iFive: Baidu Promotes Piracy, Penthouse Goes 3-D TV, Windows 8 for Tablets, Gmail Error Fixed With Tape, Twitter Ads Regulated

Among today's headlines, the ex-Apple employee accused of defrauding Apple and its clients out of millions of dollars of goods has pleaded guilty, and Houston-based Noble Energy has just been granted the right to restart drilling an oil well 6,500-feet down in the Gulf of Mexico—the first deep-water drilling permit issued since last year's catastrophic oil spill. On with more news:

1. Included among the various groups the U.S. Trade Representative's Office just labeled as rank counterfeit traders in its regular report is China's leading search engine Baidu. According to the USTR the site links to illegal websites that sell pirated, counterfeit goods and also to merchants like Taobao that sells similar ripped-off gear. And this comes despite a recent Chinese crack-down on such practices

2. Penthouse is on to a bit of a first: Its rollout of a new cable subscription channel in Europe marks the first time an all-3-D content pornographic TV channel is transmitted. It will air original content, filmed in 3-D, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day, although it's unclear yet which national cable carriers will sport the channel, or which 3-D TV technology is needed to view the content. The rise of 3-D? Oh, indeed.

3. Conspicuous in its absence among the glut of new tablet PCs is Microsoft—but the firm plans to remedy that with a demonstration of its new Windows 8 version for tablets by the end of the fiscal year in June. According to sources MS is somewhat following Apple's thinking for the UI, and wrapping-in elements from Windows Phone 7—probably a good move since even Steve Ballmer knows Windows 7 isn't tablet-friendly.

4. If you were among the 0.02% of Google Gmail users affected by a complete loss of data over the weekend, take heart—Google says it's restored service (including all "lost" emails) to most users, and it'll "soon" be back for "everyone." Google's blaming a "small software update" issued to its super-high-tech servers, and is relying on old-fashioned tech to get your data back: Good, solid, magnetic tape back-ups.

5. The U.K.'s authorities are getting wise to modern ways of spreading a company message, and starting today transmissions on Facebook and Twitter that can be "interpreted" as marketing, even if they're a freely-broadcast message, are susceptible to the same rigorous ad-limiting, consumer-protecting laws that paid-for adverts in traditional media are. How the Advertising Standards Authority hopes to police billions of messages is anyone's guess, but it's a sign that the newest of new media portals is growing up.

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