14/10/2011

Microsoft completes acquisition of Skype

Yesterday (13/10/11) Microsoft completed the acquisition of Skype which now can operate as a business devision of the Redmond Corporation.

The official Microsoft press release is here.

The sale went through for $8.5bn which is a considerable sum for a service which is basically free, though Skype is generating revenues.

Lady Gaga goes Goo Goo about a Moshi Cartoon

Moshi Monsters the brain child of Michael Acton Smith and parent company Mind Candy has been slapped with an injunction by world famous pop star Lady Gaga to prevent them promoting or launching any music based on the fictional Moshi character Lady Goo Goo.



The single "The Moshi Dance" was due to be released on iTunes after the phenomenal success of the YouTube video which received over 1m millions views a month over the summer. This has also put a stop to the planned release of "Pepper Razzi"

Lady Gaga's lawyers said that children might be "confused" by the similarity of the characters, but even a 6 year old can differentiate between a real life person and a Moshi Monster cartoon character.

Michael Acton Smith commented “This court ruling is a huge disappointment. It’s pretty obvious that kids will be able to tell the difference between the two characters. The shame is that millions of kids fell in love with Lady Goo Goo’s debut single on YouTube and now won’t be able to enjoy her musical exploits. It was all done in the name of fun and we would have thought that Lady Gaga could have seen the humour behind this parody.”

This could have implications for tribute bands and other parody acts, though allegedly changes to the UK law may stop this kind of block happening in future.

In the meantime it's only upsetting who now can't get Lady Goo Goo's music legally (50m of them worldwide), though maybe it will please parents who now won't have to fork out buying the singles.

11/10/2011

RIM plays a game of TAG

RIM the company behind Blackerry has introduced Blackberry TAG an application for Blackberry v7 devices with NFC (near field communications) that allows Blackberry users to touch each other's phones together and they can transfer information (such as Blackberry messenger IDs) to each other.

Users can also share contact information, URLs, photos and other multimedia info, simply by touching phones.

Though a standalone application it will incorporated into the next version of Blackberry's v7 operating system (OS) and an API made available so other applications can use the technology. NFC is an important technology (though most see it's use in wallet type apps), though various iPhone and Android apps allow transferring info between devices using Bluetooth etc and these apps are popular.

SOme say it might be too little too late for RIM, but it should encourage more of the youth market where they are already popular.

Snapdragon S4 powered by bugs

This is either the cruelest video ever (there's no "no harm to insects was involved in the making of this video") or quite funny. It's to show how little energy is required to power a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 powered phone.



Sometime you have to be cruel to be funny, but it does make a point (whether insects are powering the device or not) at the low power requirements of the new chipset.

10/10/2011

BT and EE launch LTE trial (in Cornwall)

BT Wholesale and Everything Everywhere have launched a trial of LTE (long term evolution or 4G) services running in Cornwall.

The trial will support 200 users split between mobile and fixed users in an area where fixed broadband is currently unavailable.

The trial uses equipment form the Chinese vendor Huawei and will run until next year.

Cornwall is a convenient area to run these kinds of trial as there is poor fixed line coverage, the conversion from analogue to digital TV has already taken place (so the 800MHz spectrum is available) and even if they get a few things wrong, there's no one to interfere with anyway.

As a shared trial, BT and EE will be ensuring the equipment can share access to the two seperate networks.

Plessey introduces EPIC sensors

Plessey Semiconductor has introduced a new sensor based on their Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) that be used for ECG (electrocardiogram) applications.

The sensors don't work in the same way as existing ECG systems in that they measure the electric field instead of the actual voltages, so the sensor can detect an ECG from 2 conductive sensors (say in each hand) rather than having multiple sensors attached to the body in various places to get a good signal (the current sensor pads are covered with gel and are not re-usable and cost about $2 a set). The EPIC system can use cleanable sensors so can be used continually.

The detection of electric fields is similar to magnetic field detection.

The sensor can detect as low as 1mV p-p.

Voltage in the atmosphere is around 100V per (vertical) metre and the human body being made up mainly of water can distort this field, therefore the sensor has other uses as it can detect people (moving or entering an area) even through walls.

If the system really works, it could have huge benefits for the health system and sensors could be incorporated into lots of devices like stretchers or even hospital beds.

The people detection applications would fall more into security and other services.