MPAA Wins Court Case Against BitTorrent Site, LokiTorrent

MPAA gets Heavy with BitTorrentDespite surviving last year’s pre-Christmas BitTorrent blitz, the LokiTorrent site was finally closed down by a Dallas court yesterday.

The Website’s operator, Edward Webber, put up a valiant fight, with its front page featuring a counter, detailing the amount of donations it had received towards its budget of $30,000 per month in legal fees.

The site’s homepage has now been replaced by a slightly distasteful back-slapping MPAA (The Motion Picture Association of America) notice boasting the caption, “You can click, but you can’t hide”.

It’s not unusual for file sharing sites to be closed down, but what’s really alarming file swappers, is that LokiTorrent has agreed to turn over the server’s user logs – and with over 750,000 registered users distributing more than 35,000 movies, songs and other items, this could leave thousands of users open to prosecution.

BitTorrent has become hugely popular in recent years because it can deliver large files faster than other file-sharing technologies. BitTorrent software has no built-in method for finding files, and users rely on tracker Websites such as LokiTorrent that act as directories.

These tracker sites compile links to digital goodies that are being shared online as “torrents,” the format used by the BitTorrent software. The links connect users to the Internet addresses of the people supplying copies of the file.

Although it’s notoriously difficult to trace users of swapping sites, the advent of broadband makes it considerably easier to track down heavy users, with a specific IP number often being associated with a particular connection for many months.

This latest prosecution is only part of MPAA’s aggressive anti-piracy strategy, with the company dishing out lawsuits like confetti. A second wave of lawsuits against BitTorrent tracker sites in the US has been announced, along with more lawsuits against individual file sharers.

They’ve also filed more notices asking Internet providers to shut down eDonkey servers on their networks and lawsuits against four Websites that sold file-sharing programs.

No matter how many lawyers get fat pursing piracy cases, it’s clear that they’re unlikely to put an end to the practice, with super-clever techie kids creating new technologies as soon as one becomes unworkable.

NFC First, Nokia 3220 Brings Contactless Payment and Ticketing

Nokia welcomes you to the high tech world of contactless payment and ticketingThe world’s first Near Field Communications (NFC) product for payment and ticketing will be an enhanced version of the already announced Nokia NFC shell for Nokia 3220 phone.

Near Field Communications (NFC) may sound like something the Borg use to transmit their evil plans to each other, but in fact it’s a new short-range wireless system for electronics, mobile devices and PCs.

Whereas Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have a range anywhere between 33 feet and 300 feet, NFC only works much closer to home. A mere eight inches, in fact, which makes it great for conducting local transactions, like buying travel tickets.

Here’s how it works: a consumer’s payment credentials, such as their debit and credit card details/transport tickets, are securely stored in the integrated smart card chip of the Nokia NFC shell.

Users sporting the new phone can then make local payments by simply touching a point of sales device or ticket gate with their phone. Fast, quick and efficient (if it works, of course).

Naturally, the Man from Visa is visibly purring with excitement, “Visa is always looking for exciting, first-rate innovations that advance the field of contactless payment and we are pleased to join forces with Nokia in this pioneering effort,” said Jim Lee, senior vice president, Product Technology and Standards, Visa International.

“The development of the Nokia NFC shell serves as a natural extension of Visa’s contactless card and phone programs around the world. Moreover, it aligns well with Visa’s commitment to enabling payments anywhere, anytime, through any device.”

The first NFC-based public transport ticketing trials with Nokia 3220 mobile phones will be taking place within the local bus network in the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt, Germany, with the Nokia NFC shell for payment and ticketing promised for mid 2005.

Nokia 3220
Nokia NFC demo
Nokia NFC
Near-Field Communications
NFC Forum

UK LLU – OTA Say, “Could do Better”

OTA: Local Loop Unbundling Lagging BehindThe Independent Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator (OTA) has issued an update on their progress of ‘local loop unbundling’ (LLU – the process of opening BT’s exchanges to competitors).

The speed of unbundling, or in this case lack of it has a direct effect on the range of competitive broadband providers, and therefore the speed of services that can be provided and their cost.

To date, some 31,000 lines have been unbundled, but the OTA update reads: “Good. But could do better.”

There are reports of variable performance in some operational areas, with performance lagging behind the OTA Key Performance Indicator, ‘Right First Time’. This snappily monikered indicator checks to see if services are being delivered in time to meet customers’ expectations.

The OTA has set a target of 75% with actual delivery being variable at 50-60%. This target rises to 85% in the near future.

The number of lines unbundled has grown from 12,000 in May 2004 to 31,000 lines unbundled by 31 January 2005.

Once again, this falls behind the OTA target, which had specified 50,000 unbundled lines by February 2005.

The Telecoms Adjudicator Scheme is successfully underway, with 14 companies signed up, and encouraging noises about investment commitment, have been heard.

LLU price reductions were implemented from 1 January 2005, and there are more price reductions on the horizon.

Despite all this, LLU operators continue to experience operational problems and variable delivery performance isn’t doing wonders for the operators’ marketing plans.

The Adjudicator’s update tells it like it is: as the orders keep rolling in, operational performance is the key to success for LLU.

Independent Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator
Ofcomwatch comments on it.

Nokia 7710 Widescreen Multimedia Smartphone Released

Nokia 7710Nokia’s hotly awaited new multimedia smartphone, the Nokia 7710, has started shipping in Europe and Africa.

Stuffed full of innovative design and smartarse features, the tri-band Nokia 7710 (GSM/GPRS/EGPRS 900/1800/1900), is billed as a blend of smartphone, phone, camcorder and PDA (a “smartcamPDAphone”, if you will).

It’s quite a chunky beast, dominated by a wide, (640×320-pixel) high-quality touch screen with 65,536 colours.

But they’ve stuffed a lot in there: the device includes a full Internet browser (with Flash6 support), an integrated music player with stereo audio, video playback, streaming and recording, a megapixel camera (1152×864 pixels) with 2x digital zoom and FM radio with Visual Radio client.

There’s up to 90 MB internal memory available to users, and its memory slot can accommodate anything up to a 1 GB MultiMediaCard (MMC).

Naturally, such a smartypants device comes with an extensive suite of personal information management software, with support for real-time push email, an antivirus and a VPN client.

Nokia 7710Depending on the sales package, some mobile media applications and services will be pre-installed on the 128 MB MMC, including Mobipocket Reader. This e-book reading application, already popular on Palm/Pocket PC platforms, gives the user access to thousands of titles including current bestsellers.

Bloggers are supported by Nokia’s Weblogging mobile feature. This lets users instantly publish their (sick bucket please) “life experiences” on the Web, adding pictures and text from their Nokia with ease.

The Nokia 7710 runs on top of Symbian OS with handwriting recognition and pen input. The connectivity options for the Nokia 7710 include a Pop-Port connector with USB and Bluetooth wireless technology for data transfer and PC synchronization.

With other applications available from third party developers (such as Time Out City Guides and the powerful WorldMate weather/traveller program), this sees Nokia shoving their size nines into the competitive world of PDA/smartphones.

It’s a fantastic package, but we will wait and see how it competes with the highly-rated Palm Treo 650 smartphone, which is expected to be released in the UK shortly.

Nokia: New Products and Strategic Alliances Announced

Dead Granny sued by RIAA – A Serious Own Goal

RIAA issues legal action to dead womanIf they weren’t already unpopular enough with a large part of the online music file sharers, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has managed to score a spectacular PR own goal by suing a dead woman for swapping music files.

The Associated Press reported that investigators at the RIAA identified Gertrude Walton as a prolific sharer known as “smittenedkitten” and set about bringing this evil distributor of music to justice.

A federal lawsuit was duly filed, with the RIAA claiming that Mrs Walton had shared more than 700 songs through P2P networks.

But there was a slight problem: the defendant was a computer-illiterate 83-year-old grandmother who has never owned a computer.

And there was an even bigger problem: she had died the month before the lawsuit was filed.

After being notified of the upcoming legal action, the dead woman’s daughter, Robin Chianumba, faxed a copy of her mother’s death certificate to RIAA adding, “I am pretty sure she is not going to leave Greenwood Memorial Park (where she is buried) to attend the hearing”.

This king size cock-up does nothing to RIAA’s bully boy reputation. In 2003 the association successfully sued a twelve year-old girl for copyright infringement after her hard drive was found to be harbouring an MP3 file of her favourite TV show. Her working class parents were forced to shell out two thousand dollars in a settlement.

Boycott RIAA

DAB Brings Multimedia to Mobiles

DAB brings multimedia to mobiles In an announcement apparently penned by a writer playing buzzword bingo, the WorldDAB Forum promises to demonstrate “the growing synergy between DAB digital radio and mobile technologies”.

Reading between the acronyms and industry double-speak, let us translate. DABsters are getting pretty darn excited about the future and in our view, rightly so. The possibilities of using the data segment of DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) to economically send out data to large groups of people has a huge potential.

Following the tremendous growth of DAB digital radios in UK homes (over a million units sold), and sales of audio products growing across Europe, the telecom industry is looking to get a slice of the action.

With the ability of DAB chips to be integrated into new mobiles (or added by software tweaking to existing handsets), telecom operators are being enticed with the prospect of increasing their ARPU (that’s ‘Average Revenue Per User’ to normal people).

And what better way to get their ARPU soaring than by developing DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) technology to use the DAB platform?

Within the industry they discuss such things as “early investment offering operators the opportunity to position themselves strategically and gain a market advantage for the future” as well as enthusing about “DAB offering audio and video streaming over DAB based on both MPEG 2 transport streams and IP”.

Or to put it another way, the new technology will allow telecom providers to transmit television, video and data to mobile devices alongside existing DAB radio services and charge punters for the privilege.

The market is large. There’s already a well established DAB network infrastructure reaching 80% of Europe, with over 600 DAB services capable of reaching 330 million people in 40 countries.

LG Electronics has already launched the first DMB mobile and several countries in Europe are already lining up to start DMB trials as early as Q2 2005.

The technology sounds great. When we hear more, we’ll attempt to translate it into English again.

If you fancy a weekend talking in acronyms, pop along to the World DAB forum, Hall 5, Stands M42 – M56 at 3GSM 2005, February 14 – 17 in Cannes.
WorldDAB Forum (PDF file)

New PlayStation3 Cell Processor to be Revealed

New PlayStation 3 to include super-fast Cell processorThe details of the Cell processor chip designed to power Sony’s PlayStation 3 console will be released in San Francisco today.

The result of a devilish melding of the minds of industry giants, Sony, IBM and Toshiba, the chip has taken three years to develop and is reported to be up to 10 times faster than current processors.

Triumphantly billed as a “supercomputer on a chip”, advance reports suggest that this beast of a processor is significantly more powerful and versatile than the next generation of micro-processors announced by their competitors, Intel and AMD.

Utilising several different processing cores that work on tasks together, the chip has been fine-tuned to be able to handle the detailed graphics common in games and the data-chewing demands of films and broadband media.

New PlayStation 3 to include super-fast Cell processorThe Cell’s architecture is described as scalable from “small consumer devices to massive supercomputers” and when installed inside powerful computer servers, is expected to be capable of handling a breathtaking 16 trillion floating point operations, or calculations, every second. Phew!

IBM will start producing the chip in early 2005 at manufacturing plants in the US, with computer workstations and servers being the first machines off the line sporting the Cell processor.

A working version of the PS3 is expected to be previewed in May 2005 but the full launch of the next generation console is not expected to start until 2006.

High-definition TVs from Sony and Toshiba, a Sony home server for broadband content and the PlayStation 3 all featuring Cell are also due to appear in 2006.

“This is probably going to be one of the biggest industry announcements in many years,” boasts Richard Doherty, president of the Envisioneering research firm. “It’s going to breathe new life into the industry and trigger fresh competition.”

But it’s not all pat-on-the-back stuff with rivals publicly questioning whether Cell’s potential can be realised – while they hastily get to work on alternative multi-tasking methods.

IBM, Sony, Toshiba to reveal ‘superbrain chip’ (
PS3 Portal News
PlayStation 3: The next generation (CNet)
PlayStation 3 chip to be unveiled (BBCt)

Commodore is back! With ancient games! In a tiny box!

Commodore is back! C64 DTV™The most successful gaming computer of the 80s is back – this time in a teensy weensy new ‘Direct to TV’ (D2TV™) unit.

In a move sure to get thirty-something gamers blubbering with nostalgic tears of their lost youth, the new C64 D2TV™ box recreates thirty of the most well known games from the Commodore 64 home computer range, including games from legendary developers Epyx, the Bitmap Brothers and Hewson.

The chunky two-tone beige Commodore box of the 80s has been replaced by a small joystick-toting, handheld unit, which happily spares users the ‘go out for a bite’ long loading times of the original computer.

The C64 DTV™ was created by DC Studios in conjunction with Ironstone Partners and Mammoth Toys and has already proved a big hit in the US, with over 250,000 units being sold since Thanksgiving 2004. Such was the enthusiasm for the product that 40,000 boxes were shifted on the launch day alone.

Now Europe is to finally get its own custom version, specifically designed for European territories.

Commodore is back! C64 DTV™The DTV contains the classic games: Alleykat, California Games, Championship Wrestling, Cyberdyne Warrior, Cybernoid, Cybernoid II, Eliminator, Exolon, Firelord, Gateway to Apshai, Head the Ball, Impossible Mission, Impossible Mission 2, Jumpman Junior, Marauder, Maze Mania, Mission Impossibubble, Nebulus, Netherworld, Paradroid, Pitstop, Pitstop 2, Ranarama, Speedball, Summer Games, Super Cycle, Sword of Fargoal, Uridium, Winter Games and Zynaps.

Unfortunately, two of the finest Commodore games ever created are notable by their absence: the horribly compulsive Elite and Sensible Soccer, arguably the best football game ever invented.

Even with these omissions, a new generation looks set to enjoy the chunky graphics, pixellated screens and compelling gameplay that rightly made Commodore one of the true innovators of computer gaming.

Live TV Streamed Worldwide to Reporters Phones by GMTV

GMTV streamed live via the web to foreign correspondentsVideo streaming specialists, Forbidden Technologies have announced a deal with GMTV to stream the breakfast programme live to its network of field reporters on location across the world.

GMTV trialled the broadcast application during the US elections, with international correspondents watching the show live via a standard (but secure) Web browser.

With the new streaming application offering the precise camera angles and comments made by studio guests and presenters, on-location correspondents can tailor their own pieces to reflect the mood in the studio.

This solves the problem of foreign correspondents having to deliver reports ‘blind’ to the debate in the studio, and should increase the consistency of reporting.

GMTV streamed live via the web to foreign correspondentsThe technology uses Forbidden’s ground breaking FORscene live compressor, that utilises advanced digital compression techniques to deliver a live video feed to PCs, Macs and laptops via the Web.

The technology also allows news camera crews in the field, to hastily compress and publish digitised content directly onto the Web, in a matter of seconds – definitely useful if you’ve got some mad bloke with a gun coming your way demanding you hand over the tapes.

Nestled up like a pair of love birds, Forbidden and GMTV are full of praise for each other and have pledged to work together during 2005, with their union bringing forth “new innovative streaming projects”.

Forbidden Technology