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Friday, October 29, 2010

Microsoft loosens up, enables Windows Phone 7 apps to run beneath screen lock

We felt that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 was a product that would be perpetually evaluated, tweaked and overhauled as time went on, and sure enough, we're already seeing those winds of change blow yonder. Reportedly, Microsoft has now removed the restriction that prevented developers from writing applications that would continue to operate behind a locked screen (without a user's explicit permission, anyway), enabling a whole host of apps to breathe in a manner in which they simply should. Audio apps, for example, will now be able to run in the background without yet another layer of pointless Vista-esque permissions, and Microsoft's Charlie Kindel said in an interview at its Professional Developer Conference that this move "is an example of us continuing to listen to customers." Frankly, it's just more fair -- Microsoft's own ingrained applications could already do this sans user permission (email, Zune playback, downloads, etc.), so it makes sense to give loyal developers that same opportunity. Of course, devs will have to prove that background apps won't burn up an absurd amount of battery life, but that's definitely not an unexpected qualification.

Earth-Sized Planets May Be Common Throughout Our Galaxy, NASA Survey Suggests

Nearly one in four stars similar to the sun may host planets as small as Earth, according to a new study funded by NASA and the University of California.
The study is the most extensive and sensitive planetary census of its kind. Astronomers used the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii for five years to search 166 sun-like stars near our solar system for planets of various sizes, ranging from three to 1,000 times the mass of Earth. All of the planets in the study orbit close to their stars. The results show more small planets than large ones, indicating small planets are more prevalent in our Milky Way galaxy.

"We studied planets of many masses -- like counting boulders, rocks and pebbles in a canyon -- and found more rocks than boulders, and more pebbles than rocks. Our ground-based technology can't see the grains of sand, the Earth-size planets, but we can estimate their numbers," said Andrew Howard of the University of California, Berkeley, lead author of the new study. "Earth-size planets in our galaxy are like grains of sand sprinkled on a beach -- they are everywhere."
The study appears in the Oct. 29 issue of the journal Science.
The research provides a tantalizing clue that potentially habitable planets could also be common. These hypothesized Earth-size worlds would orbit farther away from their stars, where conditions could be favorable for life. NASA's Kepler spacecraft is also surveying sun-like stars for planets and is expected to find the first true Earth-like planets in the next few years.
Howard and his planet-hunting team, which includes principal investigator Geoff Marcy, also of the University of California, Berkeley, looked for planets within 80-light-years of Earth, using the radial velocity, or "wobble," technique.
They measured the numbers of planets falling into five groups, ranging from 1,000 times the mass of Earth, or about three times the mass of Jupiter, down to three times the mass of Earth. The search was confined to planets orbiting close to their stars -- within 0.25 astronomical units, or a quarter of the distance between our sun and Earth.
A distinct trend jumped out of the data: smaller planets outnumber larger ones. Only 1.6 percent of stars were found to host giant planets orbiting close in. That includes the three highest-mass planet groups in the study, or planets comparable to Saturn and Jupiter. About 6.5 percent of stars were found to have intermediate-mass planets, with 10 to 30 times the mass of Earth -- planets the size of Neptune and Uranus. And 11.8 percent had the so-called "super-Earths," weighing in at only three to 10 times the mass of Earth.
"During planet formation, small bodies similar to asteroids and comets stick together, eventually growing to Earth-size and beyond. Not all of the planets grow large enough to become giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter," Howard said. "It's natural for lots of these building blocks, the small planets, to be left over in this process."
The astronomers extrapolated from these survey data to estimate that 23 percent of sun-like stars in our galaxy host even smaller planets, the Earth-sized ones, orbiting in the hot zone close to a star. "This is the statistical fruit of years of planet-hunting work," said Marcy. "The data tell us that our galaxy, with its roughly 200 billion stars, has at least 46 billion Earth-size planets, and that's not counting Earth-size planets that orbit farther away from their stars in the habitable zone."
The findings challenge a key prediction of some theories of planet formation. Models predict a planet "desert" in the hot-zone region close to stars, or a drop in the numbers of planets with masses less than 30 times that of Earth. This desert was thought to arise because most planets form in the cool, outer region of solar systems, and only the giant planets were thought to migrate in significant numbers into the hot inner region. The new study finds a surplus of close-in, small planets where theories had predicted a scarcity.
"We are at the cusp of understanding the frequency of Earth-sized planets among celestial bodies in the solar neighborhood," said Mario R. Perez, Keck program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This work is part of a key NASA science program and will stimulate new theories to explain the significance and impact of these findings."
NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., manages time allocation on the Keck telescope for NASA. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, manages NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program office. More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program is athttp://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov .

‘Wireless’ Humans Could Form Backbone of New Mobile Networks

Members of the public could form the backbone of powerful new mobile internet networks by carrying wearable 
According to researchers from Queen's, the novel sensors could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile internet infrastructures and reduce the density of mobile phone base stations. The engineers from Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), are working on a new project based on the rapidly developing science of body centric communications.

Social benefits from the work could include vast improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare, along with new precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports.
The researchers at ECIT are investigating how small sensors carried by members of the public, in items such as next generation smartphones, could communicate with each other to create potentially vast body-to-body networks (BBNs).
The new sensors would interact to transmit data, providing 'anytime, anywhere' mobile network connectivity.
Dr Simon Cotton, from ECIT's wireless communications research group said: "In the past few years a significant amount of research has been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body. Until now, however, little work has been done to address the next major challenge which is one of the last frontiers in wireless communication -- how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location.
"The availability of body-to-body networks could bring great social benefits, including significant healthcare improvements through the use of bodyworn sensors for the widespread, routine monitoring and treatment of illness away from medical centres. This could greatly reduce the current strain on health budgets and help make the Government's vision of healthcare at home for the elderly a reality.
"If the idea takes off, BBNs could also lead to a reduction in the number of base stations needed to service mobile phone users, particularly in areas of high population density. This could help to alleviate public perceptions of adverse health associated with current networks and be more environmentally friendly due to the much lower power levels required for operation."
Dr Cotton added: "Our work at Queen's involves collaborating with national and international academic, industrial and institutional experts to develop a range of models for wireless channels required for body centric communications. These will provide a basis for the development of the antennas, wireless devices and networking standards required to make BBNs a reality.
"Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved. Even though the market for wearable wireless sensors is still in its infancy, it is expected to grow to more than 400 million devices annually by 2014."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Google reveals location of women's refuge for domestic violence victims on Street View

Google has revealed the name and address of a women’s refuge centre, potentially endangering the lives of domestic violence victims.
Mark Lancaster, the MP for Milton Keynes, attacked the internet giant for publishing the details of a safe house on its Street View website.
Abused women rely on safe houses in discrete locations to keep them away from abusive partners.
But Mr Lancaster said he was contacted by one refuge after their cover was blown by Google. 
It openly published a picture of the outside of the refuge, complete with the top secret address and postcode, on its controversial Street View website. 
Google had not even responded to emails from the refuge, pleading for its privacy to be protected.
He said: ‘Imagine their (the refuge's) great concern when on entering the name of the organisation on Google, a picture of the building the refugees use and also their address appear on the search engine,’ he said.
‘I find it staggering that such an invasion of privacy on an organisation whose purpose is to protect others is allowed to occur.’ 
The MP spoke during a Commons debate on internet privacy and Google’s sweeping powers.
MPs accused Google of deliberately harvesting personal information which it could sell on for commercial gain - a charge that Google has denied.
Robert Halfon, the Tory MP who initiated the debate, attacked Google’s photographing of every house in the country through Street View.
While vans took to the street to record people’s homes and gardens, the firm also gathered the email addresses and passwords of residents.
Mr Halfon said it was ‘hard to believe’ that Google could copy millions of computer passwords and email details and ‘not know what it was doing’, he said.
‘My own view is it was of commercial use for Google and that is why it was done,’ he told MPs.
‘It's not good enough, as Google have suggested, that the whole thing was an innocent mistake.
‘That was their line when Street View uploaded images of naked children without the consent and knowledge of those involved.
‘That was their line when a Google engineer was able illegally to access children's private email accounts and telephone records - and then Google took disciplinary action only after parents complained that the engineer had illegally used Google data to harass their children.
‘I find it hard to believe that a company with the creative genius and originality of Google could map the personal wi-fi details, computer passwords and email addresses of millions of people across the world and not know what it was doing.’
Mr Halfon called on ministers to make Street View an ‘opt in, rather than opt out’ website.
An inquiry by the Information Commissioner had initially cleared Google of any wrong doing, but Mr Halfon said this was because the privacy watchdog felt his powers were limited.
MPs backed his call for tighter regulation of the internet. Three quarters of Germans have opted out of Street View, while Greece and the Czech Republic had totally banned it.
Mr Halfon called for a commission of inquiry made up of internet and privacy experts. It would suggest new laws to  give citizens an ‘affordable and speedy means of redress’.
Ed Vaizey, the Internet Minister, promised to look at setting up a mediation panel with Google and other internet service providers which could resolve disputes with citizens.
Alex Deane, the director of Big Brother Watch, hailed parliament’s first debate on internet privacy.
He said: ‘Google must now sit up and take notice of the concerns of many Members of Parliament who today voiced their concerns at the company’s reckless approach to personal privacy. 
'They will no doubt get a verbal ticking-off from the Internet Minister Ed Vaizey when they next meet – but a simple slap on the wrist doesn’t go far enough.’
Mr Deane called for the Information Commissioner to ‘show some teeth’ and punish Google over its collection of personal data.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ray Ozzie writes about Microsoft in a post-PC world

Ray Ozzie, who is stepping down as chief software architect at Microsoft, has written a memo envisioning a world without the PC as he prepares for retirement.
He posted the long memo, titled "Dawn of a New Day," on his personal blog today, which he is also sending to Microsoft's executive staff and direct reports.
"It’s the dawn of a new day – the sun having now arisen on a world of continuous services andconnected devices," Ozzie wrote. He borrowed the theme from the New York World's Fair in 1939, which he said inspired hope in society that anything was possible.
Ozzie took over writing these memos when he became chief software architect in 2006, replacing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The Gates and Ozzie memos have had a lasting impact at Microsoft, setting the course for the company over several years. In 2005, Ozzie wrote the "Internet Services Disruption" memo, which pushed Microsoft to go "all in" on cloud computing.
It's unclear what impact the latest memo will have on the company since he is on his way out, but Ozzie issues a call to action to "imagine fearlessly; to dream."
Ozzie urged readers to imagine a "Post-PC world." For a company that makes most of its money from PC software, including Windows and Office, this message is alarming. Ozzie acknowledges that "our journey began in support of audacious concepts that were originally just imagined and dreamed: A computer that’s ‘personal’. Or, a PC on every desktop and in every home, running Microsoft software. ... As such, it’s difficult for many of us to even imagine that this could ever change."
He describes the future of computing as continuous services and connected devices. "We’re moving toward a world of 1) cloud-based continuous services that connect us all and do our bidding, and 2)appliance-likeconnected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services."
"For both individuals and businesses, new consumption & interaction models will change the game. It’s inevitable," Ozzie wrote.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Girls, games, and Guinness: a quest for 1 million achievement points


Stallion83 is known on the Internet for one thing: having the highest Gamerscore in the world. You may think achievements on the Xbox 360 are worthless, but he chases them relentlessly. You may think having a high Gamerscore is a waste of time, but he's in the Guinness Book of World Records. He marks the progress of his quest on his blog, and he recently broke 500,000 points, gaining the attention of the gaming press. His quest is noble, ambitious, and simple. He wants to be the first gamer to reach a one million Gamerscore.
We tracked him down to find out why anyone would spend so much time on a pursuit that's so... ephemeral? Perhaps even decadent? "I don't have a very good answer for why I chase such a high Gamerscore," he told Ars. "You know in the movie Forest Gump when someone asked Forest why he was running? Forest replied, 'I just felt like running.' I just felt like scoring." What makes this story even better is that he seems to have no idea why he's doing it.
A series of terrible games
Playing "real" games and grinding out achievements is a big task, so of course our hero takes shortcuts where he can. If each game comes with 1,000 points for gaining every achievement, he has played at least 500 games and maxed out the achievements. Looking at his Xbox Live profile, we can see he's in fact played 684 games. This is a man who gained 1,000 points by mastering the game version of How to Train Your Dragon.
"The absolute lamest thing I've done for achievements is played the Disney Sing It games," he said. "Let's just say that isn't the best move to impress your significant other. She was giving me strange looks."
That's right, he has a girlfriend. I asked for a picture of the woman in question, and in a move I could only take as a sign of defensiveness, he sent me an image where he's next to a girl.
His knowledge of easy achievements is both deep and wide. I ask him for some pointers, and he gives me some Gamerscore-boosting starting points. "Avatar: The Burning Earth is the easiest game to complete. You can get all five achievements for 1,000 Gamerscore in a matter of minutes. A close second is Backyard Football, which takes maybe 10 minutes to get the full 1,000," he explained. He's also a fan of Japanese dating sim games, which are text-based. "You just have to slog through the text until you get to the end." Any more good ones?
"Some people would say Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the best game for easy achievements. I prefer Fight Night Round 3 as one of the better games to be quick," he shared. "To be honest, most of the easier games to get achievements on are not that great. So I guess it's a good thing they are short."
He said that reactions to his Gamerscore are mixed, and that the people who claim he does nothing but play video games are often the gamers who spend hours online playing first-person shooters. He simply plays everything. "Sometimes I do go through stretches where I take it to extreme levels. That type of play can only last for so long; it really wears on you quickly," he said. Claims that he somehow cheated have all but died out. "First it was the Guinness World Record, then the Microsoft Gamer Spotlight that silenced most critics."
His goal is to reach one million, but why? There is no solid answer, nothing to quench my thirst for meaning in his Quixotic mission. "I'm not sure what my reaction will be once it is all said and done. It's too far away to say," he told me when I asked about his plans for the day he earns that magical achievement in a terrible game that will put him over one million points. "I do know my heart will probably beat out of my chest and there will be Carlton dancing."
He does have a message though: listen to your heart, believe in your dreams, and stick with it. "1,000,000 is my goal, but I would like to influence people in any way possible," he said. "Not influence them to game like crazy, but maybe get the point across that it takes dedication and effort to reach any goal. No cutting corners, no cheating, and lots and lots of dedication."
If I may quote Oceans 12, he's the modern man: disconnected, frightened... paranoid, but with good reason. Right now the Stallion sleeps, but since our interview he has gained over 1,000 more points.

Bugs, Crashes Plague Apple Media Suite iLife's New Release

Less "it just works", more iCrash

Apple transformed itself over the last decade into one of the world's largest electronics makers by pumping out attractive products and maintaining a focus on trying to give its customers simpler, more reliable products.  Unfortunately the reliability part of that equation seems to be vanishing of late.  From its flagship phone having difficulty making calls without a protective case toiPads overheating when exposed to summer sunlight Apple has had perhaps more recent quality issues than any other major electronics manufacturer.

Unfortunately that trend does not appear to be reversing.  A reader writes us:
I think it is worth reporting that iLife11 is a complete disaster technically / QA wise.

I mean, Apple completely rushed it - the thing doesn't work. I have been using Macs since 10.3 panther and in the past year built myself a hackintosh. I am also a technical person with many years in the software business - I've been around. I know a badly QA'd software when I see one and iLife11 just made #1 on my bad Mac software list. I've been using iLife since version 06 at least and this is the first time I downgraded back to the previous version.

The worst of the lot is iPhoto11 (the most important app in iLife for most users)... - the thing blows up and crashes on the most simple functions required for day to day usage. I am talking about double clicking videos recorded with an iPhone! There are features missing, it has a confusing interface compared to iPhoto09. It crashed on me 14 times in 10 minutes - beyond disgrace.
iLife 2011 is the latest edition of Apple's media suite, which includes iTunes, iPhone, iMovie, GarageBand, iDVD, and iWeb.  The software retails for $49.00.  The latest iLife suite launched at Apple's "Back to Mac" event last week.

As our reader suggests, Apple's forums appear to be flooding with upset iLife buyers who are experiencing crashes, freezes, missing functionality and other annoyances.

Fortunately for Apple, the repercussions of its increasing quality issues may be less severe than for the average company.  That's because a large contingent of Apple customers are unusually loyal and forgiving to the brand and have overlooked and defended its recent shortcomings.  However, it's important to remember that not all Apple users are so fanatically forgiving.  In fact many are not.

Writes one outraged customer:
This is an open letter to software developers at Apple.

I purchased iLife 11 on day 1. I've come to trust apple and their heretofore excellent work. I have to say I will think twice about buying your software again.

My issues with software "that just works" because a closed environment...

iPhoto was stuck in an upgrade loop for over 48 hours.

iPhoto still won't put a book together.

And today iMovie is stuck searching through iPhoto for a business drive even though I am home and have no way of connecting to the office drive. There's no option to cancel and open iMovie, just an error message that just keeps repeating, and repeating and repeating.

Did you even Beta this software apple? OMG, this is the biggest p.o.s. experience I've ever had (and that includes windows software bugs). Seriously APPLE, I've converted about 50 individuals into appleheads. You need to issue an apology for this release, my experience has sucked hard. 
Thus, Apple loyalists may find ways to explain away these kinds of problems, or more likely point to the company's record profits hoping to distract the focus from them.  But in the long term they likely will alienate a certain number of long-time customers and turn away many potential new ones.

Apple has unsurprisingly remained silent on iLife 2011's apparent issues.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mitsubishi Chemical to boost output of lithium ion battery material

Mitsubishi Chemical Corp will boost its production capacity of liquid solution used in making lithium ion batteries at its factory in central Japan from February 2012.
Investing about 1 billion yen at its plant in Mie Prefecture, the company said it will increase its annual production capacity of electrolysis solution to 13,500 tons from the current 8,500 tons in a bid to meet the growing demand for lithium ion batteries used in products such as mobile phones, laptop computers and hybrid vehicles.

12-year-old identifies Firefox security flaw, gets $3,000 reward


A 12-year-old professional bug hunter recently received a whopping $3,000 from Mozilla for identifying a critical Firefox security flaw.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Alex Miller - who is in seventh grade - stepped up his efforts to find the bug after the company increased its bounty payments from $500 to 3K. 
"A couple of months ago we [raised] the amount of payment to a much more substantial $3,000, basically to reflect the change in the economy, and the marketplace, since the time the program was initiated," Mozilla spokesperson Brandon Sterne told the Mercury News.
"The space of people that are contributing in this area is pretty small. This is a very niche technical area. [Still], Mozilla is a community mostly of volunteers.
"We really encourage people to get involved in the community. And you don't have to be a brilliant 12-year-old to do that."


Meanwhile, Elissa Miller told the paper that her son Alex was virtually "self-taught."
"Reading [our] very technical books is not an assignment [for Alex]," she explained.
“[Rather], it's something he just does; and he understands them. He [obviously] has a gift for the technical. Clearly, it's his passion."

Apple Drops Pre-installed Flash

Apple Inc on Friday announced that it will no longer pre-install Adobe Systems Inc’s Flash media player on its Mac computers, as the company continues to phase out the software.
The decision to not install the software does not ban Flash for its PCs. Users will still be able to download the media software, which is still widely-used to watch videos on the Internet.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has criticized Flash as a buggy battery hog, and thus has banned the software from running on its iPad and iPhone. Adobe responded to the criticism, saying Jobs and his company are overly restrictive.
Apple had also effectively banned developers from using Flash to build apps for its mobile devices, but then changed their mind in the face of stiff scrutiny from US regulators.
Apple says it will ship a new updated version of its ultra-thin MacBook Air laptop without Flash software installed, and all Mac computers in the future will also be shipped minus a Flash player.
Bill Evans, spokesman for Apple, said the company is not banning the software from its computers, it just wants to make sure users have the most recent version of the software, which is frequently updated.
“We're happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe,” he told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Adobe, said in a statement: “As always, Adobe recommends that users download the most up to date version of Adobe Flash Player from Adobe.com.”

Epic Broadband at Stanford Google ready to Launch

As you may recall, earlier this year the ruler of the interwebs announced their plans to build and test an uber-fast broadband network to some 50,000 to 500,000 people. Just this past weekGoogle has announced its plans to beta-test the uber-fast network at Stanford University for some very lucky 850 faculty- and staff-owned homes on the campus.
Soon Stanford's residential subdivision will be equipped with internet speeds capable of 1 gigabit per second--or more than 100 times faster than what most people have access to today. The Googs picked Stanford for its “test” because the university is close to the Google campus and Google engineers will have fast and easy access to the location so that they can monitor the beta. Stanford was also open to Google testing the new fiber technologies on their streets, and Stanford's residential section is small and makes a good fit for beta-deployment.
Google plans to use this beta test as grounds for learning and making any changes needed before the big launch to a community or multiple communities of up to 500,000 people. Ever since Google announced plans to build the large fiber-network surfaced, the company has been experimentingwith new fiber technologies. Google plans to announce the winning community (or communities) by the end of the year.
I don't know about you, but I think some certain Stanford faculty and staff are about to get really happy. What's your next move Google? You've already got Google VideoChomePicasaVoice,TVAndroid, an upcoming netbook OS, and a huge plethora of other services and products. Next up: Google Space Shuttle!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Internet privacy at risk with some popular Facebook apps

Internet privacy has been compromised by 10 popular Facebook apps, according to The Wall Street Journal. The social network says it will take action against this infringement of Internet privacy.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 10 popular Facebook applications have been violating Internet privacy by transmitting users' personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and Web tracking companies.
The newspaper said Monday that the breach also includes users who set all their information to be completely private. And in some cases, it says, the apps provided access to friends' names.

A Facebook spokesman told the Journal on Sunday that the company would introduce new technology to contain the breach. It's not clear how long the breach went on.
The paper says Facebook also has taken immediate action to disable all applications that violated their terms.
Most apps are made by independent software companies, not by Facebook.

Facebook Privacy Fail: Apps Leak Private Info, Report


Even if you use the strictest privacy settings on Facebook, many applications can pass on information that personally identifies you and your friends to advertisers, says a Wall Street Journal investigation.

Even if you use the strictest privacy settings on Facebook, many applications can pass on information that personally identifies you and your friends to advertisers, says a Wall Street Journal investigation.
Your name, and in some cases your friends' names are provided to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, according to the WSJ report, by simply using Facebook applications or games. It is estimated tens of millions of Facebook app users are affected, despite many using the strictest Facebook privacy settings.
The apps reported to share this personal information without your knowledge are the usual culprits. Among those named is Zynga, the developers of FarmVille (with 59 million users), TexasHoldEm Poker, FrontierVille, Mafia Wars and CafĂ© World, as well the Phrases app, Causes, Quiz Planet and Treasure Isle.
The WSJ reported:
"The most expansive use of Facebook user information uncovered by the Journal involved RapLeaf. The San Francisco company compiles and sells profiles of individuals based in part on their online activities."
According to the Journal report RapLeaf was harvesting Facebook IDs from leaky Facebook apps such as LOLapps and Family Tree and "then linked those ID numbers to dossiers it had previously assembled on those individuals."
Facebook promptly replied to the allegations on Monday, saying "in most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work. We have experience addressing this sort of issue previously, although the technical challenges here are greater. We are talking with our key partners and the broader Web community about possible solutions."
Is Facebook Doing Enough?
Facebook has over 500 millions users worldwide and has been at the center of several privacy debates this year. The social network released in early October some new features that give users greater control over how their data is used and shared. The changes were meant to address privacy gaffes from May, when it was blasted by consumer protection groups because of shoddy privacy policies.
Yet ten days after Facebook addressed earlier privacy concerns, the company admits to new privacy and security problems regarding some applications, and puts a brave face on saying it is "dedicated to protecting private user data while letting users enjoy rich experiences with their friends."
What's worse is that this is only the latest revelation after reports that Facebook retains your phone details when using the service from a smartphone, and that even if you're not on Facebook, the social network still knows of you through aggregated information.

Windows Phone 7's Bogus 'Too Late' Problem


Want to dismiss Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 outright? Simply wave a hand in the air and say "too little, too late." Everyone's doing it.
More than three years have passed since the iPhone debuted, and one year ago this month, Verizon and Google announced an Android partnership that led to the popular Droid line of smartphones. Indeed, Microsoft is late to the party, but after further consideration, I don't buy the idea that tardiness destroys Windows Phone 7's chances of success.
First, let's debunk the idea that arriving early is a sure way to become popular. In 2008, Apple was dominating the slick touch screen smartphone market, and the tech press was starved for anything that looked remotely like an iPhone killer. Blackberry's Storm was the first candidate, at least until it actually arrived. Reviews were mediocre, and sales underperformed.
Then, there was the Palm Pre, which launched on Sprint in June 2009. Also hailed as an iPhone killer, the Pre was reviewed favorably, unlike the Storm. But sales were weak, and under HP, Palm is trying for a second coming with WebOS 2.0.
As for being late, Windows Phone 7's detractors assume, incorrectly, that there's no room left in the smartphone market for another platform. Over the next four years, global smartphone shipments are expected to double,according to iSuppli, and right now smartphones are the fastest-growing category of mobile phones. Plenty of people haven't jumped on board yet.
Meanwhile, Research in Motion, the smartphone market leader in the United States, is flailing. Quarterly Blackberry sales in the Untied States recently fell behind Android for the first time, according to The NPD Group. Customer satisfaction with Blackberry is at a new low, ChangeWave Research found. Long-time Blackberry users will be looking to jump ship, and Windows Phone 7 will be right on time with the rescue boat.
I'm not arguing that Windows Phone 7 doesn't have problems right now. Missing features like copy-and-paste (I know, it's coming next year) and multitasking, skepticism from Verizon Wireless and a wait-and-see attitude from some app developers cloud Windows Phone 7's future. And yes, Microsoft would be in better shape if it was around for Android's big gains, but the smartphone party isn't over yet. There's still time for Windows Phone 7 to get drunk and dance with the cool kids.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nexxus Lighting, Inc. (NEXS) Receives ENERGY STAR Label for its Array LED Bulb


Nexxus Lighting, Inc. recently announced it received the ENERGY STAR label, and is included in the ENERGY STAR Qualified LED Light Bulbs list, for its Array branded R30 LED light bulb.
The R30 is unique in that it is the first LED reflector lamp bulb that has qualified for the ENERGY STAR label, which requires such criteria as saving more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime, uses 75% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and produces 75% less heat.
The R30 7.8 watt bulb uses only 8 watts to produce 500 lumens at a 3000 deg Kelvin color temperature with a color rendering index of 84.
Nexxus’ patent pending Selective Heat Sink technology and patented designs are in 23 additional issued patents and 37 combined pending US and foreign patents related to is Array Lighting brand. The company offers solid-state and fiber optic lighting.

Global tablet sales will reach almost 20 million this year, says Gartner

According to research firm Gartner, global tablet sales will hit almost 20 million for this year, buoyed by strong sales of the Apple iPad.
Forecasting into the future, the group says sales will explode to 54.8 million units in 2011 and eventually 208 million units by 2014. 

For 2010, North American consumers will purchase 61 percent of the 19.5 million expected tablet sales but by 2013 that number will fall to 43 percent. 

Tablets are described as "slate" touch-screen devices running a mobile operating system such as WebOS, iOS, Android or Meego

Apple has sold an estimated 8.5 million iPads this year. 

Gartner also noted that netbooks will be cannibalized as tablets begin selling for under $300 in the next couple of years.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

AMD narrows loss, but spinoff weighs on chip maker

dvanced Micro Devices narrowed its third-quarter loss as the chip maker's remaining stake in factories it spun off last year dragged down the results.
Ignoring the baggage from the spinoff, AMD would have earned more than Wall Street expected, a sign the company is getting better at squeezing profit out of the remaining business.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. reported after the market closed Thursday that it lost $118 million, or 17 cents per share, compared to $128 million, or 18 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned 12 cents per share. That was double the 6 cents per share that analysts expected, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue rose 16 percent to $1.62 billion, slightly higher than the $1.61 billion analysts expected.

Google's profit jumps 32%


Google Inc. reported a quarterly profit and sales on Thursday that rose from year-ago results and beat Wall Street's forecasts.
The world's online search leader said its third-quarter net income rose to $2.2 billion, or $6.72 per share, up 32% from a year earlier.
Google bouncing back

Results included one-time charges totaling 92 cents per share. Without the charge, Google said it earned $7.64 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time items from their estimates, forecasted earnings of $6.69 per share.
Sales for the Mountain View, Calif., company rose 23% to $7.3 billion. Excluding advertising sales that Google shares with partners, a figure also known as "traffic acquisition costs," the company reported revenue of $5.5 billion, which topped analysts' forecasts of $5.3 billion.
An increase in both the number of clicks on advertisements on Google's sites and the amount advertisers paid for those clicks helped drive results. Shares of Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) rose 9% after hours.
"Google had an excellent quarter," CEO Eric Schmidt said in a prepared statement. "Our core business grew very well, and our newer businesses -- particularly display and mobile -- continued to show significant momentum."
Though Google's growth continues at a rapid pace, investors and analysts have been looking for new sources of income to keep the company from stagnating. As a result, display advertising and mobile have been areas of focus for Google, in its attempt to expand beyond search ads.
Display advertising is currently a business dominated by rivals AOL (AOL) and Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), around which merger talks are swirling.
But Google has made tremendous headway in mobile. Its Android operating system will command 17.7% of the global mobile device market by year's end, according to a Gartner forecast, making it the second best-selling smartphone operating system, behind Nokia's (NOK) Symbian OS and ahead of Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iOS. That's stunning, considering it entered the market just two years ago.
Google is also growing by acquisitions, buying up social networking companies that the company is using to create a more social experience throughout its various Web applications and properties.
As a result, the company expanded its workforce by a brisk 7% in the quarter, adding 1,526 employees to its ranks.