Posted tagged ‘CNET’

TwitterPeek Launches

November 3, 2009

A new gadget designed specifically for people who want to tweet on the go was launched today by a company known as Peek.

Just tweeting? That’s it?

You’ll have to read Sascha Segan’s review on PC Magazine for more information. Here’s a hint of what he thought…he gave it 1.5 out of 5 stars!

From PC Magazine:

A neat idea executed poorly, the cute li’l TwitterPeek will probably sell well this holiday season, aided by credulous blog posts and fawning fashion magazines. That’s because its concept is pretty buzzy: a bargain-basement Twitter-only handheld with a hip design. Just don’t expect it to work well or in many ways at all.

Let’s get the buzz out of the way. TwitterPeek is frickin’ adorable. It looks like a high-end, shrunken-down Scandinavian Speak n’ Spell. It’s a powder-blue or charcoal-gray, 4 by 2.7 by 0.4 inch slab, and it feels surprisingly solid thanks to its soft-touch front and metal back. The 2.5-inch, 320-by-240 screen shows eight lines of text plus status information. The QWERTY keyboard has nicely spaced keys, though you navigate mostly with a clumsy, stiff trackwheel attached to the side. Peek says the TwitterPeek has about three days of battery life, and my model lived up to that claim.

From CNET:

TwitterPeek, which looks like a smartphone, features a QWERTY keyboard and comes in black or aqua blue.

The idea behind TwitterPeek is simple. After buying the device, users need only to input their Twitter credentials to get going. The gadget lets them tweet, reply, retweet, send direct messages, and download followers. It supports one account at a time. Users can also view TwitPics by clicking the “view content” option from the TwitterPeek menu. The company claims its battery lasts three to four days with average usage.

Included in the price of TwitterPeek is a service plan. According to the company, users can access Twitter nationwide through Peek’s own “mobile network,” which accesses mobile-phone networks. If users choose to pay $99 at the time of purchase, they will get the TwitterPeek device and six months of Peek service. After that, they need to pay $7.95 per month for network access. If customers plunk down $199, they’ll get the device and service for the life of the product. In either case, TwitterPeek allows for unlimited tweeting.

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Swine Flu Outbreak Followed Closely On Twitter…Is This Good?

April 28, 2009

With today’s technology, anyone can see the spread of diseases such as swine flu in real time, and alert public health officials to potential new cases by using Google, or now an even easier way, through Twitter.

But there are those who believe that Twitter has become a place that has caused unnecessary hype and misinformation about the outbreak, which is believed to have claimed more than 100 lives in Mexico.

From CNN:

“This is a good example of why [Twitter is] headed in that wrong direction, because it’s just propagating fear amongst people as opposed to seeking actual solutions or key information,” said Brennon Slattery, a contributing writer for PC World. “The swine flu thing came really at the crux of a media revolution.”

Twitter’s popularity has exploded in recent months, and Slattery said it’s a new development that a wide number of people would turn to the site in search of information during an emergency.

Others take a softer approach to the buzz on Twitter.

Writing for CNET, a CNN partner site, Larry Magid advises online readers to take medical advice with a grain of salt.

The Internet is “a great way to get general information, prevention tips and information on how to handle a known condition, but be cautious when using it to try to diagnose yourself,” he writes.

From MSNBC:

“Our site used to update every hour,” said John Brownstein, a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston who, along with fellow CHB computer scientist Clark Friefeld, created the HealthMap swine flu tracking service, which was recently modified to include Twitter updates. “But that was too slow for the amount of information we’ve been accumulating, so we had to switch to a Twitter feed instead.”

The new swine flu Twitter service launched Sunday morning with about 50 users. By Monday afternoon, more than 1,400 people had signed up to receive the latest swine flu news.

Swine flu is big news on the social networking site. On Monday, the top three trend searches (“Swine flu,” #swineflu, and “CDC,”) were related to the virus.

Some of the “tweets,” as the 140-character-or-less messages are called, are serious, noting emerging hotspots or asking fellow Twitterers whether the virus has reached a given community.

Other tweets are more snark than science. “Maybe my computer has this swine flu thing?” said user Ifoch. Many express dismay at histrionic media coverage of the potential for a pandemic when casualties still number in the hundreds.

Will Facebook Make You Flunk?

April 14, 2009

Maybe. But a study of 219 students at Ohio State University doesn’t answer this question with a specific answer. It does suggest a link between the social networking site and academic performance, though so watch out all you Facebook, MySpace and Twitter users! 🙂

From Computerworld:

Need your kids to pick their grades up? Tell them to spend less time on Facebook.

A new study released by Ohio State University shows that college students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grades than students who don’t use the popular social networking site. But don’t count on the Facebook users admitting the problem. The university report noted that 79% of them said that using the social networking site was not interfering with their studies.

“We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying — but we did find a relationship there,” said Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in education at Ohio State University. “There’s a disconnect between students’ claim that Facebook use doesn’t impact their studies, and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying.”

And who was more likely to use Facebook? Yup, future systems administrators and CIOs.

From CNET:

Aryn Karpinski, one of the Ohio State education department researchers, was quoted in the Times of London as saying: “Our study shows people who spend more time on Facebook spend less time studying. “Every generation has its distractions, but I think Facebook is a unique phenomenon.”

Karpinski will be presenting her findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Some 68 percent of the Facebookers among the 219 young things questioned enjoyed a significantly lower GPA than those who eschewed friending and poking.

I don’t like to alarm anyone, but might I suggest this research be given an incomplete?

If the researchers had suggested that with every hour you spend on Facebook, your GPA sinks proportionately, then perhaps parents might be entitled to put controls on social networking and demand that their children get rid of their 5,000 closest chums.

Amazon Kindle 2 Coming February 9

January 28, 2009

My wife’s grandmother believes that Amazon’s Kindle is the greatest invention of all time and now she should get excited as it appears we are only a few weeks away from the new, updated version.

From CNET:

I just received an invite “to an important Amazon.com press conference” on the morning of Monday, February 9 in New York. I’m not going to say where it is (that’s not cool for Amazon’s PR people, who would have to deal with crashers), but let’s just say it’s in a location that relates to books.

When the Kindle was first announced in 2007, Amazon held a very similar press conference (yes, in the morning), so I’d say there’s a good chance we’ll finally get some sort of official announcement on the next version–or versions–of Amazon’s popular digital reading device.

Photos of the alleged Kindle 2 were leaked late last year and speculation was high that a new Kindle would arrive in time for the holidays.

Not only did no new device show up, but Amazon basically stopped shipping the Kindle, even as it continued to advertise it front and center on Amazon.com, day after day. A note on the Kindle product page informed potential buyers that the Kindle was sold out and on back order for two to three months. Now it’s just listed as sold out and that Amazon would ship the device on a first-come, first-served basis.

It’s interesting to note that one of the readers of my earlier story posted that he just got an e-mail from Amazon saying that the Kindle his girlfriend ordered for him during the holidays was due to ship on March 5. Of course, that’s just one buyer, but it wouldn’t shock me if Amazon shipped out the bulk of its orders for the Kindle around then.

If indeed this turns out to be the announcement for the new Kindle (to be clear, I have no confirmation of that), Amazon could very well offer customers who’ve already ordered the original Kindle–and are awaiting its arrival–the option of canceling their orders or receiving the new Kindle.

Data Breach Exposes Up To 100 Million Credit Cards

January 21, 2009

Heartland Payment Systems announced yesterday that cyber criminals compromised its computer network, gaining access to customer information associated with the 100 million card transactions it handles each month.

From CNET:

Heartland Payment Systems, which processes payroll and credit card payments for more than 250,000 businesses, reported Tuesday that consumer credit card data was exposed in what may be the largest security breach ever.

In a statement that coincided with President Barack Obama’s inauguration events, Heartland said the breach occurred last year but that it found evidence of the intrusion last week and immediately notified law enforcement and credit card companies.

Robert H.B. Baldwin Jr., president and chief financial officer of Heartland, told CNET News he did not know how many credit and debit card accounts may have had their information exposed. The company handles 100 million transactions per month but does not know exactly how many unique cards or consumers that translates to, he said.

“We could do that analysis but we have not done it,” Baldwin said. “The question is what percentage of transactions did the malware capture and what percentage got out to the bad guys?”

He also would not say when the malware arrived in its system. “We have suspicions as to when, but can’t nail that down. We’re still working on how” the malware got there, he added. “We believe the intrusion is contained.”

“We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyber fraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the United States Secret Service and Department of Justice,” Baldwin said in the statement.

No merchant data, cardholder Social Security numbers, or unencrypted PINs, addresses, or telephone numbers were exposed, the company said.

From Fox News:

The company said it couldn’t estimate how many customer records may have been improperly accessed, but said the data compromised include the information on a card’s magnetic strip — card number, expiration date and some internal bank codes — that could be used to duplicate a card.

Heartland, of Princeton, N.J., processes transactions for more than 250,000 businesses nationwide, including restaurants and smaller retailers.

Avivah Litan, an analyst at research company Gartner, called it the largest card-data breach ever, based on her conversations with industry executives.

Previously, the largest known breach occurred when around 45 million card numbers were stolen from retail company TJX Cos. in 2005 and 2006.

Robert Baldwin, Heartland’s president and chief financial officer, said it was too early to say how many records were accessed and that calling it the largest-ever breach would be “speculative.”

Fake Steve Jobs Rants on CNBC?

January 15, 2009

Dan Lyons, whose Fake Steve Jobs blog took the tech world by storm in 2007, went on quite the rant on CNBC, leaving many to questions its journalistic tactics.

Contrary to published reports, CNBC says Lyons has not been banned from appearing on the network.

From CNET:

Lyons was facing off against CNBC’s Silicon Valley bureau chief, Jim Goldman, in a segment about the sudden news on Wednesday afternoon that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be taking a medical leave of absence following conflicting rumors and reports about his health.

Here’s what happened: Gizmodo, a well-established gadget blog owned by Gawker Media, had reported that Jobs’ health was “declining rapidly” and that his medical state was the reason that he would not be giving his traditional keynote address at the Macworld Expo. Goldman quickly shot down the rumor, citing sources; Jobs underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer in the past, but Apple had repeatedly insisted that he was now healthy.

Days later, Jobs said he had been diagnosed with a “hormone imbalance,” implying that it was the reason he stepped down from the Macworld appearance. Goldman had been wrong. Then, on Wednesday, Jobs announced that he was taking the aforementioned leave of absence and that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would handle management in the interim.

“You can try to backpedal and say that what you reported was true,” Lyons said to Goldman on CNBC, adding that the broadcast journalist had been “played” and “punked” by his sources at Apple, “but look, you should apologize to Gizmodo for having criticized them and apologize to your viewers for having gotten it so wrong.”

He also took a direct dig at the credibility of CNBC, asking, “Why have a bureau out in Silicon Valley?”

Silicon Alley Insider later reported that Lyons had been banned from the cable network for life. CNBC spokesman Kevin Goldman told CNET News that this is not true and that Lyons has not been banned from the network.

Lyons, while an editor at Fortune, started the anonymous “Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” blog and continued writing it, even after he was outed as the author. He spun the blog off into a book, Options, and later left Fortune for Newsweek. Around the time he made his job switch, he stopped writing as “Fake Steve.”

Steve Jobs Taking Leave of Absence From Apple

January 14, 2009

According to numerous news sources, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said today that he will be taking a leave of absence because of health issues. The leave of absence is expected to last until at least June.

“My health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” he said in a letter to employees which has been published by the New York Times.

From the statement:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

From CNET:

Apple has confirmed that CEO Steve Jobs will step down from his CEO post while recuperating from a hormone imbalance. His absence will stretch until the end of June.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will run the company during Jobs’ absence, according an e-mail Jobs sent to Apple employees that was released to the media.

Jobs, 53, has been the subject of heated speculation regarding his health since last June’s Worldwide Developers Conference, when he appeared to have lost a great deal of weight. At the time, Apple insisted Jobs’ health was a private matter, but revealed in early January that Jobs was suffering from a hormone imbalance that was impeding his body’s ability to absorb certain proteins.

In August 2004 Jobs underwent successful surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which sidelined him until September of that year. Much of the speculation over the past year has been over whether or not that cancer has returned, which was not clear from the e-mail written by Jobs, an intensely private man.

Since his return to Apple in 1997, the mercurial founder has resurrected Apple from the depths, reviving the Mac, changing the music industry with the introduction of the iPod and iTunes, and turning the mobile phone industry on its head with the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. He is considered to be one of the single-most influential executives in the technology industry, if not U.S. business itself.

Apple has been criticized over the past few years for seeming to lack a succession plan for Jobs, who some feel can truly never be replaced. But it has never been clear whether the company was just playing its cards close to its vest regarding that plan, or whether it actually didn’t have a plan. Cook has been regarded as the short-term solution for a long time, having run the company during Jobs’ absence in 2004 and respected as a detail-oriented manager who can keep the ship on course.

From CNN:

Jobs, who announced last week that he suffered from a hormone imbalance that was caused him to lose weight, said he will be away from the job until the end of June.

“In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June,” Jobs said in a statement.

Tim Cook, the company’s chief operating officer, will be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, according to the statement.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) shares closed down $2.38 to $85.33 in Wednesday trading. They were halted after hours pending the announcement.

From InformationWeek:

Apple seems to have learned from Bill Clinton. Like our randy former chief executive being questioned about his sex life, Apple handled Steve Jobs’ ongoing health problems by making statements that were literally true, but ultimately misleading. That’s going to have Apple watchers taking a microscope to every statement and action by Apple to find out what the company really means. But Apple watchers already are doing that, so Apple doesn’t lose out.

Ever since Jobs made a gaunt appearance at the launch of the iPhone 3G this summer, Apple has been stonewalling about the founder and CEO’s health, while rumors flew about the recurrence of the cancer he was treated for in 2004. The rumors went into hyperdrive in December, when Apple announced abruptly that it was pulling out of Macworld and Jobs wasn’t speaking.

Finally, Jobs posted a statement on the Apple site last week. He acknowledged he had a “hormone imbalance” that caused him to lose weight throughout 2008. He says it’s being treated, and that he expects to regain his lost weight by spring.

That contrasts with Apple’s earlier statement, on Dec. 16, announcing that this year would be Apple’s last Macworld, and Jobs would not deliver his traditional keynote. At the time, Apple cited only business reasons for the withdrawal, saying trade shows have become a “very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers.”

The statement didn’t mention Jobs’ health. As a matter of fact, it didn’t mention Jobs at all — it just said that Philip Schiller, Apple senior VP of worldwide product marketing, will deliver the keynote, a job which has been Jobs’ for a decade.

Is Jobs’ health anyone’s business? Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, and other Apple defenders, say no, it’s a private matter. I disagree. Jobs’ health is relevant as long as he has chosen to make himself a public figure. He is the face and spokesman for Apple, credited with its current success, and the company has no visible plan for succession. Investors identify Apple’s success with Jobs, and they’re afraid every time they think Jobs might become incapable of running the company. We see those fears when Apple’s stock drops every time Jobs sneezes or stubs a toe.

If you are the CEO of a publicly traded company, anything that might affect your abilities to perform your duties is a matter of public record. That most emphatically includes your health. Don’t like those rules? Retire. Take the company private.

And Jobs isn’t just any CEO of any public company. Jobs has chosen to make himself the public face of Apple. He has worked to build a mystique around Apple, and focused that mystique on himself as its charismatic leader. If Jobs wants to take a piece of his privacy back, the company needs to be more communicative, and put other people in front of the cameras and microphone more frequently. (Indeed, this may be one of the motivations for Schiller taking over the Macworld keynote.) Until then, Jobs’ health is going to continue to be a matter of public concern.