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GigaOm reports Microsoft began rolling out Skype Translator to selected users today. The feature allows instant translation of voice conversations between English and Spanish speakers as well as translation of text conversations between speakers of around 12 languages. The first version runs on Windows 8.1 and Windows phone. Interested users can sign up to be invited in at skype.com/translator-preview.
Politico rounds up the news around the Sony Hacks from the weekend. Attackers offered to exempt Sony staffers from future leaks by emailing their name and business title. Sony Pictures Entertainment hired attorney David Boies to send a request to news organizations not report on damaging information obtained from the stolen files. The letter said Sony would seek action for damages incurred as a result of any such reporting.
GigaOm reports Spanish newspapers are upset at Google’s decision to close Google news in Spain and remove Spanish publishers from Google News products worldwide. The Spanish Association of Daily Newspaper Publisher noted the closure would have a negative impact on citizens and businesses and called for “the intervention of the Spanish and EU authorities, and of competition authorities to effectively protect the rights of citizens and businesses.” Google News in Spain will close Tuesday Dec. 16.
VentureBeat reports that it is now possible to control your Nest thermostat with the self-title Google App on iOS and Android phones. Not some special other app but the regular old Google App. You can also use voice commands to ask Google to change or set the temperature and the app will bring up Google Now to suggest temperatures.
The BBC reports that torrent tracker search site IsoHunt has cloned The Pirate Bay database and launched a site called The Pirate Bay Search by IsoHunt. Meanwhile Mr. 10100100000 (1312) spoke with TorrentFreak saying the TPB crew was not surprised by the raid and is taking this time offline to discuss the future and purpose of The Pirate Bay. But if they reboot they promise to do it “with a bang.” Also they don’t mind clones as long as they aren’t scams.
Reuters reports BT has entered exclusive talks with Orange and Deutsche Telekom to acquire the EE mobile service. The potential deal would be worth 12.5 billion pounds. Deutsche Telekom would keep a 12% stake in EE and Orange would get more cash but only a 4% stake. The talks are expected to take a couple weeks. I personally am hoping that the resulting service that merges EE with BT will be called BEET.
ReCode reports Xiaomi reported 347.5 million yuan ($56 million) in net profit last year, according to a regulatory filing for an operating margin of just 1.8 percent. As a comparison Samsung reported an operating margin of 18.7 percent last year and Apple 28.7%. But Xiaomi is still ahead of LG which reported 0.5%.
TechCrunch reports on Gartner’s latest Worldwide smartphone sales numbers. Samsung’s tops but declining with 24.4%. Apple nudged up a bit to 12.7%. Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo rounded out the top 5 with Xiaomi leaping from 1.5% a year ago to 5.2% now. So let’s see. Two incumbents still big and even growing a little while upstarts chomp at their heels. That describes 2009 when Nokia RIM dominated and Apple, HTC and Samsung were the rising stars.
The Atlantic reports that Astrobotics Technology is offering a chance for earthlings to send their precious keepsakes to the moon. The program is called MoonMail and it is part of a plan to put a privately-owned lunar rover on the moon and win Google’s $20 million LunarX prize. If your keepsake is smaller than a dime it will cost you $460. A quarter? $1,600. More than 2 pounds? More than million bucks. No weapons, liquids or perishable items. Interested? Check out moonmail.co
News From You
starfuryzeta sent us the TechCrunch report that Runtastic has developed software for Oculus Rift VR headsets that lets you do a real 7 minute workout in a virtual environment. You can exercise in a villa by the beach, or on a scenic hillside, all tracked by Runtastic. The software will be on display at CES, so get ready for lots of videos of reporters exercising. AND This means we are now one 7 minute workout closer to the world of Ready Player One.
Dear Uber. You’ve had a tough month. One of your execs maybe threatened a reporter, then you got sued by several cities for maybe misleading the public. So you’re looking for ways to prove that you’re not the company we’re all maybe starting to wonder if you are. So MAYBE, when there’s a hostage crisis in downtown Sydney and people are looking to get out of downtown, don’t tweet “We are all concerned with events in CBD. Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area.” After Mashable and others published a story of price hikes at 4x the normal rate, resulting in rides cost $100 or more, the company reversed course and announced that all rides in the area would be free and offered refunds to those charged the higher amount. Thanks to lagerdalek for flagging this one.
iSting pointed this one out and I believe it caught Amber’s eye as well. Indiegogo is setting up a new site called Indiegogo Life designed to help individuals raise money for things like medical bills, school and other personal causes. This special program does not charge any platform feees. An Indiegogo spokesperson told Engadget that the company has a “stringent verification procedure” for Life campaigns that includes a “dedicated team of experts, automated algorithms and other procedures.”
Discussion Links: Checking Email Less = More Better
Pick of the Day: Elfster via Norm in Austin, TX
Hey Tom & Jennie,
I feel like I’m overloading your inboxes but I’m sure I’ll go dormant for a few months and leave you guys alone after this
Anyway, I am doing a gift exchange with my California inlaws and we are using the Elfster.com web site to coordinate that. People sign up, set up a wish list and the random drawing assigns folks to each other. The admin can make it so certain people don’t get each other (like married members of the family don’t get each other for example) so it’s pretty convenient. We’ve been using it for a few years and it’s working fine though the web site leaves a bit to be desired but it gets the job done.
Take care, Norm (from ATX/BCS)