Tech Report Blog - Trending
Buying online reviewsIf those purchased Twitter followers not doing enough to promote your new book or brand--don’t fret. There are other options, like buying positive reviews. A tid-bit from an interesting article about the market for online book reviews in the NYTimes:
Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.As anyone who shops online knows, those good reviews really matter. Why buy the (insert item here) with three stars when you could buy the slightly more expensive (insert item here) with 4 and half stars. But if a third of those reviews are fake, what’s a consumer to do? How can you spot an ad posing as a review? The Bits blog has a breakdown of a fake review (including more users of the first person singular). Or, if you really want to get into it, you can read the journal article by a couple of Cornell professors.
Aug 27, 2012
Everything’s coming up Windows PhoneThere’s an endless amount of speculation as to what Apple’s victory over Samsung in its patent lawsuit will mean for the tech industry. Some say Apple is gearing up for an even bigger fight against Google, while others think the $1 billion judgement is a pretty cheap price to pay to become the #2 handset maker. And while Apple may have come out on top in the verdict, there have got to be a lot of sly grins in Redmond, Wash, home to Microsoft. The Boston Herald writes:
Microsoft was smart enough to pursue a cross-licensing deal on patents with Apple. So Apple won’t sue them and vice versa. Samsung may well rethink its hardware relationship with Android and start making more Windows Phones, which get rave reviews from customers but suffer a continual problem with market share and branding. What’s more, Apple has essentially indemnified the Windows Phone platform from litigation, at one point holding up a Nokia Lumia to illustrate, as they put it, “Not every smartphone needs to look like an iPhone.”And while they’re at it, Microsoft employees might be seeing the hands of Nokians for a long-distance high five. Nokia is expected to unveil the first phone running on Microsoft’s newest operating system early next month. From Reuters:
Nokia has been fighting for survival after losing vast ground to Apple and Samsung. In 2011 it forged a software alliance with Microsoft, which had also fallen behind in smartphone software. Nokia is now the largest maker of Windows Phones, but the market share of the software has stayed at below 5 percent. "We think that the real winner hear will be Microsoft and the Windows Phone ecosystem," Nomura analysts said in a note. "As Android and Apple tear each other apart, Microsoft has been waiting in the wings and is in a very good position to move in and entice users to switch from Android to Microsoft, as we have already seen that user loyalty is low," they said.
Aug 27, 2012
Is Google next on Apple’s hit list?Apple is no doubt feeling like king of the hill today. Lawyers for the company are expected to ask the judge to stop all the sales of Samsung devices that were found to be problematic in Friday’s patent ruling. One question floating around now: Who will Apple go after next? From Fortune:
There was an elephant in the courtroom when Apple won its billion-dollar patent infringement award against Samsung Friday, and its name is Google. After all, Google engineers were directly involved in developing at least one of the phones (the Nexus S) found to have infringed Apple's patents, and every one of the accused devices was running Google's Android operating system -- the "stolen product" Steve Jobs had promised two years earlier to destroy.Apparently making the case against Google and Android would be a little tougher than the Samsung lawsuit--since Google gives the OS away for free. But it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the industry starts reacting & what exactly that reaction looks like. Here’s Google’s statement on the verdict from The Verge:
The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don't relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don't want anything to limit that.
Aug 27, 2012
Aug 26, 2012
Apple's win over Samsung could mean big changes for the smartphone and tablet markets.
Face paint can help beat the heatIf you were wearing face paint that scientists recently developed for the Department of Defense, you would totally let me put a cigarette out on your face. But smoking is bad, so never mind. Hot poker? The face paint was developed by a team of researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi, who were tasked with helping soldiers bear the brunt of heat waves shot off from bomb blasts. The BBC writes:
Heat-resistant paint for equipment with high operating temperatures, such as boilers, fans and ovens, has existed for some time, but the new substance is also waterproof, non-irritating, easy to apply - and it repels insects.Hear that flame-throwing mosquitoes? You are no match for this paint! The team didn’t use the traditional wax base for the paint (that stuff will melt and stick to skin); instead, they worked with silicon, which reflects heat. Also according to DoD regulations, all military face paint - OK, they call it camouflage paint, which I guess is probably more proper - is supposed to contain the bug repellent Deet. Problem there is that Deet is really flammable too, but the researchers have also figured out a way to water it down so it doesn’t, you know, burn your face off. Again from the Beeb:
The lead researcher, Robert Lochhead, said the paint could also be used for fire-proof clothes, tents, and even tanks, and the team was working on a colourless version for firefighters.In summary, we should just paint the planet in this stuff and never have to worry about fire again.
Aug 24, 2012
Keep buying slip-ons and getting pedicures, because new TSA foot scanners don’t pass musterEven though we’ve come to expect the sound of swishing feet as they shuffle passengers to an airport scanner, we have trouble accepting the fact. It’s the biggest complaint people have about airport scans. TSA workers don’t like it either, saying it slows down the screening process. For the past year, the TSA had been testing four different scanners that would allow people to keep their shoes on, but nothing has quite worked out. The New York Times reports:
The Transportation Security Administration said it had rejected all four devices because they failed to adequately detect explosives and metal weapons during tests at various airports. One of the scanners is now used in airports in 18 countries.Tests revealed that machines were good at detecting metal explosives but fell short when it came to plastics and gels. So back to the drawing board we go. Again from the Times:
The government has a $1.4 million contract with Morpho Detection, a subsidiary of the French defense giant Safran, to develop a shoe-scanning machine. Morpho’s scanner can detect chemical compounds and metal objects, said Brad Buswell, the president of Morpho and a former Homeland Security official. “Our device can detect items to see if there is an explosive in a shoe or simply a pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts,” Mr. Buswell said. He said the company will be testing a prototype with the T.S.A. this year.Keep on shuffling!
Aug 24, 2012
Kodak selling off its film businessDown at Kodak headquarters, everything is priced to move. BARGAINS BARGAINS BARGAINS as the company attempts to pay off creditors. The bankrupt company has put its print film business, the foundation of the once-mighty Eastman Kodak empire, on the block, along with photo kiosks, scanners, and a bunch of patents. The patents are being sold even though the company is involved in litigation related to those patents. So whoever buys the patents gets the hassle of lawsuits FREE! since those suits will apparently go forward. From Bloomberg:
Kodak filed for bankruptcy after years of burning through cash while digital photography eroded its film business. The company had spent $3.4 billion on restructuring before bankruptcy, including payouts to fire 47,000 employees since 2003, closing 13 factories that produced film, paper and chemicals, and 130 photo laboratories.Kodak is planning to also hold on to its buggy whip division, it’s Betamax line of products, and its complete set of Matthew Perry movie DVDs.
Twitter defriends, unfollows, gets grumpy with TumblrTwitter used to be cool, man. Everyone knew that Facebook was bossy, demanding cuts of in-app sales, sneaking around privacy issues, but Twitter was free and open and putting daisies in the barrels of guns and so forth. Well, that was then. Twitter has thrown a roadblock up in the path of the Tumblr blogging platform. Tumblr users used to be able to import their lists of Twitter friends into Tumblr for cross referencing, thus greatly building up their Tumblr presence and making it a more attractive place to be. People were at the party, you know? Now Twitter has blocked that. The move comes on the heels of a similar action against Instagram and the announcement of new rules for Twitter’s programming interface that will severely limit third party apps using the platform. Maybe this is all part of the harsh reality of needing to preserve a product and not giving other social media platforms more ammunition. But Twitter is unique in that many people see it as a platform first and a company second.
Members of Congress have tons of fake Twitter followersCongress isn’t always known as a place of great sincerity. Sometimes, believe it or not, the bonhomie and friendliness exhibited by members is not entirely heartfelt. I know, try to cope. Turns out that extends to the Twitter accounts of elected representatives, which are packed to the gills with spambots and other non-human accounts. From The Hill:
Jon Tilton, the general manager for digital marketing firm Advocacy Media, ran a follower check last weekend on every member of Congress using StatusPeople, a tool designed specifically to check for fake followers on Twitter. He found that an average of 38 percent of accounts following representatives on Twitter and 42 percent of those following senators are a combination of fake and inactive accounts. ... “Twitter is run amuck with phony accounts,” Tilton said, noting that the problem raises questions about Twitter's legitimacy as a communication tool. His advice is for congressional members and campaigns to invest in regular attempts to scrub their account of phonies, recommending campaigns and offices dedicate resources now in order to avoid wasting them later.Yeah, I guess, Jon Tilton. I don’t know. I think most people accept that a certain percentage of Twitter accounts are fake. It’s like junk mail or spam, you recognize that there’s always some chaff that goes along with the wheat.
Amazon offering the most for trade-in iPhonesSo we know by this point that Apple is getting ready to launch new gadgets on the 12th of September, right? Including a new iPhone (by the way, I get a strong feeling that it WON’T be called the iPhone 5, but instead just be called the new iPhone, following the lead of the latest iPad). That means a lot of people will want to dump their current models and go with the shiny shiny. Amazon.com is offering some pretty screaming deals for those old iPhones and attaching some strings along the way, namely that the payment is all in Amazon credit. From CNET:
For example, my AT&T iPhone 4S 32GB is in perfect working order, with no visible signs of use and all the original materials included (earbuds, sync cable, box, etc.). What's more, I haven't personalized it in any way (i.e. engraving). Assuming Amazon agrees with my assessment, I'll get a gift card worth $455. If the iPhone was merely in "good" shape, with normal signs of wear (including light scratches on the body), I'd get $386.75.Now, here’s the thing: what you can get from Amazon and other places NOW is a lot more than you’ll be able to get in a few weeks when the new phone comes out. Can you get by on something else between now and then or do you GOTTA have an iPhone all the time and our society has become so sad and weird? Also, Wal-Mart is selling the 4S for $148. The price cut was announced by that spooky floating smiley face bonking into the old price.