[H] Enthusiast Archives: March 2017 Archive Listing

Saturday March 25, 2017

You Should Care about the Supreme Court Case on Toner Cartridges

I think this is interesting just on a surface level, as toner runs like water and print companies charge ludicrous prices for first-party cartridges, but we have a case here where the verdict could have consequences on practically any purchased product. Lexmark is suing a company and claiming patent infringement for making non-official cartridges, and if they win, it could mean that companies would have increased control of what someone could do with a product even after purchase.

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A corporate squabble over printer toner cartridges doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, and the phrase "patent exhaustion" is probably already causing your eyes to glaze over. However, these otherwise boring topics are the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it? The case in question is Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark International, Inc, came before the nation’s highest court on Tuesday. As with many SCOTUS disputes, Lexmark is a devil-in-the-details case that could have wide-ranging implications for basically everyone who ever buys anything — so, all of us.

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Uber Self-Driving Vehicle Involved in Arizona Crash

I thought I had seen a headline about Uber’s self-driving tech being crap compared to the other players, and this story suggests that could have been pretty accurate. The photo shows an Uber Volvo self-driving SUV on its side after a bad accident, which is total poetry, based on the state of the company these days. At first I thought this was just a test vehicle, but apparently it was a normal-service car that may have had passengers. Thanks to Kyle and cageymaru for this one.

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Uber’s self-driving car program has also been mired in controversy. Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous driving business, sued an Uber unit called Otto earlier this year for allegedly stealing designs for an important component of driverless cars known as lidar. Uber called the suit "baseless." The photo, showing the Uber SUV on its side, suggests a relatively high-impact crash. That would be a contrast to the incidents involving self-driving cars tested by Waymo. In more than two million miles of testing on public roads, Waymo’s vehicles were mostly minor incidents, often when other cars drove into the back of their vehicles in busy areas.

Discussion

First Mockup of Firefox 57’s New Design

Nothing too earth-shattering, but Firefox 57, which is supposed to bring significant changes to the browser, will debut with an all-new look dubbed "Photon." It looks like minimalism is on the menu, but I already don’t care for it since all blinding white themes should be banned. Check out FT DeepDark if you want a nice Firefox theme to try.

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Probably the biggest change in the new theme is related to tabs in the browser. Mozilla launched curved tabs in Australis, and plans to make tabs squared in Firefox 57. These tabs are full squares, whereas pre-Australis tabs used had rounded edges. The mockup shows no search bar, and the address bar is centered on the main toolbar. While this could mean that Mozilla will hide the search bar by default, it is too early to conclude that or anything else related to the design. Another change that is visible on the mockup is that back, forward, and reload buttons are visible on the left side of the main toolbar.

Discussion

New Microsoft Patent Allegedly Shows Foldable Surface Phone Handset

If this patent is truly Surface Phone related, then Microsoft’s plans for the flagship device should be on par with what Samsung and LG is cooking up for future devices. I do think a foldable screen is the next big thing for phones, as it seems like a great way to have a larger display while keeping the dimensions similar.

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This past week, Microsoft received a new patent for a foldable handset, and once again there are rumors that it is related to the long awaited, mythical Surface Phone. A foldable Surface Phone would face some stiff competition from Samsung and LG. The latest rumor has Samsung ready to release thousands of prototypes to carriers and retailers during the third quarter of this year, which incidentally is when the next batch of Apple iPhone units might be released. The foldable Samsung model would be an ultra-luxury device according to those in the know.

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T-Mobile Will Identify and Block All Scam Calls

It seems that T-Mobile has nothing but good news to share these days, and this report is no different. The phone company will be reducing unwanted calls with the help of a comprehensive, real-time database and "behavioral heuristics and intelligent scam pattern detection." Sounds like antivirus for scammers…

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The company is rolling out a behind-the-scenes update called Scam ID that will automatically block calls it deems to be malicious, based on "an advanced global database of tens of thousands of known scammer numbers." The service will be rolling out to all T-Mobile One customers on an ongoing basis starting April 5, and will automatically be enabled for new customers the same day. Another service, Scam Block, doesn't even let those calls through. It blocks them at the network level, so customers don't even have to see them in the first place.

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Indiana's Inmates Could Soon Have Access to Tablets

I thought they were kidding when they said that prison is getting comfier and comfier, but I guess not. Instead of reflecting on how they shouldn’t have committed murder, inmates may now spend their time messing about on a tablet instead. You are still screwed if you drop the soap, but I guess you can clear your mind of that with some mobile games.

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Indiana is looking to help offenders who are behind bars. Soon, each inmate in the Hoosier state could have their own tablet. The Indiana Department of Correction says the tablet will help inmates stay connected with their families and improve their education. Offenders will be able to use the tablets to access any classwork, self-help materials or entertainment. Officials expect to use entertainment, like music or movies, to reward good behavior.

Discussion

AMC Plans Ad-Free Streaming Service

The Walking Dead network will be releasing a commercial-free online video streaming service, but it already sounds lame because it will be available only to cable TV subscribers. The service may offer exclusive digital content, but I think it would be a lot more attractive if they just let anyone buy into it.

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Unlike standalone streaming options from Time Warner’s HBO and from CBS, AMC's would be exclusively available to consumers who subscribe to a cable TV package. AMC is doing this, the sources said, as a way to support the traditional cable television industry at a time when many younger consumers are increasingly cutting the cord. AMC is discussing featuring digital-only spinoff shows of its existing programs like The Walking Dead and is considering pricing between $4.99 to $6.99 a month, according to the sources, who cautioned final details are still being worked out.

Discussion

Call of Duty: WWII Leaked Online

As expected, Call of Duty is dropping the futuristic stuff and going back to the franchise’s roots by revisiting the Second Great War. Setting and context is just one part of the puzzle, so it is hard to say if the game will be any fun or different from previous titles, but I guess we can count on killing Nazis and stuff.

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It appears that the next Call of Duty game, that is being developed by Sledgehammer Games, will be called Call of Duty: WWII. From what we know, Sledgehammer will bring Call of Duty back to its roots, and it appears that its first artworks have been leaked online. It’s worth noting that the source behind this leak is the same one that also leaked Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare a year ago. Not only that, but the title font appears to be similar to what Activision has been using, so this seems like the real deal.

Discussion

Google and Social Media Companies Could Be Prosecuted for Showing Extremist Videos

The drama over controversial media and advertising companies pulling their content continues, as lawmakers now mull over how Google and other companies should be punished for their actions. While vows have been made to remove extremist videos as quickly as possible, the Brits are still mad and argue that such content would still receive tons of views. Thanks to Kyle for this one.

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Google, Facebook and other internet companies could be prosecuted if they do not stop extremist videos from being seen on their websites by people in Britain, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Ministers are considering a new law which would mean Google – which owns YouTube - and other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be prosecuted if they allow such videos to be disseminated. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, made clear her displeasure at internet companies that publish extremist content on Friday, saying "the ball is in their court" over taking action.

Discussion

Justice League Official Trailer

The first trailer for the DC team-up flick is here. We finally get a good look at what Aquaman can do, and he seems pretty kickass. Too bad Cyborg looks like he jumped straight out of a video game. I would have liked to see Zack Snyder's original vision for the film, since he was probably forced to lighten the tone and throw in a bunch of quips after everyone complained about Batman v. Superman being "too serious."

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Samsung Will Remotely Kill All Unreturned Galaxy Note 7 Units This Month

The scandalous phablet is truly finished, as Samsung plans to permanently handicap all Note 7 units that are still in the wild. A software update that prevents the phones from charging will be rolling out, which will practically make them unusable and merely a collector’s item.

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The only way users will be able to use the handset after this update is by keeping it plugged into the wall at all times. The company has already released a similar update in markets like the United States where the last few remaining units were effectively taken out of circulation by disabling the ability to charge the battery. Another method Samsung adopted in certain countries was to work with mobile carriers to shut off mobile network access to the Galaxy Note 7.

Discussion

GameStop to Close 150 Stores

Due to the rising preference for digital sales, GameStop is getting hit hard and being forced to close more than a hundred of its stores. While it is sad to see retail staples flounder, it seems inevitable that some of these chains are going to disappear entirely. The video game retailer is trying to stay afloat with non-gaming businesses that include collectible stores.

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Shares of GameStop slid more than 12% in afternoon trading Friday after the video game retailer reported a drop in fourth-quarter sales and announced plans to close at least 150 of its 7,500 stores worldwide. GameStop faces increased competition from retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart while more players purchase games digitally — whether on traditional gaming consoles or on their smartphones or tablets. The video game and consumer electronics retailer's woes are the latest example of a brick-and-mortar retailer impacted by consumers' rush to purchase products online.

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