Google sued for $13 million over scanned books

Three French publishers are taking Google to court after they scanned thousands of the said publisher’s books allegedly without permission according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Gallimard, Flammarion and Albin Michel, the three publishers, filed a complaint with a Paris court, together demanding 9.8 million Euros, or approximately$13 million American dollars. They are suing for forgery, claiming that the money is compensation for nearly 10 000 books they say Google digitally scanned without permission and made available online.

Google insists that the manner of their book-scanning activities is perfectly legal and are examining the summons.

“We were surprised to receive this new claim … We remain convinced of the legality of Google Books and its compliance with French laws and international copyright,” it said in a statement.

“We are committed to continue working with publishers to help them develop their digital offering and to make their works accessible to Internet users in France and abroad.”

The article reveals this is not the first time such a claim has been made. Another French publisher, La Martiniere, sued Google with the same claim in 2009 and won the case. In the US also, court also overturned a deal Google had struck to scan masses of American books.

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Who needs a credit card when you’ve got a phone?

Cards replaced cash. Now, Google takes the next step. The New York Times reported that Google introduced a new mobile application called ‘Google Wallet’ which allows consumers wave their mobile phone at a ‘Pay & Pass’ station to make a payment instead of using the old credit card. This new trendy method of payment will also allow users to earn loyalty points and redeem special coupons. The app will be available on the Nexus S 4G phone and hold a virtual Google Prepaid MasterCard.

However, the article does address the difficulties in making such an idea a nation-wide phenomenon in the United States.

That grand vision will take a while to come to fruition. Various players have been working on mobile wallets for years, but they have not gained traction because the companies have not been able to agree on how they would be paid or who would control the wallets. Cellular carriers, banks, credit card issuers, payment networks and technology companies all have a stake in this battle.

The app itself will require a PIN that would have to be entered at each and every transaction. Payment credentials will be encrypted and stored in a chip in the mobile. In the case that the mobile was stolen, the credit cards inside it could be remotely disabled. The same “zero liability” rules would apply to transactions from a stolen phone as they do for stolen plastic cards.

The article ends humorously,

Eventually, Google said, its wallet may be able to hold much more, including car keys and airline boarding passes. But access to such items will still require a fully charged phone.

 If the phone battery dies, even Ms. Tilenius of Google conceded, “I think you need to use your plastic at that point.”

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Internet Explorer in a bit of a pickle

Reading this article headline while using Internet explorer sent alarm bells ringing. The article discusses a warning by Microsoft that the 900 million users of its Internet Explorer browser are at risk of having their personal details stolen and computers hijacked.  Failing to develop a permanent fix, Microsoft has advised users to apply a temporary fix to prevent hackers from exploiting a security hole to install dangerous scripts.

Microsoft’s Angela Gunn explained the threat:

“…an attacker could construct an HTML link designed to trigger a malicious script and somehow convince the targeted user to click it. When the user clicked that link, the malicious script would run on the user’s computer for the rest of the current Internet Explorer session.

“Such a script might collect user information (eg., email), spoof content displayed in the browser, or otherwise interfere with the user’s experience.”

Microsoft confirmed that hijackers had the ability to take over the controls of one’s computer and “take any action that the user could take on the affected website on behalf of the targeted user”.

The article points out that even though users of other browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox are not affected,

According to analytics firm Net Applications, Internet Explorer is still the most-used web browser with a 57 per cent market share, following by Firefox (23 per cent), Google Chrome (10 per cent) and Safari (6 per cent).

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Using technology to measure ‘happiness’

We are all living happy, optimistic lives, right? Facebook suggests otherwise. A study was conducted by the company in the United States outlining how positive our Facebook statuses were.  This was done by tallying the number of positive and negative words used in status updates posted by users.

Outlined in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2009, intern Adam Kramer of the firm’s data team revealed all in an online post. The SMH article is brief and therefore lacks on the informative side. However, quotes are carefully picked from Kramer and detail increases as the article progresses. Quotes from Kramer include:

“Every day, through Facebook status updates, people share how they feel with those who matter most in their lives,” Kramer said.

“These updates are tiny windows into how people are doing. Grouped together, these updates are indicative of how we are collectively feeling.”

Facebook worked with psychologists to determine which words were positive and which were negative.

The list of positive words includes “happy,” “yay” and “awesome,” while negative words include “sad,” “doubt” and “tragic.”

What the article fails to address is the obvious flaw in this system where picking out single words does not necessarily reflect a mood accurately. For example, a Facebook status reading: “I always doubted that I could stop feeling so sad and tragic and feel on top of the world like I do now” would falsely come up as incredibly negative. Likewise, a status reading: “Yay, I feel so happy and awesome, jokes I don’t at all” would falsely be examined as positive.

The happy/sad graph. Photo: SMH

As the graph provided by Facebook shows, holidays were amongst the days when Americans were most ‘happy’. The date that Barrack Obama was elected president was also a peak happiness day. The saddest days in the index included the same day of the death of Heath Ledger and the crash of the Asian stock market and the death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

The article is informative for its length and draws key quotes and appropriate examples. But it leaves the reader with far too many questions and fails to address several obvious flaws with the experiment.

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Young Australian’s amazing discovery

The Brisbane Times tells an amazing story of how an Australian student managed to solve one of science’s biggest mysteries. Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, a Monash undergraduate, made the discovery while working at a summer internship to learn more about astrophysics. It is believed that her discovery will aid the development of future telescopes in Australia.

Student Amelia Fraser-McKelvie. Photo: Brisbane Times

Astrophysicists have been baffled for years by the logical belief that the universe must have a greater mass than is visible in the planets, dust and stars that make up what can be seen with no way of proving it. They have estimated that to keep the universe together and functioning the way it does, half of the required mass was ‘missing’.

Amelia found some of this ‘missing’ mass and explains her findings:

”If we’re looking very very long distances from Earth we’re detecting mass but if we’re looking closer to Earth we only see about half the mass that we’re expecting to see. So this is what is called the missing mass problem,” she said.

”People have theorised that this mass has settled in filaments that extend between clusters of galaxies, so we tested and confirmed this prediction by detecting it in the filaments.”

Her and the two astrophysicists she was working with, Kevin Pimbblet and Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, published a research paper on the missing mass in one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific journals, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Amelia said she was overwhelmed with joy after having her paper published.

”It’s very significant. I feel really lucky, I guess, to have this happen to me. It’s a very big honour and I couldn’t have done it by myself,” she said.

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Blogging is not only for Uni students

Online blogging has become more and more popular amongst the young generation with social sites such as ‘Tumblr’ and ‘Word Press’, which I am using right now, making blogging so simple. The Illawarra Mercury reports that blogging is the “way of the future” based on the amount of blog posts coming from public primary school students.

Students blogging at Menai Public School. Photo: Illawarra Mercury

In 2010, the article reports, 30 000 blogs had been created by students from NSW Government primary schools. The journalist, Sarah Whyte, went to Menai Public School, pointing out that the students from the school are one of the most enthusiastic in the state with their blogging, posting up to 30 comments a week on the books they read for the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

The school’s librarian, Carol Carlin, who has worked at the school for 17 years, created the school’s blog in the holidays. She said that she was surprised at how quickly and enthusiastically the students had embraced the blog.

”We have only had the blog going for five weeks,” the school’s librarian, Carol Carlin, said.

”It gives the kids a chance to report back about the books they are reading, giving their opinions and getting immediate feedback. They are like little reporters, getting published.”

In closing, Whyte mentions two students who had positive comments on the blogging:

”It’s a good way to tell people about my taste [in] reading,” he said.

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The New York Times as a giant billboard

Represented as generous and extraordinary by the New York Times is ‘GiveBackMail’, a new service which has promised to give 25% of its profit to charity when users route their

Rambod Yadegar, left, and Sam Yadegar, the founders of GiveBackMail. Photo: NY Times

email activities through the website. The frame that the journalist, Stephanie Strom, establishes is extremely positive where she writes:

GiveBackMail currently offers users a choice of seven causes — cancer, education, poverty, the environment, animal rights, AIDS and a disaster option that is providing relief for victims of recent tornadoes.

Stating that the service “offers users a choice” comes across as quite promotional. It appears here that Strom’s point in writing the article is to almost advertise the service. She also cleverly uses emotive language when describing that charities that deal with tornado disasters are “providing relief for victims.” She further compliments the service by pointing out that there was an option for users to suggest additional charities which would later be added to the list.

She further emphasises this frame:

GiveBackMail is another twist on the embedded-giving trend that has swept corporate America, which provides a gift to charity in almost every transaction.

The choice of word – “swept” portrays the service in a positive light and over-exaggerates it as innovative and revolutionary. “Provides a gift to charity” almost ridiculously personifies the service as a loving motherly figure for the world’s problems and needs. Appearing to now beg readers to start using GiveBackMail, Strom points out that charities benefit from “almost every transaction.”

And finally, in ending the article, Strom uses a positive quote from a Google official:

We haven’t tried this particular solution, but we think it’s a good idea,” she said.

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