Apr 16, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon


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11Microsoft and Others Reserve Right To Read Customers' Emails

Microsoft has asserted its right to read customers’ emails, according to a story on CNN. Last week the company admitted in federal court documents that it had hacked its way into a journalist’s Hotmail account to stop a leak of some proprietary software. The company said it was justified in doing so because the software, had it leaked, would have empowered hackers to exploit security vulnerabilities and put other customers at risk. 

"In this case, we took extraordinary actions based on the specific circumstances," said John Frank, a Microsoft lawyer.

According to the FBI, Microsoft learned in 2012 that an ex-employee had leaked the software to an anonymous blogger. Fearing that the blogger could could sell the information, company attorneys approved “content pulls” from the blogger’s email accounts. Under such a situation law enforcement agencies would be required to obtain a warrant. Microsoft claimed, though, that its terms of service allow the company to access information in customers’ accounts “in the most exceptional circumstances.”

"Microsoft clearly believes that the users' personal data belongs to Microsoft, not the users themselves,” said Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. McCall believes users would be upset if they knew what the terms of service of most email providers actually allowed.

"This is part of the broader problem with privacy policies," she said. "There are hidden terms that the users don't actually know are there. If the terms were out in the open, people would be horrified by them.”

The problem extends beyond Microsoft according to the Guardian. Apple, Google, and Yahoo all have similar policies. A recent story quoted excerpts from each company policy.

Google, for instance, requires that users "acknowledge and agree that Google may access … your account information and any content associated with that account… in a good faith belief that such access … is reasonably necessary to … protect against imminent harm to the … property … of Google.”

The problem is that most people don’t read the terms when signing up for a new service said Charlie Howe of Skyhigh Networks.

“I would guess that most people don’t actually read the full terms and conditions before using a new application, and they would probably be surprised by what they are actually agreeing to when they click the ‘accept’ button on certain cloud services,” he said.

According to the CNN story, Microsoft, recognizing the topic is sensitive, has announced that it will bring in a former federal judge to review cases in the future where it may need to access customer information.

Sources: CNN, The Guardian

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11Apple iPhone 5s Saves Soldier's Life In Afghanistan Suicide Bombing (Video)

A Utah soldier wants to thank Apple after his iPhone helped save his life from a suicide bomb explosion while on tour in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Shaun Frank had his iPhone 5s in his front pocket when he and his unit were confronted by a teenage bomber who triggered a bomb filled with ball bearings, KSL reports. Frank came under a barrage of ball bearings, but the metal body of his iPhone 5s protected his femoral artery from several of them. Doctors believe that the iPhone may have saved his life.

Not much is left of the phone, with a shattered screen and a metal-bending exit hole sticking out from the aluminum back cover.

(Photo via New York Post)

“They did tell him when he got back to base that that iPhone probably saved his life,” Frank’s sister, Alisha Lantz, told the TV station.

Frank did suffer from several wounds, but his body armor protected him from much of the damage.

The New York Post reported that Frank initially sent his iPhone to Apple to see if insurance would cover the damaged phone. The company gave him the option to either keep his old device or get a replacement, but he couldn’t do both. Frank decided to keep the iPhone 5s as a memento of the day he almost died.

Once the soldier’s story gained public attention, support started coming in, with people offering to purchase a new phone for him. But a few months later, Apple finally agreed to replace Frank’s iPhone 5s and let him keep the old one.

“It’s the same phone he had previously, minus a hole or two,” Lance said.

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11Minneapolis Man Punches 8-Year-Old Boy In Face, Steals His iPad

Prosecutors filed felony aggravated robbery charges against a 32-year-old Minneapolis man after he was caught on video punching a child in the face and stealing the boy's iPad.

Police in Hennepin County were dispatched Thursday to the intersection of 28th Street and Nicollet Avenue South after a report that a man was being chased by a group of men.

Upon arrival, the police met 32-year-old Aaron Wayne Stillday, who said that men had chased him for no reason. However, police learned that the pursuit began when Stillday punched an 8-year-old boy walking out of daycare and stole his iPad.

Stillday allegedly approached the boy, saying: “Give me that, n****.”

In the video, the boy can be seen lying motionless on the ground as his nose bleeds.

The boy was taken to the hospital and Stillday was taken into custody.

On Monday, Stillday was charged with felony first-degree aggravated robbery.

Sources: Fox, Got News Wire

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11Ellen's Famous Photo May Have Been Planned Product Placement At Oscars

Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded “selfie” photo, taken while she was host of the Academy Awards ceremony, generated quite a buzz. The photo was snapped with DeGeneres surrounded by Hollywood stars, including Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, and Jennifer Lawrence, and subsequently made the rounds on Twitter as viewers continuously retweeted the picture. The selfie was taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a story in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the moment was not as spontaneous as it seemed.

According to two unnamed sources in the story, Samsung, who reportedly spent nearly $20 million in advertising during the Oscars, negotiated beforehand to have the Galaxy smartphone integrated into the show. The show aired on ABC, and Samsung reportedly gave an undisclosed number of smartphones to the network in return for a promise that the devices would get airtime. 

One instance of such product placement, at least, seemed planned. During the “red carpet” preshow, ABC ran a brief segment of six young, aspiring filmmakers touring Disney Studios, which is owned by ABC’s parent company, Walt Disney Co. They were all carrying and using Samsung phones.

However, DeGeneres herself decided she wanted to take selfies during the broadcast of the awards show. Before that could happen, though, Samsung executives had to train her on how to use the device. That training had to come in handy because, as a USA Today story points out, much was made by Twitter users of the fact that DeGeneres’ backstage, off-camera tweets were originating from her Apple iPhone. 

It is estimated that Samsung paid $1.8 million for 30 seconds of ad time during the show. The company bought five minutes of time, putting its total for ads at $18 million alone. By comparison, the company only spent a total of $24 million in advertising during the Oscars since 2009, according to ad tracker Kantar Media. It is unclear if it paid more to have the devices used on camera during the show.

Stopping just short of a complete denial that DeGeneres’ selfie was a planned instance of product placement, Samsung issued a statement calling it "unexpected."

"While we were a sponsor of the Oscars and had an integration with ABC, we were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment that had everyone talking," the statement read. "A great surprise for everyone, she captured something that nobody expected.”

Planned or not, it seems to have turned out to be priceless for Samsung, says Allen Adamson of branding firm Landor Associates.

"Ellen's selfie is going to be more impactful than their commercials," he said. "You can't buy that magic of going viral."

Sources: Wall Street Journal, USA Today

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11Grieving Sons Attempt To Unlock Deceased Mother's iPad And Told By Apple They'd Need A Court Order

When 26-year-old Josh Grant buried his 59-year-old mother Anthea, he didn’t expect that he’d add a battle with tech giant Apple to his list of things to deal with.

At their mother’s funeral, Grant and his brother Patrick realized that they never asked their mother what her Apple ID password was so that they could get into her iPad. When Grant reached out to Apple to explain the situation, they denied his request for information, saying he needed “written permission” from his newly deceased mother.

Grant and his brother again attempted to explain that their mother had just recently died of cancer and that, obviously, she was unable to write them a letter. Apple then asked the brothers for a copy of Anthea’s death certificate, her will, and a letter from their solicitor. Apple later went even further and requested that the grieving sons get a court order to unlock the woman’s beloved iPad, citing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as reason.

Grant, who is from London, wrote on his blog that although he was once an Apple fan, he is now turned off by their lack of compassion.

“I have always been a fan of Apple but this incident has changed my opinion of them completely,” Grant wrote on his blog Musnt’t Grumble. “Their utter lack of understanding and discretion in a time of great personal sadness has been astonishing. For a company that sells itself on the idea we are all part of one big Apple family, they have been very cold. Understandably, my brother has given up and we now have a redundant iPad. If anyone has any suggestions for an unusable iPad please do send them in. I’ve suggested illuminated placemat and shiny paperweight.”

Josh and Patrick Grant became executors of their late mother’s estate when she passed away on January 19.

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11Apple Reportedly Held Secret Meeting With Tesla Motors

Apple’s merger and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica and Tesla Motor’s chief executive Elon Musk met last year, suggesting that the iPhone maker may expand its business to electric cars.

Considering Apple has announced plans to better integrate iOS into car dashboard screens and has partnered with Ferrari, it seems likely that the Silicon Valley giant would be interested in Tesla.

The meeting was reported Sunday by The San Francisco Chronicle, which cited an anonymous source. The paper also noted that Apple is interested in medical devices, specifically those that can predict heart attacks.

Apple’s interest in electric cars and medical devices signal that the company wants to expand and take risks beyond the iPad and iPhone, as Wall Street analysts have speculated in the past.

Adnaan Ahmad, an investment bank analyst in Germany, wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook in October suggesting that Apple buy Tesla. He argued that the electric car industry could provide long-term revenue growth unlike smartphones and tablets.

“I know this is radical and potentially 'transformative',” Ahmad wrote, “but this would radically alter Apple's growth profile.”

Neither Tesla nor Apple have commented on the alleged merger.

Sources: Market Watch, CNet

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11iPhone 6 Photos Leak on Twitter? (Photo)

A mysterious Twitter user posted photos of the alleged iPhone 6 casing, which displayed a wider screen and a curved design.

The new set of photos is one in a series claiming to be the actual iPhone 6 design.

The user, mornray866, has not revealed the source of the images or explained why many of the phones are shown in plastic bags.

Apple has refused to comment on the details of the upcoming phone, though there are plenty of rumors to supplement its silence.

Some speculate that there will be three different models of the iPhone 6. The first will be a 4 inch 1136x640 (326 ppi) display for the cheapest iPhone. The second will be a 4.7 inch 1920x1080 (440ppi) display called the iPhone Air. The third will be a 5.5 inch 2272x1280 (510 ppi) display called the iPhone Pro.

The new iPhone will allegedly include a new camera module from Sony to improve the quality of pictures taken from its front facing camera.

The new phones are expected to be revealed at Apple’s annual developer conference in June, where the firm typically makes new product announcements.

If announced, the iPhone 6 is expected to go on sale within weeks of the conference.

Sources: Daily Mail, Business Insider

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11Someone Is Taking iPods Out Of Their Boxes And Replacing Them With Erasers

This Christmas, millions of people across the world were elated when they tore off some cheesy snowman wrapping paper and found a shiny new Apple product inside. Once again, Apple products outsold Android tech gadgets this holiday season.

While most of these people are now proud owners of Apple products, San Diego Jim Nevarde is not. He spent $293 on an iPod for his wife, but when she opened up her gift she didn’t find quite what she expected.

In place of an iPod, she found a stack of index cards and five erasers. “School supplies! Just what I always wanted!” said no one.

Nevarde said there were “About five of them fit exactly in the space where the iPod goes. It was a little strange. Obviously, somebody got in there and rewrapped it with shrink-wrap.”

Nevarde went back to Target to return his less than thrilling Apple eraser. But when he went to a second Target to purchase another iPod, something incredible happened: more erasers.

Before purchasing the new iPod Nevarde asked the store clerk to open it and make sure he wasn’t being fooled again.

“Sure enough, it’s full of erasers,” Nevarde told 10 News. “Different color erasers but it’s full of erasers again…Either Target has an issue or Apple. Somebody in between has an issue with these.”

Target said they are looking into the incident. Nevarde says other retailers should be on the lookout for eraserPods too.

"Now I'm thinking what about Walmart?” Nevarde said. “What about all the other retailers that have iPods? They'd better start checking. It could be, I'm assuming, a nationwide recall on these just to see what's in there."

Sources: 10 News, Huffington Post

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11Massachusetts Teen Offended When Her MacBook Defines 'Gay' As 'Stupid' (Video)

A Massachusetts teen was shocked to learn her Apple MacBook defines “gay” as “foolish” and “stupid.”

Becca Gorman, 15, is the daughter of two lesbians. The Sudberry high school student was writing a paper on gay rights on her laptop, when she found the definition. She says she was hurt that a big company like Apple would legitimize an offensive use of the word.

Apple’s online dictionary includes this definition of the word gay as “foolish, stupid, or unimpressive.”

The example given says, “Making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule.”

The Lincoln-Sudbury High School sophomore said she checked other dictionaries and can’t find this “informal, often offensive” definition in any of them without the label “derogatory.”

Gorman wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook asking about the entry.

“I assume that you are a pro-gay company, and would never intend for any one of your products to be as offensive as this definition was,” she wrote. “Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word ‘gay.’”

An hour later she received a call form an Apple representative promising to look into the matter, but the definition still isn’t changed.

“I feel like we’re going to have to make a bigger deal about it before they actually act on it,” she said.

Sources: Raw StoryWCVB

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11Former Vice President Al Gore Tried To Buy Twitter

Al Gore is fond of Twitter. So much so, that he apparently tried to buy the social networking site back in 2009.

The Blaze reports that a new book entitled “Hatching Twitter” and authored by The New York Times’ Nick Bilton, alleges that the former vice president of the U.S. got drunk in a San Francisco hotel with Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and offered to purchase the company.

Obviously, Gore wasn’t successful in his attempted acquisition, but he did admit that he tried to purchase Twitter during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

"I'm very bullish on Twitter, it's become a global utility, it's a great business" Gore told Bloomberg TV, according to Business Insider.

Bilton also reported that Facebook tried to buy the company, and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally met with Twitter executives, according to CNN.

The company didn’t get sold and, as Business Insider reports, Twitter filed for an IPO this year that could be worth $20 billion.

CNN notes that even though the company is quickly growing its user base and ad sales, it is not yet profitable.

Gore, who sold Current TV to Qatar's Al Jazeera for $500 million, still has strong presence in tech. He serves as a director on the Apple board.

Sources: The Blaze, CNN, Business Insider

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