Episode 235

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

ABC2 rebrands Kids programming

The ABC has launched a new logo for its kids programming on ABC2.
Previously known as ‘ABC For Kids on 2’ it is to be simply known as ‘ABC 4 Kids.’
From May 2nd the broadcaster will extend preschool hours on ABC2 from 6am to 7pm daily. ABC News Breakfast will also switch to ABC1.

Facebook apologises for removing gay kiss photo
The image, of a gay kiss on UK soap EastEnders, was removed for being “sexually suggestive” and “abusive”.

It was used by US writer Niall O’Conghaile to accompany a blog post about the ‘kiss-in’ held to support a gay couple who were kicked out of a pub.

Facebook said in a statement: “The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and was removed in error. We apologise for the inconvenience.”
Hundreds of people added the image to their profiles to complain about the removal.
Facebook has been criticised for over-zealous policing of images, including removing pictures of mothers nursing newborn babies.
**fans sites for murderes, and hacking of deceased persons sites***

Telstra slashes Samsung Galaxy Tab to just $299

Telstra’s website currently lists the Galaxy Tab for $299 outright with free delivery, though the offer is only available to customers who purchase the tablet online.

price cut comes just a week after Telstra slashed the outright price of the Galaxy Tab to $408 from $999

ONE reveals new programming line-up

ONE has announced timeslots its new shows for its relaunch week beginning May 8th.
Sport remains on the channel across weekends and weekdays.
Thursday May 12
4:00pm TBA
5:00pm TBA
6:00pm Bondi Rescue
6:30pm Emergency Search and Rescue
7:00pm Airline
7:30pm Everest Beyond the Limit
8:30pm The Game Plan
9:30pm UFC
10:30pm Sports Tonight

Michigan cops stealing drivers’ phone data

The Michigan State Police have started using handheld machines called “extraction devices” to download personal information from motorists they pull over, even if they’re not suspected of any crime

Telstra in pitch for AFL live online

FOOTBALL fans will be able to watch live AFL games online for the first time if Telstra is successful in a push for expanded digital coverage, a move that could nudge the 2012-16 broadcast rights deal above the $1 billion mark.

With the National Broadband Network under construction, Telstra is keen to pay more to secure exclusive and expanded content for mobile devices and its fledgling T-Box internet television service.

Telstra has offered significantly more than the $50 million to $60m it currently pays but its contribution will be dwarfed by the television networks. Seven is almost certain to clinch the free-to-air rights for $450m, with Nine reluctant to match the price.


Seven and Ten paid $780m for the 2007-11 free-to-air rights and then on-sold four games a week to pay-television group Foxtel for $315m.


Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu slams police IT bungle

A secret police report aired in the media on Tuesday indicates seven criminals went on to commit murders after breaching parole conditions or committing other offences.
The murderers had not been identified as parole violators because of a failing in Victoria Police’s LEAP computer system.
Senior police were warned more than three years ago that the computer system was flawed and the failure to indicate parole status could lead to serious crimes.
The problem was fixed in December, but Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones is investigating why it took so long.

Google shares slump as profit disappoints

GOOGLE reported a disappointing 18 per cent increase in first-quarter earnings

In the first quarter, Google posted a profit of $US2.3 billion ($2.18bn), or $US7.04 a share, up from $US1.96bn, or $US6.06 a share, a year earlier.

Erik’s Notebook

Hulu to shake up Aussie TV market

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/hulu-to-shake-up-aussie-tv-market-20110421-1dpq3.html

Asher Moses

April 21, 2011 – 11:50AM

Comments 4
A grab from the Hulu home page.

Disruptive TV streaming service Hulu is preparing to launch in Australia with sources close to the project flagging it might launch with or without the support of the commercial free-to-air TV networks.
Hulu, which offers free ad-supported on-demand streaming of TV shows and movies, has been a runaway hit in the US, where it garners hundreds of millions of streams a month on desktop computers and internet-connected TVs.
NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group and Disney all own roughly equal stakes in the company but so far the content (there are over 260 content partners) has only been available to those in the US. Hulu was formed as a way of fighting back against online TV show piracy.
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In the strongest indication yet that Hulu is launching in Australia, the company, headquartered in Los Angeles, filed for an Australian trademark on March 29.
Local TV networks have been reluctant to support Hulu because there is a fear that it will drive people away from their core business – broadcast TV. However, some networks are embracing the service fearing they may miss out on capitalising on the shift towards online TV streaming.
Nine is the furthest along the path to joining Hulu and the network reportedly signed a heads of agreement with the company late last year. It is understood Hulu has also had talks with Seven, Ten and the ABC.
Seven insiders dismissed Hulu and queried why local networks would spend money buying rights to air shows in Australia and marketing them only to hand the content over to a service like Hulu.
A network source close to the launch of Hulu in Australia said the local unveiling was not “imminent” but was definitely on the cards and the service would launch with or without the local TV networks.
“You wouldn’t launch with just shows from one network but you might launch with two … if a network has got the rights to free-to-air broadcast [in Australia] and then doesn’t participate in Hulu I think it’s unlikely that their content will show up on Hulu,” the source said.
But the source added that there was plenty of great content on Hulu in the US that wasn’t currently being aired by any of the TV networks in Australia.
Although each of the major Australian TV networks offer their own online catch-up TV services, the source said Hulu was about bringing it all together in one place.
“It’s not a straightforward thing for a network because you do have to consider your existing broadcast business … [but] you can build significant value as a shareholder in a business like this and that would outweigh any negative impact,” they said.
Kim Dalton, ABC’s director of television, said the public broadcaster had not yet pledged to work with Hulu but it supported a “whole of industry platform offering”. He said the service would “underpin and bring strength to the free-to-air platform”.
“However, I can speak like that as a public broadcaster – I completely understand that for the commercial networks there are all sorts of issues that they have to deal with,” said Dalton.
Hulu US spokeswoman Elisa Schreiber declined to comment when asked for details on the Hulu launch in Australia. At last year’s Media 2010 event, Hulu’s director of international business development, Simon Gallagher, said Australia was on the top 10 list of countries on Hulu’s international expansion plans.
Even without an official Australian launch, tech-savvy users from outside the US have been able to access Hulu for some time using unauthorised hacks that can be found via a quick Google search.
However, many of these methods have been blocked by the company.
In movies, Hulu as a streaming service would compete against local offerings like Quickflix, which is taking on movie rental stores by posting DVDs out to customers.
Quickflix founder, Stephen Langsford, said the company had no plans right now to get into movie streaming and he did not appear worried by the impending launch of Hulu.
“I’ve heard speculation that Hulu will be coming to Australia ‘soon’ for the last three years,” he said.
This reporter is on Twitter: @ashermoses

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/hulu-to-shake-up-aussie-tv-market-20110421-1dpq3.html#ixzz1K899CJCU


Apple earnings nearly double, iPhone unstoppable

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/biz-tech/apple-earnings-nearly-double-iphone-unstoppable-20110421-1dpc8.html
April 21, 2011 – 8:01AM
Apple has reported another exceptional quarter, nearly doubling its net income and far exceeding analyst estimates on the strength of the seemingly unstoppable iPhone.
However, sales of Apple’s big new product, the iPad tablet computer, came in below expectations. The second version of the tablet launched three weeks before the end of the quarter, and manufacturing constraints prevented Apple from selling more of them.
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Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said progress is being made on expanding iPad production, and the company is expanding the number of countries in which it sells the tablet.
“I’m very confident that we can produce a very large number of iPads for the quarter,” he told investors on a conference call.
Apple said net income for its fiscal second quarter, which ended in March, was $US5.99 billion, or $US6.40 per share, up 95 per cent from $US3.07 billion, or $US3.33 per share, a year ago.
Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $US5.37 per share.
Revenue was $US24.7 billion, up 83 per cent from $US13.5 billion a year ago. Analysts were expecting $US23.4 billion.
The results were lifted by the record sale of 18.65 million iPhones, millions more than analysts had expected.
For the current quarter, Apple said it expects revenue of $US23 billion and earnings of about $US5.03 per share. Both figures are below analyst expectations of $US23.9 billion and $US5.26 per share, respectively. Apple commonly lowballs its forecasts, but Oppenheimer said the effects of the earthquake in Japan would lower revenue by $US200 million.


BANKS AND NBN MOP UP IT SKILLS


By Beverley HeadMonday, 18 April 2011 07:32

Demand for IT staff edged back into skills shortage territory during the March quarter as big bank projects and the NBN slow burn mopped up any excess capacity.

The March quarter Clarius Skills Index put the skills index for computer professionals at 101.1 – just 0.1 outside of the balanced range. And while it’s a notch up from the December quarter of 100.7, it’s less than the September 2010 index of 101.4.
The fact is that the IT skills market has been bumping around being balanced for most of the last three years.  And while there’s been some movement in salaries – there hasn’t been much.
Candle is a specialist recruitment business within the Clarius network which places IT professionals into roles around the country. Candle executive general manager, Linda Trevor, told iTWire that the market had been pretty much balanced since she took on the role at the company a year ago.
What was concerning she said, was that if companies or Governments suddenly wanted to roll out new IT projects there was no slack in the skills market to fill new positions. Clarius estimates there is currently a shortfall of around 2,200 IT professionals.
It’s enough to have the company again calling on the Government to relax the rules surrounding the skilled migration programme which would allow people on 457 Visas to be brought into the country.
The Clarius report also lamented the fact that; “At the moment, recruitment companies are required to pay two per cent of recent payroll expenditure on training for Australian citizens and permanent residents which places an additional burden on hiring activities.”
But Ms Trevor acknowledged that there were local IT professionals who were out of work and unable to find positions. It was she said generally a case of their skills and experience not matching employer requirements.


Ms Trevor said; “I think it’s ridiculous that we spend more money on hiring someone else than training” existing IT professionals who may not have the perfect skills mix being sought by employees. She said there was merit in employers looking to beef up their training and development budgets to make sure existing local professionals could compete with overseas imports.
However according to Clarius as soon as the NBN roll out starts in earnest the country will be forced to bring in overseas IT professionals with networking experience as there simply aren’t the numbers of these specialist personal available in Australia.
Clarius pays KPMG Econotech to conduct the survey on its behalf, using Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations data. An index of 100 represents perfect skills-demand balance where figures above 101 are considered to indicate skills shortages.
Across all sectors of the economy Clarius noted that; “National skills shortages are re-emerging after a small oversupply in the December quarter.” Although demand for workers across the board was rocked by the spate of national disasters earlier in the year Clarius claimed that there was pressure on the supply of IT employees partly as a result of the $4 billion of combined IT investment programmes being run by the big banks and the continued roll out of the National Broadband Network.
According to the report demand for IT professionals in the resources sector is on the move in Western Australia, while finance sector specialists are needed in Victoria although that state also experienced in a slow down in demand for senior roles paying $120,000 and above.
It also noted that; “The ACT is experiencing an extreme backlog in Government security clearance applications, meaning many applicants are finding employment elsewhere.”


http://www.itwire.com/it-people-news/recruitment/46620-banks-and-nbn-mop-up-it-skills


Steve Jobs’ next big trick: smart TVs?

Asher Moses

April 15, 2011

Photo: Amnesia Razorfish

It single-handedly kickstarted the tablet computer market and revolutionised both smartphones and MP3 players, but could Apple’s next big trick be high-definition television sets?
Rumours of an Apple smart TV have been swirling for some time but a new bout of speculation kicked off this week when Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, sent a note to investors claiming that the “data points” he picked up at an electronics trade show in China suggested “a smart TV launch by Apple could occur” towards the end of this year.
This would of course be different to the Apple TV set-top box product the company already sells, which allows users to watch streaming content on their TV sets.
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“Our research suggests this Smart TV would go well beyond the miniature $US99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers,” White said.
White acknowledged there had long been rumours of an Apple-branded TV but the company was now moving down this path “at a faster pace than the market expected”. He said Apple’s powerful iTunes ecosystem, brand and design savvy could make it a force in the TV world over the next few years.
The TV industry is moving heavily towards internet-connected TVs but TV manufacturers do not typically create content and so have been forced to sign deals with third-party providers such as Netflix and BigPond Movies. However, an Apple TV could leverage all of the content Apple already sells through iTunes.
Even Google has developed software for TVs but those sets have yet to make it to the Australian market.
Last year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted Apple would join the connected TV market in the next two to four years and even went as far as saying the first model would sell for $US2000.
Rumours of an Apple-branded TV have been so pervasive that digital marketing firm Amnesia Razorfish used it as the basis of its April Fool’s joke this year.
But at least one analyst, Michael Gartenberg, of Gartner, is not convinced. He was quoted by NewsFactor as claiming “an Apple-branded TV is one of the longer-running digital unicorns”. He said it would be difficult for Apple to “redefine” the TV market as it has done with other categories.
Anthony Agius, founder of the Australian Apple community site MacTalk, agrees. He said in an email interview that he did not believe there was much room for Apple to innovate and the company had “better things to do” than make TV sets.
“I don’t see why Apple would go into the LCD/Plasma panel business when Sony, Samsung, etc, have it all stitched up,” he said.
“If they did make a TV, it would just be a regular panel, with an Apple TV integrated. Why bother doing that when they can sell the little set top box for so cheap separately?”
Long-time Apple watcher Matthew Powell, editor of MacTheMag.com, said there was in fact an Apple-branded TV built by Sony in about 1994 but only in the US. He said it was not successful.
Powell said that with Apple’s success in the consumer electronics market it was only natural to wonder whether it would enter the living room with a TV set, and the Apple TV product was clearly a salvo in that direction.
“There are a fair number of people living the ‘Apple lifestyle’ with all their shiny devices – and a good deal of brand loyalty – who would love to have an Apple logo on their TV as well,” he said.
“The question to ask, though, is what kind of impact Apple could have in the market. It’s not like smartphones or tablets, where the industry hadn’t coalesced around any particular direction and Apple could be disruptive.”
TV was a mature market with well-established brands and distribution channels and the dominant companies were those which made their own displays. Powell questioned whether Apple – which makes its own processors for iPads and iPhones – would go into the flat panel manufacturing business.
“I think the Apple television rumours are more wishful thinking (‘wouldn’t it be cool if Apple made a TV’) than anything else,” he said.
This reporter is on Twitter: @ashermoses

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/hometech/steve-jobs-next-big-trick-smart-tvs-20110415-1dh4l.html#ixzz1JpLFYb3R


WHITE IPHONES READY AFTER 10 MONTH DELAY: SOURCES April 14, 2011



Apple CEO Steve Jobs poses with a white iPhone 4. Photo: Reuters
Suppliers to Apple have begun production of white iPhones after a delay of almost 10 months, pointing to a launch date of within a month, two people familiar with the situation said today.
Hon Hai Precision Industry, flagship of Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, would assemble the iPhone, one of the people said. They declined to be named because the information was not public.
An Apple spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment, while calls to a Hon Hai spokesman went unanswered.
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Apple senior vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller first said in a Twitter post in March that the white iPhone would be available for sale by spring, which ends in May in the northern hemisphere.
The white iPhone would be available in the US from AT&T and Verizon Communications by the end of April, Bloomberg News reported on its website, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs first unveiled the white version of the smartphone when the iPhone 4 was launched in June last year, but it has been delayed because of a manufacturing issue that the company has not elaborated on.
Many telecommunications operators have been eager to sell the iPhone, hoping that the feature-jammed device will help boost data network use and increase revenue. For example, China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile operator, has been in talks with Apple for more than a year on distribution rights for the handset.
More than 16 million iPhones were sold in the last quarter of 2010, accounting for more than a third of Apple’s sales in those three months.
Reuters

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/white-iphones-ready-after-10-month-delay-sources-20110414-1df9a.html#ixzz1JpLyEwvI

BUBBLE 2.0: AUSTRALIAN STYLE

Nick Abrahams

April 15, 2011




Investment in technology companies globally is very active, prompting many journalists to describe current conditions as “Bubble 2.0”. The Bubble 2.0 label is not new. The Economist called it in 2005 when eBay bought Skype and PCMag called it again in 2007 when YouTube and social media sites were just starting to explode. But do we have a true Bubble 2.0 in Australian tech companies?

The stats show that the market in the US has some remarkable valuations for tech companies, but these valuations are largely directed at the Big 5, being Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Twitter and LinkedIn, whose valuations total $71 billion. This compares to 1999 when it took 24 web companies to total a valuation of $71 billion. There is definitely heat at the top end of the US tech market. Goldman Sachs bought into Facebook on a valuation of $50 billion (some 100 times earnings), while 3-year-old Groupon knocked back $6 billion from Google in order to seek to list later this year for $15 to $25 billion.

We have had some big deals recently in Australia with US coupon powerhouse WhaleShark Media acquiring relatively unknown Melbourne company retailmenot for $90 million, US venture fund Accel Partners picking up a minority stake in collaboration software company Atlassian for $65 milllion and Yahoo!7 acquiring group buying site Spreets for a reportedly large amount of money. While these are healthy valuations, there are a number of things that make today very different from 1999/2000.

1. The internet overthrows the Tyranny of Distance

One of Australia’s major problems is that there is a small domestic market. This means that companies need to look offshore for significant growth. The move offshore is expensive and often fraught with issues. However, the internet allows Australian entrepreneurs to participate in a global market without having to leave home. Look at Atlassian, a world-class software company that came on the radar of Accel Partners because so many of their investees were using Atlassian.

Down in Melbourne, two young guys set up the website retailmenot some four years ago and now boast traffic of 95 million unique users a year – mostly from outside Australia, especially the coupon-obsessed Americans.

2. Strategic not financial buyers

The main buyers for Australian tech assets have been companies acquiring the targets for strategic reasons. Ten Network has been very active, buying a share in the sports site theroar.com, buying 40% of dating site Oasis Active, and joining with News Limited to invest in the group buying site, Our Deal. Sensis bought online business matchmaking site Quotify, Mortgage Choice bought the online home loan comparison service HelpMeChoose and News bought comparison shopping site GetPrice.

This does not mean the financial buyers are not interested. Caledonia Investments picked up 25% of online auction success story, GraysOnline and Accel Partners came into the market again, joining with Carlyle Group in investing $70 million into online exchange service OzForex.

3. The revenue

As a refugee from dot com, I am heartened to see that the new breed of tech entrepreneurs have leant from the errors of dotcom – namely that just spending shareholders’ money is a finite business model. Today’s internet companies are different, rather than just PowerPoint decks with hockeystick growth curves, they have real revenue to show potential investors. This is especially the case in the social commerce/group buying area which combines the power of social media with local search and home shopping. Groupon in the US was the fastest company ever to $500 million in revenue. In Australia, in addition to the Yahoo!7/Spreets deal and the Ten/News/Our Deal transaction, Amazon-backed Living Social invested $5illion into Jump On It and US investors Insight Venture Partners put $14.5 million into members-only shopping site, Ozsale.

4. The technology works

Back in dot com times, I lived in fear of being asked by a potential client to do a “live demo”. Put simply the technology did not work too well – leading to a number of awkward moments telling the customer what they would be seeing on screen if the internet connection had not dropped out. I saw a presentation by web video play Viocorp (recently backed by David Kirk’s Bailador fund for $5 million) and it was not without a touch of envy when I saw the ease with which they were able to demonstrate their product live from the web.

5. Inexpensive technical infrastructure

With cloud computing vendors like Amazon, it is possible to spin up servers in a matter of minutes for the outlay of a few dollars a day. This means that companies can develop complete scaleable platforms without having to raise significant funds to acquire hardware and software. It is this ease of development that has led to the remarkable number of group buying sites which appear to be hitting the market each month.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the US is seeing some heady valuations and all eyes are focussed on the IPO market later this year as a number of the Big 5 are targeting a listing. However, Australia has seen strong investment activity across the range of tech businesses and multiples, while high, are not necessarily excessive, given the historical revenue growth of these companies. Certainly the social commerce sector seems crowded at the moment and it may be ripe for a consolidation, but the impact is not widespread enough to warrant comparisons to the bubble conditions of 1999/2000 – but of course who knows what tomorrow might bring.

Nick Abrahams is a specialist technology M&A and projects lawyer and is a partner at global law firm Norton Rose. Nick advised the vendors of Spreets on their sale to Yahoo!7. During 1999-2001, Nick was the Chief Operating Officer of listed dot com, Spike Networks in the USA.



Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/bubble-20-australian-style-20110415-1dgv0.html#ixzz1JpHvjMjA



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CN WINDOWS CUT IT ON CONSUMER TABLETS?

April 15, 2011


In the face of Android and iOS, should Windows stay on the desktop where it belongs?

The more I use handheld devices, the more convinced I become that the best user experience comes from operating systems designed from the ground up for a mobile, touchscreen user experience. Windows running on a tablet might make sense for business users needing to replicate the desktop user experience, but trying to shoehorn a desktop OS like Windows into a consumer touchscreen device doesn’t work. I just don’t think consumers will tolerate it. And why should they when Apple and Android devices have come so far?

Acer’s recent tablet launch was a real eye-opener, with Windows 7 tablets and Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablets sitting side-by-side. Despite Windows 7’s supposedly touch-friendly features, Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets were clunky, cumbersome and expensive compared to their Android counterparts. Right now I’m reviewing the sleek new Acer Iconia Tab A500 running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and I’m going to write it up on the blog next week. Spending time with the A500 running Honeycomb I feel it’s safe to say that, after a slow start, Android tablets have come of age – making Windows tablets look worse than ever.

Back in the old days, handset makers such as HTC made the best lipstick for the pig that was Windows Mobile – designing a skin that evolved to become Sense UI running on Android and WinMo 6.5 phones. Efforts to do the same for Windows 7 on a tablet aren’t having much success, judging by Asher Moses’ review of the Leader Slate 12 Windows 7 tablet. He found that you can’t judge a handheld device by the spec sheet alone, it’s the user experience that counts (a point that the iPhone and iPad have been making painfully clear for years).

The Leader Slate 12 relies on lipstick in the form of the ExoPC UI tablet skin for Windows, which failed to impress Asher. Other efforts I’ve seen to improve the Windows tablet experience, such as on Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets, also fail to impress. You constantly feel that you’re fighting with Windows rather than it working for you – it actually reminds me of using XP on the desktop and then switching to Leopard.

When Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android Honeycomb are providing such slick devices at reasonable prices and with impressive app support, why would you want to pay a premium for a Windows device that’s a pain to use? It’s not that I’m pro-Apple or anti-Microsoft, it’s just that I’m pro-usability. I’d really like to see Windows Phone 7 running on a tablet, I think it would provide a much smoother user experience than desktop Windows given a sloppy mobile makeover. Until then, I can’t see Windows making much headway in the consumer tablet space. Life’s too short to tolerate desktop Windows on a tablet.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/blogs/gadgets-on-the-go/can-windows-cut-it-on-consumer-tablets-20110415-1dh68.html#ixzz1JpHejbbR


CAN WINDOWS CUT IT ON CONSUMER TABLETS?

April 15, 2011

In the face of Android and iOS, should Windows stay on the desktop where it belongs?
The more I use handheld devices, the more convinced I become that the best user experience comes from operating systems designed from the ground up for a mobile, touchscreen user experience. Windows running on a tablet might make sense for business users needing to replicate the desktop user experience, but trying to shoehorn a desktop OS like Windows into a consumer touchscreen device doesn’t work. I just don’t think consumers will tolerate it. And why should they when Apple and Android devices have come so far?
Acer’s recent tablet launch was a real eye-opener, with Windows 7 tablets and Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablets sitting side-by-side. Despite Windows 7’s supposedly touch-friendly features, Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets were clunky, cumbersome and expensive compared to their Android counterparts. Right now I’m reviewing the sleek new Acer Iconia Tab A500 running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and I’m going to write it up on the blog next week. Spending time with the A500 running Honeycomb I feel it’s safe to say that, after a slow start, Android tablets have come of age – making Windows tablets look worse than ever.
Back in the old days, handset makers such as HTC made the best lipstick for the pig that was Windows Mobile – designing a skin that evolved to become Sense UI running on Android and WinMo 6.5 phones. Efforts to do the same for Windows 7 on a tablet aren’t having much success, judging by Asher Moses’ review of the Leader Slate 12 Windows 7 tablet. He found that you can’t judge a handheld device by the spec sheet alone, it’s the user experience that counts (a point that the iPhone and iPad have been making painfully clear for years).
The Leader Slate 12 relies on lipstick in the form of the ExoPC UI tablet skin for Windows, which failed to impress Asher. Other efforts I’ve seen to improve the Windows tablet experience, such as on Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets, also fail to impress. You constantly feel that you’re fighting with Windows rather than it working for you – it actually reminds me of using XP on the desktop and then switching to Leopard.
When Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android Honeycomb are providing such slick devices at reasonable prices and with impressive app support, why would you want to pay a premium for a Windows device that’s a pain to use? It’s not that I’m pro-Apple or anti-Microsoft, it’s just that I’m pro-usability. I’d really like to see Windows Phone 7 running on a tablet, I think it would provide a much smoother user experience than desktop Windows given a sloppy mobile makeover. Until then, I can’t see Windows making much headway in the consumer tablet space. Life’s too short to tolerate desktop Windows on a tablet.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/blogs/gadgets-on-the-go/can-windows-cut-it-on-consumer-tablets-20110415-1dh68.html#ixzz1JpHejbbR





Lift-off for strap-on flying machine

April 13, 2011

$75,000 a piece … The Martin Jetpack.

George Jetson fans take note: the wait for your very own jet ski in the sky is nearly over, according to the New Zealand company behind an ambitious aeronautical project.
The Martin Jetpack, literally a strap-on personal flying machine, is now in the final stages of development, with the first machines to be dispatched for solo flights by the end of the year.
Military agencies, border control and rescue organisations in the United States will be the first to use the pricey $NZ100,000 (about $75,000) aircraft.
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Inventor Glenn Martin predicts it will be just 18 months before other wealthy enthusiasts get their delivery.
“We’ve had 2500 people sign up for one so far, and plenty of them from Australia,” Mr Martin told AAP.
Their plans for the expensive toy range from practical – “some just want to dodge the rush-hour traffic and do it in style” – to the purely frivolous.
“We know of someone that would love to do stunts flying across Sydney Harbour. How amazing would that be?” Mr Martin said.
The jetpack resembles two leaf blowers welded together but its capabilities are much more complex. The two-litre, jet-powered engine can soar across the skies at 100km/h at heights of up to 50 metres.
Carrying enough fuel to fly for 30 minutes, the contraption could be used in hard-to-access areas and war zones to patrol borders and, if unmanned, to make difficult deliveries by remote control.
“Some of that might sound boring but where there’s huge cost savings and an increase in efficiencies for agencies it’s actually hugely exciting,” Mr Martin said.
Recreationally, it could be used to go fishing and, one day, get to work.
For now, however, it is categorised as a microlight so it cannot be taken into the city centre, however this may change under US law.
Martin’s machine, lauded as Time magazine’s most anticipated invention last year, has been more than three decades in the making.
The Christchurch man began tinkering with the concept in the 1970s, inspired by the limited success of the US Bell Rocket Belt, which stayed airborne for just 26 seconds before crashing.
A gas-guzzler in the extreme, the belt burned through $US2000 worth of fuel in 30 seconds.
Martin’s latest and most celebrated version, unveiled at an air show in 2008, is more fuel efficient, costing just 15 US cents for 20 seconds in the air.
It was designed to be the “simplest aircraft in the world,” said Mr Martin, who has described how “you strap it on, rev the nuts out of it and it lifts you up off the ground”.
“It’s basic physics. As Newton said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So when you shoot lots of air down very fast you go up and you’re flying.”
He said the interest had been overwhelming, with inquiries coming from Middle Eastern royalty, US business tycoons and European daredevils.
The Australian government hadn’t officially registered its interest but, judging by website traffic, the Australian Defence Force was a fan.
“It’s the fourth biggest visitor to our site after Boeing, NASA and the SAS, so something’s going on there,” he said with a laugh.
“Maybe they’ve just got an employee who thinks it’s so cool they spend all day checking it out.”
AAP

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/liftoff-for-strapon-flying-machine-20110413-1ddme.html#ixzz1JpKUsTAG

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