Short Takes: December 24, 2014

Short Takes: December 24, 2014

An often irreverent look at this short holiday week's other news

An often irreverent look at this short holiday week's other news, including a holiday break, Ireland supports Microsoft in email warrant case, Google and Microsoft team up to prevent hotel Wi-Fi blocking, Mississippi AG has it in for Google, and Sony relents on the overwhelming demand and will release the most eagerly-awaited film of all time on Christmas Day.

Happy holidays!

It's Christmas this week, so we're on a truncated holiday schedule for the rest of the week and will be officially closed on Thursday and Friday, with today being a half-day of sorts. I'll be working each day, however, so stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows over the very long weekend. Happy holidays! --Paul

"Tracking the Santa trackers: Google versus Microsoft and Norad – which is better?"

I think we can all agree that this is the defining question of our time.

Ireland officially supports Microsoft in email warrant case

The government of Ireland filed a "friend of the court" brief with a New York federal appeals court, telling prosecutors in Microsoft's email warrant case that it supports the software giant. The rare move was necessitated by the illegal actions of the US Department of Justice which would require Microsoft to violate the sovereignty of Ireland. "Foreign courts are obliged to respect Irish sovereignty (and that of all other sovereign states) whether or not Ireland is a party or intervener in the proceedings before them," the country explains in its filing. "Ireland would be pleased to consider, as expeditiously as possible, a request under the treaty, should one be made." You gotta hand it to Microsoft: Except for the courts that have mattered so far in this case, virtually no one on earth agrees with the DOJ's attempts at seizing data held in an Ireland-based data center. Seems like common sense—and the law—should win out here.

"Apple Pushes Out First Mandatory OS X Update"

So much for that "no security problems" baloney.

Google and Microsoft team up!

And, no, not in any super-important way. Both tech giants have filed letters (here and here) with the Federal Communications Commission supporting a measure that would prevent hotels from blocking "personal Wi-Fi devices." What weighty matter is this, you ask? Many hotels, as you may know, like to charge for Internet access. So some technically-inclined customers are starting to bring personal Wi-Fi hotspot devices with them when they travel, allowing them to bypass the hotel's expensive Wi-Fi and use their own service. Which of course hotels are now trying to block electronically using cellphone jammers. The Marriott says it is trying to save the world from "rogue wireless hotspots" that could lead to hacking, while Microsoft correctly argues that the cellphone jammers hotels like Marriott are using are illegal. Seems straightforward to me.

"Microsoft Band is sold out online until early 2015"

Yes, haters. They only made 18 of them. Check.

Is it even possible to go too far if you're going after Google?

The attorney general of Mississippi has been waging a one-man war against Google, trying to prove that Google profited from the sale of pornography, illegal drugs, and other materials that were obtained via its search engine. This all sounds well and good, but the AG's strategy was to bury Google under a mountain of paperwork and demand a response in a very short period of time. And then the bombshell hit: Google revealed that this AG, Jim Hood, was actually backed by movie studios in Hollywood that were influencing government officials so that they could stop the spread of illegal video downloads. And so Google sued Mr. Hood, alleging conspiracy. So last week the AG called a "time out so that cooler heads may prevail." But US District Judge Henry T. Wingate made it official this week: He granted Google a two-month stay so that it has a reasonable amount of time to respond to Mississippi's concerns or, as Mr. Hood put it, " give the parties additional time to attempt to reach an amicable resolution." I can't wait to see what kind of amicability comes out of this one.

"Google giant enters the song lyrics niche, casts fear on its rivals"

Sure. Song lyrics. Scary!

Sony reverses decision, will allow theaters to screen "The Interview"

And the most amazing marketing campaign ever seen for such a piece of garbage comedy comes to a dramatic close: Sony this week reversed its earlier decision and says it will now allow theaters to screen "The Interview"—the movie in which North Korean leader Kim Jung-un is seen getting blown up, triggering a state-funded hacking attack on Sony—on Christmas Day. So pump your fist and declare victory, I guess, though you may have trouble actually finding a theater showing the film.

"Sony wanted 'The Interview' on iTunes for Christmas, but Apple rejected fast timetable"

Just in case you actually thought Apple could move quickly.

Buy the books!

I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Microsoft Band Field Guide (free), Surface Pro 3 Field Guide, Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide and Xbox Music Field Guide (free). Coming soon: Windows 10 Field Guide.

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