Sunday, September 30, 2012

Samsung's Remand Demand Lands Court Command - The Mac Observer

GavelSamsung won a victory in its ongoing battle with Apple over patent infringement in the U.S. An appeals court granted Samsung's motion to have Judge Lucy Koh weigh the harm to Samsung of leaving a preliminary injunction against sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab against the likelihood of Apple's success in getting a permanent injunction against the device.

This is a fairly complex development for those of us on layman side of the lawâ€"allow us to try to explain anyway:

As noted above, a jury convicted Samsung of willfully infringing on several Apple design and utility patents on August 24th, while simultaneously finding that Apple did not infringe on Samsung's patents due to patent exhaustion (meaning that Apple was covered by licenses granted to the companies making relevant components).

The jury ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 101.1 did not infringe on one design patent, D'889. This is important because Apple had already been granted a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 based on this patent when Judge Koh ruled that Apple was likely to win this claim.

Samsung understandably wants the preliminary injunction lifted, but the situation is made more complicated by a few more issues. The most important is that Apple has filed for a Rule 50 motionâ€"as explained by FOSS Patents, Apple is asking for the court to overrule the jury when it comes to the D'889 patent.

Apple has also argued that the preliminary injunction should stay in place because the jury did find that the Galaxy Tab infringed on other Apple patents, infringement that is entitled to its own injunction should it survive the appeals process. Earlier in September, Judge Koh ruled that the injunction would remain in place.

The remand motion asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to force Judge Koh to weigh harm to Samsung against Apple's chance of success, and the court agreed. At the same time, the ruling specified that, "In granting the motion, the Federal Circuit takes no position on the proceedings the trial court should employ in considering the motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction or on the merits of the motion."

Further muddying the waters is the reality that harm to Samsung will be limited by the reality that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is near the end of its life cycleâ€"its replacement is already on the market, and isn't (as of this writing) a part of this specific case.

This is a by-product of the reality that these patent fights are largely outpaced by the tech industry itself. By the time this stuff gets ruled on by a court or the U.S. International Trade Commission, many of the affected products are no longer on the market.

As we have noted all along in our coverage of the patent battles, this is just one of many more steps to come in the appeals process as these two rich tech giants continue to slug it out.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Oracle expands cloud services; unveils world's 'first' multi-tenant database - ZDNet

Credit: Jack Clark, ZDNet

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison took to the stage to unveil the tech giant's "new approach" to engineering hardware and software together on the opening night of Oracle OpenWorld 2012 on Sunday evening.

See also: Oracle OpenWorld 2012: By the numbers
Oracle unveils public cloud partner programs

As promised during the most recent quarterly conference call with investors, Ellison introduced four new major services, starting off with a third tier to the Oracle Cloud: Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

"Our customers running our SaaS and PaaS solutions, they need to run certain kinds of custom applications and move some of their existing apps onto the cloud as well," Ellison said. "The only way we can accommodate that is offer infrastructure-as-a-serivce in addition to SaaS and PaaS."

The Oracle Cloud IaaS will be sold on Oracle's engineered systems: Exadata, Exalogic, and SuperCluster while running on an Infiniband network.

Ellison stressed the point that with Oracle Cloud, the global tech giant is adding a new line of business to its traditional lines of business of selling hardware and software.

To put this into perspective, Oracle specified that -- not IBM -- is the "primary competitor" with this solution. Ellison also cited that this bumps up Oracle's tiers of cloud service to three, declaring that Amazon only has one while has two.

The second major announcement was the Oracle Private Cloud, an extension to the Oracle Cloud behind the customer's firewall.

Oracle owns and manages the infrastructure, running on Exalogic, Exadata and SuperCluster. The infrastructure is installed in the customer's data center behind the company's firewall. The customer then pays a monthly service fee based on usage with excess capacity installed and available on demand.

The Oracle Private Cloud will run all Oracle software along with customer applications. This includes support for the E-Business suite, PeopleSoft and Siebel as well as the Oracle Database and Fusion Middleware.

"The Oracle Private Cloud is quite literally an extension of the Oracle Cloud," Ellison asserted. "You can't tell the difference."

Thus, customers should be able to move applications back-and-forth between both cloud platforms, using the Oracle Cloud to develop and test while running on the Private Cloud. Furthermore, customers can use Oracle Cloud for backup and implement disaster recovery on the Private Cloud. Ellison described that they are essentially "interchangeable."

The third announcement was the Oracle Database 12c, the "first multi-tenant database" in the world for the cloud, which Ellison noted was in development for more than four years.

"We needed a new foundation to support modern cloud applications," Ellison remarked. "We did a lot of work to improve our middleware to support our SaaS applications."

Described as the "software foundation of the Oracle Cloud," the multi-tenant pluggable database architecture consists of the memory, processes, and storage of multiple databases all consolidated into one container database. Ellison stressed that this combines all the benefits of multi-tenancy as well as hardware and operational efficiencies without any change to the application at all.

"These pluggable databases are vastly more efficient than traditional databases," Ellison argued, citing that they use six time less hardware resources while running five times more databases. For example, that equates to only 3GB of memory versus 20GB of memory used for 50 databases.

Most important, Ellison cited, was that with multi-tenancy implemented at the database level, that combines security with efficiency.

"Each customer's data is safe in a separate, private database," Ellison explained, noting that all of the database security features work, such as auditing, reporting, and redaction. He said that these normally don't work in multi-tenant databases.

As for the hardware foundation, Ellison announced Exadata X3, a database in-memory machine, which was designed to store all of a customer's databases in-memory.

Exadata X3 consists of 26 terabytes of DRAM and flash in a single rack. Flash memory is being increased by a factor of four, but Ellison stressed that pricing will remain the same.

To really emphasize just how powerful X3 is, Ellison declared that it would take 100 racks of disk drives to do the same amount of input and output as one rack of Exadata X3.

More to come...

Apple's biggest blunders of the post-Jobs era - Sydney Morning Herald

Apple's had many hits but let's not forget the misses.

Apple's had many hits but let's not forget the misses. Photo:

This post was originally published on Mashable.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook surprised many by publicly apologising for the company's new maps application, which has been widely panned by customers and reviewers alike as inferior to Google Maps ever since it was introduced with iOS 6 a week and a half ago.

It's their company not Steve's anymore ... That is why ultimately I think you see Tim Cook stepping up and admitting mistakes much earlier, rather than letting them get completely out of hand. 

Tim Bajarin, analyst

In a letter published on Apple's website, Cook wrote:

"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."


At first blush, it may have seemed like an insanely rare admission of failure from a company that not only prides itself on being insanely great, but insanely reluctant to concede its missteps. Yet, in the post-Steve Jobs era, Apple's top executives appear to be making more mistakes and to be more willing to admit them. In fact, Apple has issued public apologies in each of the past three months of this year.

Apple's other public apologies this year

Back in July, the company made headlines for withdrawing from the EPEAT environmental rating system, which informs consumers whether electronics manufacturers are making eco-friendly products. Apple initially claimed that its own environmental standards were higher, but after receiving a huge amount of backlash from consumers and environmental groups, one of the company's top executives issued a public apology.

Bob Mansfield, Apple's SVP of Mac Software Engineering and Hardware Engineering said:

We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.

Just those four words â€" "This was a mistake" â€" were enough to surprise many of those covering the company, but it would only be a few weeks before they'd see these words once more from Apple.

In August, Apple found itself apologising yet again after multiple reports came out suggesting that the company had been cutting back its retail store staff as part of an effort from the new SVP of Retail John Browett to make the stores more profitable. The company denied that this was tied to profitability, but still admitted these changes were a mistake.

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said in a statement to Dow Jones afterwards:

"Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed. Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve."

Why Apple is making more mistakes now

The recent string of mistakes and apologies may simply reflect the reality that Apple has gotten a little sloppier as it transitions from the Jobs Era to the Cook Era. According to Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Creative Strategies, some things will inevitably "fall through the cracks" as Apple continues to transition to new management and figure out its path forward a little more than a year after Jobs resigned from the company.

"They have to fill some pretty big shoes and find their own way, in the sense that it's their company not Steve's anymore," Bajarin told Mashable. "That is why ultimately I think you see Tim Cook stepping up and admitting mistakes much earlier, rather than letting them get completely out of hand."

Apple has made several other blunders in the past year under Cook, and while it hasn't publicly apologised for these, it has moved to clean them up quickly.

For starters, the company's Siri and Genius ad campaigns have been criticised by many for abandoning some of the key elements that made Apple commercials great. While Apple continues to air its celebrity-drenched Siri commercials, the company was quick to kill off its Genius ads just a few days after they first aired during the Olympics, which was seen as an admission of failure by some (though Apple's ad agency said it was the plan all along.)

In another blunder, Apple released its own standalone podcast app in July, which was quickly slammed by bloggers as poorly designed and generally slow to load. The app was so bad that it had a 2.5 star rating on iTunes for awhile after launching. After a month, Apple responded to all the complaints by issuing a big update to the app to make it work better.

Then, of course, there's Siri, which has been criticised for its limitations pretty much since it launched with the iPhone 4S in October of last year. In some ways, Siri's problems are the most comparable to the new maps fiasco, in that both products were arguably released as beta products (a word Apple hates to use) that improve the more people use it. The difference, however, is that Siri was a new feature whereas the maps application has been central to the iPhone since it launched.

While Apple has never apologised for Siri, some close to the company have slammed the product anonymously, with one ex-Apple insider quoted in Fortune as saying, "Steve [Jobs] would have lost his mind over Siri."

Apple screwed up under Steve Jobs, too

Indeed, it's become a popular refrain anytime Apple makes a mistake with a product that it would never have happened under in the Jobs' era. Yet, Siri was acquired and incorporated into the iPhone while Jobs was still in control of the company.

What's more, even Jobs apologised for the company's mistakes on occasion, albeit reluctantly. During the Antennagate controversy, Jobs initially blamed customers for holding the phone wrong, but after a few weeks of heavy criticism, Jobs finally conceded, "We screwed up."

For the most part though, Jobs chose to rely more on his so-called reality distortion field to persuade the media and the public that he and the company were right, no matter what. Cook appears to have a different leadership style, both because of differences between the two CEOs' personalities and by virtue of the fact that Apple is stumbling a bit more these days as part of the transition.

Bajarin says that he personally "cuts [Apple] a lot of slack" because he is aware of how difficult it is for a big company to make a transition in leadership. The real question, though, is whether Apple's customers will be quite as forgiving.

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

Tim Cook's "MappleGate Mea Culpa" And Other Quotes Of The Week - Forbes

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Did you ever think you would see a week in which:

-A budget proposal from Spain would trump U.S. economic data in driving the U.S equity markets?

-Tim Cook had to apologize to new iPhone5 purchasers?

-Tiger Woods and the U.S. team find a way to lose an insurmountable lead at home in the Ryder Cup matches?

-RIMM stock rockets higher?

-A Fed official openly condemns FOMC action to failure?

Well, none of these were expected this week but all occurred nonetheless, although we will give Tiger a bit of a break as he ran into several extremely impressive performances by hot European players.

The trading week was largely driven by the news coming out of Europe, with the post-Fed rally continuing to pause over European uncertainty, some continuing poor global economic data, lowered earnings expectations, and perhaps some pure old-fashioned profit-taking into the end of the 3rd Quarter.

For the week, the SPX was down 1.3%, the Dow -1.0%, and the NASD -2.0%, but all three ended the quarter impressively, up +5.8%, +4.3%, and +6.2% respectively.

So let’s get down to some of the stories and quotes of the week.

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”  â€"Apple CEO Tim Cook’s online letter to customers. (Apple website)

What is a bit more surprising was Cook’s overt suggestion that Apple users might want to check out the competition:

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

And as CNET points out, Apple’s website has backtracked on prior map superiority claims, taking down from the site the statement, “Designed by Apple from the ground up, Maps give you turn-by-turn spoken directions, interactive 3D views, and the stunning Flyover feature. All of which may just make this app the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.”

The WSJ said Friday, Google has not been shy about “pouncing on Apple’s map problems….publishing a blog post explaining how consumers can still use Google Maps on the iPhone through the Web browser and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt  saying, ‘In my opinion, it would have been better to retain our maps.’”

But there were just a few other stories besides AAPL (which did lose close to $33 or -4.7% on the week).

“This is a crisis budget designed to get out of this crisis.”  â€"Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saez de Santamaria. As Forbes reported, however, “Spain is still in trouble….(but) this will allow Spain to set in motion the bailout of its banks, and then actually figure out, along with the ECB, the IMF, and the EU (the Troika) how to stop the bleeding and stabilize its finances. “

Bloomberg was reporting further development over the weekend:

“Spain plans to borrow 207.2 billion euros ($266.5 billion) next year, the Budget Ministry said today, as pressure builds for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to tap the European rescue fund instead of financial markets.”

The protests in Spain over economic condition, unemployment and austerity measure led to a resurfacing of an older story on “Spain’s elephant-hunting King Juan Carlos”, who lost his honorary Presidency of The World Wildlife Fund’s branch in Spain this summer. (MSNBC/AP).  Business Insider was reporting that the protests, although about austerity, also reflect, “the feeling that people have no power over government, that the government favors elites, and that the country is losing sovereignty that drive people mad.”

iOS 6: 5 Things That Disappoint - InformationWeek

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features

(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Apple made some great improvements to iOS 6 with its Photo Stream syncing, Safari syncing, Facebook integration, and Do Not Disturb. Unfortunately, Apple didn't go far enough in revising some apps, and falls completely on its face with others.

Here are five things about iOS 6 that Apple could have done much, much better.

1. Apple Maps: It's horrid. I've been unimpressed with Apple Maps throughout the beta period of iOS 6. I was hoping that the company would make some refinements along the way, but it didn't. Apple Maps is a complete face-plant for Apple. It's missing streets, cities, and significant points of interest, it is slow to load, and maps are rather pedestrian-looking when compared to the rich Google Maps. Some of Google Maps' best features, such as Street View, are missing from Apple Maps entirely. This app needs fixing ASAP, Apple. At the very least, let us put Google Maps back on our devices while you fix this mess.

2. Email: Apple gave its native email application a few new features, but didn't fill in some of the biggest remaining gaps. I like that Mail for iOS finally allows users to add photos/videos after they've begun composing an email, adds the ability to sort through flagged emails, and builds in support for multiple email account signatures. Still missing? The ability to mark all as read or delete all messages; support for additional fonts and/or styling within emails; spam filters for the device itself; and support for group emails. Other features are still absent, but these are the most glaring. For Gmail users, as an example, the browser-based application is still far superior to Mail in iOS.

[ There's still a lot that's good in iOS 6. See iOS 6: 5 Things To Like. ]

3. Delete Apple Apps: Apple still doesn't allow iOS users to delete the stock Apple-developed apps. For example, I don't use Newsstand at all. Not only can I not delete this unwanted application, I can't even add it to a folder to hide it from view. It irks me every time I see it. This and other apps are forever stuck on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Grrrrr.

4. Siri: Siri has come a long way since its fall 2011 debut, but it hasn't come far enough. Apple still lists Siri as a "beta" application, but it still has the feel of an "alpha" app, if you ask me. Some of the best new Siri features include the ability to look up sports scores, check movie times/reviews, and even find local restaurants and make reservations. The problem is Siri's voice recognition remains quite poor. Siri translates my dictated speech accurately only about 50% of the time. That means 50% of the time, the app doesn't work properly. C'mon, Apple. Google's voice recognition has yours beat by a country mile.

5. Minor Annoyances: Other features missing and/or not updated that aren't a huge deal, but still register on the scale of annoyances include: not enough font support; old and stale notification alerts/tones; no widgets/dynamic home-screen content; lack of support for Adobe Flash (just kidding, making sure you're still reading); and lack of visual flair or pizzazz. The operating system received plenty of new features, but looks and feels just like it has since 2007.

Despite these admittedly picky issues, there's still plenty to like in iOS 6, which is a decent upgrade from iOS 5.

'Bad Piggies' get a shot at greatness - Fox News

  • Bad-piggies.jpg

    This wacky spinoff rewards you for wacky creativity.Rovio

After spending years releasing new games in the "Angry Birds" series, Rovio is now putting its focus on the Birds' foes with the just-released "Bad Piggies."

And no, this isn't just a "Birds" sequel. It's a whole new kind of puzzler, one that will keep you busy for hours at a time â€" just as any good Rovio-produced game would. You can grab the game for just $1 on the iPhone or $3 on the iPad edition.

[SEE ALSO Angry Birds Trilogy]

In the game, the Piggies find themselves on a tropical island, enjoying the sunshine and seeking out new land with the help of a map. However, a wind gust comes out of nowhere and scatters the map into pieces, forcing the pigs to attempt to collect all the pieces.

Here's where things get interesting. You don't launch the Piggies with the help of a slingshot. Instead, you put together a makeshift vehicle using a limited amount of parts, then send them on their way through a number of complicated levels. 

Sometimes you're able to use the momentum of a steep slope to your advantage; other times, you need to use gadgets like a fan and a bottle of fizzy soda. The goal of each level is to get each pig to the map piece â€" even if the vehicle falls apart along the way. Each stage gives you the opportunity to earn three stars â€" the better you do, the more stars you earn.

What makes "Bad Piggies" so interesting is that there's more than one way to finish a level. You don't have to use all the parts provided, nor simply build a vehicle the conventional way. In fact, some levels even award you for not using specific parts. So if you can get to the goal without using a fan or a TNT box, you're rewarded for it. This provides an excellent opportunity to be creative and figure out how to get through each level.

[SEE ALSO Pigs Go To Mars In Red Planet]

Some of the later levels in the game (for instance, the larger sandbox stages) are difficult, and will require several tries just to figure out how you'll get going. But this is one of those games that relies on the "try, try again" rule and yet doesn't wear out its welcome as a result. In fact, you'll welcome the creativity. You can also check the GameCenter-supported online leaderboards to see how you fare against others.

Visually, "Bad Piggies" has the same flair as the "Angry Birds" games, with colorful backgrounds and cute little animations â€" watching the pigs hop around all smiles at the end of each stage is a delight. It also provides helpful camera options, as you can zoom out and see where you need to go at any time. The sound mostly consists of light, pleasant music and pig snorts, but you can always play your own iTunes library if you prefer.

Though it plays much, much differently than "Angry Birds," "Bad Piggies" is a terrific addition to your digital game library. It's about time they got their big break.

RATING: 3.5 / 4

Copyright 2012 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Imagine No Ads On Facebook. It's Easy If You Try - TechCrunch

Facebook has to show more ads to make more money, right? Wrong. Or at least not necessarily. If it expands its new off-site ad network and Gifts ecommerce product, it could rely on its data, not its traffic, to grow its revenues. That would leave its site and apps uncluttered, designed to maximize enjoyment, the amount we share, and our feeling of connection instead of page views.

You might say I’m a dreamer…

Until a month ago, the world thought Facebook was stuck between a sinking rock and a hard-to-monetize place. The fact is that the user base is shifting from the desktop where Facebook can show seven ads per page and take a 30% of games payments, to the tiny mobile screen.

This has been terrifying to investors and a bad omen for the user experience. Many assumed the only solution was for Facebook to show a lot of ads on mobile. Wall Street wasn’t even convinced users would click them or advertisers would by them. It turns out Facebook’s mobile ad click through rates are impressive and advertisers are lining up for them, but the social network would still need to drown out organic news feed content from our friends with ads.

But Facebook moves fast. It had been testing off-site web display ads, the first step to an ad network, on Then a few weeks ago it revealed it would begin letting advertisers pay it to use its wealth of biographical and social data on us to better target ads shown on non-Facebook mobile sites and apps â€" essentially a Facebook mobile ad network.

And then on Thursday Facebook launched Gifts, its entry into the ecommerce market that suggests and lets users buy real gifts and digital gift cards for friends. It earns a percentage of each sale.

Less Ads, More Revenue

With these two products, Facebook has paved a second path to financial success.

The original path: monetizing the incredible amount of time users spend within its site and apps.

The new, second path: Monetizing the incredible amount of data it has to target ads to users when they spend time elsewhere, and to recommend them relevant things to buy

Both branches of the second path will help Facebook avoid a fundamental pitfall. The compromise ad-supported services face is: “how can we accomplish our mission and offer the best service possible while distracting from and interrupting that service with as many ads as people will tolerate.”

Since it’s launch, Facebook has commendably skewed the balance in favor of the user experience, minimizing the presence of ads and focusing on making them as relevant as possible. But going public has brought pressure to earn more money. Readjusting the balance in favor of revenue threatened to make Facebook worse.

But the second path is subtler, and aligns money-making with making the world more open and connected. All it requires is that you share and that you feel close to your friends.

A lot of online ads are irrelevant interruptions. But Facebook’s ad network lets it use your gender, age, location, work history, interests, friends, and app activity to help other sites and apps show you ads for things you want. That means it earns more ad money without showing any more ads.

Gifts analyzes the profile of the person you select to buy a gift for, and recommends products that other people gave to users with similar characteristics. The more Facebook knows about you, the better the recommendations it can give your friends on what to buy you. And the better Facebook knows who your best friends are and when their important moments like birthdays  are, the more accurately it will be able to suggest who you should buy for.

I’m not saying ads on Facebook are going to disappear soon, or even ever, but that’s the direction it could be heading. There are big benefits to showing fewer ads or at least not showing more. Namely, an ad-free Facebook experience would be less annoying and would encourage more browsing and sharing.

There is one catch. For most people, Facebook quietly using their data to improve offsite ads and onsite ecommerce wouldn’t be too big of a deal. Or they wouldn’t even really understand what was happening. However, a vocal minority might loudly disapprove of their Facebook data being employed to target them with ads that so relevant they might seem creepy. But Facebook has always had to deal with these people, and it hasn’t caused much of a problem so far.

So when you think of Facebook now, remember the balance between the user experience and the volume of ads its shows isn’t a zero-sum game. In fact, if Facebook plays its data right, the number of ads its shows could approach zero some day.

“And the worrrrrld will be as one.” Sorry, John.

Alibaba: Google just plain wrong about our OS - CNET

Chinese search giant Alibaba is disputing Google's claim that Alibaba's new Aliyun operating system is a forked and incompatible version of Android and thus can't be used by phone maker Acer.

In a blog post yesterday, Google's Andy Rubin said "the Aliyun OS incorporates the Android runtime and was apparently derived from Android."

CNET asked Alibaba's John Spelich about Rubin's/Google's claims and about whether there are elements of Android in Aliyun, and here's what we got in response: "They have no idea and are just speculating. Aliyun is different."

Google took some heat earlier this week for seemingly using its clout to squash a burgeoning mobile OS. Alibaba, an e-commerce company, is known as the Google of China, and wanted to follow Google's playbook and build its own OS. Acer was set to include the OS in a handset, but those plans were apparently scuttled by Google, which said that while Alibaba built its own OS, it lifted elements of Android.

But Spelich told CNET in an e-mail that Aliyun is "not a fork. Ours is built on open-source Linux." And he added that Aliyun "has our own applications. [It's] designed to run cloud apps designed in our own ecosystem. [It] can run some but not all Android apps."

He also accused the Android ecosystem of being closed and restrictive:

Aliyun is an open-source based OS that is also an open ecosystem that allows others to host their mobile-enabled Web sites in our cloud and we make those Web sites available to users who use Aliyun OS phones. So we are an ecosystem that includes other Internet companies, whereas Android does not because it provides apps through downloads. It's the crux of the whole cloud vs. app debate. Cloud is open, apps system is closed because it is controlled by the operator of the apps marketplace. So you see: Two competing ecosystems, one that's open through the cloud, the other is closed and restricts users to only the apps that they want you to see.

Alibaba accused Google on Thursday of forcing Acer to drop its support of Aliyun. Acer had originally scheduled a press conference that day to show off the first Aliyun-powered smartphone but was told by Google that the Android maker would cease providing its support if Acer followed through. As a result, the conference was halted.

Alibaba cried foul. "Our partner was notified by Google that if the product runs Aliyun OS, Google will terminate its Android-related cooperation and other technology licensing with our partner," Alibaba said in a statement e-mailed to CNET on Thursday.

The accusation prompted Rubin to call out Aliyun as a forked version of Android that's modified to the extent that it's incompatible with other Android devices. As a member of the Open Handset Alliance, Acer is forbidden from using such an operating system, he said.

"Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers, and consumers," Google said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. "Noncompatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem."

We've contacted Google for a response to Spelich's claim that Aliyun is not a forked version of Android, and we'll update this post when we hear back. (Note: See update below.)

CNET's Roger Cheng contributed to this report.

Update, 12:41 p.m. PT: Google spokesman Christopher Katsaros responded to our e-mail about Spelich's claim, saying simply, "Won't be able to add more detail than Andy's post (which is pretty straightforward)."

Sony Unveils Smaller, More Expensive PlayStation 3 - Wired (blog)

TOKYO â€" Sony has revised the PlayStation 3 again, reducing it in size but increasing its price tag in the United States.

The electronics giant revealed the new, thinner model of the company’s flagship game console at a press briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday. While prices remain unchanged in Japan, U.S. customers will have to spend $270 for the 250GB model when it launches on September 25 with a bundled copy of the Uncharted 3 game. The cheapest “slim” model costs $250 now.

The 500GB model, which debuts in the U.S. on October 30, will cost $300.

Sony’s new PlayStation 3 comes in two colors, Charcoal Black and Classic White. Sony says it is 50 percent lighter and smaller than the original PlayStation 3 that launched in 2006 for $600, and about 25 percent less bulky than the “slim” model introduced in 2009.

The redesigned PS3 comes hot on the heels of Nintendo’s announcement of its release date and pricing for the Wii U console, which it will ship later this year. At 25,000 yen, Sony’s PS3 will be about the same price as a basic Wii U set in Japan.

The new hardware reveal led off an afternoon of announcements from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan president Hiroshi Kawano targeting the Japanese market. He showed off two new colors for the PlayStation Vita, Cosmic Red and Sapphire Blue, both due out in Japan on November 15.

The good news is that Kawano also announced a surprise price drop. The bad news is that it was for the PSP. The nine-year-old portable console, which often outsells its successor Vita, will drop from 16,800 yen (about $212) to 13,800 yen ($174) on September 20.

To highlight the Vita’s expanding media offerings, Kawano demonstrated a new Japanese comic-reading app due out this October. He selected a book from a virtual shelf, used his fingers to flip the pages, and pressed buttons to zoom in and jump from panel to panel. Holding the Vita upright flips the display accordingly.

Later, Sony invited veteran developer Keiji Inafune out to talk about his new “super magic action battle game” Soul Sacrifice for PlayStation Vita. Inafune apologized and revealed the game had been delayed until the spring of 2013, but said that a playable demo would be coming to Japan this winter.

Soul Sacrifice will be a major feature at the Sony booth at the Tokyo Game Show this week. Kawano said that there would be 20 demo units dedicated to showing the game.

Other software announcements included trailers for God Eater 2 (Namco Bandai’s take on the Monster Hunter series), Gundam Breaker (the latest in a long line of robot combat games, and Toukiden (an original action game steeped in Japanese mythology).

All of these titles will be coming to both PSP and Vita and will include cross-platform multiplayer, so users can play with friends regardless of which version they own.

Sony also said that its “PS Plus” premium online service will be coming to PlayStation Vita in November.

The entire event was livestreamed in Japan on the video site NicoNico Douga, with a Sony staffer actually using a Vita on stage at one point to demonstrate the console’s livestreaming capabilities. After the event was over, 39% of viewers rated today’s news as “pretty good.” By contrast, Nintendo’s Wii U video from last week was rated “very good” by 70.3% of viewers.

All images courtesy Sony

Ultrabooks with iPhone Siri-like voice interaction to come in Q4 - Computerworld

IDG News Service - Voice interaction will be available in ultrabooks starting in the fourth quarter, an Intel executive said Tuesday.

Ultrabooks will come with Nuance's Dragon Assistant Beta voice recognition software, which will enable direct interaction on ultrabooks based on voice commands, said Dadi Perlmutter, vice president and general manager of Intel Architecture Group, during a keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

The feature will allow users to make voice commands to show maps, play music, shop for products and post on social networks like Twitter. It will save users the effort of typing or click through the user interface to do the same thing.

The technology is similar to the Siri feature on iPhone, which is based on voice commands and is able to do simple tasks such as play back map locations, schedule a task or play specific songs.

But while Apple's service runs via a cloud, Intel and Nuance's voice-interaction features runs natively on the ultrabook platform, Perlmutter. The ultrabooks need a lot of processing power, and the latest Core processors are capable of delivering that performance.

This is the latest feature Intel is adding as the company evolves ultrabooks, which started with a staid thin laptop-like design. Some of the latest ultrabooks with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 have touch capabilities and detachable touchscreens for tablet functionality. Intel also intends to add gesture recognition, much like the latest gaming consoles.

An Intel employee demonstrated the voice interaction capabilities during the keynote. The ultrabook understood a voice command to show pictures in San Francisco and results showed up in a browser via Google search.

The demonstration also used voice interaction to show shopping results of an Amazon search for sunglasses. The feature allowed the user to shout a message to post on Twitter. The voice interaction service also responded to a request to play a Hindi song.

The voice interaction feature will be able to understand multiple accents within a year, Perlmutter said. The ultrabook chips has been tuned to work with the feature.

Intel is bringing more tablet-like features to ultrabooks, and making the devices more flexible to be used as a touch device and also as a high-performance PCs. Perlmutter said that users want more capabilities and with ultrabooks they will get tablet and PC features. More ultrabook form factors will come in the future, and the results will be seen with the fourth-generation of Core processors code-named Haswell, which will be in ultrabooks next year.

Haswell was designed with mobile devices in mind, and will offer better performance and graphics while drawing less power than older Core processors, Perlmutter said.

Perlmutter hammered home Intel's focus on mobility. Intel is trying to maintain its dominance in the slowing PC market, while catching up with ARM in smartphones and tablets. While ARM rules tablets and smartphones, Intel hopes to disrupt the tablet market with ultrabooks.

"We don't have to be confined to a specific form factor," Perlmutter said. "People want a variety of usage."

Voice interaction will be available in ultrabooks starting in the fourth quarter. Ultrabooks will come with Nuance's Dragon Assistant Beta voice recognition software, which will enable direct interaction, Intel said at its IDF event in San Francisco.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 International Data Group. All rights reserved.

Photos, videos bigger in Twitter redesign - San Francisco Chronicle

Twitter's rise as a global communications service came in short bursts of text-only messages. But a redesign of the company's website and mobile apps announced Tuesday could generate new revenue streams by placing greater emphasis on photos and videos.

In other words, a picture is now worth 140 characters.

CEO Dick Costolo appeared on NBC-TV's "Today" show to announce that the San Francisco company has completely overhauled its iPad app, tweaked its website and revamped its iPhone and Android apps to make visual elements like photos and videos more prominent.

Costolo told the show hosts - including Ryan Seacrest and his nearly 8 million Twitter followers - that the microblogging service was responding to Twitter users who wanted better ways to express themselves.

"What we've heard over and over again from our users is they want to bring more of their personality to their profile pages," he said.

But the redesign also signals new advertising opportunities for Twitter, which has reported success with ad products like its text-based Promoted Tweets. Could there be a Promoted Photos in the works?

'A bigger canvas'

"Twitter is definitely embracing media content in this redesign, providing a bigger canvas to display pictures and video," said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst with the online research firm eMarketer.

"While I think the Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends will continue as Twitter's main ad formats, it is no big stretch to imagine that a Promoted Tweet could easily be not just words and a link, but an image or a video that plays directly and easily right within a user's news feed," she said.

The mobile apps now display photos attached to previous tweets in a horizontal bar below the latest three tweets. You can scroll through the photos with a swipe.

The redesign also creates space for a new "header photo," a picture or image that appears on top of a user's profile page on the Web or in the mobile apps. The Twitter member's profile photo appears in the middle.

Basically, this is a centerpiece picture much like the Timeline cover photo that Facebook has now pushed onto all of its members' main profile pages, even if some members didn't like that change.

The header photo gives Twitter advertisers "creative flexibility to design their own brand page," Williamson said.

New revenue stream

"Twitter is actively courting relationships with media outlets, offering to create deep integrations, such as the recent #Olympics page that Twitter developed with NBC, or ESPN's 'Show us your #GameFace' promotion around the NBA Finals earlier this year," she said.

Those relationships could generate new revenue streams for Twitter, which "spies an opportunity to glean ad dollars from businesses that are already advertising on TV and are looking to extend their campaigns into social media," she said.

Individual tweets on the iPad app expand with one touch. Twitter - which has upset its community of third-party developers by taking over more control of its platform - also made its design consistent across the website and all of the apps.

The company has 140 million active users who send 340 million tweets per day.

Read the Technology Chronicles blog online at

Meg Whitman's Toughest Campaign: Retooling HP - New York Times

IT’S not as easy being as Meg Whitman might have expected.

At 56, Ms. Whitman, the billionaire who spent a fortune unsuccessfully trying to become the governor of California, has found her Act III. She has been chief executive of for a little more than a year, and many people are still waiting for her to get her message out about the place.

Here it is:

Meg Whitman believes in H.P., and believes that this company matters to Silicon Valley, to California, to the world. She believes that Wall Street doesn’t quite get it â€" doesn’t quite see the promise she sees. She believes that mobile devices, cloud computing and Big Data will re-energize H.P., a company that for a decade has grabbed more headlines for boardroom soap operas than for bold innovation.

“I believe in creative destruction,” Ms. Whitman says in a conference room near her executive cubicle.

Even, it seems, when the stakes include her company and reputation. In all likelihood, this is Ms. Whitman’s last great public performance. She became rich by building eBay, then spent more money than any candidate for public office in the nation’s history trying to become California’s governor. She was sometimes portrayed in that race as an aloof 1 percenter â€" as someone who pushed around subordinates, once literally, and who was unkind to her housekeeper, an illegal immigrant. “I left a little bruised,” Ms. Whitman, a Republican, says of the 2010 race she lost to Jerry Brown. “It was hard, it was personally very hard.”

So now Ms. Whitman is focusing her energy on H.P., the company founded by the tech legends William Hewlett and David Packard. Bill and Dave, as they are referred to at the company, spawned Silicon Valley. Last year, H.P. posted revenue of $127 billion. It employs 320,000 people directly, and easily that many again through a network of manufacturers and computer resellers across 170 countries.

Ms. Whitman has plenty of impressive-sounding stats at her fingertips. H.P., she says, employs thousands of people in Costa Rica, Houston and Boise, Idaho. “In India, we have 60,000 people,” she says. A new program for selling printer ink is in exactly 87 countries. Every 15 seconds, the company turns out 60 new printers, 30 personal computers and one powerful computer server. Still, she yearns for even more data, something closer to the command of the day-to-day process she had at eBay.

THE fact is, H.P. isn’t what it used to be. Next to Apple or Google, it looks like a bit of a loser. In the most recent quarter, as Apple soared to new heights, H.P.’s revenue fell 5 percent and its operating margins dwindled. Profit margins at I.B.M. and Apple are several times that of H.P. And H.P.’s share price, at just over $17 on Friday, is about where it was in 1995.

“It’s staggering,” says A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “This is now the cheapest big stock in the last 25 years. That reflects an industry belief that the company is going to decline.”

Ms. Whitman is impatient to move H.P. closer to a global computing explosion that is transforming the industry. Smartphones and tablets from Apple, Google and others are now flying into consumers’ hands worldwide. Those computers are tied via the Internet to cloud computing data centers operated by Amazon, Microsoft, and hundreds of multinational companies. Information from all the consumer devices, in addition to data from billions of sensors and Web-crawling robots, is crunched in these supercomputing clouds, creating a Big Data revolution full of business opportunities and dangers.

From Ms. Whitman’s high vantage, the trends of mobile, cloud and Big Data resolve into a single phenomenon: the creation and exploitation of Information Everywhere. H.P. makes consumer devices, in addition to servers for the cloud, sensor networks, and analysis software. Instead of standing at the confluence of the phenomenon, though, H.P. is on the sidelines, with most of the parts but none of the integration to make it a leader.

H.P. sometimes seems like a place of siloed relics, as quaint as the autographed picture of Herbert Hoover in the shrine that is Mr. Packard’s office (along with Mr. Hewlett’s, untouched since the day Mr. Packard left in 1993). The stock is down 24 percent since Ms. Whitman took over. H.P. spends $4 billion a year on marketing, and, according to an arm of the ad agency WPP, has one of the fastest-eroding brands among major companies.

So why did Ms. Whitman take the job? Part of the answer may be in her new slogan for the company: “Make it matter.” She plans to unveil her strategy to Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.

She envisions a more customer-focused, Information-Everywhere H.P., with restyled PCs whose screens break off into iPad-like tablet computers. H.P. will also get into mobile devices, she says. And H.P. printers, under attack from cheap competitors, are being revamped as cloud-connected devices capable of initiating Google-esque data searches through corporate information. Print cartridges will be sold by subscription, as well as in individual units, with automatic refills shipped when ink runs low.

In addition to selling regular computer servers, networking and data storage, H.P. is focusing on cloud-ready “pods” of servers, storage and networking, built in three days. Right now a comparable data center can take 18 months to construct.

As impressive a portfolio as it is, it’s unclear if Wall Street will buy the idea of the company’s renewal. Others have equal or greater products, though without H.P.’s broad corporate reach. Ms. Whitman herself is somewhat conflicted: in the same interview, she says that employees and key customers understand the new H.P., but “I’m not sure the media and Wall Street do.” Still, she says, H.P. needs four more years “to have confidence in itself.”

The external threats are apparent. New consumer devices eat at H.P.’s PC business, the world’s largest. The cloud computing data centers operated by so many companies have some H.P. servers, but those servers have lost ground to shrink-wrapped racks from cheap Asian competitors. The cloud also lowers demand for individual servers, a $10 billion H.P. business. The company also spent that amount last year for Autonomy, a Big Data company that has yet to earn its keep.

“It is a shift bigger than anything in our memory,” Ms. Whitman says. “We have to get ahead of the curve.”

And H.P. will need to do it, she says, during a period of slack economic growth in Europe, China and the United States.

Managing the decline, or, as Ms. Whitman prefers to call it, transformation, of old businesses is a tall order for any executive. At H.P., she has been going for the old Bill-and-Dave touch, standing in line for stir-fry in the cafeteria, hosting video conferences, asking if that seat is taken. She can’t talk to everyone, but 10 minutes into a conversation she is apt to lightly touch someone’s hand when making a point.

“On Day 1 when she came here, she said, ‘Here’s the deal: I’m team oriented,’ ” says David Donatelli, the head of H.P.’s server, storage and networking business. Ms. Whitman kicked top executives out of their private offices, and into a warren of cubicles to get them talking. She also replaced people and merged businesses so that the 11-member executive council at the top of H.P. now has just one trained engineer. Counting Ms. Whitman, there are five M.B.A.’s.

Many of the company’s new products were planned before she took over, but she has added a greater emphasis on software, design and customer focus. Server sales reps are compensated partly on how much software a customer buys, and how much of a customer’s total computer budget, including data storage, software and networking H.P. can take.

So far, however, the new products don’t bring in enough revenue to make up for the eroding older product lines. “There is nothing wrong with being in charge of a declining business, as long as you are managing it,” Ms. Whitman says. “The whole business better not be declining.”

TWENTYyears ago, people like Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, Larry Ellison at Oracle, and John Chambers at Cisco Systems heard Kenneth Olsen, then the leader of Digital Equipment Corporation, deride the PC as unsuited for business. Within a few years, DEC had been gobbled up by Compaq Computer. Everyone knows viscerally how fast change can overtake a legacy business â€" and how hard it is to change.

There’s little glory in managing decline, particularly in an industry in love with what’s next. Apple’s tablets are taking share from PC makers like H.P., but only after Apple had a near-death corporate experience that ended with the return of Steve Jobs. He created a new reality for Apple with its retail stores, something that H.P. can’t copy to sell PCs. I.B.M. also transitioned successfully after billions in losses and years of cuts. Most others ended like DEC.

Still, Ms. Whitman says her corporate campaign is less brutal than her failed electoral one. She doesn’t like to talk about her $140 million-plus run for governor, and says only that it gave her a thicker skin. (At a recent companywide meeting, Ms. Whitman, who helped host a $25,000-a-plate fund-raising visit to Silicon Valley by Paul Ryan, said she would not take a government position if Mitt Romney â€" who long ago hired her into the consulting firm Bain & Company â€" is elected president.)

The recent legacy dogging H.P. is uniquely bipolar. Carly Fiorina, who was named chief executive in 1999, tried bringing H.P. somewhat belatedly into the Internet age with a mixture of self-promotion and big corporate acquisitions. She defended her acquisition of Compaq, only to be ousted amid uneven business execution and a corporate spying scandal.

Her successor, , deployed hard-nosed, sharp-pencil cost-cutting. He resigned amid accusations of inappropriate conduct with a female employee. Like the fate of a totalitarian despot, Mr. Hurd’s once-cheered reign is denounced in hindsight, with critics saying his cuts starved H.P. of products and talent. In August, Ms. Whitman wrote off $8 billion of Mr. Hurd’s 2008 purchase of the outsourcer Electronic Data Systems for $13.9 billion, since hoped-for services contracts never materialized.

After Mr. Hurd came Léo Apotheker. He talked about new technology but agonized publicly over how H.P. would stay relevant. H.P. stock sank, and, before long, he was out, too.

And so H.P.’s board turned to Ms. Whitman.

“She understands customers, business,” says Marc Andreessen, the Silicon Valley investor and an H.P. director who helped bring her on board. “While she’s not an engineer, at eBay she got schooled in how to talk to engineers.” Besides, he says, there are not a lot of Bill and Daves out there: “Engineers running companies with 50,000 people or more just aren’t available.”

Remarkably, the shadow of Bill and Dave still hangs over H.P., for better and for worse. David Scott, who runs the storage business, was at H.P. from 1983 to 2001, then rejoined in 2010 when H.P. bought a company he ran. He has experienced four C.E.O.’s in two years (including an interim chief between Mr. Hurd and Mr. Apotheker) but says that the first day he returned, “three of the first four people I met were people who were here when I left; there is a tremendous loyalty here.”

But employees say H.P. is desperate for leadership after so many changes in the executive suite.

“At our essence, we all want to build a great, enduring company,” says Mr. Donatelli, the head of the server, storage and networking business. “I do all-hands meetings where I award people for 40 years, 30 years of service, people who’ve given their lives here. It’s a huge responsibility.”

MS. WHITMAN’S efforts to clear out the bad history include a “bureaucracy buster,” to register complaints about slow practices, on H.P.’s internal Web site. In the last six months, it garnered 10,000 items, describing problems as varied as overflowing e-mail accounts and lengthy internal procurement rules. Ms. Whitman cannot know, however, if this is even a significant fraction of what is slowing H.P., or whether all its impediments can be addressed.

She continues to hold conference calls every couple of weeks with several hundred employees. Recently she derided the fact that H.P. processes insisted on a credit check even for a sale on a customer the size of Disney. She quickly shut down any talk of selling off the PC business, figuring that H.P. could guarantee cheap supplies by being the world’s biggest consumer of things like semiconductors and computer memory. One of her favorite updates involves talking about her top priorities, what she is doing about them and what she needs from her managers.

Last spring, in a move to a more consumer-focused business, Mr. Donatelli’s job changed from sales of servers to sales to business customers, a consolidation of emphasis that also combined senior managers in every country. Todd Bradley, who has run the company’s PC business, picked up printers as well; that move resulted in the retirement of a well-loved H.P. veteran. H.P. is counting on a spike in PC sales as soon as October, when Microsoft introduces its new operating system, and Mr. Bradley vows that H.P. will regain its brand.

“Despite the ill-informed commentary that the PC is dead, it is an ever-expanding category,” he says. Unlike the consumer-focused iPad, he says, PCs are “devices that are enterprise-ready, with security and Windows 8 compatibility” that create content for the cloud as readily as they consume it. Since January, Ms. Whitman has doubled the size of Mr. Bradley’s PC design team. Now at 60 people, it’s still small compared with Apple’s.

Ms. Whitman’s consolidation of top executives was a small part of a companywide layoff of 28,000 people, and even that may pale against what happens next. At a former Compaq factory in Houston, cloud-computing containers may soon be produced at a rate of 20 a month. At about $25 million apiece, that could mean $6 billion a year in revenue, which is likely equal to the revenue that H.P. will shed in this fiscal year relative to 2011. It takes fewer people to make a cloud-computing pod, however, than an equal number of servers, and pods have profit margins well above H.P.’s average.

“I’m the first C.E.O. in a long time who is from the Valley,” Ms. Whitman says. “Carly, Mark and Leo weren’t.”

She continues: “I understand the speed you have to move.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 30, 2012

An earlier version of the text of the slideshow accompanying this article referred imprecisely to the reasons that Carly Fiorina left Hewlett-Packard.  She was fired amid uneven business execution and not because of a corporate spying scandal. (The spying incidents came to light after she left.) The slideshow also referred imprecisely to the dismissal of Mark Hurd. He resigned amid charges of inappropriate conduct with a female contract employee, not an female employee of the company.

Nation News of the Day From Across the Nation / - San Francisco Chronicle

1 Broadcast shooting: A man who shot at Phoenix police officers and then led them on a chase that ended with his suicide broadcast on national television was identified Saturday as a wanted felon with a long criminal history. Jodon Romero, 33, was wanted for violating his parole for a weapons conviction, police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said. At the end of an hour-long pursuit Friday, Romero walked off a dirt road, put a gun to his head and killed himself. Fox News apologized for broadcasting the violence live. The video feed was supposed to be on a delay so it could be cut off if something went awry.

2 GM recall: Detroit's General Motors Co. is recalling more than 40,000 cars sold in warm-weather states because a plastic part might crack and cause a fuel leak. The company is recalling Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans from the 2007 through 2009 model years and Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent SUVs and Saturn Ion sedans from the 2007 model year. The recall affects vehicles sold or currently registered in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada or Texas. Owners in Arkansas and Oklahoma also are included in the recall of the 2009 Cobalt and G5. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the recall on its website Saturday.

3 Prayer rally: Thousands of conservative Christians gathered Saturday on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to pray for the future of the United States in the weeks before the presidential election. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at "The America for Jesus 2012" prayer rally. Organizers plan another prayer rally Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C. Speakers throughout the day condemned abortion, gay marriage and population control as practiced by Planned Parenthood.

4 Housing policy: Citing historically low mortgages, President Obama is pressing Republicans to back housing policies the White House says would help struggling homeowners refinance their debts and prevent foreclosures. In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama blamed congressional Republicans for not passing legislation he proposed in February that would lower lending rates for borrowers who have not been able to get out from under burdensome mortgages. Republicans have objected, citing among other things the estimated $5 billion to $10 billion cost of the proposal.

5 Gun violence: The city of Chicago is asking residents with ideas on how to get illegal guns off the streets to share their thoughts - in 140 characters or fewer on Twitter. The initiative is part of Chicago Ideas Week, an annual forum for innovators, artists, scientists and others to share ideas and inspire action. Those who think they know how to cut off the flow of illegal guns are asked to tweet suggestions with the hashtag whatifchicago. The best ideas will be debated at an Oct. 11 panel discussion.

Chronicle News Services

Borderlands 2 Release Date, Pre-order Bonus Offers Include $10 Amazon Credit ... - HawtWired (blog)

Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 Pre-order Bonus!

Pre-order Borderland 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) for $59.99 and get a $10 Amazon Credit + the following bonus:

Get a $10 Credit and Pre-order Bonus Offer
Pre-order Borderlands 2, for Xbox 360 or PS3, and get a $10 Amazon credit good toward the purchase of items shipped and sold by (certain exclusions apply, including but not limited to Kindle books, Gift Cards, and Amazon Appstore for Android apps) and access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, which includes a Golden Key, Vault Hunter's Relic, Gearbox Gunpack, and new Mechromancer class. The promotional credit and Premier Club codes will be e-mailed within two days after the product ships. This offer will be extended to all pre-orders. Offer valid when shipped and sold by, while supplies last. Limit one per customer. Amazon reserves the right to change or terminate this promotion at any time.

Borderlands 2 has a scheduled release date of September 18, 2012.

Check it out:  Amazon - Borderlands 2


About Borderlands 2:

Borderlands 2 furthers the distinct blending of First Person Shooter and Role Playing genres to create the true evolution of the Role Playing Shooter. Team up with up to three other players for four-player online goodness or go old-school with two-player split-screen couch sharing mayhem as you spend hours leveling up your character and equipping them with one of the millions of badass weapons. Borderlands 2 features a new visually stunning array of procedurally generated guns, shields, grenades, artifacts, enemies and more. Choose one of the four new character classes to be taken through a carefully crafted and connected story to all new and surprising environments across the living planet of Pandora. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on your relentless quest for revenge and redemption.  

Borderlands 2 is a hybrid First-Person Shooter, RPG game focused on over-the-top co-op play, and set in the open-world game environment of the planet Pandora. The second game in the game series, Borderlands 2 raises the 'loot and shoot' action of the original game with an even larger and more detailed world to explore, an updated gun system, a new cast of characters and character classes, and integration of storyline with action.

Borderlands 2, sequel to the critically acclaimed and best selling role-playing-shooter hybrid, once again delivers its unique flavor, characters and addictive nonstop collaborative loot-shoot gameplay. As in the original game, Borderlands 2 features an openworld game environment, but this time around the world players experience is larger and packed with more depth at all levels. The game features an all-new cast of characters, skills, environments, enemies, weapons, and equipment that come together in a carefully crafted and connected story. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on a relentless quest for revenge and redemption through the undiscovered and unpredictable living world of Pandora.


Apple iOS 6 moves towards a Google-free future - Sydney Morning Herald

Confused ... Apple Maps replaces Google Maps in iOS 6.

Confused ... Apple Maps replaces Google Maps in iOS 6.

The new version of iOS, the software that runs Apple's iPhones and iPads, may be more important for what was taken away than for any of the things added.

Gone from iOS 6 are two formerly built-in Google apps that were integral to previous versions of the operating system: Google Maps and YouTube. (The latter, at least, can be reinstalled from the App Store.) Google's search capability is still there, but Apple's improvements to Siri, its voice-based personal assistant, provide an alternative way of finding more information.

And a new Apple app called Passbook represents a "toe in the water" towards mobile payments, something Google has aggressively been pursuing with its Google Wallet software.

Intriguing addition ... Passbook stores tickets in iOS 6.

Intriguing addition ... Passbook stores tickets in iOS 6.

In short, while iOS 6 introduces some neat tricks into the iUniverse, it feels less like a major enhancement and more like another front in Apple's increasingly bitter war over Google's Android operating system.


The new software comes pre-installed on the iPhone 5 and is available as a free download for iPads, iPod touches and previous iPhones. I tested it on a variety of devices, ranging from a current-model iPad to a three-generations-old iPhone 3GS, and found it smooth, stable and responsive.

I also appreciated several of its new features, including bringing Siri to the iPad for the first time and allowing the iPhone 4S to take the same kind of panoramic photographs as the iPhone 5.

But the change that's grabbed the most public attention is the new Apple navigation app that has supplanted Google Maps. As I wrote in my iPhone 5 review last week, while the new app is gorgeous and the spoken turn-by-turn directions are a welcome addition, the software is too easily confused. In addition, it displays many fewer nearby points of interest.

In light of the furor over the app's flaws, it's worth noting that Google Maps suffered from similar problems when it launched on Android phones in 2009. Most memorably, while I was standing outside New York's Penn Station, it located me in Cheapside in London, even helpfully pointing out nearby Tube stations.

Still, it's obvious by now that the new application is inferior to the one it replaced, and I expect Apple to devote considerable resources to remedy it.

It's a path similar to the one the company is already following with Siri, which was introduced last year on the iPhone 4S. The voice assistant has proven to be a polarising feature â€" some users enjoy the convenience of just talking to their devices and others dislike it for its miscues.

In general, I'm in the first camp, and like Siri's new tricks. She â€" it? â€" now provides sports scores (and even sometimes point spreads), can make dinner reservations via Open Table, passes fewer queries to Google web searches and generally understands me better.

For instance, when I asked the first version of Siri for directions to San Francisco's 9 Lombard Street, she interpreted the "to" as "two," and sent me to 29 Lombard Street, but the software now interprets the question accurately. And the query "Do I need a jacket?" now yields weather information, rather than a list of nearby Men's Wearhouse stores.

The most intriguing new app in iOS 6 may be Passbook â€" not necessarily for what it does now but for what it may do someday.

Passbook is basically a single place for keeping tickets, boarding passes, loyalty and prepaid cards. But it has some wrinkles, like location and time awareness, that hint at more to come.

I used Passbook to store a ticket to a San Francisco Giants baseball game by clicking on an emailed link. When I arrived at AT&T Park, my iPhone recognised where I was and displayed a message on the lock screen prompting me to display the ticket. At the turnstile, the electronic ticket was scanned, and I was in. Easy.

Beyond the colourful look and slick animation â€" you'll have fun virtually shredding used tickets â€" there's nothing very revolutionary about an emailed bar or QR code. But the idea of presenting you with relevant information and offers, based on your device's awareness of where you are and what you're doing, is a critical step towards getting consumers to reach for their phones rather than their wallets to pay for stuff.

A number of iOS 6's 200-or-so other changes amount to simple pleasures.

For instance, a handy new "Do Not Disturb" setting lets you silence your device between specified hours, while allowing you to note who should be allowed through, and under what terms.

If you receive a call when you're in a meeting or otherwise engaged? A finger-flick sends an automatic can't-talk-now text. And if your data plan allows it, you can now conduct a FaceTime video chat over the cellular network.

Along similar lines, Mail lets you designate messages from VIPs in your life for special attention. You can post to Facebook as well as Twitter from the Notification Centre and from within many apps. And you can also now share access to your iCloud-stored photos â€" perhaps one less reason you'd need to use You-Know-Who-owned Picasa.

Indeed, given Apple's war with Google, it isn't that far-fetched to imagine a day when even core search functions are handled by some Apple-designed replacement. But if the company wants to retain its reputation for putting the user experience ahead of all else, it had better be sure that anything it introduces is better than whatever it's replacing.


Brown OKs state parks funding, prevents closures - San Jose Mercury News

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday that he had signed several bills to keep California's state parks open and ensure greater spending oversight after a scandal in which parks officials hid $54 million.

Together, the bills establish a two-year moratorium on park closures, provide about $30 million in funding and give the department that manages California's 278 state parks new fundraising tools.

AB1478 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, splits $30 million to help state parks at risk of closure stay open, complete overdue maintenance, and provide $10 million to match donations from private groups and local governments.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman resigned and a senior parks official was terminated this summer after it was revealed that some employees kept $54 million hidden in two special funds for more than a decade, even as dozens of parks were threatened with closure.

Brown's signature on the bills was a first step toward restoring public confidence in the management of parks, said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation, which had rallied to save some of the sites. Nonprofit groups and local governments helped raise money and in some cases assumed responsibility for keeping the 70 state parks operating past a July 1 closure deadline.

Before the discovery of a $20 million surplus in the Parks and Recreation Fund and nearly $34

million in a separate off-highway vehicle fund, the Democratic governor had proposed closing 70 state parks to save $33 million over two years.

Among the sites slated to close were the Governor's and Leland Stanford mansions in Sacramento, the Antelope Valley Indian Museum, and the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The closings were to have spanned the state and include popular recreation spots near cities, such as China Camp State Park north of San Francisco, and isolated nature spots including Plumas-Eureka and South Yuba River state parks.

The new laws also give the State Park and Recreation Commission more authority to oversee the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Blumenfield said Californians were deceived by rogue bureaucrats.

"My heart goes out to parks advocates who feel burned by this fiasco," Blumenfield said in a news release. "They heroically raised millions to help keep parks open. ... This bill was designed to ensure that a lot of good will come from their hard work."

This summer's scandal came as Brown was promoting his November ballot initiative to temporarily raise income and sales taxes, dealing a public relations blow to a governor who has sought to streamline government and cut costs.

Brown on Tuesday also signed AB1589 by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, which gives the parks department new fundraising tools, including allowing Californians to donate to the department by checking a box on their income tax returns.

It also requires the department to come up with a plan to increase revenues and maximize the fees it collects from parks patrons, which could mean installing credit card machines, imposing peak-time pricing, or introducing a new statewide annual parks pass.

Another provision that establishes a specialty state parks license plate was transferred into the budget Brown signed in June.

Earlier this month, Brown signed another bill stemming from the parks scandal to potentially detect hidden money by ensuring that finance officers work from the same set of figures. It requires the California state controller's office and Department of Finance to compare their annual reports detailing how much money is in more than 500 special funds, after a subsequent review found $3.9 billion in accounting discrepancies between the controller and finance department.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

iPhone 5's record orders 'disappointing' - Independent Online

Ryan Faughnder and Adam Satariano New York and San Francisco

Apple reported debut weekend sales for the iPhone 5 that fell short of some analysts’ estimates amid supply constraints.

More than 5 million units of the iPhone 5 were sold in the first three days, surpassing a record set last year by the previous model, the iPhone 4S, the company said yesterday. Demand for the new handset exceeded the initial supply.

A successful debut for the latest iPhone, responsible for about two-thirds of profit, is crucial to fuelling the growth that transformed Apple from a niche computer maker into the world’s most valuable company.

Demand for the iPhone 5, with a bigger screen and faster wireless speeds, gives Apple a boost over rivals including Samsung Electronics that use Google’s Android mobile software.

“The number is lower than what people had expected,” said Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets. He had estimated debut weekend sales of 6 million to 6.5 million units. “This seems to be driven more by availability than demand.”

The shares fell 1.5 percent to $689.40 (R5 722) at 9.37am in New York. The stock had gained 73 percent this year.

“The story now with Apple is less about the gorgeous technology and more about if it can really execute the global supply,” said James Kelleher, an analyst at Argus Research. “Can they get them to as many people as they want in the right amount of time?”

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, had predicted Apple would sell as many as 10 million of the iPhone 5 during the opening weekend. Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group, had anticipated sales of 6 million to 8 million phones.

Apple’s figure included sales from wireless carriers, retail outlets, Apple stores and online orders that customers had received, Marshall said. It excluded early orders from Apple’s online store that had not been delivered, he said.

“Units in transit could be in the millions currently,” Marshall added.

Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment. Early orders in Apple’s online store topped 2 million units in one day, Apple said on September 17. The company said that “while the majority of pre-orders have been shipped to customers, many are scheduled to be shipped in October”.

“Demand for the iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date.”

Sales from the weekend will be included in Apple’s financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends on September 30. The company is expected to report profit of about $8.3 billion on sales of $36.1bn, according to the average of analysts’ estimates.

Besides the outsize screen and faster data speeds, the iPhone 5 comes with a more powerful microprocessor and lightweight body design. Software changes include new mapping and navigation features, a change Apple made to replace Google’s maps application. Some users and technology gadget reviewers have criticised the new navigation features.

In addition to the iPhone release, Apple also introduced a new version of its mobile operating system, called iOS 6. The update was downloaded by more than 100 million customers. That compares with more than 25 million for the prior update, iOS 5, introduced last year.

That number of downloads for the latest software, “suggests reports of dissatisfaction with Apple’s new Maps application will not be a deterrent to adoption”, Marshall said. â€" Bloomberg