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Saturday, July 24, 2010

DISH Network Ends Half-Cooked DTVPal DVR

If you’ve never heard of the DTVPal DVR – or DTVPal tuner, don’t worry, you’re not alone. TheDTVPal DVR was an interesting device that was a cross between a VCR and a DVR. VCR because it could record shows based on time – unlike the better TiVo model, where it records by show – and DVR because it was, well, digital.
It was one of the only OTA ATSC dual-tuning DVRs available at a reasonable price, but that’s right about where the novelty wore off. You see, it was never very buttoned-down in terms of stability. Users often experienced the same issues as with the antiquated video cassette (12:00..12:00..not exclusive). That and only a limited guide was available over-the-air from either PSIP or TVGOS. The kinks were never worked out and DISH’s little pet project gotscrapped.
You can still get them – and very cheaply – so look to AVS forums or anywhere on the internet. Normal price was ~$250, but now it wouldn’t be hard to find one for $129.99.

BSNL to hire 10,000 in two years

Pitroda panel had suggested BSNL to cut staff strength by 100,000.

State-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is on a major recruitment drive to add 10,000 employees in its sales and marketing division. This will push the size of the division to 25,000.
It has already redeployed and trained about 10,000 people from other departments for the division and would hire about 10,000-15,000 people in the next one to two years, Chairman and Managing Director Kuldeep Goyal told Business Standard.

The move is contrary to the recommendation of the Sam Pitroda committee, which had suggested BSNL to reduce the number of employees by 100,000 from the current 350,000. The recommendation has been opposed by staff unions, who say they will go on strike it it is implemented.
BSNL is also in the process of integrating its operations across the country. The public sector undertaking would implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) project at an estimated cost of Rs 400 crore to integrate all its segments — finance, personnel, marketing, real estate and others, Goyal said.
“The implementation of ERP will increase our productivity and efficiency. Further, we will be able to access information across all segments immediately, as all the processes will be automated,” he said.
The company had also started giving incentives to employees, specifically in the sales department, on achievement of targets within the stipulated time, he added. For the first time, BSNL has set up a sales division in each of its four business verticals — fixed line, mobile, enterprise and new businesses.
The company has started to focus more on marketing activities to regain its lost ground in the 2G mobile space. BSNL also wants to push aggressively for its 3G mobile and broadband services before the entry of private companies in this space early next year. It would also try to increase its retail and distribution footprint across the country.
Industry experts say BSNL has so far failed to make much of its first-mover advantage in the 3G space. The firm has launched its 3G mobile services in 450 cities and plans to take it to 750 cities by the end of this year, with a target of four million subscribers from 1.3 million presently.
Due to increased competition, BSNL’s market share has come down to 12 per cent, in fourth position. The company is also under severe financial strain, as it has given Rs 3,700 crore in pay arrears and may end 2009-10 (it is yet to declare results) with losses. At the end of December 2009, BSNL had a net profit of Rs 175 crore, but due to the payout of arrears on wages of around Rs 3,700 crore, is expected to post losses. It has also asked for refund of 3G and BWA spectrum fees of about Rs 18,500 crore.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saudi Networks Complete Interconnection for 3G Video Calls

Saudi Arabia's STC and Mobily (Etihad Etisalat) have jointly announced the completion of the technical Interconnect Link of their two networks, a step towards exchanging video calling services and MMS between the two networks.
Eng. Saud Al Daweesh, CEO of STC Group said that the recent Interconnect Link operation came as part of STC's strategic plans to identify various connectivity options for STC customers for local telecommunications services, reinforcing the 3G network and beyond with advanced technologies that make use of the 3G services with other telecommunications operators.
Al Daweesh also confirmed that STC is keen to enable its customers to benefit from video calling services by making and receiving video calls using their mobile phones in addition to making use of MMS by sending audio and video messages and video files with a capacity of 400 kb in each message using various networks in the kingdom.
Etihad Etisalat CEO expressed his deepest appreciation to STC for its cooperation in making the Interconnect Link of 3G services a success.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Senate panel backs space shuttle extension

NASA bill would boost big-rocket project, slow down commercialization

A key Senate committee on Thursday approved an authorization bill that would allow NASA to add one more space shuttle mission before retiring the fleet, and press forward with ambitious plans to send astronauts to an asteroid and on to Mars.
After months of debate and criticism, the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the NASA authorization bill by a unanimous vote. The bill will now move up to the full Senate for review.
"NASA is an agency in transition. We've had to take a clear, hard look at what we want from our space agency in the years and decades to come," committee chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., said in a statement. "I've made my views on this matter very clear: NASA's role cannot stay static. It must innovate and move in a new direction."
The extra shuttle mission would fly in 2011, after two more flights currently planned for November 2010 and February 2011.
In addition, the new authorization bill directs NASA to begin work immediately on a huge, heavy-lift rocket — which would be vital for any asteroid or Mars missions by astronauts — instead of waiting until 2015 as proposed by President Barack Obama in the space vision he announced earlier this year.
The bill would also advance the development of spacecraft for deep space missions to as early as 2016, rather than 2025 — the goal that Obama set for the first crewed mission to arrive at an asteroid.
It also allows the extension of the International Space Station's program through at least 2020, as Obama previously proposed.
The external fuel tank for the shuttle Endeavour's launch, scheduled for no earlier than Feb. 26, arrives at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday. Endeavour's mission is the last shuttle flight currently on NASA's schedule, but a bill approved by a key Senate panel would provide for one more flight in mid-2011.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Apple Calls News Briefing On iPhone 4

Apple has announced a special press conference about its problematic iPhone 4 prompting speculation of a recall.

An Apple spokesman declined to give further details, including whether the conference will address the new model's reception problems.

But Apple watchers speculated that the company will offer a solution.
"Given the intense pressure and scrutiny Apple has come under on the problem with the iPhone 4, it's going to be about some kind of fix or compensation for the owners of the phone," said Ed Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research.
Apple launched the phone last month to great fanfare as it boasted of a design that put the antenna in a stainless steel band around the phone's frame.
But it has been plagued with user complaints about dropped calls when the phone is held in a way that covers part of the antenna.
Antenna-design experts have said that the phone design, while cutting-edge, was risky because it exposes the antenna to touch.
What started out as a small number of users complaining about reception has now ballooned into a full-scale public-relations issue.
Critics say Apple has created a public relations headache for itself by appearing to dismiss or ignore the problem, allowing a minor issue to be turned into headline news.
On Monday America's Consumer Reports magazine - America's equivalent to Which? - said it could not recommend the iPhone 4 and suggested it had a hardware defect.
It was the first time the product-quality watchdog failed to recommend an Apple phone.
A recall of the device is unlikely, because since the problem does not affect safety and only occurs for some users in certain situations.
But there are rumours Apple could give away its £19 rubber 'bumper' case, which it believes could solve the reception problem.
The press conference will be held on Friday at 6pm UK time.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It’s hard to imagine that Windows 7 could get even better but Microsoft is steadily working towards the first service pack. The beta of course comes first and is now available for public consumption. The 1.2GB pack fixes a bunch of bugs along with adding a few new features geared towards enterprise users.
Of course since SP1 is still in beta, you’re kind of on your own as far as technical support goes. Well, there’s always Google, but Microsoft isn’t going to help much. So if you’re curious what Microsoft has improved and don’t mind installing a beta service pack on your machine, hit up the link and let the fun begin.


Washington - Microsoft added Facebook to Outlook on Tuesday, giving users of its popular email program the ability to view status updates, pictures and wall posts from their friends on the social network.

Outlook now lets email users view the profile picture and activity of their Facebook friends in a box called the "People Pane".

"You can view your social network as you look through your email to stay connected with your friends, family, and colleagues," Paco Contreras Herrera, a group product manager for Microsoft Office, said in a blog post.

Microsoft integrated two other social networks, MySpace and LinkedIn, into Outlook in February using what it calls the "Outlook Social Connector".

"The Outlook Social Connector doesn't add another social network into the mix; rather it offers busy people the convenience of accessing them in Outlook," Contreras Herrera said.

"We expect more partners down the line," he added.

Outlook 2003 and 2007 users can download the latest version of the Outlook Social Connector from the Microsoft Download Centre while Outlook 2010 users can get it through Microsoft Update.

Swiftkey beta brings new keyboard, world class predictive text to Android

The software and language engineers at Swiftkey have been toiling on this app for the past two years, and at long last, it's being made available for precisely nothing to anxious Android users. Hot on the heels of Swype's own beta, the Swiftkey beta is now available to download directly from the App Market, and once installed (along with language packs of your choice), it can be used in place of your stock Android soft keyboard. We've never been the biggest fan of Google's factory keys, and while we still feel that Swiftkey's letters are a tad on the skinny side, it's definitely an improvement. But that's not where the magic's at -- this software has an uncanny ability to guess what your next word will be, and it actually looks at your prior SMS list (if allowed) in order to "learn" how you converse. In our early tests, we're pretty darn impressed, and yes, it's definitely worth the $0.00 price tag. Get your download on right now, or hop past the break for a video demonstration if you still need convincing.

White House's electric-vehicle production campaign

HUD Secretary Sean Donovan and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will launch ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations for electric vehicles in New York City.

President Barack Obama will visit LG Chem-Compact Power's new plant site in Holland.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will visit Celgard in Charlotte, N.C., where a $49-million advanced-battery and electric-vehicle grant is helping the company expand its manufacturing operations and build a new plant.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will visit Baker Equipment in Richmond, Va., which is converting conventional gasoline vehicles to propane.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will visit Delphi Automotive Systems in Kokomo, Ind., where an $89-million battery-manufacturing grant is helping Delphi expand.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari will visit East Penn Manufacturing in Lyon Station, Pa., where a $32-million battery manufacturing grant is helping the company expand to manufacture battery technologies for hybrids.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley will visit SBE in Barre, Vt., where an $8.5-million battery-manufacturing grant is helping the company build an $18-million plant that produces "power ring" capacitors.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Facebook launches panic button for child safety

London: Social networking website Facebook has agreed to adopt a panic button aimed at improving the online safety of its younger users, a child protection group said on Monday.
The launch of button, which follows a long campaign by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), will allow children and teenagers to report suspicious behaviour and get help, advice and support about staying safe online.
The application is particularly aimed at users aged 13 to 18 and will appear on their profile page when they add or bookmark the button, CEOP said. “We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online,” said Jim Gamble, chief executive of CEOP, adding that the button should provide reassurance to parents whose teenagers use the site.
Pressure to introduce such measures intensified towards the end of last year after 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a man posing as a teenager whom she had met through Facebook.
“Together we have developed a new way of helping young people stay safe online,” Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, Middle-East and Africa, said of the link-up.
“It is only through the constant and concerted efforts of the industry, police, parents and young people themselves that we can all keep safe online.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Solar Plane Takes off for 24-Hour Test Flight

An experimental solar-powered plane whose makers hope to one day circle the globe using only energy collected from the sun took off for its first 24-hour test flight Wednesday.

The plane with its 262.5-foot (80-meter) wingspan left Payerne airfield in Switzerland shortly before 7 a.m. (0500 GMT; 1 a.m. EDT) after overcoming an equipment problem that delayed a previous attempt, the Solar Impulse team said.
Clear blue skies mean the prototype aircraft will be able to soak up plenty of solar energy as it flies over the Jura mountains to the west of the Swiss Alps.
By midmorning pilot Andre Borschberg was cruising at 9,850 feet (3,000 meters), trying to avoid low-level turbulence and thermal winds that are frequent in the mountains.
He will take the plane to an altitude of 27,900 feet (8,500 meters) by Wednesday evening, when a decision will be made whether to continue through the night using solar power stored in its batteries.
"The goal of the project is to have a solar-powered plane flying day and night without fuel," said team co-founder Bertrand Piccard, adding that this test flight — the third major step after its first 'flea hop' and an extended flight earlier this year — will demonstrate whether the ultimate plan is feasible: to fly the plane around the world.
"This flight is crucial for the credibility of the project," said Piccard, a record-breaking balloonist whose father and grandfather also accomplished pioneering airborne and submarine feats.
The team had hoped to make their 24-hour test flight last week when days in the northern hemisphere were even longer, allowing the plane's 12,000 solar cells to collect even more energy before attempting to coast through the night.
But there was a problem with a key piece of communications equipment, forcing the team to keep the plane on the ground while modifications were made. Every aspect of the aircraft is monitored by engineers on the ground, with much of it fed onto the team's website and Twitter page.
Borscherg, the plane's sole pilot, will decide by 8 p.m. (1800 GMT; 2 p.m. EDT) whether to continue through the night. If he goes ahead, the plane will slowly descend to 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) before midnight, where Borschberg will stay until attempting a dawn landing. 
Piccard, who achieved the first nonstop circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon, the BreitlingOrbiter III, in 1999, said that, if successful, the next step will be an Atlantic crossing. That will be done in a second, lighter prototype, involving new challenges and dangers, he said. Although the goal is to show that emissions-free air travel is possible, the team has said it doesn't see solar technology replacing conventional jet propulsion any time soon. Instead, the project is designed to test and promote new energy-efficient technologies.