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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Apple on Tuesday updated its professional workflow application, Final Cut Pro X, adding a number of significant features. I spoke with Richard Townhill, Senior Director of Applications Marketing at Apple, to get more details on the release.

Perhaps the biggest new feature in Final Cut Pro X is the addition of Multicam editing. Typical of Apple when adding a new feature, the company didn’t just think about how to add the functionality, they thought about how to do it better than before.

Shooting a scene with multiple cameras is common practice these days and Final Cut Pro’s multicam feature supports mixed formats and mixed frame rates, making it easy to bring in footage from a variety of sources. Final Cut also supports up to 64 camera angles in the new version.

What’s really different in Apple’s implementation of multicam is how the company does its automatic syncing. Of course, you can sync camera angles by using the timecode or the less accurate method of using the time of day, but Apple has a new way of syncing camera angles – audio waveforms.

Townhill explained that with Final Cut Pro X, you can now sync scenes using the audio waveform captured with the camera. This doesn’t have to be the final audio used in the scene, but it can be used for syncing purposes. Of course, manually syncing cameras is still available at any time.

The other major new feature added to Final Cut Pro X is broadcast monitoring. For now, this is being released as a beta. Townhill said that you need a PCIe card in a Mac Pro or a Thunderbolt device. Apple said in most cases broadcast monitoring will work just fine, but they are still refining the feature.

The good news is that with Thunderbolt, you will be able to take advantage of broadcast monitoring while on a shoot. In the past this feature was only available when you got back to the studio and your Mac Pro.

In addition to those major features, Final Cut Pro X also includes Advanced chroma keying with controls for color sampling, edge quality, and light wrap. XML 1.1 support has been added, allowing users to export basic primary color grades, as well as importing and exporting effect parameters and audio keyframes.

Media relinking and the ability to import and edit layered Photoshop graphics has also been added.

There is also good news from Final Cut Pro developers. Intelligent Assistance is releasing a new app today called 7toX that will allow users to import Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X. The app uses Final Cut’s XML to achieve the import. The app will be on the Mac App Store and costs $9.99.

Other Final Cut developers like GenArts and Red Giant have developed motion graphics plug-ins that take advantage of the realtime preview capabilities of Final Cut Pro X.

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Apple Inc. (AAPL) failed to get a preliminary ban on sales of Samsung Electronics (005930) Co.’s Galaxy 10.1N and Galaxy Nexus mobile phone from a German court.

The Munich Regional Court rejected the motion today, in a case where Apple invoked a patent granted last year protecting technology related to touch screens for tablets and smartphones.

“Samsung has shown that it is more likely than not that the patent will be revoked because of a technology that was already on the market before the intellectual property had been filed for protection,” Presiding Judge Andreas Mueller said when delivering the ruling.

The decision comes a day after a Dusseldorf appeals court upheld Apple’s request to ban sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the predecessor model. Samsung began selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a revised version, in Germany to get around the ban. A lower Dusseldorf court is scheduled to rule next week on a separate case Apple filed over the Galaxy 10.1N. Samsung lost two patent rulings against its rival in a Mannheim court last month.

The European Commission announced yesterday it will investigate whether Samsung broke a 1998 commitment to license any standard essential patents for phones on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.” The action followed litigation filed by Samsung last year in European courts over the patents, the EU said.
Tablets, Smartphones

The legal battle between Cupertino, California-based Apple and its closest competitor in tablet computers is intensifying as an increasing number of consumers use tablets and smartphones to visit websites, play games and download music.

Neither Samsung nor Apple immediately replied to e-mails seeking comment on today’s case.

The patent at issue today protects technology that shows users when they reach the scrolling limit of a page. The decision relied on the likelihood that Samsung could get the patent revoked at the European patent Office, which had granted the intellectual-property protection.

Peter Chrocziel, an Apple lawyer, argued at the hearing that the technology Samsung claimed was known before the iPad maker’s patent was filed didn’t contain the same solution because it didn’t provide the same experience for the user.

Samsung lawyer Henrik Timmann argued the court shouldn’t be allowed to issue a preliminary ban as long as a nine month deadline for contestation for the patent hasn’t been elapsed.

Judge Mueller said he and his two colleagues on the bench don’t follow the jurisprudence of the courts in Dusseldorf and Mannheim, which don’t typically grant emergency requests over recent patents.

“We don’t share the idea that young patents are less valuable than those who have survived for a longer period of time,” said Mueller. “We don’t think that would be in line with European rules of enforcing IP rights.”

Source

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Nextdoor, the locally driven private social network for neighborhoods, announced on Tuesday that it raised a round of funding, adding another set of high-profile venture firms to the list of the company’s backers.

The $60 million round was led jointly by new investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tiger Global Management, with participation from Comcast Ventures and existing investors Benchmark, Greylock Partners and Shasta Ventures.

The move, which comes just as Nextdoor celebrates its second anniversary since launch, brings the total amount of funding raised to about $100 million over the last 18 months, according to the company. CEO Nirav Tolia positions it as a strategic move, bolstering the company’s coffers as it gears up for a push into international expansion.

“We needed first of all to make sure we had our domestic house in order; then, second, to get the right talent in building,” Tolia said, pointing to Minna King, his hire for VP of International. “Third for us is to be demand-driven about our international road map. Where are we receiving most demand in foreign countries?”

Nextdoor plans to move into English-speaking countries in the first part of 2014, targeting places such as Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa before moving on to other areas, like Brazil and Japan, which Tolia said are next on the road map. The company, which does not disclose specifics on its user numbers, said it was now being used in more than 22,000 neighborhoods across the U.S., with nearly half of its members regularly contributing content. Earlier this year, Nextdoor released its first smartphone apps for consumers.

nextdoor_hand_newsfeed_tall

The very nature of the service, however, makes growth a particularly interesting challenge. Positioned as a privacy-focused network for those within neighborhoods to communicate with one another around local issues, the startup strictly limits communication to those within the same general nearby areas. Identity, too, is checked through address verification or other methods.

For these high-profile venture firms, it is a big continued bet on a startup focused on the local space, a problematic area that has seen many companies try – and fail – to solve it. (AOL’s cash-bleeding Patch initiatives immediately come to mind.) Nextdoor makes no revenue to speak of as of yet, though it will have $90 million in the bank to expand abroad after this round.

Kleiner’s John Doerr, who is bullish on the social-local-mobile sector, and will take a position as a special adviser with the new investment, thinks Nextdoor is uniquely positioned to approach the issue of local – especially when contrasted against Patch.

“There’s nothing inherently social about Patch, no viral properties that go along with it,” Doerr said in an interview. “While Patch owns the content, it doesn’t really own the graph,” he said, referring to a common term first made popular by Facebook’s large map of social members, and later by LinkedIn’s professional user base. “The converse is true for Nextdoor. There are strongly viral properties, neighbors are strongly encouraged to invite others.”

Kleiner’s Mary Meeker will also help advise Nextdoor as part of the investment, while Tiger Global’s Lee Fixel will focus mostly on helping the startup’s international growth efforts – his firm’s particular area of expertise.

The federal government is set to slap Infosys Ltd. with the largest immigration fine ever, claiming the Indian outsourcing giant illegally placed workers on visitor, rather than work, visas at big corporate clients across the U.S.

The government is expected to announce Wednesday it will fine Infosys about $35 million, according to people close to the matter. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits – instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas – to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays, these people say.

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Indian outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. said Wednesday it has reached a $34 million civil settlement with U.S. authorities that would “resolve all allegations” and end visa-fraud investigations against the company.

For more than two years, the U.S. Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department investigated Infosys’s visa practices, prompted by allegations that it had improperly used business-travel documents to place employees in long-term positions in American companies.

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It’s well-established at this point that the U.S. National Security Agency obtains data about people from their Internet service providers through its secret court systems. But the NSA also has a backdoor to Google and Yahoo data centers, according to the Washington Post, which has fresh documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

hacked

The report details a project called MUSCULAR that grabs data from fiber-optic cables. That would be illegal on U.S. soil, but it takes place overseas. Google has said it is actively working to encrypt data flowing between its data centers, while Yahoo has not.

It’s unclear how useful MUSCULAR has been, but the Post reports that it “has produced important intelligence leads against hostile foreign governments.”

Google sounds freaked out in its statement to the Post. The company is “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity. … We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links.”

Yahoo’s statement is more circumspect: “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

The way things are going, the term “cable TV” may have to be replaced by “phone TV.”

Nearly a decade after Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. began building pipelines to carry TV service to U.S. homes, they are nearing the market share of cable operators in areas where they operate, according to third-quarter results released by cable and phone companies in recent days. The top two cable providers, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., shed 435,000 video customers in the quarter, while AT&T and Verizon added 400,000.

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empty wallet shutterstock

Want to sell your startup to Facebook or Google? Don’t try doing it in late summer.

Both Web giants, which have been very active acquirers for the last few years, slowed down considerably in the third quarter of the year.

Facebook, which had spent $246 million buying companies in the first six months of 2013, spent $14 million in the next three months. Google had a similar pattern: In addition to Waze, the mapping startup it bought for $1 billion, Google bought 15 other companies for $344 million in the first half of 2013. But Google only shelled out $25 million, on five purchases, in Q3.

Two quick off-the-cuff theories to explain the slowdown, which aren’t mutually exclusive:

  • Perhaps both Google and Facebook have concluded that the startup shelves have been pretty picked-over, and there’s not a lot else they need to buy.
  • Bankers need breaks, too.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/PTstock)

Google’s Motorola unit on Monday sent out a “save the date” announcement, tipping Nov. 13 as the launch date for its rumored low-cost Moto G phone.

Moto G globe-feature

The invite, as is typical, didn’t say much. But it depicted a lush-looking globe, perhaps an indication that the company has global ambitions for this phone, as contrasted with its Moto X phone, which was aimed at regaining share in North America.

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside indicated during his D11 appearance that the company was interested in bringing out lower-cost devices as part of its efforts, a point he reiterated in an August interview.

“Without giving too much away, one area that I talked about at D was this massive market for devices that are super high-quality, but also reasonably priced,” Woodside told AllThingsD at the time of the Moto X launch.

As part of its quarterly earnings last month, Google said its Motorola unit had $1.18 billion in revenue, down from $1.78 billion a year earlier.

Moto G invite

BlackBerry is giving up its effort to sell itself to a large investor, and will replace CEO Thorsten Heins, the company said on Monday.

The company said that, rather than bid for it, Fairfax Financial will lead a group of investors pouring $1 billion into the troubled handset maker, with Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa becoming lead director. Former Sybase CEO John Chen will serve as interim CEO and executive chairman once the investment is completed, which BlackBerry said should be within the next two weeks.

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The investment will come in the form of a debt sale, BlackBerry said, with Fairfax itself putting $250 million into the company.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” current BlackBerry chair Barbara Stymiest said in a statement. “The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders. This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”

Monday was the deadline that the company had set for investor Fairfax Financial to put in a formal bid for the company. In September, BlackBerry had announced a deal to sell itself to Fairfax for $4.7 billion, however the deal was nonbinding and contingent on the investment company lining up capital to finance the bid. BlackBerry had also been seeking other buyers.

The announcement marks the end of the company’s strategic review, BlackBerry said. However, it leaves the company’s future as uncertain as ever; confidence in BlackBerry from investors and customers has been waning, despite reassurances from the company that it and its products are here to stay.

In addition to ceding the CEO post, Heins will step down from the board of directors, as will director David Kerr.

The move was reported earlier Monday by Canada’s Globe and Mail, citing sources.

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