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Google Fiber is being cranked up to 10 gigabit

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 8:31 am

When Google first unveiled its Fiber service, most thought its 1 gigabit speeds were out-of-this-world... well, not so much now that the Mountain View-based giant is working on 10 gigabit connections.

 

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Yes, 10 gigabit: 10 times the speed of its already-blazingly-fast 1 gigabit service. Google CFO, Patrick Pichette, has said: "That's where the world is going. It's going to happen. That's what we're working on. There's no need to wait". The technology for 10 gigabit connections isn't quite ready, with Google still in the research phase of things.

 

Pichette has made it very clear that it could be years before we see connections laid into the ground at the consumer scale, but also said that Google has no intention of stopping the 1 gigabit speeds that are being offered up by Google Fiber. With the FCC requesting gigabit connections in all 50 states across the US by the end of next year, it will be interesting times ahead for US residents.

California is now home to the world's largest solar thermal plant

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 7:27 am

BrightSource Energy has just confirmed where the world's largest solar thermal plant is: California. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has just been enabled in the state.

 

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The solar array is backed up by both Google and NRG Energy, producing a total of 392MW of power from its 173,500 multi-mirror units. Generating this much energy, the massive solar farm can power 140,000 nearby homes, and represents 30% of all the solar thermal energy in the United States. The solar farm takes up a massive 5.5 square miles of space, and is unfortunately creating trouble for nearby wildlife and birds.

Titanfall beta invites sent out, weighs in at 12.3GB

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 6:33 am

The Titanfall beta is now live for some, where I've been lucky enough to receive an invite to Titanfall's next-generation first-person shooter. The beta can be downloaded through EA's digital distribution service, Origin.

 

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For those wondering about just how big Titanfall will be, the beta weighs in at 12.3GB - which is quite hefty for something that won't be anywhere near the full product. I have a slow Internet connection here Down Under, so expect my first impressions of the first-person shooter over the weekend.

Verizon Wireless outs its "More Everything" plan

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 4:49 am

Verizon Wireless slowly moved into the growing price war between U.S. wireless carriers, with lower subscription prices and additional perks available. Some of its data plans saw price cuts up to 12.5 percent, and some customers are receiving up to $20 discount per month for subscription plans.

 

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The company also decided to attach unlimited international messaging to subscription plans in the U.S. that include unlimited domestic text, picture and video messaging.

 

"MORE Everything changes the game by adding even more of what customers want from their wireless provider in a single, simply monthly plan," said Ken Dixon, Verizon Wireless CMO, in a statement. "Verizon Wireless led the way with the introduction of shared data plans, and MORE Everything is the next leap forward with more storage, more messaging and more choice, all on a 4G LTE network that is unmatched in coverage and capacity."

 

As TweakTown recently learned, Verizon Wireless tends to closely follow what competitors do in the market, though waits patiently before responding. Industry analysts have been curious to see how Verizon Wireless would respond to price cuts from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile over the past few months.

T-Mobile makes steps in the right direction, fighting wireless rivals

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 2:59 am

T-Mobile is on the right track to better compete against the three bigger wireless carriers in the United States, though it will continue to be a drawn out, fierce battle. The company is putting pressure on AT&T and seeing results, with the company's sights set on attacking competitors and attracting new subscribers.

 

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"T-Mobile was dying on the vine for years," industry analyst Jeff Kagan recently told TweakTown. "Then a little over a year ago they hired a new CEO, John Legere. He ran Global Crossing. He looked around at T-Mobile, the changing marketplace, and decided on a path. This has been successful for T-Mobile. They have seen the first couple quarters of growth in years. And hopefully they can continue to build."

 

Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the No. 1 and No. 2 wireless carriers in the United States, relying on "wireless, wire line, television using IPTV and a wide variety of different technologies and offerings. T-Mobile is just wireless. And a small wireless player at that," which forces T-Mobile to get a bit creative with their sales and marketing efforts. "I think T-Mobile can continue to grow going forward for a while. However they will likely remain the number four competitor. Unless they get acquired."

 

Verizon Wireless is competing against T-Mobile with its "More Everything" plan, so T-Mobile, the No. 4 wireless carrier, will have to find a way to respond against the biggest U.S. wireless carrier.

Facebook adds new profile option, includes transgender users

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 12:45 am

Facebook is being applauded for its decision to expand gender identification from male or female to include bi-gender, androgynous and other identifiers, much to the delight of the LGBTQ community. Early reports indicate there are at least 56 different options, which users can customize so only select friends can see.

 

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"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self," the company said on the Facebook Diversity page. "An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male or female.'"

 

The new Facebook custom gender option is currently available to U.S. Facebook users only, but is expected to roll out internationally in the future.

 

This makes sense for Facebook, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company, as the No. 1 social networking site aims to appeal to everyone as individuals.

Sen. Rand Paul sues Pres. Obama over NSA phone call surveillance

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 12:13 am

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has filed a lawsuit against Pres. Obama's administration and the National Security Agency (NSA), drawing headlines in his attempt to disrupt the NSA and its controversial data snooping efforts. The class-action lawsuit from the potential Republican president candidate is a curious move, as Paul is banking on U.S. citizen anger to gain headlines.

 

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Besides Obama, NSA Director Keith Alexander, FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were also named in the lawsuit. The class action lawsuit could represent "hundreds of millions" of U.S. citizens, and has received 386,000 signatures on an online petition Paul shared on his website.

 

If this story isn't weird enough already, apparently Paul and Cuccinelli are under fire from constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, as Fein wrote the lawsuit but his name was replaced by Cuccinelli. Not only was the lawsuit "stolen," but Fein also said he still hasn't received full compensation from Paul's political action committee, and clearly isn't pleased.

Virtual reality lets fashion shoppers see runway show

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Feb 13, 2014 11:08 pm

Women's clothing brand Topshop will use virtual reality technology to help give customers a unique way to access the upcoming Topshop Unique fashion run show. Topshop teamed up with London-based Inition, a company specializing in 3D graphics application development.

 

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Using virtual reality for the Web-based stream provides a "new dimension" of traditional fashion shows, according to Topshop executives. Customers visiting the flagship London Topshop store and use a VR headset loaded with fashion footage, providing a customized, personal method to grab shopper attention.

 

"VR is the ultimate interface to the digital world with the power to transport the user to another place as soon as they put on a special display," said Andy Millns, Inition co-founder, in a statement. "This unique technology has the potential to open up fashion shows to the consumer at home and we believe this will be the first of many executions of this kind."

 

The use of virtual reality is transitioning from an over-the-top, unrealistic tech fad into something that provides businesses a chance to work with customers.

Samsung putting squeeze on BlackBerry in government phone fight

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Feb 13, 2014 10:20 pm

BlackBerry is fighting for survival in a competitive smartphone in which consumers jumped onto the Apple and Samsung bandwagons, leaving behind the once-dominant company. To make matters worse, Samsung is revamping its products to prepare for a takeover of U.S. government agencies and the enterprise workplace.

 

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Earlier in the year, the U.S. government ordered 80,000 BlackBerry smartphones - but Samsung tallied 7,000 devices sold to the U.S. Army, with a separate deal for a few thousand devices for another government agency in the works.

 

Although BlackBerry still can depend on the government, Samsung is working hard to entice decision makers to adopt its government-ready devices. New BlackBerry CEO John Chen will have a fight on his hands, as he announced in 2013 that winning over enterprise customers is a major priority for the Canadian phone maker.

 

"We have sharpened our enterprise focus to government, regulated industries and other large organizations," while developing " a broad vision of how we will serve these companies," said John Sims, BlackBerry president leading enterprise efforts, told the Wall Street Journal.

Smartphones topped feature phones on sales chart for first time

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Feb 13, 2014 9:05 pm

Smartphone sales finally eclipsed the sale of traditional feature phones for the first time in 2013, though smartphone revenue will likely slow as consumers choose from cheaper devices, according to research firm Gartner. Despite the good news that smartphones have outsold feature phones, manufacturers will have to deal with dropping prices and slower-than-expected revenue growth.

 

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Samsung, Apple and Huawei led the global market in shipped units during 2013, though Lenovo, LG Electronics, and other manufacturers are fighting for consumer attention.

 

"While the top three mobile manufacturers are dominating the global mobile phone market, their share collectively fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 and yearly as Chinese and regional brands continue to raise their share."

 

It's a great time for consumers in developed markets looking for appealing smartphones at an affordable price from wireless carriers. However, smartphone market saturation in the United States and Western Europe is slowing down, especially with consumers keeping devices for a longer time, which has led to a shakeup. Companies such as Samsung and Apple were forced to introduce cheaper models to compete with smaller companies trying to push their way into the market.

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