October 29, 2011

Data-center construction up in Valley

The Phoenix area is experiencing a rise in the construction of co-location centers, special data centers in which equipment space and Internet bandwidth are available for rent to retail customers, according to a report issued this month.

The report, by Luke Denmon, a data-center market analyst with CBRE's Critical Environmental Practice in Phoenix, said co-location facility owners and operators are flocking to Phoenix because of its predictably good weather, stable power grid and low real-estate costs.

More importantly, Denmon said, developers of co-location space have begun to devise clever ways around the biggest drawback to operating such a facility in Phoenix: the high cost of air-conditioning.

One way, he said, is to use equipment that operates safely at higher temperatures. Cost-saving also can be achieved through more efficient design and configuration of a co-location facility's interior.

As much as 40 percent of a data center's energy bill is from cooling equipment.

But the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has raised its maximum temperature limit for modern data-center equipment over the years, potentially saving operators thousands of dollars.

Its 2008 environmental guidelines recommended temperatures no greater than 80.4 degrees Fahrenheit, up from 77 degrees in its 2004 recommendations.

With concerns about cooling costs on the wane, construction of new co-location facilities has begun to heat up, according to the report, and Denmon said he expects that growth to continue.

"I love Phoenix's chances," he said.

There are 160,000 square feet of co-location space currently under construction, with even more new space in the planning stage, Denmon said.

That's a huge boost from 2010, in which no new co-location space was built, he said.

The Phoenix area currently has 92,100 square feet of vacant co-location space available for rent, out of a total of 830,700 square feet, according to Denmon.

The additional 160,000 square feet under construction should be available for lease in the second quarter of 2012, he said.

There are a handful of out-of-state co-location service providers scouting for potential co-location sites in the Phoenix metro area, Denmon said, with four new providers expected to enter the market within the next 18 months.

Denmon also noted that new technologies are emerging in the Phoenix area that should make it easier to develop co-location space.

That effort is being led by IO Data Centers, which recently commissioned a 221,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to produce its modular IO Anywhere product, he said.

It allows co-location centers to be put together out of prefabricated, modular sections.

by J. Craig Anderson The Arizona Republic Oct. 27, 2011 12:00 AM

Data-center construction up in Valley

Apps help users recall passwords

SplashID Password Manager icon

The most common password created last year across the Internet was "password," according to SplashData CEO Morgan Slain.

His company makes software that stores passwords securely to help consumers keep track of the growing number they need to access websites such as e-mail, bank accounts and medical records.

"Changing the O (in 'password') to a zero isn't enough," Slain said. "Hackers have brute-force attacks that quickly look up and try every word in the dictionary very rapidly."

Today, a growing number of websites require a username and password combination. On top of that, some sites require changing passwords periodically, and smartphone apps are asking consumers to remember more and more.

"It's not just 'techies' that are having problems remembering all these passwords, it's everyone," Slain said. "People just use the same one over and over again or write it down, and that's getting risky."

SplashData, based in Los Gatos, Calif., has been making secure password applications that help consumers store many passwords since it was founded in 2000. Slain said his private company has seen a lot of growth in password applications since smartphones started to boom in 2008.

SplashData's password app, SplashID, stores all of a person's passwords in the application behind an encrypted password. The application also will fill in the password automatically on personal computers and can generate random passwords.

SplashID is available for iPhones, iPads, Mac and Windows computers, and Android and BlackBerry devices. SplashID has more than 1 million users on those devices worldwide.

"We're not the only one," Slain said. "Password applications come in handy, and we have noticed a real growth" in companies or applications that offer password storage solutions.

Password management is a relatively crowded space, with dozens of competing applications on the market, including RoboForm, LastPass, Sticky Password, SurfSecret, AnyPassword, TK8 Safe, KeePass, Password Agent, Password Manager XP and TraySafe.

Still, Slain said that the biggest obstacle the company faces is that consumers don't know these apps are available.

Consumers are at risk by using the same password for every website, or using simple passwords such as "12345," Slain said. Hackers and digital criminals have tools that allow them to crack those quickly, and then information can be stolen or compromised.

"It's easy for criminals to see these lists of the most common passwords with a Google search," Slain said. "People don't realize you can compromise a lot of information. You really want to protect an e-mail account."

If an e-mail account is compromised, the worst-case scenario is identity theft. Hackers also can change your password on sites linked to the e-mail, delete e-mails and gain access to bank information.

Rio Salado Community College student Kyle Chank said he has had his bank information compromised, though the bank intervened before any real damage was done.

He admits that he struggles with passwords.

"I basically have four passwords that I rotate," Chank said. "I forget them a lot. I'll just keep trying until I get it, and by the time I log in, I'll have forgotten what the password actually was."

Liam Hausmann, an Apple technical adviser at Arizona State University, said a lot of support calls are from people who forget their password.

And he agrees that having simple passwords defeats the purpose.

"I mean, if you're going to set your password to 'password,' then you don't really understand the point of a password," Hausmann said.

Slain said it's not only "password" that is easy to break. Common names, simple number combinations and one-word passwords are a risk to personal security. He added that smartphones can worsen the problem.

"I don't think people realize how much personal information they store on a smartphone. You have e-mail, contacts, notes, people who store PIN (personal identification) numbers," Slain said. "If you have an app, however, it becomes a handy tool so you can be more productive while staying secure."

Password applications are secure in that they store all the information locally (on the phone/computer) with an encrypted password. So if the phone gets stolen, the information is still safe, and it doesn't reward hackers to go to the company databases because no data is there.

The application allows users to change the password stored for websites that require users to change their passwords frequently.

"Of course, that makes it harder to remember, so that's where the app comes in handy," Slain said.

SplashID is sold to individuals as well as companies. "The fastest area of growth for us right now is for IT managers who are looking for companywide solutions," Slain said. "They manage passwords for all the employees, and we have SplashID Enterprise for them."

by Kevin C Keller The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 04:58 PM

Apps help users recall passwords

The 2010 Social Networking Map / Flowtown (@flowtown)

Flowtown - Social Media Marketing Application

The 2010 Social Networking Map / Flowtown (@flowtown)

October 27, 2011

Nokia Kinetic device demo - YouTube

Nokia's research team is working on flexible displays and UIs. We got a chance to test it out ourselves — just bend the screen to select, zoom, move between UI elements, and change the volume of music. It's crazy, wild, and as awesome as it looks to play with.

Nokia Kinetic device demo - YouTube

October 26, 2011

Governments asking for more Google data

SAN FRANCISCO - Google is dealing with more government demands to turn over information about its users as more people immerse themselves online.

The mounting pressure on the Internet search leader emerged in a statistical snapshot that Google Inc. released Tuesday of its dealings with authorities around the world. Google provided a country-by-country capsule of its legal sparring with authorities during the first six months of the year.

This is the fourth time Google has disclosed a six-month summary of government requests since it started reporting the numbers last year following a high-profile showdown with China's communist government over online censorship. In Tuesday's update, Google included the total number of user accounts targeted, instead of just the number of requests made by police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies at all levels of government worldwide.

Google received more than 15,600 requests for user data in January through June period, 10 percent more than during the final six months of last year. The requests in the latest period spanned more than 25,400 individual accounts worldwide - a tiny fraction of Google's more than billion users.

Google became a caretaker of sensitive personal information through its dominant search engine, YouTube video service and increasingly popular Gmail service.

The highest volume of government demands for user data came from the U.S. (5,950 requests, a 29 percent increase from the previous six-month stretch); India (1,739 requests, up 2 percent); France (1,300 requests, up 27 percent); Britain (1,273 requests, up 10 percent); and Germany (1,060 requests, up 38 percent).

Google also listed how many times governments sought to censor video on the company's widely watched YouTube video site or demanded some other piece of content be removed for reasons ranging from privacy concerns to laws prohibiting hate speech.

By disclosing how many government requests it receives every six months, Google hopes to encourage the passage of new laws that will give the company more leverage to deny government access to people's online communications and activities.

by Michael Liedtke Associated Press Oct. 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Governments asking for more Google data

October 25, 2011

Netflix loses 800,000 US subscribers in tough 3Q

SAN FRANCISCO - Netflix's third-quarter earnings rose 65 percent even though the video subscription service suffered the biggest customer losses in its history.

The financial results, released on Monday, covered an abysmal stretch that saw Netflix Inc. lose its luster among consumers and investors. Netflix triggered the backlash by raising prices as much as 60 percent in the U.S. and bungling an attempt to spin off its DVD-by-mail rental service.

The company ended September with 23.8 million U.S. subscribers, down about 800,000 from June. Management expects to gain U.S. subscribers in the current quarter, although Netflix didn't set a specific target.

The company earned $62.5 million, or $1.16, per share, in the third quarter. That compared to income of $38 million, or 70 cents per share, at the same time last year.

by The Arizona Republic Oct 24, 2011

Netflix loses 800,000 US subscribers in tough 3Q

Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera // Jonas Pfeil

Please check our Frequently Asked Questions.

PATENT PENDING. Contact page.

To be presented as the Emerging Technologies demonstration 'Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera' at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011:

Jonas Pfeil, Kristian Hildebrand, Carsten Gremzow, Bernd Bickel, Marc Alexa. Computer Graphics Group, TU Berlin.

Diploma thesis 'Throwable Camera Array for Capturing Spherical Panoramas': Jonas Pfeil. 2010. Advisors: Marc Alexa, Carsten Gremzow.

High resolution images (PRESS):

Ball Camera (JPEG, TIF), Panorama (JPEG, TIF). These two high resolution images and the following text are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license. You can use them freely but you have to include a reference to "Jonas Pfeil" and this webpage (http://jonaspfeil.de/ballcamera). The video is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0. Please contact me if you need a higher quality version.

Panoramic photography creates fascinating images. Very wide angle images are closer to the human field of view than conventional pictures. If seen through a panoramic viewer they let us experience a location as if we were there. Panoramic image stitching can create panoramas from pictures taken one after another. Unfortunately, acquiring the images takes a lot of time and moving objects may cause ghosting. It is also difficult to obtain a full spherical panorama, because the downward picture cannot be captured while the camera is mounted on the tripod.

In this work, we present a throwable panoramic camera that solves these problems. The camera is thrown into the air and captures an image at the highest point of flight - when it is hardly moving. The camera takes full spherical panoramas, requires no preparation and images are taken instantaneously. It can capture scenes with many moving objects without producing ghosting artifacts and creates unique images.

Our camera uses 36 fixed-focus 2 megapixel mobile phone camera modules. The camera modules are mounted in a robust, 3D-printed, ball-shaped enclosure that is padded with foam and handles just like a ball. Our camera contains an accelerometer which we use to measure launch acceleration. Integration lets us predict rise time to the highest point, where we trigger the exposure. After catching the ball camera, pictures are downloaded in seconds using USB and automatically shown in our spherical panoramic viewer. This lets users interactively explore a full representation of the captured environment.
We used the camera to capture full spherical panoramas at scenic spots, in a crowded city square and in the middle of a group of people taking turns in throwing the camera. Above all we found that it is a very enjoyable, playful way to take pictures.

by Jonas Pfeil 2011

Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera // Jonas Pfeil

October 23, 2011

Extensive study: No cellphone, cancer tie

LONDON - Danish researchers can offer some reassurance if you're concerned about your cellphone: Don't worry. Your device is probably safe.

The biggest study ever to examine the possible connection between cellphones and cancer found no evidence of any link, suggesting that billions of people who are rarely more than a few inches from their phones have no special health concerns.

The Danish study of more than 350,000 people concluded there was no difference in cancer rates between people who had used a cellphone for about a decade and those who did not.

Last year, a separate large study found no clear connection between cellphones and cancer.

But it showed a hint of a possible association between very heavy phone use and glioma, a rare but often deadly form of brain tumor. However, the number of heavy users was not sufficient to make the case.

That study of more than 14,000 people in multiple countries, in addition to animal experiments, led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify electromagnetic energy from cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic," adding it to a list that includes things such as coffee and exhaust from gas engines.

But that designation does not mean the phones necessarily pose a risk. Cellphones do not emit the same kind of radiation as that used in some medical tests or found in other sources such as radon in soil.

Two U.S. agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, have found no evidence that cellphones are linked to cancer.

Yet fears of a link persist, despite the fact that cancer rates have not risen since cellphones were introduced.

In the latest research, published online Thursday in the journal BMJ, researchers updated a previous study examining 358,403 cellphone users 30 or older in Denmark from 1990 to 2007. They found cellphone users did not have a higher cancer risk compared with those without cellphones.

Cancer rates in people who used cellphones for about 10 years were similar to rates in people without a cellphone. Cellphone users were also no more likely to get a tumor in the part of the brain closest to where phones are usually held against the head. The study was paid for by the government's Danish Strategic Research Council.

"Our study provides little evidence for a causal association, but we cannot rule out a small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy users," said Patrizia Frei of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the paper's authors.

"This is encouraging news, but it doesn't mean we're at the end of the road," said Hazel Nunn, head of Health Evidence and Information at Cancer Research U.K., which was not linked to the study.

About three-quarters of the world's population, more than 5 billion people, use a cellphone. That makes it difficult for scientists to compare cancer rates in people who use the devices vs. those who do not.

Others disputed the Danish study's findings. The advocacy group MobileWise, which believes cellphones pose a health risk, said the study wasn't long enough to consider the long-term risk because brain tumors can take decades to develop.

In an accompanying editorial in BMJ, Anders Ahlbom and Maria Feychting of Sweden's Karolinska Institute wrote that one of the study's strengths was its use of objective data from cellphone records. Previous studies have been criticized for relying on people to recall their cellphone habits from decades earlier.

In about 30 other studies done in Europe, New Zealand and the U.S., patients with brain tumors have not reported using their cellphones more often than unaffected people.

The editorial writers pointed out that research on cellphones and cancer was not sparked by any evidence of a connection but from concerns that something about the relationship between radio-frequency fields and human physiology had been "overlooked or misunderstood." Research into the safety of cellphones is now "extensive," they wrote.

Nunn said that studies with longer-term data are still needed and that there is little information on children's exposure to cellphones.

There is no biological evidence for how cellphones might cause cancer, unlike, for example, the proof that tobacco is carcinogenic, she added.

Cellphones send signals to nearby towers via radio waves, a form of energy similar to microwaves. But the radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation, such as X-rays or ultraviolet light. At very high levels, radio-frequency waves from cellphones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.

Nunn said people should not change their cellphone habits based on the current evidence, except perhaps for limiting their kids' use of the devices.

"There are a lot more worrying things in the world than mobile phones," she said.

by Maria Cheng Associated Press Oct. 21, 2011 12:00 AM

Extensive study: No cellphone, cancer tie

Microsoft completes acquisition of Skype

REDMOND, Washington - Internet video chat service Skype is now officially a part of Microsoft.

The two companies joined forces late Thursday when Microsoft completed its $8.5 billion purchase of Skype. The closing came five months after Microsoft announced the deal.

Microsoft is counting on Skype to help it catch up in some the hottest markets in technology and media. Those areas include online socializing, mobile phones and digital video.

Skype's roughly 170 million users made 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls last year -- almost 400,000 years' worth.

Microsoft says Skype will operate as a division within the world's largest software maker. Skype CEO Tony Bates is joining Microsoft to run the division. He will report to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Associated Press Oct. 14, 2011 05:49 PM

Microsoft completes acquisition of Skype

Microsoft fiscal 1Q earnings match analyst views

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft's earnings for the latest quarter edged up 6 percent to match analyst estimates.

The results for the July-September period were highlighted by revived growth in the division that includes the software maker's Windows franchise. It's the first time that Microsoft has posted a year-over-year gain in Windows revenue since the end of 2010.

The results for the July-September period were highlighted by revived growth in the division that includes the software maker's Windows franchise. It's the first time that Microsoft has posted a year-over-year gain in Windows revenue since the end of 2010.

The company, which is based in Redmond, Washington, also narrowed its losses in its online division, which has struggled to catch up to Google Inc. in the Internet's lucrative search advertising market.

Microsoft Corp. earned $5.7 billion, or 68 cents per share, for its fiscal first quarter. That compared with net income of $5.4 billion, or 62 cents per share, at the same time last year. The earnings matched the average estimate among analyst surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue increased 7 percent from last year to $17.37 billion -- about $130 million above analyst forecasts.

By surpassing Wall Street's revenue hurdle, Microsoft achieved something that eluded nemesis Apple Inc. during the same period.

Although Apple's revenue in the most recent quarter surged 39 percent from year, the increase didn't measure up to analyst expectations. The shortfall triggered a sharp drop in Apple's stock price.

But investors didn't' immediately reward Microsoft for its showing either. The software maker's shares fell 36 cents to $26.68 in extended trading.

Microsoft's stock price has been held back by worries that it isn't adapting quickly enough as more people use smartphones and computer tablets such as Apple's iPad instead of desktop and laptop computers that run on the Windows operating system. Three consecutive quarters in declining Windows revenue reinforced those concerns.

In the latest quarter, though, revenue in the Windows division crept up nearly 2 percent $4.87 billion. The modest gain was slightly below the 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent rise in personal computer shipments during the quarter, based on estimates by Gartner Inc. and IDC.

Associated Press Oct. 20, 2011 04:32 PM

Microsoft fiscal 1Q earnings match analyst views

October 18, 2011

Deal will give mobile users limit alerts

A deal between the government and the wireless industry, to be announced today, will give users of cellphones and other mobile devices warnings before they exceed monthly talk, text or data limits.

At least two of the alerts, which also include one for international roaming charges, will be implemented within 12 months and all within 18 months, under the member guidelines adopted by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and prompted by the Federal Communications Commission. CTIA members cover 97 percent of U.S. wireless customers.

Consumer complaints led the FCC last October to consider mandating such alerts via voice or text when subscribers near or pass limits. The FCC last year studied "bill shock" and found that one in six mobile users had seen unexpected jumps in monthly wireless bills, 23 percent of them by $100 or more. Carriers moved to work with the FCC on voluntary guidelines before it proposed rules.

The agreement is a "victory for more than 300 million wireless consumers," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. "These alerts will give consumers the information they need to save money on their monthly wireless bills."

The deal addresses consumer interests without the weight on the industry of new regulations, said CTIA President Steve Largent.

And it got the blessing of President Barack Obama, who said in a statement: "Far too many Americans know what it's like to open up their cellphone bill and be shocked by hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected fees and charges. But we can put an end to that with a simple step: an alert warning consumers that they're about to hit their limit before fees and charges add up. Our phones shouldn't cost us more than the monthly rent or mortgage. So I appreciate the mobile-phone companies' willingness to work with my administration and join us in our overall and ongoing efforts to protect American consumers by making sure financial transactions are fair, honest, and transparent."

Users will get the alerts before and after they exceed limits or use international roaming.

The voluntary process may have been faster. Within the typical mandatory rule-making process, the FCC gives industries up to two years to comply with new regulations.

While the alerts might provide consumers with more protection, Gartner analyst Phillip Redman said "there's no guarantee that would eliminate overage charges. . . . My feeling is that people will continue to use their service even when they run up against limits. What's needed is clearer pricing and cellular companies working harder to better align users with the proper plan."

Consumers can opt out if they don't want the alerts.

To monitor compliance, the FCC is partnering with Consumers Union.

Their websites, fcc.gov and consumersunion.org, will track and post which carriers have adopted which rules.

"Consumers have been telling us about 'bill shock' for a long time, and we've been pushing for reforms to crack down on the problem," said Consumers Union policy counsel Parul Desai.

by Mike Snider USA Today Oct. 17, 2011 12:00 AM

Deal will give mobile users limit alerts

October 16, 2011

Google Stock Soars on ‘Gangbusters’ Growth | Adweek

Google CEO Larry Page | Photo: Chris Hondros via Getty Images

Since his widely panned earnings call debut in April, Google’s notoriously stoic CEO Larry Page has generously peppered his presentations with the word “excited.” But his latest attempts at pep were even more pronounced.

During the company’s earnings call Thursday, Page told analysts, “When I look over the last quarter, the word that springs to mind is gangbusters!”
Later, in talking about the growth of Google+, his newfound hyperbole reached even greater heights.

User experiences should be “automagical,” he said. “We've shipped the +, and now we’re going to ship the Google part.”

Of course, Page has good reason to wax enthusiastic about his company’s growth.

In the third quarter, Google reported that revenue climbed 33 percent to $9.72 billion and net income rose 26 percent to $2.73 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations. In after hours, shares in Google jumped more than 6 percent to $592.90.

“Not bad for a 13-year-old,” Page quipped.

The company said revenue grew on advertising (search, display, video, and mobile). Aggregated paid clicks increased 28 percent year over year and 13 percent over the second quarter of 2011, the company said. Page also said they made a significant effort to streamline their business, closing down 20 products.

From its mobile advertising business, the company said it now generates about $2.5 billion in revenue. And Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, said that the average size of the company’s display advertising deals is now about about $15 million, up from $2 million in 2009.

Despite the strength of the company’s overall report, when asked to comment on regional business, Arora said that Western Europe was “soft.” He declined to elaborate further, but emphasized that it was softness, “not weakness.”

Since its launch in July, Google+ has swelled to more than 40 million members and includes more than 100 features, Page said, adding that it’s still early and the company plans to further integrate it with Google.

Going into the call, some analysts said they had questions about the company’s plan to acquire Motorola Mobility, but when asked Page declined to provide details, citing the fact that the deal has not yet been approved.

Page also declined to discuss the company’s YouTube strategy when asked to explain the different categories of content, from user-generated to higher-quality, so-called “premium” material.

“[It’s just tremendously successful and growing gangbusters in every way,” he said. “It really blurs the line between the kind of content that you’re talking about. . . . Our users don’t think about it that way.”

On the topic of patent lawsuits with Microsoft and recent reports that some Google partners are agreeing to pay Microsoft licensing fees, Page was equally vague when asked if the company planned to subsidize a portion of those fees.

“Rather than seeing, for example, Microsoft compete in the marketplace with their own smartphone, they continue resorting to legal measures,” he said. “It seems kind of odd.”

For its part, Wall Street seemed uniformly pleased with Google’s report.

“They’re doing a great job of continuing to grow despite the law of large numbers,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said Google’s growth should be a lesson to competitors who aren’t blending advertising and online experiences as seamlessly as Google.

“The days of thinking people will just absorb advertising is over,” he said. “The age of interruption advertising is over.”

Google Stock Soars on ‘Gangbusters’ Growth | Adweek

Apple fans line up for iPhone 4S

Metro Phoenix Apple fans got up early Friday to queue up for the new iPhone 4S, which went on sale at 8 a.m. Others beat the crowds and ordered one in advance.

Photos: iPhone 4S sales begin

Paul Williams said about 30 people were waiting at the Verizon corporate store at 16th Street and Camelback Road when he opened up an hour early at 8 a.m.

A similar number of people were waiting outside the AT&T store across the street.

The phone went on sale worldwide Friday and was met with unprecedented demand. Lines formed outside the retailers selected to carry the products, and many quickly ran out.

Analysts estimate that Apple Inc. could sell between 3 million and 4 million of the new phones through Sunday, easily topping the 1.7 million iPhone 4 units that were sold the first weekend after its release last year.

The iPhone 4S, one of the last products developed under Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, was an initial disappointment to analysts who were expecting the iPhone 5.

But the more powerful 4S phone with a new camera and Siri voice-controlled software got an unexpected boost from Jobs' death on Oct 5.

"(The) 4S is for Steve," said Dan Cortez of Phoenix, who was in line midday Friday outside at the Apple Store at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix. "We wouldn't be waiting in line for the phone without Steve."

The latest product drew diehard Apple fans who clamor for the latest version of the company's products, along with first-time buyers who became acquainted with the company and its products after Jobs died of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Lera Allen of Phoenix was shopping for her first Apple product at Best Buy in Phoenix on Friday.

"I really didn't know much about Apple until he died," she said of Steve Jobs. "It made me want to try their products."

David Moreno of Phoenix was at Best Buy on Friday to replace his iPhone 4 with the 4S.

"It's scratched," he said, holding up his old phone.

Moreno has owned every version of the iPhone, along with an iPod and numerous iPads and MacBooks.

"I'm a huge fan," he said. "I have to have the latest version."

The new phones are available at Apple Stores, Best Buy, Walmart and other select retailers, in addition to Verizon, AT&T and Sprint outlets.

This is the first iPhone available from the Sprint Nextel network.

The 4S' $200 starting price for 16 gigabytes also appealed to many returning and first-time Apple customers.

Molly Walsh, who waited to buy an iPhone 4S at the Phoenix Apple Store on Friday, said her existing iPhone "died" the night before.

"I could have replaced it for $149 or got the 4S for $199," she said. "It was a no-brainer."

A more powerful 32-gigabyte phone is $300, and the 64-gigabyte phone costs $400.

by Max Jarman The Arizona Republic Oct. 14, 2011 04:20 PM

Apple fans line up for iPhone 4S

BlackBerrys buzz back to life after long outage

NEW YORK - BlackBerrys across the world buzzed back to life Thursday, leaving customers outraged and threatening to cost the granddaddy of all smartphones more business when it's already struggling to keep up in a crowded marketplace.

The three-day blackout interrupted email and Internet services for tens of millions of frustrated users and inflicted more damage on an already tarnished brand.

"I've been a pretty big BlackBerry advocate," said Kate Jacobson, a student at Michigan State University. "But I'm done playing these games with you, BlackBerry."

After using a BlackBerry for three years, she said the outage was the "last straw." On Thursday, she got an iPhone.

Her unhappiness was shared by users across several continents. BlackBerrys in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa had been without email or chat messages since Monday.

In the U.S. and Canada, the outage was shorter, starting Wednesday. But many, perhaps most, of the world's 70 million BlackBerry users were affected.

"When I woke up in the morning and had zero emails, I was like, That's impossible,' " Jacobson said. She had already endured problems with her BlackBerry Curve turning off at the wrong moments. It didn't play videos well, either.

Research In Motion Ltd., which makes the phones and handles email traffic to them, said the system was steadily processing a vast backlog of stalled messages.

The company's two CEOs apologized profusely. It was a break from the past, when outages of BlackBerry service merited only terse statements from the company.

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie said they had not made plans yet to compensate customers, but they are turning their attention to that question.

"Our priority right up until this moment (has been) making sure the system's up and running," Balsillie said. "We're going to fully commit to win that trust back."

It will take more than an apology to win back some Blackberry users. But RIM's latest fiasco is unlikely to result in a mass exodus of its corporate and government clients.

BlackBerrys, like other imperfect business technologies, are deeply entrenched in commercial settings, and getting rid of them represents time and money that companies may be reluctant to give up.

Indeed, RIM may experience a slower, more subtle migration from its smartphone. Two types of people have kept the BlackBerry from sinking further into the oblivion of once-iconic but forgotten gadgets: corporate IT managers and aspiring young people in developing countries like India. Countries outside North America account for 54 percent of RIM's revenue.

For big companies, BlackBerrys are still the gold standard in security. But employees keep chipping away at the power of IT managers by bringing in their own phones and tablets - iPhones, iPads or devices powered by Google's Android software- and demanding to get their work email on them, said Ahmed Datoo, vice president of Zenprise Inc., which helps companies manage their cellphone fleets.

With each instance, the BlackBerry's position in its core market is undermined.

In the April-to-June period of 2010, 19 percent of the smartphones sold in the world were BlackBerrys, while a nearly equal number, 18 percent, were from a variety of brands that use Google Inc.'s Android software, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the same three-month period this year, 12 percent of smartphones were BlackBerrys, while Android phones zoomed to 43 percent, outselling BlackBerrys more than three to one.

BlackBerry phones have not kept pace with the iPhone and its imitators, said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee.

A recently launched update of the flagship "Bold" model with the signature BlackBerry keyboard is selling well, he said, but an all-touchscreen model isn't. It just doesn't match up to the iPhone and Android phones.

"If someone really wanted a full touchscreen experience, why would they buy that? You have much better alternatives out there," Wu said.

RIM launched a tablet computer, the PlayBook, this year. But like other iPad wannabes, it's been a dud.

In the developing world, the low-end BlackBerry Curve has been the first smartphone for many. It works well on relatively slow cellular networks, which means carriers are happy to push it, knowing that it won't overwhelm them, said analyst Matthew Robison at Wunderlich Securities.

But that's being threatened now that even Third World phone companies are upgrading their cellular networks to broadband speeds. That means Web browsing and multimedia will be sexy new applications - things the Curve does not do well compared with inexpensive touchscreen phones.

"I think it will be tougher for RIM to compete for the emerging-markets consumer," Robison said. That, he thinks, is a bigger challenge for the company than the outage.

And in North America, the "brand damage is already done," Robison said. RIM's inability to keep up with the times means BlackBerrys could soon be quaint reminders of that early flush of excitement about reading email on the go.

The outage started Monday, when a crucial traffic-routing computer in BlackBerry's European network failed. A backup also failed. That immediately cut off service for most users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

Although the underlying issues were quickly repaired, the system had built up a backlog of emails and messages that needed to be released.

Meanwhile, messages destined for the affected countries were piling up at BlackBerry data centers in the rest of world, slowing service everywhere. By Wednesday, the outage had spread to the U.S. and Canada.

Among smartphones, BlackBerrys are uniquely tied to their manufacturers.

BlackBerrys get their email through RIM's centralized setup, allowing the company to offer a high level of security that appeals to corporate IT managers. But when something goes wrong, it affects millions of people at the same time. Blackouts are not localized to one company or one carrier, as other outages are.

Such a widespread, highly visible failure could threaten RIM stock. But investors have taken the outage in stride. The stock is down less than 1 percent since Friday's close.

That's because RIM's stock is already so beaten down by other bad news. It's lost 83 percent of its value from its peak three years ago - the time it's taken for BlackBerrys to go from hot items and status symbols to near-has-beens.

by PETER SVENSSON AP Technology Writer Oct. 13, 2011 04:05 PM

BlackBerrys buzz back to life after long outage

BlackBerry outages spread to North America

BlackBerry users have been experiencing problems across the world.
DAMIEN MEYER, AFP/Getty Images BlackBerry users have been experiencing problems across the world.

NEW YORK - Sporadic outages of BlackBerry messaging and e-mail service spread to the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, as problems stretched into the third day for Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Research In Motion, the Canadian company that makes the phones, said users in the Americas "may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning," and said it's working to fix the problem.

Bell Canada spokesman Mark Langton said some BlackBerry users at all Canadian carriers were affected.

Overseas, the problems started Monday, leaving many BlackBerry owners exasperated. On Tuesday, RIM said a crucial link in its infrastructure had failed, and a backup didn't work either. It said it was now working to get through a backlog of traffic.

The service outage, the longest in many years, added to RIM's woes. The company is struggling with slowing sales and a tablet that's been a dud. Its shares are approaching a five-year low.

In the United Arab Emirates, the two biggest phone companies said they would compensate their BlackBerry users for the mishap by giving them at least three days of free service. Matthew Willsher, chief marketing officer for Etisalat, the country's biggest telecom, said it was acting in response to the "exceptional and unprecedented circumstances."

Unlike other cellphone makers, RIM handles e-mail and messaging traffic to and from its phones. That allows it to provide services that other phones don't have, lets it optimize data service and provide top-class security. But when it encounters a problem, a large share of the 70 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide can be affected all at once. BlackBerry outages tend to occur several times a year, but they usually last for less than a day.

One of the BlackBerry's big attractions is the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, which works like text messaging but doesn't incur extra fees. That service was affected by the outage, and to make matters worse for RIM, Apple is releasing software Wednesday for its iPhones that works like BBM. Competition from Apple is one of the chief causes of RIM's diminishing fortunes.

by Peter Svensson USA Today Oct. 12, 2011 09:30 AM

BlackBerry outages spread to North America

Netflix's flip-flops, price hikes explained

Qwikster Logo

Puzzled by Netflix Inc.'s recent changes? You're not alone. Here are basic questions and answers about the company's reversal of its decision to split off its DVD-by-mail service and rename it "Qwikster."

Question: Will I have to go to two websites to manage my DVD queue and watch streaming videos?

Answer: No. Netflix on Monday backed off its plan to create two separate sites: Netflix.com for streaming videos and Qwikster.com for DVDs.

Q: Will I still have to pay for the services separately?

A: You'll have one account for both services. But the price changes Netflix instituted in July, under which it charges separately for streaming and for DVDs, is still in place. In other words, streaming is no longer a freebie thrown in with the DVD subscription.

Q: Why did Netflix change its mind?

A: Customers had greeted the idea with jeers and threats to take their business elsewhere. In a blog post, CEO Reed Hastings said he's realized the change would make things too complicated for subscribers.

Q: I'm confused. What plans does Netflix offer now - and how much do they charge for each?

A: The video-streaming service costs $8 per month. The DVD service starts at $5 if you want one DVD out at a time and a maximum of two mailings per month, and goes up to $44 for those who want to have eight DVDs out at a time and unlimited mailings.

Q: Why did Netflix think splitting the site in two was a good idea to begin with?

A: The company sees the streaming service as its future and what it wants to focus on. The DVD-by-mail service got Netflix into homes, but it's expensive to mail DVDs and the potential for growth is limited. In homes, the streaming service is making the jump from PCs to the living-room TV, thanks to game consoles, DVD players and TVs that come with the ability to connect to the Internet. It's also going outside the home, because Netflix is now available on smartphones and tablets.

by Associate Press Oct 10, 2011

Netflix's flip-flops, price hikes explained

October 10, 2011

Businesses, social media mean deals

It's natural to be a fan of sports teams, movies and celebrities. But did you know that you could score big by being a fan of local businesses?

Many restaurants, resorts, attractions, home-improvement stores, fitness centers and retailers offer special discounts to those who follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

For example, Sprinkles will give you a free cupcake if you're one of the first customers to whisper the secret word or give the solution to a word puzzle. (You'll find the secret word on the company's Facebook pages.)

Sprinkles gives out 50 or more cupcakes a day at each of its 10 locations nationwide, said Charles Nelson, who co-founded the bakery with his wife, Candace. On a recent day, if you whispered "diamond in the sky" to the cashier, you got a free mystery-flavor cupcake topped with a star.

If you're thinking about a jaunt in a private jet, check JetSuite's Facebook page for the "SuiteDeals of the Day." With a deal, you usually pay $499 (some flights are as much as $699) to rent a private jet that seats four. That's as little as $125 per person. There are several caveats: The flights are one-way only, and you must be flexible. The flights typically are for the next day and routes are predetermined by JetSuites. Recent flights included Phoenix to Las Vegas for $499 and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to Los Angeles for $699.

Deals lure customers

Deals and social media are a natural fit, said Jason Jantzen, president of Phoenix Marketing Associates, which specializes in social-media strategies.

"If you have a business (Facebook) page, the only way you're going to get people there is to drive them there," he said.

Deals drive people to the pages.

The strategy has worked for Sprinkles, whose Facebook followers number nearly 300,000. Valley-based YC's Mongolian Grill, which recently offered a free meal to its Facebook fans, saw its number of followers grow to more than 7,000 from 300 because of the promotion.

Businesses benefit in other ways from social-media deals. For JetSuite, deals help their bottom line, marketing director Sara DeLowe said.

"If someone books a flight from Oakland to Denver, and we don't have a plane in Oakland, we have to fly there anyway," she said.

By offering a one-way SuiteDeal to Oakland, the company can recoup some costs plus please customers.

In August, Z'Tejas, known for its Chambord margaritas, offered a promotion enticing customers to try its new drink menu, featuring 16 new selections. Each day, the company posted a special word on its Facebook and Twitter sites. Patrons who said the word at the Scottsdale location got the drink of the day for $2.

The price was right for getting customers to try something new, marketing manager Deborah Topcik said.

It's in the e-mail

Other businesses use e-mail newsletters to reward their customers.

Bead World, whose three Valley locations sell jewelry-making tools and supplies, sends out e-mail blasts that reach 3,000 fans. Those who sign up receive advance notice of sales plus a weekly printable coupon for 40 percent off a single item at any of the company's stores.

The coupons are particularly popular.

"There are people who try to use every single one," said Lezli Goodwin, Bead World's creative director.

The best way to find the deals is to go on the social-media sites, search for your favorite businesses and read through the posts for current deals. Some businesses offer deals the same day each week, making it less time-consuming to check.

by Sue Doerfler The Arizona Republic Oct. 2, 2011 06:01 PM

Businesses, social media mean deals

October 9, 2011

Game Hunters: New Game Releases, Cheat Codes, Tips & More - USATODAY.com

Here's a fun way to kick off the weekend: a fresh trailer for Activision first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

The video is called "Redemption," and focuses heavily on the game's single-player campaign.

Modern Warfare 3 launches Nov. 8 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

by Brett Molina USA Today Oct 7, 2011

Game Hunters: New Game Releases, Cheat Codes, Tips & More - USATODAY.com

Microsoft to bring TV programming to Xbox Live service

By Microsoft Studios

Microsoft has taken a big leap toward transforming its Xbox 360 video game console into a dominant next-generation living room entertainment hub.

The software giant has forged deals with nearly 40 content providers and networks to bring programming to its popular Xbox Live service. Microsoft is also putting to work its Kinect technology in a bid to attract people to interact with it remote-free, using voice and hand gestures.

The boost in TV reveals Microsoft's ultimate plan for the Xbox 360 and Kinect, says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. "Microsoft is digging a moat around the living room and trying to prevent others from getting in there."

Comcast, Verizon, HBO, Bravo, Syfy and others will be among those providing programming. A collection of live TV and on-demand episodes and movies will be available later this year.

Microsoft developers and the providers are working to make all the content searchable via voice and gesture using the Kinect motion controller's built-in camera and microphone. Kinect's voice command feature, coupled with Microsoft's Bing search engine, already integrated into Xbox Live, would free viewers from using text-based content menus, says Marc Whitten, vice president for Xbox Live.

"I don't even have to know which show it is, I just have to say, 'Xbox. Bing. Vampires,' and I get games about vampires and TV shows and movies about vampires and where those are in the system," Whitten says. "I have this magical experience."

Consumers will need to subscribe to either Comcast or Verizon, for example, to get the new features on Xbox Live. They will also need a $60 annual Xbox Live Gold subscription.

Among the new additions: Comcast's Xfinity On Demand service with TV series and movies and HBO Go — both currently available for Apple and Android devices — and AT&T's U-verse Internet TV with some live channels. Verizon also plans to bring live feeds of MTV, Spike, Food Network, Comedy Central, HBO, CNN, Nickelodeon and other networks to the service.

"This is all about leveraging the innovation of Microsoft and Verizon ... to bring more ways to consume entertainment in a borderless-anytime-anywhere fashion," says Verizon's Pete Castleton.

Microsoft has 35 million Xbox Live members worldwide, but of which not all are Gold subscribers. Already on the Xbox Live service: ESPN, Netflix and Hulu Plus.

This expansion of TV content includes BBC in the U.K. and Rogers On Demand in Canada.

In this hyper-competitive field of delivering TV beyond standard cable, satellite and over-the air services, Microsoft "just moved ahead of Google, Amazon and Apple," says Pachter.

The complete list of new programming partners including those outside the U.S.:

--ABC iView – Australia
--AlloCiné РFrance, Germany, Spain, U.K.
--Antena 3 – Spain
--Astral Media's Disney XD – Canada
--BBC – U.K.
--blinkbox – U.K.
--Bravo – U.S.
--Canal+ - France, Spain
-Channel 4 – U.K.
--Channel 5 – U.K.
--CinemaNow (Best Buy) – U.S.
--Comcast – U.S.
--Crackle – Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.
--Dailymotion – Available in 32 markets
--EPIX – U.S.
--GolTV – Spain
--HBO GO – U.S.
--Hulu – Japan
--iHeartRadio (Clear Channel) – U.S.
--LOVEFiLM – Germany, U.K.
--Manga Entertainment – U.S.
--Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment/Real Sports – Canada
--MediaSet – Italy
--MSN with MSNBC.com – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, U.K.
--MUZU.TV – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K.
--Rogers On Demand Online (RODO) – Canada
--RTVE – Spain
--SBS On Demand – Australia
--Syfy – U.S.
--Telefonica – Spain
--Televisa – Mexico
--The Today Show – U.S.
--TMZ – U.S.
--UFC – Canada, U.S.
--Verizon – U.S.
--VEVO – Canada, U.K., U.S.
--YouTube – Available in 22 markets
--ZDF – Germany

by Mike Snider USA Today Oct 6, 2011

Microsoft to bring TV programming to Xbox Live service

Steve Jobs, icon of high-tech age, dies at 56

We will miss you Steve Jobs!! RIP

Steve Jobs is shown in 2010 and in 1984.

Associated Press Steve Jobs is shown in 2010 and in 1984.

Steve Jobs, the brilliant, mercurial co-founder of Apple, who introduced simple, elegantly designed computers for people who were more interested in what technology could do rather than how it was done, died Wednesday at age 56.

In a brief statement, Apple announced the death but did not say where he died. He suffered from a rare form of pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant in 2009, and he stepped down as Apple's chief executive in August.

An original thinker and astute businessman who helped create the Macintosh, one of the most influential computers in the world, Jobs also reinvented the portable music player with the iPod, launched the first successful legal method of selling music online with the creation of iTunes, and reordered the cellphone market with the wildly popular iPhone. The introduction of the iPad also jump-started the electronic-tablet market and now dominates the field.

He also started a highly successful chain of retail stores and almost single-handedly pushed consumers away from their dependence on floppy disks and CDs.

Consumer understanding

Cool, charismatic and calculating, Jobs believed that people would be willing to pay a premium price for products that signal creativity. Jobs had a genius for understanding the needs of consumers before they did.

He knew best of all how to market. "Mac or PC?" became one of the defining questions of the late 20th century, and although Apple sold a mere 5 percent of all computers in that era, Mac users became rabid partisans and dedicated to Jobs.

Jobs was the first crossover technology star, turning Silicon Valley renown into Main Street recognition and paving the way for the rise of the nerds, such as Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and David Filo, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

As a 21-year-old college-dropout entrepreneur, Jobs led Apple to multimillion-dollar success in five years. Forced out of his own company by the time he was 30, he started another computer firm, Next, whose technology was used to create the World Wide Web. Jobs also took over a foundering computer-animation company and turned it into the Academy Award-winning Pixar, maker of "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and "A Bug's Life." He returned to save Apple from near-certain oblivion in his 40s, radically cutting the product line and restoring the company to both profitability and leadership in innovation.

Private personality

Known within the technology community for his complex and combative temperament, Jobs, a famously private man, didn't discuss his pancreatic-cancer diagnosis and surgery in public for more than a year, asserting that his preference for personal privacy outweighed the rights of shareholders to know about his health. In a June 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, he talked about his diagnosis in a video that became an Internet sensation. He later became furious at speculation over his health in mid-2008, when he appeared in public looking gaunt. In late 2008, he took a medical leave from the company, and he had a liver transplant the following year.

In January, he took another medical leave. On Aug. 24 he stepped down as Apple's chief executive but became chairman of the board. So essential did stockholders consider him to the company's future, that Apple's share price immediately dropped 5 percent on the news, although it rebounded the next day. "Steve Jobs running the company from jail would be better for the stock price than Steve Jobs not being CEO," one stock analyst told Fortune magazine in early 2011.

Gift of persuasion

His constant innovations led Business 2.0 to call him "easily the greatest marketer since P.T. Barnum." One of his employees, noting that Jobs is able to persuade people to believe almost anything, coined the phrase "reality distortion field" to describe his ability to warp an audience's sense of proportion. Jobs described the Macintosh computer, for example, as "insanely great."

Maybe it was. It was designed for the home and creative professional user, not the computer-science nerd or the bottom-line-oriented businessman. During a famous 1979 visit to Xerox Parc, the hotbed of innovation where the computer mouse, networking and graphical user interface were invented, he and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak learned that computer users did not have to type in a series of arcane commands to get the computer to perform; they could simply point their mouse at a picture of a file and click the mouse to get the file to open.

That recognition sparked a flurry of innovations, unmatched in technology until designers of Microsoft's operating software copied the look and feel of their California competitors in Windows 95.

Years later, discussing computer design in another context, Jobs said, "Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer, that the designers are handed this box and told, 'Make it look good!' That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

He could control how it works because Apple "makes the whole widget," as Jobs repeatedly said, software and hardware. The company introduced monitors with color screens long before others. Locked out of many retail chains because of its small market share, Apple responded with its own distinctively branded stores, to which users flock. The Mac, Jobs saw, could become the hub of a digital lifestyle.

Not everything has worked out. A 1983 computer, Lisa, failed miserably. Ten years later, the Newton, one of the earliest handheld computers, died years before other personal digital assistants succeeded. Even the "insanely great" Macintosh, sold without a letter-quality printer or a hard-disk drive and incompatible with other computers, had a difficult start, although it nevertheless launched the desktop-publishing revolution. But that wasn't the first rough start in Jobs' life.

Innovator's beginnings

Steven Paul Jobs was born Feb. 24, 1955, in San Francisco to unwed parents, University of Wisconsin graduate student Joanne Carole Schieble and a Syrian exchange student, Abdulfattah Jandali. He was adopted shortly after birth by Paul and Clara Jobs.

He grew up in the Northern California suburbs that would later be dubbed "Silicon Valley," and he showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry. As a high-school student, he boldly asked William Hewlett, co-founder and president of the Hewlett-Packard computer firm, for some parts he needed to complete a class project. Hewlett was impressed enough to give Jobs the parts and offer him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard.

Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Ore., for two years before dropping out. He worked part time at Atari Computers to raise money for a trip to India in the summer of 1974, studying meditation and shaving his head. But within months, he became ill with dysentery and was forced to return to the United States.

For a short time, Jobs lived in a California commune, but he soon became disenchanted. In 1975, he began associating with a group of computer aficionados known as the Homebrew Computer Club. Wozniak, a technical whiz, was trying to build a small computer and Jobs became fascinated with its potential. In 1976, he and Wozniak formed their own company.

Apple is born

The Apple I was sold as an all-in-one device, unlike other computers that required customers to separately buy a screen, a hard drive and a keyboard. It carried a price tag of $666, and about 200 were sold.

Jobs saw a huge gap in the existing computer market, with no product targeted for home use. While Wozniak improved the technology, Jobs lined up investors and bank financing. The redesigned computer, christened the "Apple II," came out in 1977, with impressive first-year sales of $2.7 million. In one of the most phenomenal cases of corporate growth in U.S. history, the company's sales grew to $200 million within three years and almost single-handedly created a market of home users.

The Macintosh was introduced in 1984 with a third-quarter commercial during the Super Bowl. The advertisement, designed by ad agency Chiat/Day and directed by Ridley Scott, ran just once, but it was named by Advertising Age as the commercial of the decade.

As controversial as he was creative, Jobs enforced a culture of secrecy at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Jobs was known in his younger years for playing mean pranks on underlings, reversing direction without ever acknowledging he changed his mind and yelling at even company directors.

In his private life, he refused to acknowledge paternity or pay child support for his first daughter for years. He refused to put license plates on his Mercedes-Benz and parked in handicapped parking spots at the company until the public ridicule became too great. Decades later, he attempted to stop the publication of two unauthorized biographies; he persuaded Vanity Fair to cancel the serialization of one, and after the publisher of the second book refused to stop publication, Jobs yanked all that publisher's books from Apple's retail stores.

Survivors include his wife since 1991, Laurene Powell; a daughter from a previous relationship, Lisa Brennan-Jobs; three children from his marriage, Eve Jobs, Erin Sienna Jobs and Reed Paul Jobs, and two sisters, Mona Simpson and Patti Jobs.

by Associated Press Oct. 6, 2011 12:00 AM

Steve Jobs, icon of high-tech age, dies at 56

Go Daddy, Boys & Girls Club join forces against cyberbullying

Scottsdale-based Go Daddy may be best known for its tantalizing Super Bowl commercials that feature beautiful women in little clothing, but this Web-hosting giant proved there's more to the company.

Go Daddy has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale to fight cyberbullying. The company donated $200,000 to create the Go Daddy Teen Technology & Multimedia Center. It also worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs to develop programs to educate children on what to do if they are being cyberbullied. The first computer lab is up and running at the Virginia G. Piper branch, 10515 E. Lakeview Drive, Scottsdale.

"We want to help teach young people how to deal with cyberbullies the right way," said Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of Go Daddy, who was on hand for a dedication ceremony last week.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 20.8 percent of children ages 10 to 18 have been cyberbullied.

"I think this will be very beneficial for our members. This program will allow us to help thousands of the kids in our organization," said Cathleen Cole, an education coordinator at the branch.

Parsons mentioned the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, of Williamsville, N.Y., who is believed to have been haunted by bullying. Other cases that have drawn national attention include the suicides of Phoebe Prince, 15, of South Hadley, Mass., and Tyler Clementi, 18, who was a student at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.

The common goal of Go Daddy and the Boys & Girls Clubs is to help teens avoid that fate. "We want to help train (teens) on how to recognize cyberbullying, how to diffuse it, the best way to disengage from the bully and who to talk to and tell about it," Parsons said.

The message is getting across.

"I think that whoever does it hasn't had it done to them. They don't know how it feels," said branch member Ashley Yee, 12, referring to cyberbullying.

The Boy & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale serves children ages 5 to 18, offering a place for students to hang out with friends after school, get help with homework and develop values like accountability, integrity, leadership, respect and teamwork. There are several programs devoted to the arts, sports and other fields.

The 10 computers at the new multimedia center are a favorite among the students. Social-media websites like Facebook and chat rooms are restricted, so most teens spend their time playing games or doing homework.

Sohum Mendon, 13 loves Red Remover, a puzzle game. He has been a club member for just over a year.

"The people who work here are the best. They're not like teachers, they really understand us," he said. His favorite part of the Go Daddy partnership is the new anti-bullying wallpaper that all computers have.

"Our kids are so involved in technology, whether it's Facebook or their cellphones. Giving them the tools to deal with potential problems is very important," said Christian Sanft, a teen development supervisor at the branch.

Go Daddy has donated nearly $5 million to charities so far this year, including the Arizona Humane Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Parsons has his own blog at bobparsons.me devoted to fighting bullies.

Go Daddy is the world's largest Web-hosting provider and domain name registrar.

by Lisa Kennell The Arizona Republic Oct. 4, 2011 07:36 AM

Go Daddy, Boys & Girls Club join forces against cyberbullying

Features on Apple's iPhone 4S fall short of high expectations

Apple's Phil Schiller talks about the upgraded camera on the iPhone 4S on Tuesday.
Associated Press Apple's Phil Schiller talks about the upgraded camera on the iPhone 4S on Tuesday.

CUPERTINO, Calif. - The most closely kept secret about the iPhone 5? There isn't one - yet.

Apple unveiled a faster, more powerful version of its sleek iPhone on Tuesday and named it the 4S. It includes a futuristic, voice-activated personal-assistant service and an app that will send greeting cards for $2.99 each. Sprint customers will now be able to use one.

Pre-orders will begin Friday with availability on Oct. 14.

But the new iPhone was not named the iPhone 5 or reimagined to the degree that many tech bloggers and Apple fans had hoped it would be. Wall Street seemed disappointed, too: Apple stock lost more than 5 percent before bouncing back to close down less than 1 percent.

Still, Apple stock has nearly quadrupled since the first iPhone was announced in 2007. The device has been the cornerstone of one of the most remarkable runs in technology history. Apple is now one of the world's most richly valued companies, holding its own against oil companies and international conglomerates.

If Tuesday's unveiling seemed like a letdown, it was because Apple didn't do a good job of managing expectations. That's a familiar problem for Apple, whose penchant for secrecy invites hyperbolic speculation between its product announcements. Given that it had been 16 months since the last iPhone hit the market, imaginations had even more time to run wild this time.

"This is the typical Apple scenario: People keep wanting it to do the impossible," analyst Tim Bajarin said.

Even though the iPhone 4S is an improvement over its predecessor, it isn't being perceived as a breakthrough partly because it's not being branded as an iPhone 5 as most people had been expecting, said Prashant Malaviya, a marketing professor at Georgetown University.

Not all investors were disappointed. Stephen Coleman, chief investment officer for Daedalus Capital and an Apple investor since 2004, praised Apple for not messing too much with a model that's working.

"Anyone who's been paying attention at all would have to be dazzled by the product, and earnings."

The new iPhone has an improved camera with a higher-resolution sensor. The processor is faster, which helps run smoother, more realistic action games. It's also a "world phone," which means that Verizon iPhones will be usable overseas, just as AT&T iPhones already are.

The fact that a more radical revision of the phone was a no-show leaves room for speculation that Apple will reveal a new model in less than a year, perhaps one equipped to take advantage of Verizon's and AT&T's new high-speed data networks.

There had also been speculation that Apple would include a chip that could talk to payment terminals at retail stores, turning the iPhone into a "mobile wallet." But the iPhone 4S doesn't have this.

Apple is including a "personal assistant" application called Siri in the iPhone 4S. It responds to spoken questions and commands such as "Do I need an umbrella today?" It's an advanced version of speech-recognition apps found on other phones.

The new iPhone also comes with new mobile software that includes such features as the ability to sync content wirelessly.

Apple's new mobile software, iOS 5, will also be available on Oct. 12 for existing devices - the iPhone 4 and 3GS, both iPad models and later versions of the iPod Touch.

Apple said Oct. 12 will also mark the launch of its new iCloud service, which will store content such as music, documents, apps and photos on Apple's servers and let people access them wirelessly on numerous devices.

The new phone will come in black or white. It will cost $199 for a 16 gigabyte-version, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64 GB - all with a two-year service contract requirement.

by Rachel Metz and Jordan Robertson Associated Press Oct. 5, 2011 12:00 AM

Features on Apple's iPhone 4S fall short of high expectations

October 2, 2011

E-books push Phoenix-area libraries into a new era

New e-reader technology is powering a revolution in library lending across the Valley.

Since online retail giant Amazon.com last week allowed thousands of books to be downloaded for free on its Kindle device by library users, waiting lists are already forming in cyberspace for many popular titles.

Amazon's agreement with publishers and digital-media vendors to let more than 11,000 of the nation's libraries lend many copyrighted and best-selling books electronically is another major step in technology's transformation of reading habits and library use.

Reviews of tablets, e-readers | More product reviews

Borrowers have been able to check out a small but expanding inventory of music, videos and books since 2006, when Valley libraries created the Greater Phoenix Digital Library. The latest shift deeper into the digital age, which many library users have been clamoring for, was so popular that the regional digital-delivery system crashed as borrowers sought to check out some of the 28,858 titles made available under the Amazon agreement.

It was followed days later by Amazon's unveiling of its new Kindle Fire tablet - an iPad competitor - that is expected to increase demand even further for virtual borrowing of library books.

For Chandler Library manager Brenda Brown, it's one more step toward "dramatically changing the way libraries work and customers get books; they don't have to come to the library as often."

Already pooling resources and sharing cyberspace collections, Valley libraries will continue to expand their electronic offerings, transforming quiet libraries packed with paper-bound volumes into anytime, anywhere lenders of books, videos and music, she said.

Now borrowers can simply log on to their local library website from home, plug a Kindle into their computer and, with a few clicks, download up to 10 books onto their e-reader. The process is slightly more complex with other e-readers or computers that require program downloads or Kindle apps.

"I was one of the people who said I'll never read a book on a computer because you can't read in bed," Brown said. "And I used to carry three or four books when I travel. Now, I can put four or five books on an iPad and I do 80 percent of my reading via e-book."

Amazon launched its e-reader in 2007 as a vehicle for selling more electronic books on its website. Until now, Kindle owners had to pay for downloads of bestsellers and all copyrighted materials from Amazon.com, although libraries have made digital books from other sources available for free download to home computers, laptops, smartphones, iPods, iPads and Nooks for several years.

But as e-reader technology improved so that screens resembled real paper pages, and prices dropped, the popularity of Kindle along with Barnes and Noble's Nook, Apple's iPad and other devices has grown rapidly. They've persuaded millions of Americans to switch to reading books electronically and prompted demand for access to library collections.

Dorothy Stewart, a Tempe librarian, said patrons have been asking about borrowing books on Kindle for months, especially after the device became one of the hottest Christmas gifts last year. "People would come in and ask, 'Why don't you let us download on Kindle?' But it was really Amazon setting the rules," she said.

Until now, Amazon, which sells books and digital media on its website, offered limited availability of free material, mostly out-of-copyright and pre-1923 books, said company spokeswoman Stephanie Mantello in Seattle.

In a move that may be tied to Wall Street analysts' view that Amazon is seeking to sell more digital content, the Internet retailer is giving library users access to a slice of its vast book inventory for free.

Amazon is not revealing details of the Kindle library agreement, although Valley library managers say they did not have to pay any more access fees to OverDrive, a Cleveland-based distributor of digital media that negotiates deals with publishers and suppliers.

In the Valley, the library agreement releases 28,858 Amazon titles for Kindle borrowing, but with multiple copies of some books, the total collection that can be checked out at any one time is 45,438. Including other digital sources, the Phoenix digital-library consortium has nearly 100,000 items for public borrowing.

The consortium of city and county libraries spends $491,208 annually to fund the digital library.

For cash-strapped cities that have had to reduce library hours, the availability of e-readers expands free services without incurring the overhead costs.

Librarians expect changes to keep coming as new technology continues to make advances, but already the changes are dramatic for how library books are borrowed and read:

- No trips to and from library buildings to select books, no waiting in checkout lines, no second trips to return them before due dates.

- No overdue books and late fees: They just disappear from the electronic device.

- No need to haul stacks of books to homes, airplanes, vacation spots or waiting rooms; several books can be downloaded into one 8.5-ounce device.

To get staff and patrons up to speed on the new technology, Chandler used grant funds to hire 20-year-old Timothy Bastek, a tech-savvy Chandler-Gilbert Community College student. He has been training library employees since last month and started helping patrons Thursday.

Bastek said Kindle library checkouts are much easier than those of other e-readers. But the process is not as direct as Amazon purchases and that can be confusing for new users, he said.

The library materials have to be downloaded onto a laptop or computer and then transferred to a Kindle, because library checkouts require opening both the Amazon and the Phoenix Digital Library websites simultaneously.

Rita Marko, spokeswoman for Phoenix Public Libraries, said she foresees a time when patrons will be able to download material by scanning website bar codes instead of entering library-card numbers and passwords. And it may not be long before libraries add e-readers to their lending inventory, she said.

Students, who are some of libraries' biggest users, are "digital natives who don't think of paper in the same way," Marko said. When it comes to remote downloads of library books, "I say to parents all the time: 'It's 8 p.m., and suddenly you realize there's a book report due tomorrow. This is the perfect solution,' " she said.

Avid Kindle user Chandra Kohler of Chandler, an early user of e-reading material, said that before she bought her Kindle about five years ago, she was downloading available library books onto her cellphone. But Kohler said she loves the size and portability of the Kindle, which she reads "on the airplane, on the beach, next to the pool. . . . And the selection in Phoenix libraries is amazing."

by Edythe Jensen The Arizona Republic Oct. 1, 2011 12:00 AM

E-books push Phoenix-area libraries into a new era

Amazon Takes On Apple IPad With Kindle Fire Tablet | Fox News

Following the success of their Kindle reader, Amazon take their first steps into the Apple dominated tablet market with an advert for the new Kindle Fire

NEW YORK – The tablet wars are finally heating up!

Putting to rest the endless speculation, Amazon on Wednesday officially introduced not one, not two, but four new Kindle devices. The company aims to lock up the e-reader market with an entry-level $79 Kindle, and to do what countless tech companies have failed at: building a color tablet device at a reasonable price that can compete with Apple's wildly successful iPad.

The Kindle Fire is that gadget.

It's designed mainly as a media consumption device rather than a touch computer and it undercuts Apple's iPad by hundreds of dollars—$199 compared to $500 for an iPad. It will go on sale November 15.

The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch color display, weighs just 14.6 ounces, and has a color touch screen. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos emphasized the device's ability to play video from Amazon's streaming Prime service, play MP3's from the Amazon store, and load Web pages more quickly by leveraging Amazon's cloud services.

Online storage for movies, books, and music will be free for Kindle Fire owners, extending storage beyond the device's built-in 8GB of memory. Like current Kindle books, movies will also sync between devices wirelessly so that user can pick up watching a movie from where they left off on another device, such a set-top box like the Roku.

Amazon makes several devices that include 3G cellular connections, but the initial version of the Fire will be Wi-Fi only.
While the Fire is smaller than the iPad with its 10-inch screen and it doesn't have a camera, the tablet is much lighter so that it can be comfortably held in one hand. And it supports all the popular video formats, including Adobe's Flash—something Apple refuses to do. Taking another jab at Apple, Bezos showed one slide of an Apple USB cable, promising that the Kindle Fire would do away with the cords and would update wirelessly.

The Fire uses a dual-core processor and the latest version of Google Android software and looked zippy in hands-on demonstrations. Apps will also be available for the device, but Amazon is clearly focused on tying its own services into the tablet.

“This is an end-to-end service,” Bezos emphasized in his presentation in New York City. He touted not only the book store but the Amazon Prime service, which offers streaming movies and programs for an annual $79 subscription. So far, Amazon has lined up some big content providers, including Fox for movies, but still lacks the catalog depth of competing Netflix.
According to Amazon, it is still interested in having a Netflix app on the Kindle Fire, as well as other popular competing services, such as Pandora. Such apps are not available yet, however.

The other three Kindles that Amazon introduced today are based on the black-and-white E Ink displays. The Kindle Touch 3G uses infrared senors for touch, and thus eliminates the tiny keypad below the screen. It includes free wireless 3G data service, which will work in over 100 countries, for just $149. The Kindle Touch model is identical but lacks the free 3G service, relying on Wi-Fi instead, for just $99.

Finally, the new Kindle e-reader does away with the touch and 3G features, using Wi-Fi and a directional pad instead—it will costs just $79 and is available now.

“We're going to sell many millions of these,” Bezos beamed.

Amazon is clearly planning to use the popularity of its Kindles to break into other markets. Not only is streaming video a focus of the Kindle Fire, but Amazon plans to push its AmazonLocal deals across all the devices. The service offers special deals on everything from concert tickets to dancing lessons, taking aim at competing Groupon, which is getting media coverage due to its forthcoming IPO.

While Amazon's Kindle announcements today could set off a price war with Barnes & Noble and its color Nook, it's questionable whether Apple will respond by lowering the price of its iPad or introduce newer models before the end of the year.

One thing is certain: At these prices Amazon is bound to light up the e-reader and tablet markets this fall.

by Fox News Sept 28, 2011

Amazon Takes On Apple IPad With Kindle Fire Tablet | Fox News

Facebook Policies Tricky For Employers, Workers -AARP

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the age of instant tweets and impulsive Facebook posts, some companies are still trying to figure out how they can limit what their employees say about work online without running afoul of the law.

Confusion about what workers can or can't post has led to a surge of more than 100 complaints at the National Labor Relations Board — most within the past year — and created uncertainty for businesses about how far their social media policies can go.

"Employers are struggling to figure out what the right policies are and what they should do when these cases arise," said Michael Eastman, labor law policy director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In one case, a Chicago-area car salesman was fired after going on Facebook to complain that his BMW dealership served overcooked hot dogs, stale buns and other cheap food instead of nicer fare at an event to roll out a posh new car model.

The NLRB's enforcement office found the comments were legally protected because the salesman was expressing concerns about the terms and conditions of his job, frustrations he had earlier shared in person with other employees.

But the board's attorneys reached the opposite conclusion in the case of a Wal-Mart employee who went on Facebook to complain about management "tyranny" and used an off-color Spanish word to refer to a female assistant manager. The worker was suspended for one day and disqualified from seeking promotion for a year.

The board said the postings were "an individual gripe" rather than an effort to discuss work conditions with co-workers and declined to take action against the retailer.

Those cases are among 14 investigations the board's acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, discussed in a lengthy report last month on the rise in social media cases. Solomon says federal law permits employees to talk with co-workers about their jobs and working conditions without reprisal — whether that conversation takes place around the water cooler or on Facebook or Twitter.

"Most of the social media policies that we've been presented are very, very overbroad," Solomon said in an interview. "They say you can't disparage or criticize the company in any way on social media, and that is not true under the law."

The number of cases spiked last year after the board sided with a Connecticut woman fired from an ambulance company after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss. That case settled earlier this year, with the company agreeing to change its blogging and Internet policy that had banned workers from discussing the company over the Internet.

The National Labor Relations Act protects both union and nonunion workers when they engage in "protected concerted activity" — coming together to discuss working conditions. But when online comments might be seen by hundreds or thousands of eyeballs, companies are concerned about the effect of disparaging remarks.

Doreen Davis, a management-side labor lawyer based in Philadelphia, said many of her corporate clients are often "surprised and upset" when they learn they can't simply terminate employees for talking about work online.

"All of us on the management side are being inundated with calls and inquiries from clients about this," Davis said. "A lot of companies want their social media policies reviewed or they want to establish one for the first time."

But the NLRB's Solomon also warns workers that not everything they write on Facebook or Twitter will be permissible under the law just because it discusses their job.

"A lot of Facebook, by its very nature, starts out as mere griping," Solomon said. "We need some evidence either before, during or after that you are looking to your fellow employees to engage in some sort of group action."

In one case, an employee at an Indiana emergency transportation and fire protection company was fired after writing on the Facebook wall of her U.S. senator, Republican Dick Lugar, to complain that her company skimped on wages and that its cheap service compromised the quality of care.

The NLRB's enforcement office declined to take up her case, saying that the employee didn't discuss her complaints with other workers or show any attempt to take employee complaints to management. She may have been trying to make a public official aware of problems with emergency medical services in Indiana, but board attorneys said that wasn't enough to protect her under the law.

While there are more than 100 cases pending before the board, only one has actually led to a formal ruling. Earlier this month, an administrative law judge at the agency found that a Buffalo, N.Y., nonprofit group illegally fired five workers after they posted Facebook comments complaining about workload and staffing issues.

The judge ordered the group, Hispanics United of Buffalo, to reinstate the five employees and award them back pay.

The Chamber of Commerce's Eastman said it's too early to criticize how the board is interpreting the law, but he wants to see what happens in closer cases where an employee goes "over the top" with criticism of a supervisor of employer.

"Where will the board draw the line between concerted activity and an employer's legitimate non-disparagement policy?" Eastman said.

by Sam Hananel The Associated Press Sept 26, 2011

Facebook Policies Tricky For Employers, Workers -AARP


Crave: The Gadget Blog

PCWorld Latest Technology News

CNET TV: Laptops

Blog Archive

Recent Comments