tell you at the end of each purchase how much the customer owes the state, and then do it again in a end of the year summary.  Apparently the state then expects the consumer to submit those amounts with their annual state taxes.

While Amazon is the focus of most stories, this impacts all online retailers, and the idea of every retailer trying to keep these types of records is daunting at best.  Many online retailers are one to two people operations, so trying to add this to their workload will be a nightmare.  Also, most retailers run on pre-packaged shopping cart software which contains no options for this type of thing.

This is going to be interesting to watch, and also potentially very messy.

Categories: News, Shopping   
 

At least one analyst is predicting that there will be shortages of Apple’s iPad when it launches this month, but it isn’t someone with the best track record when it comes to predictions regarding Apple.

There is no doubt that Apple’s iPad is going to be in high demand when it launches later this month, but Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek is saying there may be some supply chain problems that will keep the inventory low, and possibly delay the device all together.

According to All Things D, Mr. Misek said, “We have…heard that the upcoming iPad launch may be somewhat limited as a manufacturing bottleneck has impacted production of Apple’s newest device.”    The only problem with this information is that it seems Mr. Misek is the only one to have heard this rumor thus far.

The other unfortunate piece of the puzzle is that Mr. Misek is the same analyst who incorrectly predicted that Apple would announce iPhone OS 4.0 and the iPhone being available on Verizon at its January press event.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view and desire to get an iPad this month, this makes us take his latest tidbit of information with a generous helping of salt.

Whatever the case may be, our advice still holds to skipping this first release of the iPad, and waiting for the inevitable second generation.

Categories: Apple, Gadgets, Mobile Computing   
 

It seems that the UK government is not a fan of you enjoying free Wi-Fi access with your morning cup of coffee.

According to ZD Net UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued an explanatory document (Word Doc download) that explains why free & open Internet access should be more closely monitored for potential copyright infringement.  It boils down to that coffee shops, libraries, universities and any other business or establishment that offers free Internet access  could be held responsible for any copyright infringement done over their connection as if they had done it themselves.

Through out the UK and the European Union, there has been a lot of talk of “three strikes” laws which would have people losing their Internet connections if they were found to be repeatedly be violating copyright by downloading illegal files.  This new advice offered by the BIS, if included in the upcoming Digital Economy Bill, would see your local coffee shop being treated no differently.

Each establishment would have the option of choosing to be classified as an “ISP” (Internet Service Provider) or a “Subscriber.”  If they should choose the former, this means they would have to keep records of every person that accessed their connection, just like any other ISP.  This would be a daunting task for any business, and could quickly kill any interest they have in maintaining a connection.  If they should choose to be a “subscriber”, they wouldn’t have to keep the records, but if three copyright infringements were found to becoming from their connection, they could be shut down.

Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK, “”This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the [customers] in.”

Prof. Edwards is correct, and this is another unfortunate example of how the copyright holders are becoming the de facto lords of the Internet.  It seems every new law passed in regards to the Web has become about protecting copyrights, and each time you can trace it back to the film and music industries.  They are so concerned about their bottom lines, and have enough money to woo politicians, that they are stifling the expansion and innovation that the Internet should bring with it.

There is no doubt that copyrights are being infringed on the Net, we aren’t so naive to believe otherwise, but considering the fact that 1.73 billion people are on the Internet, the number engaging in piracy is just a drop in the bucket.  The entertainment industry is helping to punish the Internet as a whole for the actions of a relative few.

Businesses have indeed started to use free Wi-Fi as a way to attract customers, and considering how lousy the connections usually are, they aren’t good enough for anything beyond e-mail.  Now you want to use scare tactics to stop them from even offering that?  Where are the statistics to show how much piracy is conducted in a Starbucks?  My bet would be it’s about as close to zero as you can get, but they won’t stop copyright holders from insisting that one guy who downloaded a Lady Gaga song is enough reason to shut down the whole lot.

The people need to start fighting back and reminding their governments we far outnumber the copyright holders.  This isn’t to say we should be downloading copyrighted materials as we see fit, but that the copyright holders should have a lot less say in how and where we get to  use the Internet.

Categories: News, Wi-Fi   
 

If you’re looking for videos of the killer whale attack at SeaWorld, be aware you could get yourself a virus or even get yourself a Rickroll.

People are searching for video footage of the killer whale attack of Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld in San Diego, and finding themselves the target of Rickroll jokes, or even worse, viruses.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, spoke with Kansas City InfoZine about the situation:

It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to watch video footage of this horrible death, but it’s currently one of the very hottest search terms on the internet.  These poisoned pages can appear on the very first page of your search engine’s results, and if you visit the links you may see pop-up warnings telling you about security issues with your computer. These warnings are fake and designed to trick you into downloading dangerous software or handing over your credit card details.

This is not the first time such incidents have happened, and it is always best to be cautious when looking for a hotly sought after video such as this.  Always tread lightly with this sort of material, and make sure your anti-virus protection is up-to-date before you go looking.  (although in this particular case, we suggest you just don’t look for it because it’s nothing anyone needs to see.)

Categories: Scams, Security   
 

Ever wondered what some of the statistics are regarding the Internet? Well, you can stop wondering now thanks to The State of the Internet video.

Jess3, a company that bills themselves as “a creative agency that specializes in web design, branding and data visualization,” has created a fantastic video that shows you various information about the Internet in one digestible video.  Some of the numbers are amazing, others are scary (81% of all email is spam?  Yeesh!), but all of it is quite interesting if you spend any time on the Internet … which you must if you’re reading this.

Take a look for yourselves and leave your thoughts in the comments.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

Categories: Internet   
 
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