Friday, March 16, 2012

‘Anonymous-OS’ is fake and packed with malware, Anonymous says

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Hacker group “Anonymous Operations” has confirmed that the custom Linux-based operating system released under its name earlier this week is not a platform it developed. “The Anon OS is fake,” the group posted on Twitter Wednesday evening. “It is wrapped in trojans.” The desktop operating system was released earlier this week by individuals claiming ties with Anonymous. It is based on popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, and it ships with a number of hacking tools pre-installed. According to Anonymous, it also ships with a variety of malware. The team behind Anonymous-OS responded to the group’s claims, denying that its platform contains any malicious software. “The #anonops on their twitter account say ‘That Anonymous-OS is wrapped in trojans,’ ” the group wrote on its Tumblr blog. “Please people… in our world, in Linux and opensource world, there is not virus. If any user believe that Anonymous-OS ‘is wrapped in trojans’ or ‘backdoored OS by any Law enforcement Company or Hacker’ please don’t download it! But don’t mislead the world that Linux is dangerous and has trojans!” Anonymous-OS has been downloaded more than 25,000 times.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dodge adds Avenger SE V6 trim for 2012

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While the top brass gets their minds made up as to whether there will be a next-generation Dodge Avenger, the folks at Dodge have gone ahead and added a new top trim to the current model. The 2012 Dodge AvengerSE V6 gets the Pentastar V6 tuned to 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic, along with 18-inch alloys, dual exhaust, and a rear spoiler.

This makes five trims for the Avenger line, with this model starting at $21,495 before destination. That puts it $2,500 over the current range topper, the Avenger SE, which starts at $18,995 and comes with a 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder shifting through an ancient four-speed auto. The four-cylinder SE is rated at 30 mpg highway, while the Pentastar engine only drops that a fraction to 29 mpg highway.

Stacked against the competitive set Dodge has in mind, like the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima, the current SE is in the ballpark regarding specs while being less expensive. With the SE V6 and six-speed tranny to update refinement and give it a 110-hp boost, Avenger sales – which are already up 112 percent this year – could rise even further.
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GMC reveals 2013 Terrain Denali with 301-horsepower V6

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GMC has a hit on its hands with the Denali trim, but for some reason the brand's most popular crossover still hasn't donned the signature chrome grille. That will change for the 2013 model year with the introduction of the 2013 Terrain Denali.

The freshly minted Terrain Denali will of course feature a chrome front grille, 19-inch wheels (V6 model only), satin chrome accents, body color rocker panels and front and rear fascias, new headlight and taillights and a dual exhaust. The top Terrain will also receive a high-end interior, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany wood accents, a soft-touch instrument panel with French stitching, Denali-embossed leather seats and illuminated Denali sill plates.

The biggest news for the Denali is the introduction of a more powerful 3.6-liter V6, which will replace the 3.0-liter V6 across the Terrain lineup. The larger V6 will output 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque, or 37 hp and 50 lb-ft more than the 3.0-liter. And if you're thinking fuel economy will suffer as a result, think again. The added power will result in the same fuel economy as the torque-deficient 3.0-liter, with 24 miles power gallon on the highway and 17 mpg in the city.

Fuel-thrifty buyers can purchase the Terrain Denali with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which outputs 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque and boasts 32 mpg on the highway. The four-cylinder-equipped Denali will feature slightly smaller 18-inch wheels. All-wheel drive will also be available with both engines.

The Terrain Denali will feature a cadre of top tech amenities too, including IntelliLink, Bluetooth, Pandora and Stitcher integration and iPod controls with Gracenote tech. This Denali also utilizes advanced safety features including lane departure and forward collision warnings and blind spot radar tech to look for vehicles the driver may not see.
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Infiniti opens order book on FX Sebastian Vettel Version

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It's a funny thing, being rich and famous. You can afford anything you want, but everything comes to you for free. Just ask Sebastian Vettel, who – as reigning Formula One World Champion two years running now and brand ambassador for Infiniti – can get any luxed-up Datsun he wants. Which may not be quite as exciting as Fernando Alonso having his run of the Ferrari motor pool or Lewis Hamilton getting his hands on the new McLaren MP4-12C, but it's not without its perks, to be sure. Like the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel Version.

Unveiled as a concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in September, the Vetteled FX packs a 5.0-liter V8 good for 414 horsepower and an estimated 5.6-second sprint to 62 mph, along with carbon fiber aero bits aplenty, reduced weight and a lowered suspension.

Back in October, we received confirmation that Infiniti was, indeed, planning on offering the special edition performance crossover – based, as it is, on the FX50S Premium model – in limited quantities, and the company has now officially announced its availability.

Only 200 examples will be made at an as-yet undisclosed but assuredly lofty price, with orders being taken now for delivery next year. But before you go racing down to the local Infiniti dealership, know that the model will only be offering in Europe and the Middle East. Which is just as well, because we can't imagine many American buyers ponying up the kind of cash Infiniti will be asking for the privilege just because it's named after some kid from Germany, no matter how many grands prix he's won.
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Mitsubishi launches 7-seater Outlander

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Mitsubishi has added a seven-seat variant to its Outlander SUV lineup.

There are no changes to the seating layout of the 5-seater model, Mitsubishi has added just a thin jump seat at the back to accommodate two extra passengers. However there is minimal legroom for the third row occupants. This third-seat can be folded when there is a need of extra cargo space.

All Outlander variants come with an all-alloy twin-cam 4-cylinder in-line 2.4-litre engine petrol motor that produces 167bhp of power and a max of 23kgm of torque. Coupled with a 6-speed CVT box, the Outlander can touch 0-100 in under 10secs and reaches a top speed of 190kph.

With the seven-seat variant, Mitsubishi has made the Outlander some-what more competitive in the market. Five-seater variant costs Rs 20.25 lakh. All prices ex-showroom, Delhi.
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Ford launches 2012 Fiesta line-up

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Ford India launches its 2012 Fiesta line-up with new base variants for petrol and diesel models. The new cut-price Ambiente variant is priced at Rs 7.23 lakh for the petrol and Rs 8.99 for the Style diesel variant (ex-showroom Delhi). This means the entry-level Fiesta petrol is now cheaper by Rs 1 lakh, while the base diesel will cost Rs 28,000 less.

Ford has also simplified the Fiesta line-up that starts with Ambiente, Style and Titanium + variants. The petrol is now available with Ambiente, Titanium+, Style (AT) and Titanium+ (AT), while the diesel is available in Style and Titanium + variants.

Priced aggressively, the Ambiente variant features driver airbag, ABS with EBD, power mirrors, central locking, turn indicators on ORVM, tilt steering, guide-me-home headlamp, 100% foldable rear seats. The Style variant gets automatic climate control, fog lamps, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, audio control on steering wheel, audio system with 6-speakers and Aux-in.

In addition to all these features, the top-end Titanium+ will have cruise control, Bluetooth voice control, auto power-fold mirrors, reverse parking sensor and chrome front grille. The Powershift Automatic Style and Titanium+ get ESP while only the Titatnium+ gets additional leather seats.

Commenting on the launch of Fiesta Ambiente, Ford India President and Managing Director Michael Boneham said the company is trying to respond to changing market dynamics and the evolving needs of its customers in India.

The Fiesta Ambiente will compete with the likes of Honda City and Hyundai Verna, which are priced between Rs 6.99 lakh and Rs 10.30 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), respectively.

Last month, the company had launched two automatic variants of the petrol Fiesta, priced at Rs 8.99 lakh and Rs 9.70 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
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Nokia Maps web app updated for iOS and Android

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Nokia has put the finishing touches to its Apple and Android compatible web app for Nokia Maps, letting you use a fully functional version of Maps via the browser


Nokia Maps Web app has been available online for iPhone 4S and Android Smartphones for a while now but has now received a new update which will bring voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation to the smartphones.
By heading over to m.maps.nokia.com on an iOS device or Android smartphone the user is then able to access a completely free version of Nokia Maps right within the browser.

Adding voice-guided navigation is a clear step by Nokia to gain some ground over the non web apps that already provide those services, but of course, still need internet.

Nokia Maps is already available as a non web app for all Nokia Windows Phone handsets such as the Nokia Lumia 800 and with Nokia Drive those users also get a dedicated turn-by-turn navigation app.

The web app is available to use now and is compatible with all iOS devices and Android smartphones including those running Ice Cream Sandwich such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
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BlackBerry 10 coming to the PlayBook, RIM confirms

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RIM's handsets won't be getting BlackBerry 10 until later this year, but once they do, the PlayBook will be next in line. That's according to Rob Orr, RIM's VP of product management, who confirmed the news to TechRadar. "We've said publicly a number of times that our first BB10 handset will be available towards the end of 2012, and that's still firmly the case," Orr said. "At some point after the launch we'll bring BB10 to our PlayBooks, yes." Orr apparently didn't get any more specific than that, though he did mention that RIM has seen a spike in updates to PlayBook OS 2.0, which came out just last month. According to the exec, about 50 percent of all users made the jump on the day it came out, which just goes to show how great e-mail is.
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AU Optronics found guilty of US price fixing

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Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp will appeal a guilty verdict by a U.S. court in a price fixing suit over liquid crystal display panels that could leave it facing a fine of up to $1 billion just as it looks to recover from a series of losses.

AU, the world's No.4 LCD maker, was charged as part of an investigation into an alleged price-fixing cartel between 1999 and 2006, but was the sole Asian LCD maker to plead not guilty. It told a media briefing in Taipei on Wednesday that the appeal process could last more than a year.

Tuesday's verdict came after rival LG Electronics Inc agreed to pay a $400 million fine in 2008, while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd cut an early deal to avoid prosecution.

"We estimate the final fine could be at least T$15 billion ($508 million)," said Eric Kao, analyst at KGI Securities in Taipei.

"But with the provisions AU has made so far the shortfall will be less than T$10 billion, and since the company has about T$120 billion available, there will be no problem getting the money."

AU said in a briefing it would continue to book provisions for the case on a quarter by quarter basis according to the progress of the case.

"Up to the end of last year we have made enough provisions, according to our accountants' advice," Chief Financial Officer Andy Yang told the briefing, but he declined to give a figure for the provisions.

Its shares extended losses to more than 5 percent after the briefing and were last trading down 4.73 percent at T$15.15 in a broader market up 1.1 percent.

U.S. prosecutors accused company executives of meeting more than 60 times at luxury hotels to fix prices of LCD panels, saying the conspiracy cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.

In a statement, the U.S. Justice Department said AU Optronics faces a maximum fine of $1 billion. AU's legal adviser said at the Wednesday briefing the court would evaluate the size of AU's business in the U.S. from 2001 to 2006 before deciding on the fine.

Two AU executives were also found guilty, but former AU chief executive L.J. Chen -- who remains a top executive at the company -- and a fourth executive were found not guilty. Chen's family members wept with relief when the verdict was read out in a San Francisco federal courtroom.

"While the company is gratified for the acquittals against the executives, the company is deeply disappointed by the guilty verdict," AU said in a statement on Wednesday.

"(The company) remains confident that the corporation and the individuals will ultimately be vindicated during further proceedings in this matter."

Any large fine would come at a difficult time for AU, which, like other panel makers is struggling with falling prices and demand. Most makers have posted several quarters of losses.

AU itself reported a worse-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter earlier this month, but forecast a pick-up this year and stable panel prices.



BIGGER PROVISION

The company would have to take a bigger provision to cover any fine and the legal costs of its appeal, but the ruling should not affect its wider operation since new management was now in place, said an analyst who declined to be identified.

"Depending on when AU books the provision, the company may still be able to see a profit in Q3," he said.

On Tuesday, the jury decided that the total amount of gross gains derived from the conspiracy -- in which several other producers have been accused -- came to at least half a billion dollars.

Dennis Riordan, an attorney for AU Optronics, said after the verdict that the jury was not asked to answer the most pressing question -- whether U.S. price-fixing laws apply to acts committed on foreign soil.

During the trial, one of AU Optronics's lawyers also argued that the company "competed fiercely" and the mere exchange of information between companies was not illegal.

The company added in its statement that it "presented undisputed evidence that it consistently priced below the so-called crystal prices from 2001 to 2006, which the company believes to be solid evidence that it did not participate in any price fixing agreement."

Before the trial, Riordan said, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston rejected a motion to dismiss the case because the alleged crimes took place outside the United States.

"This is a huge case," he said. "It's really the appeal that's going to determine what this means."

One of two convicted AU executives, Hsuan-Bin Chen, is currently vice chairman of the company's board. The jury also convicted Hui Hsiung, and it acquitted Tsannrong "Hubert" Lee. The panel deadlocked 8-4 in favor of convicting Shiu Lung "Steven" Leung, according to a juror.

Illston will sentence the two men found guilty and impose fines against the company after she hears motions for a new trial.
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Dolphin Browser arrives in BlackBerry App World

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Everybody loves happy endings, so it's with this in mind that we bring you news of the official "sanctioned" arrival of Dolphin Browser within the BlackBerry App World. At version 7.2, this app isn't quite as fresh as its native Android counterpart -- which sits at version 7.5 in the Play Store and offersSonar voice features -- but it still brings its webzine and gesture-driven mannerisms that many appreciate. As you may recall, this isn't the first time that the Dolphin Browser has graced the App World, but this time around, it was submitted by MoboTap -- so yeah, they know it's in there.
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eBay launches Watch With eBay iPad app

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This year's SXSW isn't all about fancy rides and Instagram teasers, also in the mix is eBay's fresh iPad app, dubbed Watch With eBay. The free goodies will let you spend some cash (at least eBay's hoping you will) on bits related to what you're watching on TV, which is made possible by a zip code-based guide within the app. For example, you can snag a jersey that'll show your true colors while you bask in the majesty of Anthony Davis' unibrow during March Madness. Among other features are the ability to browse through most recently watched shows, bid on items and an option to "shop like your favorite celebrity." So, perhaps you could end up with one of those ugly sweaters from Community.
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The Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print

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It was probably inevitable, but on Tuesday, it became official: the Encyclopaedia Britannica is finally going out of print. The news was confirmed yesterday by Jorge Cauz, president of Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., who told the New York Times that his company has decided to completely abandon print operations, in favor of its online platform. The announcement marks the end of a remarkable 244-year run for Britannica and its leather-bound tomes, which at one point stood as a hallmark of middle class living rooms and libraries. In fact, it's been barely two decades since the company reached its high water mark, when it sold some 120,000 sets back in 1990. Once the internet came into full bloom, however, Britannica's sales soon plummeted. In 2010, the publisher sold just 8,000 sets, leaving an additional 4,000 unsold copies to gather dust in a warehouse.

Tuesday's announcement may mark the end of an era, but Cauz seems to have come to terms with Britannica's decision, calling it a "rite of passage." He's also eager to devote more time to his company's website, which will look to chip away at Wikipedia's market hegemony. Cauz, however, believes the two platforms can (and must) co-exist, because they fill two different roles. "We cannot deal with every single cartoon character, we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity," he explained. "But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won't be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct."
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Microsoft to release Windows Phone 7.5 in China on March 21st

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Microsoft on Wednesday began sending out invitations to the press for the company’s Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh launch event in China. According to Liveside, the event will be held in Beijing on March 21st. While the invitation doesn’t mention any specific handsets, HTC recently launched the Titan — becoming the first manufacturer to release a Window Phone device in China. Nokia CEO and president Stephen Elop will also reportedly host a separate event on March 28th. The company is expected to launch three Lumia devices, most likely running the refreshed Windows Phone 7.5 operating system. As of the fourth quarter of 2011, Nokia controls 16.1% of the Chinese mobile market, second only to Samsung.
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Oracle suit against Google goes to trial next month

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A U.S. judge in San Francisco has scheduled the trial between Oracle and Google for April 16th, Reutersreported on Tuesday. Oracle sued Google in 2010, alleging that the Mountain View-based company’s Android operating system infringes Oracle’s intellectual property covering the Java programming language. In addition, the company is also suing Google for copyright infringement, which could earn Oracle hundreds of millions of dollars. “These patent and copyright claims are without merit, and we look forward to defending against them at trial,” Google spokesman Jim Prosser said. The trial is expected to last eight weeks.
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Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich Update coming to 16 HTC Mobiles

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Few innovations have improved upon ice cream as much putting it between two cookies and making a sandwich. Which is why we all want Ice Cream Sandwich! Ok, that’s not the real reason, but we’re all excited about Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, coming to HTC.
Here’s the scoop. The following HTC devices are confirmed to get a tasty treat of Ice Cream Sandwich:
  • DROID Incredible 2 by HTC
  • HTC Amaze 4G
  • HTC Desire S
  • HTC Desire HD
  • HTC EVO 3D
  • HTC EVO Design 4G
  • HTC Incredible S
  • HTC Sensation
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Sensation 4G
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • HTC Raider
  • HTC Rezound
  • HTC Rhyme
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • HTC Vivid
As for timing, we’re in the early stages of rolling out Android 4.0 for the HTC Sensation and HTC Sensation XE and upgrades will be more widely available in the next few weeks. The update for the HTC Sensation 4G and HTC Sensation XL will follow. Please note, once we start pushing out updates it will take time for all carriers in each country to get the update. We are working closely with our carrier partners to nail down update schedules for our other smartphones and will have more to share very soon.
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Verizon to launch its 200th 4G LTE market on March 15th

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Verizon Wireless on Wednesday announced it will add seven new markets to its nationwide 4G LTE network and expand the service in 17 current markets on March 15th. The company’s 200th LTE market will be Dothan, Alabama, where customers will soon be able to take advantage of the high-speed network. Other markets include Enterprise, Ala.; Naples, Fla.; Greenville, N.C.; Altus and Durant, Okla.; and Longview/Marshall, Texas. Verizon currently offers more than 20 4G LTE devices and plans to double the number of its 4G LTE markets to 400 by the end of the year. ”Our plans to double our 4G LTE network coverage from the end of 2011 to the end of 2012 align with the aggressive and rapid deployment strategy we have taken with our 4G LTE network,” said David Small, Verizon’s chief technical officer. “Our commitment to expanding and enhancing our 4G LTE network is enabling more customers across the country to enjoy the benefits of the most popular wireless devices. We will continue investing in our 4G LTE network and working with key partners to ensure our customers have access to the best products and services available.”
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Web host confirms The Pirate Bay is under investigation

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Swedish registrar and Web host Binero on Wednesday confirmed earlier reports suggesting digital piracy hub The Pirate Bay is currently under investigation by authorities in Sweden. Members of The Pirate Bay team reported last week that they believe the site is currently the focus of a new investigation, and that Swedish police are planning to execute a raid in an effort to seize Pirate Bay servers. IDG’s ComputerSweden on Wednesday reported that the site’s Web host has confirmed that the group’s suspicions are at least partially true. ”We can confirm that an investigation is underway against the Pirate Bay. We received a letter with questions,” Binero representative Erik Arnberg said. ”We will not share any information about our customers until there is a court order, or when a prosecutor can refer to an applicable law. In this case, we have answered the questions with information that’s already available through Whois services.” Authorities in Sweden raided The Pirate Bay back in 2006 and the company’s founders were later sentenced to jail and forced to pay millions in fines after being found guilty of multiple piracy-related charges.
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‘Anonymous’ hacker group releases its own desktop OS

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Notorious hacker group “Anonymous Operations” on Wednesday released the first version of its own desktop operating system. Dubbed Anonymous-OS, the computer platform is built on top of the open-source Linux-based Ubuntu 11.10 operating system, and it also utilizes the open-source Mate desktop environment, The Hacker News reports. It is unclear exactly who is behind the operating system, which comes with a number of tools pre-installed that are apparently Anonymous-approved. Included are Anonymous HOIC, John the Ripper, SQL Poison and more. Version 0.1 of the hacker group’s Anonymous-OS is free and available immediately for download, though readers should obviously exercise caution.
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Apple to launch 15-inch MacBook Air in April

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Apple is reportedly planning to launch a new 15-inch MacBook Air notebook PC in April. The report fromElectricpig cites a “premium Mac accessory maker,” who claims a new 15-inch model will feature ports on both sides, with no optical drive or Ethernet port. A 15-inch Air model has been rumored before — DigiTimespreviously reported that a 15-inch model was slated to launch in the first quarter of 2012 alongside a new 11-inch and 13-inch model. The Taiwanese publication, however, has also reported that an ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook with Air-like features would launch in the second quarter this year.
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iPad to be available at 8AM this Friday

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Apple has just confirmed that the company’s brand new iPad will be available for in store purchase starting at 8:00 a.m. local time this Friday from Apple retail stores. AT&T and Verizon stores, in addition to authorized Apple retailers like Best Buy and Target (pronounced: tar-jay) will also be selling the iPad in the United States. Apple’s iPad will also make its way around the world in the company’s fastest product roll-out ever, touching down in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

CUPERTINO, California―March 14, 2012―Apple® today announced the new iPad®, the third generation of its category defining mobile device, will arrive at Apple’s retail stores and the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com) on Friday, March 16 at 8:00 a.m. local time in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK; along with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The new iPad features a stunning new Retina™ display, Apple’s new A5X chip with quad-core graphics and a 5 megapixel iSight® camera with advanced optics for capturing amazing photos and 1080p HD video and still delivers the same all-day 10 hour battery life* while remaining amazingly thin and light. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G supports ultrafast 4G LTE networks in the US and Canada, and fast 3G networks around the world including those based on HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.** Additionally, iPad 2 is available at a more affordable price starting at just $399.

Every customer who buys a new iPad at an Apple retail store will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping them customize their iPad by setting up email, loading new apps from the App Store™ and more, so they’ll be up and running with their new iPad before they leave the store. Personal Pickup, available at Apple retail stores in the US and a feature of the free Apple Store® app, lets iPad customers shop and buy from anywhere they are, then pick up their purchase at any Apple retail store. In the US the new iPad will also be available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.

Pricing & Availability
The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white starting on Friday, March 16 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, and $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for ultrafast 4G LTE networks in the US and Canada and fast 3G networks around the world including those based on HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. Additionally, the incredible iPad 2 is now offered at a more affordable price of $399 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and just $529 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model. iOS 5.1 and iTunes® 10.6 are currently available as free software updates. iPhoto®, iMovie® 1.3 and GarageBand® 1.2 are now available for $4.99 (US) each from the App Store (www.itunes.com/appstore). Keynote® 1.6, Pages® 1.6 and Numbers® 1.6 are available for $9.99 (US) each from the App Store. Updates are available for free to existing customers.

Starting March 23 the new iPad will be available in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

**4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. Data plans sold separately.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
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Google confirms Metro-style Chrome app for Windows 8

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A Google spokesperson confirmed to Mashable that the search giant is working on a Metro-style version of Chrome for Windows 8. The Metro version will be based on the company’s standard desktop browser, rather than Google’s mobile Android version. “Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8,” the spokesperson said. “To that end we’re in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8 such as adding enhanced touch support.” The company’s confirmation comes a month after Mozilla announced plans for a Metro-style Firefox browser for Windows 8. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is slated to be released later this year.
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Sony announces the Xperia sola

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Sony on Tuesday announced the Xperia sola, the latest addition the company’s Android portfolio. The handset is equipped with a 3.7-inch Reality Display, a 1GHz dual-core processor, NFC and Android 2.3 Gingerbread with an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich promised for the summer months. The Xperia sola also features “floating touch” navigation, which enables “magic” web browsing without physically touching the screen. “Xperia sola comes with the power of Sony and a sense of magic with floating touch, giving consumers a fun new way to browse the web and latest technology to show off,” said Calum MacDougall, Sony’s Head of Xperia marketing. The device also comes with two NFC Xperia SmartTags in the box, which owners can use to launch a pre-configured profile on their smartphone. The two SmartTags included with the handset can be personalized with up to 10 commands. The Xperia sola will be available worldwide in black, white and red in the second quarter of 2012. Hit the break for Sony’s press release and a video showcasing the Xperia sola.

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The iPad could be the future of gaming

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With Friday’s release of the new iPad, Epic Games president Mike Capps has offered a huge amount of praise for Apple’s new tablet in the context of video games. “Apple is definitely building their devices as if they care a lot about ‘triple-A’ games,” said Capps, in an interview with Reuters. Only the highest-quality games are considered “triple-A” titles, most of which cost tens of millions of dollars to produce and are usually found on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Capps is trying to push console manufacturers to release more powerful devices in the hopes that they won’t be left behind. Read on for more.

With the simple addition of a Bluetooth controller for the iPad, Capps believes that Apple could challenge the Xbox and PlayStation platforms in the home console gaming market. “It is quite easy to imagine a world where an iPad is more powerful than a home console, where it wirelessly talks to your TV and wirelessly talks to your controller and becomes your new console,” he said.

The president of Electronic Arts’ Labels, Frank Gibeau, who oversees games such as “Battlefield 3″ and “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” echoed Capps’s comments and said the company is eyeing Apple’s moves closely. “When the iPad gets to the processing power that’s equal to an Xbox 360 and it connects to a television, that’s no big deal to us. We’ll put the game through the iPad and have it display through the television.” Gibeau said. EA has already released franchise titles such as “Dead Space” and “Mass Effect,” for the iPad. For publishers, “it used to be, oh hey, it’s just the Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft show, but that’s not the case anymore,” Gibeau said.

Crytek, the company behind the graphic intensive “Crysis 2″ for the PC and consoles, is also working on its first game for the iPad, which is due out in the spring. While the game is set to be puzzle-based, Crytek said it could one day bring more complex games to the device as well. “As more people come to these platforms, we have to follow our fans,” said Kristoffer Waardahl, a Crytek studio manager.
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Apple subpoenaed by FTC in Google antitrust probe

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Apple has been subpoenaed by the United Stated Federal Trade Commission as part of an antitrust investigation of Google, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The FTC is reportedly interested in an agreement with Apple that made Google the default search engine on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. ”As mobile search gets more widespread, the default setting becomes more significant,” antitrust lawyer Allen Grunes told Bloomberg. The FTC has been looking into Google’s business practices — specifically, its search business — for almost a year.
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Samsung releases Android 4.0 ICS update for European Galaxy S II

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Samsung on Tuesday announced an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is now available in Europe and South Korea for the Galaxy S II. An update for the Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy R,Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Tab 7.7, Tab 8.9 and Tab 10.1 will follow in the near future. Samsung is also planning firmware updates for the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab 7 that will remain on Android 2.3 Gingerbread but will include Face Unlock, Snapshot, Photo Editor and other features. “We expect that our customers will enjoy an enhanced experience with their GALAXY device through this upgrade. Samsung is committed to satisfying our customer needs”, said JK Shin, Samsung’s mobile boss. The availability of the updates will vary by market and are subject to wireless carrier approval.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Windows Phone Tango officially named 7.5 Refresh

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Duico Stefania, the Italian head of Windows Phone, revealed to WindowsPhoneItaly that the codenamed Tango update to the mobile OS is called 7.5 Refresh. The update lowers the practical minimum hardware specs to 256MB or RAM, or effectively half. As such, however, some functions and features of the OS won't be available, including fast app switching, HD playback for some video formats, and more.

Whether apps that can support 512MB hardware will automatically turn features on remains to be seen, but is likely to depend on each individual developer.

The update is expected to begin showing up in April, or as early as late in March. Phones like the Nokia Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit will ship with 7.5 Refresh from the start.

The Apollo codename, in the meantime meantime, refers to Windows Phone 8, which is the next generation of Microsoft's mobile OS and is expected to bring more profound changes.
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Spotify to go live in Germany on Tuesday

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The streaming music subscription service that is Spotify will come to Germany on Tuesday, German media has reported. It will partner with the German version of Interview magazine and the Eventim festival guide. The price will be the same 10 euros (about $13) per month other European countries pay.

There will also presumably be a free, ad-supported option as well. The service offers about 16 million tracks and has about 10 million registered users in 13 countries, about a quarter of which are paying subscribers.

In Germany, it will face competition from Simfy, Rdio, and Deezer. Spotify is available for OS X and Windows computers as well as Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry smartphones.
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Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G coming to T-Mobile March 21 for $150

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T-Mobile on Monday firmed up launch details for the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G. The network should get its unique Android 2.3 phone in retail stores on March 21 for $150 on a contract. Online orders will be ready a week later, on March 28.

The hardware is considered a smaller, very slightly tuned-down version of T-Mobile's edition of the Galaxy S II. It mostly steps down to a four-inch, original Super AMOLED screen, a five-megapixel rear camera with 720p video, and a front 1.3-megapixel camera. Samsung's device still runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon and can reach 42Mbps on the carrier's HSPA+ network.

We tried the Galaxy S Blaze 4G at Mobile World Congress last month and found it to be a solid, though not exceptional, design. Its primary obstacle is the small price gap on contract with the full-size Galaxy S II. While the Blaze's size is more manageable, the Galaxy S II has a better Super AMOLED Plus display and better cameras for a slight premium. T-Mobile's new phone will have its best value once discounting starts and the gap between high- and mid-range phones becomes clearer.
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Tudou, Youku to merge, make $1b streaming video giant

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The Internet video space grew significantly in scale Monday after Youku offered to buy local rival Tudou. The voluntary takeover would see Youku buy all of Tudou's stock for an equivalent over $1 billion. The Tudou badge would continue to exist, but the two would operate under a unified Youku Tudou company.

The deal is waiting on shareholder and government approval.

Both sites were already considered Chinese equivalents to YouTube through a mix of both amateur and professional video content. Although considerably smaller than their Google-run American counterpart, the scale of the Chinese market has left room open for them to grow larger as more people get online and get high speed Internet access.

American companies have just started acknowledging the sites in their own content. Apple is planning to support Tudou and Youku video sharing in OS X Mountain Lion and may end up having just one overarching service to support in the future
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T-Mobile may introduce ‘Unlimited Any Mobile’ calling on April 4th

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According to a purported leaked T-Mobile document obtained by TmoNews, the carrier will offer an unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling add-on for $10 a month starting April 4th. “Beginning April 4th, T-Mobile will offer Unlimited Any Mobile, a $10 per month subscriber-level feature that includes unlimited calling to any domestic mobile number, including Puerto Rico, regardless of carrier,” the document reads. The carrier claims that 80% of calls made on its network are to mobile numbers, making such an add-on appealing to subscribers looking to save money. The feature will be available as an add-on for existing customers, and it will not require a new contract. Unlimited out-of-network mobile calling is nothing new; Sprint bundles a similar offering with its unlimited everything plans and AT&T has an add-on as well.
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New Microsoft software can translate voices into foreign languages

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Researchers at Microsoft have created software that can translate a user’s voice into a foreign languages, a solution with the potential to revolutionize communications, MIT’s Technology Review reported on Monday. “We will be able to do quite a few scenario applications,” said Microsoft researcher Frank Soong. “For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we’ll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output [in] a different language, but still in his own voice.” Read on for more.

Along with removing the language barrier for travelers, the software could be used to help students learn a new language. Having the ability to hear one’s own voice could potentially make it a easier to imitate a new dialect. The technology could also be used to improve navigation devices, allowing a digital English voice to read text written in different languages.

The software currently has the ability to convert between 26 different languages — including Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Italian — and it takes roughly an hour of training to develop a model that is capable of reading text in a user’s voice. The model is then converted, with the help of text-to-speech software, into one that can read text in another language. Sounds from the first model are then carefully tweaked to give the new text-to-speech model the full ability to sound out phrases in a new language.
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Watchdog group reveals ‘Enemies of the Internet’ list for 2012

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Global media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders on Monday released its “Enemies of the Internet” list for 2012. The list is comprised of nations it feels inhibit its citizens’ freedom to express themselves on, or even denies access to, the Internet. Reporters Without Borders’s report focuses a great deal on countries that have reportedly blocked access to social networks and microblogging services in an effort to impede the efforts of activists as they tried to organize fellow citizens. It also updated its “under surveillance” list, which covers countries that may soon be added to the enemies list. Read on for more.

“Online social networks complicate matters for authoritarian regimes that are trying to suppress unwanted news and information,” Reporters Without Borders wrote in its report. ”It was thanks to netizens that Tunisians learned about the street vendor who set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid and Egyptians learned about Khaled Said, the young netizen who was beaten to death by police outside an Alexandria Internet cafĂ©. It was thanks to social networks that Sidi Bouzid and Khaled Said became news stories and went on to become cornerstones of the Arab Spring.”

The group points to microblogging services and social networks like Twitter as a means of quickly disseminating information and even organizing against oppressive regimes. In combination with the advent of other recent technologies such as mobile phone-based to video broadcasting, the group says these services are “increasing the possibilities of freeing information from its straightjacket.”

“The mixing of journalism and activism has been accentuated in extreme situations such as Syria, where ordinary citizens, appalled by the bloodshed, are systematically gathering information for dissemination abroad, especially by the international news media, so the outside world knows about the scale of the brutal crackdown taking place,” the group wrote.

New to the “Enemies of the Internet” list this year are Bahrain and a number of other countries, which join the likes of North Korea and China. Egypt, Malaysia, Australia and France find themselves on the group’s ”under surveillance” list, Australia for working with ISPs to create a mechanism for censoring certain online content, and France for filtering Web content and maintaining its “three-strikes” policy, which cuts off Internet access to people found to be downloading copyrighted content illegally three times. Libya was removed from the list following the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.a
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Instagram for Android coming soon

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During the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger of Instagram teased the company’s long awaited Android app. During an interview with TechCrunch, the duo said that an Android version of the app is coming “really soon.” Systrom briefly showed the app running on his Galaxy Nexus and claimed that “it’s one of the most amazing Android apps you’ll ever see, in some ways, it’s better than our iPhone app.” The company previously announced that an Android app is on the way, however no time frame was given. The app is currently in a private beta phase, and Instagram hopes “to have it out to people really soon.” Finally, Systrom and Krieger revealed that Instagram now has more than 27 million registered users, almost twice as many as it had in December 2011.
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Toshiba revamps Satellite P with Ivy Bridge, GeForce 600M

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Toshiba has revamped its Satellite P range with the launch of the P8-series. The new line will ship in Q2 and will feature Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors and Intel’s GeForce 600M, although the company is remaining somewhat coy in outing the new components by name in its press materials. The full line-up includes two 15.6-inch notebooks (P-850, P855) and two 17.6-inch notebooks (P870, P875).

In addition to picking up the latest in processing and graphics performance, the P855 also incorporates glasses-free 3D capabilities that includes head tracking to help retain an optimal image. HD screens with LED backlighting can be found across the range, as well as Blu-ray support. In addition to the inclusion of HDMI, Toshiba has also opted for Intel’s Wi-Di, wireless display technology. The multi-media credentials of the range are rounded out by the inclusion of Harmon Kardon audio with SRS Premium 3D sound with the ability to play music, even when the notebooks are in sleep mode.

The P8-series of Satellite notebooks will ship with hard drive capacities up to 1TB, while some iterations can be configured with a hybrid 750GB spinning hard drive paired with an 8GB SSD for faster boot times. Connectivity includes four USB 3.0ports across all models, while 802.11n Wi-Fi will keep wireless transfers fast. The notebooks are also Bluetooth Smart hub compliant, using the Bluetooth 4.0 specification.

No pricing or specific release details for the US were available at the time of writing.
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Apple says Samsung violated court order by denying source

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Apple late last week accused Samsung of violating a court order for evidence in its main US lawsuit. The Korean company had supposedly only given Android source code for one version each of the devices at stake, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, before a December 31 deadline. It was now "too late" to get a "meaningful use" out of any source code Samsung might give before the August 25 trial date, Apple said.

As compensation, Apple wanted the San Jose court to prevent Samsung from using the source code it wasn't giving to defend itself. Samsung would also have to accept that source code for one device would have to stand as source code for all its sub-variants.

Neither the court nor Samsung had responded to the accusations. The same venue had denied preliminary bans Apple had wanted, but it won't necessarily deny Apple's current claims.

If found violating the court order, Samsung could see itself at a disadvantage in the trial if seen as acting in bad faith. A follow-up American lawsuit is underway and might see Samsung face similar demands for code.
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IBM's Holey Optochip transmits 1Tbps of data, is named awesomely

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Be honest: was there any doubt whatsoever that something called a "Holey Optochip" would be anything short of mind-blowing? No. None. The whiz-kids over at IBM have somehow managed to transmit a staggering 1Tbps of data over a new optical chip, with the fresh prototype showing promise for ultra-high interconnect bandwidth to power future supercomputer and data center applications. For those who'd rather not deal with esoteric descriptions, that's around 500 HD movies being transferred each second, and it's enough to transfer the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive in just 60 minutes. Needless to say, it's light pulses taking charge here, and researchers are currently hunting for ways to make use of optical signals within standard low-cost, high-volume chip manufacturing techniques. Getting the feeling that your own personal supercomputer is just a year or two away? Hate to burst your bubble, but IBM's been touting similar achievements since at least 2008. Actually, scratch that -- where there's hope, there's Holey.
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Marvel announces augmented reality app

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Not content with simply doling out free digital comics to fans who favor the tangible page, Marvel is now giving readers a new reason to reach for their tablets: augmented reality. Android and iOS devices will be able to look beyond the page using Marvel AR, an Aurasma-powered app slated to launch alongsideAvengers vs. X-Men #1 this April. When pointed at a compatible comic, the app will server up creator commentary videos, extra art and interactive 3D models of Earth's greatest heroes.

Don't worry, your standard Marvel Comics app isn't being replaced -- in fact, it's getting a new line of sequential funnybooks called Marvel Infinite Comics. "Writers and artists now have a whole host of new tools at their disposal to redefine the comic book medium," Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Axel Alonso said at SXSW this week, "Current tablets and smartphones, along with comiXology's Guided Viewtechnology, allow us to develop new, full length stories for a different medium that are very much truly comics -- but experienced by readers in a way no other major company has ever executed." The digital-exclusive series kicks off with Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite, which incidentally, will be free to folks who pick up the similarly named physical book.
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HTC Media Link HD display mirroring box gets FCC rubber stamp

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Amid the rush of news during HTC's presentation at MWC was a brief mention of a Media Link HD accessory for wireless big-screen mirroring from the One S or One X. Fresh FCC paperwork suggests the device is on track for an April release and also highlights that it's been revised since HTC's first foible-prone attempt at a DLNA dongle: the Media Link HD does 1080p over 802.11n to any HDMI-equipped TV, instead of just 720p, and promises to mirror games as well as videos, photos and music. Pricing hasn't been made official, but retailers have it on pre-order for around $120 -- potentially still too expensive, even if this one works better than the last.
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Marvel Comics showcases Augmented Reality app

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Amid falling print sales, Marvel Comics is hoping to entice readers back to the paper medium thanks to a neat AR app, which keys in superhero fans on how the story was imagined

Marvel Comics has announced its latest effort to bring added value for graphic novel fans by announcing the Marvel AR app, out at the beginning of next month.

The aim of the application is to take users behind the scenes and showcase the various stages of production, in much the same was that DVD extras augment movies and TV shows.

When users fire up the Marvel AR app, built by the respected Aurasma studio, it will immediately activate the device's camera lens, and if the app has been trained to recognise a certain panel from the comic, users will be prompted to download the additional content.

Marvel;s digital chief Peter Phillips says: "The AR app will show readers what the editor was thinking, what the writer was thinking, 3D extras, and pencil art."

The bonus features will include fully coloured panes scaled back to their pencil-drawn origins, 3D animations of characters and exclusive story background from key figures at Marvel. Each compatible printed comic will feature around 8 interactive panes.

As well as building the functionality into new stories, Marvel will also be able to add extra features to its mass library of X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor and a host more superhero favourites from yesteryear.

The Marvel AR app will be available as a free download from April 2nd and the first printed comic to be bestowed with the extra content will be Avengers vs X Men #1, which is released on April 4th.
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Romanian teen launches Lego shuttle into space

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My confidence in younger generations of geeks increases tenfold when I see stories like this. Depicted above is the brainchild of Oaida Raul, a Romanian teen who has a deep love and passion for space flight and the technology that goes with it. After reading about other people his age around the globe that have sent Lego models into space, Raul decided that it was time to act and create something himself.

A huge fan of the American Space Shuttle program and saddened to see it end, he came up with a plan to build and launch a Lego replica of the famous shuttle into the upper atmosphere. Not having tremendous resources, he came to the conclusion that he would need to find an investor of some sort to help make his dream a reality. Unlike most teens that go ask their parents for money, Raul hit the Internet, PM’d Steve Sammartino, a micro-startup expert and venture capitalist, and managed to get his Skype user name.


Raul immediately cold-called Sammartino in Australia, and actually got through. After introducing himself, Raul launched into a passionate presentation of his idea, communicating his deep commitment to making it happen if he could find the right business partner. Sammartino was so impressed that he agreed to fund the project on the spot, and the two began work to make it happen.

With Sammartino handling the business planning and purchasing, Raul was able to concentrate on building the launch vehicle and assembling the necessary equipment. Like the others that sent up models before him, Raul decided to use a large weather balloon that would carry both the Lego model and a Styrofoam box containing camera and tracking equipment. When construction was complete, Raul set about working over his next hurdle, which was where to actually launch his project.

Romania has some pretty stiff rules against this kind of balloon experiment, so Raul began to look elsewhere in the EU to find a place where the regulations would be more lax. The entrepreneurial teen settled on travelling to Germany for the launch. It was the perfect setting since not only did his father work in the country, it would also offer him several windows of opportunity to send his model skyward.


After a few false starts, Raul and Sammartino were able to launch their joint venture, and capture some beautiful images as the shuttle ascended to 130,000 feet. As a result, Raul became an overnight celebrity in Romania, making the evening news and several print publications. Of course, he has gained Internet popularity as well.

Raul and Sammartino are already planning their next project together, which is said to be top secret. I can’t wait to find out what it is.
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Toshiba develops object recognition tech for food

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Fruits and vegetables: the only items in a supermarket that don’t use barcodes. How cumbersome that a cashier must lookup and enter the item number for said food product. Wasted time that you could otherwise be using to, you know, not stand awkwardly waiting for your produce to be entered onto your grocery tab. Well, soon these empty seconds on your weekend shopping trip may be coming to an end thanks to Toshiba’s food recognition technology.

The Object Recognition Scanner (ORS) does more than just produce, though. It can even identify packaged items like bread and canned goods. Similar to how facial recognition technology puts parameters like width of the nose and distance between eyes as ways to identify people, the ORS uses certain parameters to categorize and identify goods. Specifically, Toshiba utilizes a pattern and color recognition technology so precise it can sense the subtle differences between a Red Delicious and Pink Lady apple.

Toshiba’s scanner utilizes a camera that can operate at high swiping speeds, identifying items as they are being whisked by. The ORS is able to do this by isolating any other image “noise,” and thereby concentrating only on the food product. The video above shows a cashier scanning a vegetable like they would an item with a barcode over a laser scanner.


There’s one minor aspect of the ORS that Toshiba’s Keiichi Hasegawa didn’t touch on in the video above: products priced by the pound—are they going to implement a weight system? Minor issues aside, Toshiba’s ORS does pose a threat to the standard laser scanners we see in supermarkets today. The company is even building up a huge database of produce and other grocery store items. However, being that the market is a global one, this product database will likely be limited to Japanese grocery items for now, and the ORS itself to Japanese grocery stores. But here’s to the future of supermarkets.
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Honda fits Jazz Si debut onto Geneva

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The Honda Fit (Jazz in most other markets) has been a decent success here in the States. It's economical, somewhat fun to drive and not painful to look at. But it just seems to lack something. Oh, right, sportiness and a bright red Si badge!

To earn the Si designation, the versatile econocar was given new dampers, a larger front anti-roll bar, and modifications to the electric power steering system. Then Honda went nuts and dropped in the 3.0 liter V6 from the Accord... No, not really. In fact, the Jazz Si retains the Eurospec 1.4-liter four-cylinder with 98 hp. Seems hardly worthy of an anti-roll bar of any size.

Helping auto enthusiasts distinguish the Jazz Si is a new body kit, 16-inch wheels with low profile "tyres" and various upgrade interior trim pieces.

If Honda intends to sell a Fit Si here, they better have some plans for a jazzed-up engine to go with those "stylish" side skirts and LED reading lights.

2012 Honda Jazz Si

2012 Honda Jazz Si

2012 Honda Jazz Si

2012 Honda Jazz Si


2012 Honda Jazz Si instrument panel and steering wheel


2012 Honda Jazz Si instrument cluster









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