Breakfast Briefing: Kodak sells patents, potatoes as Wi-Fi test dummies, building kids' apps

20 Dec 2012
Breakfast briefing

Today's top tech stories feature Kodak, Wi-Fi potatoes, Sesame Street, EU data rules and browser wars

Today we look at how Kodak's patent sale to stay afloat, how Boeing replaces humans with potatoes to test Wi-Fi, and best practices for building an app for children.

Kodak sells patents in bid to stay afloat

Ars Technica reveals how the world's biggest patent troll has snapped up the 1,100 patents sold in a bid to keep the wolves from Kodak's doors. The company is still in bankruptcy, but the sale of the patents for $525 million should ensure the former imaging giant is able to grab a loan from the banks and stay afloat with a view to getting back on its feet next year.

The group of 12 buyers – partly organised by the world's biggest patents holding company Intellectual Ventures – includes tech giants Microsoft, Google and Apple, along with HTC and Samsung.

Wi-Fi tested on couch potatoes

We've all felt that airlines cram us into the back of their planes like sardines, but Boeing is moving onto starchier models, by replacing humans with potatoes during tests.

According to the LA Times, the company is testing Wi-Fi on its planes but wanted to ensure an even distribution of signals around the cabin without using dozens of employees as guinea pigs.

"About 20,000 pounds of potatoes were used as stand-ins for passengers during tests at the company's laboratories to ensure onboard Wi-Fi signals are consistent through the cabin without interrupting the navigation and communication systems," the paper reports.

How to build an app for kids

The people behind Sesame Street - yes, the children’s show - have released a report into how to create apps for young children. For example, kids intuitively figure out how to tap onscreen objects, but need a bit of help knowing other touch gestures. It’s a surprisingly detailed document, and makes interesting reading for developers as well as parents wanting to know what to look for in an app for their kids.

Data retention plans face scrutiny

Data retention for law enforcement has been under the spotlight with the Home Office's plans recently attacked by MPs, but a court in Austria believes such retention could breach fundamental EU rules and so be invalid.

According to a report in PC Advisor, the EU's data retention rules, which, like the UK's plans call for more data retention, could breach the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Austrian officials have asked the European Court of Justice to investigate whether the directive is legal.

Chart of the day: browser share since 1994

Ever wonder which browser was the most popular in 1994? Now you can find out. Someone has taken the time to collate browser share stats since then, displaying the rise and fall of different browsers in handy pie chart form.

Read more

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