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Google lawsuit against Rockstar to stay in California

A Google complaint against Apple-backed patent consortium Rockstar will stay in a California court rather than be moved to Texas where Rockstar already has patent lawsuits against Google?s Android partners, the California court ordered Thursday.

Backed by Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, Rockstar acquired Nortel Networks? patents for US$4.5 billion after outbidding Google in 2011.

Rockstar, which created a subsidiary called MobileStar Technologies in Plano, Texas a day ahead of filing its lawsuits, has wanted the California action by Google to be dismissed or transferred to the Texas court, which is generally seen as being more friendly to holders of patents.

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Unbounded Robotics launches robot platform for education, research

If you fear the rise of robots, the latest humanoid-style machine has an ?emergency stop to prevent robot apocalypse.?

That tongue-in-cheek feature belongs to UBR-1, which has been launched by California startup Unbounded Robotics.

The robot is aimed at a variety of applications in research and education. With a price tag of US$50,000, it?s a relatively cheap ?mobile manipulation platform,? as Unbounded describes it.

The startup has compared the UBR-1 to an iPhone without any third-party apps?essentially a platform for developers.

?Our robot can be used in a wide variety of applications; really anything that involves manipulation and repetition,? CEO Melonee Wise said in an email interview.

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China's Alibaba to offer mobile phone services in June

Alibaba?s Tmall and Taobao sites already sell everything from clothes and furniture to car tires and medicines. But soon they?ll also be offering 3G data and voice call plans as well, the Chinese e-commerce giant said Thursday.

User registration for mobile phone numbers will begin in May.

Alibaba is among the Chinese companies that received a mobile virtual network operators license back in December. This allows them to resell wireless services from the nation?s state-controlled mobile carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom.

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Michaels says breach at its stores affected nearly 3M payment cards

About 2.6 million payment cards at Michaels Stores and another 400,000 at subsidiary Aaron Brothers may have been affected in a card skimming attack that compromised its point-of-sale systems, the retailer said Thursday.

Michaels said it had found evidence confirming that its systems and those of Aaron were attacked using sophisticated malware that had not been encountered previously by either of the security firms it had retained to investigate a suspected breach. It did not provide details of the malware.

The arts and crafts supplier in Irving, Texas, said in January it was investigating a possible data security attack after it learned of suspicious activity on some U.S. payment cards that had been used at its stores.

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Exclusive: Google's Project Loon tests move to LTE band in Nevada

Google has expanded its Project Loon tests to the Nevada desert and, for the first time, into licensed radio spectrum.

Google declined to comment on the secret trials, but a local official confirmed they are related to Project Loon, and government filings point to several recent balloon launches.

Loon is an ambitious attempt by Google to bring Internet access to vast swathes of the planet that currently have little or no connectivity. The project was unveiled last June, and Google said at the time it was experimenting with balloons flying around 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth, using radio links in an unlicensed portion of the spectrum at around 2.4GHz.

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IT security is national security?but you're not alone

National security may be at stake as private businesses try to manage a growing number of cyberthreats, but IT professionals shouldn?t have to bear that burden alone.

That was one of the messages from a conference earlier this week where threat experts from Kaspersky Lab shared the stage with corporate security chiefs and the former U.S. secretary of homeland security. There were also a few tips for facing up to the problem.

?If the private sector goes down, and critical infrastructure, [then] more often than not ... you have national security at risk as well,? said Tom Ridge, who led the new Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Because government relies so much on critical infrastructure such as power grids, communications networks and transportation, and because of the way malware spreads, the line between attacks against states and attacks against companies is blurry.

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Amazon's Fire TV voice search to improve this summer
The company is integrating more services into the unified voice search, starting with Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime.
Enterprise who? Google says little about Apps, business cloud services in Q1 ...

Google did little during its first-quarter earnings report to shush critics who say its Enterprise unit is a second-class citizen in its kingdom.

The company gave no substantial details regarding overall sales trends for the Enterprise business, nor for individual products such as the Google Apps cloud email and collaboration suite, the Compute Engine IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) tool and the App Engine PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) offering.

Top IT and business executives pay close attention to how well the products of their existing and prospective vendors are doing, to make sure they don?t invest in wares with uncertain futures.

?I think CIOs would like to see Google report [Enterprise unit] revenues in more detail so they have a better sense of Google?s commitment to their market,? said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler.

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Samsung teams with GlobalFoundries on 3D chips

Samsung is partnering with chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries to increase the supply of low-power, high-speed chips for smartphones and tablets.

GlobalFoundries has licensed Samsung?s 14-nanometer FINFET chip making process, which is used to manufacture 3D transistors. Those transistors will allow GlobalFoundries to make chips that are 20 percent faster and use 35 percent less power than chips made using its current 20-nanometer technology, the companies said.

GlobalFoundries doesn?t use the chips itself. It?s a foundry supplier, which means it makes chips for other companies that outsource their chip production, such as Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia and Qualcomm.

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World Tech Update: Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace and NHK shows off ...

This week on World Tech Update, Google confirmed its acquisition of drone maker Titan Aerospace, a move poised to advance delivery of the company?s data services and mapping applications.

Titan?s solar-powered aircraft can fly at 65,000 feet and act as ?atmospheric satellites.? They are designed to stay in the air for years and can provide voice and data services, according to Titan. The drones can also take images of the Earth and carry atmospheric-based sensor systems.

Facebook was reportedly in talks to buy Titan Aerospace earlier this year, but the social network later said it was bringing on team members from U.K.-based Ascenta, which makes its own solar-powered, unmanned aircraft.

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Music labels sue Pandora over pre-1972 recordings

Five music labels have filed a lawsuit against streaming music service Pandora Music, saying the company is violating state law by refusing to pay labels and artists for its use of recordings made before 1972.

U.S. copyright law doesn?t cover recordings made before 1972, but the five music labels?Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Warner Music Group and ABKCO Music & Records?argue that Pandora?s use is a violation of New York state law.

The actions by Pandora and other music services have cost the labels tens of millions of dollars a year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The pre-1972 recordings are played on some of the most popular stations on Pandora, including ?50s Rock ?n? Roll, ?60s Oldies, Motown, Doo-Wop and Classic Soul, the RIAA said.

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Finally, Flickr's Android app gets the UI overhaul it needs
It's prettier, easier to use, and it's available now to download in the Google Play store.
AMD earnings get a much-needed lift from console sales

AMD exceeded revenue expectations for the first quarter of 2014, as sales into the game console market lifted the company?s revenues by 28 percent. But the company also reported a loss, disappointing Wall Street.

AMD reported a loss of $20 million on revenue of $1.4 billion for the first quarter, versus a loss of $146 million on revenue of $1.09 billion for the same period a year ago. Those numbers also included a $200 million ?take or pay? payment to GlobalFoundries, the wafer fab that AMD uses to manufacture its chips. Analysts polled by Yahoo Finance expected AMD to report neither a profit nor a loss ($0.00) and revenue of $1.34 billion.

In general, AMD?s earnings followed its most recent pattern. Its Computing Solutions segment declined by 12 percent year over year to $663 million, as the shift away from traditional PCs helped lower AMD?s shipments. The unit?s operating loss was $3 million. The average price paid for its CPUs declined as well.

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MOBILedit review: put your PC and phone in sync

You might think of your smartphone and your PC as two entirely separate entities, never needing to cross paths. Or, perhaps you use the desktop software that comes free with your phone, finding that it meets all of your syncing needs. However you choose to sync?or not sync?your smartphone, MOBILedit should have you rethinking your decision. This comprehensive tool offers almost everything you need to manage your smartphone from your computer.

MOBILedit works with almost any kind of mobile phone, from the most basic flip model to today?s most advanced smartphones. It connects to your handset via USB, Bluetooth, or IrDA. Before connecting your phone, you?ll need to install the phone?s drivers to your PC, but this step is clearly explained during the installation process. MOBILedit also connects to Android phones and iPhones via Wi-Fi, though to do so, you?ll need to install a mobile app on the device?and this is where I ran into my first minor snag. MOBILedit clearly instructs you to install the ?MOBILedit Connector? from your phone?s application market, and while it?s easily located in Google Play, you won?t find any such app in Apple?s App Store. There, it?s called ?MOBILedit Lite,? and it wasn?t immediately apparent that this was the app I needed to setup a WiFi connection. Once that issue was resolved, I had no problems connecting my phones (I tested it with an iPhone 4S, a Motorola Droid Bionic, and a Samsung Galaxy) to my desktop via MOBILedit.

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Netcraft tool flags websites affected by Heartbleed

Worried about how the Heartbleed vulnerability may affect your personal accounts? A new tool may be of help.

British Internet security services provider Netcraft has released a browser extension that alerts users when a site they visit hasn?t been patched to protect against malicious use of the Heartbleed vulnerability, found in certain versions of the OpenSSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption library.

The free extension can be installed on the Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers.

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