Sony offers to check 'smoking' TV models
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 10:31
Sony is to offer free safety checks on several of its TV models after a number of sets started smoking.
The company warned that a component used in eight different versions of its Bravia televisions may be faulty and could, in rare cases, overheat.
However, it stopped short of issuing a full recall.
Instead Sony said that anyone who was concerned could request an engineer come to their home for free to inspect their TV.
The models affected are all LCDs, sold in Europe since June 2007.
They are: KDL-40D3400, KDL-40D3500, KDL-40D3550, KDL-40D3660.
KDL-40V3000, KDL-40W3000, KDL-40X3000, KDL-40X3500.
Some 1.6 million of the TVs have been sold worldwide; 630,000 of them in Europe.
Reports of overheating sets have so far all come from Japan.
The company said that the televisions were not at risk while they were switched off.
It warned owners to be aware of any unusual noises, smells or smoking coming from their Bravia.
Anyone noticing those symptoms should unplug the power cable and stop using the set immediately, said a Sony statement.
Details on how to find a set's model number were published on the company's website.
"Noah" may mean difference between life and death
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:20
It's not quite a yellow submarine, since it's destined for travel on top of the water, not under it.
But the round yellow pod, christened "Noah" for the maker of the ark, could mean the difference between life and death in the case of another killer earthquake and tsunami like the one that hit Japan seven months ago, said its inventor, Shoji Tanaka.
After the March 11 disaster, which devastated a wide swath of Japan's northeastern coast and left 20,000 dead or presumed dead, Tanaka decided to create a personal flotation device that could survive both an earthquake and the tsunami that might follow.
"At the beginning, I made it as a hemisphere, which I thought to be the best shape to survive earthquakes, but it was vulnerable to tsunami because it capsizes," said Tanaka, president of Cosmo Power, an equipment maker.
"So I changed it to a perfect sphere and made it also easily carried by men and easily accessible."
"Noah" is about 1.2 meters -- or four feet -- in diameter, with one hatch, one glass window and two holes for drainage and ventilation. It's made out of fiber reinforced plastic, which Tanaka said is lighter but also stronger than steel.
It keeps water out and its occupants afloat, all the while protecting them from floating debris. Its bright yellow color was designed to attract the attention of rescuers.
And if all of that wasn't enough, it's small enough to fit into an average Japanese home.
"Kids will love playing inside it, and those who are anxious about earthquakes will find peace of mind just by keeping it in their house," Tanaka said.
The company said it already has orders for 700 of the four-seater pods, mainly from families, waterfront businesses and fishermen. It sells for 288,000 yen ($3,800) for a standard model and $4,500 for one with interior cushions that help absorb shocks.
"At least, people sheltered inside this ark will have some time to take a breath and get ready for the worst to come," said Yuichi Ashisawa, a Cosmo Power employee.
RIM announces 'tap to share' technology for BlackBerryWith the next update of BlackBerry 7, you will be able to tap two devices together to share content, thanks to the wonders of NFC Published on Oct 10, 2011 No longer will you need a cable, Bluetooth
Monday, 10 October 2011 08:43
No longer will you need a cable, Bluetooth or an internet connection to share multimedia and contacts between two handsets, because RIM has announced BlackBerry Tag.
The new technology, which will be added to devices with the BlackBerry 7 operating system and Near Field Communications (NFC) capability in a forthcoming update, allows you to simply touch two BlackBerry smartphones together to send over contact information, documents, photos or other multimedia content.
You can even add another user to your BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) contact list in the same fashion, saving you from entering in their PIN number as you did before.
Speaking at a keynote in the GITEX conference in Dubai, RIM co-CEO Jam Balsillie told his audience: 'BlackBerry Tag is an exciting and innovative feature that makes sharing contact information and multimedia content effortless and seamless.
'BlackBerry Tag opens a new dimension to the BlackBerry platform that is powerful, simple and intuitive and we think it will be welcomed by both users and developers.'
Also announced was the plan to roll out BlackBerry Tag to developers through APIs, so that the technology can be incorporated into applocations.
The first smartphones to support BlackBerry Tag, according to the press release, will be the Bold 9900/9930 and the Curve 9350,9360/9370.
Assuming networks give the green light, expect to see the update arrive in the near future.
BT and TalkTalk to appeal Digital Economy Act
Friday, 07 October 2011 11:25
BT and TalkTalk will launch a fresh challenge against the controversial Digital Economy Act. The companies have been granted permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that upheld most of the anti-piracy law. Like many service providers, they believe that the law unfairly compels them to police users' behaviour.
The government has said it wants to protect the creative industries such as music and film making.
The Digital Economy Act had been subject to an ongoing legal challenge since it was passed during the wash up period before the last general election.
Creative industries have expressed dismay and the latest ruling. John McVay, chief executive of production body PACT, responded on behalf of music, TV and film companies.
"Naturally, we are disappointed at this further delay. However, we respect the decision and are pleased that the appeal hearing will be fast tracked because, in the meantime, online piracy continues to wreak havoc on the legitimate market, threatening jobs and livelihoods," said Mr McVay.
Under the provisions of the Digital Economy Act, ISPs would be compelled to send out warning letters, at the behest of rights holders such as film and record companies, warning about illegal downloading.
The act also allows for sanctions, known as "technical measures", which could include disconnection.
However, the exact nature of technical measures and the circumstances under which they could be imposed are not explicitly laid out in the law.
Two of the UK's largest ISPs, BT and Talk Talk, have been leading the counter-attack against the law.
Together, they secured a judicial review, only to have most of their objections dismissed.
The only aspect of the companies' complaint to be upheld involved who covered the cost of checking rights holders' claims and sending out enforcement letters.
At the same time, political machinations around the Digital Economy Act have continued.
The Liberal Democrats voted, at their party conference in September, to repeal large parts of the legislation.
Julian Huppert MP, chairman of the party's Technology Policy Working Group said: "Tackling piracy is important, but it shouldn't be seen as an end in itself. It's more important to create conditions that reward innovation and talent, and ensure that creators get the benefits of their work.
"The Digital Economy Act fails to do that; worse, it sorely lacks a convincing evidence base and real democratic legitimacy."
The government has also dropped plans to block access to websites which host copyright infringing material, despite the act giving them powers to do so.
Instead, it is likely that rights holders will be encouraged to take action against ISPs themselves using different laws.
In July, BT was ordered to block the website Newzbin2 because it provided links to pirated films.
That case was brought under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, rather than the Digital Economy Act.
Friday, 07 October 2011 11:15
Steve Jobs's combination of success and secrecy endeared him to people across the world, who mourned his death in public. Even before Steve Jobs passed away, his cult of personality loomed large over Apple. When it was announced that he'd be stepping down, analysts worried that the company would flounder without him.
But his death crystallised both his status as a cult figure and his legacy to a company in transition.
Within minutes of his passing, Twitter was overcome with hashtags and posts in memoriam. On Facebook, people posted and reposted a series of photos, quotes, and videos about Jobs, creating a digital echo chamber.
People flocked to Apple stores across the globe to leave flowers. Groups used the candle apps on their iPads to create a vigil.
Secretive and private
The mass reaction to news of his death made it seem as though Jobs was a friend to the millions of people who owned his product.
In reality, they knew very little about him.
"He was incredibly secretive and private. You'd be hard-pressed to find a picture of him and his kids, hard-pressed to hear him talk about anything but Apple products," says Leander Kahney, author of Inside Steve's Brain, a biography of Jobs.
That Jobs never revealed much about his politics or his personal life also meant that he could never disappoint fans' preconceived notions.
"Because he was mysterious, people could project their own ideas on to him, and he could be a lot of things for a lot of people," says Mr Kahney, who runs the website Cult of Mac and wrote a book of the same name.
Man of mystique
Jobs's carefully constructed web of secrecy, peppered with some hints of vulnerability and accessibility - he was famous for answering customer emails - only added to the looming legend that grew with each Apple innovation.
"The more you saw him as having mystique, the more it went hand in hand as him being a visionary," says Maia Young, an associate professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
When mysterious people are successful, she says, we perceive them "as if they have a special something endowed to them that most of us don't have access to."
She conducted a study in which subjects were asked to assess Jobs's potential at predicting government spending, trends in the stock market, and the future of interest rates.
"The more people saw him as having mystique, the more they ascribed to him the ability to predict those things," she said. "It's a testament to how much people saw in him."
It's also a testament to how closely he guarded his personal image.
From the beginning, there has been a cult around Apple, says Mr Kahney. But that had less to do with personality and had more to do with the products, which engendered tremendous loyalty. That so few people used them created both an air of exclusivity and a fierce protectiveness from enthusiasts constantly worried that behemoths like Microsoft would run their beloved company out of business.
Jobs added something different to the mix.
"One of the things that Mr Jobs did, which was very unlike anyone else, was he did it his way," says Jonathan Gabay, a branding consultant and founder of JonathanGabay.com.
Before Jobs, computers were grey boxes used for maths and science; business machines for men in suits and ties. Jobs, clad in jeans and pioneering the casual-Friday dotcom lifestyle, changed all that.
"It liberated people to express a different way of doing things, hence his brilliant slogan 'think different'," says Mr Gabay.
By thinking differently, Jobs placed himself squarely in the mainstream. With the invention of the iPod and iPhone, Apple went from a quirky underdog to a global powerhouse. Its ubiquitous white earbuds were worn by both hipster artists and Wall Street suits.
When it came to business, Mr Jobs was anything but a revolutionary. "It seems like a cool, liberal, creative company, but the reality is it's a very locked-down place. It's not a happy place to work," says Mr Kahney.
"It's one of the tightest-controlled corporations in the world."
The mystery surrounding Jobs was always just a few notes away from menace. As the company became more successful and less outwardly innovative - after all, how many times can one company be expected to create the next big thing that revolutionises our lives? - the chance that Jobs might prove himself to be fallible increased.
Selling a solution
Now the company that Jobs pioneered must navigate a new path without its storied leader. But the legacy that Jobs left provides some direction.
As consumers around the world went online to memorialise Jobs, no-one was crowing about his innovations in processor speed or even Apple's innovative design.
The majority of posts cemented Jobs's status as a dreamer and visionary: quoting him when he said: "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,"; linking to Apple adverts that begin 'Here's to the crazy ones'; posting articles that promise to explain 'What Steve Jobs understands that our politicians don't'.
Jobs died at a time when people trust authority less than ever. The technology he created and the image he projected sold consumers a possible solution.
"People are desperately craving the idea that they can do things in a different way because they don't trust the way it was done before," says Mr Gabay. "This sense of non-conforming was exactly what Steve Jobs is about. It's incredibly attractive, especially today."
Above all, Jobs promised a lifestyle - you can be cool, you can go against the grain, and you can succeed with those ideas.
"Everyone who buys a Mac says, 'I'm going to write my novel, I'm going to edit my movie, I'm going to cut that single'," says Mr Kahney. "It speaks to that creative streak. In reality all they do is sit around and watch Netflix on it."
When his legion of fans went online to mark his passing, they were saying, "I want to believe." They were letting the world know that they too, are capable of thinking differently.
Even if they themselves sometimes forgot, Steve Jobs never did.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies aged 56
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 20:41
|Former chief executive and co-founder of US technology giant Apple Steve Jobs has died, the company says. He was 56. "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve," Apple said.
Jobs announced he was suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2004.
He was one of the world's best-known business leaders and introduced the iPod and the iPhone to the world.
His death came a day after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone 4S model.
More than almost any other business leader, Jobs was indistinguishable from the company he co-founded in the 1970s.
As the face of Apple, he represented its dedication to high-end technology and fashionable design.
And inside the company he exerted a level of influence unheard of in most businesses.
HTC to release urgent privacy fix for smartphones
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 16:31
HTC is to release an urgent update for several of its smartphones to fix a vulnerability which could leave personal information at risk.
The Android Police blog discovered that a user's GPS location and call logs could be easily accessed by net-enabled apps.
After investigating, HTC admitted the flaw could be "exploited by a malicious third-party application".
It said affected users will be notified of the update automatically.
"HTC is working very diligently to quickly release a security update that will resolve the issue on affected devices," a spokesperson said.
Users will be able to download the fix over-the-air.
The company has not yet confirmed exactly which models are at risk, but it is understood that the EVO 3D, EVO 4G, Thunderbolt and potentially the Sensation range are all susceptible to the vulnerability.
Until the patch is released, the company urges users to "use caution when downloading, using, installing and updating applications from untrusted sources".
The flaw relates to a particular file which contains a vast amount of personal information including GPS location history, SMS data, phone logs and e-mail accounts.
Apps can gain access to the file by requesting permission to access the internet - a common occurrence for apps that allow the posting of top scores or messages on social networking sites.
HTC said they have found no evidence that this flaw has been exploited for malicious purposes, but conceded it does pose a threat to the protection of the user's information.
The statement read: "In our ongoing investigation into this recent claim, we have concluded that while this HTC software itself does no harm to customers' data, there is a vulnerability that could potentially be exploited by a malicious third-party application.
"A third party malware app exploiting this or any other vulnerability would potentially be acting in violation of civil and criminal laws.
"So far, we have not learned of any customers being affected in this way and would like to prevent it by making sure all customers are aware of this potential vulnerability."
The company said the patch will be released after a short period of testing, and users are urged to download the update promptly.
Artem Russakovskii, the blogger who made the flaw public, welcomed the quick action by HTC, but said he still had concerns over the manner in which large amounts of personal data are kept in the single file.
He wrote: "While I applaud HTC's desire to fix the situation quickly, I do have to wonder whether the patch will simply apply some sort of an authentication scheme to the service while letting it continue collecting the same kind of sensitive data to be potentially reported back to HTC or carriers."
Apple unveils refreshed iPhone 4S, but no iPhone 5
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 16:24
Apple has unveiled the latest iteration in its iPhone range, but there was no sign of the widely rumoured iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S, as the model will be known, boasts an improved camera and significantly extended battery life. It will run the latest iOS5 operating system, which is set for release on 12 October.
The event was the first major announcement for new boss Tim Cook who took over from Steve Jobs in August.
The iPhone 4S, which will go on sale on 14 October, will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models - in both black and white.
It has the same look and feel as the existing iPhone 4 which was launched 15 months ago.
However, Apple said that updates to iOS meant the phone would boast some "200 new features".
Among the additions is an "intelligent assistant" that allows users to ask questions aloud and receive detailed answers back.
Siri, which began life as a third-party app, was purchased by Apple in 2010 but has yet to appear within its software.
Luke Peters, editor of gadget magazine T3, said that the software announcements would do just enough to keep Apple fans interested in the face of strong challenges from rival smartphone manufacturers.
"Some people were looking for a brand news phone and they haven't got that today, so some will be disappointed," he told BBC News.
"But with the update to iOS5 and Siri that could be enough to sway people to make the investment."
Other industry watchers were less charitable about the iPhone refresh, and the non-appearance of the iPhone 5.
Gareth Beavis, phones editor at TechRadar said that the new hardware would leave many people underwhelmed.
"It was quite disappointing. I think there is going to be a lot of anger from users expecting something big bold and quite exciting after a long time of waiting from the iPhone 4.
"People will buy this in their droves, but Apple has missed a trick by just releasing the exact same phone again with marginally upgraded specs."
The event was the first to be hosted by Apple's new chief executive Tim Cook.
For Apple's new chief executive, the event was as much about making a statement about his leadership as it was new products.
Tim Cook had previously acted as interim boss, looking after the company while Steve Jobs was on sick leave.
Unlike his charismatic predecessor, Mr Cook left the biggest announcement of Tuesday's event to a colleague - marketing boss Phil Schiller.
"Maybe he wants to bring other people to the forefront by letting others speak on his behalf," said Gregory Roekens, chief technology officer at PR firm Wunderman.
"But in terms of style, it was underwhelming. People were expecting iPhone 5, but instead it's almost fixing the weaknesses the previous phones had.
"It will be interesting to see how people react to that."