Monday, February 28, 2011

Estimate: 1 million Verizon iPhone 4s sold in debut weekend

The lack of lines at Verizon, Apple, and other retailers in terms of the Verizon iPhone have some people worried (including Verizon shareholders, probably), but while there's no real way of knowing yet how many devices were sold in the first weekend, TheStreet believes that the device passed the magic 1 million mark.

TheStreet made that guesstimate on Monday, Feb. 28. In comparison, AT&T sold 1.7 million iPhones 4s on during its debut weekend last year. Remember that the device is now getting creaky with age (for high-tech), 1 million would be a great number.

To come up with that number, TheStreet used the fact that Dan Mead, Verizon Wireless head, told media this past weekend that 60 percent of the company's iPhone 4 sales were from preorders. Given that recent analyst estimates say Verizon's iPhone preorders were about 600,000 (once again, a guesstimate), then that would extrapolate to 1 million iPhone 4s sold on the Verizon network in the device's opening weekend.

Of course, the question arises: where's the crowing?  Apple generally releases information when a device or service passes a significant milestone, and one would think that 1 million is a good figure.

Verizon says it will not release the actual sales figures until its Q1 earnings report in April. It's also possible that sales were tempered by the fact that the iPhone 5 is about 4 months away. It's believed that device will be a dual-mode GSM / CDMA device. It won't be, most believe, an LTE device, and certainly not on AT&T's network, which won't begin testing of its own LTE service until mid-2011.

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Parody article stating King Abdullah buying Facebook to quell Middle Eastern unrest fools media

While it might make sense in terms of trying to stem the Middle Eastern unrest, it really makes no sense in real-world terms. In addition, the last sentence in the article should have clued folks in that this was just a parody: (Sunday Humor article at are meant to humor our readers. They may or may not be the truth).

The parody that claimed dozens of newspapers and blogs in the Middle East was posted at DawnWires on Sunday, Feb. 27. The article suggested that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Facebook, for $150 billion, to quell the unrest in the Middle East.

The initial paragraph of the spoof said:
Inside sources within the kingdom suggest that he is very upset with Mark Zukerberg for allowing the revolt to get out of control. In a personal meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and King Abdullah on Jan 25, 2011, Zuckerberg had promised that he would not allow any revolt pages to be formed on Facebook even while he allowed Egypt and Libya revolt pages to be formed. But little did King Abdullah know Zuckerberg. Had he seen the movie “Social Network”, he would have been better advised than to trust Zuckerberg.
Even without knowing it's a parody, that paragraph has to lead to a chuckle, and make one wonder about the seriousness of the "article." Commenters, as well as Middle East media, took the article seriously. One said:
The freedom of many people is threatened. If Zuckerberg is a human being, he has to refuse the offer no matter how big it is.
In an example of Middle Eastern media being tricked by the joke, the Tehran Times printed the article, pretty close to word for word, without attributing DawnTimes, either. It also hasn't printed a retraction or pulled down the article.

Interestingly, besides the note at the end, DawnWires also stated the article was posted to "Lol News," another clue many missed.

Via: DawnWires

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The WaitingRoom Facebook app encourages your love interest to ditch their current S.O

Some people stay in relationships simply because they are afraid that their prospects aren't good. They don't have the confidence to leave. For them, there's a new Facebook app, which launched last Friday, Feb. 25. It's called WaitingRoom.

Some criticized the Facebook app Breakup Notifier, which would let a user know via email if someone they were interested in changed their relationship status. That app was banned last week, just prior to the launch of WaitingRoom.

Instead of letting you know when someone changed their relationship status, WaitingRoom encourages them to change their relationship status. In other words, it gives them a push toward breaking up with their current significant other. Or at least, it sort of does that.

Let's say you are interested in a certain attached Facebook friend. When you use WaitingRoom, that friend gets an email that states there is someone in their "WaitingRoom" who is interested in them. It's unnecessary for the person being pursued to have the app installed.

Once the person becomes available, the identity of their admirer is revealed. Nicely, the site waits 48 hours, just in case there's a little remorse and the person reunites with their past love (how often have we seen that happen ... more often than a pursuer would like).

It also means, though, that you can't change your status without having to wait, and thus having your S.O. notice (assuming they pay attention to these sorts of things). That, in and of itself, could lea dto a break-up.

Of course, the pursued is sort of playing a game of Russian Roulette. They don't know if the person pursuing them is Brad Pitt, or Alfred E. Neuman.

For the pursuers, here's what WaitingRoom says:
No one will know if you've downloaded the app, we never publish anything to your Facebook feed. We won't share anything about you -- that is, until the person you're waiting on becomes single.
For the pursued, it says:
If you're already in a relationship, WaitingRoom will give you the confidence to become single again -- if that's what you really want.
All these relationship apps seem to have cropped up after Breakup Notifier was banned. So which do you think is a more positive app: Crush Notifier or WaitingRoom?

Via: WaitingRoom

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Crush Notifier Facebook app creates Love Connections between mutual crushers

The maker of the now-banned Breakup Notifier Facebook app has come up with something that should trigger a new ban. Instead of reporting when a "object of your affection's" relationship status changes, the new app, Crush Notifier, tells the object you're "crushing on them."

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The new Facebook app, Crush Notifier, launched on Friday, Feb. 25. Breakup Notifier sent you an email if those you selected changed their relationship status, while Crush Notifier allows you to choose people that you are "crushing on" and sends them an anonymous notification email.

That email doesn't tell them who crushed on them, just that someone did. In order for the Love Connection to occur, the crushee has to crush the crusher back. Since the email is anonymous, it means there's no impetus for the crushee to get back to the crusher. Instead, it would have to be a truly mutual crush.

Crushes are purchased with Facebook Credits. Everyone gets two crushes for free.

The developer, Dan Loewenherz believes his predecessor Facebook app, Breakup Notifier, was automatically pulled because of its quick spike in usage: more than 3.6 million people signed up for it in the first three days.

Ironically, Loewenherz was about to start using Facebook credits to monetize Breakup Notifier when the hammer fell. So far, he's had no real response from Facebook, so he moved on to Crush Notifier.

Via: Crush Notifier Blog

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Apple experimenting with pattern lock on iDevices

Apple is experimenting with a pattern-based unlocking system for iOS, it was reported on Sunday, Feb. 27. 9 to 5 Mac added that Apple has already deployed this new lock screen internally for use in the employee "Apple Connect" application for iDevices.

It's unclear if this system will ever make it to the public. That sort of pattern lock system has been implemented in Android for quite some time, although it's unclear that Google has patented it.

Still, it would be interesting to see Apple implementing something that another platform had implemented previously.  Many have been asking Apple to implement a more secure method of locking and unlocking iOS for some time.

If it were to reach the public, it means that soon iPhone users will be facing another security hole: smudges. Researchers found earlier that smudges and finger oil on a touchscreen could lead to the ability to decipher a pattern lock code.

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RIM rep caught on video claiming PlayBook to run Android apps

Loose lips sink ships, they say, it appears that the loose lips of a RIM representative have confirm the rumors that have been going around of late. BlackBerry's QNX platform, which will run its PlayBook tablet and future smartphones, will run Android apps as well.

The video below is of a PlayBook demo from Mobile World Congress. There's a decent amount of background noise but if you listen carefully, you can here the person giving the demo say, "We'll also support Android apps" at the 14 second mark.

This isn't the equivalent of a press release, but it's been believed for some time that RIM would do this. This would give them access to an Android Market with six figures worth of apps, yet by doing it the way they have, BlackBerry maintains control over their own platform.

Recently, the Android app ShopSavvy noted via their flurry logs that some BlackBerry devices in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (home base for RIM) were running their app, strengthening the case that this move would happen.

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ePhoneTracker helps suspicious spouses check phone activity, and even listen in

If you have a Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iOS, or Android smartphone, your phone even now could be infected with spyware. However, it might be spyware that your significant other or spouse intentionally installed on your phone.

The software is ePhoneTracker. Released last week, ePhoneTracker allows users to monitor everything one on an "infected" smartphone, including the following:
  • Every text message sent and received, including the full text ... even if the phone's logs are deleted.
  • All incoming and outgoing call numbers along with duration and time.
  • GPS positions captured at an variable rate, including a link to a map.
  • All contacts in the phone's Contacts list.
  • All websites visited using the web browser.
  • All inbound and outbound emails from the primary email account.
In addition, the software allows an end user to call the phone and listen to the surroundings.

However, ePhoneTracker has a huge list of legal caveats, and one has to wonder, reading them, if most users meet these requirements. They say:
Legal Terms and Policies

By purchasing ePhoneTracker you affirm and agree to all terms on this page.

It can be a federal and state offense to install surveillance software onto a phone which you do not have proper authorization in your region You are responsible for following all laws in your area.

We absolutely do not condone the use of our software for illegal purposes.

In order to purchase our software you MUST agree to the following conditions.

1. You acknowledge and agree that you own the mobile phone you will install the software onto OR that you have the expressed written consent of the owner to be an authorized administrator of the phone and its users.

2. If you install our software onto a phone which you do not own or have proper consent, we will cooperate with law officials to the fullest extent possible. This includes turning over requested customer data, and any other purchase/product related information.

3. You agree that you will check all local, state and federal laws to make sure you are complying with all laws in your region. It may be illegal in your region to monitor other individuals on your own device.

4. You agree to the conditions in our EULA (End-User License Agreement) below. This includes the fact that we are not liable for any type of damage, litigation, or legal predicaments that may arise due to use or abuse of ePhoneTracker or any other product.
The software costs $49.97 annually, and reportedly, it used to be called SpouseSpy. All the support documents found on the site seem to have the term in them.

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Apple adds 'signature capture' feature to OS X Lion 10.7 beta for easy PDF signing

If you've ever tried to sign a PDF document, it's not the easiest thing to do using a mouse. Apple's got the solution for that with a new feature that's called "Signature Capture," in Mac OS X Lion 10.7 beta, one that allows a user to do what it sounds like: "capture" their signature using the Mac's built-in camera.

Apple advises people to use black ink. Testing with blue ink showed the image was washed out. This could be very handy for PDFs, of course, and the new feature allows users to "Remember this signature," so it can be used later. You simply sign a piece of paper, hold it up to your Mac’s built-in camera, and place it on a document in Preview. 

If Apple provides the proper APIs, perhaps other companies can integrate the functionality into their own applications. Perhaps even Adobe and Microsoft can work it into their products (such as Acrobat and Microsoft Office). Perhaps Microsoft could add the feature to Windows as its these small changes (ahem) that attract end users.

You can watch a video demo below.

Via: 9 to 5 Mac

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to watch the Oscars online, including official iPhone app

It's the age-old question, or at least it has become thus since the advent of the Internet. Where can I watch (event X) online? In this case, the question relates to the 2011 Academy Awards.

Naturally, you can watch the Academy Awards on ABC, starting at 5PM PST, but there are some who have cut the "cable" and use only Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming sites to get their TV viewing. Since none of those will have the Oscars, where can people go for online viewing.

Interestingly, this year is going to monetize the event. Although that site will have a lot of live cameras that are freely accessible to all, if you want the full experience, will, for $4.99, provide an "All-Access Pass" to you for additional viewing, including multiple "360 cams," that end users can control, and cameras along the red carpet, backstage, and at the Governors Ball afterwards.

iTunes & App Store
You can also watch via iDevice, although the $0.99 Oscar Backstage Pass app does not offer the "360 cam" technology. It includes the rest of the All-Access Pass features, however.

Additional coverage will come via LiveStream and the Associated Press (AP). They will provide live streaming of the red carpet. MTV will provide live-streaming of the red carpet, as well, and so will PopSugar.

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Watch and vote: online trailers for all 2011 Oscar Best Picture nominess

If you haven't watched all 10 of the Best Picture nominees for the 2011 Academy Awards, with the Awards only a few hours away (Oscars 2011 time, in terms of the ceremony itself, will be 8PM ET / 7PM CT / 5PM PT on ABC, hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway), you probably aren't going to make it, unless you have only one or two to watch.

On the other hand, you can see all of the trailers for the Best Picture nominees for the 2011 Academy Awards, embedded below. YouTube has aggregated the results for all of the various trailers across its site, and come up with a ranking based on views, here.

"Toy Story 3" has the greatest number of views, which makes sense considering it is family-friendly fare. However, "Black Swan" is the second highest viewed trailer, which is probably a surprise, although possibly attributable to Natalie Portman and its billing a "psycho-sexual thriller."

Obviously, it's a little tough to decide on a Best Picture simply via a trailer, but we'll do it anyway.  You can vote for the Best Picture nominee of your choice below, along with viewing all the trailers.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion adds PC to Mac network migration functionality

Aside from learning a new operating system, the biggest obstacle to a person moving from Windows to Mac OS is transferring his or her content from one computer to the next. Microsoft has made it pretty to go from one Windows PC to another, and in Mac OS X Lion (10.7), Apple is making life easier for Windows to Mac switchers.

Still only in beta, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion adds functionality to Apple's Migration Assistant that adds the same functionality that Mac to Mac upgraders already saw. Migration Assistant now has a network copy feature that enables a new machine to connect to a previous PC, and previously, a Mac via a network connection to import data, files and settings.

Microsoft has a similar feature in Windows 7 called Windows Easy Transfer. Previous versions were called the File and Settings Transfer Wizard. Apple fans would note that Microsoft doesn't see the Mac -> PC switch likely enough to provide its own solution.

In order to make this work, however, you need a helper client on the Windows side. For now, that's available to developers, but once Lion releases, we'd expect to see that client released to all.

Via: AppleInsider

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Army plans Terminator-style bipedal robot, cheetah-like combat robot faster than a human

Stories like this inevitably lead to the Terminator theme rolling our head. The U.S. Army is looking to build two new robots, which will supplement the BigDog robot developed to help soldiers carry equipment over rough terrain as a robotic mule. One will be a quadrupedal robot that will be faster than a human, dubbed the Cheetah. The second will be a humanoid-type robot dubbed Atlas.

Both are being developed by Boston Dynamics, which also developed the $18 million BigDog. Cheetah builds on top of BigDog. While equally four-legged, it will have a flexible spine, much like a real cheetah, and an articulated head. It will also have other similarities to a real cheetah, in that Boston Dynamics say it will be able to make tight turns, stop on a dime, and zigzag in either chase or evade modes.

Atlas, on the other hand, reminds us of nothing less than the aforementioned Terminator robots (except that it won't have a head). It looks very similar to a defleshed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger model).

Atlas builds on a prior Boston Dynamics bipedal robot, Petman. Petman is used to test chemical weapons protection suits for the Army. It is capable of walking at 3 MPH and can keep its balance and stand, even if pushed.

Watch a few vidoes, one on BigDog, one on Petman, and one on an actual cheetah. Pay attention to how flexible a real cheetah's spine is; that is part of the reason it can run so quickly (up to 70MPH).

Via: Daily Mail

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It's the consumables that make the money, so why no free Kindles?

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: the real money something like printers is in the consumables. For printers, it's paper and ink (or toner). For the Kindle, it's e-books.

Thus, the idea of a free Kindle isn't out of the question. In fact, if one extrapolates the Kindle price drops to now, it leads straight to a free Kindle by Nov. of 2011. The Technium notes:
In August, 2010 I had the chance to point it out to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. He merely smiled and said, "Oh, you noticed that!" And then smiled again.
At that point, they slip up and think that an idea posted in February of 2010 was actually posted this year. That said, it's an idea that makes sense: giving free Kindles to Amazon Prime members.

Amazon Prime members recently received access to Instant Streaming on Amazon's video-on-demand service. Right now, Prime members have access to 5,000 movies and TV shows, and that will undoubtedly increase over time.

So, since the consumables are where the money is, could give out free Kindles to Prime members, perhaps by November of 2011? Can you imagine the rush of people who would sign up for the $79 annual Prime subscription, which gives users free two-day shipping on most items, cheap upgrades to one-day shipping, free video streaming, AND a Kindle?

Not only that, it would give such a huge number of Kindle users, the iBook store might never catch up.   A good idea? CEO Jeff Bezos just needs to pull the trigger.

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Illinois man sends $200,000 over 2 1/2 years to fake Internet 'girlfriend'

A long-distance Internet-only relationship turned out to be a long-distance Internet scam, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Friday.

A 48-year-old Naperville, IL man called Naperville police earlier this week. He believed his online girlfriend had been kidnapped. Unfortunately, police informed him his online girlfriend didn't really exist.

Obviously there was someone at the other end of the Internet connection. He told police he started the relationship 2 1/2 years prior, and over that time he had wired about $200,000 to "her" in several different bank accounts in Nigeria, Malaysia, England and the United States. The Nigerian bank alone should have set off red flags.

It turns out that the ID card that the "woman" provided him (after all, it could have been a man, or even a group on the other end of the relationship) was a sample driver’s license from Florida. Police said that when an officer told the man the “woman” he was sending money to didn’t exist, he was "in disbelief.”

Via: Chicago Sun-Times

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The Nintendo 3DS 3D-gaming system debuts to long lines in Japan

Typical of Nintendo, the latest Nintendo video game system, the Nintendo 3DS has launched in Japan before elsewhere. The glasses-free 3D gaming system, Nintendo's follow-up to its DS and DSi, went live in Japan on Saturday, Feb. 26.

The Nintendo 3DS costs 25,000 yen (about $300) in Japan. On March 25 it goes on sale in Europe for 250 euros, and then arrives in the U.S two days later, on March 27, for $250. Games are expected to sell for about $40 apiece.It's expected to be a wild success.

The company estimated it would sell 4 million Nintendo 3DS units in the first quarter, with 1.5 million coming in Japan. Hiroshi Kamide, an analyst with J.P. Morgan in Tokyo, said:
"It is the most comprehensive handheld gaming device from Nintendo to date, with high-quality graphics and online features. I believe the 3DS will be the first mass-market 3-D device."
A Japanese website is posting Tweets from those who managed to get their hands on the Nintendo 3DS. Quite a few of the messages indicate users getting tired eyes after using the game in 3D mode, some of them after relatively short game play times.

The Nintendo 3DS uses a 3.53-inch widescreen display with parallax barrier tech to create the 3D illusion. That said, the company has placed warning labels on the device, saying that children under six should not play 3D games on it.

Reports of eye issues did not deter Toyohisa Ishihara, a 43-year-old engineer. He stood in line for two hours to get his 3DS.
"The images seem to pop out. There is a sense of a world spreading beyond. I can't wait to play it."
Via: PC World, Bloomberg, NPR

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Content farms begin to see results of Google's search algorithm tweaks

Earlier this week, Google made changes to its search algorithm which would downgrade the rankings of so-called content farms. Now that some time has elapsed, which Web domains took the biggest hits?

A content farm is defined (according to Wikipedia) "a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines." To simplify things, it's a company that employs folks who output content that uses SEO methodology to try to hit high on search engines. The obvious lure is advertising revenue.

The goal, from Google's perspective, is higher quality search results. It's not simply the fact that a content farm produces a lot of content tailored to search engines, it's that a lot of that content is of poor quality.

While Google obviously won't go into details on its changes, the company said:
"You can expect sites with shallow or poorly written content, content that's copied from other websites, or information that people frankly don't find that useful, will be demoted as a result of this change."
Google said the changes would affect about 12 percent of queries. Two of the prime examples given when "content farms" are referred to are Associated Content and Demand Media. Demand Media operates a number of sites, like eHow and

Among a list of sites that have taken hits in their Google rankings compiled by SISTRIX, Associated Content was hit hard, as was Demand Media's Answerbag and The top ten losers were:
SearchEngineLand has started to collect data from different measurements of affected sites. It's clear, however, that the top affected sites are pretty consistent across the measurements.

Here's what Larry Fitzgibbon, a Demand Media vice president, wrote in a blog post:
"As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results. It's impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term -- but at this point in time, we haven't seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business."
Via: Quora, SISTRIX, SearchEngineLand

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iPhone 5 part surfaces in China; points to upsized display

The iPhone 5 is about 3, 3 1/2 months away if the annual refresh cycle runs true to form, and rumors are beginning to ramp up, just as production will in a few months. The latest appears to have shown up on a Chinese site that resells iPhone parts, as of Feb. 24.

Saveolgy.comThe purported part shows what looks to be the iPhone 5's digitizer panel. From the appearance of the part, it looks like Apple is reducing the size of the bezel in such a way that the screen would extend nearly to the edge of the iPhone 5. Assuming this is a real part, this could lend credence to earlier rumors that Apple was moving the iPhone 5 to a larger, 4-inch screen. However, there's no way of knowing if the part is real, or what the actual screen size would be.

The iPhone 4 comes with a 3.5-inch screen, which has become somewhat undersized in comparison to the 3.7-, 4.0-, 4.3- and even 4.5-inch screens of current Android phones. Of course, most people are perfectly OK with the current-sized iPhone displays.

That said, the trend is for larger screen sizes, as they make it easier for a larger audience to read. Apple would, of course, want to maintain the iPhone's "retina display" resolution, and thus would have to increase the number of pixels on the new iPhone.

Via: 9 to 5 Mac

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Mobile apps can help you find cheaper gasoline

With the unrest in the Middle East, as well as with a burgeoning economy, gasoline prices have spiked. In your question for cheap gas, don't forget something you might have with you all the time: your smartphone.

There are a number of apps on both iPhone and Android that can help lead consumers to cheap, or rather, cheaper gas. Most of them use location-based services to determine the nearest stations to a user.

The caveat is, of course, that if prices change rapidly, the app may have incorrect information, but it will at the very least give you a sense of comparative pricing between gasoline stations. Here is a list of a few of them.

Both Android and iPhone:

Where. Where is an application that helps users discover "nearby places." That includes gas stations, and when looking at gas stations, Where will list the price of regular at that station. The app also supports BlackBerry OS, Palm webOS, and Windows Phone, as well. Where is free. Android, iPhone

GasBuddy. GasBuddy has its own site, as well as a mobile app. GasBuddy supports Windows Phone, as well. Interestingly, Where uses (or at least used to use) data from Android, iPhone

Poynt. Ponyt is pretty much like Where. It is free. Android, iPhone.

iPhone Only:

iGasUp. This one costs you $0.99 in the app store, and focuses on gasoline only. One thing to remember is this is a subscription-based app, so you will have to renew it (and pay for it) every year. Nicely, iGasUp uses OPIS data, which is compiled automatically from actual credit card transactions, so it is very accurate.

GasBag. Free in the App Store, there is also a Pro version that costs $1.99. The Pro version offers faster load times and no ads.

Naturally, this doesn't help those who are smartphone-less. Of course, if you can browse the web at all on your cell phone, you can use GasBuddy's website, instead. Take a look at these apps and see what you think. Odds are gasoline prices aren't headed down, at least for a while.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wi-fi-only iPad 2 possibly to ship right after its March 2 unveiling: report

With a flood of Honeycomb (Android 3.0) laden Android tablets about to enter the market, foreshadowed by the Motorola Xoom, which arrived on Thursday, will Apple not just announce the iPad 2 on Thursday, but then launch it perhaps that same week? That's the speculation fueled by a Friday, Feb. 25 AppleInsider report.

The information comes via reportedly "previously reliable sources." Apple is reportedly preparing several of its operating segments for what would appear to be a roll-out of a product, as opposed to just an announcement. Typically, with a large event like this, as opposed to just rolling out new product sans press conference (such as the new MacBook Pros on Feb. 24), Apple has a lead time before releasing the product to retail.

The lead time, usually a few weeks, allows pre-orders to be made online, with customers then receiving the iDevice on or slightly before the retail launch date.

The sources told AI, however, that it's possible that the "excitement" around the operating segments are because the iPad 2 will be launched to retail late next week. It is still unclear if this is true or not, and should be classified as simply a rumor at this point.

It is true, however, that Apple retail outlets will be holding a "secret" meeting on Sunday night. While a Sunday, after-hours meeting is typical of such meetings with their retail employees, in this case employees were required to sign an NDA in order to attend the meeting.

It was previously reported that the meeting would be to discuss a new Genius service which would allow Apple Geniuses to speak to some customers on the phone to fix their issues, and even to travel on-site to fix problems.

If Apple were to ship an iPad 2 to retail later next week, it would likely be the wi-fi only model. That model doesn't need the additional carrier testing of the (assumed) CDMA and (definite) GSM models.

It's been rumored for some time that Apple wants to get the iPad 2 out as quickly as possible, as the new Honeycomb, tablet-optimized Android tablets are the first real rivals for the iPad, and clearly surpass the current iPad in terms of hardware specifications.  The normal "annual refresh of the iPad," typical of Apple products, would land in April.

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Craigslist a 'cesspool of crime' says rival service

The days of Craigslist as a headline grabber in terms of murders ended with the death of the Craigslist Killer, didn't they? And also with the removal of the adult services sections from its sites? Not so fast says rival Oodle, which issued a report on Feb. 24 on "Craigslist and crime."

Oodle runs the Facebook app Marketplace, which is somewhat similar to Craigslist. The company commissioned a report on Craiglist, and the 56-page report (.PDF) has the somewhat provocative title "Crime and Craigslist: A sad tale of murders and more." The introduction goes under the heading "Craigslist: A site of murder and mayhem." The introduction says:
Sadly, Craigslist has become a cesspool of crime.

Murders. Rapes. Robberies. Hitman-for-hire. Assault. Fraud. Rental rip-offs. Unfortunately, these are everyday occurrences involving people who use Craigslist to buy or sell, or for worse.

And the old rules — “meet in public;” “always tell someone where you’re going;” “know who you’re dealing with” — often don’t work on Craigslist.

Commissioned by Oodle, a free-classified site launched in 2005, the AIM Group researched crime connected with Craigslist during the past year, and earlier.

The “Craigslist killer.” The “Craigslist serial killer.” The diamond-ring killing in Edgewood, Wash. Those are a few of the 20 slayings – 12 of them during the last year alone – that have been linked to Craigslist since it began in 1995 as an e-mail list among friends in San Francisco. Four of those were women whose bodies were found in December on Gilgo Beach near New York City.

They’re believed to be victims of a serial killer who preyed on prostitutes who used Craigslist.

Robberies? Seventy-four during the last year.

Assaults? Thirty-one (at least).

All sorts of other crimes have been linked to Craigslist, too.

Our research counted 330 crimes in the United States linked by law enforcement to use of Craigslist from February, 2010, to February 2011. And we’ve probably missed more than a few.
That’s a staggering number. We follow Craigslist closely, and have done so for almost 10 years. Even so, we were shocked by the volume of crime and the number of killings linked in some way to Craigslist and reported in newspapers or on television.
The introduction was signed by Peter Zollman, founding principal of AIMgroup, who wrote the report, sponsored by Oodle. Craiglist, of course, had its own view of the report. Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, said:
Classified listings scraper/aggregator and CL wannabe Oodle has paid AIM Group to falsely portray craigslist as fraught with criminal activity. [...]

AIM Group facetiously writes “we understand thousands or even tens of thousands of transactions happen safely between Craigslist aficionados.”

THOUSANDS??? Shame on you AIM Group (and Oodle). You know better. Try hundreds of millions or billions of safe transactions. How does the self-proclaimed “bible of the classifieds industry” arrive at a range that underestimates the transaction volume of CL by 5 or more orders of magnitude (and declines to correct it) ? Well, when you’re paid to reach false conclusions about crime incidence, you’ve got little choice. If you accurately describe the transaction volume, you then have to admit that the incidence of crime is extremely low, and that’s not what those sponsor dollars were about.
Statistically, the number of crimes that are perpetrated by folks creating and using Craiglist ads is quite small. It's what everyone says, though. It could be 0.01 percent of whatever it is that goes bad, but "if you're one of them, to you it's 100 percent." As Oodle notes, there’s a website, Despite what Craigslist might say, it's pretty scary stuff.

Is it a cesspool of crime? Hardly. But it sure isn't as safe as buying from

Microsoft Store

Good planning, huge online sales led to small iPhone 4 retail lines: Verizon

There weren't huge lines at the Verizon iPhone launch, and that's led some to wonder how well Verizon Wireless and Apple did with the CDMA version of the device. Attempting to dispel those rumors, Chief Executive Daniel Mead, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Feb. 25, said that Verizon Wireless sold more iPhone 4s during its initial launch than any other product in the carrier's history.

Why then, the short (or even nonexistent) lines? It's because of the carrier's strategy to stagger the rollout to customers: existing Verizon customers could pre-order a week prior to launch, Feb. 3. That, along with strong online sales, led to less than voluminous lines at retailers. The WSJ said:
Verizon first offered pre-orders of the phone to existing customers on Feb. 3, and then began selling it in stores one week later. Mr. Mead said the company staggered the launch of the Apple Inc. device in phases so that customers would have a smooth purchasing experience. "It was a conscious decision to spread the launch over three phases," said Mr. Mead.

Mr. Mead said more than 60% of iPhone sales occurred online. That heavy activity online contributed to short lines on launch day, which were noted by many news outlets. "If we had not done online, you would have seen a much different flow in the pictures," he said. In a few days, the company will double the number of stores that sell the iPhone, going from 4,000 to 8,000.
Still, on launch day, retailers were all overstaffed compared to their customer load. It would seem to be clear that retailers were underwhelmed by the demand.

The proof would be sales figures, Mead declined to give them until Verizon's 1st quarter earning statement. He did add a tidbit about the iPhone and LTE, but nothing of real substance. He did not allude to a timeline, either. He said,
"You'll see more coming from Apple on LTE. They understand the value proposition of LTE and I feel very confident that they are going to be a part of it."
LTE is Long-Term Evolution, Verizon's nascent 4G network. It recently launched, and Verizon still has no handset that supports it available.

Despite its adoption of Intel's Light Peak (as Thunderbolt), Apple is usually reluctant to jump onto a new technology. This may be of particular import with LTE, which currently is known to use battery power heavily.

It's believed the iPhone 5 will be a dual-mode GSM / CDMA device, so that Verizon customers can roam globally as they can with the Android-powered Droid 2 Global and Droid Pro, but that it will not support LTE. AT&T's LTE rollout won't even reach the experimental stage until mid-2011, which is when the iPhone 5 will launch.

Via: WSJ, MacRumors, Engadget

Microsoft Store

Apple (finally) adds SSD TRIM support to Mac OS X in 10.7 Lion beta

Apple is finally set to add TRIM support to Mac OS X, with the feature being exposed in the 10.7 Lion beta. Without TRIM support, SSD performance can degrade over time.

TRIM clears flash pages instead of marking them as available when users delete data, which is what happens for normal hard drives. That's fine for standard hard drives, but , and there'sit creates what's called the "block-rewrite penalty" on SSDs, which occurs if a flash cell is not empty when it needs to be written to.

Apple has been shipping SSDs for a while, but this 10.7 beta was the first time that TRIM has made an appearance in Mac OS X. Reportedly, however, it only seems to work with Apple-supplied SSDs, which one would expect would make make those with third-party SSD replacement drives a little testy.

Don't worry, though: we expect that Apple will enable the functionality for other SSDs before 10.7 ships.

Via: AppleInsider

Xoom teardown shows few surprises; easy access to internals

iFixit has torn down the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom, launched on Feb. 24, it said to be the first real iPad rival with a 10.1-inch screen and Honeycomb, also a first --- the first tablet-optimized version of Android.

As we already knew, the Motorola Xoom sports NVIDIA's Tegra 2 dual-core system-on-a-chip (SOC). It has an Atmel touchscreen controller capable of receiving 15 inputs at once, and a Qualcomm MDM6600 chip which is the same as in the Verizon iPhone 4. That means that, sans a modification, on GSM carriers, the Xoom would be capable of 14.4Mbps HSPA+ speeds.

Although iFixit found the Xoom very easy to tear down and take apart, meaning repairs would be easy, they also commented that some of the ease was likely to be related to the upcoming (free) LTE 4G upgrade for the device. The device has a unique two-piece rear case design that makes accessing the internals of the device easier.

However, the device has some 57 screws. At least they are using Torx screws and not the pentalobular screws Apple uses to keep folks out of its iDevices.

On the front side of the motherboard, iFixit found:
  • Broadcom BCM4329 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and FM Tuner. There's also a Broadcom BCM4750 Single-Chip AGPS (located nearest the top right corner).
  • Hynix H8BCSOQG0MMR 2-chip memory MCP
  • AKM 8975 Electronic Compass
  • Qualcomm MDM6600 supporting HSPA+ speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps
  • Nvidia Tegra T2 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and ultra-low power GeForce GPU.
  • Texas Instruments 54331 Step Down SWIFT DC/DC Converter with Eco-Mode
  • Samsung K4P4G154EC DRAM
On the rear of the motherboard, iFixit found:
  • Qualcomm PM8028 RF Power Management IC
  • Atmel TINY45 8-bit RISC-based Microcontroller with 4KB in-system programmable flash
  • Toshiba THGBM2G8D8FBA1B NAND Flash
  • ST Ericsson CPCAP 2.2TC22 DC Power Management
  • According to Chipworks, the CPCAP 2.2TC22 is a single chip SoC that integrates analog and mixed signal functions, including power management, energy management, audio, and interfaces.
  • Check out the die photo of the CPCAP 2.2TC22, courtesy of Chipworks.
It will be interesting to see how iSuppli's teardown matches up in terms of cost of the Xoom. It will also be interesting to compare the Xoom with the iPad 2, once that is launched and torn down.

Via: iFixit

Dev roots Motorola Xoom in less than 2 hours

Honeycomb (Android 3.0) didn't get in the way of a quick root of the Motorola Xoom. It's actually not a surprise, as lately XDA Developers and others have been getting their "root on" very quickly.

In fact, just a few days ago, the Motorola Atrix 4G was rooted before it even hit the stores.

The Motorola Xoom was rooted in two hours, apparently. Om fact, it probably took less time than that, as the person involved in the root had to go pick one up and announced the root two hours later.

This means Xoom owners can taste the pleasure of root-only apps such as Titanium Backup. It also opens the door for custom ROMs, as it was already announced that the Xoom has an unlockable / relockable bootloader.

Meanwhile, those concerned about the fate of the person who picked up the Motorola Xoom in the earlier "Verizon Motorola XOOM Vendetta Preview" can rest easy. The second part of the "ad" has been released, and he's fine. Watch both parts below (although the second part is in Spanish, only, for now).