March 28, 2010
by Gillian Wong and Jeremiah Marquez Associated Press Mar. 28, 2010 12:00 AM
BEIJING -- Type "Falun Gong" in Chinese into Google's search engine from Beijing, and the Web browser suddenly becomes unresponsive for about a minute. Make the same search from Hong Kong, and you'll get plenty of links to the spiritual movement banned by the Chinese government.
Internet users in mainland China and Hong Kong now share the same Google search site, but their experiences continue to widely differ, particularly on topics deemed sensitive by China's Communist leaders. The difference is that the government, rather than Google Inc., is now doing the censoring.
The findings in a recent Associated Press test offer insights into the sophistication with which China uses its complex "Great Firewall" to filter its citizens' online view of the world.
Recent searches for taboo topics from Beijing generally produced "page cannot be displayed" errors. The user's browser stops working for about a minute, longer if one tries to access forbidden sites in quick succession. It's not just the links to those sites that don't work; the results don't come back at all.
Yet the filters aren't exact, and English-language sites have a greater chance of slipping through, partly because the government is more concerned about the vast majority of citizens who speak only Chinese. And even as the Great Firewall blocks Twitter and sensitive blog postings, excerpts do show up on Google's search-results page.
The findings illustrate how China's vast government-run network of Web filters works. When a user enters a sensitive term in a search, it triggers a brief blockage that affects subsequent searches - even those on innocuous topics - by that user or anyone else at the same numeric Internet address. That can be one computer or an entire cybercafe.
Chinese-language searches for missing Chinese activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng, jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, Chinese President Hu Jintao and "June 4 incident" - known elsewhere as the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown - all led to the Web browser in Beijing hanging for a minute or longer.
Before Google killed its mainland search service Monday and redirected "Google.cn" traffic to its existing Hong Kong-based site, Google returned censored results with a note explaining that some items had been removed. Google needed to comply with Chinese laws, but it wanted users to know about the omissions in hopes they would pressure their government to lift restraints.
But Google announced Jan. 12 that it was no longer willing to censor those results after it discovered it was the target of hacking attacks originating from China. Unable to reach agreement with the ruling party on running an uncensored search service, Google decided to send mainland users to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that is semiautonomous because of its past as a British colony.
Some Google searches produce the same results whether from Beijing or Hong Kong. Among them: "Michael Jackson" and "March 14 incident," which refers to the 2008 anti-Chinese riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.
In other cases, results appear the same, but the text ads alongside them differ.
Google routinely uses a computer's numeric Internet address to determine the visitor's location and adjust search results and ads accordingly. Even within the United States, sites for some local businesses may show up higher or lower in the results depending on where you are.
Thus, despite Google's decision to give mainland users the Hong Kong site, at Google.com.hk, visitors from Beijing still see differences having nothing to do with China's filters.
With the change, Hong Kong's site began displaying search results in the simplified Chinese characters that are used in mainland China, but Hong Kong visitors still get a page in the traditional Chinese script, with links to versions for English or simplified Chinese.
Beijing visitors get the simplified version first, and their Hong Kong page looks much like the old Google.cn.
The Google-owned online-video leader YouTube is typically blocked on the mainland. In Beijing, searches on a separate Google video service are directed to a Google.cn site where the company is still censoring results. Video, music and maps are among the features that Google continues to operate in China. In Hong Kong, however, video searches go to the Hong Kong site, where results are not censored.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong users can reach a China-only music service, but unless you're on the mainland, you get this advisory when you try to listen to a song: "Music streaming/download services are not available in your region."
The Great Firewall isn't an exact science, but it's meant to keep most of the sensitive content from most of the citizens most of the time.
by Jessica Mintz Associated Press Mar. 28, 2010 12:00 AM
SEATTLE - Now that Google is sending Web surfers in mainland China to a Hong Kong-based site, the company is free to display complete search results on any topic without the self-censorship Beijing had required.
But that doesn't mean people in China are getting more information.
The Chinese government's own Web-filtering tools are blocking people from seeing the results of sensitive searches made on the Hong Kong site, Google.com.hk. And if it wants to, Beijing could keep people on the mainland from even connecting to the Hong Kong site.
Some questions and answers about the situation:
Question: What was Google.cn? Why would someone in China use that instead of Google.com?
Answer: Google operates a Chinese-language search site that people from all over the world can access.
But starting in 2002, Google learned that when Web users in China typed in words deemed sensitive by Beijing, such as "the '89 student movement," referring to the Tiananmen Square massacre, the requests for information didn't always reach Google's servers because of blocking by the Chinese government. The users' Web browsers would stop working or show an error message. Sometimes Google.com was slow or completely unavailable to mainland Chinese users. Or people were even redirected to a competing search site.
The company launched Google.cn, using the Internet domain for China, in 2006 so people in China would have a faster and more reliable site.
To be allowed to offer the service, Google had to agree to abide by Beijing's mandate that information deemed subversive or pornographic be omitted. But Google could tell people when it was excluding results.
Q: Can China take away Google.cn and stop visitors from being sent anywhere else?
A: Yes. The China Internet Network Information Center
, which answers to China's Ministry of Information Industry, controls the master "directory" of ".cn" Web sites. It could erase "google.cn" from its domain-name registry, which means people hunting for the search engine would be told "site not found."
The government also could change what happens when someone types "google.cn" into a Web browser.
by Max Jarman The Arizona Republic Mar. 28, 2010 12:00 AM
The Scottsdale company known for its racy Super Bowl commercials has taken a tough stance on the heavy-handed surveillance practices of the Chinese government.
Internet domain-name registrar GoDaddy.com said it will no longer register new Web sites in China in response to new government rules that require it to provide additional personal information on its customers.
"The Chinese government is focused on using the Internet for monitoring and surveillance, and we are no longer comfortable with that," said Christine Jones, Go Daddy's executive vice president and corporate counsel.
It's a bold and possibly costly move for a company whose notoriety is tied to a string of sexy "Go Daddy Girls," including race-car driver Danica Patrick.
But, it's a move other companies may have to consider as oppressive governments step up Internet monitoring to censor content and keep tabs on users.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association in Washington, D.C., counts about a dozen countries, such as Egypt, Iran and Tunisia, with objectionable Internet-monitoring practices.
Catherine Sloan, the organization's vice president of government relations, said the number is expected to increase as Internet use grows in developing countries.
Go Daddy's move follows Google's recent announcement that it would no longer comply with the Chinese government's rules that it censor offensive search results. Google is sending Web searchers in mainland China to Hong Kong, where censored results are not legally required.
Sloan called the moves courageous and said they will hopefully result in governments softening their restrictive Internet-monitoring practices.
Go Daddy is the world's largest clearinghouse for Internet addresses, with more than 40 million domain names under management. Its biggest competitor, Network Solutions of Herndon, Va., also has stopped registering new .cn domain names in China.
Jones said that there are a number of Chinese companies registering names, but they are under even greater scrutiny and have no choice but to comply with the government rules.
Go Daddy has been registering domain names in China since 2005 and manages 27,000 names there for 1,200 customers.
Some customers have Web sites that the Chinese government could object to, said Jones, who told members of Congress on Wednesday that she was concerned for their security.
Jones was testifying before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which was meeting to discuss the ramifications of Google's decision earlier in the week.
Go Daddy's Chinese domain names are a fraction of those in a country with an estimated 350 million Internet users and represent a small portion of its annual revenue. But the Chinese market holds significant potential, and Go Daddy plans to continue to service its existing accounts there in hopes the government backtracks on its reporting requirements.
Initially, Go Daddy was required to obtain only the first and last names of the registrants, their physical addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.
But in December, the Chinese government implemented new rules that also required applicants to provide a color photo ID, Chinese business-registration numbers and certain signed registration forms.
Then in February, it required Go Daddy to obtain the additional information from existing domain-name registrants and submit it to the China Internet Network Information Center, or CNNIC, for it to review before the Web site was activated.
Jones said that operators of existing Web sites that failed to submit the additional information could have their sites deactivated by the government.
She testified that the action will have a "chilling effect" on the free exchange of information over the Internet and asked Congress to put pressure on the Chinese to rescind the reporting rules and crack down on Internet abuses, such as spam and payment fraud.
Jones said Go Daddy is constantly repelling cyber attacks against its security systems in China, in addition to dealing with prolific spammers and payment-fraud schemes.
"China today is basically the only major market where spammers can do just about anything they want," Jones testified.
March 27, 2010
by Michael Liedtke Associated Press Mar. 24, 2010 12:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - Google's attempted detour around China's Internet censorship rules was met with countermeasures Tuesday by the communist government, which blocked people on the mainland from seeing search results dealing with such forbidden topics as the pro-democracy movement.
China's maneuver, as well as its public rebuke of Google's decision to stop censoring searches for the government, rattled some of the company's investors, advertisers and users.
The chief concern is whether Google poisoned its business in one of the world's most promising Internet markets. One analyst critical of Google's move predicted the maneuver will cause the company's stock to fall by as much as $50 - or about 10 percent - in the coming weeks.
The stock fell $8.50, or 1.5 percent, to $549 on Tuesday.
Last month, Google said it no longer felt comfortable complying with the country's demands that it censor Web content deemed objectionable by the communist rulers. On Monday, Google began sending Web searchers in mainland China from the China-based google.cn to Hong Kong-based google .com.hk. The former British colony has an open Internet, and Google is not legally required to censor results there.
But that end-run doesn't prevent China's government from using its Internet filters, known as the Great Firewall, to block some search results and Web sites from being seen in the mainland.
On Tuesday, a search request from within mainland China about the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests returned a notice that the "page cannot be displayed." It also caused the Web browser to disconnect for several seconds. Under the old google.cn, a similar query usually returned a list of sanitized sites about Tiananmen Square.
If the Chinese leaders really want to foil Google, they could block all mainland access to the Hong Kong service. Or they could exert their control of Chinese telecommunications companies to slow the speed of queries and responses, to help drive traffic to homegrown rivals.
"It really comes down to the extent of their vindictiveness," said Duncan Clark, managing director of BDA China Ltd., a technology-market-research firm.
The tensions between Google and China's government already appear to be denting the company's business.
TOM Online, a provider of online and mobile services in China that is owned by a Hong Kong tycoon, said it would not renew an alliance with Google to avoid violating any Chinese laws. Owners of Chinese businesses also may be more reluctant to advertise on Google for fear of reprisals.
If that happens, Google may reduce its sales force in China. For now, the company is maintaining both its engineering and sales staffs in the country, reflecting its hope that the Chinese government's anger will cool off. Google also believes it will be able to revive plans, delayed for now, to have its Android software support more mobile phones and applications in China.
Other foreign companies that have angered the Chinese government have been stymied in the country. American defense contractor Raytheon Co. closed its Beijing offices last year in frustration over its inability to win contracts for commercial aviation and consulting services. American executives believed Raytheon was being penalized for selling its Patriot missiles to Taiwan.
Although Google discussed various options in talks with the Chinese government over the past two months, the company made its decision to shift mainland traffic to Hong Kong without the ruling party's approval.
Google makes relatively little of its money in China now. Analysts have estimated the country accounts for $250 million to $600 million of its $24 billion in annual revenue.
But the pie is expected to get substantially bigger as China's economy expands and the country's Web audience increases beyond the roughly 350 million people online now.
Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Marianne Wolk expects China's Internet ad market to grow from about $3 billion last year to as much as $20 billion in 2014. Google appeared to be well-positioned to pick up about $5 billion to $6 billion of that projected 2014 revenue, Wolk said, because its Chinese search engine has a roughly one-third share - a distant second to the homegrown Baidu Inc.
But Google's share is likely to shrink if the Great Firewall blocks or slows traffic.
BGC financial analyst Colin Gillis said he expects Google's dustup with the Chinese government to reduce the company's market value by $10 billion to $15 billion, or $30 to $50 a share.
"What Google has done is a slick trick, but it's also a direct slap in the face to the government," Gillis said. "The repercussions from this will be going on for several years."
Gartner Inc. analyst Whit Andrews said any financial pain Google suffers will be worth the respect the company wins for refusing to bow to a government's demands.
General Motors' latest concept car, the “electric networked-vehicle,” or EN-V, is about 5 feet by 5 feet and weighs 880 pounds fully loaded.
by Elaine Kurtenbach Associated Press Mar. 25, 2010 12:00 AM
SHANGHAI, China - It's not quite as foldable as the space vehicle that cartoon figure George Jetson pops into his briefcase as he bops into the office.
General Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC will showcase the "electric networked-vehicle," launched Wednesday, in their joint pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, which opens May 1 and runs for six months.
The EN-V, pronounced "envy," is GM's latest effort to burnish its credentials as a future-focused, environmentally friendly company and shed its image as the bastion of the gas-guzzling Hummer.
GM is not alone in viewing China as the ultimate landscape for tiny urban vehicles.
Daimler introduced its Smart ultracompact here in 2008, though few of them can be seen yet on Shanghai streets.
The two-wheel, two-seat EN-V, which looks something like an oversize vacuum cleaner, is not just about making vehicles small, lightweight and emission-free, the company says.
"What we're talking about here is completely redoing the automobile," says Michael Albano, director of product and technology communications at General Motors International Operations, its global headquarters for international business in Shanghai.
With the trunk-less EN-V, GM has jettisoned the traditional "three box" system and gasoline-fueled engine in place of a pure-electric minivehicle meant strictly for city driving.
Five fit in the parking space needed for one conventional vehicle, says Kevin Wale, president and managing director for GM China Group.
"GM's vision with SAIC is petroleum-free, emission-free, accident-free and congestion-free," Wale said. "We think we can do that by combining the benefits of electricity and connectivity."
The EN-V, about 5 feet by 5 feet, appears to build on GM's earlier work with Segway Inc. in developing the PUMA, or personal urban mobility and accessibility, vehicle.
It will use the same types of battery cells as the Segway and the same battery supplier, Valence Technology Inc., says Christopher Borroni-Bird, GM's director of advanced-technology vehicle concepts.
The EN-V's maximum speed of 24 mph - even now city roads average only 12 mph and often less - and other high-tech features reduce the need for heavy, high-stress steel, bumpers, air bags and crumple zones, Albano says.
Apart from its diminutive size and light weight - 880 pounds, including the passengers - the vehicle would offer drivers the option of "autonomous driving": letting the car drive itself via an elaborate system of GPS systems, digital maps, roadway and vehicle sensors, cameras and other devices.
In theory, EN-Vs could be hitched together to allow drivers to commute to work while finishing up shaving or making phone calls.
March 21, 2010
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by Louie Villalobos The Arizona Republic Mar. 17, 2010 12:00 AM
Photo courtesy of Boxee Inc.
The concept of Internet TV is also the driving force behind Boxee, an internet-based piece of software that serves as an aggregator of publicly available television content.
Technology companies are going after a specific segment of television viewers.
It's a group of consumers that will sacrifice access to some live programming for the ability to view shows from any computer connected to the Internet.
Officials from two of the companies leading the way said it's technology that has been around for years but is just now maturing to the point of mass appeal as users expand on how they consume entertainment.
Joe Chauvin, program manager for Microsoft's Media Center, said consumers have rallied around the idea that Web-based streaming can be a viable alternative to television.
With that idea in mind, he said, Microsoft launched Windows 7, which includes an upgraded version of the Media Center program, with various video-streaming capabilities.
The concept of Internet TV is also the driving force behind Boxee, an Internet-based application that serves as an aggregator of publicly available television content.
Andrew Kippen, vice president of marketing for Boxee, attributed the product's growth in popularity since its public debut in January to a grass-roots movement to change the way entertainment is consumed.
"It's a market that's very heavily guarded," he said. "But we're at a point where consumers are dictating what they want."
Both companies also acknowledged that TV manufacturers, such as Samsung, are releasing Internet-ready televisions that can also stream Netflix offerings. Those could attract consumers who aren't comfortable with Boxee or Media Center.
Media Center and Boxee have similar goals, but each takes a completely different approach.
Through Windows 7, Media Center offers two ways to view television shows. The first is for people with an Internet connection only.
It provides content from partners. CBS, for example, offers shows from a "prime time" lineup and a "classics" lineup. Those shows are displayed via the guide and available for viewing at any time.
Then, Media Center provides a live-TV option that runs through a TV tuner purchased separately. This device, when attached to a computer running Media Center, captures the public transmissions from area stations. Media Center can record and store on the host computer.
Boxee currently works with content already available publicly through the Internet by gathering and displaying TV shows in a centralized place.
Much of its free content comes from Hulu.com, which is widely known as having a large library of both TV shows and movies available for viewing.
When users click on a show in Boxee, they are sent to the source page but within the Boxee browser. The software also features applications that focus on specific content, such as Pandora, YouTube, and MLB.TV.
The applications are currently free, but users will have to subscribe to certain services, such as Netflix, to use the corresponding application.
Both Chauvin and Kippen said their services are meant to at least complement existing cable or satellite packages to which consumers subscribe.
"If you're somebody who is superpassionate about being up to date, then you're probably going to keep that cable connection and use Boxee as a companion," Kippen said.
Windows 7, Chauvin said, improves several aspects of what Microsoft offered in previous versions.
Chief among them is the Internet TV feature and the improvement to the software's digital-recording capabilities.
"Originally, we thought it would be a great service for dorm rooms because it's an all-in-one product," he said.
"But we've found that a lot of retired people were using it because they already had a PC."
Kippen said Boxee is working with D-Link, a computer-networking company, to create hardware for running the Boxee software.
The Boxee Box is expected to debut this year for $199. Kippen said the eventual goal is to have the Boxee software running on as many devices as possible.
"I think it's something that people would really go for," he said. "The balance is slowly shifting."
March 20, 2010
by David Katzmaier March 12, 2010 6:45 AM PST
(Credit: 20th Century Fox)
The recent flood of news about new 3D TVs, itself spurred by the hype surrounding the 3D release of "Avatar," has raised a few questions. This article, arranged in the tried-but-true manner of "Frequently Asked Questions," attempts to answer them.
When this FAQ was first published in January 2010 we polled the six major TV makers that announced new 3D models--LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio--to help with some answers. We also gleaned information from enthusiast sites like AVS forum and EngadgetHD. In the last couple of months more details have been announced, and we've had more in-depth conversations on the subject. You'll find many updates incorporated into the answers below, which represent our best current information on the subject.
This article is targeted toward people looking for an introduction to modern 3D TV technology. If you're an advanced reader just looking for the latest news your best bet is going straight to CNET's 3D TV resource guide. And if you have anything to add to this article, feel free to leave a comment or at least vote in the poll.
1. What is 3D TV?
3D TV is a generic term for a display technology that lets home viewers experience TV programs, movies, games, and other video content in a stereoscopic effect. It adds the illusion of a third dimension, depth, to current TV and HDTV display technology, which is typically limited to only height and width ("2D").
2. How can you get 3D from a 2D screen?
A 3D TV or theater screen showing 3D content displays two separate images of the same scene simultaneously, one intended for the viewer's right eye and one for the left eye. The two full-size images occupy the entire screen and appear intermixed with one another--objects in one image are often repeated or skewed slightly to the left (or right) of corresponding objects in the other--when viewed without the aid of special 3D glasses. When viewers don the glasses, they can perceive these two images as a single 3D image.
The system relies on a visual process called stereopsis. The eyes of an adult human lie about 2.5 inches apart, which lets each eye see objects from slightly different angles. The two images on a 3D TV screen present objects from two slightly different angles as well, and when those images combine in the viewer's mind with the aid of the glasses, the illusion of depth is created.
3. How is the new 3D TV technology different from older 3D?
Most people are familiar with the old anaglyph method, where a pair of glasses with lenses tinted red and cyan (or other colors) is used to combine two false-color images. The result seen by the viewer is discolored and usually lower-resolution than the new method.
The principal improvements afforded by new 3D TV technologies are full color and high resolution--reportedly full 1080p HD resolution for both eyes in the Blu-ray 3D, for example, and half that resolution in the DirecTV system. We expect DirecTV's 3D channels to look quite sharp despite lack of full 1080p resolution; see HDTV resolution explained for some reasons why.
A pair of LC shutter glasses
New 3D TVs require active liquid crystal shutter glasses, which work by very quickly blocking each eye in sequence (120 times per second systems like Panasonic's Full HD 3D). The glasses, in addition to the liquid-crystal lenses, contain electronics and batteries (typically good for 80 or more hours), that sync to the TV via an infrared or Bluetooth signal.
(Note: For the remainder of this article, any mention of "3D" refers to the new full-color, high-resolution version, not the old anaglyph variety.)
4. How is 3D TV different from 3D in the theater?
Many viewers have experienced newer 3D presentations, such as IMAX 3D, in movie theaters. Though the technologies differ somewhat--most theaters use passive polarized 3D glasses, for example--the main practical difference between 3D TV in the home and theatrical 3D is the size of the screen. In the home, the image is generally much smaller, occupying a lower percentage of viewers' fields of vision. Among TV makers we asked, only Panasonic recommend a closer seating distance (of 3x the screen height away--about 6.2 feet from a 50-inch screen) for a better experience; however, we suspect sitting closer or watching on a bigger screen will definitely help with any home 3D presentation. Smaller screens may also present other issues unique to 3D, such as a relatively narrow viewing distance range.
One advantage of 3D TV at home as opposed to the theater is user control. You can generally sit where you want relative to the screen at home, and some 3D compatible TVs provide some control over the 3D experience in addition to standard picture settings. Samsung's models, for example, allow you to adjust the "G axis," or the amount of 3D effect, to taste, comfort or to compensate for variations in eye spacing.
Since we at CNET haven't yet tested any 3D TVs thoroughly, we can't definitively speak to other differences between home and in-theater 3D yet.
5. Can everyone see 3D?
No. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of Americans suffer from stereo blindness, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. They often have good depth perception--which relies on more than just stereopsis--but cannot perceive the depth dimension of 3D video presentations. Some stereo-blind viewers can watch 3D material with no problem as long as they wear glasses; it simply appears as 2D to them. Others may experience headaches, eye fatigue or other problems. (See also TV industry turns blind eye to non-3D viewers.)
6. I've heard 3D causes headaches. Is that true?
Most people watching 3D suffer no ill effects after a brief orientation period lasting a few seconds as the image "snaps" into place, but in others, 3D can cause disorientation or headaches after extended periods. Viewer comfort is a major concern of 3D content producers; too much of a 3D effect can become tiresome after a while, abrupt camera movement can be disorienting, and certain onscreen objects can appear blurry, for example. Creators of 3D movies for children also have to account for the fact that a child's eyes are closer together (about 2 inches) than an adult's.
7. Does everyone watching a 3D TV need to wear the glasses?
Yes. Every member of a family sitting around the 3D TV, for example, must wear the glasses to see the 3D effect. If they don't, the image on the screen will appear doubled, distorted, and, for most practical purposes, unwatchable. Currently, there's no technology that lets a single TV display both 2D and 3D content simultaneously without glasses.
People who wear normal prescription lenses already can experience the full effect--and generally suffer little or no discomfort--by wearing the 3D glasses too, which are designed to fit over an existing pair of glasses.
8. Do I need a new TV?
Yes. With one exception, none of the TV manufacturers we spoke with said that any of their current HDTVs can be upgraded to support the new 3D formats used by Blu-ray, DirecTV and others. One reason we've been given is that the TV must be able to accept a higher-bandwidth signal (technically 120Hz) to display Blu-ray 3D, and older TVs can typically only accept relatively lower-bandwidth (60Hz or less) signals. That's potentially confusing because many non-3D LCDs have 120Hz and 240Hz refresh rates, and manufacturer marketing also mentions "600Hz" plasmas. Regardless of the "Hz" spec, these non-3D models can only handle a source that outputs at 60Hz or less via HDMI--the "conversion" to a higher rate, if applicable, occurs inside the TV itself.
Another reason is that 3D requires different video processing and additional hardware, including some way to send the necessary Infrared or Bluetooth signal to the 3D glasses. We're not ruling our the possibility of third-party add-ons overcoming these limitations, but as of now there's no way to convert any 2D TV to be compatible with the new 3D TV formats. more...
Buyers Can Search Listed Homes, View Photos, and Get Home Prices and Estimated Values While On-the-Go on Android-Based Phones
CNNMoney.com March 18, 2010: 08:31 AM ET
Leading online real estate brokerage ZipRealty (NASDAQ: ZIPR) (www.ZipRealty.com) today released a version of its popular mobile house-hunting application for Android-based phones.
House hunters can use the Android application, similar to the already well-received iPhone and iPod Touch version, to search for actively-listed "for sale" homes and view property photos of each listing in more than 4,000 U.S. cities and neighborhoods nationally.
The application displays search results on Google Maps, including homes currently on the market, as well as a comprehensive list of recently sold homes with sale prices. Android app users can also view search results through Google's Street View option, which gives a home buyer a "drive up" feel for each property. The application also provides access to third-party home value estimates and access to a local ZipRealty agent with one click.
"The release of our real estate application for Android-based phones reinforces our commitment to providing home shoppers with 'for sale' home information on whatever mobile device they use," said Myron Lo, Vice President of Innovation at ZipRealty. "Our iPhone app has been downloaded already more than 125,000 times, and we're confident that prospective home buyers using Android-based phones will enjoy having this vital information about homes and neighborhoods at their fingertips."
Home buyers who use Android-based phones also have mobile access to their ZipRealty.com accounts, allowing them to search for homes on-the-go and view full information on Multiple Listing Service (MLS)-listed homes.
Clients can also begin new geo-targeted searches for homes that meet their unique home-buying criteria like price range, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, and property type.
The application is free and easily available by searching for ZipRealty in the Android Market store (www.android.com/market). The minimum operating system users will need to run this application is Android OS 1.5. For additional information and screenshots of the application, please visit www.ziprealty.com/android.
About ZipRealty, Inc.
ZipRealty is a full-service residential real estate brokerage firm. The Company utilizes its user-friendly Web site and employee real estate agents to provide home buyers and sellers with high-quality service and value. ZipRealty's Web site provides users with access to comprehensive local Multiple Listing Services' home listings data, as well as other relevant market and neighborhood information. The Company's proprietary business management system and technology platform help to reduce costs, allowing the Company to pass on significant savings to consumers. Founded in 1999, the company operates in 35 major markets in 22 states and the District of Columbia. For more information on ZipRealty, visit www.ziprealty.com or call 1-800-CALL-ZIP.
Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=1201329
Allison & Partners
March 14, 2010
I'll admit, Super Macro Your Cell Phone Camera With A DVD Lens is one weird title.
However, if you just moved to a blu ray DVD player and you're looking for some good use for your old DVD, cnflikt (who also took the shots for this tutorial) came up with a hack to enable you to take super macro shots with your cellphone. Of course you'll need a camera phone for that. cnflikt uses the notorious, yet old-skooled K800i, but any camera phone will work here.
1. Lensectomy Your old DVD Player
First thing is to get a lens for your camera phone. Make sure your old DVD player is not connected to power. Then take the screws off. This is a great way to void your warranty. It is also dangerous and you should really never do this.
Anyhow, if you went against my advice, you'll find the lens under the place where the disk goes. Take it out.
2. Prepare A Lens Mount
Ok, I'm only kidding on this one. You don't really need a lens mount, you can use duct tape if you wanna go really ghetto or mount it on some cardboard.
If you opt for the cardboard option, just make a round hole in the cardboard.
3. Mount Your Lens
Just use some duct tape (as indicated before) to mount your lens directly, use or blue Tack to hold the card mount.
4. Macro Away
WOW. This is some powerful macro. Enjoy.
by Jon Swartz USA Today Mar. 13, 2010 12:00 AM
BEVERLY HILLS - Facebook thumped it, and Twitter threatens it as a source for entertainment news and real-time searches.
But MySpace, nestled in the entertainment capital of the world, thinks it can survive - even thrive - as a repository for all things music, "Avatar" and "Twilight" for the under-35 crowd.
"It would be silly to count us out," says Jason Hirschhorn, who, with Mike Jones, runs the company as co-president. They replaced Owen Van Natta, who was jettisoned as CEO last month after less than 10 months on the job.
"There is a pulse of pop culture on MySpace," says Hirschhorn, a former MTV exec.
They have their work cut out for them. MySpace, a unit of News Corp., has stumbled through two CEO resignations in the past year, while Facebook and Twitter surged. Nonetheless, MySpace remains one of the Internet's most enduring brands. It is profitable, and it is expected to haul in more than $350 million in revenue this year - mostly from ads.
Hirschhorn acknowledges that every major brand goes through plateaus but says the strong ones overcome them. He and Jones concede that MySpace's online traffic had flattened last spring, user engagement was down, and its products lacked focus and vision. But with an ambitious rebranding now under way, they foresee a renewal in its fortunes.
MySpace is moving back to its original DNA: appealing to self-expressive, creative under-35-year-olds who are into games, music and movies. More than half of MySpace's estimated 100 million users are 25 and younger, according to market researcher comScore.
MySpace intends to appeal to that demographic with a mantra of "Discover and be discovered."
The rebranding is illustrated in design mockups splashed across the walls of a user-experience lab: Simple, clean pages with vibrant looks designed to draw artists, hard-core social-media users, brand managers and others. There is even talk of a new company logo.
MySpace has reinvented itself in several ways:
• New user home pages, released last month, are heavy on live personal content but without the clutter once associated with the original MySpace design.
• Social-gaming firm Playdom is helping MySpace reinvigorate its gaming channel. This month, it launches Wild Ones, a shoot-'em-up already available on Facebook, on MySpace. More games, including ones exclusive to MySpace, are on the way.
• Through its constant tweets on Twitter, MySpace has developed into a heavy-duty entertainment-news service for music, celebrities and youth-oriented movies. Twitter and MySpace have also synched services, so updates on one service are automatically duplicated on the other.
MySpace is not only reinventing itself but recasting the competitive climate. "When we think about Twitter and Facebook, we don't think about competition as much as we think about partnership, distribution and synchronization," Hirschhorn said.
Yet can MySpace - once the undisputed king of social networking - remain relevant as a scaled-down Web protal for music and entertainment news? Industry analysts, including Debra Aho Williamson, aren't so sure. They say MySpace faces an obstacle course of competitors.
"For months we've heard about the company's plan to refocus on its historic roots in music and entertainment," said Williamson of market researcher eMarketer. "But the turnaround has been painfully slow, and this shakeup will only reinforce the perception that MySpace can't be fixed."
Facebook's dominance notwithstanding, MySpace and others can thrive in fragmented spaces, such as music and entertainment news, says Eric Mandl, head of large-cap tech banking at UBS.
MySpace remains a force in music. More than 13 million bands find it a vibrant tool to communicate with fans.
by Rachel Metz Associated Press Mar. 11, 2010 12:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - Last year, Palm thought it had all the pieces for a turnaround in the market it pioneered: a new CEO known for making the iPod a household name, a sleek new smartphone called the Pre and intuitive operating software.
Instead, the company is in danger of going the way of its 1990s Palm Pilot, making it the latest innovator to learn that great technology and an accomplished leader don't guarantee success.
Several analysts say Palm Inc. might not remain an independent phone maker for more than a year or two. It just could be too late to stop the momentum enjoyed by Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Research In Motion
Ltd.'s BlackBerry - not to mention a growing crop of phones running Google Inc.'s Android software.
Palm spokesman Derick Mains said the company had no comment.
Consumers have gravitated toward smartphones for their versatile features, such as Internet access and applications that can be downloaded. One out of six U.S. adults had a smartphone last year, according to Forrester Research.
But Palm was slow to adapt. It began fighting back in earnest in January 2009 at the International Consumer Electronics Show. It unveiled the stylish touch-screen Pre and webOS, software that allows Palm phones to do something the iPhone can't: run multiple apps simultaneously.
Palm released the Pre last June, for use on Sprint Nextel Corp.'s wireless network, and followed it in November with a cheaper model, the Pixi. Verizon Wireless started selling upgraded models of these phones in January, and AT&T Inc. plans to offer webOS phones later this year.
Despite widespread availability and positive reviews, consumers haven't really embraced the products. Palm sold 810,000 phones in the quarter that ended Aug. 28. In the next quarter, sales fell to 573,000. And Palm's latest report, due March 18, is not expected to be bright. Palm recently cut its forecast for that period, citing sluggish sales.
Discouraged investors have sliced the company's stock price by more than half since the Pre hit stores.
One big problem for Palm is standing out in a crowded market dominated by Apple and RIM. Many analysts believe Palm's latest products are good, but the company simply hasn't been able to make potential customers realize this.
Not for a lack of trying: Palm spent $74.1 million on sales and marketing in its last reported quarter, up 64 percent from the previous year.
Right before the Pre launch, CEO EdColligan was replaced by Jon Rubinstein, 53, who spent a decade at Apple during its own comeback run.
He came to Palm in 2007 as executive chairman under a deal in which Palm sold nearly a third of the company to private equity firm Elevation Partners.
Still, even the most astute leadership isn't enough in such a competitive market, Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek said.
"It takes distribution, it takes cash, it takes luck. It takes a lot of things, and if all those things don't click, your probability of success is low," he said.
Associated Press Mar. 11, 2010 12:00 AM
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Google Inc. is adding a bike lane with its latest online mapping option.
The new bicycling directions on Google Maps became available Wednesday and supplement the guidance already provided to motorists and pedestrians. The biking directions initially will be available only for the United States.
Google spent the past six months tweaking its mapping service so it could recommend routes that would steer bicyclists away from big hills and heavily congested streets. The feature can be used to pinpoint bicycling trails in more than 150 cities, including Phoenix.
Bike directions already have been available on some smaller Web sites, but Google is the first major Internet mapping service provider to add the option
by Anick Jesdanun Associated Press Mar. 11, 2010 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - It's been about a month since Buzz arrived with a splash. Positioned as Google's answer to the popularity of Facebook and other social-networking sites, Buzz is a way for circles of friends to connect right on Google's Gmail home page.
However, Buzz comes across as Buzzkill. It's a social-networking party crasher that no one invited, trying to make conversation with everyone, anyone, as other guests look on with suspicion and unease.
On the face of it, the Buzz features are impressive for a first go-around, matching many of the basics offered by the 6-year-old Facebook.
Buzz does offer a few improvements over Facebook. Photos appear larger, and comments on people's updates are in the same size, not subordinate to the original posting.
But these are minor boosts, not enough to overcome a broader complaint I have.
My friends on Buzz are supposedly my closest confidants. I have 17 people following me. Meanwhile, I'm following 46 people. But I've added none of those people to my circle, and only one of those 17 admitted to adding me.
Rather, to streamline the creation of these circles, Google automatically added them based on how often we've e-mailed in the past. But frequently e-mailing someone doesn't necessarily mean I'd want to share party photos with that person.
To Google's credit, the company quickly responded to complaints about these automated circles. Instead, it now offers suggestions that people can accept or reject.
But circles previously created by machines remain in effect. Many friends who are supposedly following me have told me they were similarly perplexed. One wrote me, "I did not add you, Google did. I think this was a social-networking failure."
On Facebook, you must manually add a friend, and the friend must accept your request, before your updates start showing up on each other's pages.
By contrast, you can follow someone on Google Buzz by simply adding that contact, and anyone can follow you with a click or two. But most people I know on Buzz haven't done any of that.
That gets to the other fundamental problem with Buzz. No one I know is using it regularly. Because people hadn't actively joined Buzz or added followers to their circles themselves, they don't have the same interest in it as they do in Facebook.
And many of my friends share these sentiments: There's not enough time for yet another social hub, and my community is already on Facebook , so what's the point of starting fresh?
Google needs to give people a more compelling reason to use Buzz. It needs innovations that stress the human side of social.
March 9, 2010
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KCBS) - One of Silicon Valley’s tech giants is expected to make an announcement today that could “forever change the Internet.”
Cisco Systems could be rolling out new technology to help deliver video over the web.
Internet providers are being swamped with the increasing demand for data, especially high definition or HD video. That's where Cisco may be stepping in this morning, possibly with new technology that could boost the speed that data is delivered to the home or your cell phone.
"If it's mobile, it could have a huge impact and if it's fixed, it would have an impact as well," argued KCBS technology analyst Larry Magid. "I don't know about forever changing the Internet but certainly if they can move data around even faster that could have a significant impact on the Internet."
The announcement comes just weeks after Google announced it was working on high speed networks 100-times faster than what's available today. Some analysts speculate that Cisco is trying to get in on the race for faster broadband.
March 7, 2010
GMAIL USERS: We hope you’ll join the discussion over on Mashable’s Google Buzz account.
With more than 9 million posts and comments in two days, Google Buzz (Google Buzz) has stormed the web like a swarm of locusts. An array of strong features, integration with Gmail (Gmail), and lots of press have turned Buzz into an overnight phenomenon.
If you’re like a lot of us, you’ve suddenly found yourself using your Gmail even more than you already were. Spending so much time in Gmail and Buzz, though, inevitably takes away from your Facebook (Facebook) and Twitter (Twitter), and who wants to sacrifice their tweeting and Facebooking?
Luckily if you’re a Gmail user, you don’t have to sacrifice either, even while you’re browsing your e-mail or your buzz.
Gadget Integration Is Your Friend
Yesterday we caught a Buzz post by Ari Milner where he described how he turned his Gmail into his personal “social command center.” How did he do it? In his words:
“The key was using Gmail Labs feature at the bottom of the list called ‘Add any gadget by URL’. This allowed me to add these 3 features to my Gmail sidebar.”
By utilizing third-party gadgets, he transformed his Gmail into a place where he could access his Twitter, Buzz and Facebook straight from his Gmail. Here’s how:
Step By Step: Integrating Your Social Media into Buzz
1. Activate “Add any gadget by URL” in Gmail Labs — you’ll find it near the bottom of the list.
2. Now go to Settings –> Gadgets. Here you’ll find a place to add Gadget URLs.
3. Add the TwitterGadget App. Any iGoogle gadget will do actually, but the best one in our opinion is TwitterGadget, a fully-functional Twitter service for iGoogle and Gmail. This lets tweet from the sidebar or open up your Twitter with all of your tabs intact. It even supports multiple accounts.
To add it, copy and paste this URL into Gmail’s Gadget settings: “https://twittergadget.appspot.com/gadget-gmail.xml”
4. Add the Facebook Gadget. In the same way you added TwitterGadget, you can add Facebook to your Gmail. While Google has an official Facebook gadget, it doesn’t play nicely with Gmail, so we suggest using the app Ari Milner users: Facebook Gadget by iBruno. It will expand into the rest of your Gmail for easy Facebook management.
To add it, copy and paste this URL into Gmail’s Gadget settings: “http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/104971404861070329537/facebook.xml”
5. That’s it! Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail are now all wrapped up into one. Pretty nifty, no? Let us know about your experience in the comments.
Wraps to come off new C-note design, Ben's facelift next month in effort to deter counterfeits | StarTribune.com
Associated Press Last update: March 5, 2010 - 11:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Aiming to stay a step ahead of counterfeiters, the government is planning a new design for the $100 bill that will be unveiled next month, the Treasury Department said Friday.
Wraps will come off the facelift for Ben Franklin at an April 21 ceremony in the ornate Cash Room at the department, the site of Ulysses Grant's first inaugural ball in 1869. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will do the honors.
The government says its decisions on redesigning currency are guided by assessments of counterfeiting threats, from digital technology or old-fashioned printing presses.
The C-note — the highest value of all U.S. bills — circulates widely around the globe.
The unveiling of the new design is the first step in a global campaign by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board and the Secret Service to inform users of the bill of the changes before it starts circulating, Treasury said in a news release.
Training materials on the new $100 bill for those who handle cash and educational information will be available in 25 languages beginning on April 21 at http://www.newmoney.gov.
by Rachel Metz Associated Press Mar. 2, 2010 12:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - As more people reveal their whereabouts on social networks, a new site has sprung up to remind you that letting everyone know where you are - and, by extension, where you're not - could leave you vulnerable to those with less-than-friendly intentions. The site's name says it all: Please Rob Me.
Launched last week, PleaseRobMe.com is exceptionally straightforward. Pretty much all it does is show posts that appear on Twitter from a location-sharing service, Foursquare. Please Rob Me puts these posts into a long, chronological list it refers to as "Recent Empty Homes."
Please Rob Me assembles its list by taking information that Twitter makes freely available so that many Web sites can show tweets. But the point of Please Rob Me could be made with data that flows on dozens of other sites as well.
People are comfortable sharing all kinds of personal details on social sites such as Facebook. And now people are flocking to location-based Web services, such as Foursquare, Gowalla or Loopt, that let them use their cellphones to alert friends to where they are.
Some people choose to show their whereabouts only to approved buddies. But plenty push these very specific updates through public Twitter profiles that anyone can see.
This phenomenon is what motivated the creators of Please Rob Me, according to one of them, Boy Van Amstel, 25. Van Amstel said in a phone interview from Holland, where the site is based, that technology has become so easy to use that people are sharing too much online without even realizing it. He and his co-founders want people to think twice about it.
To drive the point home, Please Rob Me's Web page shows a scruffy-looking, loot-lugging burglar. Below that, it indicates that the site is "listing all those empty homes out there."
It doesn't really show empty houses, or even people's home addresses. Instead the posts on the list show Twitter users' photos, their Twitter usernames, how long ago they "left home" (which is determined by when they checked in with Foursquare) and where they went, along with a link to their destination on Foursquare's Web site.
Some of the posts on Please Rob Me have come from Christopher Lynn, who often publishes his Foursquare updates on his Twitter feed.
Lynn, director of sales and marketing for the Colonnade Hotel in Boston, was a little unnerved to realize his location was also being shared on Please Rob Me as it automatically captured the data. He said knowing that would make him more cautious about posting on Foursquare when he's far from home. He also plans to keep details about where he lives off the Web.
But Lynn doesn't think Please Rob Me - or the second thoughts it is trying to spark - will hamper the rise of location-based services.
"I think the power of wanting to share where you're at and what you're experiencing at the time is going to trump most people's wariness," he said.
Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said he can imagine that sharing where you are could have bad consequences. But he said it hasn't come back to haunt him and isn't something Foursquare has heard complaints about.
Indeed, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that saying you're not home on Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook or a similar site significantly increases your chance of becoming a burglary victim. FBI spokesman Jason Pack said that his organization's cyber division wasn't aware of any cases of home break-ins linked to people advertising their locations online.
After all, there are many ways, including low-tech ones, to determine that someone isn't home. Pack said burglaries are usually crimes of opportunity - that is, they're often not planned in detail.
Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the message of Please Rob Me is still important. "There is clearly a privacy issue here - one they are trying to shed light on," he said.
March 6, 2010
Joe Mullin Corporate Counsel March 05, 2010
It's fairly unusual in the modern era for a market leader to initiate a patent suit. Which is not to say large operating companies don't sue for patent infringement. They do. But on the relatively rare occasions when they do launch such litigation, it tends to fall into a couple of categories.
First, there are big companies with established licensing programs (IBM, Honeywell) that sometimes sue companies they don't directly compete with as a way of extracting licensing revenue. Second, big companies with slightly more Industrial Age roots sometimes sue in a bid to win some tribute from the new breed of technology companies (see, for example, Kodak's patent claims against Samsung, LG, Apple, and RIM over cell-phone cameras or Xerox's lawsuit against Google and Yahoo over search engine technology). Finally, there are a handful of suits in which a large patent-holder goes after a true rival in the hopes of protecting a deteriorating market share (see Nokia v. Apple).
The indirect targets of Apple's lawsuit, of course, are Google and its Android operating system. Still, the suit doesn't fit cleanly into any of the above categories, because right now Apple, along with Blackberry maker Research in Motion, is top dog in the smartphone market. But the company may be getting nervous about the long-term security of its position--or it may just be interested in using patents to to make life difficult for its competitors.
In any case, this litigation is less like most types of Internet-era patent suits, and more like a throwback to the way tech-sector patent wars were waged ten and even twenty years ago. Like Apple's move against HTC, some of those old-school lawsuits were initiated by market leaders. In the 1980s, Texas Instruments and IBM both won big cases against Japanese and Korean rivals. Some of the victories were large enough that the companies started to see patent-licensing as a lucrative business in and of itself. Those suits continued into the early 1990s, when Texas Instruments filed lawsuits against competitors like Tandy, Micron, Daewoo, and Sanyo, and IBM launched a patent attack on hard-drive manufacturer Conner Peripherals--something that was a likely contributor to that company's 1996 demise. The most famous example to date of a market leader using patents to solidify its position remains Polaroid's long and ultimately successful battle to wipe out the Kodak 's Instamatic line of cameras. That litigation also resulted in Polaroid winning a $910 million award, which, until recently, was the largest patent verdict ever.
In a way, Apple is taking a page out of the past in order to safeguard its future. One thing that makes this a risky gambit, though, is that while patterns of litigation have changed, so have attitudes toward patents. That's especially true in the software arena. And if Apple's move is the beginning of an all-out patent war, it's not going to be popular with the tech sector's independent developers and commentators.
Is HTC the Perfect Target for a Patent Attack?
Apple generates an enormous amount of revenue selling gadgets, and the company has never previously shown an interest in developing a real licensing program. So it's unlikely that the purpose of this lawsuit is to create a new, ongoing royalty stream from a hot product. It's almost definitely based on a genuine desire to shut a competitor out of the market, or to at least throw enough obstacles in HTC's path so that Apple keeps its edge in the marketplace. After all, patent litigation creates added burdens on in-house counsel, as well as on the engineers and other technical employees who will be deposed and be drawn into participating in the suit in less direct ways. Apple may even be focused on forcing HTC to removed certain critical features from its phones. (See, for example, cell-phone blog reporting that Google initially deactivated some multi-touch features in HTC phones at Apple's request.
Apple may well have decided it has good reason to worry about the HTC-Google partnership: Analysts have praised HTC's phones as being technically strong, and, by all accounts, Google's Android operating system offers a powerful open-choice alternative to proprietary cell-phone software made not just by Apple, but also by Research In Motion and Microsoft. Some reports argue that Android's adoption in handset makers new phones will soon outpace those competitors.
More immediately, the Taiwanese company's large revenue stream (about $4.5 billion in 2009) and nearly nonexistent U.S. patent portfolio probably helped persuade Apple that it is a perfect target. A search of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records shows that HTC has only been issued 25 utility patents. While that number doesn't include whatever patents HTC may have recently acquired—or be in the process of acquiring—to hit back at Apple and gain some leverage in this patent battle, it's a stunningly low number when compared to other major handset makers such as Palm Inc. (almost 300 patents) and Motorola Inc. (which, like Apple, has accumulated a stockpile of thousands of issued patents over the years). (PTO data nerds, my search methodology is below.)
Finally, that HTC is a Taiwan-based company makes it easy for Apple to raise the stakes of the game by heading to the International Trade Commission in addition to federal court. Patent litigation gets expensive quickly at the ITC. Also working in Apple's favor is the fact that the agency's entire raison d'etre is to enforce 1930 laws that protect domestic industry.
Waiting for the Google Shoe to Fall
The biggest question hovering over this suit is just what Google means when it says "we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it." Does it mean, "We hope HTC does alright in court? Or does it mean, "We'll help by hitting back at Apple?" While Google is still known mainly for its dominance in Internet search, its patent portfolio isn't solely focused in that area. Somewhere among the nearly 300 issued U.S. utility patents in its portfolio, Google surely has patents it can assert against Apple.
So while its partner HTC may be the "perfect target" for a patent attack, this is clearly a proxy war with Google—a company that has made clear that it's determined to push into the cell-phone market. That makes Apple's gambit a truly risky one.
PTO Search Methodology.
The Prior Art measured the patent portfolio of companies mentioned in this column by searching for the company's name in the "Assignee Name" field in the USPTO database of issued patents.
To measure Apple's patents, TPA searched for both AN/apple-computer$ (2,131 patents) and AN/apple-inc$ (849 patents). Other searches performed included AN/google-inc$ (316 patents: 298 utility, 18 design), AN/palm-inc$ (323 patents: 277 utility, 42 design), AN/htc-corp$ (58 patents: 25 utility and 33 design patents), and AN/motorola-inc$ (19,660 patents).
[Note: The "$" is the PTO search system's 'wildcard' symbol for catching any string after that point. A search for "apple-computer$" therefore catches patents that are assigned to both "Apple Computer" and "Apple Computer Inc." Similarly, searching for "htc-corp$" catches anything assigned to "HTC Corporation" as well as just "HTC Corp."]
By Matt Phillips March 4, 2010
Analysts over at Think Equity have a bit of a iPad scooplet Thursday, writing in a research note that checks with Taiwan indicate some slight delays in the gearing up in production of the iPad tablet device:
Our checks in Taiwan indicate some minor delays on the iPad. The manufacturing of the iPads was supposed to pick up in February, but volumes even in March are still low. Current volumes are much lower than the market expected but most checks are indicating minor delays. The delays do not appear to be a glass or manufacturing process delays.
Think Equity’s call echoes something we spotted in a March 1 note from Canaccord Adams:
We have also heard that the upcoming iPad launch may be somewhat limited as a manufacturing bottleneck has impacted production of Apple’s newest device. An unspecified production problem at the iPad’s manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision, will likely limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300K in the month of March, far lower than the company’s initial estimate of 1,000K units. The delay in production ramp will likely impact Apple’s April unit estimate of 800K as well. It is also possible that, given the limited number of units available in March, the launch will be delayed for a month.
Barron’s Tech Trader Daily spotlights some that dispute some of the delay rumors. The iPad’s launch is expected sometime in late March. MacRumors reports that it’s hearing that it may be Friday March 26.
By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Microsoft will officially launch Office 2010 to businesses at an event slated for May 12, the company announced today.
Enterprises with volume license agreements will be able to obtain the finished product that same day, Microsoft added. Office 2010 is set to go on general sale to consumers and business without licensing deals sometime in June.
As expected, Microsoft today also unveiled a program that provides a free upgrade to Office 2010 for customers who purchase the older Office 2007 between now and Sept. 30.
Earlier this week, Microsoft's chief financial officer had confirmed that the Office 2010 Technology Guarantee Program would launch this month . Last month, details of the free Office 2010 upgrade program leaked to the Web when a Microsoft technology specialist briefly posted information to the firm's partner community site.
Customers who purchase an eligible copy of Office 2007 between March 5 and Sept. 30 will be allowed to download a corresponding edition of Office 2010 for free when the new suite is available in June. Users who want a DVD installation disc will have to pay a small shipping-and-handling fee. Microsoft said fees would be announced in June.
Buyers of Office Home and Student 2007 will receive a free copy of Office Home and Student 2010, while buyers of Office Standard 2007 and Office Basic 2007 will be eligible for a free copy of Office Home and Business 2010, a new addition to the Office lineup. Purchases of Office Small Business 2007, Office Professional 2007 or Office Ultimate 2007 will be eligible for a free copy of Office Professional 2010.
Office 2010 is the first of Microsoft's suite line to drop less-expensive upgrade editions . Instead, Microsoft plans to sell single-license activation keys via its online store and select retail outlets to customers who want to upgrade from older editions, or from the bare bones Office Starter 2010 that will come pre-installed on new PCs.
There is a limit of 25 free upgrades per person, a standard Microsoft practice meant to push businesses with multiple copies to its volume licensing deals.
Microsoft has set up a site that spells out the upgrade program in detail.
If you're a huge fan of abstract wallpaper but you don't have the software or the know-how to make one you'll definitely want to try Flame, a web-based drawing tool that makes creating abstract doodles easy and fun.
Using Flame you can create a variety of shapes and patterns and the user interface is simple. You have a palette which is black by default, white is the only other option. You have an adjustable brush, customizable in size, softness, and other variables, and you can select your colors and the level of opacity and saturation.
One of the best ways to create really soft and flowing lines is to move the mouse quickly. The faster you move the mouse the "wider" the brush stretches and the softer and more diffuse the lines are. If you move the mouse slowly you get a laser-focused beam of intense color, move it quickly and you get a wide swath of gossamer-like color.
You can save your pictures to your computer, the default size is 1680px × 1050px with no ability to select other sizes—a feature we'd love to see implemented for creating crazy triple-screen wallpaper and other sizes. If you make a particularly awesome wallpaper, share it in the comments below. Have a neat tool for making your own wallpaper? We want to hear about that too.
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