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The Techday Weekender - Jan 28th 2012

28 Jan 12

The arrest of MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom dominated technology headlines this week, as he and several members of his executive team passed through their initial court hearings. Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, was denied bail on Wednesday after being deemed a significant flight risk.

The question has now turned to whether Dotcom can be extradited to the US to face a trial.  Under New Zealand extradition laws, the persons being extradited must have engaged in conduct that would be regarded as criminal had it occurred in New Zealand, and that would have carried a similar penalty. It's going to take a whole lot of lawyer-ing to sort that one out, and a decision will likely be months away.

The arrest had broader implications for the technology world, with hackers retaliating by bombarding the websites of organisations such as the Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the FBI. Legitimate users of MegaUpload lost access to their files, as did users of similar ‘cyberlocker’ sites, many of which shut down completely, or at least in part, in response to the arrests. A group called Pirates of Catalonia is now aiming to band victims together in a joint complaint against the FBI.

In other news, Apple announced its quarterly results this week, blowing away previous records with a net profit equal to half of its profits from the entire previous year. Even those accustomed to Apple’s massive numbers couldn’t help but be impressed by sales figures of 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads. The company also has US$97.6 billion in cash reserves – you know, just in case.

In an interesting side note, Apple revealed in its conference call announcing the results that 600,000 copies of its iBooks Author publishing tool have been downloaded since it was released last week. The software does look pretty cool, although experts in End User License Agreements have attacked the company for restricting sales of books created to just the iBookstore.

At home, Samsung kicked off its 2012 London Olympics campaign this week with the unveiling of a customised truck packed with Samsung gadgets featuring special Olympic-themed apps. The competition starts in six months time, and the truck will be touring schools and sporting events around the country in the build-up, and right through to the welcome home ceremony to be held in Christchurch. With New Zealand currently on 90 Olympic medals (89 summer and one winter), it is hoped that this will be the year we crack the Century.

The Commerce Commission released the second of three reports evaluating New Zealand’s readiness for Ultra Fast Broadband this week, suggesting that while schools are well placed to take advantage of the technology, in the health sector improvements could be much further off.

And in gaming news, two rumours surfaced about Microsoft’s offerings, one suggesting work on the next-generation Xbox (codenamed ‘Xbox 720’) could be underway, and the other hinting that the Microsoft Points purchasing system could be on the way out.

Finally, Facebook has announced the unsurprising news that its new Timeline layout will be automatically rolled out to users who have been resisting the change. If you’re one of those, you’ve got about a week to tidy up your profile and remove anything you’d rather people didn’t see. Or, you could delete your account altogether and sign up on Google’s network, Google+. Do it this weekend and you’ll get a chance to hang out with Barack Obama!

We’ll be out of the office Monday for Auckland Anniversary Day, but we’ll see you Tuesday with all the latest technology news. Have a great weekend.

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