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Nokia closes flagship store in Shanghai

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 11:32 pm

Nokia has announced that it will be closing its flagship store in Shanghai, China. Nokia is working on saving money and shutting down its failing retail stores should be a good way for the company to conserve its limited cash.




Nokia posted the closure announcement on Sina Weibo and only garnered 938 reposts in three days. The store originally opened in 2007 and outlived Nokia's London store, which closed in 2009. On the other hand, Apple continues to open Apple Stores across China, with three in Shanghai alone.

Apple's 'Spaceship' campus over budget by 66%, price tag now sits at $5B

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 10:32 pm

Apple's new Campus 2, also known as the "Spaceship" campus, is an expensive and complex undertaking. When the project was first announced, Apple budgeted around $3 billion. On a project of this magnitude, cost overruns are to be expected, but maybe not as large as Apple's.




New estimates put the cost of the new Spaceship campus at around $5 billion. That's around 66 percent more than what was originally budgeted. Adding insult to injury, the projected move-in date has been pushed back from 2015 to 2016. But Apple can't cancel the project as it is a monument to the late Steve Jobs.


However, Apple is looking to save some cash. They want to reduce the cost by around $1 billion by reducing the fit and finish of the building. This means being less detail oriented and not building it to the same iPhone-level quality standards.


The question is should Apple be focusing its energy on building new products rather than a new campus? After all, stock price has suffered in the past year.

Curiosity will be out of touch with Earth for next four weeks

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 10:04 pm

NASA has said that they will not be sending any commands to the Curiosity rover for the next four weeks due to the alignment of Mars, the sun, and Earth. Their fear is that the sun could corrupt commands sent to Curiosity and result in unexpected behavior or damage system components.




The [communications] moratorium is a precaution against possible interference by the sun corrupting a command sent to the rover.


Curiosity will be operating in an autonomous mode, running off of commands sent up before the moratorium went into place. After May 1, Curiosity will be able to send back the results of its testing. NASA won't be completely out of touch with the rover as it will still be sending information back to let researchers know its still alive.


We will maintain visibility of rover status two ways. First, Curiosity will be sending daily beeps directly to Earth. Our second line of visibility is in the Odyssey relays.


You can expect to not receive any Curiosity updates during the next four weeks. After that, the team plans to conduct another drilling to confirm and extend what was learned from a drilling that took place in February.

Netflix app updated to support Windows Phone 8 devices with 720p screens

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Apps | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 9:34 pm

Netflix has released an update for its Windows Phone 8 app to add support for Windows Phone 8 devices running 720x1280 resolution screens. Devices with this resolution previously had a black bar across the top of the screen. Not all phones needed to be updated. For instance, the Nokia Lumia 920 retained the aspect ratio of previous Windows Phone 7 devices. This update adds full support for the aspect ratio supported by Windows Phone 8.




If you're one of the unlucky ones that wasn't supported, you can download the updated app from the Windows store.

Roger Ebert dies at age 70, succumbs to long battle with cancer

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Current Affairs | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 8:47 pm

Famed movie critic Roger Ebert has succumb to cancer after a long battle. The Chicago Sun reported today that Roger Ebert passed away after battling thyroid and salivary gland cancer for the better part of a decade. His final blog post, penned Tuesday, alerted readers that his cancer had returned as a result of a hip fracture suffered in December.




The Chicago Sun, the newspaper for which he worked, has written a long piece recapping his life and achievements. It's a long, but good, read and I highly suggest you read it on the Sun's website.


I'm sure our readers will join us in wishing his family the best. He is survived by his wife, a step-daughter and two step-grandchildren. Our thoughts go out to his family.

Verizon happy to follow T-Mobile if consumers don't want contracts

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 8:33 pm

Verizon's CEO has said that the company would be happy to follow in T-Mobile's footsteps and become a no-contract carrier if that is what consumers want. He noted that it's not too difficult to change to a no-contract model and the company is waiting to see how consumers react to T-Mobile's move.




Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam:

I'm happy when I see something different tried. We can react quickly to consumers' shifting needs.


Dropping contracts isn't unheard of. Portions of Europe already operate without contracts and consumers don't seem to mind paying the full price for devices. Whether American consumers will be open to the idea remains to be seen. T-Mobile argues that consumers save money due to decreased monthly service fees.


AT&T has also expressed interest in dropping smartphone subsidies in exchange for lower monthly rates.

DEA complains they can't tap iMessage due to encryption

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 7:29 pm

CNET obtained a copy of an internal memo sent by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that complained about their inability to intercept iMessage messages. This is just the latest of law enforcement complaints that new technologies make tapping communication more difficult.




Apple's iMessage utilizes end-to-end encryption making it near impossible for DEA to obtain copies of the message. They were able to discover the iMessage issue after requesting a record of text messages from Verizon. When they received the copies, they realized that the user had utilized iMessage. "It became apparent that not all text messages were being captured."


FBI director Mueller:

There is a growing and dangerous gap between law enforcement's legal authority to conduct electronic surveillance, and its actual ability to conduct such surveillance. We must ensure that the laws by which we operate and which provide protection to individual privacy rights keep pace with new threats and new technology.


Should Apple be required to implement a method to allow federal agents legal access to iMessage communications?

Facebook Home to update on a monthly cycle, will officially release on April 12th

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 6:52 pm

Facebook Home for Android will see monthly updates according to Facebook's director of mobile engineering, Cory Ondrejka. He said that every month the app suite will receive new features and existing features will be improved upon.




Ondrejka said that instead of focusing on a completely new OS or forking Android, the company wanted to focus on creating the absolute best mobile experience possible for its users. "With Home, it's not just mobile-first, but mobile-best," he said. "When we set up to build Home, we challenged ourselves to build up the best physical and real experience."




After the update announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage and announced that Facebook Home would officially release for download through the Google Play store for free on April 12th. Not all phones are supported on launch and a list of supported devices can be found here. Users without a supported phone were also offered the option of purchasing an HTC First, the first smartphone designed for Facebook Home.

Android tablets to get Facebook Home, but still several months out

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 6:35 pm

All of the hype about Facebook Home has been centered on smartphones and not much has been mentioned about tablets. At this morning's event Cory Ondrejka, director of mobile engineering at Facebook, said that while not available at launch, Facebook Home will be arriving on tablets this year.




"We think this is a really great way to experience tablets. We're not going to be launching on tablets yet, but we'll be trying to get it ready in the coming months", said Ondrejka.


For those who use Facebook as their main form of communication I think that Facebook Home on a tablet is a perfect fit. The UI lends itself nicely to large screens, and the home screen feed is truly a thing of beauty when displayed on a large screen. Not much else was said about Facebook Home for tablets, but we will be sure to cover any further information as it is released.

Facebook announces Chat heads for Facebook Home, a better way to keep up with conversations on your smartphone?

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Apr 4, 2013 6:27 pm

At today's Facebook Home event Mark Zuckerberg and crew debuted Facebook Home, a new home-screen UI designed for Android devices that completely transforms your smartphone experience. Instead of focusing on apps, the new Facebook Home lets you focus on staying connected to people.




Chat head solves the age old problem of do you answer that text you just got or finish what you were doing. Chat head displays a little circular icon over your content that notifies you when a friend messages you. By tapping on your friends face, it will open the chat dialogue over your current "window."




Once you are finished with the message, simple tap again and it will return to the bubble-like icon. Chat head works with both Text Messaging as well as Facebook Messenger and which service you are using is denoted by the color of the chat's text bubbles. Green signifies a SMS conversation while blue represent a Facebook Messenger chat - just like how messaging works with Apple iMessage.


Each message from different friends is displayed in its own bubble with group chats having multiple photos in a single bubble. Message sessions can be removed from the screen by a long press and dragging the icon off the bottom of the screen.