French Court Fines Google $660,000 Because Google Maps Is Free

I am so glad I escaped France and that I am no longer French. Only in France could this happen, protecting a business whose model has been disrupted by a competitor. The sad thing is that this only benefits the incumbent, not its customers who could cut costs by shifting to a cheaper (free!) product, or the consumers at large for the same reason. So whatever friction was removed from the system has now been artificially reintroduced. Sucks to be a French consumer.


French Court Fines Google $660,000 Because Google Maps Is Free:

Google faces a $660,000 fine after a French court ruling that the company is abusing its dominant position in mapping by making Google Maps free.

According to The Economic Times, the French commercial court “upheld an unfair competition complaint lodged by Bottin Cartographes against Google France and its parent company Google Inc. for providing free web mapping services to some businesses.”

Bottin Cartographes provides mapping services for a cost, and its website boasts several business clients such as Louis Vuitton, Airbus and several automobile manufacturers.

Whale Tail

This is the tail end of a baby Humpback Whale who cruised past us, when I say cruised I mean mobbed us, three people go hit (there was no damage). I caught a picture of its’ tail which was about 5 feet wide.

You can see the front part of the whale here.

Digital Copy

Last week I got a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital copy combo disc for a popular animated movie. I am (was) a fan of digital copies that I could transfer to my computer and watch on my Apple TV. Was a fan because the copy was really bad, all sorts of compression artifacts and blotchy colors. Turns out it is a 640×480 version of the movie and the file was over 1GB in size suggesting the compression treatment on the file was terrible. Given how bad it was I am not sure why they include digital copies. Hard to see how it could look good on any device.

Note to the movie distributors (Disney), if you are going to include a digital copy you should make sure it looks good, what I saw was pretty insulting the people who created the movie.

Eye Contact

I had the opportunity to get on a boat going to the Silver Banks which are located north of the Dominican Republic. There was a group cancellation and I jumped on (there is usually a two year waiting list for this trip.)

Humpback whales migrate from the North Atlantic down to the Silver Banks to raise their young for three months at the start of the year. So there is an opportunity to get in the water and swim with them.

This is a young calf (still 12 feet long) who came right up to me to check me out.

In Focus World War II in Photos Retrospective

In Focus, a photo blog put together by The Atlantic magazine is running a 20 part photo retrospective on World War II. I quote:

World War II is the story of the 20th Century. The war officially lasted from 1939 until 1945, but the causes of the conflict and its horrible aftermath reverberated for decades in either direction. While feats of bravery and technological breakthroughs still inspire awe today, the majority of the war was dominated by unimaginable misery and destruction. In the late 1930s, the world’s population was approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the nations of the Axis Powers and the Allies resulted in some 80 million deaths — killing off about 4 percent of the whole world. 

This series of entries will last from June 19 until October 30, 2011, running every Sunday morning for 20 weeks. In these photo essays, I hope to explore the events of the war, the people involved at the front and back home, and the effects the war had on everyday lives. The entries will follow a roughly chronological sequence, with some broader themes (such as “The Home Front”) interspersed throughout. These images will give us glimpses into the real-life experiences of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, moments that shaped the world as it is today. I hope to be able to do justice to this important story in this large-photo narrative format and invite you to join me for the next 20 Sundays.

The top page is here, and the first page is here. Frankly this is not to be missed.



How to stay safe at a public Wi-Fi hotspot

I use WiFi hot spots from time to time and I am always careful how I use them, but it is always good to have a reminder on how to use them safely (by way of ArsTechnica). Basically the message is use SSL all the time:

How to stay safe at a public Wi-Fi hotspot: “Firesheep lit a figurative fire under the feet of folks who otherwise weren’t concerned with the security of their data as it passes to and fro over a WiFi network in a public place. That’s good. You’re at risk whenever you use WiFi on a public network, but thankfully it’s never been easier or cheaper to secure yourself thoroughly.

Steve Gibson also talked about Firesheep in this podcast.

How to Botch Trial Software

How to botch trial software:

  • Insist on offering the Windows version even though the user is on Mac.
  • Forget to put a link to the Mac version of the software on the download page.
  • Require Java to be present and running in the browser but forget to put up a warning when it is not.
  • Have a System Preferences pane with a product logo and single button which says “Uninstall …” but which does nothing when clicked.
  • Force the user to use the Activity Monitor to kill off the running product (which failed to be stopped by the “Uninstall …” button.
  • Finally force the user to have to manually remove the software from the various system folders.


Sony Gear

John Gruber of Daring Fireball has this little gem on the tracks of Sony’s Google TV product.

I have to admit, I am no longer a fan of Sony gear, the last (and it will be the last) piece of gear I got from there is a BluRay player. I bought it for two things. One because it can play BluRay discs and Two because it can stream movies from Netflix.

I spent two hours messing with the machine and never got the connection to Netflix to work. For some reason which was never made clear to me I had to create some sort of account with Sony in order to get access to Netflix. I also called tech support and spent over an hour on hold. At which point I gave up.

And playing BluRay discs means being forced to watch previews for 5-10 minutes before getting to the movie. Yes, I get that BluRay movies are much nicer, but upscaled DVDs look pretty much the same to me from where I sit.

Finally whenever I switch on my BluRay player, I am greeted with a list of services I don’t want to access (no way to turn them off.)

Contrast this with getting a movies on the iTunes movie store which takes two steps, One select the movie, Two press play when the movie is ready to play (usually 30 seconds).

It feels like Sony has forgotten who the customer is here. Which is a shame because I will be replacing my TV in the next year or so.

That’s Strong Coffee

This has little to do with technology, but it was funny to me and the Economist very seldom contains typos. Actually there may be a technology angle here which is that you should not alway trust your auto-correct which is what may have gone wrong here.

So this quote comes from an article in the Economist about the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The article makes a reference to the French nuclear deterrent:

In France, the nuclear power closest to Britain in outlook, the force de frappé is widely seen as an untouchable symbol of prestige and independence.

Actually the French nuclear deterrent is called Force de Frappe, frappé refers to a method of making coffee. My guess is that the auto-correct went a little funny, or maybe the correspondent’s coffee was really, really strong that morning.



iPod Nano

Well I was going to buy the new IPod Nano, but Robert Mons’ review on MacInTouch put me off. The really small number of songs displayed on the screen (see the photo about halfway down the review) is a non-starter for me as I have long lists of songs in my playlists.

Too bad, I really like the clip and the pedometer.



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