Techzone 360 Week in Review

By Tony Rizzo April 13, 2013

Let’s start this week’s review off with two Internet trivia questions – what was the first officially registered domain name, and how many registered domain names are currently in existence? We confess we did not know the answer to the first, and as to the second the answer is probably a lot more than you think, although we ourselves thought the number would be much larger. You may be surprised by how far back domain names actually go as well.

Here’s another question: most of us are familiar with patent troll companies. These are firms that buy up patents, typically those that have been in use and unlicensed for many years or that otherwise lurk in dark corners and have never seen the light of day. These patent trolls then look for ways to monetize these patents even though they themselves have never in fact had anything to do with them other than to acquire them. Many of us think that patent trolls are – as is the case in fairy tales, ugly. They are bad for business, bad for innovation and they can stifle startup and small business growth. Now a number of very large companies have banded together to try and do something about it. The question is whether they can mount a legal defense against the trolls. Now here is our question: the trolls prefer to be called something other than trolls – PAE. What does “PAE” stand for?

Before we wrap up on patents, it is worth noting that Apple has apparently won another small patent battle in the larger overall patent war it continues to wage with Samsung. This time around it has to do with a text-selection feature in tablets and smartphones – of such things are patent wars waged.

Are you one of the many that need to take a subway or train as part of everyday city living? Say for example, New York, where the subways have long been a source of aggravation as you sit or stand there and wait and wonder if that next train is ever going to arrive? Well, someone has figured out that one of the better ways to know the answer to this is from the people who are actually waiting at train or subway stops just ahead of your own (think of these folks as “heading your way” only with the advantage of already knowing when the train arrived and departed. There is now a new service, Hopstop Live! For iPhone, which does exactly this. It’s Waze meets subway. Very cool!

While you are waiting for that subway train to show up, perhaps you might decide it’s time to share your feelings and emotions – especially if that train simply refuses to show up. Well, good ol’ Facebook is here to help. Perhaps you’ve noticed more status updates featuring icons, media, and a little something extra that wasn't there before. Facebook introduced options in status updates that include what users are feeling, listening to, watching, reading, drinking and eating. Well, now you can spice things up a bit with…emoticons! It’s good to know Facebook is on top of these things.

Here are a few things that perhaps you can put those emoticons to work on – what, for example, are your feelings about Twitter launching a new music service – something with the clever name Twitter Music? Or what sort of emoticon would you use when you learn that streaming music service Pandora has now reached 200 million registered users?

If music isn’t your cup of tea, what sort of emoticon would you apply to the idea of Apple and Yahoo working very closely together to deliver some heretofore unknown level of cooperation and tight integration? Would it be a smile or a smirk? We’re leaning toward a smirk ourselves. That smirk – or maybe something a bit more animated – would likely be our choice as well for describing what we think of Foursquare landing new funding of $41 million. In truth it isn’t new funding but much more of a “loan” from current investors to tide Foursquare over while it continues to search for ways to create revenue out of thin air. On the other hand, one can only use a major-sized smile emoticon for the news that the very well managed LinkedIn has acquired news reader and content distribution company Pulse.

We’ll sign off for the week with two final items. First, it has come to our attention that though the chances for cybercriminals or cyber terrorists to do nasty things to airplanes while in flight are exceedingly small, a tenacious security researcher has uncovered some disturbing issues that may leave us more vulnerable than one might think – all it takes is some inside knowledge and … a smartphone.

Finally, there was a rumor at the beginning of the week that Google was in talks to acquire WhatsApp for around a billion dollars, with the only holdup being nothing more than quibbling over the final price. Soon enough WhatsApp took to the air to say that there was no truth to it – no more at any rate than there had been when a Facebook-WhatsApp rumor emerged at the end of 2012. But is it a rumor? We’re not sure. WhatsApp would fill an interesting gap in Google’s lineup – and one that might help Google to render Facebook Home homeless. More on this next week – stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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