Apple and Samsung fined for pinching ideas

A South Korean court has told Apple and Samsung that they both stole each others ideas and banned some of their products from sale.

According to the Guardian, the Seoul central district court ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 from shelves in South Korea.

It decided that they infringed two of Samsung’s telecommunications patents. However the court also ruled that Samsung infringed one of Apple’s patents related to the screen’s bouncing back ability and banned sales of the Galaxy S2.

As far as thermonuclear war is concerned it really was a case of mutual self-destruction. Since it harms products which are now a bit elderly, no one really is likely to care.

Sales of the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S3 smartphones were not affected.

Samsung must pay Apple $22,000 while Apple must pay $35,000 which is unlikely to deter either of the multi-billion dollar companies.

The real battle is being fought in California where the jury is still having a think about who is right and wrong after listening to three weeks of trial.

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Windows 8 and Surface to go on sale in October

Microsoft’s first tablet PC and its biggest update to Windows in nearly two decades are less than four months away from going on sale to the public.

The software giant announced Monday that Windows 8 will hit store shelves by the end of October. Surface, the tablet that Microsoft designed in-house, will also go on sale when Windows 8 is released.

Windows 8 reimagines the PC operating system by switching its focus away from the desktop and toward a touch-enabled start screen. With its “Metro-style” interface, the Windows 8 start screen features apps with large, interactive, “live” tiles; ultra-simple navigation; and instinctive commands.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) still hasn’t announced pricing for Windows 8 or Surface, but the company last week said that PC users running Windows XP, Vista or 7 can upgrade to Windows 8 for $40 during a promotion that lasts until the end of January 2013. People who buy Windows 7 PCs between now and January can upgrade to Windows 8 for $15.

Windows 8 will come in three varieties for consumers: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.

The first two versions support all the desktop apps that run on Windows 7, and the “Pro” version comes with some advanced features, such as remote desktop support. Both run on processors designed or licensed by Intel (INTC, Fortune 500).

Windows RT runs on power-sipping microchips designed by ARM (ARMH), which are prevalent in most tablets and smartphones today. But Windows RT does not support any desktop apps that run on Windows 7 other than Microsoft Office.

The new Windows app store plans to feature Metro versions of many popular apps that run on Windows 7 today, including rival browsers like Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. But it won’t have anything close to the 225,000 apps specifically designed for Apple’s iPad, or even the thousands of apps available for tablets running Google’s Android.

Microsoft is also remaining mum on the Surface’s cost.

The company said at the tablet’s launch event in June that a Windows RT version of Surface will be priced comparably to the iPad, which starts at $499. The fuller Windows 8 Pro version of Surface is expected to cost about the same as an ultrabook, which tend to be priced at around $1,000.

Ultrabooks will support many of the touch-sensitive features for Windows 8. Many will come with touchscreens, and some will support touch gestures unique to Windows 8, including swiping in from the four sides of the screen to launch features like the computer’s settings, previously viewed apps and the home screen.

Intel is expected to unveil Windows 8-ready ultrabooks at an event in New York on Tuesday.


Microsoft buys CNN’s Magic Wall maker

Microsoft is adding a magic touch. Microsoft said Monday that it has agreed to buy Perceptive Pixel Inc., which makes large, multi-touch displays, including CNN’s “Magic Wall.”

The software giant plans to power these displays with Windows 8, slated for release in October. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Perceptive Pixel has been a familiar fixture on CNN shows since the Magic Wall’s debut in the 2008 elections. Viewers have watched anchors like John King swipe and poke at the sprawling display to zoom in on data and graphics.

Microsoft already had similar technology in house: Its 2007 “Microsoft Surface” touchscreen technology, created for tabletops and retail displays, had comparable features. Microsoft recently hijacked — or recycled — the “Surface” name as the branding for its forthcoming tablet. Its earlier giant-screen Surface technology was renamed PixelSense.

MSNBC used the original Microsoft Surface for its 2008 election coverage, while ABC, Bloomberg, ESPN, Fox News and others joined CNN in adopting Perceptive Pixel screens. (MSNBC began as a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC, but in 2005 NBC bought back almost all of Microsoft’s stake in the television channel.)

Microsoft plans add the interactive display to its Microsoft Office division “to build technologies that enable people to collaborate and communicate,” Perceptive Pixel founder Jeff Han said in a written statement.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) declined to go into detail about how it will handle the product overlap between Perceptive Pixel and the company’s own PixelSense line.

“We believe these are complementary technologies and will unlock new opportunities,” a company spokeswoman said.

Perceptive Pixel, a six-year-old company based in New York City, started working with CNN after running into CNN executives at a military trade show. Back in 2008, Han told CNN that his company’s main clients are “three-letter agencies, classified work, a lot of secret stuff.”


Google pushes for gay rights with ‘Legalize Love’ campaign

Google is stepping up its activism on gay rights issues in nations with anti-homosexuality laws on the books, a company official announced Saturday as he kicked off Google’s new “Legalize Love” campaign.

The campaign will focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

“We want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office,” Google executive Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe said at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London, according to a report on Dot429, a networking site for LGBT professionals. “It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work.”

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) will focus on developing alliances with local companies and on supporting grassroots organizing efforts.

A U.S.-based Google spokesman cast the campaign as a framework for supporting the already-ongoing activism efforts of Google employees around the globe. Its focus will mostly be international, especially targeting parts of Europe and Asia, he said.

“‘Legalize Love’ is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books,” Google said in a written statement.

Google is frequently lauded by gay-rights groups for its workplace policies, which include full benefits for same-sex partners. It made this year’s “best places to work” list issued by the Human Rights Campaign.

Some news reports said the ‘Legalize Love’ campaign would push for worldwide legalization of same-sex marriage, but a Google spokesman called that inaccurate. The campaign’s focus is on human rights and employment discrimination, he said.

Google has spoken out before on same-sex marriage issues, most prominently when it came out in 2008 against California’s “Proposition 8” ban on same-sex marriage.

“We see this fundamentally as an issue of equality,” Google cofounder Sergey Brin wrote on the company’s blog, denouncing the “chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees.” The ban narrowly passed, but was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.


“God Particle” Found? “Historic Milestone” From Higgs Boson Hunters

“I think we have it. You agree?”

Speaking to a packed audience Wednesday morning in GenevaCERNdirector general Rolf Heuer confirmed that two separate teams working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are more than 99 percent certain they’ve discovered the Higgs boson, aka the God particleor at the least a brand-new particle exactly where they expected the Higgs to be.

The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have massand in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist.

(See Large Hadron Collider pictures.)

“We have a discovery,” Heuer said at the seminar. “We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson.”

At the meeting were four theorists who helped develop the Higgs theory in the 1960s, including Peter Higgs himself, who could be seen wiping away tears as the announcement was made.

Although preliminary, the results show a so-called five-sigma of significance, which means that there is only a one in a million chance that the Higgs-like signal the teams observed is a statistical fluke.

“It’s a tremendous and exciting time,” said physicist Michael Tuts, who works with the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) Experiment, one of the two Higgs-seeking LHC projects.

The Columbia University physicist had organized a wee-hours gathering of physicists and students in the U.S. to watch the announcement, which took place at 9 a.m., Geneva time.

“This is the payoff. This is what you do it for.”

The two LHC teams searching for the Higgs—the other being the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) project—did so independently. Neither one knew what the other would present this morning.

“It was interesting that the competing experiment essentially had the same result,” said physicist Ryszard Stroynowski, an ATLAS team member based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It provides additional confirmation.”

CERN head Heuer called today’s announcement a “historic milestone” but cautioned that much work lies ahead as physicists attempt to confirm the newfound particle’s identity and further probe its properties.

For example, though the teams are certain the new particle has the proper mass for the predicted Higgs boson, they still need to determine whether it behaves as the God particle is thought to behave—and therefore what its role in the creation and maintenance of the universe is.

“I think we can all be proud … but it’s a beginning,” Heuer said.

Higgs Boson Results Exceeded Expectations

The five-sigma results from both the ATLAS and CMS experiments exceeded the expectations of many physicists, including David Evans, leader of the U.K. team that works on the LHC-based ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Collaboration.

Evans had predicted Tuesday the teams would announce a four-sigma result—just short of the rigorous standard traditionally required for a new-particle observation to officially count as a true discovery and not a fluke.

“It’s even better than I expected,” said Evans, of the University of Birmingham in the U.K. “I think we can say the Higgs is here. It exists.”

Evans attributed the stronger-than-expected results to “a mixture of the LHC doing a fantastic job” and “ATLAS and CMS doing a fantastic job of improving their analysis since December,” when the two teams announced a two-sigma observation of signs of a Higgs-like particle.

“So even with the same data, they can get more significance.”

ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti also had high praise for the LHC, a multibillion-dollar machine that had suffered numerous mishaps and setbacks in its early days. (Related: “Electrical Glitch Delays Large Hadron Collider.”)

“The LHC and experiments have been doing miracles. I think we are working beyond design,” the Italian particle physicist added.

ALICE’s Evans said he was extremely pleased by the Higgs results but admitted feeling just a bit disappointed that the results weren’t more surprising.

“Secretly I would have loved it to be something slightly different than the standard model predictions, because that would indicate that there’s something more out there.”

On God-Particle Hunt, It’s “Easy to Fool Yourself”

Wednesday’s announcement builds on results from last December, when the ATLAS and CMS teams said their data suggested that the Higgs boson has a mass of about 125 gigaelectron volts (GeV)—about 125 times the mass of a proton, a positively charged particle in an atom’s nucleus.

(See “Hints of Higgs Boson Seen at LHC—Proof by Next Summer?”)

“For the first time there was a case where we expected to [rule out] the Higgs, and we weren’t able to do so,” said Tim Barklow, an experimental physicist with the ATLAS Experiment who’s based at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

A two-sigma finding translates to about a 95 percent chance that results are not due to a statistical fluke.

While that might seem impressive, it falls short of the stringent five-sigma level that high-energy physicists traditionally require for an official discovery. Five sigma means there’s a less than one in a million probability that a finding is due to chance.

“We make these rules and impose them on ourselves because, when you are exploring on the frontier, it is easy to fool yourself,” said Michael Peskin, a theoretical physicist also at SLAC.

(Related: “‘God Particle’ May Be Five Distinct Particles, New Evidence Shows.”)

Higgs Holds It All Together?

The Higgs boson is one of the final puzzle pieces required for a complete understanding of the standard model of physics—the so-far successful theory that explains how fundamental particles interact with the elementary forces of nature.

The so-called God particle was proposed in the 1960s by Peter Higgs to explain why some particles, such as quarks—building blocks of protons, among other things—and electrons have mass, while others, such as the light-carrying photon particle, do not.

Higgs’s idea was that the universe is bathed in an invisible field similar to a magnetic field. Every particle feels this field—now known as the Higgs field—but to varying degrees.

If a particle can move through this field with little or no interaction, there will be no drag, and that particle will have little or no mass. Alternatively, if a particle interacts significantly with the Higgs field, it will have a higher mass.

The idea of the Higgs field requires the acceptance of a related particle: the Higgs boson.

According to the standard model, if the Higgs field didn’t exist, the universe would be a very different place, said SLAC’s Peskin, who isn’t involved in the LHC experiments.

“It would be very difficult to form atoms,” Peskin said. “So our orderly world, where matter is made of atoms, and electrons form chemical bonds—we wouldn’t have that if we did not have the Higgs field.”

In other words: no galaxies, no stars, no planets, no life on Earth.

“Nature Is Really Nasty” to Higgs Boson Seekers

Buried beneath the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider is essentially a 17-mile-long (27-kilometer-long) oval tunnel. Inside, counter-rotating beams of protons are boosted to nearly the speed of light using an electric field before being magnetically steered into collisions.

Exotic fundamental particles—some of which likely haven’t existed since the early moments after the big bang—are created in the high-energy crashes. But the odd particles hang around for only fractions of a second before decaying into other particles.

(Also see “Strange Particle Created; May Rewrite How Matter’s Made.”)

Theory predicts that the Higgs boson’s existence is too fleeting to be recorded by LHC instruments, but physicists think they can confirm its creation if they can spot the particles it decays into. (Explore a Higgs boson interactive.)

Now that the Higgs boson—or something like it—has been confirmed to indeed have a mass of around 125 to 126 GeV, scientists have a better idea why the God particle has avoided detection for so long.

This mass is just high enough to be out of reach of earlier, lower-energy particle accelerators, such as the LHC’s predecessor, the Large Electron-Positron Collider, which could probe to only about 115 GeV.

At the same time 125 GeV is not so massive that it produces decay products so unusual that their detection would be clear proof of the Higgs’s existence.

In reality the Higgs appears to transform into relatively commonplace decay products such as quarks, which are produced by the millions at the LHC.

“It just so happens that nature is really nasty to us, and the range that we’ve narrowed [the Higgs] down to is the range that makes it most difficult to find,” ALICE’s Evans said.

Despite the challenges, ATLAS’s Gianotti said, it’s fortunate that the Higgs has the mass that it does.

“It’s very nice for the standard-model Higgs boson to be at that mass,” she said. “Because at that mass we can measure it at the LHC in a huge number of final states. So, thanks Nature.”

Going for the Gold

While the search for the Higgs was a primary motivation for the construction of the LHC, activity at the world’s largest atom smasher won’t stop if the Higgs boson is confirmed.

For one thing, the two teams will be busy preparing the data they presented today for submission to scientific journals for publication.

There are also lingering questions that will require years of follow-up work, such as what the God particle’s “decay channels” are—that is, what particles the Higgs transforms into as it sheds energy.

The answer to that question will allow physicists to determine whether the particle they have discovered is the one predicted from theory or something more exotic, Columbia University’s Tuts said.

“Does it really smell and taste like a Higgs? Is it being produced at the rate that a standard model Higgs would predict? That’s the work that’s going to go on over the course of this year at least,” he added.

Something the public often forgets, too, is that ATLAS and CMS make up only two of the LHC’s four major experiments, Evans said. The other two—the LHCb Collaboration and Evan’s own ALICE—are investigating other physics arcana, such as why the universe contains so little antimatter.

(See “Antimatter Atoms Trapped for First Time—’A Big Deal.'”)

“If you want to compare it to the Olympics, finding the Higgs would be like winning just one gold medal,” Evans said.

“I’m sure most countries would like to win more than one gold medal. And I think CERN is going to deliver a lot more gold medals over the years.”

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The Cheating RPS Robot, Sorkinisms and the Nexus 7

Fans of mano-a-mano competition are having mixed feelings about a marvelous Japanese robot called Janken that can compete with the best human rock-paper-scissors players. It made its video debut on the Web this week. The technology is wild. In fact the darn thing wins every time, which doesn’t auger well for the future of humanity. “When machine finally decides to rise against man, the human race is going to have its hands full,” says Hot Hardware. “I, for one, welcome our new rock-paper-scissors-playing overlords,” says Blame it on the Voices. But here’s the thing, as Engadget explains: “this sneaky little future overlord wins 100 percent of its matches by using an oh-so human trait known as cheating.” sorkSteroids, right? No…? “Researchers at the University of Tokyo came up with the idea of combining high-speed vision with a high-speed hand. It figures out what you’re planning to do and reacts according…way too fast for you to catch it in the act,” Hackaday explains. “Apparently one millisecond is all it takes to analyze what move you’ve chosen.” Robots, man. We gotta keep an eye on them. No wonder it was so hard to kill Yul Brynner in Westworld. - Sorkinisms2.jpg

Another video getting viral love and a blogger bump this week is “Sorkinisms,” a brutal homage to Aaron Sorkin, whose new TV series The Newsroom debuted on HBO on Sunday. It’s a mean mega-mashup (clocking in at 7:22) of scenes from the wide Sorkin oeuvre, which includes The West Wing, and films such as The Social Network, A Few Good Men and The American President. Evidently Aaron, er, recycles lines of dialogue that he’s used before – A LOT. “If you haven’t seen Aaron Sorkin repeating himself, then you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be done,” says The LA Times’ Show Tracker. Adds I Watch Stuff: “Just in time for making us even more judgmental of The Newsroom, editor Kevin Porter has pieced together this truly eye-opening supercut/Sorkinian master’s thesis on the ridiculous amount of reused lines and recurring turns of phrases used in the works of Aaron Sorkin. Even if you’re already somehow aware of how much Sorkin dialogue is either purposely or subconsciously repurposed, prepare to be shocked.” Jim Romenseko got hold of the 22-year-old creator, Kevin T. Porter, who says he started building the montage in his head when he was 14 years old. “He’s noticed for years that Sorkin has favorite phrases that he recycles. Highlighting them on YouTube wasn’t ‘an insanely original idea’ because ‘within Aaron Sorkin fandom it’s a known thing.’ He was just the first to document it in one video.” Ya think? Nexus 7.jpg

Google is out with a new device to watch all these kooky web videos on, its Nexus 7 tablet, “the first device that will run on Android’s next-generation Jelly Bean mobile operating system,” says Mashable. It’s $199 for 8GB and $249 for 16GB- putting it right the line of fire of the $199 Kindle Fire. “The move is a part of an effort to give Amazon’s Kindle Fire a run for its money, but Google might run into trouble getting consumers to buy e-books, music and movies on its own platform.” “Built specifically for Google Play [app store] consumption, the Nexus 7 tablet built by Asus seems to be Google’s answer to both the iPad and Kindle Fire,” says Techcrunch. Android Community digs into the handy-dandy device from every angle: “Google has really stepped up their game with Jelly Bean…Google called this project butter, where they wanted the OS to be butter smooth and they’ve achieved just that. Animations are as swift as ever, and I’m seriously loving this tasty treat even more than the frozen Ice Cream.” It’s really hard to tell which foods mentioned there are literally foods and which are product code names, but you get the idea. - Brandt Brothers.jpg

Finally, it’s hard not to admire a piece of “journalism” about “journalism” so smartly nasty as Gawker‘s recent takedown of a NY Times Style section piece about two rich kids named the Brant Brothers. “The New York Times profiled the Brant Brothers because the New York Times hates you” is merely the headline getting things started. “No one at that paper could possibly think these two teenagers–who have yet to contribute anything meaningful to society–are inherently interesting. A much more reasonable explanation is that someone at the Times Style section sits down every week and is like, ‘Oh hey, how can we piss off everyone this week? I KNOW! Let’s profile a pair of privileged dipshits!'” However you feel about Gawker generally, this line-by-line dissection of a horrid report is solid gold.

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Music Piracy’s Reward, Microsoft’s iPad Killer, and the Island of Dr. Ellison

On NPR’s All Songs Considered blog, a post written a little while ago by a 20-year-old intern named Emily White just this week started to shake up the Web. She wrote that despite being “an avid music listener, concertgoer and college radio D.J.,” with an iTunes library of 11,000 songs, she has bought only 15 CDs in her life. She wrote she hadn’t illegally downloaded much but collected music files from friends and other places. “I honestly don’t think my peers and I will ever pay for albums. I do think we will pay for convenience. What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices.” This routine state of affairs to anyone young has detonated a panic bomb online. Says Media Decoder: “It has been debated for days on music industry forums and in blog responses.” Death and Taxes says: “The most ardent downloader has to at least partially know something is wrong here.” Most notably, at The Trichordist, professional musician David Lowery (Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven count, right?) scolds Miss Emily for her insolent ideas: “I must disagree with the underlying premise of what you have written. Fairly compensating musicians is not a problem that is up to governments and large corporations to solve. It is not up to them to make it ‘convenient’ so you don’t behave unethically.” El scorcho!! But some bloggers jumped to the intern’s defense. - Colors in Music Posters.jpg

“In a way…I am Emily,” admits Alaska Robotics. And different person also named Emily White (really!) who works for an indie record label was alerted to the news and decided to defend White over Lowery. “Miss Emily White, I admire you. I would be honored if you considered coming to intern for us (though we don’t want to poach you from your sweet NPR gig). Please consider me a resource if you ever need anything.” What?! Who says piracy doesn’t pay?

While we’re looking at the evolution of entertainment, check out this cool graphic made by software engineer Vijay Pandurangan diaplaying the dominant colors in movie posters since 1914. Why did he do this? “I felt that most movie posters these days were very blue and dark. She didn’t fully believe me and challenged me to prove it. - Surface.jpg

Things change. Think back to your childhood and – remember Microsoft? This week the company unveiled Surface, a tablet computer that seems to be impressing people. Says Engadget: “Let’s take a moment to realize what just happened here. Microsoft just pulled off a showy, big-time event in which they unveiled not one but two pieces of hardware (plus a suite of accessories) that we’d speculated about but not actually seen in the flesh. That’s a hell of an achievement, and even more impressively, that hardware looks good. Really good.” Never mind that something about the demo felt awfully familiar…  A CNN Tech blogger offers five reasons why Surface may be better than an iPad! CNET has highlighted five facts to take away from the Surface intro, including “Don’t confuse this with the table thing,” Microsoft’s previously known touchscreen device that was basically a glasstop coffee table where you could move digital photos around with your hands. Until now it had the same name! “The Microsoft Surface as we’ve known it for the past five years is now called Microsoft PixelSense… this isn’t the first time Microsoft’s gone with one brand and used it for something else. Remember Zune ending up a content channel on the Xbox 360?” Also, since the Surface tablet comes with a thin keyboard, it’ not just a competitor to iPads and Android tabs but potentially to ultrabook PCs: “your tablet can work like a PC, complete with a full version of Windows.” Microsoft’s motives are another issue. Says BusinessWeek: “Microsoft making hardware is not a natural action. It’s what the company does in times of desperation.” - zuck-couch.jpg

You know who will surely buy a Microsoft Surface? Facebook. They’re apparently buying everything with “face” in the name. The just acquired, and as NewMedia RockStars says: “they’re set to corner the market on faces.” (Maybe next they’ll acquire “Face the Nation” and revive Pillsbury’s Funny Face, the “artificially sweetened imitation drink mix” from the 1970s.) is an Israeli developer of facial recoignition software for which Facebook has paid $60 million. Says NMRS: “They’re so serious about facial recognition that they were willing to dig through Mark Zuckerberg’s couch cushions to pony up the change.” What will the new tech do on Facebook? Perez Hilton says “be prepared to have another new feature you have no say in and have to use on Facebook.” Or at least have to say no to. Technorati figures Facebook is “gearing itself not only to be the top social network site in the world, but the number one photo sharing destination on the Web.” - Ellison.png

Finally, what do you buy the man who has everything (and who doesn’t really want face-related stuff)? If you’re Larry Ellison, it would seem a Hawaiian island. Ellison reportedly is buying 98 percent of Lanai, a pineapple island formerly owned by Dole. Says Hollywood Gossip: “To put it in perspective, an unnamed source equated Ellison’s purchase of Lanai as the continental U.S. equivalent of buying Montana.” We’re just thinking: here comes a high-tech remake of Gilligan’s island.