Archive for May 27th, 2012

Five Things I Hate About the New iPad

I’ve been using the new iPad as my primary tablet since it arrived in March, and I really like a lot of things about it, especially the high resolution screen, but like any gadget there are some things that I flat out don’t like.

And since I have a unique perspective in that I’m just as familiar with Android tablets as the iPad, I thought I’d write down the points where the iPad falls short.

So here are the top five things that I hate the most about the new iPad:

1. Limited memory and no memory card slot. It’s crazy how limited the iPad is in terms of storage space. It and the Kindle Fire are about the only tablets on the planet without memory card slots. I’ve got a 16GB iPad with about thirty apps installed and they take up all but about 4GB of space, leaving very little room for videos, photos, music, ebooks, or anything else.

2. Operating system is too basic. After you’ve had a taste of Android, the iPad’s operating system leaves much to be desired. All you’ve got is a bunch of square app icons. You can change the background image and that’s about it for customization.

Aside from the addition of gestures for quickly switching between apps, the iPad’s operating system looks and feels and operates pretty much exactly the same as it did over 3 years ago when the iPad 1 was first introduced. It’s time for an upgrade, Apple. Stop making the iPad a large iPhone and give it its own set of features with widgets and the option to have multiple windows open at once—make use of its larger screen. If Quasar can do it, why can’t Apple? Just think of how much more advanced the iPad could be…

3. The App Store. For some reason I often have a hard time finding decent free apps for the iPad; you’re pretty much going to be paying for everything if you want it to be any good and not be loaded with annoying ads. And a lot of times apps that are free on Android are paid apps for the iPad.

While I have no problem paying for certain kinds of apps, there’s no way I’m paying for something as basic as a calculator or RSS Reader. I finally found a decent free calculator without ads but couldn’t find a decent free RSS app that worked well and didn’t have annoying ads—I eventually settled on just using Google Reader with the web browser.

Another point with apps is that Google apps often aren’t as good as their Android counterparts. This is especially evident with the Maps app—the Android version is more updated and has ten times more features.

Probably the most irritating thing about shopping from Apple is the fact they force you to enter your password every time you want to download something. This makes sense for paid items, but is irritating and pointless for free items. And since Apple requires a complex password with numbers, letters, and at least one capital letter, having to go through the motions of typing it in all the time get’s really annoying really fast. Why there isn’t a setting for this is anyone’s guess.

4. No HDMI port. A lot of Android tablets come with mini HDMI ports nowadays, even some cheap $99 ones, but the iPad does not have any easy way to connect to a TV unless you buy expensive hardware from Apple. This is disappointing because a tablet in hand is fun for one person, while a tablet plugged into a big-screen TV is fun for a whole lot of people.

5. Web Browser. The Safari web browser is fast and smooth, but it is too basic for a high-end tablet. The lack of Flash support is the most obvious problem. And something that annoys me on a daily basis is the fact that it makes selecting text too difficult. It often highlights the whole sentence or paragraph or page instead of a single word, and then the cursors often refuse to go where you want them.

 

Source: Nathan/ the eBook Reader

 

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Facebook illusion: Internet economy isn’t as revolutionary as hoped

There were two grand illusions about the American economy in the first decade of the 21st century. One was the idea that housing prices were no longer tethered to normal economic trends, and instead would just keep going up and up. The second was the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, we were well on our way to figuring out how to make lots and lots of money on the Internet.

The first idea collapsed along with housing prices and the stock market in 2007 and 2008. But the Web 2.0 illusion survived long enough to cost credulous investors a small fortune last week, in Facebook’s disaster of an initial public offering.

I will confess to taking a certain amount of dyspeptic pleasure from Facebook’s hard landing, which had Bloomberg Businessweek declaring the IPO “the biggest flop of the decade” after five days of trading.

Of all the major hubs of Internet-era excitement, Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking site has always struck me as one of the most noxious, dependent for its success on the darker aspects of online life: the zeal for constant self-fashioning and self-promotion, the pursuit of virtual forms of “community” and “friendship” that bear only a passing resemblance to the genuine article, and the relentless diminution of the private sphere in the quest for advertising dollars.

But even readers who love Facebook, or at least cannot imagine life without it, should see its stock market failure as a sign of the commercial limits of the Internet. As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy pointed out in one of the more perceptive prelaunch pieces, the problem is not that Facebook doesn’t make money.

It’s that it doesn’t make that much money, and doesn’t have an obvious way to make that much more of it, because (like so many online concerns) it hasn’t figured out how to effectively monetize its million upon millions of users. The result is a company that’s successful, certainly, but whose balance sheet is much less impressive than its ubiquitous online presence would suggest.

This “huge reach, limited profitability” problem is characteristic of the digital economy as a whole. As the George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen wrote in his 2011 e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” the Internet is a wonder when it comes to generating “cheap fun.” But because “so many of its products are free,” and because so much of a typical Web company’s work is “performed more or less automatically by the software and the servers,” the online world is rather less impressive when it comes to generating job growth.

It’s telling, in this regard, that the companies most often cited as digital-era successes, Apple and Amazon, both have business models that are firmly rooted in the production and delivery of nonvirtual goods. Apple’s core competency is building better and more beautiful appliances; Amazon’s is delivering everything from appliances to DVDs to diapers more swiftly and cheaply to your door.

By contrast, the more purely digital a company’s product, the fewer jobs it tends to create and the fewer dollars it can earn per user – a reality that journalists have become all too familiar with these last 10 years, and that Facebook’s investors collided with last week.

There are exceptions to this rule, but not all that many: Even pornography, long one of the Internet’s biggest moneymakers, has become steadily less profitable as amateur sites and videos have proliferated and the “professionals” have lost their monopoly on smut.

The German philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a book in 1952 titled “Leisure: The Basis of Culture.” Pieper would no doubt be underwhelmed by the kind of culture that flourishes online, but leisure is clearly the basis of the Internet. From the lowbrow to the highbrow, LOLcats to Wikipedia, vast amounts of Internet content are created by people with no expectation of remuneration.

The “new economy,” in this sense, isn’t always even a commercial economy at all. Instead, as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias has suggested, it’s a kind of hobbyist’s paradise, one that’s subsidized by surpluses from the old economy it was supposed to gradually replace.

A glance at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent unemployment numbers bears this reality out. Despite nearly two decades of dot-com enthusiasm, the information sector is still quite small relative to other sectors of the economy; it currently has one of the nation’s higher unemployment rates; and it’s one of the few sectors where unemployment has actually risen over the last year.

None of this makes the Internet any less revolutionary. But it’s created a cultural revolution more than an economic one. Twitter is not Ford Motor Co.; Google is not General Electric. And except when he sells our eyeballs to advertisers for a pittance, we won’t all be working for Mark Zuckerberg someday.

 

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Report: ‘Need for Speed: Most Wanted’ listed on E3 booth schedule [Update: Yup!]

That mysterious Need for Speed game mentioned during EA’s fiscal 2012 investors call may become slightly less ethereal during E3, as TwitchTV’s booth schedule lists “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” as one of the games it’ll be showcasing, according to IGN.

If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it should: The original Need for Speed: Most Wanted (above) was released on nearly every system in existence way back in the ancient caveman days of 2005. It’s possible that this may be the Criterion-developed Need for Speed game the rumor mill was churning over a couple weeks ago, but that’s just rampant speculation on our part.

It’s also possible that TwitchTV could merely be showing off the Game Boy Advance port of the original or something, we’re going to go ahead and assume that isn’t the case since we don’t live in a Far Side cartoon.

Update: We have also received the schedule in question and can confirm that Need for Speed: Most Wanted is indeed among TwitchTV’s on-site programming for E3, along with “TBA” titles from Ubisoft, Capcom and Warner Bros.

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Analyst: GTA V will launch in Q1 2013, sell 14 million copies

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia is predicting big numbers for Grand Theft Auto V something fierce. Bhatia projects Grand Theft Auto V will debut during the first three months of 2013 and will pull in $700 million in revenue for Take-Two Interactive with 14 million copies sold over its launch window – though Bhatia didn’t say just how long he considers this launch window to be.

This $700 million figure is close to the $775 million earned by Modern Warfare 3 in its first five days of launch back in November, which is an entertainment record that has yet to be bested. Rockstar’s previous effort, Grand Theft Auto IV, has shipped over 22 million copies worldwide.

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SpaceX capsule docks at space station, opens new era

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship and guided the privately owned craft into a docking berth on Friday, opening a new chapter in the U.S. space program.

The unmanned capsule was the first commercial spaceship to reach the orbital outpost.

“This really is the beginning of a new era in commercial spaceflight,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, who manages NASA’s commercial space transportation programs.

Using the station’s 58-foot long (17.7-meter) robotic crane, NASA astronaut Don Pettit snared Dragon at 9:56 a.m. EDT as the two spacecraft zoomed 250 miles over northwest Australia at 17,500 miles per hour.

““It looks like we’ve got us a dragon by the tail,” Pettit radioed to NASA Mission Control in Houston.

The capsule, built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is the first of two new commercial freighters NASA will use to ferry cargo to the $100 billion space station following the retirement of its space shuttles last year. Rather than building and flying its own ships to the station, the agency is hiring private companies to do the work.

The Dragon capsule is carrying about 1,200 pounds (544 kg) of food, water, clothing and supplies for the station crew, who were scheduled to open the hatch on Saturday.

The spaceship will be repacked with more than 1,300 pounds (590 kg) of equipment to come back to Earth and depart the station on May 31. It would splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California later that day.

“”As a country we should be very proud,” NASA’s space station program manager Mike Suffredini told reporters after the station crew attached Dragon to the Harmony connecting node shortly after noon EDT.

“We’ve taken a capability that this agency has nurtured for many, many years and combined that with a different thought process in the design and development of spacecraft,” Suffredini said.

The United States plans to use a similar process to buy commercial flight services for its astronauts as well, breaking Russia’s monopoly on flying crews to the station.

“I don’t have words enough to express the level of excitement and elation that we feel here at SpaceX,” company founder and chief executive Elon Musk said after the docking.

“There’s just so much that could have gone wrong and it went right. It’s just a fantastic day,” he said.

Musk said he got a congratulatory call from President Barack Obama after Dragon reached orbit on its second and most likely final test flight. “Caller ID was blocked, so at first I thought it was a telemarketer,” Musk quipped in a Twitter message.

LASER GLITCH

The cone-shaped capsule blasted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Tuesday.

After a successful pass by the station on Thursday to test its navigation and communications systems, Dragon proceeded at a snail’s pace on Friday, stopping, starting and occasionally retreating to make sure it could be controlled.

At one point, the SpaceX ground operations team in Hawthorne, California, halted Dragon to adjust the capsule’s laser imaging system, which it uses to see the station.

Sensors were picking up stray reflections from the station’s Japanese module, said NASA mission commentator Josh Byerly.

Dragon ended up using just one of its two laser imaging systems for the final approach to the station, a bit dicey because a failure would have triggered an automatic abort.

But one eye and a pair of thermal imagers was all Dragon needed to position itself 30 feet beneath the station and within arm’s reach of the robotic crane that would haul it up for berthing.

PRIVATE DELIVERIES

Dragon’s successful test flight will clear SpaceX to begin its 12-flight, $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly cargo to and from the station.

A second freighter being developed by Orbital Sciences Corp is expected to debut later this year. Orbital holds a second NASA cargo delivery contract worth $1.9 billion.

The Obama administration is pushing Congress to embrace similar partnership arrangement for commercial space taxis to fly astronauts as well.

Legislators last year halved Obama’s request for space taxi design work to $406 million. Proposed spending plans for the year beginning October 1 would cut the White House’s $830 million request to no more than $525 million.

The Dragon docking marked a major step for the budding role of private enterprise in space travel.

“I think this really is going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel, so I hope we’re the first of many to come,” Musk told reporters.

Reuters

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Yahoo kills ‘Livestand’ just 6 months after debut

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo has killed Livestand, a tablet magazine, just six months after its debut on the iPad.

The decision announced Friday is part of the struggling Internet company’s latest turnaround effort.

Last month, Yahoo Inc. told analysts it would close or combine about 50 services that haven’t been performing up to expectations.

That housecleaning plan was drawn up by Yahoo’s former CEO, Scott Thompson, who lasted at the company for an even shorter period than Livestand. Thompson’s four-month stint at Yahoo ended two weeks ago when he stepped down amid a flap over incorrect information on his bio.

Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn hasn’t said whether the company still plans to dump as many services as Thompson intended. A Friday post on Yahoo’s corporate blog made it clear that more services will be closed, without specifying a precise number.

“When we discontinue products, it will be so that we can focus on opportunities where we lead and where we can create the most meaningful experiences for people using our products, and for our partners, developers and advertisers,” the post said.

Yahoo began working on Livestand in 2010 after it became clear Apple Inc.’s iPad was going to be popular. But the tablet magazine didn’t hit the market until last November, well after a similar iPad application called “Flipboard” had already attracted a large audience.

Nevertheless, Yahoo still had high hopes for Livestand. It was hailed as “sort of a re-imagining of what Yahoo can be,” by Blake Irving, the company’s chief product officer at the time of the tablet magazine’s release. Irving left Yahoo last month after Thompson laid off about 2,000 workers and reshuffled management.

Livestand featured software that could be customized to pull content from Yahoo’s own website, and other digital publishers to cater to each user’s tastes.

It was the same concept pioneered by Flipboard, which was available shortly after the iPad’s April 2010 debut. Flipboard became so popular that Apple named it as its “app of the year” for 2010.

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Browser wars flare in mobile space

WASHINGTON: The browser wars are heating up again, but this time the fight is for dominance of the mobile Internet.

Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo! are all in the struggle, along with the Norwegian-made Opera browser and the open source Firefox software from Mozilla.

The motive behind the wars is not just bragging rights. The company that controls the mobile Web can direct users to its websites, and importantly, gather data that can be used in targeted advertising.

“The browsers need to be present on the mobile device for survival,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst with Opus Research.

“Everyone is trying to manage their strategy in this multiscreen and multiplatform world.”

Research firm StatCounter found that global access from mobile devices, not including tablets, doubled in the year to January to 8.5 percent of all Internet usage.

Google stepped up its effort earlier this year by releasing a full version of its Chrome browser for mobile devices, which will over time replace the unnamed browser on devices powered by Google’s open Android platform.

The Google-Android browser by April had grabbed 21.5 percent of the mobile Web, overtaking Opera, the early leader that had 21.3 percent, according to StatCounter.

“Chrome is definitely the up-and-comer because of Android, and it has a lot of momentum on the PC,” Sterling said.

Running third was Apple’s Safari, the default browser on iPhones, with 20 percent. Nokia, BlackBerry and a few others hold small shares.

When tablets are included, Apple is the dominant player with 63 percent, according to data from Net Applications’ NetMarketShare survey, but Android is gaining with nearly 19 percent.

The push by Google meshes with its strategy of gathering information about users across platforms, so that someone searching on a mobile device might get an ad on a PC, or vice-versa.

And Google just completed its $12.5 billion deal to buy mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility, freeing the California company to build its own handsets that play into the strengths of its software.

“Everybody wants to have that first point of contact with the user to control the experience from that point, capture certain data and direct them to services,” said Al Hilwa of the research firm IDC.

“It’s all about control, about who is further up on the stream of data.”

Meanwhile Microsoft, in its effort to get a share of the mobile space, is pushing its own Internet Explorer browser for devices running Windows, but critics say the software giant is limiting compatibility.

Mozilla’s Harvey Anderson complained in a blog post that Microsoft is limiting the “advanced” capabilities for outside software, effectively shutting out browsers like Firefox.

Anderson said Microsoft in its new Windows 8 devices was signaling “an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn’t have browser choices.”

Yahoo! became the latest to boost its effort in the mobile space, introducing its Axis browser designed for mobile devices.

“It is meant to replace Safari,” Yahoo! product management director Ethan Batraski said of Axis. “You will never have to use Safari ever again.”

Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital who follows Google, said the Internet search giant will also introduce a version of Chrome for the Apple operating system.

Schachter said in a note to clients that Google benefits from Chrome by reducing the payments from “traffic acquisition costs” and that a Chrome browser for iPhones and iPads could “meaningfully” reduce what Google pays Apple.

But Apple can tweak its strategy without competing head-on against Google, Sterling said. He said Apple’s Siri voice assistant and its new maps software offer a type of search. And as tensions rise with Google, it could change the Safari search engine to Microsoft’s Bing, or another.

Analysts say it remains unclear to what degree device makers will try to block out competing browsers, and if this will trigger a government response. In the 1990s, Microsoft’s efforts to lock out competing browsers prompted actions on both sides of the Atlantic.

The battle for control of the mobile Web raises questions about Facebook, which is groping for a mobile strategy after a troubling response to its massive share offering.

One report said Facebook was eyeing Opera, which could solve some of the perceived problems for the social network giant by offering a platform to get better data on mobile usage for targeted advertising.

“It wouldn’t surprise me” if Facebook were to acquire or tie up with Opera or develop its own browser, Hilwa said.

Another player to watch, said Hilwa, is Amazon, which has developed its own browser for the Kindle Internet device — a move that can also steer users various services, earning cash along the way.

Hilwa said Amazon, like the others, is pursuing a strategy that includes hardware and software, but can also sell goods and services.

“They have content, they sell stuff, they have Web services,” he said. “They have a lot of assets and have been successful. I would watch them.”

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Browser wars flare in mobile space

WASHINGTON: The browser wars are heating up again, but this time the fight is for dominance of the mobile Internet.

Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo! are all in the struggle, along with the Norwegian-made Opera browser and the open source Firefox software from Mozilla.

The motive behind the wars is not just bragging rights. The company that controls the mobile Web can direct users to its websites, and importantly, gather data that can be used in targeted advertising.

“The browsers need to be present on the mobile device for survival,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst with Opus Research.

“Everyone is trying to manage their strategy in this multiscreen and multiplatform world.”

Research firm StatCounter found that global access from mobile devices, not including tablets, doubled in the year to January to 8.5 percent of all Internet usage.

Google stepped up its effort earlier this year by releasing a full version of its Chrome browser for mobile devices, which will over time replace the unnamed browser on devices powered by Google’s open Android platform.

The Google-Android browser by April had grabbed 21.5 percent of the mobile Web, overtaking Opera, the early leader that had 21.3 percent, according to StatCounter.

“Chrome is definitely the up-and-comer because of Android, and it has a lot of momentum on the PC,” Sterling said.

Running third was Apple’s Safari, the default browser on iPhones, with 20 percent. Nokia, BlackBerry and a few others hold small shares.

When tablets are included, Apple is the dominant player with 63 percent, according to data from Net Applications’ NetMarketShare survey, but Android is gaining with nearly 19 percent.

The push by Google meshes with its strategy of gathering information about users across platforms, so that someone searching on a mobile device might get an ad on a PC, or vice-versa.

And Google just completed its $12.5 billion deal to buy mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility, freeing the California company to build its own handsets that play into the strengths of its software.

“Everybody wants to have that first point of contact with the user to control the experience from that point, capture certain data and direct them to services,” said Al Hilwa of the research firm IDC.

“It’s all about control, about who is further up on the stream of data.”

Meanwhile Microsoft, in its effort to get a share of the mobile space, is pushing its own Internet Explorer browser for devices running Windows, but critics say the software giant is limiting compatibility.

Mozilla’s Harvey Anderson complained in a blog post that Microsoft is limiting the “advanced” capabilities for outside software, effectively shutting out browsers like Firefox.

Anderson said Microsoft in its new Windows 8 devices was signaling “an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn’t have browser choices.”

Yahoo! became the latest to boost its effort in the mobile space, introducing its Axis browser designed for mobile devices.

“It is meant to replace Safari,” Yahoo! product management director Ethan Batraski said of Axis. “You will never have to use Safari ever again.”

Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital who follows Google, said the Internet search giant will also introduce a version of Chrome for the Apple operating system.

Schachter said in a note to clients that Google benefits from Chrome by reducing the payments from “traffic acquisition costs” and that a Chrome browser for iPhones and iPads could “meaningfully” reduce what Google pays Apple.

But Apple can tweak its strategy without competing head-on against Google, Sterling said. He said Apple’s Siri voice assistant and its new maps software offer a type of search. And as tensions rise with Google, it could change the Safari search engine to Microsoft’s Bing, or another.

Analysts say it remains unclear to what degree device makers will try to block out competing browsers, and if this will trigger a government response. In the 1990s, Microsoft’s efforts to lock out competing browsers prompted actions on both sides of the Atlantic.

The battle for control of the mobile Web raises questions about Facebook, which is groping for a mobile strategy after a troubling response to its massive share offering.

One report said Facebook was eyeing Opera, which could solve some of the perceived problems for the social network giant by offering a platform to get better data on mobile usage for targeted advertising.

“It wouldn’t surprise me” if Facebook were to acquire or tie up with Opera or develop its own browser, Hilwa said.

Another player to watch, said Hilwa, is Amazon, which has developed its own browser for the Kindle Internet device — a move that can also steer users various services, earning cash along the way.

Hilwa said Amazon, like the others, is pursuing a strategy that includes hardware and software, but can also sell goods and services.

“They have content, they sell stuff, they have Web services,” he said. “They have a lot of assets and have been successful. I would watch them.”

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HackingTag Security releases its own music search engine

HackingTag Security has released its own music downloading website know as Tag Music

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