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Google

Submission + - Will Apple Get Over Its 'Laptop Haphephobia'?

theodp writes: Ridiculed as a very uncool Microsoft thing by Apple CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, the idea of touchscreens on laptops and desktops got a major boost this week from cool kid Google, who essentially called BS on 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' FUD with the introduction of its high-end Pixel Chromebook. So, with Google Pixel validating Microsoft's touch strategy, will Apple be forced to get over its 'laptop haphephobia' and join the c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-now-touch-me laptop club? Hey, 'vertical touch' could yet become a 50-year-old 'overnight' success!
Google

Submission + - Tech Firms Keep Piles of 'Foreign Cash' in US

theodp writes: 'There's a funny thing about the estimated $1.7 trillion that American companies say they have indefinitely invested overseas,' reports the WSJ's Kate Linebaugh (reg. or the old Google trick). 'A lot of it is actually sitting right here at home.' And if tech companies like Google and Microsoft want to keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, Linebaugh explains, this money is still overseas in the eyes of the IRS and isn't taxed as long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company. Helping corporations avoid the need to tap their foreign-held cash are low interest rates at home, which have allowed U.S. companies to borrow cheaply. Oracle, for instance, raised $5 billion last year, paying an interest rate roughly two-thirds of a percentage point above the low post-crash Treasury yield, about 2.5% at the time (by contrast, grad students and parents pay 6.8%-7.9% for Federal student loans). Were the funds it manages to keep in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries brought home and subjected to U.S. income tax, Oracle estimated it could owe Uncle Sam about $6.3 billion.
Crime

Submission + - Bloomberg: Steve Jobs Behind NYC Crime Wave

theodp writes: Rudy Giuliani had John Gotti to worry about; Mike Bloomberg has Steve Jobs. Despite all-time lows for the city in homicides and shootings, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said overall crime in New York City was up 3.3% in 2012 due to iPhone, iPad and other Apple device thefts, which have increased by 3,890 this year. 'If you just took away the jump in Apple, we'd be down for the year,' explained Marc La Vorgna, the mayor's press secretary. 'The proliferation of people carrying expensive devices around is so great,' La Vorgna added. 'It's something that's never had to be dealt with before.' Bloomberg also took to the radio, urging New Yorkers who didn't want to become a crime statistic to keep their iDevices in an interior, hard-to-reach pocket: 'Put it in a pocket in sort of a more body-fitting, tighter clothes, that you can feel if it was — if somebody put their hand in your pocket, not just an outside coat pocket.' But it seems the best way to fight the iCrime Wave might be to slash the $699 price of an iPhone (unactivated), which costs an estimated $207 to make. The U.S. phone subsidy model reportedly adds $400+ to the price of an iPhone. So, is offering unlocked alternatives at much more reasonable prices than an iPhone — like the $299 Nexus 4, for starters — the real key to taking a bite out of cellphone crime? After all, didn't dramatic price cuts pretty much kill car stereo theft?
Education

Submission + - Are App Vendors Guilty of "Reverse Redlining"?

theodp writes: Apple iOS parents, reports GeekWire, can pick up the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas in app form for their kids this holiday season for 99 cents. The interactive storybook app is also available for Xmas gift-giving by Windows 8 parents, but they'll pay $4.99 for a version that lacks the features available in the $0.99 iOS version. Which raises some interesting questions: 1. As concerns are being raised over a new Digital Content Divide, is it cool to have owners of the cheapest computers pay 5x the price charged to the most elite consumers, especially for an inferior port of an existing app from the same vendor? 2. Why exactly does a port of an existing app have to be sold at a price which so vastly exceeds that of the original — is it mostly due to economies of scale, difficulties of cross-system app development, or pricing shenanigans?
Apple

Submission + - Are Apple CEOs Smarter Than A Two-Year-Old? 1

theodp writes: With little more than a because-we-say-so, Apple CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook were able to convince the public that touchscreen laptops were utterly useless. But as The Emperor's New Clothes showed, a child's truth is mercifully free of adult corruption. A toddler isn't going to be impressed or influenced by Apple CEOs and their highfalutin OS X Human Interface Guidelines ('the OS X user experience is streamlined, powerful, and elegant') and rules for how to Handle Gestures Appropriately. She'll just go by what makes obvious sense to her. So, after becoming accustomed to the touch interfaces on her father's iPhone and the family's Surface, it's no wonder that a GeekWire writer's two-year-old daughter found it oh-so-odd that her Dad's MacBook Pro was unresponsive to her touches and swipes (video). Sorry Apple, you can't fool all of the two-year-olds all of the time!
Apple

Submission + - 2-Year-Old to Apple: Think Different About Touch

theodp writes: Perhaps tech pundits won't convince Apple CEO Tim Cook to 'Think Different' about making touchscreen laptops. But maybe a two-year-old toddler will. Accustomed to the touch interfaces on her father's iPhone and the family's Surface, Todd Bishop's two-year-old daughter found it curious that her Dad's MacBook Pro was unresponsive to her touches and swipes. After watching the short video of the puzzled little tyke, the self-congratulatory OS X Human Interface Guidelines ('the OS X user experience is streamlined, powerful, and elegant'), which include a section on Handling Gestures Appropriately, kind of read like The Emperor's New Clothes. So much for thirty years of consistent user interfaces!
Microsoft

Submission + - Steve Jobs Was Wrong About Touchscreen Laptops

theodp writes: Don't believe everything Steve Jobs and Tim Cook tell you, advises The Verge's Sean Hollister. Gunshy of touchscreen laptops after hearing the two Apple CEOs dismiss the technology (Jobs: 'Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' Cook: 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.'), Hollister was surprised to discover that Windows 8 touchscreen laptops actually don't suck and that the dreaded 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' did not materialize. 'The more I've used Windows 8, despite its faults, the more I've become convinced that touchscreens are the future — even vertical ones,' writes Hollister. 'We've been looking at this all wrong. A touchscreen isn't a replacement for a keyboard or mouse, it's a complement.' Echoing a prediction from Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood that 'it is only a matter of time before all laptops must be touch laptops,' Hollister wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple eventually embraces-and-extends the tech: 'Microsoft might have validated the idea, but now Apple has another chance to swoop in, perfecting and popularizing the very interface that it strategically ridiculed just two years ago. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, how many iPad minis come with sandpaper for filing fingers down?'
Google

Submission + - Nexus 4 Walks Into a Bar, Launches Google Manhunt

theodp writes: A little over a year ago, an iPhone 4s prototype walked into a San Francisco bar, prompting a controversial manhunt by a now-deceased Apple investigator and the SFPD. Now, Wired reports that a Nexus 4 prototype walked into a San Francisco bar last month, prompting Google to sic its security team on "Sudsy", a San Francisco bartender who notified Google that he'd found their phone, which was slated to make its debut at a since-cancelled Android event on Oct. 29. When the 'Google Police' showed up at the bar, Sudsy's co-worker sent the 'desperate' Google investigator on a wild goose chase which landed him in an under-siege SFPD Station, from which he and Sudsy's lawyer had to be escorted out of under the watch of police in full riot gear with automatic weapons so the pair could arrange a 1 a.m. pickup of the phone.
Privacy

Submission + - Got a Criminal Record? See You on Apple Maps!

theodp writes: With its 295 pages of drawings, Apple's pending patent application for a System and Method for Anonymous Location Based Services covers a lot of ground, including a plan to map the homes of those with criminal records and make the info available to via a GPS-based service. From the application "A policeman may activate a mobile police automobile device (i.e. RDPS) in a police car for automatic delivery of a person's criminal record as the policeman drives by the location of a person's house. The police establishment configures criminal record content, or pointers thereto, along with the location of the residence that is believed to harbor the person with a record. As the policeman drives by locations with addresses of known offenders, the RDPS displays applicable criminal data.' So, can we expect to see this feature on Apple Maps someday?
Microsoft

Submission + - Apple CEO Likens Surface to Car That Flies, Floats

theodp writes: Conceding that he hadn't actually played with one, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Wall Street that Microsoft's Surface tablet is 'a fairly compromised, confusing product' in the company's 4Q earnings call. Cook joked, 'I supposed you could design a car that flies and floats, but it wouldn't do those things very well.' In Apple's 2Q earnings call, Cook also mocked the idea of touch on a laptop or desktop, quipping, 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going be pleasing to the user.' Cook added, 'We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' So, is Cook just pulling a page from Steve Jobs' people-don’t-read-anymore playbook, or is he unaware that children happily used vertical touch screens forty years ago on UIUC's PLATO System (more PLATO History)?
Apple

Submission + - SNL Mocks Tech Journalists' iPhone 5 Whining 2

theodp writes: In a Saturday Night Live skit entitled 'Tech Talk,' a panel of whiny CNET, Wired, and Gizmodo journalists is confronted by unsympathetic Foxconn factory workers over their iPhone 5 complaints. Responding to a tech blogger's complaint about Apple Maps flaws, the Foxconn workers sarcastically reply: 'You want Starbucks and it takes you to Dunkin Donut. That must be so hard for you. I guess we are lucky. We don't need maps. We sleep where we work.' Hey, there are no bigger problems than First World Problems, right?
Apple

Submission + - Tasteless in Seattle: Steve Jobs Flash Mob

theodp writes: File this one under it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time. The Filter digital agency decided to show off their Steve Jobs spirit on the first anniversary of Jobs' death by declaring Friday Steve Jobs dress-up day. But where things really took a turn for the worse was in Seattle, where Filter employees took it to the local Apple Store where they formed a Flash Mob of Steve Jobs dress-alikes dancing Gangham Style. Hey, even our best of intentions sometimes go awry.
Apple

Submission + - Reminder: Friday is Steve Jobs Dress-Up Day

theodp writes: A year ago Friday, the mainstream and tech press were reporting on the death of Steve Jobs. So on Friday, you can expect to see the first anniversary of Jobs' death marked in various ways. In Apple's home town of Cupertino, for example, the city's flag will fly at half-staff at the Cupertino Civic Center. And in Seattle, Filter is inviting the public 'to dress like Steve in his signature jeans and black turtleneck' and 'join us in our public celebration of the anniversary of Steve’s passing' as part of a flash mob that will gather in the parking lot of the University Village Apple Store at 9:30 a.m. Hey, why not a Houdini-like seance later in the evening at Jobs' Memphis mansion (now owned by Jobs' surgeon)?
Education

Submission + - Chicago Mayor Channels Ghost of Steve Jobs in Ad

theodp writes: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is raising eyebrows with a $1 million ad buy that puts his spin on what was accomplished by negotiations that prompted the cash-strapped city's historic teachers' strike. In the spot, paid for by a group called Education Reform Now, Emanuel cites a longer school day, giving principals hiring authority over teachers, public school choice, and student achievement-based teacher evaluations as reasons to celebrate the strike-ending tentative agreement reached between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Mayor's list jibes nicely with the teachers-unions-must-die agenda the late Steve Jobs lobbied for in meetings with President Obama. Jobs and wife Laurene kicked in $100,000 to help get long-time friend Emanuel elected mayor. Jobs' widow Laurene also sits on the Board of NewSchools Venture Fund, a billionaire-backed, charter-friendly education reform nonprofit. In May, Laurene Powell Jobs joined Emanuel onstage to discuss the future of education reform at NewSchools' Summit 2012, which kicked off with an exclusive screening of Won't Back Down , the soon-to-be-released film that one critic has blasted as billionaire-funded, anti-public-education, anti-teacher Hollywood propaganda.

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