Monday, May 30, 2011

Parents send 600 texts a year to track kids

A new report has revealed that parents, on average, send 600 texts, 312 emails and spend 28 hours on the phone annually to track their children.

One in every five parents has admitted that the best way to know the whereabouts of their children is via social networking sites like Facebook.

The findings come from a study of 5,000 mothers and fathers by National Family Week.

More than half of parents have felt that mobile phones and online networking overly preoccupy their children, reports the Daily Express.

Three quarters are of the opinion that modern technology has had a negative impact on family life, with 17 per cent citing texting in particular and 37 per cent banning mobile phones or laptops at the dinner table.

Asus to unveil Padfone smartphone & tablet

Taiwanese giant Asus is reportedly all set to unveil a smartphone cum tablet at Computex. Called PadFone, the company has been teasing the rumoured device for a while on its Facebook page, with the slogan "Break the Rules: Pad or Phone."

Asus PadFone interlocks a smartphone into a tablet, to form one device, according to, which also claims to have the device's leaked pictures.

Though full specs are not known yet, rumours suggest that PadFone to be one of the first devices to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the upcoming version of the Google's mobile OS.

There are also speculations that PadFone will have a Transformer port, which means that it could hook-up to a keyboard as well. Pocketnow expects the tablet to be available in two colors: copper and black.

Intel Tri-Gate to hit Indian market this year

Tri-Gate, claimed to be the world's first three-dimensional transistor, based on a 22-nanometer, from the stable of Intel, would be in the market later this year or early next year, a top company official said.

The transistor would be used in all of Intel's product lines, from high-end server chips to the tiny, low-power processors including the Atom-embedded processor, R Ravichandran, Director - Sales, Intel South Asia, told reporters here.

The Tri-Gate transistors form conducting channels on three sides of a vertical 'fin' structure, a major advance from the planar design of transistors in use for the past five decades, he said.

These new chips would provide a 50 per cent power reduction at constant performance, improved switching characteristics and a higher drive current for a given transistor footprint, Ravichandran said.

Another innovative technology from Intel, 'the 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family, which also would be released in market in January next, would deliver a visibly smarter PC experience, he said.

Whether we use the PC for digital media, gaming, play or everyday tasks, the new processor delivered even more performance automatically when we need it and have a better visual PC experience built-in, Ravichandran claimed.

Samsung to Apple: Show us iPhone 5, iPad 3

Samsung Electronics Co sought a court order to force Apple Inc to disclose iPhone and iPad models under development, claiming it needs the information to defend against allegations it copied Apple's products.

Samsung must see the final versions of the next-generation iPhone and iPad, which may be known as iPhone 5 and iPad 3, to "evaluate whether a likelihood of confusion exists" between new Samsung and Apple products that will probably go on sale about the same time, according to documents filed May 27 by Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung in San Jose, California, federal court.

Samsung is asking Apple to turn over the samples by June 13. Steve Park, a Seoul-based spokesman for Apple, declined to comment.

Samsung's request is part of a legal dispute between the two companies which began in April when Apple claimed Samsung's Galaxy products "slavishly" copied iPad and iPhone technology and design.
Samsung, which also supplies chips to Apple, countersued the Cupertino, California-based company in Seoul, Tokyo, Mannheim, Germany and the US.

Apple will likely seek a court order barring Samsung from selling future products and must be able to compare its devices in development to those of Apple, Samsung said in the court papers.

The case is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co 11- cv-01846. US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apple may face shortage of 5,00000 iPads

Apple Inc may face a production loss of 500,000 iPad 2 tablets after the explosion at Foxconn Technology Group's plant in Chengdu, China, according to research firm IHS ISuppli.

The drop in manufacturing will depend on how long the plant is closed following a May 20 explosion that killed three people and injured at least 15, according to ISuppli. The total could be even greater if the suspension of operations at the facility lasts longer than a month, the firm said.

Another Foxconn factory in Shenzhen that produces iPads may not be able to make up for the lost output, ISuppli said. The manufacturing breakdown may lead Apple to miss ISuppli's forecast of 7.4 million iPad 2 shipments in the quarter ending in June, the El Segundo, California-based research firm said.

Mike Abramsky, a technology analyst with RBC Capital Markets, speculated last week that the impact may be larger. If Chengdu is where Apple manufactures most of its iPads, instead of the Shenzhen factory, the blast could lead to lost production of 1.8 million to 2.8 million iPads, he said. Abramsky had predicted 8 million iPad shipments during the period.

By contrast, Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee in San Francisco, said in a report that the concerns are "overdone" and that production at other facilities is being ramped up to make up for the shortfalls. He expects Apple to sell 6.8 million iPads in the June quarter

Friday, May 20, 2011


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

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Meet world's smallest 3D printer

Printers, which can produce three-dimensional objects have been available for years. However, at the Vienna University of Technology, a printing device has now been developed, which is much smaller, lighter and cheaper than ordinary 3D printers. With this kind of printer, everyone could produce small, taylor-made 3D-objects at home, using building plans from the internet -– and this could save money for expensive custom-built spare parts.

Several scientific fields have to come together, to design a 3D-printer. The device was assembled by mechanical engineers in the research group of professor Jurgen Stampfl, but also the chemical research by the team of professor Robert Liska was of crucial importance: first, chemists have to determine which special kinds of synthetic material can be used for printing.

Layer for Layer
The basic principle of the 3D-printer is quite simple: The desired object is printed in a small tub filled with synthetic resin. The resin has a very special property: It hardens precisely where it is illuminated with intense beams of light. Layer for layer, the synthetic resin is irradiated at exactly the right spots. When one layer hardens, the next layer can be attached to it, until the object is completed. This method is called "additive manufacturing technology". "This way, we can even produce complicated geometrical objects with an intricate inner structure, which could never be made using casting techniques", Klaus Stadlmann explains. He developed the prototype together with Markus Hatzenbichler.

This method is not designed for large-scale production of bulk articles – for that, there are cheaper alternatives. The great advantage of additive manufacturing is the fact that is offers the possibility to produce taylor-made, individually adjusted items. The prototype of the printer is no bigger than a carton of milk, it weighs 1.5 kilograms, and at just 1200 Euros, it was remarkably cheap. "We will continue to reduce the size of the printer, and the price will definitely decrease too, if it is produced in large quantities", Klaus Stadlmann believes.

LED-Projector for Higher Resolution
The printer's resolution is excellent: The individual layers hardened by the light beams are just a twentieth of a millimetre thick. Therefore, the printer can be used for applications which require extraordinary precision – such as construction parts for hearing aids. Unlike previous models, the printer at TU Vienna uses light emitting diodes, with which high intensities of light can be obtained at very well-defined positions.

The research group for additive manufacturing technologies at TU Vienna is working with a variety of different 3D-techniques and materials. New materials – such as special ceramics or polymers – are constantly being developed for 3D-printing. 3D objects can now even be made from eco-friendly biodegradable substances. In cooperation with biologists and physicians, the scientists could show that the artificial structures created with their 3D-printer technology are perfectly suited to serve as a scaffold that supports natural growth of bone structure in the body.

Remarkable Versatility
No matter whether it is medical parts, adjusted exactly to the patient's needs, special spare parts which otherwise would have to be shipped around half the globe, or whether it is just some kind of self-designed bling jewellery: with the versatile and cheap devices and materials developed in Vienna, highly complex 3D objects can now be built from a variety of materials with very different mechanical, optical and thermal properties.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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ARM: Intel's 3D chip has complexities

British chip designer ARM said rival Intel's move into 3Dchip technology was a "fantastic marketing coup" but it would not affect plans by ARM's partners to manufacture smaller, more powerful chips.

"Intel's announcement of 3D structures at 20 nanometer was an interesting announcement but from our point of view nothing really more than that," Chief Executive Warren East said.

ARM's technology dominates the mobile computing arena, helped by its leading power efficiency and relatively low cost. Its processors power Apple's iPhone and iPad and nearly all other mobile phones and tablets.

The British company licenses its technology to chip-makers such as Samsung and Texas Instruments and gets a royalty payment on every chip shipped.

Intel has so far failed to crack the smartphone market, but the significant improvement in power efficiency in its latest 22 nanometer technology, which will eventually extend to its "Atom" mobile processors, is its best hope to date.
"(Other) manufacturers will deploy (3D technology), but probably not before they absolutely need to it because it comes with complexities," East said.

"What matters is, if I'm going to make a real chip, what performance can I get at what power consumption?," he said, adding that 3D technology was not necessarily the answer.

East said Cambridge-based ARM would continue to grow faster than the market, due to its strong position in fast-selling devices like smartphones, plus the increasing use of its designs in mundane microcontrollers in devices ranging from toys to air conditioners.

Japan impact
East said the sale of electronic devices was largely immune to economical and political upheaval, but March's earthquake in Japan could hit supply chains, although only one --
Renesas Electronics -- of its 250 partners had been seriously affected.

"In Japan one of our licensees is most seriously affected but ... they don't ship a huge proportion of ARM devices," he said.

"Our best analysis is single digit percentages of our royalties," he said of the likely overall impact of the disaster, noting that royalties make up just over 50 per cent of total revenue.

"We would expect to see some impact probably as early as Q3 royalties, which would be Q2 shipments."

ARM's fastest, most powerful Cortex family dual-core processors, which carry higher royalty rates, are already being shipped, and processors that can power PCs and servers are in development by partners such as Marvell and Nvidia.

Addressing a key concern for investors, East said he expected ARM would be able to maintain premium royalty rates when licensing Cortex processors more widely, helping it accelerate growth in royalty revenue.

"It would be easier when we are licensing it more broadly because the precedent will have been set: 'if you want to buy a Cortex A9, well this is what the price is,'" he said.

The newest chip designs command royalty rates edging towards 2 per cent against the 1 per cent rate on its older chips.

Shares in ARM command a stellar rating of more than 50 times next year's forecast earnings because investors eye increasing royalty revenues as chipmakers buy in ARM's technology rather than design chips from scratch.

East said the strength of licence sales, both for its core processor technology and increasingly for graphics, meant growth in royalties was secure.

Underscoring ARM's dominance in mobile computing, Microsoft, previously faithful to Intel's x86 chip architecture, said in January it would configure its Windows software for ARM chips, in recognition that tablets were eroding growth in its PC stronghold.

East said Microsoft was driving the development of the software but he said the US company's comment that it would take somewhere between 24 and 36 months before it was widespread availability sounded "very plausible".

Now, access Facebook without internet

Singapore-based software applications developer U2opia Mobile has developed a new application for mobile phones that will allow them to access Facebook on all kind of handsets without paying for a data connection.

"We are using USSD technology, which will enable users to access Facebook without having a GPRS connection on their phones," said Sumesh Menon, the co-founder and CEO of U2Opia Mobile.

Unstructured Supplementary Data (USSD) is the technology used by telecom players to send alerts to their users that inform them about their balance at the end of call or for sending miss call alerts.

Menon mentioned that though the technology will not provide access to graphics, it will help users send and view updates on their friends' Facebook walls.

"It is like SMS and hence, the load on the network is negligible. We have built some commands through which a user can receive alerts on activity happening on his wall as well post an update," said Menon.

U2opia launched this application with Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel. While Airtel customers can update their Facebook status through this USSD service free of cost, Rs 1 per day will be applicable for accessing the full-feature application, which enables viewing news feeds, commenting on or liking news feed stories, posting on friends' walls, confirming friend requests, viewing notifications and finding as well as adding friends.

"In the Indian market scenario, where the penetration of smartphones is relatively low and the use of internet on mobiles is primarily limited to key cities, many users are excluded from accessing their Facebook accounts via mobile phones," said Shireesh Joshi, Bharti Airtel Director -- Marketing, Mobile Services, in a statement.

Airtel users can dial *325# and *fbk# for non-Qwerty mobile handsets to access Facebook without subscribing to data plans, the statement said.

"We look forward to bringing millions of Facebook users in India closer to their love for social networking by allowing them to access it anytime, anywhere on their Airtel-powered mobile phones,"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Meet Samsung's foldable display

LONDON: Mobile phone manufacturers have unsuccessfully tried to make smaller devices with bigger screen displays. But the sheer impossibility of creating a seamless screen nixed the idea of a folding phone. Till now.

Researchers at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, South Korea, have built a prototype of a seamless foldable display that opens up to look like that of a regular smartphone.

The display consists of two active matrix organic light-emitting-diode (AMOLED) panels covered by a silicone window that prevents scratches and can serve as a touchscreen, the Daily Mail reports.

When folded down, they are separated by a gap of just one millimetre. But when the screen is opened, one panel lies almost completely on top of the other and appears seamless.

The researchers tested the foldable display's durability by performing 100,000 folding-unfolding cycles. They said the key to success was controlling the optical properties of the materials.

"All the materials in a foldable window unit (glasses and silicone rubber) must have almost the same optical properties and attach to each other strongly without any optical property change," Samsung's HongShik Shim said.

This new type of technology has not so far taken off because of the high manufacturing costs.

However, determined to compete with innovative design such as the iPad, a number of major manufacturers are determined to expand research and develop innovative new products with folding screens.

Samsung hopes that its large-screen devices will soon be available with AMOLED technology.

Monday, May 16, 2011

BMW displays Vision EfficientDynamics concept car in India

The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car was unveiled at Deutsche Motoren by Praful Patel, Honorable Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises at New Delhi. The German Ambassador to India, Thomas Matussek was present as the Guest of Honour.
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is a road ready, four seater concept sports car that combines the performance and emotional character of a BMW M Car with extraordinary fuel economy and emission management. BMW Vision EfficientDynamics with its outstanding fuel efficiency of 26.5 kilometres/litre and an exemplary CO² emission rating of 99 grams/kilometre is far superior to all conventional hybrid cars. It is capable of achieving a top speed of 250 kilometres/hour with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/hr in just 4.8 seconds. The car is powered by ground breaking BMW ActiveHybrid technology and cutting-edge drive systems.
Praful Patel, Honorable Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises said, “The Indian automobile market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and is poised to grow at an unprecedented rate. As the Indian automobile industry grows, it will eventually be challenged with the need for reduction of energy consumption for environment protection. BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is a road ready technology showcase vehicle by BMW engineers and designers that illustrates a successful research and development strategy which holds tremendous potential for sustainable growth.”

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is presented in India for the first time and will be exhibited at the new BMW Studio, Connaught Place, New Delhi till 24 May 2011.
Thomas Matussek, German Ambassador to India said, “The German automotive industry has been continuously progressing to secure a sustainable future with fuel saving engines, state of the art recycling techniques and greener production facilities. The German industry is proud to have BMW as one of the most sustainable car companies in the world who have pioneered CO² emission cuts and have next generation fuel efficiency standards in engines. I am glad to know that BMW is already engaged in developing ground breaking technologies which will define how cars of tomorrow will be conceptualized.”

BMW EfficientDynamics is the world’s most comprehensive package for the reduction of fuel consumption and emissions while simultaneously increasing Sheer Driving Pleasure.
Dr. Andreas Schaaf, President, BMW India said, “BMW Vision EfficientDynamics as an example of cutting-edge technology is simply a continuation of BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy. Some of the technologies used in the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics are implemented in current BMW models that enable enhanced performance and lower emissions; others will soon be ready for series production. Or, to put it simply, the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is a remarkable vision that is soon to become an exciting reality.”

Dr. Andreas Schaaf, further added, “When it comes to dealing with resources in a sustainable and responsible manner, BMW outperforms all other competitors in the premium segment through its BMW EfficientDynamics strategy. Thanks to BMW concept of ‘One Fleet, One Package’, we have reduced CO² emissions and fuel consumption across our entire fleet while boosting driving dynamics at the same time. For these reasons, BMW has been the sector leader in Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the last six years.”
1.24 metres high, the four-seater BMW Vision EfficientDynamics takes up the characteristic BMW shaping style, geared consistently towards aesthetic appeal and dynamic performance. Wing doors facilitate entry to both rows of seats, while extensive aerodynamic measures reduce the drag coefficient to 0.22. The combination of a three-cylinder turbo diesel with a hybrid synchronous motor at the front axle and a full-hybrid engine at the rear axle enables an overall system output of 241 kW/328 bhp. The innovative design of the BMW ActiveHybrid technology allows performance figures at the level of a sports car, with just 4.8 seconds required for the sprint from 0 to 100 km/hr - with average fuel consumption of 26.5 km/ltr in the EU test cycle and a CO² emission rating of 99 gm/km.
This unique relation between dynamic performance and efficiency derives from the high level of efficiency of all engine components, intelligent linking of the power output of the three engines, as well as precisely controlled energy management including Brake Energy Regeneration. What is more, the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is conceived as a plug-in hybrid. The especially designed lithium-polymer rechargeable battery housed centrally in a longitudinal chassis element can be fully charged at a conventional power socket within just two and half hours. The use of electrical energy alone permits zero-emissions motoring with a range of some 50 km, while a 24 ltr diesel tank extends the total action radius of the vehicle to up to 700 kms.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Be the perfect girlfriend

Hang out with his buddies

As much as you would like to spend time with him alone, chilling and spending time with him and his buddies will make him feel that you are easy-going and want to be involved with what he likes to do.

Buy him tickets to a game

One of the easiest things to impress him is to buy two tickets to a game he loves, the other ticket being for his friend. This clearly shows that you want him to have his time off and enjoy without you.

Do not buy clothes for him

If the two of you have just started dating, girls beware, do not buy clothes for him. This will make him think that you do not like his dressing style. He, as it stands, must be getting loads of clothes from his mother. You sure do not want him to think in those terms, do you?

Forget something feminine at his place

Purposely forget a piece of jewellery or something delicate at his place so that he is reminded of you pretty often. He will always connect you to something as delicate as that.

Leave a message behind

Send him a cute SMS about the date that happened last night, saying how cgreat it was.

Give him a quick kiss

Try giving him a quick sexy signal when his friends are around. He will have a morale boost knowing that you can give him a peck or a tight hug in front of people he knows.

Too much too bad

PDA is fine to an extent, but guys do not like it if their girls overdo it. In fact, people around you too may not be comfortable seeing the two of you and it will put off your guy. Try not smother him.

Naughty you

Wear a matching underwear and bra in light pastel shades.Give him a little peek at what's in store while you still look feminine and innocent. You will surely make him go weak in his knees!

Homemade eats

While visiting his parents, you can bake a small cake or some cookies. This will make his mom feel that her son's girl actually spent time thinking about what to give rather than just buying something from the market.

Weekend getaway

In the beginning of the relationship, plan for some adventure trips. The adrenaline rush during the trip will help both of you understand each other. This will indeed strengthen your bond.

Red alert

You can tell him how good he is as a person but never tell him how amazing your ex was. You do not want him to think that you have not got over your ex.

Praise him

Girls are used to getting compliments. But try praising your man every now and then, he will really feel special and wanted.

Microsoft 'overpaying' 40% for Skype

NEW YORK: Microsoft Corp is paying a dot-com era price for Skype Technologies SA, almost 40 percent more than the world's most popular Internet calling service itself says the business is worth.

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, agreed to pay $8.5 billion for Luxembourg-based Skype, which lost money in four of the past five years even as it quadrupled sales. The takeover, the largest for an Internet company since May 2000, is 32 times Skype's adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's 39 percent more than the multiple Skype used to value its own equity in an April regulatory filing.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is betting the biggest acquisition since the company was founded in 1975 will help reverse past failures and enrich owners who lost out as shares of Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) quadrupled Microsoft's gain in the past five years. By buying Skype, Microsoft may lure more users to its mobile-phone platform and narrow Google's lead in Internet advertising after reporting its worst two-year stretch of sales growth. Shareholder Hank Smith of Haverford Trust Co. says the investment isn't worth the price.

"I just thought, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" said Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust, which oversees $6.5 billion in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and owns about 1.96 million Microsoft shares. "They don't have a great track record of 'investments.' It almost brings you back to those crazy valuation metrics in the late '90s."

'Frittered away'

You can make a case that Microsoft has "frittered away capital," said Smith, who wants Microsoft to use its $50.2 billion cash pile on dividends and buybacks. "It's definitely because of the competition with Apple and with Google."

"It's not low for sure," Ballmer, 55, said of Skype's acquisition price in a telephone interview yesterday. "It requires we do good work both within the Skype division and in creating value elsewhere in the company."

Ballmer added that Microsoft didn't overpay and the transaction values Skype at "not a lot higher" than some publicly traded companies. He expects the deal will add to Microsoft's profit in the year after it closes.

Jennifer Caukin, a spokeswoman at Skype, didn't respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Microsoft's reserves give it the ability to pay for what it needs and Skype offers a way for Microsoft to diversify its products to compete with Apple and Google, according to Matt McCormick, a money manager at Cincinnati-based Bahl & Gaynor Inc., which oversees $3.6 billion including Microsoft shares.

'Another hamburger'

"$8.5 billion in cash for a Microsoft is like you and I paying five bucks for another hamburger," McCormick said. "Microsoft right now is trying to do things to keep up with other faster growing technology companies. This is the way to do it. I will give them the benefit of doubt."

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, is buying Skype from investors including private-equity firm Silver Lake and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which took a controlling stake in November 2009 that valued the company at $2.75 billion.

Microsoft's offer is more than twice that amount and includes the assumption of Skype's debt. Skype had about $725 million in borrowings and a revolving credit line of $30 million, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in April showed. Skype had planned to raise money in a U.S. initial public offering this year, according to the prospectus.

Fair value

The acquisition values Skype at about 32 times its $264 million in adjusted Ebitda in 2010, a 39 percent markup to the company's own assumptions. At the start of the year, Skype used a trailing 12-month Ebitda multiple of 23.2 times to determine the "fair value" of its common stock, its filing showed.

While Skype had a total of 663 million users, it has only converted 8.8 million users of its free PC-to-PC phone services into paying customers, according to the filing.

Skype reported a net loss of $6.9 million last year, its fourth money-losing year since 2006, its filing showed.

"Well it's certainly an amazing amount of money for a strategy that looks like a long shot," said Eric Johnson, a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. "Microsoft is desperate to become relevant. They're so far behind that they need something significant to jumpstart themselves."

"Skype's a cool company, but putting this together into something that's actually going to be generating significant revenue is going to take work on their part," he said.

Takeover price

Skype's owners refused to entertain offers of less than $7 billion, the value they expected to get from the planned IPO, according to people with knowledge of the discussions, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

Microsoft paid a premium in part because it expected Skype to increase in value after going public, meaning a deal would cost more down the road, two of the people said.

Ballmer offered more than $7 billion to cover Skype's debt and keep a competitor from gaining a business that would add calling features to games, e-mail and software on computers and mobile phones. While Google expressed interest, neither it nor other bidders made formal offers, the people said.

The size of the deal surpasses Microsoft's $5.5 billion takeover of AQuantive Inc. including net cash in May 2007 as the company's largest. In May 2008, Microsoft abandoned an effort to buy Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! Inc. for $47.5 billion.

Internet acquisitions

Skype would also be the biggest Internet takeover since the height of the dot-com bubble 11 years ago, when Spain's Terra Networks SA agreed to buy Internet search service Lycos Inc. for $13.8 billion in May 2000, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The all-cash agreement for Skype, which Ballmer sealed after his initial overture to New York-based Silver Lake just over a month ago, comes after Microsoft was unseated by Apple as the world's most valuable technology company.

In the past five years through yesterday, shares of Microsoft have gained 8 percent, versus a 395 percent surge for Apple of Cupertino, California. Google, based in Mountain View, California, has advanced 35 percent. Today, Microsoft fell 1.2 percent to $25.36. Apple slipped 0.6 percent, while Google dropped 1.3 percent.

Revenue growth at Microsoft, which dominates the personal computer operating system and office applications software markets, has also lagged behind its competitors. Sales increased 6.9 percent last year after dropping 3.3 percent in 2009, the worst two-year span since at least 1987, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Apple's sales jumped 52 percent in its last fiscal year, while Google reported a 24 percent increase.

Deal rationale

"It's clearly the laggard," said Philip Orlando, the New York-based chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors Inc., which oversees $358.2 billion. "One of the reasons that the stock has lagged in this rally that we've seen over the last couple of years is the fact that you don't have the underlying organic growth."

Microsoft is buying Skype, which has 170 million active users, to connect the service to its Outlook e-mail, Xbox game console, Windows mobile phone and corporate-phone software.

Ballmer is aiming to revive Microsoft's Internet advertising revenue. The company's online services division had an operating loss of almost $2.6 billion in the 12 months ended March. Losses at the unit have widened in each of its past four fiscal years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Microsoft plans to add Skype to its Windows-based mobile phones to lure more customers after losing ground to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android devices.

Product appeal

Skype can help boost the popularity of Windows-powered devices such as tablet computers, according to Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners LP in New York.

Apple has increased its share of the global phone market and is the biggest seller of tablets. Last quarter, Apple's net income surpassed Microsoft's for the first time in 20 years.

"Apple, for the last five or 10 years, has had the sexiest new product development story in technology," said Federated's Orlando. "You look at Google, which has some cache in the Internet space. Then, you look at someone like Microsoft. They are post the rapid growth phase of their development."

The company also trails Google in Web search and related advertising, while Skype, which has a lead on late-entrant Google Voice, announced in March that it would start showcasing advertising on its website.

Google had 66 percent of the U.S. online-search market in March, according to Reston, Virginia-based researcher ComScore Inc. Microsoft's Bing search engine had about 14 percent.

Squandered opportunities

Not all of Microsoft's acquisitions have propelled growth as much as it forecast. In 2001 and 2002, Microsoft spent more than $2 billion to acquire small-business software makers Great Plains Software Inc. and Navision A/S, predicting the businesses would generate $10 billion a year in revenue by 2010.

At the end of last year, the efforts were bringing more than $1 billion in sales a year, still short of Microsoft's initial estimates.

The Skype deal is "just a continuation of basically squandering a lot of opportunities with the cash and not doing very good things with it," said Donald Yacktman, president of Yacktman Asset Management Co., which manages about $10 billion in Austin, Texas, and owns more than 21 million Microsoft shares. "I can't believe he can continue to strike out every time he goes to the plate," he said, referring to Ballmer.

Instead, Microsoft should focus on returning more money to its shareholders, according to Yacktman.

"'Expensive' is putting it mildly," Yacktman said of Skype. "This is a very poor use of cash. The kingdom's bigger, but the residents are poorer. It just kind of boggles my mind."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

NASA website hacked

WASHINGTON: Software scammers offering cheap Adobe software have hacked into numerous web pages of NASA, just days before its final launch of the shuttle Endeavor, and Stanford University.

According to Fox News, hackers compromised pages on NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory website, before the May 16 scheduled launch of the shuttle Endeavor.

The affected pages included barrages of "nonsense text" and interest-generating keywords, like "Edit buy adobe premiere pro cs4 some callouts and balloons to make this time it took you and saved you a long time," the report quoted technology site Computerworld, as saying.

The scammers employed the effective tool of search engine poisoning, by which they tricked Google into ranking their manipulated pages at the top of its rankings, to draw attention of netizens.

NASA removed its website, but other targets including Web pages belonging to Stanford, Syracuse and Northeastern Universities, still have not.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Apple MacBook Pro

NEW DELHI: This time around, Apple has taken its entire MacBook Pro lineup through a major revamp in terms of internal components.

The latest second generation Intel Core processors have been added along with 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM instead of the usual 1066Mhz. The graphics have been changed to ATI on the 15-inch and 17-inch models instead of Nvidia.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro features the usual aluminum unibody enclosure, a comfortable full size backlit keyboard and a large multi-touch trackpad that makes life easy. The 13.3-inch LED widescreen display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels with vivid colours and superb viewing angles.

The edge-to-edge high gloss reflective glass display is still a pain to use in sunlight though - the only solution is to turn the brightness all the way up. Probably the only visible change in the new MacBook Pro is the inclusion of Apple's new Thunderbolt port.

Thunderbolt is the result of a collaboration between Apple and Intel - it allows for fast two-channel transfers with speeds up to 10 Gbps. Based on PCi-express and Display Port, this single port can work as a high-speed data transfer connector as well as a video out port.

Currently, there are no accessories available in India to utilize this technology, but cables and drives are expected to arrive soon.

Our review unit had a 2.7Ghz Core i7 processor with 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB hard drive and Intel HD 3000 graphics. Compared to the last generation MacBook Pro that came with Nvidia 320M graphics, the use of Intel HD 3000 graphics on the current generation MacBook Pro seemed a bit bizarre.

However, in synthetic software benchmarks, our 13-inch MacBook Pro outperformed the last generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.66Ghz Core i7 processor in all areas except the graphics tests. A quick comparison of scores in online databases reveals that the HD3000 graphics actually perform at par with the Nvidia GT320 graphics in most cases.

Running OS X Snow Leopard, the MacBook pro comes with a FaceTime camera with the application pre-installed that works brilliantly. For last generation MacBook users, Facetime has to be installed separately for $0.99.

The sound from the speakers did feel a tad bit low compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro - it was just enough for use in a small, quiet room.

With constant Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple browsers, office document editing, music playback and occasional data transfer, the notebook gave us an average battery backup of just over 6 hours.

Apple claims a battery backup of up to 7 hours, so this performance is satisfactory. Although, the last generation 13-inch MacBook Pro easily lasted 8 hours on a charge, so a 2-hour drop in battery backup is a bit of a let down.

The hardware revamp makes the 13-inch a much more powerful notebook and the performance shows that it is one of the best notebooks money can buy. The primary issue is that the MacBook Pro still costs well over Rs 80,000 and at the same price, you can get a much more powerful notebook with a larger display, USB 3.0, more RAM and a Blu-Ray combo drive from manufacturers like Dell or HP.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Acer Iconia laptop: Why dual-screen?

NEW YORK: There's an amusing trend among gadget makers: They keep trying to improve their products by adding a second screen. All too often, this is less like adding a second patty to a hamburger and more like adding a second neck hole to a sweater. It does more harm than good.

The most recent example is Acer Inc with its $1,200 Iconia laptop. Closed, it looks like a regular laptop. Open it up, and you'll find no keyboard, but two 14-inch, touch-sensitive screens facing each other.

If that sounds weird, well, it's no less weird in use. It's a bit of a mystery why this product ever made it from concept to store shelves, though there are some tantalizing hints.

On a desktop PC, having multiple screens is almost like having one big screen — more meat in the hamburger. But on the Iconia, the second screen replaces the keyboard and touch pad. You can't use a laptop without those things, so the Iconia has a virtual keyboard and touch pad appear on the lower screen.

But if the lower screen is taken up by a keyboard and touch pad, what is it good for? It's not like we've gained any screen space. Only by making the keyboard disappear can you use the screen to display content.

There are other ways to use that second screen well. There just aren't that many examples of it on the Iconia.

What am I talking about? Imagine that instead of a keyboard that always shows the same keys, there's a surface that changes according to your needs, displaying controls relevant to what you're doing.

For instance, the Iconia includes player software that shows video on the top screen and such controls as volume on the lower one. That's smart. In another example, you can change how the virtual keys are labeled on the keyboard if you switch between languages — quite helpful for the bilingual household.

The Social Jogger application, which comes pre-installed, contains the germ of a good idea: It can show feeds from Facebook and Flickr on the lower screen while you surf on the upper one. But as soon as you want to type a Facebook entry, Social Jogger has to move to the upper screen to give room for the keyboard. Awkward.

It's easy to imagine how better software could take the Iconia a lot further. Leaving aside the difficulty of typing on a flat glass surface, I'd love to be able to customize a keyboard to get rid of the Caps Lock key and rearrange other keys. It would be great to have touch-enabled video editing software designed for the dual-screen setup, with playback on the top screen and controls on the bottom one.

That kind of setup works for the Nintendo DS handheld game machine, the only successful dual-screen device that I can think of. Many more have been sunk by the difficulty of adapting software for two screens.

In 2010, Microsoft Corp killed a prototype of a dual-screen device that opened like a book. A startup called Entourage brought out an e-reader device based on the same idea that year, and I found it quite disappointing. The first Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader had two screens, one above the other, and was confusing to use. Barnes & Noble went with one screen for the follow-up model.

More recently, Kyocera launched a dual-screen phone, the Echo. In her review, my colleague Rachel Metz found the premise intriguing, but the execution flawed.

The same verdict could be passed on the Iconia. Making good use of two screens is hard and places a lot of demands on the software.

It has to give predictable answers to questions like: If you click on something, where does it open? Which screen should I be looking at right now? How can I move content or windows between the screens? The Iconia doesn't have those answers.

Acer says the Iconia is "ideal for anyone who prefers the familiar computing environment of Microsoft's operating system." The company also recommends it for business use.

I'd only recommend it for that very small group of people who are comfortable typing on glass and want to play with something unique.

The Iconia costs about $400 more than an equivalent conventional laptop. That's not a lot, if you consider that most models that are as strange as the Iconia never leave the lab, or at most get to grace a display case at a trade show. Acer showed some real guts in putting this one into mass production.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Samsung launches thinnest 4G smartphone, Infuse 4G

Samsung has announced the availability of the Samsung Infuse 4G. The company unveiled Infuse at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, however, there not much heard about the smartphone after that.

Samsung Infuse comes with a 4.5-inch super AMOLED Plus display and runs on 1.2GHz processor. The device has an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of recording 720p HD video and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls. The smartphone is based on Android 2.2.1 and comes with TouchWiz overlay. At 8.9mm at its thinnest point, Infuse 4G is claimed to be the thinnest 4G smartphone available.

Samsung has launched the phone in the US with AT&T. The company announced that Infuse 4G would be available starting May 15 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

Here are the phone's specifications:

• Android 2.2 platform

• 4G: HSDPA CAT 14 and HSUPA CAT 6

• 8.9 mm to 9.24mm thin

• UMTS 850/1900/2100

• GSM 850/900/1800/1900

• 1.2 GHz processor

• 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen

• 8-megapixel camera with HD 720p video camera and 1.3-megapixel front facing camera

• Virtual QWERTY keyboard

• Expandable memory up to 32GB with microSD card

• Text/Picture and Video Messaging support

• Samsung Media Hub, U-verse Mobile, U-verse Live TV, and Angry Birds

Friday, May 6, 2011

AKAI unveils India’s smallest LED TV

NEW DELHI: AKAI India has launched 19" inch LED television, claimed to be the smallest LED available in India.

The size and dimension of the LED is claimed to be just apt for houses with not very large rooms. According to the company, the main USP of the LED TV is its sharp colours and brilliant contrast. The LED edge-lit screen also has advantages over its predecessors, like its power consumption is very low.

The 19 inch LED TV comes offers full HD with dynamic contrast of 100000:1 and 1366 x 768 resolution.

This means that the picture is smooth enough. The LED TV is also equipped with wide viewing angle with 16.7 million display colours which enhances the picture details (like color saturation, sharpness & luminance) to provide the realistic picture to viewers.

"In the age, where sky rocketing real estate prices has shrunk the living space we identified a consumer need for small and compact TV with high-definition viewing experience, superior picture quality, ultra slimness and more eco-friendly energy consumption", said Mr. Pranay Dhabhai, MD, AKAI India.

He also added, "The launch of 19" LED TV is aimed to provide value for money and the LED TV comes equipped with the latest features to deliver stunning viewing experiences that bring life-like depth to TV. We aim to create products which make entertainment experience more exciting for our customers and this is another step in that direction. "

The TV operates both on Digital as well as Analog TV signals and can be easily connected to a PC with the VGA Port (D-sub 15 Pin). The video recording feature DTV (dvb-t) ensures that transmission can be recorded through USB by a single record key on remote.

The sound output is 150W PMPO Stereo with 3D Noise Reduction. It also supports USB with movie, sound and picture support. The Net Dimensions (without base) are (WxDxH) (mm) 450 x 270 x 330 and the TV weighs 3.5 kg. The energy consumption of the TV is low and it supports Multiple TV Systems.

The LED is priced at Rs 11,000.

Sexual and violet ads make kids violent

Children as old as six years are increasingly displaying inappropriate behaviour due to excessive sexual and violent content being shown in advertisements, video games and music videos.

Following a similar complaint of sexualizing young kids, a soft drink company has been forced to pull its advertisement.

Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive, Joe Tucci has said that nearly 200 such kids are referred to his service each year, a 20-fold increase from the past decade.

"There are children displaying aberrant sexual behaviour who can't even tie their shoelaces yet," The Courier Mail quoted him as saying.

"Sexualised images show that to be successful and powerful, you need to display this behaviour," he added.

Dr Tucci further said that some of the children displaying aberrant sexual behaviour were victims of abuse themselves, but a growing number were not.

"We ask children in counselling where they get these kind of ideas. They pick out magazines, pictures and videos"

It has been observed that kids usually display inappropriate behaviour through sexual assaults of other children and sexualised play.

Ramesh Manocha, from the University of New South Wales School of Women's and Children's Health has cautioned that the sanctity of childhood was under threat.

"The principle experience of childhood is under increasing pressure and has never been under such an attack as it is today," he said.

Manocha says to counter this problem, companies found producing material with a negative impact should be made to contribute to a fund for treating sexualised children.

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