We have been following the Google Barge for a while now. The barge was first spied sitting at its dock at Treasure Island in San Francisco. Google was forced to move the barge not long ago because it didn't have the proper permits needed for construction.
We learned last week that the barge would be moving from San Francisco to Stockton, California. The trek took the barge about 80 miles. Google's barge is now docked at a pier on Rough and Ready island in Stockton, California. Sources say that Google is paying around $10,000 to $12,000 per month for its pier.
Google has reportedly agreed to pay the port docking fees for a minimum of three months. The lease could be shorter or longer depending on construction needs according to Stockton port director Richard Aschieris.
If you are ever in the mood for beer, whatever game happens to be on, and hot wings, Buffalo Wild Wings is a good place to find. You can even watch the UFC fights there on a fight weekend. If you have ever been in one of these places when it is busy, you know it can be hard to get your server to come to the table when you want them.
Buffalo Wild Wings has announced that it is now using tablets at all tables in 150 company owned stores around the US. The tablets will be rolling out to another 500 stores by the end of 2014 and then by next year all stores will have the tablets.
These tablets will serve many uses. Patrons to the eatery will be able to play games on the tablet including multi-player games. The tablets are called Beond and in addition to playing games, you will be able to make food and drink orders from the tablets.
Jack Tretton, the current President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) is stepping down from his position on April 1, 2014. Replacing him will be the current Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) VP and COO, Shawn Layden.
Tretton has been with the company for quite a long time - 19 years - and has said that it has been the most rewarding experience of his career. Tretton added that he'll miss the talented team he has been working with all this time, and the passion of Sony's fans. It's not all sad news, as he is excited about what comes next in his career.
Since SCEA's opening in 1995, Tretton has been with the company, serving as a founding member of the executive team. He was involved with every launch of the PlayStation platform in the US, a big task on its own. Sony said in a statement that it didn't renew its contract with Tretton as a mutual decision between the two. No exact reason was given for his departure from the position.
It should place at least a small cloud of doubt over Sony, as it is seeing great early success with its PlayStation 4.
This morning office supply retail giant, Staples, announced that it plans to close 225 of its retail locations by the end of 2015. Staples says that amidst poor fourth quarter results deriving from what it calls "soft" consumer demand for electronics, the company has no choice but to close up many of its stores to starve off mounting losses. Staples operates 1500 stores in the US, which equates to it closing nearly 1/4 of its in-store retail business.
"With nearly half our sales generated online today, we're meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency," Staples CEO Ron Sargent said. The closings are expected to save the company nearly $500 million by the end of 2015. Staples will focus more of its resources into generating online sales, but with the PC market dwindling and more consumers turning to Amazon, Newegg and Tigerdirect for their electronics these days, this could just be the beginning of more hard times for Staples.
Back in January, we mentioned that IBM had sold its low-end x86 server business to Lenovo. As part of the deal, Lenovo would get a facility in China where the servers were made and the staff working at that facility. It seems that the workers at the IBM International System Technology Company factory in Shenzhen aren't happy about the deal.
About 1000 workers at that factory have been on strike and the factory has stopped manufacturing for at least four days. One of the striking workers says that the strike will continue. The worker noted that so far the company had ignored the demands of the workers.
As you can guess, the strike has to do with money. The workers want better pay to move to Lenovo or they want better severance packages if they choose to leave the company. An IBM spokesperson says that the deals offered to these workers are on par with what they have now.
BlackBerry's CEO, John Chen, has been very honest about the problems his company faces coming back into a now very tightly controlled smartphone market. Chen talked about it previously, where he compared it to a sick patient in desperate need of emergency surgery.
During a recent interview with The Financial Times, Chen said that BlackBerry's odds of making a comeback sit at around 50%, with everything coming down to how well he, and his team execute it all. The CEO said that losing key corporate and government clients hurt the company, but he has always had a goal of keeping new customers by providing superior services and products that focus on "our heritage and roots - delivering enterprise-grade, end-to-end mobile solutions".
Chen's plan to turn things around involves multiple parts: selling low-end smartphones, where it will leverage its partnership with Foxconn, monetizing its BBM messaging platform, and becoming a much bigger player in the cross-platform corporate mobile device management market. Company finances are expected to be stabilized by 2015, with Chen hoping that the company is profitable after that.
Things are not looking up for Bitcoins much these days and the cryptocurrency was dealt yet another blow today when Flexcoin announced that it has ceased operations and closed its doors for ever. Flexcoin was the first Bitcoin "bank" that operated much in the same manner as traditional banks do. Flexcoin announced today that on Sunday, March 2nd hackers breached the company's security and managed to steal 896 Bitcoins, valued at more than $620,000 USD.
Not all accounts at Flexcoin were compromised though, and it appears that only the hot wallet was breached, leaving thousands of bitcoins in cold storage untouched and safe due to them not being connected to the network. Customer's who chose to store their coins in cold storage payed an additional 0.5-percent for the added security and it looks like it paid off.
Bitcoin's disappearing or being stolen is quickly becoming the norm these days. Another firm named Polonix has also announced that 12.5-percent of its stored bitcoins were stolen by hackers, but said that it would be replacing the coins with those from its own reserve. With major failures of big names in Bitcoin, can the cryptocurrency remain a viable and trustworthy digital currency solution? If it were me with millions tied up in bitcoins, I would sell the majority of them as fast as possible and run far away from Bitcoins as possible.
A new report has been published by TechCrunch that suggest that Facebook is in acquisition talks with solar-powered drone manufacturer, Titan Aerospace. Facebook is considering the acquisition as an affordable way to bring internet to countries with little useful infrastructure and would be part of its Internet.org initiative.
Titan Aerospace makes small aerial drones that are capable of up to five years of non-stop flight thanks to their extreme efficiency and solar power source. The report says that Facebook would used these drones to blanket the world with free Wi-Fi and would start with 11,000 of the Solara 60 models flying high over Africa to bring internet access to those with no hope of having access anytime soon. The deal is reportedly worth about $60 million, which is pocket change when you consider that Facebook just recently purchased WhatsApp for $16 billion.
One interesting aspect that I could see the drones being used in is inside countries where the government has restricted access to the internet, or where the countries infrastructure has been compromised due to rioting, fighting or war. With the smaller Solara 60 drones being cheaper, there is no reason that a company with deep pockets such as Facebook could not deploy 100,000 of them within just a few years, and give the entire world cheap or free internet access.
U.S. electronics store RadioShack announced it plans to close up to 1,100 of its stores in the United States, as the company continues to struggle in a fight for survival.
RadioShack has a large retail footprint in the United States, with 90 percent of US shoppers located within a few minutes of at least one store.
"Our focus on the brand, our operations, and the in-store experience has been unfolding in parallel with a strategic review of our store footprint," said Joseph Magnacca, RadioShack CEO, in a press statement. "Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles - location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance - in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market."
Information about which stores - and how many jobs will be lost - still hasn't been disclosed by RadioShack.
If you have been around long enough to remember a world when most people didn't have mobile phones and we relied on a home phone and an answering machine to stay in contact, you will appreciate a new patent Apple has been granted. One of the things that people liked about answering machines is that you can listen to the messages being left as a way to screen calls. That is one thing you can't do on a smartphone.
Apple has been granted patent by the USPTO that is a patent acquired via the Rockstar Consortium when it purchased Nortel patents a while back. The patent shows a way that the smartphone user can listen in to a caller leaving them a voice mail in real-time.
The system covered in the patent shows a way that a conference call is set up on-the-fly between the caller, voice mail server, and the phone owner. The user's phone mic is muted to keep the listening in on the down low.
One of the hottest categories in the tech world today is wearable devices. There are a number of wearables on the market ranging from smartwatches to glasses like Google Glass. With wearables set to grow significantly, a new rumor is circulating that Intel has made a big purchase to get more wearable tech in its portfolio.
Intel is rumored to have purchased a company called Basis. Basis makes wearable watches that record fitness activities for the user. Basis was rumored to have been shopping itself around with Apple and Google among the interested firms.
The purchase has reportedly been made by Intel with one source saying the deal was worth $100 million. A different source claims that Intel paid closer to $150 million for Basis. Basis currently has about 7% of the wearable fitness device market.
Today Kickstarter announced that it has surpassed over $1 billion in crowd-funding pledges since the site first launched on the 28th April of 2009. Speaking of that date, users pledged a mere $1084 to just 7 featured projects in the first 24 hours the site was live. Fast forward to March 13th, 2013, just 4 years later, and more than 54,187 backers committed to more than $4,029,585 to 1,985 projects in a single day.
To celebrate this milestone in Kickstarter's history, the company released a nifty micro-site that unveils some interesting facts about the crowd-funding websites biggest and best days as well as its most popular backers. Wednesday has been the most popular day of the week to back a project with more than $160 million pledged. Sunday seems to be the least popular day to back projects with just over $100 million pledged. $619 million of the $1 billion was pledged by returning backers, and 1,689,979 people have backed more than one project. Interestingly enough 15,932 people have backed more than 50 projects on Kickstarter.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has a strong stance on people who don't believe in climate change, so much so that he recommends you "get out of the stock" if you don't believe in human-made climate problems.
During Apple's annual shareholder meeting on Friday, not only did the Apple CEO claim that its competitors "getting ripped off left, right and sideways", but he pushed that Apple is concerned about the environment. Cook rejected the suggestion from a conservative, Washington D.C.-based think tank that the company has given up on environmental initiatives that don't contribute to Apple's bottom line.
The organization, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) hasn't thought highly of Apple's increasing reliance on green energy, or seeing Cook hire the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to take control of sustainability efforts for Apple. Ahead of meeting, NCPPR General Counsel, Justin Danhof said: "We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards. This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender".
Cook didn't take it nicely, reminding Danhof that even though Apple has plenty of cash reserves, it is not in the business of caving to shareholders demands, especially those driven by politics. Cook said: "We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it". The Apple CEO said that anyone who finds the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically ill-advised, that they can "get out of the stock".
Apple held its annual meeting yesterday, where CEO Tim Cook had some interesting things to say about the company, its products, and its competitors. Investors and Silicon Valley executives are wondering if Apple is able to transform the technology world with a new device, with rivals taking big pieces of its market share away.
Cook said during Apple's annual meeting: "We're working on some things that are extensions of things you can see and some that you can't see". Cook was referring to the 32% increase in research and development spending in 2013. Cook was hit with a question regarding Apple's innovation, but said that the company preferred to not talk about products that are in development, as it didn't want to tip off the competition.
Cook said: "you an see we're getting ripped off left, right and sideways". Cook took some jabs at Google, saying that most Android users are still using older versions of Google's mobile OS, which poses a security threat. Maybe Cook forgot about the hotpot of disaster iOS has been in recently with security. He did compare it to iOS, where the Apple CEO stated that 89% of users on iOS-based devices have the most recent version of the software.
Sony has been having a fire sale of sorts lately in an effort to make up for recent financial losses, and today a new report has surfaced that says the company is in talks with an unnamed buyer with the intent of selling off its old headquarters located in Tokyo. This is the same building where Sony's founders, Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka worked on Walkman and Trinitron prototypes that made the company the electronics giant it is today.
The sell could net sony about $145 million to add to the funds it earned last year from selling buildings in New York City and Osaka Japan, but the move is not popular with Tokyo locals who think that the company should remain in its birth city. This sell off comes just after the company sold its VAIO PC business just weeks ago, and the one thing we should all take from this is that Sony is hurting and this is most likely not the last part of its business we will see sold this year.
We take a grilling seriously here in Texas. Some people prefer charcoal, some prefer gas, whatever you use you need to amok sure you have enough of it. It's easy enough to look in the bag and see if you have charcoal and shake the lighter fluid bottle. It's not so easy to tell if you have enough propane left in your tank.
That means that more than a few grillers end up running out of propane mid cookout and cursing the fact that most grills and tanks have no way to tell how much fuel is left. A new propane tank system called Refuel has turned up that will prevent you from ever running out again.
The tank system is app enabled and the app will tell you how much gas is left in the tank. The system has a waterproof scale that sits under the propane tank and sends data to the Wink mobile app. The app will tell you how full the tank is and how long you can keep cooking based on how much you used in the past.
Mt.Gox was the third largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, and was also the most controversial as well. A few weeks ago the service suspended all withdrawal transactions citing a known bug in the system as the culprit, and just a week later announced that all trading and transactions would return to normal soon. Unfortunately that last statement proved to be noting more than hot air, when the service completely went down a few days ago.
Today Mt. Gox, a Japanese-based company, filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that it is more than $60 million in debt. Today in a Tokyo court, officials from the company said that it has lost more than 750,000 bitcoins stored in its system owned by customers and that 100,000 of its own were gone as well. At the current going rate for a single bitcoin ($574.79 via Coinbase.) the a coins lost value at almost $450 million for customers and more than half a billion dollars total.
In the last few days Bitcoin prices have fallen several percent due to the news of Mt. Gox failing. During the court appearance Mt. Gox founder Mark Karpelès said: "There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble." Unfortunately for thousands of customers, simple apologies will not return the millions they lost because Mt. Gox failed to acknowledge a bug in the system that had existed for years. Bankruptcy will save the company from debt, but there should be negligence charges filed in my opinion. To let a devistating software bug exist for that long while making hundreds of millions in revenue is simply unacceptable.
Netflix is one of the most popular subscription streaming services on the planet with a huge number of users. The company has a bunch of TV shows and movies from Hollywood and other places and it has original programs. Netflix's House of Cards is one of its most popular programs.
Netflix recently held its announced Netflix Hack Day. The company says that the Hack Day gives its engineers a creative outlet. Hack Day lets engineers start hacking on Thursday morning and work through the night. On Friday morning, they present their projects to their peers. Netflix says that it often sees good ideas from the Hack Day.
The Hack Day last week brought with it what Netflix calls "spectacular work." The projects this time out ranged from data visualizations, to product feature ideas. Netflix has offered up some videos looking at its favorite hacks that were presented last week.
MWC 2014 - Industry body GSMA named LG the Most Innovative Device Manufacturer of the Year at the Global Mobile Awards this week. LG has unveiled quite a few devices at this year's Mobile World Congress, which has pushed it into award territory.
LG unveiled the G Pro 2, G Flex, G2 mini, F70, F Series and L Series. LG's market share is under 5%, so it's great to see the South Korean device maker making waves in the market with various devices. Last year, LG's G2 smartphone beat Apple's iPhone to be named smartphone of 2013 by Stuff magazine. And with 2014 just beginning, and MWC closing up, the year is only starting for LG.
Vice President of LG, Chris Yie, said: "We are incredibly humbled that GSMA selected LG from among the many capable companies in the mobile industry to honour with this award. Innovation has been the key to LG's success. This recognition, in addition to last year's Best Smartphone of MWC 2013 award, is clear proof that our hard work and effort is paying off".
The best smartphone of the year award went to HTC with its One smartphone, Nokia's Lumia 520 was named Best Low-Cost Smartphone, while Apple's iPad Air took the Best Mobile Tablet award.
Fortune's latest list of the world's most admired companies sees that Apple, Amazon and Google continue to take top spots. The survey asks corporate executives to name the companies they admired the most.
Apple, Amazon and Google took out the top three spots, while Samsung, Microsoft and Facebook also found their way into the list. Apple continues to take out the number one spot, a position the company has held of seven consecutive years. Fortune does mention that investors are getting nervous waiting for the company to unveil its "next big thing".
Fortune says that Amazon has used both its "consumer-centric culture and super convenience" to "gobble up brick-and-mortar stores left and right". Fortune continues to gush over Amazon by saying that the company's "ambitions show no signs of abating: it recently jumped into the art market, and has started producing video, music, and literary content".
When it came to Google, Fortune wrote that the company "continues to find ways to make life easier (sometimes creepily so) via mind-blowing Internet products". Fortune also mentioned that Google spends considerable amounts of resources on "moonshot" projects, which has led to self-driving cars, Google Glass, and more.
The Japanese government believes bitcoin regulation needs to be a global endeavor among U.S., European and Asian governments, which will keep it more secure from possible money laundering. Meanwhile, US Congress should look at effective manners to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies, said Janet Yellen, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants to see how Mt. Gox and other bitcoin businesses or exchanges dealt with cyberattacks, which is a major security concern.
Since the bitcoin currency is unregulated, and no regular financial institutions are involved, there is concern over transactions - and taxes. Bitcoin owner identities also are not public information, so there is a certain underground feel to the still volatile currency.
"It's not just the Ministry of Finance; many other agencies are related," said Jiro Aichi, Japanese Vice Finance Minister, speaking during a recent news conference. "As for its legal position, a currency (under Japan's jurisdiction) would be coins or notes issued by the Bank of Japan. At the very least, we can say bitcoin is not a currency."