SOPA, so good – Sherlock holds off copyright change until Dail debate

In what is clearly a victory for the power of expression via the internet in Ireland, unease at the passing of a statutory instrument that would have given courts powers to grant injunctions against ISPs in cases surrounding illegal downloads saw a petition gain 30,000 signatures within two days. The issue even saw the websites of the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice hit by distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) attacks by hacker activist collective Anonymous earlier in the week. While obviously not on a scale with the anti-SOPA/PIPA protests in the US that saw millions write to and petition politicians, and hundreds of prominent sites including Wikipedia blacking out for a day, the debate around the statutory instrument raged furiously on Twitter, on Irish national radio and the statutory instrument has been made public. A brief debate took place in the Dail on the matter last night and it is understood that Sherlock has given a commitment that a proper debate will take place, most likely next week. Online news site The Journal quoted Sherlock as saying last night there will be a debate - possibly next week - before the statutory instrument is signed into law. Statutory instruments are changes to legislation that are usually signed at a stroke of a minister’s pen without any debate in the Dail or Senate. This particular statutory instrument would have made changes to the Copyright Act of 2000 and was designed to address a loophole whereby courts could not grant injunctions forcing ISPs to block users’ internet access or apply three-strikes style remedies if they were suspected of illegal downloading. In a High Court in late 2010, in a case between UPC and the recording industry, UPC won the case because of existing laws. In his judgment, Mr Justice Peter Charleton held that laws seeking to identify and disconnect copyright infringers were not enforceable in Ireland, regardless of the record companies' complaints. Charlton said he was cognisant of the financial harm being suffered by record labels due to illegal downloading. "This not only undermines their business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living. It is destructive of an important native industry," Charleton said.
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Happy Christmas

A very merry christmas and a happy new year to all our customers. We  would like to say a massive thank you for all your support in 2011.

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The digital business week

Is Facebook hurtling towards a US$1bn profit?

Facebook is hurtling towards a net income for 2011 of a stunning US$1bn, depending, of course, if it can reach US$4bn in revenues. Figures leaked by Facebook sources and reported late last week by Gawker's Ryan Tate show that between January and September this year, Facebook racked up revenues of US$2.5bn and a net income of US$714m. The social networking giant is expected to IPO early next year with the potential to raise US$10bn based on its US$100bn valuation.

Zynga raises US$1bn in biggest US web IPO since Google

Social gaming company Zynga has priced its stock at US$10 per share and raised US$1bn in its initial public offering, which is set to be the largest internet IPO since Google. Zynga offered 100m shares for US$10 each, which was the top end of the US$8.50 to US$10 indicative range. The IPO now values the company at US$7bn. Certain Zynga stockholders have granted underwriters a 30-day option to buy an extra 15m shares to cover over-allotments. The IPO is the largest from a US internet company since Google’s IPO in 2004, which raised US$1.9bn.

Apple in talks to buy flash storage maker Anobit

Apple is understood to be in talks with a view to acquiring Israel-based Anobit, a maker of flash storage technology, for up to US$500m. Anobit’s flash drive technology uses signal processing to boost performance and its technology is widely used in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. Final negotiations are taking place and the California technology powerhouse could be willing to pay between US$400m and US$500m for the company. According to a report in the daily newspaper Calcalist, Apple is interested in using Anobit’s technology to enhance the performance of its top mobile devices and could result in memory within iPads and MacBooks being doubled.

Datalex settles legal dispute with Australian firm

Irish airport software company Datalex has settled a legal dispute over alleged breach of contract with Flight Centre of Australia. Flight Centre Ltd (Flighties) and its South African subsidiary brought a breach of contract case against Datalex in relation to a software development contract. In an action in the Supreme Court of Queensland, Flight Centre was seeking damages of US$14m. “Datalex today announces that it has successfully settled its legal case with Flight Centre of Australia. Datalex and Flight Centre have negotiated in good faith and resolved the proceedings to their mutual satisfaction. “The settlement, which will complete in 2012, will result in a Balance Sheet adjustment of approximately US$2m as an exceptional item in 2011, against receivables and unrecovered expenditures. The guided operating performance for EBITDA and year-end cash for 2011 is unaffected,” Datalex said. The Dublin-headquartered company said the conclusion of proceedings will allow it to focus on what it described as a strong business pipeline and growth projected for 2011.

Bill Gates is not returning as CEO of Microsoft

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates denied he would return to lead the tech company again, burying rumours which emerged this month. An unnamed chief executive told Fortune that Gates was considering becoming CEO of Microsoft again after he stepped down in 2006 to work on philanthropy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, Gates denied these rumours to the Sydney Morning Herald, saying he will work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the rest of his life. "I'm part-time involved with Microsoft, including even being in touch this week to give some of my advice but that's not going to change – the foundation requires all of my energy and we feel we're having a great impact,” he said. Stay informed - get daily updates on the latest happenings in technology directly to your inbox.
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Netflix set to launch in Irish and UK markets

The company, which has more than 25m members in the US, Canada and Latin America, will offer Irish and UK customers unlimited TV shows and films streaming instantly over the internet to TVs, computers, mobile tablets and phones for a monthly subscription price.

The company said further details about the service, including pricing, content and supported devices, will be announced closer to launch.

Article courtesy of

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New programme to retrain engineers for med-tech sector

The candidates come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from civil and mechanical to structural and environmental engineering. They completed eight weeks of highly targeted training for the manufacture of medical device and pharmaceutical products and now start their placements in med-tech companies. JobBridge will support the candidates, who will receive a Government top-up of €50, in addition to their existing job seeker's entitlements.

A sector employing 25,000

At a reception marking the start of the programme, director of the Irish Medical Devices Association Sharon Higgins said: “The medical devices sector in Ireland has continued to perform well and employs 25,000 people - the highest number of people per capita in the EU. “A recent survey revealed that almost 45pc of companies in the sector expect to increase employment numbers by the end of 2011. These internships provide an opportunity to develop the required experience to secure future employment for many of the participants.” Medtech Engineers Conversion programme manager Pauline O’Flanagan added that many opportunities exist in the medical devices sector for skilled engineers. “The development of truly enterprise-led conversion programmes to high performing sectors of the Irish economy offer tremendous opportunities for job seekers and employers alike."
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Free online design tool for . . .

Built on the Quark Promote platform, is an online design and print marketing service that allows customers to choose from thousands of templates for business cards, brochures, postcards, posters, flyers and so on. Users can select colour themes, add logos and images, add business information, and send their customised designs to one of 22 local Snap centres for printing. The design tool is free to use and a test print is included in the service. Customers are charged only when they place their print orders. “This solution will give businesses the competitive edge, at an affordable price. With they can move to the next level in terms of marketing themselves,” said John Eager, CEO of the Snap Group. Professional designers have created the templates and the finished product may be collected at the local Snap centre or shipped to customers directly. All the print will be produced in Ireland. Photo: Ray Schiavone, president and CEO of Quark and John Eager, CEO of the Snap Group Article courtesy of
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Boston Scientific to invest €26m in Irish facility

The Government, through IDA Ireland, is supporting the investment. The new funds will enable Boston Scientific to expand its R&D and technical capabilities regarding the design of its next-generation cardiac rhythm management devices manufactured at the Clonmel facility. Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said such investments not only create high-value jobs but also provide spin-off benefits for Irish businesses, researchers and the Irish economy. Brad Sorenson, vice-president of operations for Boston Scientific, said the funding will benefit the company's cariology, rhythm and vascular group by enhancing its ability to provide R&D, design and manufacturing support for its medical device technologies. "I am confident that, with the talent and expertise of our Clonmel staff, we can continue to successfully commercialise new life-saving innovations for our customers and their patients worldwide," Sorenson said. In Ireland, Boston Scientific also has campuses in Clonmel, Galway and Cork.
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Apple sued over fast booting OS X patent

Patently Apple reports that a company called Operating Systems Solutions alleges that the operating system infringes “at least claim 1 of the OSS Patent.” Claim 1 is "a method for fast booting a computer system, comprising the steps of: A. performing a power on self test (POST) of basic input output system (BIOS) when the system is powered on or reset is requested; B. checking whether a boot configuration information including a system booting state which was created while executing a previous normal booting process exists or not; C. storing the boot configuration information from execution of the POST operation before loading a graphic interface (GUI) program, based on the checking result; and D. loading the graphic user interface (GUI) program." The patent was originally issued to LG Electronics in 2002. It was allegedly reissued to Operating Systems Solutions in 2008. LG Electronics does not seem to be included in the suit. Operating Systems Solutions wants injunctive relief, damages and the destruction of all advertisements for “the infringing method.” The company are reportedly based in Florida, but does not appear to have a web presence. CNET reports it does not have direct contact information, either.
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BBC revamps iPlayer for TVs

BBC iPlayer is now on 300 different models of Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, media streamers and smart TVs.

The service was originally designed for the web, however, the BBC has now revamped it to cater for a television interface, using HTML and Javascript. They will also build a variant which works on new TVs which support the latest versions of Adobe Flash and Air.

BBC Internet blog says content and functionality can be accessed using the four direction buttons and the enter key found on TV remote controls.

Episodes of the same show have been bundled up to reduce lists and scrolling. If content is about to expire, iPlayer will flag it to viewers.

Recently viewed content will be shown under a “last played” section and previous searches will be saved for quick reference.

Searching for content which hasn’t been seen before has also been made easier, with results appearing much quicker based on a short section of the title.

BBC iPlayer Favourites will be integrated to the TV service, where viewers can compile the shows they like best in one area.

BBC iPlayer is widely available in the UK and is currently only accessible in selected regions across Europe through its iPad app. The BBC says its “mid-term objective” will be to launch it globally as a multiplatform service.

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Bord Gáis Energy picks Natural Power to manage wind farms

Natural Power will manage the daily operations of BGE's wind farms using WindCentre, its monitoring, management and control service that has been developed in-house. Operated by site engineers, WindCentre is a 24-hour control room service that is facilitated by a purpose-built software solution for health and safety management, work order recording and access control, which the company says are all in line with industry best practice, such as the RenewableUK wind turbine safety rules. As well operations management, WindCentre will also perform remote operation and reset on some of the turbines within Bord Gáis Energy's portfolio. The WindCentre operations database can be accessed 24/7 by the utility company's site engineers via internet connection with availability levels exceeding 99.5pc, claims Natural Power, to allow area managers have high levels of visibility of all work activities on wind farms under their remit.

Largest wind farm on the Cork-Kerry border

In all, the 13 BGE wind farms in Ireland have a combined capacity of 225 megawatts (MW). The company's largest wind farm is Kilgarven, which has been up and running since 2006. With 15 Vestas 3MW wind turbines, the Kilgarven site is located near the Cork-Kerry border, about 7km from Kilgarven. It has a generating power of 45MW. BGE has been investing significantly into expanding its clean energy portfolio, with wind becoming a key part of its investment strategy. It acquired wind farm operator SWS Natural Resources in December 2009 in a transaction worth more than €500m. In 2010, BGE invested €200m in capital projects to support the delivery of energy solutions, including renewables. "This contract represents an important step for Bord Gais in providing world-class asset management for our expanding renewable energy fleet and we are pleased that Natural Power's WindCentre will play an important role in this strategy," said George Martin, head of Asset Operations at BGE, referring to the partnership with Natural Power. Photo: Bord Gais Energy Ballymartin wind farm installation in Co Kilkenny
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