Eruptions on the sun’s surface can blast tons of plasma into space — sometimes right at the Earth. Astonishing pictures show the giant flares and clouds of ionized gas erupting from the star.
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Each week, our friends at gdgt go through the latest gadgets and score them to help you decide which ones to buy. Here are some of their latest picks. Want more? Visit gdgt anytime to catch up on the latest, and subscribe to gdgt’s newsletter to get a weekly roundup in your inbox.
The downfall of WebOS left more than a few canceled devices in its wake, but the most illusive of the bunch tends to be the WindsorNot: a touch-only smartphone. We’ve seen hints of it here and there, but the shy little device has largely been kept under wraps — until now. The dedicated folks at WebOS Nation have managed to get their hands on a functional prototype. The 4-inch devices seems to lie somewhere between a Pre3 and HP Touchapd, aping the hardware specifications of the former while adopting the latter’s software version: WebOS 3.0. The tweaked software does feature a smartphone-sized keyboard, but WebOS Nation says some of the OS’ trappings are difficult to read, and were clearly meant to be refined for the smaller screen before release. The phone’s form, on the other hand, seems to be top notch, indicating that the project was canned before the software team had a chance to catch up. Check out the source link for a full walkthrough of the device and a brief history lesson of WebOS’ last days.
Source: webOS Nation
An ad delivered straight to the eyeball feels like a violation.
Some curious information came to light this week about Google Glass. For a company that owes its solvency to advertising–95% of its revenue comes from it–remarkably, Google is planning an ad-free experience for its on-eye computing experiment. At least, for now.
While there’s still no foolproof way to protect your phone (or you) from a mugging, there is a growing trend toward better solutions that one day may mean the end of smartphone thefts.
Going dual-screen is really the nuclear option for smartphone design — it’s what you use to draw attention when your regular, single-screen phones aren’t thriving. We’re at once unsurprised and appreciative, then, that BlackBerry has applied for a patent on a dual-screen phone concept that hasn’t gone further than a filing. As shown, it would embrace the familiar concept of running separate apps on each screen, with a slight twist: it could recognize touch gestures that span both displays, such as a pinch to switch app positions. Naturally, it could recognize distinct gestures on only one side or put a keyboard on one display for typing on the other. Given BlackBerry’s current design directions and very different gesture concepts, the application is more of a what-might-have-been than any kind of roadmap. It’s just as well when many twin-screen smartphones haven’t exactly panned out.
Death To The Bundle! Cablevision Sues Viacom Over Requirement To Carry Networks You’ve Never Heard Of
New York-based cable company Cablevision is suing cross-town content partner Viacom. The lawsuit is over Viacom’s requirement for Cablevision to carry a bunch of channels its users don’t watch, in order to have access to a bunch of channels they do. Viacom has 8 channels Cablevision wishes to carry, but Viacom bundles in a bunch of channels viewers don’t watch and its customers don’t care about.
Editor’s note: Hunter Walk was most recently Director of Product Management at YouTube.
Search engines have long memories. I think about this whenever reading new coverage of some immoral, misanthropic or illegal act. The kids who tweeted racist statements about Obama on Election Day, the college student whose secret videotaping of his gay roommate helped lead to the young man’s suicide, the catfishing of Manti T’eo. Years from now it’s possible, even likely, that when the perpetrators’ names are Googled, these histories will be what surfaces first for them. An employer, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a neighbor will find out about what they once did years ago
It’s not if, but when. Between crooks, hackers, and foreign governments, Facebook probably can’t avoid a serious user data breach forever. When it happens, Facebook may never be able to quiet fears that “personal data isn’t safe there”. That could cause a chilling effect on sharing, jeopardize its future in commerce, and cut its lifetime short.
colinneagle writes “While Steve Jobs’ ire in regards to Android is well known, a recent report from Reuters relays that current Apple CEO Tim Cook never wanted to sue Samsung in the first place. ‘Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor as Apple chief executive, was opposed to suing Samsung in the first place, according to people with knowledge of the matter, largely because of that company’s critical role as a supplier of components for the iPhone and the iPad. Apple bought some $ 8 billion worth of parts from Samsung last year, analysts estimate.’ In various earnings conference calls, Tim Cook has repeated that he hates litigation, but has still toed the party line by exclaiming that Apple welcomes innovators but doesn’t like when other companies rip off their intellectual property.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
If you’re the fidgety type that’s also in the market for a new GPU, AMD’s ready to tempt you into springing for a Radeon HD 7000 series card with the promise of free gaming swag. The imaginatively named “Never Settle: Reloaded” bundle reuses several titles from last year’s promotion — Farcry 3, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution — and adds a few more it hopes will grab your attention: BioShock Infinite, Crysis 3, DmC Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider. AMD’s 7770 GHz Edition GPU no longer qualifies, but purchase a 7800 or 7900 series card and you’ll be given at least a couple of games to enjoy on your new hardware. Exactly what software you’ll receive varies on how much dough you’re waving around and what region you’re shopping in, so head to the source link for a full rundown of the options. A single 7990 or a two-pack of 7900 series cards will get you the most games, but if you don’t quite have the bread, ask Lara for a loan — she might be willing to share some of her perilous adventure fund and help you out.
MojoKid writes “It has been over six years since Apple introduced the iPhone. Millions of apps have been written for the platform in that time, with collective downloads into the billions. Apple’s App Store is a thriving marketplace with a huge amount of software available, except Microsoft Office. There’s a version of Office for iOS supposedly in the works, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer threw cold water on the idea when asked about upcoming events for the Office suite after launching the new Office 2013 / Office 365 products earlier this week. Revenue sharing is reportedly a major sticking point. Microsoft is trying to push people towards yearly subscriptions with Office 2013 and Office 365, but Apple requires a 30 percent profit share on sales of any app in their store. Microsoft reportedly isn’t thrilled at the idea of sharing that much revenue. It’s ironic — when Bill Gates agreed to port Office to the Mac nearly 20 years ago, it was seen as a lifeline for the beleaguered manufacturer. Now, Microsoft is knocking on the door of Apple’s business and Cupertino seems disinclined to answer.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Watch out, folks: Pantech is moving up the AT&T food chain. Once known in the US as little more than a budget brand, the Korean company is learning that it’s possible to push out a device with premium components without increasing the going price (while choosing an outside-the-box design at the same time). The latest piece of evidence supporting this is the Discover, a $ 50 smartphone with enough trimmings to turn some heads. But will the phone set a new precedent for its pricing tier, or is it just blindly checking off items on a spec sheet to-do list? Follow us after the break and find out.
Gallery: Pantech Discover review
Gallery: Pantech Discover review
On our stage at CES, Pantech’s Manager of US Marketing Chandra Thompson told us that nearly 60 percent of the company’s employees are dedicated to R&D, a claim that certainly can’t be made by very many companies. We were quite surprised to hear that from a company like Pantech — it caters almost exclusively to the penny-pinching demographic in the US, so it’s easy to dismiss its hardware as cheap and unexciting.
Au contraire, naysayers: the Discover, Pantech’s latest budget-friendly offering on AT&T, actually bucks the trend of the stereotypical slab, making it a visually arresting device to behold. The curvaceous back is chock-full of contours, but each one is done up in a way that enhances how the phone feels when you hold it in your hands. (We can’t help but be reminded of the Sony Xperia arc when looking at it.) In fact, we’ll go ahead and say that the Discover is one of the most comfortable phones we’ve used in recent history; its chassis hits the ruler at 134.2 x 68.6 x 9.1mm (5.3 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches) and gives us a solid grip that made us confident it wouldn’t slip out of our grasp. It’s also relatively light, weighing in at 4.76 ounces (135g).
Much of that has to do with the textured plastic material on the removable back panel, which adds just the right amount of traction without drawing too much attention to itself. The Discover is not only attractive; it also exudes durability. If you’ve only handled it for a few minutes it might be hard to tell that the device is as inexpensive as it is. We were happy to discover (pun not intended) that the back doesn’t flex or creak when you add pressure, lending even more credibility to the phone relative to its pricing tier.
The front of the device shows off the 4.8-inch 720p TFT screen, with a 2MP front-facing camera and the typical array of sensors above. You won’t find any capacitive nav buttons on the bottom, as the Discover uses virtual keys instead. To take the place of the missing keys, you’ll expectedly find a Pantech logo.
The sides are where the Discover starts to get really interesting. The phone bulges near the top to make room for a pair of 3D surround sound speakers, and the back cover tapers inward to meet up with the chrome edge. The speaker grilles are dotted with a snowflake-like pattern — the only hole in this analogy is that they’re all exactly alike. On the left side, adjacent to the grille, you’ll find a volume rocker that blends in perfectly with the rest of the chrome trim; the top end houses the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom end is where you plug in your micro-USB charger.
Completing our tour, we take you to the back of the Discover, which is where the 12.6MP rear-end camera module is located, with the LED flash directly beneath. You’ll also see a pair of logos for AT&T and Pantech, but neither is so ridiculously large so as to distract from the overall elegance of the device. Rip open that removable cover and you’ll find slots for the micro-SIM and microSD cards, as well as the replaceable 2,100mAh battery and NFC contacts.
Antenna-wise, the Discover is packed with plenty of radios: GSM / EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900; HSPA+ / UMTS 850/1900/2100; and LTE 700/850/1900/AWS. While most observers may be puzzled by the inclusion of four LTE bands when AT&T’s network is only currently utilizing two (700 / AWS), it actually means that your device will continue working properly if the operator decides to begin refarming 850 / 1900 HSPA+ spectrum for the use of LTE. Many of AT&T’s latest phones offer the same new LTE setup, but it’s typically not advertised — in the past we’ve had to dig into each handset’s FCC filings to figure it out.
Rounding out the specs, the Discover also offers aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n, 16GB of internal storage and supports DLNA. That microSD slot is capable of holding cards up to 32GB in size. There is, however, one glaring omission: there’s no LED notification light.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the display itself. Typically, the only time we see a $ 50 phone sporting a panel with a 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution is either when it’s on sale or is near the end of its retail shelf life (such is the case with the HTC One X). Thus, the fact that Pantech is pushing out a device with a higher-end screen at such a low price point should be enough to get any budget-conscious consumer excited. But how is it in real life? How does the display hold up against similar offerings?
While the HTC One X still holds the crown for best 720p display, the Discover doesn’t disappoint. It’s not quite as bright as the One X, but it certainly bests the Galaxy S III in this area. We also like the decent viewing angles and natural-looking colors — it’s definitely less saturated than the GS III, but then again, most phones are. It doesn’t use a PenTile matrix, so the fonts were crisp and easy to read without any jagged edges getting in our way.
Pantech is just as creative in its firmware design as it is in hardware. The Discover runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), though company reps have told us that Jelly Bean is in the works — unfortunately, they wouldn’t tell us which version, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Despite the fact it’s running now-antiquated firmware, it at least throws in quite a few differentiators that make its custom skin one of the most unique we’ve encountered on this side of the Pacific.
For starters, the app dock on the front screen allows 14 total icons, instead of the standard four. How so? If you look carefully, you’ll see arrows on either side of the dock indicating that you can swipe left or right for more shortcuts, folders or apps. We imagine this will only come in handy if you prefer using most of your front screen space for widgets, but it’s a nice touch regardless.
Additionally, while the virtual nav buttons at the bottom of the display feature the usual suite of back, home and recent apps, Pantech throws in a tiny menu button on the right-hand side that’s visible only on the front screen. (It doesn’t replace or duplicate the settings buttons you’ll find in most apps.) Pressing it brings up a menu that overlays the app dock and offers widgets, wallpaper, themes, settings and tips. Sounds great in theory, but it’s absolutely pointless since long-pressing the home screen achieves exactly the same result.
Moving on to the app menu, you’ll first notice that widgets are nowhere to be found — you’ll need to access them using the settings bar. Pantech has chosen to use the tab space on top to enhance the group-viewing experience. Essentially, you can choose to put any of your apps into customizable groups — just as if they’re a separate folder — and each group you create gets its own tab up on top. You can also assign each tab its own specific color and change the name to whatever you want; even better, you can also long-press the tab to install the entire group as a folder on your home screen, making it less work for you to set up groups in multiple places.
The navigation menu also has a few tweaks of its own: the top of the menu features a quick settings bar (nothing new there) and a second bar for settings shortcuts. This bar, which can be collapsed if you deem it unnecessary, includes icons for sound, WiFi, display, Bluetooth and more — the idea is to get you one step closer to these individual settings, thus reducing the amount of time you spend trying to reach them. We don’t foresee this saving more than a fraction of a second, but it’s there for you as an option if you want.
Pantech is also taking a page out of Samsung’s book by introducing its own set of motion / gesture controls. The concept is roughly the same: by waving your hand left and right over the front-facing camera, you can answer calls and navigate through pics and music without touching the screen. It worked much better than we expected; the camera recognized our hands from as far away as two feet.
Speaking of looking to Samsung for inspiration, the Discover also features a pop-up video option. When you begin watching a video, tap the proper button near the top of the screen and it hovers above whatever app you want to use simultaneously. You can also do something similar in the music app: the press of a button will float a “now playing” widget (which can be switched to playlist view as well) above your other programs.
Easy Experience Mode is offered with the Pantech Discover. We went into more detail on this particular feature in our review of the Flex, but in a nutshell: Easy Experience is essentially a special introductory launcher that helps first-time smartphone users settle into the whirlwind world of Android without experiencing as drastic a learning curve. There’s less stuff to customize, the font and icons are a little larger and the app menu is much more streamlined. Not much is different on the Discover, with the exception of a new toggle switch on the main UI, which makes it pretty easy to go back and forth between the two modes.
As you might expect, you’ll still have the normal onslaught of preloaded apps (though fortunately Pantech lets you hide unwanted apps or tuck them away in groups), but AT&T is pushing one new program in particular: DriveMode. The app is intended to prevent drivers from reading texts or taking calls when on the road. When your driving speed is above 25MPH, the service (which can be disabled if you prefer) sends an automatic SMS response to anyone who calls you or sends a text, letting them know you’ll get in touch with them as soon as you’ve finished your journey. It definitely does the job as intended — when we first began this review, our unit had the service enabled by default, and it showed up as soon as we hit the right speed. (Disclaimer: the reviewer was in the passenger seat when making this discovery.)
Gallery: Pantech Discover screenshots
Gallery: Pantech Discover screenshots
Lastly, the Discover uses the same stock Skyfire browser as the HTC One VX and LG Optimus G (among others). This means it comes with the love-or-hate browser bar at the bottom of the screen that offers several shortcuts and other settings. It appears that this particular browser is here to stay, and we shouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to surface on future AT&T models.
One major quirk with the UI is that Pantech doesn’t really take full advantage of the vertical space afforded to it. In addition to the virtual keys taking up room at the bottom of the screen, most of the phone’s UI elements are much larger than your typical device. The app dock on the front screen, the extra settings in the navigation menu and even the tabs on top of the app menu are easy to press, but you only get this benefit by sacrificing precious screen real estate.
The weakest link in every Pantech phone we’ve ever reviewed is the camera. The 8MP sensor used in the Flex was certainly an improvement over the 5MP models used previously, but it still couldn’t hold a candle to Samsung’s and HTC’s 8-megapixel units. So what did we get out of the Discover’s 12.6-megapixel rear-facing cam? Pixel count isn’t everything, after all.
First, let’s go over the user interface on the camera. The shutter button sidebar consists of a few toggle switches: front / rear, camcorder and HDR. The other sidebar is where you’ll find your various settings, as well as shortcuts that can be customized to specific things you tweak the most (this bar is free of shortcuts by default — you have to add them in at your leisure). Among the listed settings are exposure, flash, resolution, white balance, color effects and focus mode (in which you can choose between touch focus and tracking focus). Long-pressing the viewfinder in touch mode will lock your focus, and then you can touch the screen another time to lock exposure.
Speaking of which, the Discover is missing the ability to lock focus on objects in low-light or near-dark conditions; the phone doesn’t give us the option to use LED flash as a focus mechanism prior to taking the shot, so you may need to take several images in low light before it truly comes out the way it should. The LED flash itself is sufficiently bright, so that particular part of the camera isn’t an issue.
Gallery: Pantech Discover camera samples
Gallery: Pantech Discover camera samples
In fact, low-light images in general didn’t turn out very well. Perhaps a big part of the problem is the fact that Pantech didn’t throw in any special modes like the ones you’ll find on the One X, Galaxy S III and other flagships. No low-light, night or candlelight modes are offered; the phone doesn’t even have macro mode. Unfortunately, it’s just not as decked out as we’d like it to be. Frankly, this is to be expected on a phone that is geared toward the budget user, but we have a hard time understanding exactly why Pantech would go through the effort of boosting the megapixel count without enhancing the actual image-taking experience.
While we have a difficult time recommending the Discover’s camera over the proven modules found on the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III, the images on the Discover were still at least par with what we originally expected (which unfortunately isn’t saying much). We had quite a few issues with washed-out colors, middling dynamic range and soft focus. The upside is that white balance seemed to be pretty good. Regardless, it’s not the point-and-shoot replacement you’d like it to be.
We actually didn’t have so much to complain about with the video capture performance (MPEG-4, 18 Mbps bit rate, 30fps frame rate). It was very smooth when catching motion or panning, and the mics picked up our voice loud and clear. Its only drawback was that it couldn’t properly handle sunlight without ultimately washing out the colors in the process.
Performance and battery life
On the performance side, the Discover doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It sports the same 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor that we enjoyed on the Burst and Flex, along with 1GB RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU. Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that its actual output is nearly the same. Responsiveness is great and lag is near non-existent when performing most processor-heavy tasks. All told, we didn’t feel like we were using a subpar handset. Gaming was also as smooth as we’ve come to expect on an S4 Plus device. Here’s how the Discover benchmarks against some similarly priced phones on AT&T’s network:
|Pantech Discover||HTC One VX||LG Escape|
|SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms)||1,614||1,504||1,598|
|GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt 1080p Offscreen (fps)||14||12||11|
|SunSpider: lower scores are better.|
In terms of battery life, our standard endurance test — looping a video with a series of notifications rolling in the background — went on for six hours and 45 minutes. That’s hardly spectacular, but it’s still better than what we saw on the HTC One VX. What this means is that moderate users can make it through an entire day before having to charge up the phone, but anyone who uses the device extensively will get a solid nine or 10 hours out of it. However, unless you’re barely using it, you shouldn’t expect it to last overnight and into the next day.
On AT&T’s LTE network in Salt Lake City, the Discover zoomed through speed tests at an average of 18 Mbps down and 12 Mbps up. Keep in mind that this number may vary depending on the strength of your local network. We had mixed results with the phone’s WiFi performance; on multiple occasions it randomly disconnected from our preferred network and would refuse to reconnect again (it often would get stuck in an endless loop, going back and forth between “connecting” and “saved”). Quickly shutting WiFi off and then turning it on again typically resolved the problem, but that’s of course an annoyance.
When it came to actually making phone calls, our callers could hear us perfectly loud and clear. Noise cancelling was in full force, as callers had no idea that we were in a noisy room. On our end, other voices came through crystal clear, although the volume was a little softer than we would have preferred.
So what about the dual 3D surround sound speakers on the Discover? In a couple words: not bad. Thing is, it’s louder than your typical budget phone, so in that sense you’re getting your money’s worth; however, we could barely tell any difference between it and the audio output on flagship phones like the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. In fact, when doing direct comparisons between the three devices, the Discover’s sound was on the tinny side and not as full or rich as the others. Again, it’s pretty good for its intended price range, but not the best out there. One other thing: while the surround sound concept works okay when the phone’s in portrait mode, it’s a completely different story when you’re watching movies in landscape, since both speakers are on the same side. It’s pretty difficult to mimic stereo sound very well with this kind of setup.
Pricing and comparison
Going by the spec sheet alone, the Pantech Discover blows away any other brand-new device in its price range — you may see some better-specced phones on sale around the $ 50 margin, but this surpasses any other budget or midrange phone that has begun at this particular cost. On AT&T’s network, the next in line would be the HTC One VX, a phone that for the same amount of money snags you a qHD display, 5MP rear camera, 8GB internal storage and a few other mid-range specs to go along with it. While we were fond of the VX, the Discover ultimately offers more bang for your buck.
With each of its recent phones, Pantech has shown that it’s possible to make an inexpensive handset without sacrificing premium components. It specializes in the lower-end (in the US, at least), and it does its job very well. With a going price of $ 50 (after a two-year commitment), it’s sure to turn quite a few heads. It’s far from perfect, of course, but right now, at least, we have a hard time seeing how anyone could make a better budget device.
Light. What is it? What isn’t it? Such are the questions left to the experts at Caltech, which have just concocted a new device that can focus light to a point just a few nanometers wide. That kind of precision has never been done at scale, and the university is hoping that the invention could help “pave the way for the next-generation of communication, computing, and even imaging technology.”
In lay terms, it could allow increased bandwidth for fiber optics, and since it’s built on-chip, integration with existing doodads shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Previous on-chip nanofocusing devices were only able to focus light into a narrow line, making them inefficient, whereas Caltech’s contraption can be focused in three dimensions, producing a point a few nanometers across, and using half of the light that’s sent through. Hyuck Choo seems to think that it can be put to use in short order in the medical field, but it remains to be seen if we’ll see this in the next wave of Google Fiber rollouts. But hey, a lowly DSL user can hope, right?
Have there ever been questions in the back of your mind, but they weren’t really a top priority to sit down and search for the answer? Google is wanting to give you answers and information for things that you’ve always wondered about, but never actually searched for, with a new kind of mobile search tool
New technologies promise to keep wireless data capacity increasing for years.
Take a look around at the next ball game or concert you attend. You’ll see thousands of fans sending text messages or snapping photos and e-mailing them to friends. Those armies of smartphone owners are behind a striking increase in wireless data usage: Cisco estimates that mobile data traffic will grow by a factor of 18 by 2016, and Bell Labs predicts it will increase by a factor of 25.
Your iPhone could help you find your wallet.
We’ve heard of the ways that the smartphone can supposedly replace our wallet, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet. In the meantime, what if our smartphone could simply help prevent us from losing our actual wallet?
Just about anyone who has bought more than one aftermarket graphics card knows that bundled games rarely matter. They’re usually year-old titles or neutered editions built only to showcase the GPU’s performance for a few hours. AMD thinks its Never Settle bundle might finally get us to notice. Buy any modern Radeon HD video card from the 7770 GHz Edition on up and you’ll get a download code for at least one new game you’d genuinely want to try, ranging from Far Cry 3 on basic cards to a full three-game deal that supplies Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs to high rollers buying the 7900 series. There’s likewise a discount for Medal of Honor: Warfighter and promises of bundles in 2013 for Bioshock Infinite and the reimagined Tomb Raider. As long as you’re not dead set on springing for a GeForce board in the next few months, one of the qualifying cards might be worth a look to jumpstart your game collection.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates insists he will never run for political office — he believes he’ll have more impact through his philanthropic efforts than he would as a politician.
An anonymous reader writes “In December the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for the UN-convened World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT – pronounced ‘wicket’). The topic of the meeting is nothing less than the regulation of the Internet. Under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union the governments of the world will review the international treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR). The last review of the ITR was in 1988 when the Internet was just aborning. The remarkable and reshaping growth of the Internet provides the excuse for the new review. What’s really afoot, however, is an effort by some nations to rebalance the Internet in their favor by reinstituting telecom regulatory concepts from the last century.” At least it’s being held in a hotbed of unfettered online communication.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Amazon has nothing to worry about. Oracle will never win the cloud without developers.
No matter what Larry Ellison says on stage at Oracle Open World, Oracle will never match Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) first-class treatment of the developer community. Nor will Oracle even try: it’s a vertical iron machine that Ellison believes has the power to be the new “cloud” for IT. It is not a horizontal distributed, self-service environment that you get when you use AWS.
First time accepted submitter oldlurker writes “After much discussion where many hoped a voluntary Do Not Track standard was agreed with advertisers, it turns out the advertisers already had a very different interpretation than most of us on how to practice it: ‘Two big associations, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Digital Advertising Alliance, represent 90% of advertisers. Downey says those big groups have devised their own interpretation of Do Not Track. When the servers controlled by those big companies encounter a DNT=1 header, says Downey, “They have said they will stop serving targeted ads but will still collect and store and monetize data.”‘”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Can somebody please tell this guy that he doesn’t work here anymore?
The Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD), a forum of the top 34 developed economies, has released an annual education report, and guess what? The U.S. has once again ranked poorly in relation to many other developed countries. An article at TechCrunch argues that we needn’t worry because it doesn’t matter: “However, the report implies that education translates into gainful market skills, an assumption not found in the research. For instance, while Chinese students, on average, have twice the number of instructional hours as Americans, both countries have identical scores on tests of scientific reasoning.
‘The results suggest that years of rigorous training of physics knowledge in middle and high schools have made significant impact on Chinese students’ ability in solving physics problems, while such training doesn’t seem to have direct effects on their general ability in scientific reasoning, which was measured to be at the same level as that of the students in USA,’ wrote a team of researchers studying whether Chinese superiority in rote scientific knowledge translated into the kinds of creative thinking necessary for innovation.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
The United States has never ranked at the top of international education tests, since we began comparing countries in 1964, yet has been the dominant economic and innovative force in the world the entire time. Despite this fact, a popular annual education report has once again stoked fears of America’s impending economic mediocrity with fresh stats on how far the US ”lags” behind the world in college attainment, pre-school enrollment, and high school graduation.
Oh, couples. A wife sends her husband to the grocery store, and there’s always some thing that he forgets to bring back, or worse, he messes up and brings home the Tom’s Fluoride-Free Clean & Gentle Toothpaste when what she really wanted was the Tom’s Fluoride-Free Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste. And there are hurt feelings because he never listens when she tells him something really important, and he doesn’t understand why it’s such a big deal, and at the end of the day everyone goes to bed kind of grumpy.
WELL. Couples can look forward to never having that problem again, thanks to the latest version of Avocado, which will make sure once and for all that there’s no miscommunication when one partner tells the other what kind of toothpaste she wants, goddammit. With pictures now available in Avocado’s list functionality, there will never be any confusion over what someone means when she says Tom’s Fluoride-Free Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste. And if there is, it’s totally the dude’s fault.
Editor’s Notes: John C. Zolper, Ph.D. is the Vice President of Research and Development at Raytheon, an American corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. So yeah, neat stuff.
I’ve got a riddle for you. What do Blu-ray disks, military radars and LED light bulbs have in common? Chances are, if you work outside of the defense or electronics sectors, you may not easily make the connection. But the common thread is a little-known technology called Gallium Nitride (GaN for short). GaN is evolving rapidly behind the scenes to transform many aspects of modern day life, while also serving vitally important roles within our nation’s military.
Anyone who often relies on taxi service to get around, as good as it can be, has likely had a driver who was less than courteous — and in the worst cases, outright scary. Samsung wants to keep passengers safe, and drivers honest, through a just-published patent application for an end-to-end taxi service. On a basic level, it’s a taxi finder with a rating system: the mobile app in the patent can hail a nearby cab based on the driver’s “kindness” rating and verify that it’s the right vehicle with a short-range wireless link, not unlike an even more genteel version of Uber. It’s when passengers hop inside that Samsung’s implementation takes on a more distinct shape. If the driver puts customers or the whole cab in danger, a passenger-activated SOS mode flags the car’s location to get the police on the scene before it’s too late. We don’t know how likely Samsung is to implement such a system, although it has been actively developing more advanced backseat technology and filed the US patent in February, a year after its Korean equivalent. We do know this is one of the few patents we’d rather not completely experience first-hand — the only crazy taxis we’re comfortable with sit inside game consoles.
Filed under: Transportation
Oops! American Express Never Agreed To Be Part Of Google’s Big Wallet Upgrade (Update: Google Responds)
Google announced a substantial update to its Wallet mobile payment service the other day, but it turns out the company may have been overstating things a bit.
According a post on Google’s Commerce blog, the service now plays well with all major credit card types, but a representative from American Express pointed out that the statement wasn’t entirely accurate. Users are free to load American Express cards into the Google Wallet app and use them for in-store purchases, but American Express never officially signed off on that deal.
Police in Oakland, California, have spent about US$ 1.8 million in recent years on software and other crime-fighting technologies that they either never used or drastically underutilized, according to a report released Wednesday by city auditor Courtney Ruby.
A hacker demonstrates that code can be hidden inside a new computer to put it forever under remote control, even after upgrades to the hard drive or operating system.
As the manufacturing of computers and other gadgets has migrated to China, an occasional paranoid voice has asked whether the country might be tempted to preinstall software for surveillance. This remains a far-fetched notion, but now a French hacker has at least shown how such a covert back door could be created.
If you’re like me, you’ve had enough of the Facebook IPO story. For tech entrepreneurs struggling to build stuff, the cacophony of recent press is just more noise. That’s why when my friend Andrew Chen posted an insightful analysis of Facebook user data, I was happy to get back to learning from what the company did right instead of debating what its bankers did wrong.
Chen calculated Facebook’s historical ratio of daily active users (DAU) to monthly active users (MAU) and the stats are startling. Since March 2009, when the earliest data is available, approximately 50% of Facebook users logged in daily.
As other technology companies struggle to maintain DAU to MAU ratios of 5% or less, Facebook’s numbers appear stratospherically high in comparison. But what is equally surprising is the consistency of that ratio over time. Despite periodic user revolts in reaction to changes in the site, the ratio remained strangely stable. In fact, the number has risen over the past year and is now hovering at 58% as of March of this year.
The city is alive with Saturday night fever, and Pier 94 is just as awake, and perhaps a bit more drunk. Tequila shots (and plenty of beers) are flowing, along with Red Bull, Mountain Dew, and Energy Bites.
In other words, this place is like one giant vat of FourLoko, topped with a sprinkling of coders.
There’s been a lot of armchair valuation punditry across the Valley this week. As the Facebook IPO looms, our intricately entwined ecosystem of startups and investors seeks to benefit from the domino effect of a population feeling flush with cash. This is the picture that the WSJ painted in its Quora funding announcement yesterday, headline: “Former Facebook Hands Capitalize on Buzz.” Okay, sure, smart people will always adapt to a favorable environment — but the WSJ missed a deeper and more long-term dynamic at play.
mikejuk writes “John Graham-Cumming is the leading light behind a project to actually build the analytical engine dreamed of by Charles Babbage. There is a tendency to think that everything that Babbage thought up was little more than a calculating machine, but as the video makes 100% clear the analytical engine was a real computer that could run programs. From the article: ‘Of course Ada Lovelace was the first programmer, but more importantly her work with Babbage took the analytical engine from the realms of mathematical table construction into the wider world of non-mathematical programming. Her notes indicate that had the machine been built there is no question that it would have been exploited just as we use silicon-based machines today.
To see the machine built and running programs would be the final proof that Babbage really did invent the general purpose computer in the age of the steam engine.’”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
From the moment that I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, I’ve thought of his development in terms of tech. As he grows to match the size of a large-screen TV, I can’t help but think about all the gadgets he won’t even remember using that were so important to his dad.
Iran could certainly cut off its global Internet connections. But whether it ever would is a question of politics and economics.
Will Iran shutting down global Internet connections by August–as has been widely reported in recent days–and create a “clean Internet” that only dishes up government-controlled content and government-run email?
Used video games have become a desirable purchase for many industry fans. With prices coming in at substantially lower amounts than new alternatives, it simply makes sense to many people to buy used titles. The more you save, the more products you can buy, right? I’ve long been one of those people that tries to
Less than 24 hours after the first siren sound coming from blogs across the mobile bloggersphere (including SlashGear) that the Galaxy S II would be getting an Android upgrade this week, Samsung has redacted. Not so much saying they’ve had a change of heart as noting that the source of the information – Samsung’s own
With all the talk surrounding the Apple TV dominating discussions around Cupertino, I thought it’d be a good time to think about some of the features reportedly making its way to that set. Chief among them is Siri, Apple’s virtual personal assistant. According to the latest reports, Siri would allow Apple TV owners to give [...]
The arguments against cash are rational, but our attachment to it isn’t.
The End of Money, a new book from Wired contributing editor David Wolman, is ostensibly about the twilight of cash and its replacement with a panoply of more efficient means of exchange. (Think transfers via NFC on smartphones and biometric wallets.) But Wolman is such a thorough reporter of the subject that it’s possible to finish his (excellent, highly readable) book and come away with a conclusion opposite his own.