Monthly Archives: April 2019

Microsoft’s role in iPhone 2.0: Exchange ActiveSync

admin | 08/04/2019 | COMMENTS:Comments Closed

With the recent launch of the iPhone App Store, I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if Microsoft had written any of the 500 or so applications that became available on day one. After all, Microsoft had previously said that it was looking at opportunities to make a profit off the iPhone. Having found nothing, I concluded that Microsoft is biding its time, for I doubt the company is going to pass up an opportunity to get its apps on a new, hip, and quickly growing platform like the iPhone (despite touting that there are already thousands of Windows Mobile apps). HangZhou Night Net

However, Microsoft has already managed to get mentioned in the iPhone credits, as Adam Glick, a Technical Product Manager with Microsoft's Unified Communications group, notes:

If you've not heard, Apple released iPhone 2.0 today which includes a software update to the existing iPhones in the market (yes, we mentioned it when it was announced as well). We're thrilled to add them to the family of Exchange ActiveSync licensees that enable all sorts of devices to connect to Exchange Server.

Apple made the announcement four months ago, but of course the company has been collaborating with Microsoft for much longer. Thanks to Apple's decision to license Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft, iPhone users will be able to get e-mail, calendar and contacts sync, and global address lists from an Exchange Server, instead of having to use IMAP. The plan is to make this easier for customers who want to use the iPhone as a business phone, but as we've already said in our review, it isn't enough to convert a BlackBerry user. Nevertheless, it's a step in the right direction.

Further readingThe Microsoft Exchange Team Blog: iPhone 2.0; Welcome to Exchange!Apple: iPhone and iPod touch Enterprise Deployment Guide

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WiiWare and VC releases (7-14-08 Hungry, Hungry Monkeys Edition)

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With the rest of the OT crew out in sunny California for E3, the arduous task of writing up the WiiWare/Virtual Console release list has fallen on me. Unfortunately, Nintendo has not given me much to work with as, alas, I'm not a big fan of competitive eating. HangZhou Night Net

WiiWare
Major League Eating (1-2 players, 1,000 points or $10)

Competitive eating always makes me think of that one scene in Stand By Me where the one guy purposely makes himself vomit during a pie-eating contest in order to set up the world's most disgusting barf-o-rama. It looks like this game will be channeling that memory, as Major League Eating will in fact feature a Barf-O-Meter. Other special moves include the Mega Burp, Gas Attack, Antacid and more. MLE also features more then 12 different foods, 10 different characters, a single-player career mode, and support for online multiplayer. Yummy.

Virtual Console Donkey Kong 3 (NES, 500 points or $5)

The long-forgotten sequel that followed up the original Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., DK3 is a drastic departure from its predecessors gameplay-wise. This time around, DK finds himself in a greenhouse where he decides to stir up the bugs inside. Players take control of Stan the Bugman as he attempts to protect the flowers from the oncoming insect onslaught. Players progress by either killing all bugs on screen of spraying DK with enough bug-spray to force him to the next level.

Ancient editor's note: I have bad memories of this one from the arcades back when it came out. While Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. had some great game play, this struck me at the time as a lame attempt to continue the franchise. Yes, I'm old enough to remember the launch of all three titles in the arcade. —Eric

Ninja Commando (NEO GEO, 900 points or $9)

Despite having such an awesome name, Ninja Commando is a fairly generic, vertically-scrolling action game. Originally released in 1992, the game puts players in the role of one of three ninjas (Ryu, Joe, or Rayar) as they attempt to stop an evil villain from destroying the world with a time machine. The premise allows for a wide range of level themes, ranging from the Stone Age to the Egyptian era to the Japanese civil war era. Interesting premise, generic game.

Hard to recommend anything this week, though having just watched King of Kong, I may end up giving DK3 a shot.

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Microsoft acquires data-quality software start-up Zoomix

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Speculation about Microsoft planning to purchase Zoomix, an Israeli start-up focused on data quality software that was founded in 1999, has now been confirmed with a press release. Although the two companies did not give any financial details (rumors suggested Microsoft would be paying between $25 million to $35 million), it is known that the software giant is hoping to integrate Zoomix's software into its SQL Server line of products in order to make it "a complete data platform for all data management needs" and that Zoomix's development staff will be joining the Microsoft research and development center in Israel. HangZhou Night Net

Zoomix Accelerator, the company's main product, uses a guided self-learning technology to learn how to parse, match, classify, and clean data. This accumulated knowledge is then applied to every new piece of information fed into the Zoomix system. According to its product description, Zoomix Accelerator "smoothly integrates with existing applications and business processes, and dramatically reduces the human effort required for successful enterprise-wide data manipulation."

Moshe Lichtman, vice president of Microsoft International and president of R&D in Israel, stated in a press release that "Zoomix will contribute a critical layer of data improvement to Microsoft's SQL Server Data Platform. This capability will enable organizations to meet the requirements of complex information systems, and to streamline business processes, and is therefore expected to have a great impact on the organization's bottom line." The Microsoft Master Data Management team will be working with the SQL Server team to integrate the Zoomix and other DQ capabilities.

Further readingZoomix: Press Release

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Final RIAA\/Jammie Thomas briefs in; new trial decision looms

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The final briefs in the Jammie Thomas file-swapping case are in, and neither Thomas nor the RIAA are conceding an inch of ground. Both sides parse the requisite legal cases with a concern for text and context that would make a biblical scholar weep with joy, and both claim that the "great weight of authority" rests squarely on their own side of the scale. And that's before the gloves come off. HangZhou Night Net

In a legal case that has already had its share of thongs, we've at long last come to the end of the briefs as well. After Thomas was found liable last year for more than $200,000 in statutory damages, she sought a new trial based on a jury instruction no. 15 and the issue of whether making a song "available" over a P2P network was a "distribution" that would violate copyright. The judge in the case said that it would, but has since reconsidered his position, and is considering Thomas' request for a new trial.

The final briefs in that process rehash all the familiar ground about making available, MediaSentry, and the "plain meaning" of the Copyright Act (which, as is usually the case with "plain meaning" arguments, isn't actually plain at all). These are all issues we have covered in depth before as various "friends of the court" have filed briefs in the case. What's most interesting here instead is the passionate appeals to the judge; indeed, both briefs make for interesting reading in part because of the intensity of the argument.

Much is on the line in this case. With several judges recently giving credence to the idea that making available may not be the same as distribution, the RIAA is keen to avoid more rulings in that direction. It also wants to keep its win in the Thomas case unsullied, while Thomas herself would no doubt like another shot at a trial (and the possibility of reduced damages).

Here's the takeaway from the RIAA: "Defendant and its amici are throwing every obstacle they can in the path of the Plaintiffs' enforcement efforts, safe in the knowledge that it is incredibly difficult to catch users downloading works that are made available over networks like KaZaA. Amici are well aware that their view of the law would cripple enforcement of what all concede are widespread and massive violations of Plaintiffs' rights. That cannot possibly be—and is not—what Congress intended."

Whatever you think of the argument, this is (stylistically) a fine bit of writing.

Thomas' lawyer, Brian Toder, mounts his argument by pointing out that the RIAA's outside backers (the MPAA and the Progress & Freedom Foundation) are "either partially owned or financially supported by" the plaintiffs.

In addition, the record labels "rely on what they call 'decades of case law,' but the fact is that the Internet has not been around for decades, and if there is a problem with the Copyright Act, Congress must fix it. In the meantime, the law in this Circuit is that making-available, in and of itself, is not a violation of the Copyright Act, the act of downloading a copyrighted work by an agent of the plaintiff is not a distribution conferring liability upon a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have the same burden every plaintiff has: they must prove their case."

The decision is now in the hands of the judge, who finds himself in the unusual position of being able to make Duluth, Minnesota the center of the technology universe once more simply by ordering a new trial.

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Judge: Burden of policing eBay for counterfeits is Tiffany’s

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A federal judge has given eBay a sweeping victory in a case that resulted from the sale of counterfeit items through its auctions. Tiffany, the jewelers, had sued the auction house over eBay's use of its name in ads and the alleged insufficiency of the efforts that the auctioneer had taken to police the sale of knockoff items. But, in a ruling (PDF) that touches on fair use and content policing, Judge Richard J. Sullivan absolved eBay of all liability in the matter. HangZhou Night Net

The case started back in 2004, when Tiffany, referred to as "the famous jeweler with the coveted blue boxes," filed suit against eBay, alleging a variety of sins focused on two aspects of the auction house's business practice. First, eBay was accused of violating Tiffany's trademark by allowing items to appear on its site under that label, purchasing the term for use in targeted search ads, and advertising that Tiffany-branded goods appeared at the site. The second issue revolved around the fact that many of these goods were counterfeit. eBay would pull these items when Tiffany notified them of problems, but the jewelry maker wanted to compel the company to be more proactive about this.

The judge ruled that the use of the Tiffany name fell under what's termed nominative fair use, describing this as, "where the only word reasonably available to describe a particular thing is pressed into service." Since Tiffany has developed a brand associated with specific characteristics in terms of style and quality, using its name as an adjective to describe one of its pieces falls under fair use. The judge also mentioned that the purchase of a brand name for search advertising happened outside the public eye, and was inherently noninfringing, although he noted that the case law here is somewhat ambiguous.

The more significant legal issues here are likely to focus on eBay's efforts to control the appearance of counterfeit items on its site. Here, the two sides largely agreed on the basic facts; "Tiffany acknowledges that individual sellers, rather than eBay, are responsible for listing and selling counterfeit Tiffany items," the decision reads. "Accordingly, the heart of this dispute is not whether counterfeit Tiffany jewelry should flourish on eBay, but rather, who should bear the burden of policing Tiffany’s valuable trademarks in Internet commerce."

The judge notes that eBay has 200 employees (out of a total of 16,000) devoted to searching for counterfeit items, and another 70 who serve as its interface with law enforcement. Significantly for this case, that staff responded to all complaints about specific items that came from Tiffany by pulling those items. The company also has an algorithm designed to search the site for counterfeit goods, and has modified this in response to repeated complaints from Tiffany. As a sign that it was doing everything it could to police content, an eBay exec testified that this algorithm had actually crashed the system on a number of occasions.

Tiffany brought substantially less to the table, having assigned a paralegal to spend two days a week surfing the online auction house. The company had also commissioned a survey of Tiffany goods available on eBay, which showed that many of them were indeed counterfeit. The judge suggested that this survey was methodologically flawed, in part because Tiffany suspended its policing while it ran. Even if it weren't, however, it turned up a substantial number of legitimate items, undercutting the jewelers' arguments.

Tiffany wanted more, demanding preemptive steps that would block the appearance of its items if eBay had a "reasonable anticipation" that they might be counterfeits. The judge ruled that the steps eBay had already taken were sufficient, and that any further policing of the auctions were the responsibility of Tiffany itself; eBay's past actions indicated it would respond swiftly to any problems brought to its attention.

It would be easy to focus on the fact that the ruling contained the term "fair use," but the issue in this case is the fair use of a trademark, rather than copyrighted material. Instead, the case is likely to have an impact in cases such as the music industry's attacks on YouTube, which focus on whether the video site was making a sufficient effort to keep copyrighted material off its servers.

It's also important to note that the decision only applies to the US; eBay lost a similar case in France. Apparently, Tiffany tried to introduce that decision into this case, but withdrew the request after a hearing was held on it.

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