N!NJA writes: In this interesting 15-minute interview to Bloomberg, Woz speaks of his disappointment at the movie, which, covers Steve Jobs first stay at Apple. According to Woz, the movie got a lot of things wrong and was unfair to other people who worked with Jobs at that time. When asked what was the biggest mistake of the movie, Woz answered: "Kutcher has too much of this fan thing — like a cult leader — and could not see that he [Jobs] had a lot of flaws in knowing how to run things and execute to make products that were worthwhile". He also said that the movie over-glorifies Jobs and "it makes it look like he [Jobs] was forced out of the company for no good reason." Woz also said he loved "Pirates Of The Silicon Valley".
N!NJA writes: Win2k has a special place in my heart. Sadly, due to planned obsolescence it's no longer possible to use this fantastic operating system with the latest software available (without manual modifications). [...]
If I try to access the network from a Windows 2000 workstation or server it is instant. Try the same on a XP or Win7 system and you'll have to wait patiently. It is almost impossible to understand, especially when you consider that I can type www.techspot.com into my browser, get a DNS lookup and be brought to this site within less than a second. But to access a machine in our own company, which is at most 500 meters away, going through a switch or two and a gateway can take several orders of magnitude longer! [...]
Enter Windows 7 and search has yet again been "improved." Honestly, the search as you type functionality is an obvious usability enhancement, as is the lack of dogs, balloon tooltips and other such nonsense! So what's wrong then? Well, it doesn't work as you would expect. For example, if you have two programs installed, one called UltraVNC and the other TightVNC and you search for it on the start-menu by typing "vnc" into the search box, nothing will be found. This behavior is inconsistent with Windows XP where this search would work. What you need to do is precede the search string with an asterisk, so *vnc does the trick. That's not so bad you might say, but why make the change, and why isn't it consistent? Why can I find vnc if I search for "tight" or "ultra" without an asterisk at the end of the string?
N!NJA writes: This is a recent article on Fortune that sheds new light on the troubles inside HP. The battles between members of the board of directors as well as the atmosphere between lower management and engineers.
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A few months after she took over as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) last September, Meg Whitman held one in a series of get-to-know-you meetings with employees. To say the audience, a group of software engineers and managers, was sullen would be an understatement. As Whitman spoke, many of them glared at her. Others weren't making eye contact with their new boss. Their heads were down, and they were tapping furiously on handheld devices.
"Your comments are being live-blogged," one employee told her defiantly. Whitman challenged the man. "You all have taken leaking to a new art form," she said. "It's a sign of an unhappy company. You wish HP ill." The tapping suddenly stopped, and as the room fell silent, the mobile devices were lowered.
The employees' open contempt for the head of the company and Whitman's acknowledgment of their misery were signs of just how dire things had gotten inside the technology titan after a humiliating series of epic stumbles last year. [...]
The saga of HP's 11 months under Léo Apotheker begins in November 2010. To understand it, you need to appreciate what he found and how HP got to that point. The company seemed strong at that moment, its swagger restored during the five years Mark Hurd had been in charge. Earnings per share had quadrupled. The stock price had doubled. HP was No. 1 in PC shipments, No. 1 in printers, No. 1 in servers.
But just under the surface was a very different reality: HP was traumatized, its employees disengaged. Internal "voice of the company" surveys revealed that morale had cratered. One top executive told Apotheker she felt "maimed" by Hurd's hard-charging style. A company hailed for its vaunted "HP way" — which emphasized employee autonomy — had stifled creativity to the point where workers now had a rueful phrase to describe the way they tuned out and pretended to be clueless when executives asked them to do something: "flipping the bozo bit."
N!NJA writes: While Apple continues to overwhelmingly dominate the tablet space with its one-size-fits-all iPad (albeit with both a new and ‘old', cheaper version concurrently on sale), the multiplicity of Android tablets on the market from numerous manufacturers hasn't yet helped Google to capture a significant chunk of market share.
In an interesting twist, though, it's emerged that Google's Android market share isn't entirely its own, as figures from market analysts comScore (via PR Newswire) reveal that, as of February 2012, Amazon's Kindle Fire had grabbed an impressive 54.4% of Android tablet market share. Why is this significant? Well, the Kindle Fire doesn't use Android in the strictest sense. At its heart, the OS is based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but Amazon ripped out just about everything that it could.
N!NJA writes: A collection of the top pirate groups on Bittorrent have got together and decided to swap from the Xvid video compression scheme to the x264 codec, with the objective of offering higher quality files. [...] However, the move has proved controversial, due to the inability for some standalone DVD players to cope with the MP4 format. Interestingly, a subgroup of pirates has emerged who are taking the new MP4 releases, transcoding them back to Xvid and AVI, and re-uploading them to satisfy this demand.
TorrentFreak quotes several users complaining about the change, including one who wrote: "Please can you revert back to AVI as most DVD players cannot recognize MP4 format and this means I need to do conversion to AVI all the time for my grandmother and it's quite painful."
N!NJA writes: Those who had the privilege of watching the fascinating documentary The Lost World of Lake Vostok on BBC's Horizon, know that this lake has been buried under 4km (14,000 ft) of ice for millions of years and might be inhabited by never-before-seen species of microbes, fish, plants and animals. More about the lake on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Vostok. Now, the Russian scientists that have drilled towards the lake since the 90's are close to reaching its waters.
After 20 years of drilling, a team of Russian researchers is close to breaching the prehistoric Lake Vostok, which has been trapped deep beneath Antarctica for the last 14 million years. Vostok is the largest in a sub-glacial web of more than 200 lakes that are hidden 4 km beneath the ice. Some of the lakes formed when the continent was much warmer and still connected to Australia. The lakes are rich in oxygen (making them oligotrophic), with levels of the element some 50 times higher than what would be found in your typical freshwater lake. The high gas concentration is thought to be because of the enormous weight and pressure of the continental ice cap.
If life exists in Vostok, it will have to be an extremophile — a life form that has adapted to survive in extreme environments. The organism would have to withstand high pressure, constant cold, low nutrient input, high oxygen concentration and an absence of sunlight. The conditions in Lake Vostok are thought to be similar to the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. In June, NASA probe Cassini found the best evidence yet for a massive saltwater reservoir beneath the icy surface of Enceladus. This all means that finding life in the inhospitable depths of Vostok would strengthen the case for life in the outer solar system.
N!NJA writes: Not one week after the security group known as Symantec announced that they’d discovered the largest malware attack in the history of Android planted firmly in the guts of the official market, they’ve announced that there is no such infection. In fact, the malware the group said it’d found, Android.Counterclank, is actually just an overly-aggressive adware code. This is in accordance with a report put out by rival security group Lookout whom has essentially “told them so” late last month – always double check! [...] As Symantec notes, this software is only capable of doing a few disagreeable things to your Android device instead of a whole lot, the latter being the one that gets a code into the “malware” category. Instead, we’re only talking about the following:
“In general, it’s changing the home page of the [smartphone's] browser, adding additional shortcuts to the desktop, adding and even removing bookmarks. It took a while for some consensus then about what was adware or spyware, and what wasn’t, but eventually that consensus was reached.” – Kevin Haley of Symantec
N!NJA writes: Barnes & Noble's primary line of defense against Microsoft's allegations of patent infringement by the bookseller's Android-based devices has collapsed in its entirety. An Administrative Law Judge at the ITC today granted a Microsoft motion to dismiss, even ahead of the evidentiary trial that will start next Monday (February 6), Barnes & Noble's "patent misuse" defense against Microsoft. [...]
Prior to the ALJ, the ITC staff — or more precisely, the Office of Unfair Import Investigations (OUII), which participates in many investigations as a third party representing the public interest — already supported Microsoft's motion all the way. The OUII basically concluded that even if all of what Barnes & Noble said about Microsoft's use of patents against Android was accurate, it would fall far short of the legal requirements for a patent misuse defense.
N!NJA writes: My favourite fact of this past year was the proof that China makes almost nothing out of assembling Apple‘s iPads and iPhones. It’s a favourite because it speaks so directly to one of the great political arguments going on in both the US and the UK. I refer, of course, to this very strange idea that both countries would get (even) richer if only they would do more manufacturing. [...] If you want lots of jobs and lots of high paying jobs then you’re not going to find them in manufacturing. They’re where the money is, in the design, the software and the retailing of the products, not the physical making of them. Manufacturing is just so, you know, 20th century.
N!NJA writes: Many have already read on the Internets what Richard Stallman said about Steve Jobs:
"Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died. As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die — not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing. Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective."
Eric S Raymond, the author of Cathedral in Bazaar has come out to defend Richard M Stallman:
"But the Mac also set a negative pattern that Jobs was to repeat with greater amplification later in his life. In two respects; first, it was a slick repackaging of design ideas from an engineering tradition that long predated Jobs (in this case, going back to the pioneering Xerox PARC WIMP interfaces of the early 1970s). Which would be fine, except that Jobs created a myth that arrogated that innovation to himself and threw the actual pioneers down the memory hole."
"Second, even while Jobs was posing as a hip liberator from the empire of the beige box, he was in fact creating a hardware and software system so controlling and locked down that the case couldn’t even be opened without a special cracking tool. The myth was freedom, but the reality was Jobs’s way or the highway. Such was Jobs’s genius as a marketer that he was able to spin that contradiction as a kind of artistic integrity, and gain praise for it when he should have been slammed for hypocrisy."
"What’s really troubling is that Jobs made the walled garden seem cool. He created a huge following that is not merely resigned to having their choices limited, but willing to praise the prison bars because they have pretty window treatments."
N!NJA writes: Hewlett-Packard has hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser to help defend against potential activist investors or hostile bidders seeking a break-up of the troubled technology giant, people briefed on the matter told DealBook on Wednesday. The hiring of Goldman is not surprising. Analysts and investors have mused for months that H.P. is ripe for an activist investor to arise, demanding even bolder steps to try to bolster shareholder value. Shares of H.P. have fallen more than 44 percent over the last 12 months, closing on Wednesday at $23.19. With the company's stock price hovering near 52-week lows, HP's management and directors have become concerned that agitators may begin amassing sizable holdings, these people said.
On the same topic:
HP Said to Have Been Concerned Over Oracle When Switching CEOs
Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — Hewlett-Packard Co. directors were concerned that plummeting shares would make the company vulnerable to a bid from Oracle Corp. when they replaced Leo Apotheker with Meg Whitman, two people close to the board said. While Oracle has considered informally whether to approach Hewlett-Packard, it's unlikely to make a bid any time soon, three people close to the software company said. After speaking with several financial advisers, Hewlett-Packard has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help it prepare for any possible moves by activist investors, one person said.
N!NJA writes: The proposal to build Apple's sleek tablet computers in Brazil was first announced in April by President Dilma Rousseff during an official visit to China. Senior officials hailed the deal as a sign of growing economic ties with Asia, and proof that Brazil was moving up the value-added manufacturing chain as its economy grows.
Yet the idea for a "Brazilian iPad" prompted immediate skepticism back home, where factories have struggled for years with high taxes, an overvalued currency and a lack of qualified workers due to poor education and a tight labour market.
The expected start date for production was first set for July, then delayed to November. Now, it is unclear whether the project will ever get off the ground, at least in the form that it was originally envisioned, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
"The talks have been very difficult, and the project for a Brazilian iPad is in doubt," one official said. "(Foxconn) is making crazy demands" for tax breaks and other special treatment, the official added.
N!NJA writes: This is an interesting development in technology industry of Brazil. The government is pushing what they call "digital inclusion", which aims to give its citizens easier access to technology. They recently approved a tax break that will make media tablets (iPad and Android only, I believe) 30% cheaper. The problem with this idea is 2 fold: 1) media tablets are more expensive than cheap laptops/netbooks and only the rich Brazilians would be able to afford them. If the majority of the population won't benefit, that isn't real "inclusion". 2) media tablets lack the basic features of actual laptops, so the level of empowerment they provide is comparatively lower. I'm curious to the what fellow Slashdoters think about it.
So here's the scoop:
"Brazil's lower house in a voice vote Tuesday gave approval to a measure offering tax breaks for national production of tablet computers. The bill, which still must gain final approval in the Senate, would offer manufacturers full exemption from the country's PIS and Cofins tax. According to government estimates, the tax breaks could help reduce the final cost to consumers by more than 30%. The measure was introduced by the government as part of a series of incentives to attract foreign tablet manufacturers to the country. In addition to exemption from the PIS and Cofins taxes, the government has also pledged reductions in the IPI industrial products tax and the II import tax. Of a total of 12 million computers produced in Brazil last year, only 100,000 were tablets." -- Wall Street Journal
N!NJA writes: A patent application published on Thursday reveals how far Apple has progressed on melding iOS's multi-touch interface with Mac OS X, and hints that the Mac operating system's multiple-workspace feature, Spaces, may find its way onto the iPad.
Rather than manipulating Spaces using your keyboard or mouse as Mac OS X now requires, however, the filing envisions using multi-touch, multi-finger gestures to summon the Spaces view, move windows from workspace to workspace, and select which one to fill the display.
"Why bother?" you might ask. Well, according to Apple, using a mouse or keyboard to manage Spaces is "cumbersome and inefficient", requiring "selecting an icon or other small graphical user interface object with a cursor," or "remembering unintuitive keyboard shortcuts". Such actions are not only "tedious and create a significant cognitive burden", they also "wast[e] energy" which is "particularly important in battery-operated devices".
N!NJA writes: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show last week amid anticipation from both critics and supporters. The critics were hoping he would go on-stage and deliver the same old, boring discourse on why Microsoft is tops in software. The supporters were hoping that Ballmer would talk about the impact Windows 8 will have, why Windows-based tablets are the future, and how Microsoft will spend the next year overcoming pressures from Google and Apple. Unfortunately for those supporters, Ballmer did little of the sort. Instead, he and his colleagues spent time talking about Xbox, one of Microsoft's strongest achievers in the past year; Windows Phone 7 and how the company will improve the OS in the coming year; and Windows 7. He also mentioned that the next version of Windows will support ARM Holdings architecture. But that was about it.