Breakfast Briefing: Google targets Apple AirPlay, McAfee's life on the run, design guru slams Windows 8

20 Nov 2012
Breakfast briefing

Today in the world of tech, patent trolls face US probe and Color bosses under fire from former staffer

Today we look at how Google is taking aim at AirPlay with an open sharing platform, the blog of life on the run with an antivirus playboy and an open attack on Windows 8.

Google's push into AirPlay's space

Gigaom reports that Google is working on an open alternative to Apple's AirPlay as a way of sharing content between and internet connected TVs and other screens in the house. The company revealed its first step in the area last week, but according to Google's product team, the plan is to make the system easier to use so that any Android device can connect more simply to Google TVs on the same network. The company is working with manufacturers in a bid to make a platform that will boost its TV services and put pressure on Apple TV, which shipped 5.3m units last year.

John McAfee blogs on the run

The strange life of John McAfee, founder of the eponymous antivirus firm, has become even odder. First he was accused of the shooting death of his neighbour, and then he went on the run; now, he’s... blogging about it.

"The first two days Sam [his girlfriend] and I were on the run we were far from our house," his blog post begins. "I felt helpless, especially given the fact that so many of our friends and workers were being arrested." While that certainly sounds dramatic, it gets stranger. McAfee recounts watching police dig up his dead dogs and decapitate them, has a guest post from his 20-year-old girlfriend Sam, and describes the intriguing disguises he’s apparently using to evade authorities - he appears to be quite a creative man and a compelling writer.

If going on the lam and blogging about it wasn't enough, an artist has also been commissioned to create a graphic novel. The whole story is so strange we can hardly believe it - you need to take a look at his blog here.

Interface guru: Microsoft’s "gone soft"

Jakob Nielsen, once the scourge of web designers everywhere, has turned his fire on Windows 8. In a lengthy analysis of the Windows 8 interface, Nielsen accuses Microsoft of "going soft", moving from a "traditional Gates-driven GUI style that emphasised powerful commands to the point of featuritis" to an interface that "smothers usability with big colorful tiles while hiding needed features".

Few features of Windows 8 escape Nielsen’s barbs, but the "cognitive overhead" of the new Start Screen and old-school desktop, the "flat" Metro styling, and "the low information density" of the Windows 8 apps draw particular criticism.

On the plus side, Nielsen has every confidence that Microsoft will rectify the situation. Although maybe not for a while. "I have great hopes for Windows 9 on mobile and tablets," he writes. "Just as Windows 7 was 'Vista Done Right', it's quite likely that the touchscreen version of Windows 9 will be 'Windows 8 Done Right'."

Forewarned is forearmed in repair shops

Knowing how much to pay for computer repairs can be a challenge with big discrepancies in the market, but Which? has compiled a list of how much repair shops that have been recommended by its users are charging. The table of average prices gathered from 135 recommended shops shows, for example, that a laptop screen should cost between £90 and £125, while a RAM upgrade runs to between £34 and £55.

Apple-linked photo firm under fire from former worker

A former employee at photo-sharing start-up Color has launched a lawsuit against the company and its founder as speculation continues to circulate about what happened at the now defunct firm. The lawsuit appears to confirm that the Color staff – well, all excluding the complainant Adam Witherspoon – were bought up by Apple in a deal that had previously been rumoured, but remains unclear.

However, the lawsuit goes on to trash founder Bill Nguyen, accusing him of being violent toward Witherspoon's children and of being a bully. The San Francisco Chronicle has the gory details.

Patent trolls face antitrust probe

US competition regulators at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are to launch a probe investigating whether companies that own and trade in patents – commonly branded trolls – are stifling innovation. According to the (paywalled) Wall Street Journal senior officials are getting fed up with the amount of time they are spending resolving on antitrust and patent issues and believe there could be "a possibility of competitive harm here".

Employee name of the day

This delightful photo has been doing the rounds today, and we desperately want to believe it’s not a hoax. We can only assume Apple will shortly be suing its own employee...

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