Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why ethical smartphone Fairphone faces big risk

A device billed as the world's first ethically sourced smartphone was unveiled in London this week, but despite thousands of pre-orders its designer says the project remains a huge gamble.

The Dutchman behind the Fairphone says it avoids sourcing materials from conflict zones or using factories with poor labour practices, taking as its model the coffee and banana "fair-trade" industry.

More than 15,000 people have already ordered the new handset, which sells for 325 euros ($440) and is due to start shipping in December, but designer Bas van Abel said ethical business was far from easy.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer s biggest regret

Microsoft chief executive  Steve Ballmer has made an impassioned plea to investors to support his vision of the world's largest software company as a unified devices and services powerhouse in his swan song before Wall Street.

Ballmer, who in August said he planned to step down within 12 months, told investors and analysts in an annual meeting that Microsofthad a bright future, despite missteps under his 13-year tenure.

"We have the tools. There's economic upside here. In the long run, we are almost uniquely poised to seize the opportunity," he said, in a typically high-volume presentation. "Today I'm speaking as an investor. You all own Microsoft stock, cheer for it, for God's sake."

Campus hiring, BPOs head to medical, law colleges

Business process outsourcing firms are beginning to hire directly from colleges and universities, a practice pioneered and perfected by country's information technology services industry, which is now slowing down such campus recruitment.

The more organised hiring is being prompted by the changing nature of work, which is rising in complexity and value, calling for more regular supply of talent with specific skills. However, unlike IT services companies which hired mostly from engineering colleges, BPOs are casting their net wider to include medical, commerce and law graduates.

Indian mythology behind Pranav Mistry s tech edge

Pranav Mistry who became a global sensation with his futuristic Sixth Sense technology in the past and recently came to the fore yet again while launching Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, does not want to be dubbed as a gadget guru. The 32-year-old hailing from a small town of Gujarat now heads the Samsung's Think Tank Team and is the director of Research, Samsung Research America.

Although working on augmented reality, display technologies, futuristic television, mobiles, robotics apart from involved with Hollywood sci-flicks at the moment, Mistry is impatient to unravel the next big thing after digital revolution, he tells ET's Shramana Ganguly over a teleconference from US. Excerpts:

Camera review, iPhone 5S vs Lumia 1020 vs Galaxy S4 zoom

I used to cringe when I'd see people capturing precious memories with their smartphones. Although most smartphones have megapixel counts similar to what stand-alone cameras offer, they have been inferior in lens quality and manual controls. Images have never been as good... until now.

Over the past two months, I've shot more than 3,000 test photos in four states using nine camera phones, a point-and-shoot camera and a high-end, single-lens reflex camera (also known as an SLR). None of the smartphone cameras are good enough to replace a $1,000-plus SLR, but I'm surprised how well some of the phones did, particularly in low-light settings that challenge even the best cameras.

Now, clothes that change colour at your will

A new line of clothes, which has incorporated tiny, flexible LEDs into dresses, has become the first fully controllable electronic clothing.

The new line, named Lume, was showcased last week at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Zurich, Switzerland.

The collection featured a bomber jacket, a tunic, and an open-backed dress - all of which can be controlled by a smartphone app, New Scientist reported.

YouTube to bring in offline video viewing feature

YouTube has now come up with a new feature that can allow users to watch videosfor a temporary period in offline mode.

The online video giant said that the upcoming feature will allow users to add videos to their mobile device to watch for a short period when an internet connection is unavailable.

According to, the feature if set to launch on YouTube's mobile app in November.

Samsung‘s 12.2 inch tablet spotted again

Samsung's speculated 12.2-inch tablet is back in news. According to reports, the tablet has just recieved Bluetooth certification.

The tablet, which was earlier rumoured to launch at IFA, is now said to expected to launch in October. Part of Samsung's Galaxy Note family, the 12.2" tablet is expected to run on a 1.9GHz octa-core processor, likely to be one of Samsung's Exynos processors. Other speculated specs include, 3GB RAM, 2560x1600 display resolution and S Pen support.

Amazon workers go on strike in Germany

Several hundred employees of the online retail giant Amazon went on strike in Germany in a planned three-day walkout over pay, unions said.

Between 300 and 400 employees on the morning shift halted work at two logistics centres in Bad Hersfeld in the west of Germany, said Mechthild Middeke, a representative of the giant service-sector union Verdi at Amazon.

The union is calling for three days of strikes at both Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig, with a demonstration planned in Leipzig on Friday.

Anger, the most powerful emotion on Facebook, Twitter

Anger is viral! Anger is the most influential emotion on-line inciting more responses than other sentiments such as joy or sadness, a new study has found.

Anger spreads faster and more broadly than joy, say computer scientists who analysed emotions on the Chinese Twitter-like service Weibo.

The research by Rui Fan and colleagues at Beihang University in China compared the way that tweets labelled with specific emotions influence other people on the network.

Xbox One, PS4 in spotlight at Tokyo Game Show

The Tokyo Game Show -- one of the world's largest gaming events -- has opened, featuring next-generation home game consoles from Sony and Microsoft that will go on sale later this year in overseas markets.

A record 352 exhibitors, including 162 from abroad, are showcasing game titles and devices at the four-day video game expo held at the Makuhari Messe convention centre in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, according to the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association.

One of the highlights of this year's show is a hands-on demonstration of Sony's PlayStation 4console, which is set to hit the US and Canadian markets on November 15.

Indian start ups billion dollar opportunity

A new breed of Indian software companies is profiting from the hunger of smaller enterprises for cutting-edge technologies, unlike their bigger IT services brethren that depend on large corporations in markets abroad.

While the likes of Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services earn more than $75 billion (Rs 4.7 lakh crore) by providing software services overseas, the upstarts are targeting millions of small and medium businesses in India eager to adopt the latest technologies.
"The factors driving the movement towardsSMBs are SMBs themselves, which have realised that software can make a difference to their businesses. Thanks to cloud computing, software is getting cost-effective," said Sharad Sharma, former R&D head of Yahoo in India, and part of iSpirt, the industry thinktank for Indian software product firms.

Images of HTC One Max leaked

The phablet market is growing at a fast clip globally, with top companies like Samsung, Sony, Huawei etc rolling out big-screen smartphones to gain a larger share of this booming market. Even the likes of Apple and Nokia are said to be preparing phablets to get into the fray. Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, which won acclaim for its flagship smartphone One, is also said to be preparing such a device, whose pictures have leaked on the internet.

Alleged photos of the yet unannounced device, currently being called HTC One Max, were leaked by the Weibo user TDZhijia, who released several images of the handset. As per the alleged leaked images, it appears that the company will be continuing with the design language it introduced with HTC One in this handset. The phone will have BoomSound speakers above and below the display and a fingerprint scanner on the back. The images are reported to be the Chinese version of the smartphone codenamedHTC 8088. The Chinese version is said to have a removable back and supports microSD card, both features are expected to be missing from the international version.

Nikon unveils water proof AW1 camera

Nikon has unveiled what it claims is the world's first camera with waterproof and shockproof interchangeable lens, Nikon 1 AW1. The AW1 is waterproof to depths of 15m, shockproof from heights of 2m and freezeproofto temperatures as low as -10°C.

With AW1, Nikon brings a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera that allows users to continue taking photographs even underwater. While shooting underwater, the camera has a custom white balance setting to cater to the conditions underwater and it also features a few special modes like scuba and close-up. While we gush over its physical toughness with the stainless steel body, Nikon AW1 comes with in-built GPS for automatic geotagging of your photos and videos. The model also has a built-in WiFi to connect to readily available internet anywhere.

iOS 7 users face problems while downloading OS

Users of iPhones and iPads, were reportedly unable to download the iOS 7 update on their devices.

Customers complained that the download, which required a Wi-Fi signal, was taking a number of hours to complete.

According to the Guardian, the iOS 7 brings in a number of new navigation features, which is said to be the biggest change in the look of the software since the iPhone was launched in 2007.