Monday, May 31, 2010

Facebook app 'honors the fallen' on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, Facebook joined with the White House Commission on Remembrance and app developer Involver to debut a campaign to remember the more than 2 million American soldiers who have died in service. The app, called Involver - Honor the Fallen, asks Facebook users to "donate their status" for the fallen.

TiVo PremiereThe Facebook app can randomly select a name from the database of America's war fallen, once the user chooses a war. Alternatively, the user can insert a name themselves if they want to honor someone they personally knew.

Once done, their status will read: “In honor of Memorial Day, I am dedicating my status in remembrance of [name] who was killed in the [war name[. Wherever you are at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, pause for the National Moment of Remembrance.”

The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3 PM local time nationwide. Americans are asked to unite to honor our war dead with a moment of silence.

The Facebook application, which officially went live on Memorial Day, is being promoted on other government and U.S. military Facebook pages including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Dept. Of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, the White House and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Pakistani court orders Facebook ban lifted

On Monday, a Pakistani court ordered the country's ban on Facebook, instituted on May 19th, to be lifted. The ban had gone into effect over a Facebook Group called Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

High-Quality iPod/iPhone AccessoriesThe group has drawn the attention of many, including Bangladesh, which instituted its own ban on Sunday, as well as Pakistan. The page encouraged people to draw Mohammed on May 20th, as a protest over threats made against the creators of South Park due to images of Mohammed that were to appear on the show.

The Lahore High Court ordered the ban on Facebook on May 20th and blocked YouTube a day later. The YouTube ban was lifted on May 27th. Chaudhry Zulfiqar, the lawyer who asked the court to block Facebook on May 19, said:
“The counsel for the state provided documents showing correspondence between the Facebook management and Richard Holbrooke (U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan). According to those documents, Facebook assured the court no blasphemous material will be available to users in Pakistan.”
Images of the Prophet Mohammed are banned in Islam. Aside from Facebook, Wikipedia has, in the past, been a target for criticism over displaying images of the Prophet in articles on the subject.

iPed (not iPad) seen selling in China

It has always been strange to some, how easily America chose to outsource its manufacturing, including much intellectual property (IP) to China, where illegal cloning of software and devices is common. Thus, we now have the iPed, selling in China.

Fandango - Movie Tickets OnlineWhat's funny is that the device is on sale in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen is the location of the largest Foxconn plant, where the iPad (and iPhone) is manufactured (and where a number of suicides have happened lately). The iPed comes packaged in a box that looks a lot like the iPad.

Does that imply some sort of leak from the Shenzhen plant? Not necessarily, but common sense would say, "Of course. It's China, where IP is not sacred."

As for the iPed itself, it comes with an Intel CPU and runs Google’s Android OS, rather than the iPhone OS. It could, in fact, be a preview of legit Android tablets to come, which are expected.

How much does the iPed set back a Chinese buyer? Typical of cloned and ripped-off DVDs and products, it's cheap. The iPed runs just 9,600 Yen, or $105.

South Korean Internet addicts guilty of starving their baby to death

Internet addiction does exist, and a married South Korean couple is a prime example. The pair, identified only by their surname, Kim, was convicted on Friday of neglecting their newborn daughter, who died of malnutrition while the couple played an online game in which they raised a virtual child.

According to prosectutors, the pair played an average of 10 hours a day at Internet cafes. They bottle-fed their baby only once a day. Further, said prosecutors, the girl, three-month-old Kim Sa-rang, who had been born prematurely, was often fed rotten formula. She was beaten when she cried out of hunger, prosecutors added.

Prosecutors at Suwon District Court had sought a five-year sentence for negligent homicide. However, the husband, a 41-year-old taxi driver, and his 25-year-old wife, a former factory worker, were instead sentenced to two years in prison. The woman's term was suspended because, potentially sadly for the unborn child, she is pregnant with the couple's daughter. On probation, the mother will avoid jail time only if she stays out of trouble for three years.

Box Shot : Panda Internet Security 2010Kim Sa-rang died of malnutrition in September. The game her parents played, an online fantasy game called Prius Online (shown), does not involve a Japanese hybrid car. Rather, it ironically involves nurturing an online girl who gains magical powers as she grows.

They couple found their daughter dead when they returned to their home in Suwon, just south of Seoul, after an all-night gaming session last September. After an autopsy determined malnutrition to be the cause of death, they hid at a relative's house.

Internet gaming is widely popular in South Korea. There are some 21,500 Internet cafes in the country, and ultra-high speed Internet connections nationwide, which Americans can only drool at.

The Suwon District Court said in the ruling, "This constitutes an inhumane crime where the defendants abandoned even the most basic responsibilities as parents, and is unforgivable beyond any excuse or reason." The couple has seven days to appeal.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bangladesh joins Pakistan in blocking Facebook

Bangladesh has joined Pakistan in blocking Facebook. At issue for both countries is a Facebook Group called Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

Originally scheduled for May 20th, the page encouraged people to draw Mohammed on that day. The page was a protest over threats made against the creators of South Park due to images of Mohammed that were to appear on the show. Images of the prophet Mohammed are banned under Islamic law. The page has about 3,000 fans, and it hosts several images of the Prophet Mohammed.

While Bangladesh cut off access on Sunday, on May 19, Pakistan similarly cut off access to Facebook, following a court order. The court is set to review that block on Monday.

Bangladesh officials said access to Facebook would be restored if the page was removed.

Textfree Unlimited iPhone App becomes just that

Pinger's Textfree Unlimited iPhone app, which formerly cost $5.99 and also had an annual fee of $5.99, is now free, for a limited time. It's unclear how long the limited time is, but head on over to the App Store while it's still free.

Click here for the Best Buy Free Shipping OffersFor an unlimited time, however, the service charge of $5.99 will be waived if you grab the ad-supported version. You can, however, pay if you want to avoid ads.

Textfree Unlimited allows you to pick a phone number, so your get an actual number that you can text back and forth with. It's all cool, but considering how Android is catching up fast to the iPhone, where's an Android version, Pinger?

3G-enabled Skype for iPhone finally arrives

About seven months after AT&T said it would allow VOIP apps to its 3G network, and about four months after rivals Fring and iCall offered their own apps with 3G support, Skype has finally added that functionality. Ah, but that's only if you pay for it.

Roxio Easy Media Creator 10- Buy Now!Skype 2.0 for the iPhone has been released, and it has some improvements, but the most notable one, the ability to use 3G for VOIP calls, will cost you. Here's the good news / bad news, with the full list of changes:
Upgrades / improvements include:
  • Call using your 3G connection. Skype-to-Skype calls on 3G are free until at least end of August 2010, after which there will be a small monthly fee (operator charges for data will still apply).
  • Near CD-quality sound for Skype-to-Skype calls using wideband audio (SILK codec) on iPhone 3GS and 2nd generation iPod touch.
  • Enhanced call quality indicator.
  • Improved start-up time.
  • Fast access to the dial pad from iPhone home screen.
It's been two months since Verizon and Skype starting serving up VOIP on Verizon's 3G network, BTW, without that extra fee. The fee is likely one for Skype, not for AT&T.

Watch a video:

After accident, woman sues Google for bad walking directions

We've warned in the past that you shouldn't blindly rely on your GPS unit to give you directions, as people have been led astray (and nearly off cliffs) before. What about walking directions? If led onto a busy highway and hit by a car, can you sue?

That's the question being raised in a lawsuit by Lauren Rosenberg. She claims that after using Google Maps' "Walking Directions" feature on her BlackBerry (there's the problem: not Android or iPhone), she was led onto a busy highway and hit by a car.

Rosenberg has sued both Google and the car driver, Patrick Harwood, for damages in excess of $100,000. The events occurred January 19, 2009, when Rosenberg, using her Blackberry, got directions between 96 Daly Street and 1710 Prospector Avenue in Park City, UT.

Google's directions led her to “Deer Valley Drive.” Unfortunately, that's also an alternate name for the highway known as Utah State Route 224, which lacks sidewalks. Since Google didn't warn her about that fact, she claims Google is at fault.

While Google explicitly warns online that the walking directions are in beta, saying:
Walking directions are in beta.
Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.
it's unclear if this is shown on the BlackBerry. We have confirmed that version of Google Maps installed on our Nexus One displays the same warning information. However, the version we have on our iPhone 3GS does not.

The filing says, in part,
As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google’s careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Laren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries, including pain and suffering, and causing her to incur medical expenses in amounts in excess of $100,000.00.
Not being a lawyer, obviously my opinion is skewed, but in the lawsuit-crazy U.S., one has to ask: why is it no one can take responsibility for their own actions (once Rosenberg saw 224, wasn't it pretty obvious it was not that safe?) any longer?

Read the complaint below:
Rosenberg v. Harwood (& Google)
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Microsoft angling to become a search 'option' on iPhone

While some were saying on Friday that Microsoft's Bing was about to become the default search engine on the iPhone, it appears things are more complex than that. Rather than booting Google off the iPhone, it appears Microsoft is just trying to become a search "option" on the popular smartphone.

Buy, Sell, & Trade Gift Cards - PlasticJungle.comRight now, Google is the default search engine on the iPhone. You can go into the Preferences on the device, and switch the engine, but you only have one choice: Yahoo. Most, of course, do not make that change.

Naturally a move away from Google and to a different search engine might be something Apple would love to do. After all, at the recent Google I/O conference, Google execs wasted little time bashing Apple. At the same time, Steve Jobs has said "Make no mistake: Google wants to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.”

Google has other services on the iPhone, such as mapping, however. Given the strain between the two companies, it's in Apple's best interest to consider other options. Will Apple dump Google for search? That's doubtful, as most consumers think Google for search. Mapping, on the other hand, might be more likely.

AT&T's $14 a month iPhone insurance a bad bargain

Those of you who have a tendency to be a bit on the clumsy side, resulting in cracked iPhone cases or screens might find this offer interesting. We hope you will do the math, though, because although it's insurance for your iPhone, it comes at a rather steep price.

BGR is reporting that AT&T is set to offer, beginning June 6th, a new insurance service, called MobileProtect. It will be run for AT&T by Asurion. Not only is the cost $13.99 per month, there's a steep deductible as well: $99 for an 8GB iPhone 3G to $199 for a 32GB iPhone 3GS.

You also have to purchase it within 30 days of buying your iPhone, which means current owners are probably out of luck. AT&T is launching this service with the selling point of “Lack of iPhone insurance is a leading source of iPhone related customer complaints.”

All this time, we thought it was poor AT&T voice and data connectivity.

20% off iPad WarrantyIs this a good deal? Hardly. There are quite a few cheaper alternatives. For example, if it's all about safety, we would recommend one of the Ivyskin cases with a touch-thru solid protective front. We've used them ourselves, and they protect solidly. You could also opt for an Otterbox case, similarly with a touch-thru polycarbonate front.

If you would rather eschew a case, or cases so protective (and thus bulky), there are far cheaper insurance options. For example, Squaretrade's third-party insurance costs $8 per month for 24 months, or $96 paid in full for an iPhone 3G. For a 32GB iPhone 3GS, it's $9.99 per month, or $144 paid in full for 24 months of protection. AT&T's plan amounts to $168 for a single year. You also have 90 days after purchase to sign up, 3x that for AT&T.

AT&T's plan does cover lost or stolen devices. SquareTrade's plans do not. However, your homeowners insurance should cover theft of an iPhone (you should check to make sure there's no exception or limitation for electronics); some renter's insurance plans will cover theft as well.

SquareTrade is just one example of ways to insure your iPhone outside of AT&T's plan. It would seem, based on that example, there are plenty of alternatives less costly than AT&T's.

Of possible interest to those who recently purchased an iPad: SquareTrade has a special running now of 20 percent off a coverage plan for the iPad with a 2 or 3 year term. The special pricing is $96 for a two year term (regardless of iPad type) or $136 for a 3 year term.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Time-Warner, Nokia, others voice support for Flash

Adobe has gotten some support for Flash on mobile devices (and the web, too) in the last few days. Earlier this week, it was reported that both Time-Warner and NBC Universal told Apple that wouldn't reformat their video libraries from Flash to HTML5 to work on the iPad, citing (what else) expense. On Friday, both Nokia and Opera said they'd support the new Flash 10.1 software that is coming out.

Click here for the Best Buy Free Shipping OffersFlash-based video and games are found on many websites. However, Apple does not (and never will) allow Flash on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Many sites changed their formats prior to the launch of the iPad, but there are still plenty of those blue boxes around the web telling iPad users they need Flash.

The battle has become a war between Apple and Adobe, with Steve Jobs last month criticizing many aspects of Flash. Adobe, of course, fired back.

Android 2.2 will support Flash 10.1, which means that most likely a large number of devices in a number of form factors will support it. Of course, recent tests on a pre-release version of Froyo (Android 2.2) with Flash 10.1 have not been encouraging. Testers have cited performance issues, even on devices with soup-ed up CPUs like the Nexus One.

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Fake Battery app saves your Android screen from friends' fingerprints

If you are selfish with your Android phone and don't want people to touch it (perhaps because there's no case with a glass front, like this one for the iPhone), then this app is for you. It simulates a low battery condition on Android phones.

Fake Battery is free, and does what it says, which is eliminate the need for your friends to get their fingerprints all over your Nexus One's screen.

Of course, as we all know, whether it is Android or iPhone or even a Palm webOS or Windows Mobile device, that sort of battery out error comes up often enough anyway. Fortunately for Android users, they can swap out the battery (hint, hint, Apple).

The iPad goes global as more countries can buy the "Magical Device"

The "magical device," as Steve Jobs likes to call it at virtually every appearance he makes, has gone international. The iPad began selling in overseas markets on Friday.

Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. were able to at least try to get iPads. The international release had been delayed due to unanticipated popularity in the U.S.

Just as at the U.S launch, lines formed just about everywhere (though folks could order online and have the device delivered, and the reason one would eschew that and stand in line escapes us). Watch a video on the U.K. launch.

"Droid is for Men": Google

A well-known feature of Google search is that if you type in some text in Google's search entry field, and it lists some suggestions that might be what you're looking for. It's interesting what you get if you start looking for Droid (the Motorola Android smartphone on the Verizon network).

$10 Off $200 Coupon! Click Here!Type in "Droid is" and you'll see the above list of options. While you won't see "Droid is a million-selling Android phone," top among them you will see "Droid is better than iPhone." You are also reminded that "Droid is a trademark of Lucasfilm." Negatively, "Droid is heavy," and "Droid is slow." Positively, "Droid is awesome," and "Droid is amazing."

Go a little further, however, and you get the kicker, at least for guys. "Droid is for" what? "Droid is for men." Considering the device is a little on the unstreamlined clunky side, that might be right.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Foxconn asks workers for non-suicide promise; will raise wages

As it struggles to halt the wave of suicides at its Foxconn subsidiary, Hon Hai Precision Industry has promised to raise wages at Foxconn by about 20 percent. Foxconn manufactures iPads and iPhones for Apple as well as other electronics for Dell and Nokia, among others.

The basic salary at the Chinese plants of Foxconn is currently about 900 yuan ($130) per month. A 20 percent increase would amount to new wages of $156 per month. Those involved in "fair trade" movements point out that means, since workers put in 60 hours of work per week, to a wage of 65 cents an hour assuming a 4 week month.

Unlimited Online Backup Only 4.95According to a Foxconn worker surnamed Wang, who was reached by Reuters by telephone, "It may help the suicide situation, because we workers just need money and the financial pressure on us is great. Every little bit helps." However, Wang also pointed out something else: Foxconn was rumored to be paying around 100,000 yuan to compensate families of suicide victims. That would amount to nearly $15,000, which he said was tempting some victims given the low base wages mentioned above.

In more bad publicity for Foxconn, on Wednesday, Foxconn workers said they had been asked to sign a letter from Foxconn which basically was a non-suicide pact.

One paragraph reads:
In terms of my own responsibilities, if I have great difficulties or frustrations I will reach out to relatives to resolve them or report them to the company director, I will also agree to contact and communicate with colleagues, personal staff and relatives. However, I will not harm myself or others; I agree that, in order for the company to protect me and others, it can send me to a hospital should I exhibit abnormal physical or mental problems.
The company has since rescinded the letter.

Gulf oil spill issues? There's an app for that

Crisis Commons, an international volunteer network of technical and business professionals, has released an iPhone / Android application called "Oil Reporter." The app is designed to smartphone users on those platforms to report issues related to the Gulf Coast BP oil spill.

Free Shipping at DermStoreCrisis Commons earlier created a similar app during the early days of the Haiti Earthquake recovery efforts.  Here's how the application is described:
The Oil Reporter mobile application is available on the Android and iPhone platforms. It features the ability to capture geotagged photographs, video, text and basic data elements such the presence of oil and distressed wildlife. The application also provides official phone numbers on where to report oiled beaches, wildlife as well as volunteer information links.
Crisis Commons has also created a website at

The fact that Crisis Commons, which is admittedly not a huge "outfit," chose to create both an iPhone and Android apps just goes to show what is happening more often as Android continues to gain on iPhone: more people are creating Android apps at the same time, or closely after iPhone apps.

As Android eventually overtakes the iPhone (which we believe it will because of the sheer number of different form factors, as well as Google advancements), this may change, with Android apps preceding iPhone apps.

Fring adds video chat to Android app

Fring, which in December of 2009 added video calls to its iPhone / iPod touch app, has added the same feature to its Android app. Of course, unlike the (current) iPhone there are some Android devices that have front-facing cameras, so two-way video chats are possible, provided the phone has enough power.

That's right, the video chat feature is, naturally, limited to Android phones with high-powered CPUs. You can get that 1GHz Snapdragon CPU in the Nexus One can handle it (though the N1 does not have a forward facing camera). The upcoming HTC EVO 4 on Sprint does, however.

Fring, for those who don't know, is a multi-protocol app for Android, iPhone, and other devices that lets you chat (and make voice calls) to your Fring contacts as well as Skype, Google Talk, AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo, and phone contacts.

Interestingly, on the iPhone, it also supports 3G, as well as wi-fi, for VOIP, whereas Skype's iPhone app still doesn't.

Watch a demo of video chat:

Focus for OLPC foundation shifts to one tablet per child

The One Laptop Per Child foundation, which made its mission to provide $100 laptops to children in emerging regions of the world, has given up on that idea. Instead, the OLPC foundation is moving into iPad territory: tablets.

The OLPC foundation isn't going to use an iPad, of course, as there's no way to make that device fit into the $99 target they want. Instead, on Thursday they announced a partnership with chipmaker Marvell, who in March announced the education-focused Moby tablet (above), which Marvell claims will cost $99.

The OLPC foundation hopes to launch the "XO 3.0" tablet at CES in 2011. This would be approximately 2 years earlier than the expected release of the XO-3, which would have been the successor to the OLPC foundation's XO-1.

The XO-1 settled in at about $200, rather than the $100 the OLPC foundation hoped for. In a press release, Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman of One Laptop per Child, said,
"While devices like eReaders and current tablets are terrific literary, media and entertainment platforms, they don't meet the needs of an educational model based on making things, versus just consuming them. Today's learning environments require robust platforms for computation, content creation and experimentation – and all that at a very low cost. Through our partnership with Marvell, OLPC will continue our focus on designing computers that enable children in the developing world to learn through collaboration, as well as providing connectivity to the world's body of knowledge."
Read the full press release below.
One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World

Marvell and OLPC Empower Education Industry to Revolutionize the Classroom Experience through Advanced, Affordably-Priced Tablets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a global organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world access to a modern education, and Marvell, a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, have agreed to jointly develop a family of next-generation OLPC XO tablet computers based on the Marvell® Moby reference design. This new partnership will provide designs and technologies to enable a range of new educational tablets, delivered by OLPC and other education industry leaders, aimed at schools in both the U.S. and developing markets. Marvell is also announcing today it has launched Mobylize, a campaign aimed at improving technology adoption in America's classrooms.

The new family of XO tablets will incorporate elements and new capabilities based on feedback from the nearly 2 million children and families around the world who use the current XO laptop. The XO tablet, for example, will require approximately one watt of power to operate (compared to about 5 watts necessary for the current XO laptop). The XO tablet will also feature a multi-lingual soft keyboard with touch feedback, enabling it to serve millions more children who speak virtually any language anywhere in the world.

The device is also decidedly "constructionist" in nature. By design, it combines hardware and software to deliver a platform that will enable educators, students and families around the world to create their own content, and learn to read, write, and create their own education programs and share all of these experiences via a mesh network model. The device will also feature an application to directly access more than 2 million free books available across the Internet.

"While devices like eReaders and current tablets are terrific literary, media and entertainment platforms, they don't meet the needs of an educational model based on making things, versus just consuming them. Today's learning environments require robust platforms for computation, content creation and experimentation – and all that at a very low cost," said Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman of One Laptop per Child. "Through our partnership with Marvell, OLPC will continue our focus on designing computers that enable children in the developing world to learn through collaboration, as well as providing connectivity to the world's body of knowledge."

"Marvell has made a long-term commitment to improving education and inspiring a revolution in the application of technology in the classroom. The Moby tablet platform – and our partnership with OLPC – represents our joint passion and commitment to give students the power to learn, create, connect and collaborate in entirely new ways," said Weili Dai, Marvell's Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of the Consumer and Computing Business Unit. "Marvell's cutting edge technology – including live content, high quality video (1080p full-HD encode and decode), high performance 3D graphics, Flash 10 Internet and two-way teleconferencing – will fundamentally improve the way students learn by giving them more efficient, relevant – even fun tools to use. Education is the most pressing social and economic issue facing America. I believe the Marvell Moby tablet can ignite a life-long passion for learning in all students everywhere. I am immensely proud of the capability of our Moby tablet and I am extremely honored to partner with the inventor of the netbook market for education, Dr. Nicholas Negroponte. I applaud his leadership, vision, passion and together we will make the world a better place."
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Nine-year-old wins 2010 Doodle 4 Google contest

The 2010 Doodle 4 Google contest is over. The winner is a nine-year-old from El Dorado Springs Missouri, Makenzie Melton. A Google Doodle is one of the images that often appear on Google's home page to celebrate some event. Melton's Doodle was shown on Google's home page for 24 hours.

There were 33,000 submissions in total, with 40 regional Doodle 4 Google winners who were involved in the finals, with a public voting period online. The regional winners spanned grades K-12, with four groups K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.

Here is how Melton described her Doogle 4 Google entry, called "Rainforest Habitat":
I chose this doodle because the rainforest is in danger and it is not fair to the plants and animals. I love everything except spiders and snakes, but I would still save them.
There were 4 National Finalists (one from each age group) who were flown to New York City for a ceremony on Wednesday. Those finalists, including Melton, won the following prizes: a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle on it.

Additionally, Melton won a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of her choice. Her school will also be awarded a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment / improvement of a computer lab.

The other National Finalists were:
  • Raymundo Marquez, Grade 6, of Nellie Mae Glass Elementary, Eagle Pass, Texas for his doodle entitled "Save Our Rainforest."
  • Vance Viggiano, Grade 7, Heritage Home School Academy, Long Valley, New Jersey, for his doodle entitled "The Love of Art."
  • Bevan Schiffli, Grade 11, Highlands School, Highlands, North Carolina, for her doodle entitled "Branch Out."
You can look at the entries of the 40 regional finalists at the link here.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Number of Foxconn suicide attempts reaches 15, perhaps 16

It would be harsh, but one would almost have to say, another day, another Foxconn suicide. Reports from Chinese sites indicate the number of jumpers from Foxconn buildings may have reached 16.

Reportedly, there was a double suicide earlier on Thursday, which would raise the number of jumps to 15 (two survived), but worse, there was a report of another person on the roof, seemingly ready to jump.

Premium iPad CasesThere has not been an update on the potential 16th jumper. This comes only a day after Foxconn opened its plant to reporters.

Foxconn manufactures iPads and iPhones. It also produces products for Dell and Nokia, among others.

It seems almost like science fiction, the number of jumpers. In fact, it is nearly reminiscent of the science fiction film "The Happening."

Many say these suicides underscore the poor conditions at plants not just in China, but in many emerging markets where U.S. corporations use cheap labor in sweatshop conditions to fulfill the desires of industrialized nations for inexpensive goods.

While there is constant denial about this fact by corporations, reports by such investigative shows such as Dateline show the truth of the matter. In addition, cable network Planet Green has a series called Blood, Sweat, and Takeaways that shows the conditions in these factories.

Finally, a simple statement by Apple also shows what life is like in such factories. They noted earlier that their factories must meet certain standards: no more than 60 hours a week, and at least one day off a week. Of course, they do not note the low pay given such personnel, but the fact that iSuppli estimated labor costs of $9 for the iPad shows how low that probably is.

Apple has previously commented on the spate of suicides, as have Dell and Nokia, other companies that use Foxconn. Of course, Apple probably does not appreciate the distraction from its upcoming fourth-generation iPhone announcement.

Android beating the iPhone in China

There's no argument about the biggest "untapped" market in the world, right now: China. So the numbers delivered by Google's new subsidiary, Admob, on Wednesday are surprisingly good news for Google.

Shop for Gaming Accessories at LogitechWhile the April Mobile Metrics Report numbers in the U.S. do not echo the results recently reported by NPD (which showed Android already overtaking the iPhone), the numbers in China show Android having a 20 percent lead over the iPhone. Admob's results come from tracking its ad network on devices.

The numbers in China show 882,384 Android devices, and 725,358 iPhones. However, if you add in iPads and iPod touches, the iPhone OS overtakes Android by a scant 40,000. Indeed, iPads aren't even officially sold there.

It is true, however, that Asian devices like individuality. Thus, the multi-device strategy that Google is taking for Android is a good choice for Asian markets.

Meanwhile, Admob's numbers for the U.S. show Android trailing, but rapidly catching up. The Mobile Metrics Report showed 8.7 million Android phones in the US for April, while there were 10.7 million. Add in the iPad and iPod touch, and the iPhone OS has 18.3 million devices.

Excluding Android's lead in China, however, Android isn't doing as well globally. Worldwide, Android has 11.6 million phones, which would mean Android's user base is 75 percent U.S.-based.

Despite this, however, and taking into account the lead the iPhone had in terms of its relative age vs. Android, it's clear the multi-device, multi-carrier strategy for Android is working. Of course, things could change radically after the fourth-generation iPhone is announced, and if Verizon takes up the device.

Latest iPhone revision to launch in early June: report

It's widely expected that the latest iteration of the iPhone will be announced at WWDC on June 7th, during Steve Jobs' keynote (along with something called iPhone OS 4). When will consumers be able to get their hands on the device? The latest reports indicates the retail launch will be early to mid-June.

In what was such a short missive (BGR didn't even bother to add the normal stuff about anonymous sources, or "sources familiar with the matter") that we looked to make sure the page completely loaded, BGR said the following:
Title says it all, but you didn’t really need a confirmation, did you? The phone will be available for purchase in June, not July, and from what we’ve heard, it won’t even be late June.
Apple has previously said that the iPhone runs on an annual refresh cycle, and hits the June / July timeframe, so there's no real secret there.

Apple has a tendency to launch iPhones on Friday, so are we talking June 11th or 18th? Either way, if they go live with pre-orders on June 7th, after Jobs unveils the new model, you had better hope Apple has beefed up its servers.

iPad poaching sales from netbooks: survey

Has the netbook, admittedly a niche product, been dethroned by the iPad? That's the conclusion that a recent survey by Retrevo seems to point to. Free Shipping and Free ReturnsAccording to Retrevo, when asked the question, “Did you hold off on buying a netbook after the iPad was announced in January?" 30 percent of respondents said yes, and they bought an iPad, while 70 percent bought a netbook (although of that number, 40 percent held off for a while).

For those who are still grappling with the decision, iPad or netbook, the survey said that respondents are leaning heavily toward the iPad. 78 percent, in fact, said they were leaning in that direction.

Netbooks are being squeezed by cheaper laptops, as well. Of those surveyed who struggled with deciding between a netbook and a laptop, 65 percent chose the laptop. Additionally, 65 percent of those currently deciding between the two are leaning toward the laptop.

Does this mean the netbook is dead (or dying). Retrevo says no, but also adds that the explosive growth in the netbook segment is probably over.