Monday, October 31, 2011

Considering the meaning of Steve Jobs' last words

People want to believe there is an afterlife, so there is something to hope for when death takes us, as it will to all of us. Thus, people are ruminating on the last words spoken by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and wondering ...

According to his newly published biography, Steve Jobs rejected his Christian upbringing at the age of 13, but he later confessed a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not God exists. In the book, biographer Walter Isaacson wrote, "He admitted that, as he faced death, he might be overestimating the odds out of a desire to believe in an afterlife."

Jobs said, as Isaacson wrote, “I’m about fifty-fifty on believing in God. I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures."

So what of those final words that Steve Jobs said. They come to us via the eulogy written and given by Steve Jobs' biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson, at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University on October 16, and published by the New York Times.

In the eulogy, Simpson, who didn't even meet her elder brother until she was 25, shared a number of anecdotes that had been previously unshared, even to Walter Isaacson, Jobs' biographer.

Some of what she said is below. We recommend you head to the link above to read the full, poetic, gentle look at a man who kept most of his life hidden and private, by choice.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day. [...]

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it. [...]

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.


Was that Jobs seeing what some who crossed over and came back say they saw? Or was it Jobs imagining still more fantastic ideas for consumers?

Steve Jobs' biography remains atop Amazon.com's bestseller list.

Barnes&Noble.com


GDrive clues keep appearing --- but this isn't one of them; move along, move along

That mythical beast known as GDrive (or Google Drive), a long-rumored online storage platform using the gigabytes of storage already in your Gmail account anyway, seems to keep creeping closer to reality. That said, the clue first seen today by TechCrunch was faux, so ... no new news here, move along, move along.

What had been found, and what can still be found, if a proper Google search is done, is a Writely page that purports to be a test page for GDrive. It no longer shows if you search for Writely, which is the online word processing service Google acquired in 2006, but it does show up if you search for "Writely test page," though further down the page than with the original search.

With the new, expanded search term, you'll find a result that says "test page for Platypus (GDrive)," related to Writely, as shown above. Earlier, you'd find that if you just searched for Writely.

What probably happened in terms of the original search results is that Google got wind of all the excitement, and redacted the earlier info.

Platypus was the codename for GDrive used internally at Google until the project was killed in 2008. But recently, there have been clues pointing to a return of GDrive.

This wasn't one of them. It turns out that the test page has been around since 2006. That said, as pointed out by a TechCrunch commenter, going to drive.google.com now forwards a user (only in Chrome, mind you) to the https version of that site before returning a 105 error, rather than the standard 404 "page not found."

Hey, if we're grasping at straws, we're grasping at straws.

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The GDrive, or Google Drive, would be, perhaps, a desktop program that could access your Google storage, turning it into something like DropBox. It's been rumored for years, and as we noted, it was a project, but was eventually dumped.

People keep hoping for its return, and some clues, of late, have pointed to that possibility.



Google's Halloween 2011 Doodle: time-lapse video of Googlers carving Six 1,000-pound+ pumpkins

Google's Halloween Doodle isn't its typical fare, but is instead a 41 second YouTube video showing Googlers hard at work. They are not hard at work at any technical project, though, unless you call pumpkin carving technical.

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It certainly wasn't easy: these Googlers are trying to carve 1,000 pound pumpkins, each of which has a rind of six inches in thickness. One of the pumpkins, in fact, weighs 1,298 pounds.

The time-lapse video begins with six Googlers working at the pumpkins, which one said on a "behind the scenes" video felt like "at any given time this could potentially consume you."

Watch carefully during the video. You'll see a few cameo shots, including Santa Claus, Android's green-hued mascot, and what appeared to be a cheerleader. You'll also see a sort of Village People YMCA-ish part where they contort their bodies into G-O-O-G-L-E.

Watch it, along with the behind the scenes video, below.







Amazon Appstore's Free App of the Day, 10/31/2011: The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today's app is The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin.

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The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is priced at $0.99 in the Android Market. It is normally priced at $2.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is described as follows:
"One day in the pumpkin patch the strangest little pumpkin hatched. Spookley wasn't like his friends—where they had curves, he had ends."

So begins The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. This delightful and inspiring book for your Android device combines the original text of author Joe Troiano and artwork of Susan Banta with features that entertain and promote reading.

Square in a Round World

Spookley the square pumpkin was different. In a world where "the only good pumpkins are round pumpkins," Spookley is shunned. Until one day during a terrible storm he gets the chance to make a difference. In The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, a unique pumpkin delivers a special message of tolerance and self-acceptance that's just right for Halloween or any day of the year.

Enjoy Interactive Reading Fun

This Oceanhouse Media omBook features professional narration, background sounds, and enlarged artwork for each scene. Children can choose the Read to Me option if they would like the audio narration but want to go at their own pace (turning the pages themselves); beginning readers can opt for the Read it Myself mode. Auto Play reads the entire story without any prompting or page-turning, which is especially useful for very young children.

Support for Little Readers

To help kids learn to read in a fun way, individual words are highlighted as the story progresses and words zoom up when pictures are touched. Kids can slide a finger from right to left on the screen, and the "page" actually turns just like a real book. The overall effect is to make a classic story come alive, providing hours of entertainment for all ages.
The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin has a 4.2-star rating in the Android Market, and a 4.0-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.


For once we see the ratings between the two Android marketplaces in line with each other. Interestingly, the Appstore has far more ratings than the Android Market, which is a reversal of what we normally see.

What is strange, however, is that the price in the Amazon Appstore is 3x that in the Android Market ($2.99 vs. $0.99). As we recall, Amazon.com originally said that apps in the Appstore had to be priced at the same or lower price than in other marketplaces, so that's strange. We've seen the Appstore have a higher price before, but usually it was close enough that we felt it was within the realm of currency conversion.

On the other hand $2.99 is pretty high for a seasonal app. Perhaps it's just a misprint.

Developers Oceanhouse Media have a number of other e-books in the Android Market and Amazon Appstore, including quite a few Dr. Seuss e-books. They first released Android Dr. Seuss books in Dec. of last year.

Those who are considering "buying" a Free Amazon Appstore app might want to consider what it means to developers.

Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term "App Store." Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.



Website helps you calculate your 'slavery footprint'

You've probably heard of the term "carbon footprint." Well, the low wage labor in places like China has been compared to slave labor, producing the goods, particularly clothes and electronics, that the West uses for pennies an hour. A new website, which was created by Call + Response, in colloboration with the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, can now tell you just how many slaves you have working for you, based on your answers.

Save the Children Evergreen
Call + Response is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending slavery.

The site is called Slavery Footprint. Based on answering 11 pages of questions (really 10, as the 11th one, "How Many Times Have You Paid for Sex?," doesn't have to be answered, but is strictly educational. As the site says, if you were to participate in this "industry," the sex trafficking, heavily used it it, would raise your slavery footprint much higher.

Despite the 10 other pages of questions, don't panic. Each page is really one separate question, though you can drill down into specific questions to be more detailed, such as we did in the electronics section.

And that is where we took the biggest hits. We scored 48 overall, and the world average for our age range and gender is 48, so we can take some comfort in that. We scored 10 in electronics alone.

According to the site, here's how they determined the numbers:

Your TOTAL SLAVERY FOOTPRINT represents the number of forced laborers that were likely to be involved in creating and manufacturing the products you buy. This is determined based on information regarding the processes used to create these products as well as investigations of the countries in which these stages of production take place for known slave labor (within these specific processes.) This number is compiled from multiple individual product scores.

In addition to your location, the site will look at your age and gender, the number of children you have, whether you rent or own a home, what's in your medicine cabinet (but not just for pharmaceuticals, but make-up, cologne, etc.), what you eat, the clothing you own, jewelry, sporting goods and electronics.

As you answer the questions, the site provides statistics to educate you. Did you know, for example, that in 2007, Save the Children reported that 250,000 children live and work in Pakistani brick kilns in complete social isolation. That's more than the population of Irvine, CA, Baton Rouge, LA, or Orlando, FL.

Notably, it's unclear if the site includes grossly underpaid workers, or employees working in unsafe conditions as slaves. The Foxconn suicides at its Shenzhen plant from 2010, and the explosion at its sister location at Chengdu are prime examples of these inequities.

The group also has a mobile app for both Android and iOS. It's described as follows:

With the Made in a Free World app, you can check in at stores, asking brands about slavery in their supply chain as you shop. Please use it to encourage brands to look into where their raw materials are coming from. Then share your check-ins so your friends will also help. Earn Free World points when you get the app and use it to counteract your slavery footprint.

For those concerned about the site, you can read their privacy policy:

Slavery Footprint is a division of the Fair Trade Fund, Inc., a registered 501c3 non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness and deploy action against forced labor and human trafficking. [...] We will not distribute your name, personal information, email address, marital status, birthdate, buying preferences, or any other registration, purchasing, or personal information you share with us. No outside companies, organizations, or individuals have or will be given access to your personal information.

How about it? Are you going to try to reduce your slavery footprint?



Siri on jailbroken iPhone 4 now 'talking' to Apple's servers; don't expect Cydia distribution

Two weeks after an initial port of Siri to the iPhone 4 was shown off, developers have managed to get the final piece working: talking to Apple's servers, a key part of Siri functionality.

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who earlier managed to get the UI working, along with Chpwn, have managed to leap over the authentication hurdle. Of course, it requires a jailbroken iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch. But don't expect to see it in Cydia anytime soon.

For one, Troughton-Smith wants to do more extensive testing. For another, it requires files from a jailbroken iPhone 4S, which means it wouldn't be legal. That said, once the results and procedure are published, it wouldn't be hard to imagine this showing up on BitTorrent sites.

In addition to the iPhone 4S files that are required, the 20-step process requires a validation token from the iPhone 4S that has to be taken "live" from a jailbroken iPhone 4S.

With regard to distribution, Troughton-Smith said, "No, I could not be a part of that. I have no doubts that others will package this up and distribute it quasi-illegally, or try and sell it to people. I am only interested in the technology and making it work; proving that it works and works well on the iPhone 4 and other devices."

Although they managed to get it working on an iPod touch 4G as well as the iPhone 4, since the microphone on the iPod touch is relatively poor compared to the iPhone, you have to speak loudly and clearly to the iPod touch to make it work.

In terms of performance, the hacked Siri version seems to be fully functional, and work as well and as quickly as on the iPhone 4S, which has a much more powerful A5 processor (vs. the iPhone 4's A4).

So, why did Apple choose to hold back the functionality from the iPhone 4? It wasn't because of hardware, obviously. The need for differentiation between the 4S and 4 comes to mind, since aside from Siri, there isn't really a reason to buy the 4S instead of the 4 ... seriously.

However, that's not the only reason. We've spoken to an insider and at least part of the reason is something that's been noticed with the iPhone 4S already: Apple's servers. They already have trouble handling Siri requests from the iPhone 4S devices out there. Add in all the iPhone 4 devices and you'd see server meltdown.

We also don't expect this hack to be open for long. Apple is bound to close it down with an iOS 5 update. The only question is how long it will take. Then the next question: how long will it take jailbreakers to work around the new restriction?

[Note: jailbreaking iOS basically means hacking the software so that users can get around the restrictions Apple places on their iDevices. Although it has been ruled legal by the U.S. Copyright Office, Apple reminds folks that it does void your warranty. An iOS update, even a minor one, will often require hackers to issue a new jailbreak, so those with jailbroken devices are always reminded to hold off on upgrading until a new jailbreak is published, or until it is determined that the old jailbreak still works.

Jailbreaking is not the same as SIM-unlocking an iPhone, but it is a necessary step toward that end.

Cydia is a parallel App Store speciailizing in apps for jailbroken devices.]


You can watch a couple of videos below, showing the functionality on iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G.







Sunday, October 30, 2011

iPhone much more efficient at data use than Android: Sprint

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse
Although some have been wondering how well the iPhone 4 and 4S will put on Sprint's 3G network, Sprint believes that handset for handset, Apple's devices put less load on its network than comparable Android handsets. The statement came during Sprint's 3Q 2011 earnings conference call.

During the conference call, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said, "There is a misperception that our launch of the iPhone will increase the load on Sprint's 3G network and require us to spend more 3G capital. The reverse is true. iPhone users are expected to use significantly less 3G than the typical user of a dual-mode 3G/4G device. Even adjusting for more total new customers being added to the network, we believe will put less load on our 3G network than they would have if we did not carry the iPhone."

The iPhone was not available during Q3, and thus did not affect Sprint's quarterly results. However, the company reported its smallest quarterly loss in four years, and its total customer count is at 53.4 million, back at where it was in 2007, before an exodus of Nextel customers became a flood.

It also turns out that the "investment" by Sprint in the iPhone is less than previously believed, about $15.5 billion or about $4.5 billion less than earlier believed.

SOS for Small and Home Office
The assertions by Hesse could make sense out of earlier figures, which showed Android users gobbling up much more data than iPhone users. If it's simply because the iPhone is more efficient than Android, instead of because Android users are more data intensive, that could prove a key point to wireless carriers feeling the strain of data usage on their networks.

Still, it doesn't explain why users nationwide are complaining about slow Sprint data speeds on the iPhone 4S. An end user earlier confirmed that a Sprint CSR told him that Sprint and Apple were working on the issue.



Apple's second, Siri TV commercial proves far more vocal

Apple has released its second Siri commercial, and this one is a lot more vocal than the first. You might remember its first ad, where Siri was mute, except for the very end of the ad, when it answered a user's lament about being locked out with a list of nearby locksmiths.

In this new ad Siri is a lot more vocal, answering questions such as "What's my day look like today with the user's appointments." This new ad certainly showed off more of Siri's capabilities than the first one.

Turn Your Everyday Spending into College Savings!
Apple also launched two other iPhone 4S ads, one iCloud-related, and one regarding the iPhone 4S' new 8MP camera, the only other major hardware upgrade it received aside from its A5 processor.

These will probably be shown quite a bit as the holiday season continues. Watch them below.









Online Powerball play kinda, sorta opens for Florida players

The Powerball multi-jurisdictional lottery has risen to $245 million. Wouldn't it be convenient if you didn't have to trudge into a retailer to buy a Powerball ticket, but could instead order them online? Well, you can't, unless you live in Florida, and even then, you're "not really" buying them online.

James Morel's company, LottoGopher, was launched this week in Florida. More than a year ago, he opened up services in California. He believes there are millions of reasons (ahem) for people in Florida or California to use LottoGopher (in California, Lottogopher can be used with the nation's other multi-jurisdictional lottery, Mega Millions, or the California-only SuperLotto).

To get around laws that prohibit the sale of lottery tickets online, his company doesn't sell actual tickets, but instead, for a monthly fee, they do the legwork of buying the tickets for you, at a brick-and-mortar retailer.

However, that also means they have to take credit cards, which is a no-no for buying lottery tickets in a store in Florida and California. In a way, that's good for the consumer who gets a rebate on credit card fees. It's also a bad thing for those who might be addicted to gambling and overextend themselves on credit.

Credit cards are a requirement because they prove the customer isn't a minor and the billing address verifies residency in Florida or California. That, in turn is a necessity to avoid violating federal laws which prohibit placing bets across state lines.

The LottoGopher service limits players to 20 tickets per drawing, but since Powerball, Mega Millions, and SuperLotto are drawn twice a week, that could mean one player could buy up to 80 tickets a week in California and 40 a week in Florida.
Brian Kongsvik, Director of HelpLine Operations for the Altamonte Springs-based Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling said, "For someone to go into a store, make their purchases and buy a few lottery tickets with the change they have leftover is one thing. However, the ability to gamble on credit is dangerous to those that are prone to compulsive behavior."


But besides allowing users to use credit cards, why else would you join LottoGopher? Well, the site allows you to join groups. As the side says, "the only proven way to increase your chances of winning the lottery is to have more tickets." The only way to have more tickets without paying for more tickets is to be part of a group.

You can create your own group, making it one made up of people you know, or random groupings. Or instead, you can search for specific groups with a maximum and a minimum number of pooled tickets.

Of course, LottoGopher doesn't do this all for free. You have to be a member. You can pay $1 to be a 10 day trial member, or $19.42 for a month, or $119.88 annually, which works out to $9.99 a month.

LottoGopher does not take a percentage of any winnings. You can choose your own numbers if you want. For more questions, there is a FAQ page here.

Most Powerball states sell Mega Millions as well. Florida is one of two Powerball states that only have Powerball (the other is Louisiana). Meanwhile, California is the only state that has only Mega Millions. The rest of the jurisdictions have both Powerball and Mega Millions.

LottoGopher will appeal to the younger, technophile generation, Morel believes. He said, "Lotteries across the country are facing an aging user base, so LottoGopher provides an innovative way to bring in younger players that prefer technology-enabled convenience purchasing."



HP refutes webOS shutdown as 'an unfounded rumor'

HP Personal Systems Group Executive Vice President Todd Bradley appeared on Bloomberg on Friday to discuss HP's decision to keep its computer division. However, the talk quite naturally turned to discussions of webOS, during which Bradley said that the claim that HP was close to shutting down the webOS division was "an unfounded rumor."

Unfounded or not, the rumors of a webOS shutdown included a statement by an unnamed webOS employee saying that there was a 95 percent chance they would all be laid off before the end of November.

Speaking of webOS, Bradley said that now that the company has made its decision on the PSG, HP's "next focus" is to determine how we'll best utilize webOS and those great software assets we have."

When "Bloomberg West" host Emily Bradley brought up the report on webOS' upcoming demise, Bradley called it "a unfounded rumor," adding that HP has "phenomenal software and phenomenal talent" in the webOS Global Business Unit that the company needs to utilize more effectively.

What that means exactly, Bradley did not elaborate on. It's hard (and that's putting it mildly) to see how HP can leverage webOS as a platform without webOS hardware. Right now, there is no webOS hardware ... well, except for hardware already manufactured.

Unless HP gets a buyer, decides to dual-boot webOS with Windows (as it has discussed before), or puts webOS into printers, what is the platform's future?

webOS was introduced in January of 2009. It was seen as a possible competitor to iOS, and at the time, Android was still nascent. But then Palm took months before putting it on a mobile device. When it did, it used Sprint as its exclusive carrier. Meanwhile, Google saw an opening and took it, putting Android on numerous devices and eventually passing iOS in terms of popularity.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2012
What now, for webOS? Hopefully, HP will make a decision, or a deal, soon, to end the limbo the platform is now in.

Watch the interview with Bradley, below.  The webOS discussion begins at about 2:40.





Amazon Appstore's Free App of the Day, 10/30/2011: Hungry MonstR

Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today's app is Hungry MonstR.

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Hungry MonstR is priced at $1.99 in the Android Market. It is normally priced at $1.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.

Hungry MonstR is described as follows:
MonstRs Are on the Loose!

Welcome to MonstR Land, a lovely place full of cute little monstRs (yes, that's a capital "R" there!). These critters love what every self-respecting monstR loves: ice cream! This wouldn't be a problem if you weren't the ice cream man.

Yes, there are Hungry MonstRs everywhere in this entertaining Android game, converging on your poor ice cream cart. It's up to you to defend your frozen goodies.

We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Four different colors of monstRs approach your ice cream cart from the edges of the screen. Flick them (using full multi-touch controls) towards one of four tubes at the corners, depending on their color. Be careful not to send a monstR into the wrong tube; he'll plug it up temporarily and keep you from using it.

If three monstRs get away with ice cream, it's game over. That is a definite challenge with the sheer numbers that will eventually start converging on your cart.

Rainbow Connection

Fortunately, you have an awesome weapon in your fight against monstRs: the rainbow. Flick at least two monstRs of the same color into their tube, then two more of another color into one of the tubes next to it without interruption. Circle the screen that way, and you'll get a special rainbow item.

The rainbow turns all tubes into rainbow tubes that accept any color of monstR. Take advantage of this limited time power and flick away as many as you can with wild abandon! You can also get a double, triple, or quadruple rainbow, or even more.

A La Mode

There are two ways to play Hungry MonstRs. MonstR Frenzy gives you a trio of minute-long frenzies of monstR onslaughts that you must defend against. Endless Rainbow offers an infinite number of increasingly harder assaults--as long as your ice cream survives. Whether you have a lot of time to kill, or just a few minutes, Hungry MonstRs have you covered.

While you play, take a look at the in-game statistics and local leaderboards--if you get good enough, you might see your best scores there. With three difficulty levels, the whole family can enjoy the game. So don't be afraid to face those Hungry MonstRs--just make sure you have your desserts in a safe place...
Hungry MonstR has a 4.0-star rating in the Android Market, and a 2.5-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.

Let us remember Steve Jobs Forever
And we're back to another one of those mysteries of why there is such a discrepancy between the two markets in terms of ratings. In the Amazon Appstore, the reviews says the game simply does not work: it does not respond to controls, force closes, and more.

Strangely, we see those same issues sprinkled among the reviews at the Android Market, yet the reviews are still high.

Those who are considering "buying" a Free Amazon Appstore app might want to consider what it means to developers.

Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term "App Store." Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.



Lumia launch ad: show me a reason to want this device, Nokia

Apple's ads about the iPhone and iPad tend to emphasize what you can do with the devices. Android ads tend to emphasize specs. The original Windows Phone ads emphasized simplifying your interactions with your phone. This Nokia Lumia ad: we're not sure what it emphasizes.

For those who missed the news from earlier this week, Nokia has introduced its first Windows Phones, the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710.

Aside from dissing the rest of the Windows Phone OEMs by saying the Lumia 800 was the first "real Windows Phone," the phones themselves didn't seem much different from previous Windows Phones, except that they do have some software that's only available on Nokia's devices: Nokia Drive, a free turn-by-turn voice navigation program, Nokia Music with Mix Radio, and the ESPN Sports Hub.

This ad begins with "Who says the every day has to be so every day?" It then shows people doing goofy things in the way only people can, enjoying themselves (well, since they are actors, enjoying their paychecks and choreographed actions).

Oh, and we hesitate to think what the woman pushing the rest of the folks at about 31 seconds in was showing them.

At any rate, we didn't even see the phone until about 50 seconds in.

We have to admit, we still think Nokia is Microsoft's best chance to make Windows Phone a hit. It's also Nokia's best chance for survival.

We also still know, don't think, that Microsoft is throwing huge amounts of money at the platform and developers, so it's not doing to die, whether or not it ever becomes truly relevant compared to iOS and Android.

But what's great about Apple's ads is missing. Apple's marketing is spot on, showing why you want to buy an iPhone or iPad. Android's ads are about specs. Bleh. This ad? Bleh.

Show us why to adopt or (less likely) switch. Otherwise ... it's not going to happen.





More baby steps toward de-Googling iOS: Apple buys 3D maps creator C3 Technologies

Apple has acquired another 3D mapping firm, in what might be seen as a move to de-Google its iPhone. In the summer of 2010, Apple acquired a 3D mapping firm called Poly9, and now it has been confirmed that Apple is the new owner of 3D mapping company C3 Technologies.

In August, C3 Technologies was purchased and shut down by its buyer. While it was unknown who the buyer was, it has now been reported to be confirmed as Apple. Apple was one of the companies earlier speculated upon as the buyer of C3 Technologies.

C3 Technologies creates high-quality, detailed 3D maps, using declassified missile targeting methods. Here's how C3 Technologies' company description read:

C3 Technologies is the leading provider of 3D mapping solutions, offering photo-realistic models of the world for search, navigation and geographic information systems. Since 2007 when it was spun out of the aerospace and defense company Saab AB, venture-backed C3 has redefined mapping by applying previously classified image processing technology to the development of 3D maps as a platform for new social and commercial applications. The Sweden-based company’s automated software and advanced algorithms enable C3 to rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images, that together are forever changing how people use maps and explore the world.
In 2009, Apple bought Placebase, which specialized in customization and layering information on maps. With that buy, Poly9 and C3 Technologies, a move away from Google Maps seems inevitable.

Let's not forget that Apple's Steve Jobs felt betrayed over Android, and that Apple is not averse to divesting itself of components from companies, no matter how vital, that it feels it no longer wants or needs. Witness its move away from Samsung as a key supplier.

Changing memory components or processor manufacturer is one thing. Can Apple come up with a compelling maps solution that users will be willing to use instead of Google Maps? Or will they just "live with it," as they live with the App Store, because it's the iPhone?

You can watch some C3 videos below.









Facebook: 600,000 logins are compromised on a daily basis

Fun stuff, for Facebook users. Facebook quietly this week said that 600,000 Facebook logins are compromised daily.

The info was somewhat hidden in a new security announcement issued by the social networking giant on Thursday, which described the value of its new "Trusted Friends" password restoration technique. Sophos first noticed the info, which was couched in a rather casual way.

The information actually wasn't highlighted in the announcement at all, but instead in an easily skipped infographic attached to the post. It says that "only 0.06 percent of 1 billion logins per day are compromised."

That is a small percentage, but numerically, quite large. 0.06 percent of 1 billion logins equals 600,000 logins. Note, however, that Facebook users the term "logins," not accounts, so the number could include repeated break-ins at the same account.

Sophos' Graham Cluley wrote, in a post about Facebook on Friday, "If an unauthorized party has logged into your Facebook account, then you're far from alone." Small comfort, for those who might share way too much information on the Facebook accounts.

The "Trusted Friends" restoration technique works as follows: you nominate three to five "trusted friends" who can help you restore access if for some reason you are locked out of your account. An example might be if someone has hacked the account and changed its password, and at the same time locked you out of your email account. Since you can't access your email account, Facebook will send codes to your friends that they can pass on to you.

Protect Your Computer FilesNone of them on their own will have the ability to unlock your account. On the other hand, here's a thought: why wouldn't the miscreant who snagged your Facebook account immediately change your Trusted Friends list?

Oops.



Consumers want 4G, even though they don't understand it

4G has become one of the top features desired by new cell phone buyers. That is the case even though they really don't understand what it means.

We knew it would happen: good marketing and pounding the term into the heads of consumers has succeeded. A recent survey, Next-Generation Phones: Consumer Insights Drive Future Handset Designs, conducted by market research firm In-Stat found that 75 percent of respondents listed 4G as one of the features their ideal phone would include. The survey covered 1,208 consumers.

However, there is a lot of confusion over 4G. We've already covered how even Verizon's LTE and Sprint's WiMax aren't (or at least, weren't) really 4th generation wireless or 4G. Certainly HSPA+, which currently carries most of the 4G load for AT&T and all of it for T-Mobile, isn't.

And when asked if they knew which carrier offered the fastest 4G speeds, most respondents were dumfounded. In-Stat analyst Greg Potter said in a statement that

"Although 4G is an important feature for handset buyers, there is a lot of confusion surrounding 4G. When survey respondents were asked which carrier offered the fastest 4G speeds, the majority of the respondents either didn’t know or felt they were the same across carriers."

Makes sense: non-techies just see two-letters (4G). Techies see the additional words (HSPA+, LTE, WiMax).

There is legislation running around in the U.S. A new bill presented to the U.S. Senate that would require wireless carriers to clarify what the speeds their 4G networks supply in their marketing and advertising. It is unclear if that bill will pass, however.

Additional key points from the report: as opposed to last year's survey, which said that 23 percent said they would not switch to a different smartphone platform, this year's survey found that 36 percent had no plans to switch. The cause of the rise seems common sense to us. As we've said before, the more apps that are downloaded to a phone, especially if purchased, the less likely it is that the owner will switch. It's a form of "app tax."

Another finding from the survey, which points to bad news for T-Mobile if they a) do not get the iPhone, b) do not get acquired by AT&T: 20 percent of T-Mobile subscribers plan to switch carriers in the next 12 months.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Disabling location-based time zone setting a possible fix for iPhone 4S battery issue

It's pretty well known that anyone who keeps their location-based services turned on constantly will see a battery hit, and that may be the reason behind the battery life problems with the iPhone 4S: a bug in iOS 5 that keeps location tracking running constantly, draining battery power.

If you wonder if this affects the iPhone 4 running iOS 5 as well, you'd be on the right track. Reportedly, it does affect the iPhone 4, too. It's just that with every introduction of a new device, attention focuses on it, and not its older siblings.

The culprit may be --- or may not be --- the Setting Time Zone service. This allows the iPhone to use location services to determine if you've moved to a different time zone and then reset the clock automatically.

At this Apple support page, you can see that there is an option called Setting Time Zone. You need to disable that setting.

Reports are that the feature is keeping the location services hardware running all the time, which anyone who has used the GPS functionality on a smartphone can tell you would suck battery like it's going out of style.

To disable the setting, tap on Settings / Location Services / System Services > and change Setting Time Zone to OFF.

Whether or not this is the actual problem is still up for debate, but there are some other things you can also try in order to increase your iPhone 4 and 4S battery life.

Disable Diagnostic and Usage Reports:
Tap on Settings / General / About / Diagnostic & Usage, set to Don't Send

Webroot
Reset Network Settings:
Tap on Settings / Reset / Reset Network Settings

Disable Ping:
Tap on Settings / General / Restrictions / Enable Restrictions / Ping > OFF

Disable Bluetooth:
Tap on Settings / General / change Bluetooth to OFF

Disable Unneeded Notifications and Apps in Notification Center:
Tap on Settings / Notifications / Disable for those you don't need

Disable iCloud:
Tap on Settings / General / disable iCloud settings

Disable Location Services entirely
Tap on Settings / Location Services / Disable services you don't require

Some are pointing to corrupted contacts, and not battery contacts, but personal contacts, so deleting and recreating them has been suggested as a possible solution, as well.

There is also the age-old iOS restore.

None of these "solutions" are a sure cure-all. Let's hope Apple addresses the issue soon. In an earlier report, we noted that Apple has begun reaching out to end users about the issue.

accuscore.com


Amazon Appstore's Free App of the Day, 10/29/2011: CandySwipe

Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today's app is CandySwipe.

Great Deals on Dell Refurbished Computers
CandySwipe is priced at $2.99 in the Android Market. It is normally priced at $2.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.

CandySwipe is described as follows:
CandySwipe indulges your sweet tooth with cute gingerbread men, colorful candy corn, "Love You" Valentine hearts, Hershey's kisses, shiny candied apples, and entertaining gameplay that is as addictive as sugar itself.

Sweet Surrender

There's simply no resisting CandySwipe's grid of sugary temptation, so why not dive in and have some fun. Swipe your finger left, right, up, down, or diagonally across matching pieces of candy without touching non-matching pieces. Swipe five or more pieces in Normal mode and you'll gain more time and points. Keep swiping multiple pieces so your time doesn't run out. You can also track back to collect missed pieces as long as your finger doesn't touch a non-matching candy piece along the way.

Sugar High

The more matching candy you collect in a single swipe, the higher your score. Your score is calculated by the number of candy pieces swiped multiplied by that number. For example, if you swipe 2 pieces you receive 4 points, if you swipe 4 pieces, you receive 16 points, and so on. Ice cream cones are wild, and each time you swipe one your current swipe score doubles.

Climbing and Timing

Match your way through 20 levels of CandySwipe fun. With every 2,500 points you reach a new level. The clock starts at 100 and counts down more quickly with each successive level. You receive 20-30 seconds of additional time when you reach each new level. Choose your difficulty level, which dictates how much time is added when you swipe:
  • Normal - Adds 1 second for every 25 points acquired in a single swipe (swiping 5 adds 1 second)
  • Too Easy - Adds 1 second for every 9 points acquired in a single swipe (swiping 3 adds 1 second)
  • Hard - Adds 1 second for every 64 points acquired in a single swipe (swiping 8 adds 1 second)
  • Under Pressure - The same as normal but you start with 20 additional seconds
Savor and Share

You can also record your high scores and play against your friends. CandySwipe is a sweet little game that's perfect for the holidays or any time of the year.
CandySwipe has a 4.5-star rating in the Android Market, and a 3.0-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.

And we're back to another one of those mysteries of why there is such a discrepancy between the two markets in terms of ratings. The Android Market has 221 ratings, so we can say that the 4.5 star rating there is earned. Why the 3.0 rating in the Amazon Appstore?

So why 12 one-star ratings (out of 40 total) in the Amazon Appstore? Some criticized the lack of instructions (which should be criticized, yes), lack of support for higher-resolution displays, and the fact that it was another FAOTD "match x" game.

Those who are considering "buying" a Free Amazon Appstore app might want to consider what it means to developers.

Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term "App Store." Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.

TigerDirect


Apple reaches out to owners as iPhone 4S battery life issues crop up

The iPhone's battery life is one of the highest priority items for Apple, and with the company only squeezing another 0.05WHr into the battery of the iPhone 4S (vs. the iPhone 4), we were wondering how things would work out. So far, the answer isn't good.

The Guardian has reported that some iPhone 4S owners are being contacted by Apple support, as the company investigates complaints of shorter-than-expected battery life, posted to the company's support forums.

Many end users are complaining of battery life of only a few hours, even with minimal use and many of the power-draining "super-features" of the 4S disabled.

With the minimal increase in battery capacity, and the new features and hardware of the iPhone 4S, we expected a hit, and we saw it in the specs. Apple forecast 200 hours of standby time vs. 300 hours for the iPhone 4.

Despite the issues, Apple fans seem to be happy that the company is making an effort. One end user said:

"My battery life was extremely poor - 10% drop in standby every hour. I noticed that the usage figure was roughly half that of standby, even when the phone was not being used, so I assumed something was crashing or running in the background. I switched off all the new features including Siri and location services, but it was still really poor. I also tried setting up a clean phone with no apps but it is still really poor.

"I then got a call from a senior engineer who said he had read my post and was 'reaching out' to users for data and admitted this was an issue (and that they aren't close to finding a fix!) and asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file below and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info. I extracted the file from my Mac after a sync and emailed it to him. He was incredibly helpful and apologetic in the typical Apple way!"

Some battery issues were blamed on corrupt contacts, and we're not talking about corrupt battery contacts. Instead, we're talking about contacts imported, but corrupted during the process, from Apple's MobileMe or iCloud services, or from Google's Contacts list. In some cases, deleting them and then reinstalling them seems to fix the problem.

It's actually not an atypical issue, a new hardware device having problems. Even new ROMs, and we are not isolating this to Apple devices, can cause issues, and issues beyond battery life.

The biggest change to the iPhone 4S, aside from Siri, which many users said they have tried turning off, is the A5 processor. Given that it's quite a bit more powerful than the A4 processor in the iPhone 4, we'd assume it would drain more power.

However, we'd also assume Apple, in its normal way, would have extensively tested battery drain.

Another issue that's been running around since the 4S was introduced is isolated to Sprint iPhone 4S devices. Many, but not all, owners have complained of snail-like 3G data speeds.