Saturday, 6 April 2013

Nokia Lumia 520, cheapest Windows Phone 8 mobile, now available in India


Nokia Lumia 520, that was recently unveiled in India as the 'cheapest Windows Phone 8' mobile, is now available for purchase from Nokia's official website and other online as well as offline dealers for Rs. 10,499.
Nokia originally showcased the Lumia 720 and Lumia 520 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The phones were then launched in the Indian market in March. While the Nokia Lumia 520 is now here, as per company's original statement, the Lumia 720 is expected to be available in mid-April.
Nokia Lumia 520 comes with 4.0-inch WVGA display and is powered by a Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor alongside 512MB RAM and 8GB internal storage expandable up to 64GB via microSD card. The phone comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G.
The phone comes with a 1,420mAH battery and, of course, runs Windows Phone 8. Lumia 520 measures 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm and weighs 124 grams.
Nokia Lumia 520 technical specifications
  • 4.0-inch WVGA display
  • Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 1,420mAH battery
  • 119.9 x 64 x 9.9 mm
  • 124 grams

Micromax Ninja A91 spotted online for Rs. 8,499


Micromax Ninja A91 has been spotted over at online retailer Saholic for Rs. 8,499. The phone is listed as available with delivery promised within 3 business days, as of filing this report.
Micromax Ninja A91 comes with 4.5-inch TFT LCD display with 480x854 pixel resolution. The device and is powered by a MediaTek MT6577 1GHz dual-core processor alongside 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. The phone comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a VGA front camera.
Connectivity options on the Micromax Ninja A91 include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and Micro-USB. Micromax Ninja A91 is a dual-SIM dual-GSM standby phone that comes with a 1,800mAH battery and runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
There's no word on when Micromax will officially launch the Ninja A91.
Micromax has recently been riding high on the success of the Micromax Canvas 2 (Review | Pictures) and Micromax Canvas HD (Review | Pictures). Though the Micromax Canvas HD made a lot of buzz when it was announced, the phone's availability in the market has been constrained due to supply issues and the recent changes in custom duty structure, that resulted in a price hike. However, the phone has finally started shipping and is being seen at retail stores across the country.
Micromax has also in the news recently as it was sued by global telecom giant Ericsson for Rs. 100 crore over patent infringement. The company is reportedly in talks with Ericsson over the issue and hopes to negotiate a FRAND license for the patents at the earliest.
Micromax Ninja A91 technical specifications
  • 4.5-inch TFT LCD display with 480x854 resolution
  • MediaTek MT6577 1GHz dual-core processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD card
  • 5-megapixel rear camera, VGA front camera
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, Micro-USB
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 1,800mAH battery
  • 130 x 66 x 10 mm

Friday, 5 April 2013

Samsung to open mini-stores inside 1,400 Best Buy stores in the US


Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is planning to install its brand shops in more than 1,400 Best Buy Co Inc stores this year, a move that some on Wall Street said could help the world's largest consumer electronics chain boost in-store traffic, sales and profitability.
The news pushed Best Buy shares up 12.5 percent to $24.36 on Thursday.
The store-within-a-store effort is a key element of Best Buy's turnaround plan, which includes dedicating more space to more-profitable products like tablets and mobile phones. The company is also trying to use its clout with suppliers to fight online and discount rivals.
JPMorgan analyst Christopher Horvers said the Samsung deal was "another step in the right direction" and better positioned Best Buy against online retailer Inc.
"Retailers and vendors are learning how to better cope with online and pricing challenges to become more profitable omnichannel retailers," Horvers said.
The expanded partnership with Samsung is akin to the Best Buy's tie-up with Apple Inc as well as Dick's Sporting Goods Inc's partnerships with vendors Nike Inc, Under Armour Inc and North Face.
Best Buy's latest move "is a clear indication" that the retailer is better using its key partnerships to boost traffic and sales, Horvers said.
Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser said the move was "a wakeup call" for Best Buy's other key partners - Google Inc, Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp.
"These vendors will also need to take up more space and invest more heavily in Best Buy as a distribution partner," Strasser said.
Retailers such as Best Buy are also trying to find ways to appeal to shoppers who own more than one mobile computing device and are looking to connect them together and share content across multiple screens.
The "Samsung Experience" shops will showcase the entire range of the manufacturer's mobile products, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, connected cameras and accessories.
Some Best Buy stores will also have Samsung employees to help customers buy and activate their mobile devices. The specially trained Samsung staff will also help with product demonstrations, warranty registration and post-purchase support.
The shops will vary in size, with the largest being about 460 square feet.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Intel CEO gets $18.9 million pay package in final year


The value of Intel CEO Paul Otellini's pay package rose 10 percent to $18.9 million last year as he prepared to retire. His departure next month follows a tough year during which Intel Corp. stumbled as the growing popularity of mobile devices reduced demand for the company's personal computer chips.
Otellini's uptick in compensation disclosed Wednesday stems mostly from the amount of stock awards and options Intel gave him last year. Those could end up being worth more or less than the company's estimates, depending on how Intel's recently slumping stock fares in the future.
Intel trimmed the cash portion of Otellini's incentive pay by 19 percent to $5.23 million.
The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.

Kapil Sibal blames Supreme Court for telecom sector's woes


Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal Wednesday said the "golden goose" of telecom sector will not lay the golden egg "for a little while", thanks to the Supreme Court judgement.
He also said that if courts were to involve themselves in economic policy making then "we are in dire trouble".
Telecom was the golden goose which laid the golden egg.
The Supreme Court ensured that the golden goose will never lay golden egg again for a little while," he said while speaking at Annual General Meeting and National Conference 2013 organised by CII (rpt) CII.
Sibal was speaking on governance issues in the country.
Though the minister did not mention any specific order of the apex court, but he was apparently referring to the spectrum allocation case of 2008 in which all the 122 2G telecom licences were cancelled by the apex court in February last year.
"Between 2010 and 2013 with all the experiments, with all the court verdicts, with the Rs. 1,76,000 crore, we got into our kitty just Rs. 1,000 crore," he said.
Foreign Direct investments in the telecom sector plummeted by 96 percent to USD 70.46 million in the April- November 2012 period, from USD 1,987.18 million during the same period a year ago.
Sibal said no one consumers, industry and government, benefitted from the court order.
"The consumers' tariffs have gone up. So the consumer has not benefitted. The sector is under a debt of two lakh fifty thousand core. So the sector has not benefitted. The government has got Rs. 1,000 crore. So the government has not befitted. I would like to know who has benefitted," he said.
He said the telecom sector was opened up in 1994 for private players and it has been learning through its experience.
The Minister said that experiments done in 1994 failed and companies were given migration package in 2000.
"In a sense virgin sectors in which India not had any experience has to go through these pregnant processes. Where there cannot be absolute clarity as we go forward. This is also true of coal sector and power," he said.
The Minister said that it is emergence of structural issues in the court which is making it difficult for systems in the country to function in the matter of economic policy making.
"There is the other structural issue the view of courts in India on matter of economic policy making and that is a very serious structural issue. If courts were to involve themselves in economic policy making and determine the course of future of any particular sector in the economy we are in dire trouble," he said.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Apple no longer on Goldman's list of 'preferred' stocks


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Apple no longer on Goldman's list of 'preferred' stocks

Goldman Sachs has taken Apple off its list of most highly recommended stocks, joining other analysts in dialing back its expectations for the company.
Goldman analyst Bill Shope said in a client note that the iPhone 5, introduced last fall, hasn't sold as well as he expected. He says the company now needs some real "hits" among the products it rolls out during the second half of the year.
Shope took the company off Goldman's "Americas Conviction List," a list Apple Inc. had been on since December 2010. But he keeps a "Buy" rating for the company.
After a heady decade, Apple's sales growth is slowing down. It hasn't unveiled a revolutionary new product since the iPad in 2010.
A call to Apple for comment was not immediately returned.

Google faces more inquiries in Europe over privacy policy


Instead of facing one European investigation into its privacy policy, Google now has to contend with at least six of them.
Data protection agencies in Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands said Tuesday that they were moving to take action against Google over the policy, which the company introduced last year. They joined the French regulator, which had initiated a European Union inquiry on behalf of its counterparts across the 27-nation bloc.
While the regulators have repeatedly threatened the company with tough talk of a united front, the news Tuesday reflects the reality that privacy laws are fragmented across the EU, giving Google little incentive to yield.
Enforcement is a matter for national agencies rather than Brussels, but the French data protection agency - which is known by the initials CNIL - said it would cooperate with the other countries as they step up their scrutiny.
The CNIL said it had "notified Google of the initiation of an inspection procedure," the latest step in an investigation that began more than a year ago, when the agency said it thought the company's privacy policy violated EU law. Other agencies said they would conduct their own inquiries, building on the work of the CNIL.
The Google privacy policy streamlined the individual practices that had been in place across more than 60 Google services, from its search engine to its online mapping operation to YouTube.
The company said at the time that this was necessary to provide clarity to users and to improve its services.
European regulators, led by the CNIL, said that the company had been insufficiently forthcoming about its use of personal data, especially when the information was used across different services for purposes such as advertising.
Last October the heads of the 27 regulatory agencies wrote to Google's chief executive, Larry Page, demanding changes in the policy. They asked the company to do so within four months or risk sanctions.
"After this period has expired, Google has not implemented any significant compliance measures," the CNIL said in a statement.
Google has insisted that its use of data complies with EU law, and it stood by that position Tuesday.
"We have engaged fully with the data protection authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward," the company said.
Each of the national regulators now investigating Google has different procedures and enforcement powers.
In France, for example, the CNIL can fine privacy violators up to 300,000 euros, or about $385,000 - a drop in the bucket for a global giant like Google. In some countries, regulators can bring criminal complaints; in others they cannot.
The European Commission, led by its vice president, Viviane Reding, has been pushing for an overhaul of the bloc's privacy laws, under which data protection would be centrally regulated, but the idea faces opposition from some member states.
The announcement Tuesday means the investigations into the privacy policy could continue for months, during which time Google could continue to keep the system in place.
"It is essential regulators find a sanction that is not just a slap on the wrists and will make Google think twice before it ignores consumer rights again," Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, a privacy advocacy group in Britain.
Meanwhile, Google this week announced plans to replace its director of privacy for product and engineering, Alma Whitten, who helped create the privacy policy. Lawrence You, who helped start the team, will take over.
The privacy team at Google, which has 350 employees, was started in 2010 after two privacy blunders at the company involving improper data collection by Street View cars and Buzz, an ill-fated social networking tool.
The employees do things such as coach Google engineers on adding more privacy-friendly features to products, build tools like dashboards for Google users to control how their information is shared and make it more difficult for hackers to break into Gmail accounts.
The company said that Whitten's retirement, though she is in her 40s, had been planned and was unrelated to the EU news.
"Alma has done so much to improve our products and protect our users," Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman, said in a statement. "The privacy and security teams, and everyone else at Google, will continue this hard work to ensure that our users' data is kept safe and secure."
© 2013, The New York Times News Service

US SEC says companies may announce key data on social media


U.S. regulators said on Tuesday that companies can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to make key announcements as long as they tell investors which sites they will use, an effort to help companies navigate the new media age.
The guidance from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeks to clarify disclosure rules after the agency opened an inquiry into a post made last July on the personal Facebook page of Netflix's chief executive, Reed Hastings.
The SEC investigated whether his announcement that the movie and TV streaming service had hit 1 billion hours viewed in June violated a rule that requires important information to be disclosed to investors at the same time.
The SEC said on Tuesday that it did not initiate an enforcement action or allege wrongdoing in that situation.
But it said staff learned that there was uncertainty about how disclosure rules apply to social media channels.
"One set of shareholders should not be able to get a jump on other shareholders just because the company is selectively disclosing important information," George Canellos, acting director of the SEC's enforcement division, said in a statement.
"Most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors, but not if the access is restricted or if investors don't know that's where they need to turn to get the latest news," he said.
The disclosure rule at issue, known as Regulation Fair Disclosure or Reg FD, has been up for debate for some time. Companies have complained that it is outdated as social media revolutionizes the way they share news and attract customers.
Regulators rarely bring enforcement cases related to Reg FD, and there is some gray area in how the rules apply.
In the case of Netflix, some observers said it was not clear whether Hastings' Facebook post contained material information since executives had already made similar statements in public.
As companies and investors turn to these tools, regulators were bound to clarify the rules, said Howard Lindzon, the chief executive and founder of Stocktwits, a company that aggregates Twitter chatter about stocks for traders.
"A press release on Yahoo finance - who reads that anymore?" Lindzon said. "You're going to read news on your Facebook stream, your Twitter stream. The industry is changing, and it was a matter of time before it was going to be regulated."
Alert investors
Under the new guidelines released on Tuesday, companies could take steps such as noting on websites and press releases that they will use social media to make announcements and giving web addresses for their pages. That would give investors the chance to subscribe to or join the right sites, the SEC said.
While the agency said it would not take action against Netflix, it said personal social media accounts of officers likely would not be considered appropriate venues for future announcements of nonpublic information unless investors are told that the site may be used for such disclosures.
"The SEC is saying, 'Here is clear Reg FD guidance about using an executive's page. And if the information is disseminated this way again without the company alerting all shareholders to be on the look for it, we will not have a report, we'll have an enforcement action,'" said Eugene Goldman, a former SEC lawyer who is now with McDermott Will & Emery.
A Netflix spokesperson said the company appreciated the agency's "careful consideration and resolution of this matter."
Facebook welcomed the finding that it can be used for such information sharing, a company spokesperson said. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In one recent instance of executives making an impact through social media, Tesla Motors Inc's Chief Executive Elon Musk said last week on Twitter that something "exciting" would be announced soon.
His tweets sent shares of the car maker higher. On Tuesday, Tesla announced that it had partnered with Wells Fargo and US Bank on a new financing product for its Model S electric sedan.
Other companies have had to crack down on executives' statements. Women's specialty retailer Francesca's Holdings Corp last year fired Chief Financial Officer Gene Morphis after accusing him of improperly communicating company information through social media.
His tweets had included comments about the retailer's audit committee, his meetings with investors and his board, and the company's financial results.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Friday, 29 March 2013

DoT working on spectrum allocation policy at auction price


Chandrashekhar, who took over as Telecom Secretary in September 2010, said there is now more clarity on most of the regulatory issues and absolutely clear for new set of investments to be made under National Telecom Policy 2012.
A CBI inquiry into allocation of 122 licences in 2008 was going on when he joined the department.
"Entire period (his tenure as telecom secretary) was extremely challenging and it is now that there is a general feeling that issues have been addressed. The phase where everything has to be done to immediate problem is over now," he said.
The Telecom Secretary said that the spectrum auction has addressed commercial part of the challenges in the sector.
"What was the actual price, auction process addresses that part. One part is done, there is still some part left which will come in the next auction. Next auction will have to be held in the next quarter for which we have already sought time for meeting of EGoM. As of now there is no date which has been fixed," he said.
Chandrashekhar said some issues like individual penalties, action against companies, 3G roaming may keep coming "and will be addressed as we go forward. I am talking about larger environment those issues would be settled for new investors and existing set of investors."
He expressed the hope that the sector will stabilise and take off to grow in next nine to 12 months following adjustment of companies with new regulatory regime that is being put in place under NTP 2012.
"Some of the companies balance sheets are highly leveraged and they may need to infuse some more equity, somebody may need to raise more loan or somebody may need to finalise technology adoption plan,all of these will happen in next few months which I expect in next 9 to 12 months.
Ground has been set for establishment of new equilibrium," he said.
Commenting on the infighting with the telecom sector, Chandrashekhar said, "There were many forces at work and all of these were challenges. I think competition is very essence of telecom sector that is what has brought the revolution necessary to keep the quality of services high and the cost low. It should continue but certainly necessary for competition to be healthy."
He added that it is important for industry to identify areas where the sector as a whole could benefit from certain policy.
"I think currently the area of such convergence is very low and I think it is not a good thing," Chandrashekhar said. buys book lovers website Goodreads

amazon-box-logo-635.jpg on Thursday announced that it is buying book lovers social network Goodreads in a move that could give Kindle tablets an edge over rival electronic readers.
Goodreads is the leading website for sharing book recommendations and would complement reader reviews provided at's online shop for digital titles.
"Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books," said Amazon vice president Russ Grandinetti.
"Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike."
Since launching in early 2007, Goodreads has grown to boast more than 16 million members and 30,000 book clubs.
"It's important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away," co-founder Otis Chandler said in a message posted at the Goodreads website.
"We remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets."
Features at Goodreads include tracking books read, discovering new titles, and connecting directly with authors.
Goodreads will remain in San Francisco, according to, which has its headquarters in Seattle. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Synching a vibrant online community of readers with Kindle tablets and Amazon's content promised to strengthen the company's position against e-book shops run by rivals such as Apple and Google.

Google launches same-day delivery in San Francisco Bay Area


Google Inc launched a same-day delivery service in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday as the world's largest Internet search company works with retailers such as Target Corp to compete more with e-commerce leader Inc.
Google has been testing the service, called Google Shopping Express, with employees for a few months. The company opened it up to the public on Thursday morning in a limited launch focused on San Francisco residents and others living south of the city from San Mateo to San Jose.
Shoppers who sign up will get six months of free, same-day delivery of online orders placed with select retailers in the area. Google plans to charge for the service in the future, but it has not decided how much yet.
Companies taking part in the test include national retailers such as Target, Office Depot Inc, Staples Inc and Toys 'R' Us Inc and smaller, local firms such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Palo Alto Toy & Sport.
Google is working with local courier companies that pick up products from local stores and deliver them to shoppers' homes.
Google Shopping Express is the latest sign the company is expanding from its online search roots into e-commerce, where it is competing more with Amazon, the world's largest Internet retailer.
By getting into local delivery services, Google is joining an increasingly crowded field.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, is testing a same-day delivery service called Walmart To Go in five metro areas.
eBay Inc launched a same-day delivery service in San Francisco and New York last year.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Friday, 22 March 2013

BBC Twitter accounts hacked by pro-Assad online group


The Twitter account belonging to the BBC's weather service was hacked on Thursday, the public broadcaster said.
The "Syrian Electronic Army", a group of pro-Assad hackers and online activists that has already disrupted the Facebook page of Barack Obama, claimed responsibility for the breach.
The group has recently targeted the website and Twitter account of watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch and the Twitter account of French news service France 24.
The BBC Weather Twitter feed began posting unusual messages in the early afternoon, ranging from offensive to humorous and often making reference to Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
One tweet declared: "Long Live #Syria Al-Assad #SEA."
Soon after the Syrian Electronic Army said it had hacked the account along with several others.
"@BBCarabicOnline & @BBCWeather & @Bbcradioulster was hacked by Syrian Electronic Army #SEA #Syria," the group said in a tweet.
The hackers' tweets have since been removed from the BBC Weather account and replaced by a tweet apologising to followers.
The account of BBC's Radio Ulster service, which covers parts of Northern Ireland, also posted a tweet apologising for abnormal service.
"We are aware that in the past few hours several BBC Twitter accounts have been hacked. We are actively working on this and expect it to be resolved shortly," a BBC statement said.

© Thomson Reuters 2013

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Students bare souls, and more, on Facebook "confession" pages


"I'm a compulsive laundry room thief," says one Facebook confession. "I'm the reason the 'Public Urination is Illegal' signs were put up at Coyote Village," says another.
"I sold books for the semester to go to South Padre for spring break. Gotta pay for the booze somehow," reveals yet another poster.
By turns rueful and raunchy, these anonymous admissions pop up on 'campus confession' pages unofficially linked to scores of high schools and universities.
Like many social media trends, the confession craze captivates teenagers and 20-somethings - but alarms teachers, law enforcement officers and counselors.
"It's another creative venue where kids are able to say hurtful things, and that's frustrating," said Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center at Florida Atlantic University.
At the same time, the pages can sometimes offer a catharsis of sorts, attracting heartfelt disclosures from students struggling with depression, alcoholism or eating disorders. Classmates often respond with links to counseling sites and offers to talk.
The anonymity of confession pages is at the core of their appeal, and they use a simple workaround to Facebook's general insistence that people use their real identity on the social network.
Students who set up confessional pages must do so under their real names, as per Facebook policy. But they can choose to cloak their identity as page administrators. To keep posts anonymous, they use free online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Confessors simply click on a link to open up a blank box where they can type their tell-all.
The page administrator doesn't see identifying information - just the latest confession.
The pages then prompt visitors to show admiration for the juiciest confessions by "liking" them and posting comments - often smart-aleck remarks that can draw fan bases of their own.
"The more outrageous comments attract more attention so there's little incentive to exercise restraint," Hinduja said.
Alisen Lafaive found that out quickly when she began reading the Facebook confession page for Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. "At first, I thought, 'Ooh, Clarkson Confessions! This ought to be juicy!'" said Lafaive, a junior. Then she began scrolling through posts filled with crude invective toward women.
"These things are mean," she said. "My feelings are hurt even though none of it's directed toward me." She posted a plea for courtesy but was ignored.
The confessions pages do not violate Facebook rules so long as the content remains within the bounds of civility, said a spokeswoman for the social network. But the pages have drawn complaints from some from principals, college administrators and police.
Dismayed by the content on two high-school confession pages in Kalispell, Montana last month, police asked Facebook to shut them down. Facebook closed one and removed offensive comments from another - but the student instigators simply started a third page, said Jason Parce, a police officer in Kalispell.
Parce threatened to charge participants with defamation and they quickly pulled down their posts. Though some posts were anonymous, many comments came in through Facebook accounts so the writers could easily be identified.
"There was a lot of sexually explicit content directed at specific individuals and a lot of hateful language being used," said Parce. "Absolutely, kids are more willing to be crude when they don't have to face anyone. They hide behind the computer."
High-school pages in Idaho and Arizona have also been shut down after school officials moved to investigate offensive posts.
Administrators of several confession sites told Reuters that they review each submission and refuse to post any that seem inappropriate.
Facebook also routinely reviews pages on its site and responds to any complaints about content. If its reviewers deem a post objectionable, the social network will remove it or shut down the site entirely, the Facebook spokeswoman said.
None of these safeguards can determine whether those posting and commenting on confessions are bona fide students of a particular school.
At the college level, the concern isn't bullying so much as brand protection. Universities including San Francisco State have asked confession sites to stop using school logos and photographs of iconic buildings for fear that outsiders might mistake the many tales of alcohol-fueled sexual conquests for an official depiction of campus life.
Despite, or perhaps because of, official disapproval, the fad continues to gain steam - and may be helping Facebook regain some of its allure among teens and college students. A recent poll by an online survey tool, Survata, found teens and young adults aged 13 to 25 used micro-blogging platform Tumblr more than Facebook.
Scores of Facebook confession pages have popped up in recent months, at small private colleges and huge state universities. Princeton, Harvard and Yale have pages. So does Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.
Some campuses have Twitter confession accounts as well but Facebook remains the most popular medium. The University of Wisconsin-Madison's confessions page has racked up more than 21,000 Facebook "likes." The University of Hawaii at Manoa has nearly 12,000. College students in India, New Zealand and Great Britain are baring their secrets online, too.
"It just makes me laugh," said Matt Miller, a biology major at the University of Hawaii who checks out his classmates' confessions several times a day. Among the recent posts: a lament about the difficulty of conversing with beautiful brunettes, an admission about a romantic relationship with a teaching assistant, and a cryptic, "Majoring in mathematics. Judge me."
The campus confessionals teem with references to specific dorms, classes, fraternities and traditions, giving them an intimate, gossip-over-coffee feel. Many have also become forums for posting secret crushes: "To the boy in Art History with the long hair and blue shoes. You're so cute!!"
The pages can also offer a lifeline to struggling students.
"I want to pass on hope to people who feel like they don't have any," said Stephanie Suchecki, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay who makes a point of responding to the most wrenching posts.
Moments of compassion, however, are often swamped by the lewd and the crude - just how some confession junkies like it.
An administrator of the Arizona State University confessions site recently goaded readers to ramp up their revelations: "What happened to your crazy stories!?!? Hook ups gone bad?! Party gone crazy?! Come on guys! This is ASU!"
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Google Maps adds view from Mt. Everest, other peaks


Google on Monday added views from some of the world's tallest mountains to scenes woven into its popular online map service.
Arm chair explorers were invited to take virtual adventures with members of Google's Street View team to Aconcagua in South America; Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe, and Mt. Everest base camp in Nepal.
"Whether you're scoping out the mountain for your next big adventure or exploring it from the comfort and warmth of your home, we hope you enjoy these views from the top of the world," Google adventurer Dan Fredinburg said in a blog post.
"With Google Maps, you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face."
The mountains climbed by the Street View team were among peaks referred to as the 'Seven Summits;' the highest peaks on the Earth's continents.
'Googlers' who made the ascents took the pictures with tripod-mounted digital camera equipped with a fisheye lens to capture 360-degree views.
Street View teams have cycled, driven and walked through cities and towns around the globe capturing images to add to online maps, letting people see what it might be like to stand at a spot they are curious about.
Google has added images from a Nunavut community in the Canadian Arctic and a portion of the Amazon in Brazil.

Global PC shipments falling faster than expected: Report


Global PC shipments, already hit by consumers' growing preferences for tablets and smartphones, are falling more than previously predicted due to weakness in China, according to market research firm IDC.
Slower February shipments in China caused by government budget cuts and other factors mean worldwide PC shipments could fall by a "double-digit" percentage in the first quarter, compared with a previous estimated decline of 7.7 percent, IDC said in a report on Monday.
For all of 2013, global PC shipments will probably fall between 1.8 percent and 2 percent, IDC analyst Loren Loverde told Reuters.
"Even getting to positive growth in the second half of 2013 will take some attractive new PC designs and more competitive pricing relative to tablets and other products," he said.
A handful of financial analysts have recently trimmed their forecasts for top PC chipmaker Intel Corp's first-quarter results because of concerns over weak PC sales.
In China, which accounts for more than a fifth of global PC shipments, government spending cuts and anti-corruption measures have added to the timing of Chinese New Year in reducing purchases of new PCs in February, according to IDC.
Earlier this month, IDC said 2013 global PC shipments would probably fall 1.3 percent, extending a 3.7 percent decline in 2012.
Intel, whose processors are used in 80 percent of PCs, has said it expects revenue between $12.2 billion and $13.2 billion in the March quarter, which it is due to report on April 16.
Analysts on average expect Intel's first-quarter revenue to be $12.69 billion, down about 6 percent from the December quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of Intel were down 0.16 percent at $21.34 on Monday afternoon on the Nasdaq.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Croods for iOS app review


Rovio has just launched a new game for iOS and Android called The Croods, inspired from the upcoming DreamWorks movie by the same name. The game is based on the story of the world's first modern caveman family who support each other to survive in the wild and are trying to evolve to move beyond the Stone Age era with their revolutionary new tool called the Idea! We ventured into their wacky world on our iPhone and see what they're up to.

Say Hello to The Croods!
Like every family, The Croods are a close-knit group with Grug Crood, the overprotective dad and the Crood patriarch leading the family, who believes in "fear is good, change is bad" philosophy".Then there's Ugga Crood the mom, who adapts to the surroundings to keep the family secure in times of need. Eep Crood is their teenage rebel daughter, who plants the idea of a life existing beyond the cave.
Thunk Crood is a tall, meaty son who takes inspiration from his dad to be a hunter but can't kill for stones! Four-year old Sandy Crood is the youngest member of the Croods family but her innocence isn't to get you fooled. Living amongst the Croodaceous creatures, Sandy is prepared to bite back if the need be.
Gran the mother-in-law is a firm believer in natural selection and loves to boss around though she's as old as dirt. Guy the new guy is the brainy guy always making discoveries like fires, shoes et al that lets the Croods explore new possibilities. Belt the sloth is Guy's best friend and the world's first pet. Though he doesn't have much of a role to play in the game, his occasional appearances are a delight when you level up. He is most known for his signature sing-song expression, "Da da daaaaaa!"
Trap and Tame time!
Now that you're well acquainted with the characters, let's get you started with the game. Like we've mentioned earlier, The Croods is a strategy-based experience demanding your time and patience. But there's never a dull moment. The first time you open the app, Rovio will prompt you to register/sign in to track your game's progress online.
Once your through with the registration that doesn't take more than a couple of seconds, you jump right into a brief tutorial guiding you with basic gameplay. After some brief instructions, it gets pretty easy. The game offers you a certain set of coins and gems to begin your survival.
Grug does most of the work when it comes to trapping and taming animals in the pen. These creatures yield various resources to help you build your inventions and further level up to help you trap more Croodaceous creatures. Ugga takes care of the creatures' evolvement by offering them soup to give them a super-boost. The ingredients for the soup are berries, leaves and carrots in different quantities.
The Berry Bush constantly gives you berries at a rate of 1 berry per 10 seconds. Initially when the bush is in its nascent stage, it gives you 6 berries, but once you have enough resources to help the bush evolve, you get 12 berries and so on. These fruits are an extremely crucial nutrition to fuel various creatures like the Molarbear and the Bear Owl. The Albatroceros is fed leaves, which is an expensive resource in terms of yielding time and the Giralephant needs carrots.
Trapping initially, is easy. But as you progress, you'll end up goofing up quite a bit. It's not your fault, that's how the game's been programmed. You'll need to use an evolved version of the trap to capture bigger and more stranger creatures. The trapping territory is separate from where the family is nurturing the animals, thereby offering enough space for movement etc.
The Croodaceous creatures
The first creature you begin with is a Molarbear. "Give me berries and I shall give you carrots" is the creature's norm. You'll learn how to trap and tame this hybrid in the tutorial itself. Once all creatures are tamed, you'll be required to build homes for them using the accumulated resources. Just in case, you fall short, you'll need to release the creature, only to trap it another time when you're better prepared.
All creatures give you different resources. The Bear Owl offers coins, the Albatroceros gives feathers, the Bunny Beast gives stones while the Giralephant provides you with leaves. In all there are a total of 10 such creatures, each with it's unique characteristics.
As you learn to tame and provide shelter, you progress with other creatures.
The resources are stored in the Cave. The Cave can also be evolved to offer more storage as you get ahead in the game. The initial one-storey evolves into multiple storeys as it evolves. You can track your progress with the cave chart that is located just beside the cave. It tells you, which animal yields what resource and you can see the carry-forward visuals to see how far you've come.
Apart from Homes and Traps, the build menu also lets you put up decorations to accessorise your surroundings with stone sculptures of various creatures, stone walls and fountains, wooden decorations and many such stone-age inspired stuff.
Gameplay and graphics
You start out with Ugga and Gran in the beginning with Grug only helping out in the chores. His inventions don't come into the picture until you've reached level 6. The first invention that you come across is the Elevator. The building process for this invention takes place in three sets of processes with each set demanding a combination of more resources than the previous one like stones, leaves, feathers, berries, carrots in large volumes. The Elevator is basically a sling shot to encroach upon and explore nearby areas for new creatures.
Gran is always assigning Chores, all performed by Grug, who is the hard worker amongst the family. Completing a set of three chores reveals a new set. You're awarded XP or experience points along with coins. Even creatures give you XP. You can see more Info for a creature by simply tapping on a particular animal and going into the Info section. It offers a short gist about the animal, it's level of evolvement and the rate at which it offers resources.
Other ways of collecting coins are doing self chorus such as clearing the area of trees and rocks. But in order to do that, you'll need to spend coins and even the rare gems. So you're most likely to avoid them and prioritise your resources for other purposes. Eventually, you will have to start removing the unnecessary elements to make more space for your animals. While the family territory remains static with elements being unmovable, you can move around the homes of the creatures and place them as per your convenience.
As you grow in the game, you'll acquaint other members of the Croods family including Eep, Sandy,Thunk and Guy and you can view achievements and challenges from friends with the Leaderboard. There's also a neighbour you can visit though, his role doesn't come until much later in the game and though we're not sure how he offers help. All he says is, "Hello neighbour! Grug's Hunt and Gather idea has caught on. Maybe we can help each other out later. Check back soon!"
The game is a visual treat on the iPhone with crisp and clear details of the game's environs. It's evident that a lot of attention has been paid to detailing each creature, it's movement and even various elements in the natural surroundings. For intense, the cave map that we mentioned earlier, is depicted on a stone structure with cave paintings of some of the creatures on the wall. The game stays true to the Stone-age era and instills the caveman essence beautifully.
The only disappointing thing about the game is that you don't get lot of opportunities to earn coins, which are a basic currency in the game. Sure, you're awarded with some on completing chores, but they don't seem enough and you'll find yourself struggling to earn some more. Some side missions would've helped. Earning gems is equally difficult. If you engage in a cleaning spree, getting rid of big trees and rocks awards you with only 2-3 gems max and again you'll need to shell out a couple 100 coins as well.
Also, finishing the chores uses up other resources, that are hard to refill over a period of time. The progression of the game is slow and requires a lot of patience. But once you master the strategy, you'll get comfortable.
The only creature that awards coins is the Grey Owl, but only at the rate of just 1 coin per minute. Evolving the Grey Owl requires 480 coins and 5 feathers and acquiring them is not an easy affair. Similarly, the Berry Bush requires 100 gems to evolve a third time. Evolution is necessary for all things so that they are able to churn out resources at a faster rate.
A fan of The Croods? We sure hope to be!
From the time we've spent with the game, despite being slow initially, the game is addictive. Farmville may have caught on like wild-fire by being the first strategy-based game to dominate the category, but The Croods offers a polished and refined experience with a refreshing look based on the movie.
Though we couldn't experience the role play of other members in the Croods family, besides Grug, Gran and Ugga, but we're pretty sure it'll be a lot more fun to see what all of them can do together. Overall, The Croods is a new experience from the traditional Angry Birds franchise from Rovio and other new projects like Bad Biggies, which were more physics-oriented and puzzle-based games. For those, who love a good, light-hearted strategy based game, The Croods will be a welcome addition to their iOS app world.

Qualcomm's investment in Sharp faces a delay


Cash-strapped Japanese electronics giant Sharp said Monday that a badly needed capital injection from US chipmaker Qualcomm had been delayed as the two sides hammer out details of the pact.
Sharp in December announced it had struck a $120 million deal with Qualcomm as it moves to repair its tattered balance sheet with the agreement calling for joint development of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels for smartphones.
The US firm has paid about half of the investment, giving it a 2.64 percent stake in Sharp, with the second payment which should be around $60 million scheduled for March 29.
"But it has become impossible to get the payment on March 29 with negotiations continuing on the terms of the second new share issuance," Sharp said in a statement, without elaborating.
Qualcomm's initial investment saw it buy Sharp shares at 164 yen each, about half of the 308 yen they were trading at in Tokyo Monday after falling 2.22 percent in the morning.
A Sharp spokeswoman said the delay was not related to the share price of Sharp which has apparently shelved a bigger capital deal with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision but rather questions over mass production of the energy-efficient displays.
She added that the delay would not impact Sharp's earnings, and said the two sides had earlier agreed the second payment could be delayed by three months.
Earlier this month, the Osaka-based maker of Aquos brand electronics announced a 10.4 billion-yen capital tie-up deal with South Korean rival Samsung, making it Sharp's biggest foreign investor.
Sharp, which expects to close its fiscal year to March with a net loss of 450 billion yen, is undergoing a major restructuring that includes thousands of job cuts and overhauling its business, like rivals Sony and Panasonic.
Japan's electronics giants have suffered myriad problems including a strong yen, weak demand in key export markets, fierce competition especially in their struggling TV divisions and strategic mistakes that ruined their finances.

Monitoring your kids on Facebook? That's so 2009.


Relieved your kids aren't posting embarrassing messages and goofy self-portraits on Facebook? They're probably doing it on Instagram and Snapchat instead.
The number of popular social media sites available on kids' mobile devices has exploded in recent years. The smartest apps now enable kids to chat informally with select groups of friends without bumping up against texting limits and without being monitored by parents, coaches and college admissions officers, who are frequent Facebook posters themselves.
Many of the new mobile apps don't require a cellphone or a credit card. They're free and can be used on popular portable devices such as the iPod Touch and Kindle Fire, as long as there's a wireless Internet connection.
According to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, more than three-fourths of teenagers have a cellphone and use online social networking sites such as Facebook. But educators and kids say there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Facebook for teenagers has become a bit like a school-sanctioned prom - a necessary rite of passage with plenty of adult onlookers - while apps such as Snapchat and Kik Messenger are the much cooler after-party.
Educators say they have seen everything from kids using their mobile devices to circulate online videos of school drug searches to male students sharing nude pictures of their girlfriends. Most parents, they say, have no idea.
"What sex education used to be - it's now the 'technology talk' we have to have with our kids," said Rebecca Levey, a mother of 10-year-old twin daughters who runs a tween video review site called and blogs about technology and educations issues.
Eileen Patterson, a stay-at-home mom of eight kids in Burke, Va., said she used to consider herself fairly tech savvy and is frequently on Facebook, but was shocked to learn her kids could message their friends with just an iPod Touch. She counts nine wireless devices in her home and has taken to shutting off her home's Wi-Fi after 9 p.m., but Patterson calls her attempt to keep tabs on her kids' online activity "a war I'm slowly losing every day."
"I find myself throwing up my hands every now and again," Patterson said. "Then I'll see something on TV or read an article in the paper about some horrible thing that happened to some poor child and their family, and then I try to be more vigilant. But the reality is, I'm stupid" when it comes to social media.
Mobile apps refer to the software applications that can be downloaded to a mobile device through an online store such as Apple's iTunes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are some 800,000 apps available through Apple and 700,000 apps on Google Play.
Among the most popular mobile apps among kids is Instagram, free software that digitally enhances photos and posts them to your account online. The photos can be shared on other social media sites such as Facebook, which bought Instagram last year.
Then there's Snapchat, among the top 10 free iPhone apps available. Coined by the media as the "sexting" app, Snapchat lets you send a text, photo or video that self-destructs within 10 seconds of being opened.
Kik Messenger also allows unlimited texting for free and offers anonymity to its users. Able to run on an iPod Touch or Kindle Fire, Kik allows vague user names - for example, a nickname or a string of random digits - that won't reveal a person's real name or phone number.
But as with anything online, each of these apps comes with serious caveats.
Snapchat, for example, acknowledges on its Web page that its messages aren't guaranteed to disappear: Anyone receiving a text or photo can use their 10 seconds to capture a "screenshot," or photo of their device's screen, and save that image to their phone. Video also can be downloaded, although Snapchat says it alerts senders when their data is saved.
Instagram is generally considered pretty tame as long as kids adjust their privacy settings to limit who can see their photos and don't post nudity, which could subject them to child pornography laws. But Levey points out that many parents don't know their kids are on Instagram until there's trouble - usually when kids post photos at parties, and other kids who aren't invited see them.
Dale Harkness, a technology director at Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, Ill., said parents often will hand their kids a mobile device without understanding exactly what it can do. He estimates that even without the latest social media app, the average high school student probably transmits some 150 texts a day.
"It's not anything that every parent and grandparent hasn't already seen," Harkness said. The problem, he adds, is the actions "get documented, replayed and sent around," and kids "forget how fast it moves and how far it goes."
That was the case at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, N.J., where a male student allegedly took a screenshot of nude pictures sent to him by female classmates via Snapchat, then posted the pictures on Instagram. According to a letter to parents by the school district's superintendent that was later posted online, police were warning students to delete any downloaded pictures by Monday or face criminal charges under child pornography laws.
There are general security concerns too. A recent report by a cyberthreat research company, called F-Secure, found that some of the new social networking sites have become ripe targets for spreading malware and propagating scams.
In January, the FBI arrested a 27-year-old man in Los Angeles who allegedly hacked into hundreds of social media and email accounts, including Facebook and Skype, and found naked photos and personal passwords that women had stored online. He used the naked photos to try to coerce women into disrobing for him via Skype and threatened to post their private photos to their Facebook accounts if they refused to comply, according to the indictment.
Also worth noting is that almost every mobile app available collects some kind of personal data, such as a person's birthdate or the location of their phone, and shares that information with third parties for marketing purposes. While a new regulation by the Federal Trade Commission this year is aimed at keeping advertisers from tracking kids younger than 13, most social media apps require that a person promise to be at least 13 when they sign up, thereby exempting themselves from the tougher privacy restrictions.
Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who is co-chairman of a House caucus that examines privacy issues, said he'd like to see legislation that would give kids under 15 the right to delete photos or texts that wind up elsewhere online. The prospect, however, is unlikely in a Congress dominated by debates on federal spending and gun control, and raises practical questions about how such a law could be enforced.
"I believe that our children have a right to develop, to grow up and to make mistakes," Markey said. "Nobody should be penalized for something they posted when they were 9 years old."
Several consumer advocates actually recommend exposing their kids to social media sites earlier than age 12, when they're more receptive to hearing lessons about online etiquette and safety.
For example, Levey links her kids' devices to her iTunes account so she's aware of any program they download. She also requires that her kids "friend" her on every program and follow certain ground rules: protect your passwords, set your privacy controls and never transmit inappropriate pictures or words.
Levey thinks a big hurdle for parents is getting over the idea that they are invading their kids' privacy by monitoring online activity. In fact, she said, it can be the kid's first lesson that nothing online is truly private anyway.
"If they want privacy, they should write in a journal and hide it under their mattress," Levey said.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

BlackBerry Z10 debuts in Indonesia


BlackBerry on Friday launched its new Z10 smartphone in Indonesia, the company's third-largest market as it rapidly loses ground elsewhere to rivals such as Apple and Samsung.
Dozens of buyers queued outside the upmarket Central Park shopping centre in the capital Jakarta from 07:00 am to snap up the new device, launched in Britain and Canada earlier this year and set for a launch in the US next week.
The Z10 (Review I Pictures) is seen as critical to Canada-based BlackBerry as it seeks to revive its sagging fortunes and regain lost market share from Apple and other smartphone makers such as Samsung.
BlackBerry users have dropped in numbers in many of its key markets, but sales are still robust in Indonesia, which was the smartphone maker's biggest market outside the United States and Britain last year.
However Google Android overtook BlackBerry as the most popular operating system in Indonesia in the second quarter of 2012 with more than 50 percent of the market share, the US-based International Data Corporation (IDC) said.
Blackberry still has "many loyalists (in the country) who will still run at the first sight of the (Z10)", Sudev Bangah, the head of IDC's Indonesia operations, told AFP.
"With the launch of the Z10, we feel that this market share is going to pick up a little bit more, however not significantly (enough) to offset the Android," Bangah said.
Hengki Marzuki, 36, who tried to sneak into the Central Park shopping centre before it opened, walked out by mid-morning with a gleaming Z10, his second BlackBerry device for which he shelled out seven million rupiah ($722).
"He's been waiting to buy this phone since January and he sold his Samsung Android phone to buy this," Marzuki's wife, Dega Fitri, told AFP.
The launch comes as Samsung unveiled a slim, feature-rich Galaxy S4 on Thursday. The South Korean consumer electronics giant said the device would roll out in 155 countries in late April.