Archive for August 1st, 2009

Honda recalls cars with airbags spitting metal

It looks like this only applies to US customers, although why it doesn’t apply to other countries is beyond me.

DETROIT (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co said on Friday that it is recalling another 440,000 vehicles — including some of its best-selling Accord and Civic models — for a potentially lethal airbag defect.

Honda said that the airbag inflators in some of its top-selling sedans can rupture because of too much air pressure causing metal fragments to shoot through the airbag and strike vehicle occupants.

One fatality and a number of injuries have been linked to the defect, Honda spokesman Sage Marie said.

The recall covers certain 2001 and 2002 Accords, 2001 Civics and some 2002 and 2003 model Acura TL sedans. The driver’s side airbag is the defective component on the affected vehicles.

Honda said owners of those models can check to see if their vehicle is covered by the recall by checking the automaker’s website at www.owners.honda.com/recalls.

I’m intrigued, and would be most appreciative if somebody can explain to me why it’s only the US versions of these cars which are apparently suffering from this problem. What makes the airbags different over there? Anybody?

Samuel

2 comments August 1st, 2009 at 02:56pm

Skype to be scrapped?

An interesting story from The Age (which seems to have grabbed it from sister publication The Sydney Morning Herald) which should have every other VOIP provider on the planet salivating.

eBay says it may have to shut down Skype due to a licensing dispute with the founders of the internet telephony service.

The surprise admission puts a cloud over the 40 million active daily users around the world who use Skype for business or to keep in touch with friends and far-flung relatives.
[..]
The online auction powerhouse bought Skype from entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis for $US2.6 billion in 2005, but this did not include a core piece of peer-to-peer communications technology that powers the software.

eBay has since been licensing the technology from the founders’ new company, Joltid, but the pair recently decided to revoke the licensing agreement.

The matter is now the subject of a legal battle in the English High Court of Justice, with eBay trying to force Joltid to let it continue using the technology.

In a quarterly report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, eBay said in no uncertain terms that if it lost the right to use the software it would most likely have to shut Skype down.
[..]
In the filing eBay also said that, even if it was successful in developing alternative software, the technical challenge of assuring backward compatibility with older versions of Skype’s technology ‘‘may be difficult to overcome’’.

The story lacks any better description of what part of the program, precisely, it is that the licence dispute is in relation to…and “a core piece of peer-to-peer communications technology” is so vague that I’m forced to wonder what eBay are hiding. I can’t find any press releases on the subject, so it looks to me as if eBay are trying to keep this as quiet as possible.

The story seems to be based on the following section from page 15 of Skype’s quarterly report (to the end of June 30, 2009) to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, but even there they seem to be keeping details to an absolute minimum:

Skype licenses peer-to-peer communication technology from Joltid Limited pursuant to a license agreement between the parties. The parties had been discussing a dispute over the license.

In March 2009, Skype Technologies S.A. filed a claim in the English High Court of Justice (No. HC09C00756) against Joltid Limited. Following the filing of the claim, Joltid purported to terminate the license agreement between the parties. In particular, Joltid has alleged that Skype should not possess, use or modify certain software source code and that, by doing so, and by disclosing such code in certain U.S. patent cases pursuant to orders from U.S. courts, Skype has breached the license agreement.

Joltid has brought a counterclaim alleging that Skype has repudiated the license agreement, infringed Joltid’s copyright and misused confidential information. On the basis of, among other things, the parties’ mutual dealings since the execution of the license agreement, Skype asked the English High Court for declaratory relief, including findings that Skype is not in breach of the license agreement, that Joltid’s notice of breach and subsequent notice of termination are invalid, and that Joltid has certain indemnity obligations in relation to the U.S. patent proceedings.

Trial is currently scheduled for June 2010. Although Skype is confident of its legal position, as with any litigation, there is the possibility of an adverse result if the matter is not resolved through negotiation. Skype has begun to develop alternative software to that licensed through Joltid. However, such software development may not be successful, may result in loss of functionality or customers even if successful, and will in any event be expensive.

If Skype was to lose the right to use the Joltid software as the result of the litigation, and if alternative software was not available, Skype would be severely and adversely affected and the continued operation of Skype’s business as currently conducted would likely not be possible.

(line breaks added for readability purposes)

eBay have known about this issue since March, and we are only hearing about it now. It really makes me wonder just how serious this issue is. eBay have the ability to disable the entire service simply by shutting down the login servers, so shutting down the service isn’t a hollow threat…clearly the risk of that is high enough for them to not want to make much noise about it.

Watch this space.

Samuel

August 1st, 2009 at 03:12am

2GB/Jason Morrison’s comments not defamatory, and Keysar Trad is “offensive”: Justice Peter McClellan

It’s great to see sense prevailing in a court, and the “truth defence” to defamation claims being accepted.

From livenews.com.au, owned by the same company as 2GB:

A defamation case taken out against Macquarie Radio by Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Keysar Trad has been dismissed, with the Supreme court judge finding he has racist views.

Two years ago it was ruled 2GB radio broadcaster Jason Morrison had defamed Mr Trad when he labelled him “gutless” and “disgraceful and dangerous” following a speech Mr Trad made over the 2005 Cronulla riots.

A Supreme Court jury found in Mr Trad’s favour.

But the jury’s decision has been effectively quashed by today’s judgement from Justice Peter McClellan.

Justice McClellan ruled that the case should be dismissed, after lawyers for 2GB argued that information claimed to be defamatory was in fact true.
[..]
“I’m satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist.

“I’m also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people.

“The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians,” Justice McClellan’s judgment said.
[..]
Mr Morrison said it is a relief the matter has finally been resolved.

“I was very pleasantly surprised. These things are tough,” he said.

“This has been hanging over me and this radio station for four years and it’s not a particularly nice assertion that’s been made, so I was very relieved at the judge’s decision.”

I was particularly interested by the audio from Jason Morrison’s press conference which was also posted on livenews.com.au, particularly this bit at the end:

Reporter: How ironic do you find it that a judge has now said in black and white that he’s [Keysar Trad] racist?

Jason Morrison: Oh, look, that for me wasn’t what it was about. I was responding to an attack on this radio station, on its broadcasters, on a quiet campaign that was out there trying to imply that we were responsible for things, and I responded to the attack. I mean some things you’ve gotta stand up for, some things you can’t just let be said, and you can’t just sort of assume that people will go and find out for themselves what the truth of the whole matter is. So you can push and push and push as much as you like and this time we just fired back.

Reporter: What sort of future do you think Mr. Trad has for him now in terms of his credibility, in terms of speaking with the media and as a representation of his…as a representative of his community?

Jason Morrison: Well I think that’s actually an issue for the press frankly. You make the judgement. You make the judgement if you think, based on that [the justice’s] judgement, that he should be continuing to be a spokesman for the community as he’s often portrayed. That’s your decision, not mine.

Reporter: From 2GB’s point of view, do you think 2GB will be using him as a spokesperson?

Jason Morrison: I don’t answer for 2GB but I answer for me, and I won’t be.

What I find most extraordinary about this though, is that the justice appears to have given Keysar Trad more of a serve than Jason ever did.

From here I hope that the appeal which Trad’s lawyers seem keen on doesn’t eventuate, and that this ridiculously unfair episode which Jason has had the misfortune of having to deal with, can be closed.

Samuel

August 1st, 2009 at 12:21am


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