ICYMI: March 8, 2016

ICYMI: March 8, 2016

Happy Tuesday. On this date 103 years ago, the Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes. American citizens, consider this your nudge to do your taxes if you haven't already.


The biggest story of yesterday and why you should care today: It's been A Month for Apple's legal team, and today, they were handed a defeat by the Supreme Court. No -- it has nothing to do with the purported "dormant cyber pathogens." Instead, this has to do with price-fixing e-books. 

Let's time-travel back to June 2015, when the 2nd Court of Appeals ruled that Apple was liable for engaging in a conspiracy with book publishers including Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and MacMillan, and that the group colluded to set prices for e-books. The publishers were motivated by fear over Amazon pushing down e-book prices, while Apple wanted their iPad to crack into the digital reader market. So, explained Reuters

Apple and the publishers agreed on an arrangement in which Apple would get a 30 percent commission and publishers were allowed to set the prices for their books, a tactic known as 'agency pricing' that prevents discounting. The publishers also agreed they would charge all outlets the same amount, meaning Amazon was forced to raise its prices. E-books that had cost $9.99 suddenly cost $12.99 or $14.99.

The upshot of the price fixing was that consumers paid more. Anyway, Apple appealed the 2015 ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, and on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. The upshot: Apple's on the hook to pay a $450 million settlement. Amazon commented, "We are ready to distribute the court-mandated settlement funds to Kindle customers as soon as we’re instructed to move forward."

While we're talking about the U.S. government and tech news ...

Yesterday, the White House announced "The Opportunity Project," the goal of which is to make federal data easier to crunch and analyze. In theory, this will make it easier for municipalities to see trends in their communities and respond with appropriate initiatives or measures. It's Big Data turned into civic policy. Examples of using the data: assessing a city's walkability, seeing where affordable housing is, seeing where the jobs are moving to/from, or finding areas with environmental hazards. Private companies Zillow and Redfin have also partnered in the project.


The most useful tech news: Phone security has been big in the news lately, but what measures have you taken personally with your devices? Check out "10 Do's and Don'ts for Securing Your Android Device."

Microsoft's now integrated Skype and OneDrive. What does that mean to you on a practical level? Basically, you'll be able to call or chat with your Skype contacts when you're in OneDrive or Office Online. And the records of those chats will be linked to whatever you worked on in OneDrive, so if you're collaborating on a presentation or spreadsheet, the conversation you had with your coworker is right there for easy reference. 

Also, make this the week to get organized. MakeUseOf walks you through color-coding your Google Keep notes, then goes on to show how you can use color to optimize your Google Sheets in everything from appearance to workflow.

And while you may be familiar with OneNote (or with our three-part series comparing that tool to Evernote), consider this story hypothesizing how Charles Darwin would have used OneNote. It's a nice tour of the audio recording and OCR features.

Finally, here's how you can make the most of the touchpad features in Windows 10.


The most amusing tech news:  Because you don't have enough distractions easily available via your Web browser, here's a few more: Access to classic Apple II games, courtesy of the Internet Archive. As Digital Trends reports:

Apple II classics that are now playable in-browser at the Internet Archive include Pitfall IIBurgerTimeThe ObservatoryBallBlazer, andChampionship Lode Runner.

Or if you'd prefer to do something with your hands, build your very own full-sized R2-D2. (For another look into the world of hands-on Star Wars fabrication, read this December 2015 Racked article, "How Making Star Wars Costumes Became a Charitable Act.")


What we published yesterday: 

Universal Windows 10 App for Controlling Your Camera with Microsoft Band — "Called Shutter Band, the app released recently in its first iteration and actually works pretty well."

Gallery: Podcasts App on Windows 10 Mobile — "The app is not chock full of features but it has the basic capabilities to subscribe and listen to your favorite podcasts."

Windows 10 Redstone 2 Delayed Until Early 2017 — This delay means the second major update to Windows 10, the first after the November Update, will arrive in and around the one-year anniversary of Windows 10’s release on 29 July 2015.

Collaborate via Skype in Office Online and OneDrive — Microsoft has now released an update for its Office Online and OneDrive services that will allow you to collaborate via chat right on the same screen and in the same browser window in which the document is being worked on. 


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