Wednesday, March 31, 2010

U.S. still lags in broadband speed, and pays more, to boot

It's bad enough the U.S. continues to lag behind many other countries in broadband speed, considering we (though not Al Gore) basically developed it. It's worse when you consider we pay more, and much more in some cases, for that "privilege."

The Akamai report covers the "State of the Internet 3rd Quarter, 2009." In that report, Akamai noted that the following countries are at the top.
  1. South Korea 14.6 Mbps, up 29% Q2-Q3, up 16 percent year-over-year
  2. Japan 7.9 Mbps, up 8.2 percent Q2-Q3, up 11 percent year-over-year
  3. Hong Kong 7.6 Mbps, up 10 percent Q2-Q3, 13 percent year-over-year
Meanwhile, not only is the U.S. in 18th place with 3.9 Mbps, it was up from Q2-Q3 1.8 percent, but down 2.4 percent year-over-year, not a good trend.

It wouldn't be so bad, perhaps, if the United States' slower connections were also cheaper. Not so, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The slower connection here in the U.S. costs about $45.52 per month on average, while in South Korea an average broadband bill runs about $28.52. That means South Koreans pay more than a third less, yet have broadband that's 3.75x faster than the U.S.

Many have pointed to the obvious fact for the reasons that the U.S. pays more and gets less: lack of competition. For most consumers, they can choose only between a cable company and a telephone company (DSL) when they sign up for broadband. In other countries, including South Korea, the list of choices is much higher.

Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said the following in a New York Times op-ed:
Affordability is the hard part — because there is no competition pushing down prices. The plan acknowledges that only 15 percent of homes will have a choice in providers, and then only between Verizon’s FiOS fiber-optic network and the local cable company. (AT&T’s “fiber” offering is merely souped-up DSL transmitted partly over its old copper wires, which can’t compete at these higher speeds.) The remaining 85 percent will have no choice at all.

[...] But without a strong commitment to open access, things will get worse. Because of the high price of laying their own next-generation fiber optics, would-be competitors like AT&T and Qwest have largely abandoned their goal of bringing fiber to the home, leaving the highest-speed tiers to the cable companies.


Taiwanese firm sues Apple over multi-touch

The word ironic does not do justice to this story. Apple has been sued by Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics over multi-touch.

The multi-touch feature of the iPhone is the one that enables Apple to use pinch-to-zoom in the browser and other applications. According to the report, Elan filed a similar suit in U.S. District Court last year. However, a loophole allows them to refile the suit in a different venue, this time the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The patent, 5,825,352, was first awarded to Logitech but is now owned by Elan.

Apple recently sued HTC over a number of its patents it believed were infringed upon; one was a multi-touch patent, thus leading to the word "ironic" to describe this story.



Wozniak carries two iPhones to fix battery, background processing issues

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple (with Steve Jobs), can afford anything. Thus, he's not afraid to be an early adopter, and not afraid to buy multiples of anything. Thus, as he said, he's getting the iPad, and two of them.

He's getting two: one of the wi-fi only models, which ship this Saturday, and one of the 3G models, which ship later in April (exact date still unannounced). And as he said, he already has a use case for the iPad:
I'm out here on the road with four cell phones and two GPS devices, trying to look at maps, and I wish I had an iPad with me now.
Wozniak's four phones are two iPhones, a Nexus One (Android), a Droid (Android), plus a Garmin and TomTom (both GPS). He also has his Prius' navigation system.

Wozniak has previously said he loves the Nexus One, so the fact that he's carrying that device is no surprise.

As far as why he has two iPhones, it's because of the battery life issues on the iPhone, as well as the lack of multitasking. It's a rather expensive way to correct those issues, but with a multimillionaire, it's not an issue. There is another way to fix the background processing issue: jailbreak.

Additionally, Wozniak said he would wait in line for his iPad, starting Friday night. It's unclear why he didn't simply have it shipped. It's also not clear if he would attempt to "cut," as he did when the original iPhone came out. After all, who will stop the Woz?



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seton Hall to give every student an iPad

Seton Hall University has become (AFAWK) the first university to announce it is giving all of its full-time students an iPad. The initiative starts in the fall semester, as part of the school's Griffin Technology Advantage program.

Not only that, these students will receive a 13" MacBook, and after two years, another brand new MacBook, to take with them when they exit the program. Here's what the school says about their program:
Seton Hill is committed to moving past the teaching of information literacy (understanding how to locate and evaluate information from resources that range from the traditional library to sophisticated online sources) to what we like to call "creative literacy" - teaching you not just how to find the information you need, but how to process it in the way that allows you to make sense of the information, apply the information to actual situations, and solve problems.
In the past, other schools have given out iPhones, iPod touches (and indeed MacBooks, too). While not clear from the announcement, it's likely Seton Hall is giving out the lowest-priced (16GB) and wi-fi only version of the iPad ($499).



Droid 2.1 ROM Update Starts Dropping

This time it looks like it will really happen. According to Verizon, the Droid's long-awaited 2.1 update, which has been postponed a couple of times, is rolling out today. Don't get your hopes up, however: only 10,000 users will get it over the first two days.

According to Verizon, the rollout will go as follows:
  • At noon on 03/30, 1,000 users will receive notification of the update.
  • At 11:59 PM on 03/30, 9,000 more users will receive the update notification.
  • After the first 10,000 users receive the update on 03/30, there will be a 24-hour period when no additional upgrades will be delivered. (you can assume this is in case there are issues reported)
  • On Day 3 (04/01), 200,000 users will receive the update notification at 11:59 PM. This schedule will continue each day thereafter until the update has been delivered to all users.
This will bring the Droid to the same level of software as the Nexus One (the so-called Google Phone). Verizon lists the key advantages as:
  • Email - Yahoo Mail is now supported - customers can simply sign in with their Yahoo! Email address and password. Note: Yahoo! Email is not available over Wi-Fi
  • Pinch to Zoom now available in the Browser, Maps, and Gallery
  • Speech-to-Text - Customers can now use their voice instead of typing whenever a text-entry box appears
  • Google Goggles is now preloaded
  • The new Gallery application uses 3D layout and shows both pictures taken with the customer's Android device and images from Picasa Web Albums account online
Considering the delays to this point, it would be hilarious if they were to pull the ROM update after the first 1,000.



WSJ: two new iPhones coming

It's no secret that Apple will ship a new iPhone this summer. It's released a new model every June or July every year since 2007. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company is also hard at work on a CDMA iPhone for Verizon, to be shipped later in the year.

Rumors of a Verizon iPhone have been rampant for years. Many blame the iPhone's problem with dropped calls (and more) on AT&T's network. As such, there are quite a few consumers who have been waiting for a Verizon version of the world's most in-demand smartphone.

According to the report, one of the new iPhones is being manufactured by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai. There's no surprise there; that's the company that produced Apple's previous iPhones. Meanwhile, Pegatron Technology Corp., the contract manufacturing subsidiary of Taiwan's ASUSTeK, is producing the CDMA version of the phone. The information came from a "person familiar with the matter," who added that the CDMA iPhone may be in production as early as September, but that it was unclear when Apple might ship the model.

Additionally, it appears the new iPhone will be called the iPhone HD.

Realistically, though, the WSJ's take on the new devices doesn't really give any more info than me already had: suspicion over a new iPhone for AT&T, as well as a CDMA version have been running high for quite some time.

It is, of course, new news about the manufacturers. Additionally, it's always been unclear if AT&T would get a new iPhone this year. The info from the WSJ seems to point to a yes answer for that, and a CDMA version for version out of the typical June / July delivery timeline for iPhone refresh. Or could the new Verizon iPhone be LTE, instead? That would be far more exciting.



IT-savvy students recruited to infiltrate P2P pirates

If you can't beat 'em, infiltrate 'em. Warner Bros Entertainment UK is looking for some "IT literate" student interns with knowledge of P2P networks to help in anti-piracy efforts.

The PDF version of the internship job posting says the following:
Job description:
During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.

Type of vacancy:
Student work placement

Degree required:
Studying a degree in a computing related discipline.

Salary:
£17,500

Location:
London

Starting date:
July 2010

Skills required:
IT literate with Internet experience, ideally including peer protocols, IRC, FTP, web forums and newsgroups. Programming experience with Java or JSP and PHP, Perl or Python would be a bonus. Strong organisation and communication skills.
So, the intern would be like a mole, establishing accounts on some sites, making trap purchases, and even sending takedown notices (oh, the power!).

Since many students actively participate in P2P networks, and not by catching folks, but rather by downloading themselves, it's difficult to say how many would be willing to turn in their fellow downloaders. Still, money is money.

If you want to be able to turn your downloading friends in, however, you'd better hurry. The job posting expires on March 31st.



Best Buy to carry iPads at launch: Apple

Apple confirmed on Monday that on April 3rd, the first day (wi-fi) iPads will be delivered and in Apple stores, most Best Buys will have them as well. Prepare yourselves for a madhouse if you opt for that route.

This had been previously rumored, but now has been confirmed.

Sales will begin at 9 AM Saturday. Since we already know that iPad pre-orders are no longer available for April 3rd delivery or pick-up, that means anyone who really, really wants one and can't wait will have to opt for Best Buy. Imagine the line, if you would

Additionally, Apple also added that its retail stores will offer a free Personal Setup service for every customer. The Geniuses will help end users customize their new iPad with email, apps from the App Store, and so on. They will also host special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about "this magical new product."

Naturally, that will include how to buy e-books, as quickly as possible.

Update: Reportedly, only Best Buy stores with "Apple Shop" displays will carry the iPad in-store. For Saturday's launch day, those stores will receive only five units of each iPad model (16GB, 32GB and 64GB), for a total of 15 iPads per store.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Apple begins shipping iPads to customers

Some customers who placed pre-orders on the first day the iPad was available for sale are starting to see notifications that their orders have shipped. However, despite what seems to be early shipment by Apple, customers won't receive their orders early: Apple will have the shipper hold the shipment until the appropriate day (April 3).

This is the same thing that happened during the iPhone 3GS rollout last summer. Many, including this writer, saw their iPhone 3GS' held at the shipper to make sure it didn't arrive "early." There is virtually no way, based on the way Apple has done it previously, that any will receive their iPads early, unless Apple has had a change of heart (unlikely).

Those happy users who saw their ship notification emails started posting to Twitter on Monday. It's likely more of these will come through during the rest of the week, so not to worry if you ordered and have not received one. Apple won't miss your location on April 3rd unless for some reason your area does not have Saturday delivery.

These first iPads are wi-fi only. The 3G models are scheduled to be delivered in late April, but the exact date is undisclosed, as of yet, by Apple.



Nintendo's DSi XL launches with same DSiWare oversight

Nintendo is launching the larger-screened Nintendo DSi XL in North America, but it comes with a glitch, or rather, an oversight, bound to make owners of DSiWare games upset.

It's the third redesign of Nintendo's DS handheld system. Real estate-wise, the DSi XL is a little over 50 percent larger than existing DSi models. In Japan, which has the highest median age in the world, the DSi XL was marketed as a gaming system that was easier on the eyes of older games.

In the U.S., it's being marketed along social lines, as during the U.S. launch announcement, Nintendo's executive VP of sales and marketing, Cammie Dunaway, alluding more to sharing the gaming experience, saying it will allow "consumers to personalize and share their very own experiences.”

Also, as Nintendo will soon launch e-books for download over the DSiWare store, the XL will naturally, with its larger screen, over the best possible experience for readers. Speaking of DSiWare, however, that's a problem for Nintendo.

Games with a DSi who may have purchased games through the DSiWare store will not, at least at launch, be able to transfer them over or redownload them on a DSi XL. Simply stated, there's no sort of App Store that allows accounting in such a manner that Nintendo can recognize a title is already purchased.

This has been a problem in the past, and one would assume Nintendo might have fixed it already, but the answer is no. However, a spokesperson for Nintendo confirmed that they are thinking about it, saying, "We're looking into that specific topic, but we don't have anything to announce at this time."

The Nintendo DSi XL has an MSRP of $189.99.



Google's Chrome browser again leaves contest unhacked

From the very start, Google has emphasized its web browser Chrome's approach to security, and despite the fact some security holes were found pretty quickly after it launched in pre-release form, it's been very successful at hacking contests. Once again, it has left another such competition unscathed.

The TippingPoint Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) held its annual Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest security conference held in Vancouver, BC. While the highlight of the show was probably the quick hacking of the iPhone (20 seconds), all the browsers tested (Internet Explorer 8, Safari, and Firefox) we hacked as well, with the exception of one: Chrome.

This is the second year that Chrome has left Pwn2Own unblemished. The competition is in its 4th year. True to its name, those who best the security of a product get to keep the hardware it runs on, as well as a cash prize.

Some might credit the fact that Google issued as many as 11 fixes just ahead of the competition. On the other hand, Apple recently patched 16 flaws in Safari, and that didn't seem to make a difference.

Of course, Chrome has a relatively small market share compared to Internet Explorer and Firefox. It has more market share than Safari's however, and its share continues to rise as more extensions are released, and more users try it and see just how much faster (arguably) it is than IE or Firefox.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Apple purchases iPad trademark from Fujitsu

Apple has used its cash to make sure the iPad, scheduled hit stores and UPS trucks (yes, even on Saturday) on April 3 will go off without a hitch. It's purchased the iPad trademark from Fujitsu.

The trademark reassignment took place on March 10, 2010, according to US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) records.

Last September, Apple began opposition proceedings challenging the validity of Fujitsu's iPad trademark. Nothing ever really came of it, although filed three requests for extensions.

Apple had the same sort of issue with the first-generation iPhone. Cisco owned the trademark on that term. A week after Apple announced the original iPhone, Cisco sued. Of course, it was all really posturing, as the two companies agreeed that both could use the name for their differnt products: a VOIP phone for Cisco, and the venerable smartphone for Apple.

One must assume there was some cash greasing the wheel in that deal, as well.



iPads sold out for first day delivery or pick-up

If you haven't ordered your iPad yet, it's already too late to get it on April 3rd, the first day it will be in stores, or be delivered. Going to Apple's pre-order page brings up the bad news that the earliest you can now expect a delivery is April 12th.

Additionally, there appears to no longer be an option to pre-order and get in-store pickup.

The earliest iPads will be available for pick-up on April 3rd in Apple retail stores, and also will be delivered to customers who ordered free delivery on that same day, assuming Saturday delivery is available in their area.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jobs, Schmidt share coffee and talk ... lawsuits, or what?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, they say.  Thus, we see Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, sharing some java at a Palo Alto, CA coffee shop.

Recent reports have indicated that Google and Apple's relationship has gone from friendly to frosty. Much, if not all, of the enmity stems from Apple CEO Steve Jobs feeling of betrayal over Google’s decision to enter the smartphone market with their Android platform.

It doesn't help that Android has been adopted by a number of smartphone OEMs, specifically as an antidote to the iPhone. The sheer number of handsets and form factors have some analysts predicting that Android will overtake the iPhone by 2012.

According to Gizmodo, the tete-a-tete continued until the pair noticed a crowd gathering, at which time Jobs said "Let's go discuss this somewhere more private." The only other thing the tipster heard was Jobs saying, rather enthusiastically, "They're going to see it all eventually so who cares how they get it," possibly about web content.

Giz went so far as to hire a body language analyst to check out the interaction between the two. However, it's all based on two photos at the cafe, as well as historical photos. While the older ones might be enough to judge things, it would obviously be better if the analyst had some video to work with.

At any rate, the analyst said Schmidt appeard to be afraid of Jobs. If so, he's probably most concerned about the recent patent lawsuit filed by Apple against HTC, most likely over its Android phones.

For those wondering, the meeting took place at the Calafia Cafe & Market which is run by Charlie Ayers. He became famous for creating the gourmet menu for Google's cafeteria while he was the company’s chef.



GPS Speeding Defense Fails in Ohio

It's not the first time that GPS has been pitted against the radar gun, or some other form of speeding detection. It's also not the first time it's lost.

At least, Jason Barnes of Ohio has lost so far. After receiving two points on his license and a $35 fine for allegedly driving 84 mph in a 65 mph portion of Interstate 75 in March 2009, he tried using his employer's GPS system to his advantage. Barnes says that his employer uses GPS tracking on his Verizon Wireless phone to detect speeding violations, and that those logs prove he wasn't speeding during this incident.

However, so far he hasn't had any luck getting the ticket thrown out. An Ohio appeals court ruled last Monday that there was not enough evidence to overturn the case. Judge Stephen Shaw wrote the following on behalf of the three-judge panel:
[...] Barnes presented no evidence from a person with personal knowledge regarding how the GPS calculates speed, whether there is any type of calibration of the equipment used to detect speed, whether the methods employed by his particular company to detect speed are scientifically reliable, or the accuracy of the GPS' speed detection. To the contrary, Barnes only offered a download from Wikipedia about some aspects of GPS and his opinion that the company providing this service expended a substantial amount of money into research and development and that those controlling this program have "more training, more expertise than either of these two (2) officers have." As for the compact disc submitted by Barnes after the conclusion of the trial to assist the court in interpreting his exhibits, the manual contained on the disc provides little to no helpful information in determining the method by which the speed calculations are made or the reliability thereof.

{¶21} Given all of the evidence, we find that the credible evidence clearly supports the trial court's judgment that Barnes was traveling in excess of sixty-five miles per hour on Interstate 75, a freeway, on March 17, 2009, in Auglaize County, Ohio. As such, we cannot find that the trial court, acting as the factfinder in this case, clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.
In this case, there was no radar gun involved. Rather, an Ohio State Highway Patrol airplane timed Barnes' car and calculated its speed as "eighty-four miles per hour in both the second and third quarters of the mile and seventy-seven miles per hour in the fourth quarter."

The court's statements make it sound that if Barnes had some sort of expert witness testifying for him, the outcome may have been different. More and more companies are tracking their employees via GPS, so this sort of defense might become more popular, more popular, at least, than driving slower.



Go Green by Changing Your Font

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has found a way to save, not just money, but also the environment as well. It has switched the default font on its e-mail system from Arial to Century Gothic.

One might say, "eh?," but according to the university it will save a decent amount of money and ink when students print emails using the new font. Century Gothic uses 30 percent less ink than Arial, they said.

The University's blog notes that while the report has garnered national attention, it's also been posted mostly to "odd news" sections. As they said:
Is saving money and using less ink “bizarre?” We wouldn’t think so.
Anyone who knows anything about the printer industry knows that printer manufacturers don't make money on the hardware. Printers are pretty cheap because it's the consumables, paper and ink (or toner) that are the real money makers.

The cost of printer ink (full retail, of course) is estimated to be about $10,000 per gallon, so the school could save a bundle. The school says the decision is part of the school's five-year plan to "go green."



Friday, March 26, 2010

Hacker claims untethered jailbreak for all iDevices coming soon

George Hotz, who was the first to jailbreak the original iPhone back in 2007, then was the first to jailbreak iPhone OS 3.0, has announced he's successfully develop an untethered jailbreak for current ROMs / models of the iPhone and iPod touch.

Currently, those on 3.1.3, with the new iPhone bootrom, and third-generation iPod touch owners are stuck with a tethered jailbreak. That means that if you need to boot (or turn on) your iPhone or iPt3, you have to be tethered via cable to a computer.

Hotz, or geohot, says he's developed a method to get around that. He even provides a video, and says it will probably work on an iPad. What he doesn't provide is a date for release.
[...] The jailbreak is all software based, and is as simple to use as blackra1n. It is completely untethered, works on all current tethered models(ipt2, 3gs, ipt3), and will probably work on iPad too.

Don't ask about a release date. You won't make it happen any sooner.
Watch the video below:


Public health director attributes syphilis rate rise to Facebook

A public health director has announced that his staff has found a link between usage of the social networking site Facebook and a rise in syphilis in the U.K. According to the report, cases have increased 4x in the areas in Great Britain where Facebook is the most popular: Sunderland, Durham and Teesside.

Professor Peter Kelly is director of public health in Teesside. He said:
“Syphilis is a devastating disease. Anyone who has unprotected sex with casual partners is at high risk.

"There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected.

"I don't get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites. Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex."
Facebook's reply? Feh.
"Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers are responsible for bad vision."
The statement by Kelly seems overly alarmist. While it is true that people in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside are 25 percent more likely to logon to social networking sites than other areas of the U.K., that hardly is sufficient information to correlate a rise in syphilis to Facebook use.

Dr. Dominika Osmolska, P.Syd, said, "There doesn't appear to be a study involved here. It appears that the professor just took what appears to be unrelated statistical data and linked them without research. It would be hard to justify his comments, based on that."



Thursday, March 25, 2010

AT&T's femtocell service to begin national rollout in mid-April

After months of testing its 3G MicroCell femtocell service in limited locations, AT&T on Wednesday announced plans to go national with the service. The target date for initial rollout is mid-April.

It won't be done all at once, however. According to their press release, cities across the U.S. will get the service in the next several months.

A femtocell leverages a customer's broadband to improve the cellular reception in a residence. AT&T's version, the 3G MicroCell, is the only femtocell to support both 3G data and voice services.

Consumers will manage their AT&T 3G MicroCell though their online MyWireless account. Only those phones defined by the customer will be able to use the MicroCell. Minutes used through the MicroCell affect only the account of the phone making the call, and there is no requirement to purchase separate service for the 3G MicroCell. The AT&T 3G MicroCell itself will cost $149.99.

If however, a customer wants to, they can select a $19.99 a month rate plan that allows unlimited calls through their 3G MicroCell. Additionally, those who select that plan at purchase will get the customer a $100 mail-in rebate. If a customer also purchases a new line of broadband service with AT&T (DSL or U-verse 1.5MB or higher), they can also receive another $50 mail-in rebate. If both options are selected, the 3G MicroCell is effectively free.

The price of the MicroCell, even without the rate plan, will grate on some. Many will ask why a customer should pay to fix AT&T's crappy service. Or, also, why should they have any minutes deducted from their calling plans at all, even if they don't have the rate plan above. After all, 3G MicroCell users are taking stress off of AT&T's beleaguered network.



ThickButtons expands, contracts on-screen keys to speed typing

Those frustrated with trying to type on an on-screen keyboard (OSK), who don't want to learn a totally different way of entering text (like Swype) may have another solution available, but not on the iPhone.

The app is called ThickButtons. Leveraging text prediction technology, it expands certain keys in the OSK based on what it expects the word to be. As typing continues, and the possible variations shrinks, so does the number of expanded keys.

The app is free, but currently available only for Android, with a Windows Mobile version being developed. The company discussing a BlackBerry version with RIM for a Blackberry version, but there are no plans for a Palm webOS version.

As far as the iPhone, there's probably no way this will ever appear on the iPhone. First, the iPhone doesn't allow background processing, so you'd never be able to see a third-party app integrated into the OS as this Android version can be. Additionally, Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps that conflict or duplicate functionality of native apps, and ThickButtons said that the iPhone's keyboard already has a feature like this (but it must be such a small expansion of the OSK keys that many, including us, never noticed it).

One drawback for those on Android 2.1: the ThickButtons keyboard does not support the voice input of the native Android keyboard. So if you install, and activate the keyboard in the OS (as here), you lose that functionality.

Here's how to enable it in the OS once installed.
  • Go to Settings.
  • Choose Language & Keyboard.
  • Activate 'ThickButtons'.
  • Click OK past the warning message
  • Tap and hold any text field e.g. the Search Box.
  • An "Edit text" menu will appear, select Input Method option.
  • In the "Input method" menu select ThickButtons.
Watch a demo below:





Internet a threat to endangered species: conservationists

The Internet may be in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize, but it also has some negative uses. We all have heard of cyberbullying, racist and terrorist web sites, and more, but on Sunday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar, conservationists noted the Internet's threat to endangered species.

The reason, experts say, is that that Internet makes it far easier to buy banned products, or even animals themselves, illegally via online auction sites or chatrooms.

Paul Todd, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said that "The Internet is becoming the dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species." A three-month IFAW survey found more than 7,000 species worth $3.8 million sold on auction sites and in classified ads and chat rooms. The largest market, they said, is the U.S. but Europe, China, Russia and Australia are also involved.

Of course, it's not the Web itself that threatens endangered species. Rather, it is just a way to market and sell products to the real threat: humans. Some larger sites, however, are taking action. In 2008, eBay banned the sale of ivory on its site worldwide.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Google's Corporate Site Hacked, Displays Chinese

Google was hacked on Wednesday morning, in what appears to be an obvious reprisal from their recent move of redirecting mainland Chinese users to uncensored search results from their Hong Kong site.

As first noted by the Guardian, Google's corporate site was hacked with the page for "Google Management" displaying all the information in Chinese. That page lists information on the executive team.

For Chrome users, at least, since Google recently moved the translation feature to the "stable" build of Chrome, they could instantly translate to the correct English.

Google first made moves toward halting censorship of its Chinese search results in January, after discovering hacking into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights advocates. The company stated that the intrusions came from China.

On Monday, after months of discussion with Chinese authorities, Google began redirecting those visiting Google.cn to Google.com.hk, which has uncensored results. Chinese authorities were quick to block some access, and blasted Google publicly, as well.

At the time of this writing, the corporate site is still displaying Chinese on various pages.



Jobs Dogfoods on the iPad

Steve Jobs is dogfooding. Several emails from the Apple CEO to end users have been leaked in the last day or so, and he's been replying via his iPad. Jobs has been known to directly respond to end users in the past.

Eating one's own dog food, also called dogfooding, is when a company uses the products that it makes. Apple is targeting business users as potential iPad customers, as shown by features designed to make the device attractive to the enterprises. Jobs' use of the device for his email shows he's not afraid to use his own product.

However, details from the email confirm that Jobs is not an early adopter. As with an earlier email from his iPhone, Jobs is on the previous firmware version for the device.

The emails that have been leaked include:
  • confirmation that there was a way to get documents onto the iPad through iWork.com or the iDisk.
  • confirmation of a universal inbox in the Mail app (currently the iPhone OS only allows for multiple e-mail accounts through separately accessible inboxes).
  • MacBook Pro and Mac Pro hardware will get a refresh.
  • a suggestion that AT&T will not sell Apple iPad initially (which makes sense as 3G-capable iPads won't ship until later)


Mozilla halts Firefox development on Windows Mobile

Citing lack of native application support on Microsoft's new smartphone platform, Mozilla has halted development for Windows Phone. Microsoft has previously announced that there will be no native applications on Windows Phone 7 series, only interpreted or managed code through the two runtime environments provided by Silverlight and XNA.
While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications. Because of this, we won’t be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time. Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don’t know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold.
One would think that Microsoft would have learned from the debacle that was webOS. webOS relied on third-party developers to code in JavaScript which, also interpreted, meant apps running on those devices were slow, slow, and slower.

Of course, Microsoft has said it will make exceptions, and allow some access to the native APIs, which do exist. It's also possible that interpreted code on Windows Phone 7 series will be efficient at operating.

At any rate, Palm opened up native application development recently, and Mozilla only decided to do an Android version after Google opened up native development for Android. It is, therefore, possible that development yet restart.




No-contract iPhones signal a new iPhone coming

The Internet was all over a story on Monday that the iPhone was being sold sans contract, and unlocked (for a primo price). It turned out the unlocked part of the story was wrong, but iPhones are being sold without contract, for $499 (3G), $599 (16GB 3GS), or $699 (32GB 3GS).

That's not the real story however. The real story is that this is a sign of a new iPhone coming.

This is just a method of reducing inventory ahead of the expected iPhone reboot later this year, probably (based on history) around June or July. It was done in 2009, and in fact, went still further. Buy.com eventually sold a still pricier version of the 3G, which was never locked, not unlocked for $799.

This change isn't going to change the market. All it is designed to do is kick devices out the door, and only a few, at that. As they are locked to AT&T, end users who see this as a way to take devices out of the country are going to going to have a reality check.

It is possible to unlock the 3G, but those with the 3GS new boot ROM and 3.1.3 are currently out of luck as far as unlocking goes. In other words, those buying a device today won't be able to unlock them anyway, so anyone thinking along those lines should table the idea.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Firing back at Google, China begins blocking HK content

As expected, China has fired back at Google in the company's attempt to redirect users from Google.cn to its uncensored Hong Kong site. Not only has the country replied with a fiery retort, it's begun blocking some access to Google.com.hk from mainland China.

China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed official in a statement made just hours after Monday's announcement by Google.
"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks. This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts."
The New York Times reported that "Mainland Chinese users still could not see much of the unfiltered Hong Kong search results Tuesday because government firewalls either disabled searches for highly objectionable terms completely or blocked links to certain results."

Meanwhile, NBC confirmed the same, via an NBC correspondent in Beijing.
For example, searching for "Hu Jintao," the president's name, "Falun Gong," the name of a semi-religious sect frowned upon by the Chinese government, or "June 4th", the day of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in Google's Hong Kong site resulted in a message saying, "Internet Explorer can not display the Web page."
Google and the Chinese government have been jousting for months, after Google detected attempts to hack into Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights advocates, coming from China.

For those not aware, while Hong Kong is part of China, it was granted a degree of autonomy when it was returned to Chinese rule by the U.K. in 1997. In fact, its legal and political freedoms were largely preserved. That is how Google has made this "end run" around the Chinese censorship issue.

Some are concerned, however, that Google's move may place Hong Kong's leadership in an unfavorable light. Nicholas Bequelin, Human Rights Watch's senior Asia researcher said:
"China may also read this as a challenge to its sovereignty of Hong Kong. Google's move is probably going to put the heat on the Hong Kong authorities, (whose) leadership is handpicked by Beijing."
Unlike most of the rest of the world, Google doesn't have the market lead in China. The search market is largely owned by Chinese-run Baidu. However, even with a second place ranking in China, the sheer number of users in that country would obviously make its opportunities attractive to Google.



Nintendo announces 3D version of DS; shades of Virtual Boy

Nintendo jumped into 3D on Tuesday, not in TVs, but in portable gaming. The company has announced the Nintendo 3DS, which will be a 3D version of their popular two-screen Nintendo DS and DSi.

The company gave only limited details via a press release in Japan. The system will have the same two-screens of the older consoles, and will also be backwards compatible with current DS and DSi games. It will not require special glasses.

3DS will apparently be shown off at this year's E3 trade show, which will take place in June. The system is expected to be released before the end of the fiscal year. That would mean, typically the device will show in Japan by no later the end of Q1 2011, or March.

At this point, Nintendo is very hush-hush about the system, releasing no images. However, those with long memories might remember the 1995 SNAFU that was "Virtual Boy," another 3D gaming attempt by Nintendo.

"Virtual Boy" was definitely way too far ahead of its time. Released on July 21, 1995 in Japan and August 14, 1995 in North America at a price of around US$180, it was ill-received and discontinued the following year.

The biggest problem with the system was the fact that using it could give you a headache. In fact, it wasn't isolated to a few; most players said using it had that effect.

That was a long time ago, and technology has advanced greatly. Remembering the Nintendo Wii, which many scoffed at, most will probably withhold judgment this time, on the Nintendo 3DS (or whatever it is finally called), until they see it. If anyone can pull this one off, it's Nintendo.

Watch a video of a "Virtual Boy" ad:



Gifting Added to the App Store

Apple has quietly added the ability to "gift" an app from the App Store. The new menu item is shown above, and shows up if you drop down the "Buy App" sub-menu.

Click "Gift This App" and you'll be presented an screen that has fields for the recipient's name, email, and a personal message. If you like, you can enter multiple email addresses and have multiple gifts sent.

Naturally, this does not work for in-app purchases. Now, if the App Store would only the ability to download trial versions ...



Using HK servers, Google does an end run around Chinese censorship

Google, which first signaled its intention to halt censoring its Chinese search results in January, has followed through on the threat. Google.cn now redirects to Google.com.hk in Hong Kong, where results are uncensored.

Google first made the threat after it detected hacking into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. It said the intrusions originated from China.

The new move closes Google.cn, and redirects users to Google.com.hk, where for users from mainland China will see uncensored results from Google Search, Google News, and Google Images, in simplified Chinese. Users in Hong Kong will see no content changes, continuing to uncensored, traditional Chinese service from Google.com.hk.

Users from Hong Kong may, however, see performance changes. Google noted that due to the increased load on their Hong Kong servers, users may see some performance issues until the switchover is complete.

In a blog post announcing the change, David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, said:
Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese fromGoogle.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. [...]

In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk. Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.
Obviously, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that China will take action to block access to Google's Hong Kong servers.

To that end, Google has created a monitoring portal of sorts. It is similar to the Apps Status Dashboard that lets Google Apps customers know if there's a problem. The page will display status on indicating if the Chinese government is blocking various Google services.



Amazon.com Unveils Kindle App for iPad

There aren't any iPads in customer hands yet, but that will happen soon, as in April 3. On Monday, Amazon.com made sure everyone knew they were ready, unveiling the Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers (including Kindle for iPad) web page.

Strangely, they put that "(including Kindle for iPad)" in "fine print;" some would say it should be bolded.

As with other Kindle apps on other devices and platforms (PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, Blackberry), the app will sync between your other app versions or a Kindle itself to make sure that you pick up where you left off when you "pick up" another device.

Amazon.com said that at the time of the iPad's launch, more than 450,000 Kindle books will be available, including 101 of 112 New York Times Best Sellers. Additionally, Amazon.com noted the following UI features.
  • Get the best reading experience available on your tablet computer including the iPad. No Kindle required
  • Tailored to the size, look, and feel of your tablet computer
  • Customize background color and font size to ease eye strain
  • Adjust screen brightness from within the app to make reading easier
  • Page turn animation replicates the look of turning a page in a book. Or choose Basic Reading Mode for a simpler and unadorned reading experience
It's also known that Barnes & Noble will have its own iPad app ready for the device's launch. Meanwhile, however, Android users continue to wonder where the heck an app for their smartphones is.


Monday, March 22, 2010

New York runaway Prius cause: driver error

As of Monday, Harrison, NY, police completed their investigation of a runaway Prius incident, and came to the same conclusion that the NHTSA did last week: driver error.

The police investigation agreed with the NHTSA, in finding that the driver, housekeeper Gloria Rosel, 56, did not brake before she crashed into a wall on March 9th. She had reported that her 2005 Prius accelerated uncontrollably, crossed a street and hit a wall.

Harrison police Capt. and acting chief Anthony Marraccini said:
"The vehicle accelertor in this case was depressed 100 percent at the time of collision, and there was absolutely no indication of any brake application. She believes she depressed the brake, but that just simply isn't the case here."
The Prius was not among the models Toyota recently recalled as a result of gas pedals that could stick, but it was recalled late last year for floor mats that could become entangled with the pedal. Rosel's Prius had been repaired for the floor mat problem.

Although not all cars sold in America have event data recorders, or black boxes, the Prius is among those that does. The data from the incident was used to come to the conclusions that the police and NHTSA reached.



Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus Confirmed for AT&T

Palm confirmed on Monday that the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus will be coming to AT&T. The company did not announce an actual date of release, simply that they would arrive in "the coming months."

The timing of the announcement is not coincidental: analysts last week were setting a price target for Palm of zero, meaning they think the stock is worthless.

The stock had fallen all the way to $4 a share on Friday. With the announcement, the stock rose $0.18 in early trading.

Palm continues to struggle against other smartphone platforms. While the iPhone undeniably set the bar for smartphones, the sheer volume of different Android handsets is yet another challenge. Additionally, the webOS platform has a mere 2,000 apps in its Catalog, vs. Android's 30,000 and the App Store's seemingly innumerable set of apps.

The announcement, once the handsets launch, will mean that Palm's webOS devices will be on all three of the largest carriers in the U.S. (Sprint, first; then Verizon, and AT&T). Aside from the change to GSM, the hardware is the same as for the Plus models on Verizon.

However, the AT&T versions of the Plus devices won't support the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot feature of the Verizon version, which allows you to turn your phone into a mobile router. In place of that, however, customers (of course) will have access to AT&T huge wi-fi hotspot network. And with that, there is a new feature called “Whisper," which automatically connects AT&T Hotspot customers to any AT&T wi-fi access point without requiring them to re-enter their credentials.

Pricing will be $149.99 for the Pre Plus, and $49.99 for the Pixi Plus. Both will require a mail-in rebate, though it's possible that Best Buy, which has done so in the past, will offer the models with an "instant" rebate.




Apple offering iPad "discounts" to schools

Apple is offering iPad bulk discounts to educational institutions. Sadly, the discounts are so small as to make commenters on some sites use the "g" word (greed).

The discounts on the ten packs amount to $20 apiece. As a sort of "green incentive" unrelated to dollars, Apple reduces packaging by eliminating separate retail packaging for the devices, as well as shipping with only one set of documentation. It makes one wonder how much of a discount this really is, as the savings Apple gets on shipping and packaging might mean they even make a profit on this.

Currently, only Wi-Fi iPad models (priced at retail $499 / $599 / $699 for 16GB / 32GB / 64GB) are available for order through the program. If AppleCare is ordered along with the iPads the discounts doubles (whoa!) to $40 / iPad.
  • BF822LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (16GB) $4,790
  • BF825LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (16GB) with AppleCare Protection Plan for iPad - Auto Enroll $5,580
  • BF823LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (32GB) $5,790
  • BF826LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (32GB) with AppleCare Protection Plan for iPad - Auto Enroll $6,580
  • BF824LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (64GB) $6,790
  • BF827LL/A: iPad Wi-Fi (64GB) with AppleCare Protection Plan for iPad - Auto Enroll $7,580
While a discount is a discount, it's clear that Apple could discount far further than 4 percent on the 16GB model. Tiny discounts like that are why people buy from sites like Amazon.com; for high sales tax states like California, even if the price is identical, the sales tax savings alone is a much better deal.


Wrapsol Smartphone Protective Film Fails Its Own Test

The folks at Wrapsol need to learn: if you are going to do a video test of your smartphone protection product, if it doesn't work during the video, re-shoot it. Don't try to cover it up.

Wrapsol has the same sort of wrap-around thin plastic shielding film protection that other manufacturers such as Zagg (invisibleShield) and Case-Mate (Clear Armor) have. While these sorts of things are notoriously hard to apply (at least flawlessly), the are generally good at stopping scratches. Dragging behind a car at 35 MPH, as Wrapsol did: big fail.

First, they took a Nokia N97 mini, and rather than wrapping it properly (which would take a heck of a long time), they simpled folded the Wrapsol Ultra film over it like you might with a sandwich. Then, they took a drive test, dragging it behind a car.

Problem is, when you watch the results of the test, at 2:40 in the video, you can see the circuit board of the phone, as the screen battery cover had come loose. Of course, the demonstrator managed to snap it back into place quickly, but come on, guys: you think we can't see?

Then, at about 3:01 in the video, but quickly covered up by a thumb, you can see the camera lens on the backside of the N97 mini is cracked. Considering this was just posted to YouTube, and not on TV, meaning the production costs must have been pretty minimal (except, perhaps for the damaged phone), one has to wonder why they simply didn't reshoot.

Or perhaps they did, and this is the best they could come up with. Sad. Watch the video, and look carefully at the times we pointed out. I've downloaded and converted the original YouTube video, in case they decide to "correct it."

Update: it's true I made a mistake, but I stand by the fact that the advertiser says it's pretty much untouched after the dragging, and that camera lens is broken. While it may do well for scratches, that's not what they were trying to say in this ad. If they wanted to sell it that way, they should just do a scratch test with a coin like others did. The fact that he clearly covers the lens with his thumb shows he knows it's cracked.

video


Burglar uses MySpace to capture himself

Just going to show that thieves aren't the brightest people in the world, a burglar in Kenniwick, WA, logged into his MySpace account at a store computer at Bella Office Furniture. He spent approximately 5 hours browsing porn websites as well as trying to sell stolen items on his MySpace account.

The 17-year-old, whose identity was withheld because of his age, was arrested last Tuesday and charged with first degree burglary. Naturally, the activity on the computer were all that Kennewick Police needed to track him down. Aside from a cell phone that officers said the boy helped them recover, it's unclear what additional items the boy stole from Bella Office Furniture, or if the items he was hawking on MySpace were all from that store.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Windows 7's XP Mode Loses HW Virtualization Requirement

Microsoft's Windows XP mode for Windows 7 was seen as a way to "convince" businesses to adopt Windows 7. It virtually guaranteed that if you couldn't run it in 7, you could run it in XP mode. Problem was, it came ill-designed for such a task.

After all, it was intended to allow businesses to upgrade their systems to Windows 7 while not worrying about compatibility with older apps. At the same time, however, it required that the systems it was run on have hardware virtualization capability. That requirement confused many.

In addition, why would you require a technology that older systems at many businesses running Windows XP simply did not have? Microsoft "got it," and on Thursday announced that it has removed that requirement.

Of course, Windows XP Mode will leverage virtualization technology such as Intel VT or AMD-V if available. At the same time, Microsoft continues to require that users of Windows XP Mode have the most expensive versions of Windows 7: Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions. Of course, millions of consumers have switched from XP to Windows 7 Home Premium. For those, there is no option.

Microsoft probably views Windows XP Mode as most valuable to businesses, and those customers would probably opt for Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise. John Q. Public, and perhaps small businesses as well, however, are left out in the cold.
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Steve Jobs Pushes For California Organ Donor Legislation

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 55, who had a liver transplant last year in Tennessee, made a surprise visit to Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital on Friday to promote a new legislative effort to expand the number of California organ donors.

While Steve Jobs described how his life was saved by the liver transplant, and said that patients with less wealth and fame should have the same opportunities, it's clear that can never be the case. Jobs' doctors advised him to enroll in a transplant program in Memphis, TN, where the supply-demand ratio of livers is more favorable than it is in California.

Methodist Hospital in Memphis said Jobs did not receive favoritism, but rather received his transplant because he was the sickest patient on the wait list, with a matching blood type, when a donor organ became available. However, only someone with Jobs' wealth and a private jet could make the cross-country trip to Memphis in four hours, the window necessary for the organ to remain viable. Alternatively, they would have to wait in a nearby home or hotel, which also means abandoning one's life and perhaps job, as well as money for the rental.

That said, the new legislation is designed to increase the number of donors in-state. 98 percent of the organs donated in California come via the DMV. The rest come from the online donor registry. However, of the 26 million drivers in the state, only 6.3 million have signed to be organ and tissue donors. This is among the lowest rates in the nation.

Those fearing the new bill should remain calm: the new bill would not require applicants for a driver's license in California to agree to donation. Rather, it would simply require that they answer the question of whether or not they will agree. Currently, the DMV issues a license regardless of whether the applicant answers that question.

The bill would also create a "California Living Donor Registry." That would connect sick patients with altruistic strangers who are willing to donate a kidney. According to Stanford physicians, kidney donation is relatively safe and does not shorten a donor's life span.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger thanked Jobs for his efforts. Steve Jobs is known to be a very private person. He had not spoken publicly regarding his transplant before this event. Schwarzenegger said:
"Steve Jobs was very instrumental in getting us here today. He put the pressure on us to get this bill going."
The governor also added details on how this all came to pass, when Steve Jobs spoke to Schwarzenegger's wife Maria Shriver last Christmas, and ...
"talked to my wife about his transplant and then my wife talked to me about it, and I talked to him about it, and we had these great phone conversations back and forth and now here it is reality — we are introducing the bill.

"What I like about Steve is, because he is a wealthy man that helped him get the transplant. But he doesn't want that — that only wealthy people can get the transplant and have a plane waiting to take him anywhere he needs to go.

"He wants every human being, if you have no money at all or if you're the richest person in the world, everyone ought to have the right to get a transplant immediately."
That sentiment should be applauded but as noted above, it simply won't be possible: the wealthy will always have better access.

The wealthy will also always have the capability of paying for such a transplant. The United States still is the only industrialized nation without Universal Health Care, and the results of that lack are evident statistically: compare UNICEF's statistics for the U.S. vs. Cuba, which is a third-world country yet has universal health care, to be unpleasantly surprised. Additionally, add in Canada, which prior to instituting its own Universal Health Care system was statistically similar to the U.S.:

Under 5 mortality rate (2008): U.S. 8, Cuba 6, Canada 6
Life expectancy at birth (years), 2008: U.S. 79, Cuba 79, Canada 81

For those concerned about deficits: how much would you be willing to spend to an extra two years of life? How many extra taxes would you be willing to pay to ensure a safety net where you would not go bankrupt because of unexpected medical costs, which causes the most bankruptcies in the U.S. every year?

You can watch video of the press event here.
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Apple Pulls Game From App Store After Developer Rant

While there's no evidence that points to this developer's rant as the reason his app was pulled, it's undeniable that his game was pulled from the App Store soon after it. Game developer Tommy Refenes publicly called Apple's app store "awful" and "horrible" (and worse) on March 10th at the Game Developer's Conference. This week, Apple kicked his game out of the App Store.

His game was "Zits & Giggles." It's a simple pimple-popping game for the iPhone and iPod touch, which reportedly the developers created as a "lark." In fact, since the game was released March 9th of 2009, sales have been "negligible."

During his rant, Refenes said that he "absolutely f*cking hate the iPhone App Store. I think it's awful; I think it's horrible."

He added that he started an experiment five months ago, to prove that the App Store is "kind of sh*t, for most things." The experiment was changing the pricing, to ridiculous prices for a game, especially a game this simple.

Five months ago, Refenses raised the game's price to $15. The day he raised it, three people bought it. Raising the price up to $50 allegedly resulted in four sales, and fourteen people are said to have bought the game when the price escalated to $299. One person even bought the game for $400 on the same day it was removed from the App Store.

Refenses conclusion: most people who buy games on the App Store are not gamers. The App Store is a way to sell a brand, much like the old, unlamented Tiger handhelds he spoke about, as well.
Big names sell, but they don't play well on a touchscreen, he concluded.

Another possible conclusion: people paying $299 for this sort of game are idiots. But that's another story.

At any rate, the app is out of the store, and Apple, as it typically does, will not give an explanation for the banning. It could be because he continued to raise the price, as Apple has a history of banning outlandishly nonsense apps.

Or, it could be because he ranted and dissed the App Store. We'll never know, unless Apple opens up, and that's unlikely, based on history.

Watch Refenes' rant on video:

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