The court case continues over the Negotiator military robot built by a former iRobot employee.
Jameel Ahed, who has garnered a $280 million contract to sell military robots to the government through his company Robotic FX, testified in a U.S. District Court of Massachusetts on Wednesday.
The Robotic FX president said that his robot was built from his own work while an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, not trade secrets stolen from iRobot while he worked there, The Boston Globe has reported.
Neither iRobot nor Robotic FX were immediately available for comment.
iRobot has alleged in two separate suits that Robotic FX is infringing on U.S. Patent Nos. 6,263,989 and 6,431,296. It has also alleged that Ahed as an individual misappropriated confidential iRobot information regarding the PackBot military robot that he had access to while an iRobot employee, according to complaints filed with the court.
Ahed and Robotic FX have maintained that they are not in violation.
"We make a vital homeland security device and my former company has known about our growing business for at least two years. Only now, when we are rivals for an important U.S. Government contract did they file this lawsuit. We believe we will prevail," Jameel Ahed, president of Robotic FX, said in an e-mailed statement in September.
On October 2, both parties entered a joint motion requesting presiding U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner to seal specific testimonies and transcripts from the public regarding confidential company information.
The gritty urban portrait of alienation is about to make it to a next-generation console near you. According to a Reuters/Hollywood Reporter story published on Wednesday, Majesco Entertainment has acquired a licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to publish the 1976 film as a video game. The release--which will make its debut at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo 2005 --will commemorate the movie's 30th anniversary.
The original film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture.
NComputing, the start-up that aims to provide cheap Internet access by allowing one PC or server to be shared by many , is set to announce Tuesday that former Microsoft executive Will Poole will join its board as co-chairman.
Poole, who left Microsoft earlier this year after more than a decade, will share the chairmanship with Stephen Dukker, the eMachines founder who has been NComputing's sole chairman and remains its chief executive.
Through its own virtualization software, the Redwood City, Calif., company allows a single server to serve up to 30 users a PC-like experience--allowing an entire classroom or business to be wired for about $175, including keyboard, monitor, software, and the hardware terminals.
In a telephone interview, Poole said he got to know NComputing as part of his final role at Microsoft, where he helped head the company's emerging markets efforts.
"I was really impressed technically with what's going on and, of course, the price speaks for itself," Poole said.
NComputing's approach takes advantage of the fact that basic computing tasks use only a fraction of the power of a standard PC or server. The result not only saves money, but also power. That's especially important in places like India where access to the grid can be limited.
There are downsides, though. Although the company's software ensures no one user will hog too many computing resources, that means that high-end tasks like serious gaming or graphics arts applications are probably out. Still, it's proved to be a good option for those in emerging markets as well as for schools here in the U.S.
Dukker said the company has deployed over 1 million seats over the past 20 months, with half of those in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Among the company's deals is one to provide computing for every elementary and secondary school student in Macedonia . Adding Poole to the company's board, he said, is a sign of the company's maturity.
"It really is kind of a signpost of us leaving the company's adolescence," he said. Among the other tech names on NComputing's board is Advanced Micro Devices' longtime marketing chief Rob Herb.
Poole won't have an operating role, but will help guide strategic planning and serve as a global ambassador, the pair said. Poole is also taking a small stake in the company, joining its existing backers, which include two venture capital firms and a Korean company that provides rare gasses for use in computer chip manufacturing.
Probably the biggest piece of digital music news to come out of CES 2008 was that Napster was planning to offer its complete catalog of more than 6 million tracks in the unprotected MP3 format.
On Tuesday, with the launch of version 4.5 of the software and store, that announcement becomes a reality. Although digital music stores such as eMusic, Amazon MP3, and even Napster itself already had MP3s on offer before this point, the collective catalogs of all three didn't even come near the volume of tracks you can find in the entire Napster library. All four major labels and thousands of indies are represented in the store, and every track will be available at the standard 99 cent price point.
Napster's Web-based store with the online media player window open.
In addition, Napster's Web-based store , which is all that is required for MP3 purchases and downloads, is compatible with every operating system. And--of course--the MP3s can be played on any MP3 player, portable video player, or music cell phone. Currently, 95 percent of the catalog is encoded at 256Kbps, which is reasonably high-quality for an MP3, and each track comes with hi-resolution album art . Although Napster has quite an international presence, the MP3 store will only be available to U.S. residents for the time being.
Napster will continue to offer its online and To Go subscription services for $12.95 or $14.95 per month, respectively. The music associated with a subscription will remain in the protected WMA format with the time-out capability.
The company did make some improvements to its online interface. It now features a "liquid layout," which resizes everything within both the store and media player windows when you adjust the size of either window. Napster has also improved its download management system so that users can better view what has been purchased already and whether it was ever downloaded after the purchase.
Sadly, because of label restrictions, Napster will not be offering any type of trade program for customers who have a library of DRM-protected WMA files that they purchased a la carte. However, the licenses on those files will continue to be supported by the service, so no need to worry about a repeat of the MSN Music scandal . At least not for now.
DivX is pretty much a staple for anyone who downloads videos from the Interwebs, as virtually all videos distributed that way are compressed and encoded using the DivX format. The DivX player has always been free of charge, but DivX Pro, which you need if you want to create your own DivX files, costs $19.99. Or not, if you hurry up and take advantage of a DivX holiday promotion offering DivX Pro absolutely free . It's available for Windows and Mac users, though I don't know for how long: the site doesn't say when the promotion ends.A technology writer for more than 15 years, Rick Broida is a regular contributor to CNET and the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Do Everything with Your Palm Powered Handheld . He writes The Cheapskate for the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure .
One of the biggest questions historically revolving around the virtual world " Second Life " and its publisher, Linden Lab, has been how long the company would stay independent.
Since the company's 2003 launch, it has been privately held and backed by investors including Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
But as Linden Lab has grown, any number of rumors have circulated involving takeovers by companies like Google and Microsoft. All the while, Linden Lab has said it intends to stay solo. Indeed, CEO Philip Rosedale has told CNET News.com on multiple occasions that he has no intentions to sell, nor would such a move be in the company's, or its community's, best interests.
And that may well be true.
But in an article published Friday in the U.K.'s Times Online, David Fleck, Linden Lab vice president of marketing, indicated that such sentiments may not always stay true.
"We're open to an IPO or a sale, whenever that occurs," Fleck told Times Online . "But there's no rush."
Of course, this very well might have just been a throwaway line in a long interview. But it's very interesting to note that Linden Lab brass is willing to be quoted as saying such a thing.
digg_url = 'http://digg.com/tech_news/GMail_gets_auto_replies';
This is probably more useful than GMail's last goofy new experimental feature : Canned responses . You can now save a reply you're writing as a "canned response" and then quickly select one of these responses when you're replying to a future e-mail.
You can also have your Gmail filters auto-reply to messages for you with these reponses. I quickly set up a filter, for example, to reply to people who send me an e-mail with "pitch" in the subject line with a message asking them to reach me on my work account.It's easy to stuff a canned message into your replies.
The canned response feature is useful and nicely done. If you often have to send people the same e-mail, you'll find it useful. The auto-reply filter is a bit more complex and potentially dangerous, although it is useful. To set up an auto-reply, you have to first save the response as you're replying to an email, and you have to make very sure that your filters aren't going to get you in to trouble by sending out your message to the wrong people. Fortunately, Gmail lets you pre-run your filter on your exisitng inbox to show who which messages would be swept up in your filter if it was already running.
If you use Gmail to handle work-related e-mail with a lot of typical queries, it's worth trying.
To turn on the Canned Responses feature go to Settings | Labs. To use the auto-reply feature go to Settings | Features.Once you've written some canned responses, you can set up filters to sent them automatically.