Thursday, September 30, 2010

Android Now Ties iPhone In Consumer Interest

Sep 30, 2010 6:29 pm
Android Consumer Interest

One year ago, if you told an average person you were thinking about buying an Android, they'd have thought you were some sort of robot-mongering madman.
My, how times have changed.
Since the debut of the first Android handset in 2008, we've seen Google's mobile operating system grow in leaps and bounds. Initially catapulted by the high-profile marketing push surrounding the Motorola Droid, Android sales have been on a nonstop rocket ride upward. Smartphone users are now snatching up more Android phones than iPhones -- despite what certain turtleneck-loving CEOs may imply -- and the ratio shifts further in Android's favor with practically every passing month.
Now, a new report finds Android has essentially matched the iPhone when it comes to overall consumer interest. If recent trends are any indication, it won't be long before Apple's prized product is eating Google's dust.

Android's Growing Interest

The Android-iPhone study, conducted by independent research firm ChangeWave, looks at the mindsets of smartphone consumers planning to purchase new devices within the next 90 days. ChangeWave interviewed 4,000 people for the report.
Click to ZoomAccording to the company's data (chart available here), 37 percent of prospective phone buyers want an Android in their pockets. That's up 7 percent from the firm's previous study in June and, as ChangeWave VP of Research Paul Carton puts it, represents "a six-fold increase in consumer preference for the Google OS" over the past year.
Thirty-eight percent of smartphone shoppers, meanwhile, currently have the iPhone in their sights. That's down 12 percent from Apple's level in June. You could write off the drop as being a result of the fading hype from the release of the iPhone 4, but the shift is nothing new. We saw the same sort of changes back in January, and the vast majority of analyses over the past year have indicated similar movements as well.
(As for other smartphone platforms, RIM has remained relatively stable -- the BlackBerry Torch, not surprisingly, doesn't seem to be doing much to drum up consumer interest -- and Windows Mobile is maintaining its position as a mere blip on the radar. Time will tell if the new Windows Phone 7 will give Microsoft any significant traction.)

Android and the Smartphone Shift

So what's driving the change? It's simple: Android's open approach equals choice. Choice means more products and more opportunities to find something that fits your needs. The more options and the more opportunities there are, the more customers a platform is going to attract. (And no, despite the occasional surge of headlines to the contrary, an open model does not mean a doomsday-like scenario of malicious apps and unprecedented attacks.)
We could argue endlessly about the merits of one platform over the other. Ultimately, though, a smartphone is a personal thing -- and finding a phone that strikes your fancy comes down to your own personal preference. There is no absolute right or wrong answer.
That said, the iPhone offers a single setup: one phone, one form, one largely unchangeable software experience. If you like that setup, you've found the phone for you. But if you prefer anything different -- be it a larger display, a physical keyboard, or a home screen with anything beyond neatly aligned static icons -- you aren't going to find it in Apple's garden.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have Android. Some Android phones are great. Others...not so much. But taking into account both hardware and software, there's no shortage of options. And within those options, there's no shortage of diversely attractive possibilities.
Apple's iPhone will undoubtedly have a dedicated group of followers for many years to come. And Apple will likely have no trouble turning a handsome profit from its mobile portfolio. But as the number of Android-based options continues to expand, so too will Android's grasp on the mobile market.
You don't have to be a robot-mongering madman to see the logic in that.
JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the author of the highly scientificApple/Android Fanboy Quiz. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.

Google gives Gmail users more control over inboxes

SAN FRANCISCO – Google Inc. is addressing one of the biggest complaints about its free e-mail service by giving people more control over how their inboxes are organized.
The new option announced Wednesday will allow Gmail users to choose whether they prefer their incoming messages stacked in chronological order, instead of having them threaded together as part of the same electronic conversation.
Gmail has been automatically grouping messages by topic or senders since Google rolled out the service six years ago.
But this so-called "conversation view" confused or frustrated many Gmail users who had grown accustomed to seeing all their newest messages at the top of the inbox followed by the older correspondence. After all, that's how most other e-mail programs work.
The complaints grew loud enough to persuade Google to revise the Gmail settings so users can turn off conversation view and unravel their messages.
"We really hoped everyone would learn to love conversation view, but we came to realize that it's just not right for some people," Google software engineer Doug Chen wrote in a Wednesday blog post.
The aversion to conversation view doesn't seem to be widespread. Gmail ended July with nearly 186 million worldwide users, a 22 percent increase from the same time a year ago, according to the research firm comScore Inc. Both Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail (nearly 346 million users) and Yahoo's e-mail (303 million users) are larger, but aren't growing nearly as rapidly as Gmail.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drinking on the job: Firings at Chrysler

Chrysler fired 13 workers who had been after Detroit’s WJBK-TV aired footage of them drinking beer and apparently smoking dope during their unpaid lunch breaks (over a period of ten days). (You can click here to view the video.)
This is one of those situations where you wonder how common this behavior is if these guys were so easily caught on tape. (Note that they were caught despite employing the pinnacle of stealth, the brown paper bag. Seriously, a brown paper bag? If they’d been passing around a fifth of Jim Beam it couldn’t have been as obvious.)
A couple of other things to think about:
  • Detroit currently has a sickening rate of unemployment, yet these 13 people were able to secure jobs.
  • Chrysler was the recent recipient of a government bail-out. (Good to know that there’s little accountability going on until there’s a news camera around.) Now the company will probably start doing mandatory drug testing for all employees.
  • Despite Chrysler’s claim that every line position has a backup person, what can we come to expect from the finished product? A cork screw in place of a gear shift?
So what do you think? Is imbibing during work hours a fairly common activity?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AppleTV Runs iOS, Already Jailbroken

Soon, thanks to the tireless efforts of the iPhone Dev Team, you will be able to install apps on your AppleTV. An upcoming Jailbreak tool, called SHAtter, has already been used to unlock the new Apple TV’s firmware.
SHAtter was used to jailbreak the newest iPod Touch shortly after its launch, and thanks to its iOS roots, the AppleTV is also susceptible to its power. The hack was carried out on the firmware restore download just been posted by Apple. This file, which contains the entire OS of the Apple TV, is an IPSW file, the file-extension for iPhone and iPad OS files.
So what’s inside? According to the Dev Team member Will Strafach, “the new AppleTV OS seems to be a mashup of the old AppleTV OS and iOS.” This, he says, means that existing AppleTV hacks (or “frappliances”) may already work. Frappliances are the plugins that add functionality to the original AppleTV. Also, all of the iOS software frameworks are present, which could allow hacks to enable video-conferencing, for example (if you could figure out how to hook up a camera) or even let you install the iPad Hulu app.
I suspect that Apple will add apps to the AppleTV in the form of channels, just like the Netflix “channel” that is there already. A jailbroken AppleTV, though, could theoretically run anything that will run on the iPhone or iPad. A final word from Strafach: “The most interesting thing about the new AppleTV OS is that all binaries are marked iPad-compatible. I do wonder what Apple is planning…”
@willstraf [Twitter]
Illustration: Charlie Sorrel

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RIM introduces PlayBook -- the BlackBerry tablet

Today at Research In Motion's annual BlackBerry Developer Conference, CEO Mike Lazaridisannounced the company's new tablet -- the PlayBook. The tablet will utilize an OS created by therecently acquired QNX (just as we'd heard previous to the announcement) called the BlackBerry Tablet OS which will offer full OpenGL and POSIX support alongside web standards such as HTML5 (which is all tied into RIM's new WebWorks SDK). Lazaridis was joined on stage by the company's founder, Dan Dodge, who said that "QNX is going to enable things that you have never seen before," and added that the PlayBook would be "an incredible gaming platform for publishers and the players." RIM also touted the PlayBook's ability to handle Flash content via Flash 10.1, as well as Adobe AIR apps. The new slate -- which Lazaridis described as "the first professional tablet" -- will sport a 7-inch, 1024 x 600, capacitive multitouch display, a Cortex A9-based, dual-core 1GHz CPU (the company calls it the "fastest tablet ever"), 1GB of RAM, and a 3 megapixel front-facing camera along with a 5 megapixel rear lens (and yes, there will be video conferencing). There was no mention of onboard storage capacity during the keynote, though the devices we just spied in our eyes-on post are labeled 16GB and 32GB on their back panels. The PlayBook will be capable of 1080p HD video, and comes equipped with an HDMI port as well as a microUSB jack, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 2.1. The device clocks in at a svelte 5.1- by 7.6-inches, is only 0.4-inches thick, and weighs just 400g (or about 0.9 pounds).

In terms of interface, the OS looks like a mashup of webOS and the BlackBerry OS, even allowing for multitasking via what amounts to a "card" view. Interestingly, RIM and QNX boasted of the PlayBook's multimedia and gaming functions, but Mike Lazaridis also described the tablet as "an amplified view of what's already on your BlackBerry." That's due largely in part to a function of the tablet which allows you to siphon data off of your BlackBerry handset via Bluetooth tethering and display it on your PlayBook (a la the ill-fated Palm Foleo). While the PlayBook doesn't seem to rely on phone content alone, the press release from the company says that users can "use their tablet and smartphone interchangeably without worrying about syncing or duplicating data." RIM didn't hand out any solid launch dates beyond "early 2011," and of course, there was no mention of retail price. We've got a slew of content after the break, including the PlayBook spec rundown, the company's press release, and a full video of the device (and UI) in action -- so take a look!


  • 7-inch LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support

  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing

  • 1 GHz dual-core processor

  • 1 GB RAM

  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording

  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV

  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA

  • HDMI video output

  • Wi-Fi - 802.11 a/b/g/n

  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts

  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java

  • Ultra thin and portable:

  • Measures 5.1"x7.6"x0.4" (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)

  • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)

  • RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.
  • Internet Explorer 9 beta review

    What's the first thing you do with a new Windows PC? Chances are you'll download a new browser. Chrome, Firefox, Flock … anything but InternetExplorer. However, Microsoft has just unleashed the beta version of IE9, which could make you change your mind about browsers.
    First, however, you have to get past the install process, which is longer and more tiresome than it ought to be. The 64-bit version toddles off and looks for updates, then forces a reboot once it's installed.
    However, once up and running, what's immediately obvious is its pared-down look. It's very minimalist: the box is both the address bar and the search box. The default is of course Bing, but you can change that. Next to that are tabs; to the far right of the screen are discreet icons for your home page, your favourites (not everyone is going to like that being moved to the other side of the screen) and your tools. And that's it. What you get instead of toolbars, add-ons, buttons and sidebars is just acres of screen real estate. Perhaps a little too much on a wide, high-res screen as many websites are designed as though they're going to fit on a sheet of A4 paper, though generally the sense is of the browser fading into the background and putting the website centre stage.
    Customisation freaks will feel bereft as there's no skinning – instead the back button adopts the underlying style sheet of the website you're visiting, and the bar at the top renders in Aero glass. Oh, and there's the rub: this is only for users of recent Microsoft operating systems: Vista SP2 and Windows 7. No XP, and certainly no other operating systems.
    But the point is that it's designed to take advantage of modern hardware. Instead of calling on your CPU for processing, IE9 diverts the grunt work to your graphics processing unit (GPU), which means that graphics can be rich and fast. Do a side by side test with your current choice of browser and IE9 of the FishIE Tank at see the difference hardware acceleration makes to rendering the fish.
    The whole thing feels fast - the browser is focused on standards and compliance, which makes sites built in HTML5 a pleasure to use. In fact, what this does is in effect turn websites into apps: the IE9-optimised version of, for example, which looks rather like the iPad bookshelf app, means you can pick books off the shelves, flip through them and order them via a whizzy, interactive process.

    And if you drag the favicon from the IE9 box down to your taskbar, you can launch the site direct from that – just like an app, though how much use I'll make of that remains to be seen as those buttons could fill up the taskbar rather quickly. Developers can code the jumplist –the list of options that pops out from a button on the taskbar when you right-click it - making websites feel even more like apps.
    Under the hood, Microsoft says it's safer than other browsers. Using the same engine as its Security Essentials antimalware package, the browser checks websites and downloads and warns you if an app you're downloading isn't signed or a site is dodgy.
    Privacy is also at the fore in this version of IE. You can block elements of web pages – such as those that gather browsing metrics, though you have to do so on a site-by-site basis. However, you can't use that to block ads, and at present there isn't a dedicated ad-blocking add-on, which might be a dealbreaker for some.
    As more websites build content that takes advantage of IE9, the benefits of it will become clearer. For now, this is a good beta: it's stable, clean and fast and integrates well with the operating system. It could mean that downloading a new browser is no longer the first thing you do with a new computer.
    Pros: Very clean UI; ability to pin websites to the taskbar, safe browsing, standards-focused
    Cons: Slow install, forces a reboot, the minimalist layout might not be to everyone's taste.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Twitter Hit with Second Worm in a Week, Spread Via 'WTF' Link

    Days after a site update unleashed a Twitter cross-scripting attack, the micro-blogging site was again hit with a bug that spread via questionable links.
    "A malicious link is making the rounds that will post a tweet to your account when clicked on," Twitter wrote on its status blogSunday afternoon.
    The offending messages appeared on a user's Twitter feed with "WTF:" followed by a link. If you clicked on that link, you were taken to a blank page, but behind the scenes, the worm would post vulgar messages on your account that discussed, well, sex involving goats.
    "Clicking on the WTF link would take you to a webpage which contained some trivial code which used a CSRF (cross-site request forgery) technique to automatically post from the visitor's Twitter account," according to a blog post from Sophos's Graham Cluley. "All the user sees if they visit the link is a blank page, but behind the scenes it has sent messages to Twitter to post from your account."
    The message did not spread if you were not signed into your Twitter account at the time. Cluley suggested the attack spread so quickly because people were eager to find out what might warrant a "WTF" label.
    Twitter said Sunday evening that it had fixed the exploit and was in the process of removing the offending tweets, but Cluley said that attack "highlighted an obvious security problem in Twitter which must be addressed as a matter of urgency - otherwise we can expect further (perhaps more dangerous) attacks."

    Segway Inc. owner rides over cliff to his death

    UK businessman Jimi Heselden, the man who believed in the Segway so much that he went ahead and bought the company, has died after reportedly driving a ruggedized version of the scooter off a cliff and into a river. He was found early on Sunday morning in the River Wharfe, having earlier been touring his estate in the personal transporter. The cause of the accident is not yet known. Mr. Heselden was 62 years old and, true to our geeky hearts, generated his fortune by coming up with an innovative design for wire cage walls that has since become standard equipment for NATO, American, and British forces. Our thoughts are with the good gent's family, and please, behave yourselves in comments.

    sourceDaily Telegraph

    Sony and Google TV

    Sony is getting ready to unveil some Google TV products on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Invitations went out that promised the introduction of "the world's first Internet television." 
    We're not sure if they will show off the rumored Blu-Ray players as well, but be on the lookout for details on the first Google TV powered televisions.
    As always, we will have all the details when they come out, so be sure to come back to read all about the new and exciting products. [Cnet]

    Original article from

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Welcome to the n00b user!

    Welcome to the noob user!  Here we focus on dumb ass stuff that end users do to drive IT personnel crazy.  Along with that, random interesting tech news will be found here.  Follow my blog and kill your work productivity!