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Sabtu, 27 April 2013

Intel Haswell release date confirmed for June

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Intel will launch its Haswell processors at Computex on 3 June, the company has cryptically confirmed.

Intel posted a Twitter update this afternoon, which promised the 4th Generation Intel Core Processor will arrive in 3,337,200,000,000,000 nanoseconds.

According to Wolfram Alpha, that means the processors will drop on Monday 3 June - a day ahead of the official opening of Computex. Indeed, some sources are reporting the launch date will be 4 June.

Haswell is the successor to Ivy Bridge. Ideal for Ultrabooks because it's designed to offer significant power savings, Haswell is a new architecture that will be built on the same 22nm process as Ivy Bridge.

Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in Bejing, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC client group at Intel, said Haswell would feature double the graphics performance of Ivy Bridge, claiming it offered "the same visual experience and gameplay as a discrete graphics card that users would otherwise have to add separately".

At CES in January, Intel updated the specs list for the next generation of Ultrabooks, which will run Haswell, requiring them to have touchscreens and support Intel's WiDi wireless display system.

Intel also showed off its next-gen Atom processors for microservers, called Avoton, saying it was already shipping samples to customers for testing, and unveiled its data centre chips based on the 22nm process.
Rabu, 24 April 2013

Weak Wii U Sales Hurt Nintendo's Profits

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The Wii U sold disappointingly for Nintendo and affected the company's bottom line for the last fiscal year, according to financial earnings released early Wednesday.

The next-generation console was released in the United States in November 2012 and Japan six weeks later. From launch until the end of 2012, it sold 3.06 million units, according to Nintendo's Q3 earnings. From Jan 1. to March 31, the end of the fiscal year, the Wii sold about 390,000 units worldwide.

These sales failed to hit Nintendo's original target of 5.5 million units by a wide stretch, and Nintendo's earnings report said the sales slump caused it to lose 36.4 billion yen.

Nintendo attributed the "drop in momentum" to the fact most of the Wii U's upcoming titles have been delayed. The Wii U hasn't had many software releases in 2013, excluding some third-party games. Big sellers like Pikmin 3 and the The Wonderful 101 have been delayed for several months; Pikmin 3 only received an official release date — Aug. 4 — last week. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata apologized to fans for the delay in a Nintendo Direct presentation in February.

Nintendo said its plans for the 2013 fiscal year include "proactively releasing key Nintendo titles from the second half of this year through next year in order to gain momentum to the platform."

For comparison, Nintendo's Wii, released in 2006, outsold the the Wii U last year, selling 3.98 million units worldwide.

Nintendo's portable 3DS saw stronger sales in the last fiscal year. The system sold strongest in Japan, selling almost 6 million units in the past 12 months. North America's sales were around 4.22 million units, and Nintendo sold 16 million software titles for the system during that same period.

With the 3DS seeing its first Pokemon franchise in October, which historically has been Nintendo handhelds' biggest franchise, along with a steady stream of new releases through the rest of the fiscal year, it can be supposed that Nintendo will continue to see that system grow both inside and outside of Japan. According to numbers from NPD, March saw a 50% gain in software sales for the 3DS from the same month the previous year.

Nintendo predicts a much stronger year for 2014, if the company releases software to entice fans. The company predicts it will sell 9 million Wii U systems and 18 million 3DS systems in the 2013 fiscal year. [Mashable]

15-Year-Old May Be on Her Way to Mars

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It was nothing short of fate when Abigail Harrison spotted her hero, astronaut Luca Parmitano, in an airport security line.

At just 15 years old, Harrison knows what she wants to do with her life: become the first astronaut on Mars in 2030. And the ever-so-keen Harrison — a well-spoken Minnesota high school student who has a confidence that doesn't come naturally to most teenagers — knew picking Parmitano's brain would bring her one step closer.

"He had an hour before flight, and we talked for the whole time," she tells Mashable. "He was really interested in my dream and wanted to stay in touch."

Parmitano lived up to his promise, and now the two are undertaking an unprecedented project. When Parmitano travels to the International Space Station on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft this May, Harrison will serve as his Earth-based liaison.

Each day, Parmitano will correspond via email with Harrison, who will in turn distribute his photos, video and research to the world on her blog. Their hope is to continue the buzz that Twitter's favorite astronaut Chris Hadfield, who returns to Earth in May, has generated while on the ISS.

"Commander Hadfield has done such amazing job of getting the public interested in the ISS, and we don't want that to go away when he comes back down," she says. "Luca is going to carry on the flag."

Harrison, who operates under the online persona "Astronaut Abby," has already amassed an impressive following. \Harrison's niche celebrity, though, wasn't her original intention. It all started with an eighth-grade project she was doing about the ISS.

"My mom helped me set up Twitter to get in touch with NASA employees for quotes," she says. "So I started sharing pictures of projects I was working on and writing about my dreams."

NASA and other influencers in the space community took notice and helped fill her plate with projects. Harrison now travels around the country promoting space and STEM careers in schools. She's introducing a pen-pal program in which she'll send readers personal emails about her experiences. This August, she will speak at a convention for the Mars Society about her No. 1 love: the importance of putting a human on the Red Planet.

"I was raised on a diet of sci-fi and Star Wars, but the science drew me," Harrison says. "The curiosity of the unknown is why I'm focused on Mars. There is so much we can learn; it's just an outstanding amount of knowledge waiting there for us to discover."

Even as she manages these projects, her public-facing appearance and an upcoming trip to Russia for Parmitano's launch, Harrison is still a kid. She's studying hard to get into her college of choice — she plans to double major in biology and geology — and has social plans for the summer.

So she relies heavily on her mother, Nicole, who says she knew her daughter's space aspiration was not merely a childhood fascination.

"I told her [...] if she was serious she needs to research what it would take because it's a very hard career to attain," Mrs. Harrison tells Mashable via email.

"She came back a week later with two sheets of paper and said, 'Mom there are two ways to become an astronaut: civilian and military. Here are the two paths and this is what I am going to do to make my dream happen.'"

Today, Mrs. Harrison helps her daughter with article ideas, editing and publishing her posts, and assisting her on social outreach to make sure her news is getting out in a timely manner. Perhaps most importantly, Mrs. Harrison reviews and monitors all of her daughter's communications.

"Reaching out to budding scientists and kids around the globe is what really drives Abby to chase her dreams. I've been so inspired by her as she continues to achieve her goals," Mrs. Harrison says. "At the rate she is going, I have no doubt she'll be the first astronaut on Mars." [Mashable]

Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Case Protects From Spills

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You know that moment when you're carrying your iPad in one hand and your water bottle or drink in the other ... and the two somehow come together? You know it can have disastrous effects on your carrying case as well as your iPad.

Logitech has introduced the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, a case that protects your tablet from drops and scratches, as well as liquid spills.

That's because both the inside and outside of the keyboard case are covered with a liquid-repellent FabricSkin surface — made of either woven cotton or matte leather — designed to keep your iPad clean and dry.

The FabricSkin keyboard has full-size keys integrated into the fabric, so if you accidentally spill some liquid, it's repelled before it can do any damage to your tablet. Think of it as the old Scotchgard for couches — spills won't get absorbed into the material.

You can choose from a variety of bright colors; Mars Red Orange, Carbon Black, Mystic Blue, and Sunflower Yellow.

The FabricSkin keyboard case ($149) is available for the iPad 2 and later. [Mashable]
Kamis, 07 Maret 2013

What Facebook's New News Feed Means for Marketers

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Facebook on Thursday unveiled its first major redesign of the News Feed since 2009, making the page more visually rich, and giving users new options to filter what they see by different feed categories like Music, Photos, Games and Close Friends. At first glance, the changes appear to be a win-win for users who want more control over their Facebook homepage, but the redesign may prove to be more of a mixed bag for marketers.

For brands, the biggest positive about the new changes is that there is suddenly more real estate for in-stream ads. Facebook has expanded the size of the News Feed itself and shrunk the right and left rails surrounding the Feed. "Having a larger canvas to work with will be a real benefit to marketers," said Debra Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer. "[Marketers] have always wanted more real estate and Facebook has always been more reticent to give them more play. By expanding the News Feed, that by default gives advertisers more room to play with as well."

A Facebook rep confirmed to Mashable in an email that Sponsored Posts will appear in-stream in the new News Feed just as they do in the current version, only "richer/bigger."

Greater real estate isn't the only big perk for marketers. Facebook is emphasizing visual content like pictures and videos in the feed, which provides brands with the opportunity to get creative. Williamson expects that brands will be able to capitalize on this by increasing their use of imagery in Sponsored Posts and eventually, if not inevitably, turning to video ads. "We didn't hear Facebook talk about video ads in this presentation," Williamson says, "but certainly Mark Zuckerberg has alluded to the fact that there will be more video in the News Feed, so there's an opportunity for brands to display video."

Beyond that, Facebook's decision to streamline the News Feed design across desktop and mobile is also a boon to marketers. According to Dan Slagen, SVP of marketing at Nanigans, this move "reduces friction" for advertisers planning out campaigns for mobile and desktop by ensuring a similar experience on each. "You are able to take one message and put it in the mind of a consumer and you are really able to drive that message home," he says.

However, the situation gets murkier for brands and marketers when it comes to the many new subfeeds that Facebook has introduced. Until now, content from brands and publishers appeared in a user's News Feed right along side posts from friends and family. With the additional feeds, users have a quick way to focus on only what their friends are sharing (through the All Friends category), or even more specifically, on what their closest friends on the social network are sharing. Any user who choose these options is effectively opting out of seeing content from publishers, businesses and influencers whose pages they follow, but who they are not in fact friends with.

"The friends-only feed could get a lot of the volume, which may be a concern," said Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG Digital. "It might affect our ad delivery in the short-term if everyone starts using it." That said, Mansell argues it's a necessary risk for Facebook to take to ensure the quality of the "core platform experience." Marketers may still choose to advertise in those feeds, but Mansell says they'll need to think harder about how to do so: "If you're trying to focus on your friends, you have to be careful how brands interrupt in there."

On the other hand, the additional feeds finally provide brands and advertisers with a way to better target the appropriate audience on Facebook. Before, a Sponsored post from Sony might show up in a user's News Feed regardless of what the user was doing in that particular session. Now, a company like Sony might only choose to place a Sponsored Post on the Music or Games feed, where it's presumably more relevant to that audience. Likewise, if users check their Following feed, it essentially means they've opted in to see content from brands and publishers, which means promotional content placed in that feed might see greater engagement from users.

"With most changes like this, it is always going to affect some people positively and some negatively," said Mauricio Aguayo, senior social strategist with Rokkan. "The user is now much more in control about what they want to see and they will be much more prone to engage with it because they've in essence raised their hand and asked to see this publication. But for awareness purposes and pushing content out, it may be a little negative." Aguayo speculates that Facebook may eventually offer brands and publishers the option to surface their posts in other feeds besides Following for an additional cost.

Facebook, for its part, suggests in a blog post that the new Following feed will benefit brands and publishers: "Thanks to a new 'Following' feed on the right-hand side of the home page, people will be able to discover more content from the Pages they like and the people they follow."

For better or worse, Facebook has also effectively downplayed the presence of ads in the right rail in order to place more emphasis on ads that appear in-stream. Not only is that problematic for marketers who rely on the sidebar ads as a cheaper way to reach users on the social network, but Williamson says it also undermines what has historically "been a pretty big contributor to Facebook's ad revenue."

The assumption going forward, according to several of the marketing experts we spoke with, is that providing more real estate and more prominence to visual content will help Facebook command greater ad rates. While that's good for a public company still looking to show meaningful revenue growth to Wall Street, it also means advertising on the social network will likely become significantly pricier and more competitive in the future. [Mashable]

Facebook Gets Simpler, More Complicated

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Here's the first thing you may notice about the new Facebook — the word "Facebook" doesn't appear anywhere on it. Just one blue-on-white, lowercase "f."

It's indicative of a couple of things — first of all, Facebook is so famous it doesn't need to use its full name any more. Secondly, the company has a new religion: make the design as clean as possible. Remove all unnecessary pixels (and yes, the company talks about it in pixel-level terms). Get Facebook out of the way of your Facebook experience.

"We wanted to remove all the chrome from Facebook," software engineer Chris Struhar told Mashable after the event. And he wasn't talking about the Google browser. (Indeed, folks at Facebook were strenuously avoiding any usage of the G-word Thursday, possibly because of the design's similarity to Google+.)

Struhar was using a web nerd term to describe the chrome fins on the Facebook car: the details, the frames, anything that wasn't Facebook stories and pure, gorgeous white space.

Of course, if you were paying attention to the details of the News Feed event, you'll notice the paradox here: at the same time Facebook got simpler, it also got more complicated.

Instead of two options for how to sort your News Feed — "Top Stories" and "Most Recent" — Facebook now offers a dizzying seven options.

You get regular old News Feed (the equivalent of Top Stories, sorted by the Facebook algorithm), "All Friends" (headed up by a photo with a selection of friends in it), "Following" for the Pages and public figures you follow; "Photos," "Groups," "Games," "Music" and your old friend "Most Recent."

In fact, you get even more options than that. Click on "see all" and you'll be able to view your News Feed by your location, or only people you follow at your work place, or only people in your high school, and so on.

All in all, I counted 20 ways to view my News Feed. Your mileage may vary.

How much of this will you use? It's a fair question. In talking to Facebook employees who've been playing around with the new design internally for months, I've heard much the same thing: their browsing habits didn't change.

If they preferred the passive browsing of the "Top Stories" algorithm before, they're not really drilling down into the multiplicity of News Feed options. If they were the kinds of Facebook users who set up dozens of Lists before, then those kinds of options are closer to their fingertips.

One feature that seems to receive a universal thumbs-up: the fact that multiple friends posting the same story all appear together now, their faces down the left hand side. Facebook tells us the sorting of friends is by the ones who posted it most recently — so if you want your face to show up on friends' Timelines more, you may want to hold back on posting that hot news story until everyone else has done it.

Here's the other thing about the redesign: it represents the triumph of mobile. Facebook was quite clear on that point: the mobile design came first, and the web design followed it.

Mobile users won't see so much of a change. Web users may wonder what the heck this black bar down the left hand side is. In mobile and tablet configurations, you have to pull from the side to reveal this bar, which contains all your apps and everyone you can currently chat with.

But on the web, you can't remove the black bar. You're stuck looking at those apps and friends, which Facebook hopes will lead to more real-time conversations on the site.

"Get ready for messages from older friends on PCs you haven't heard from for a while," said Chris Cox, Facebook's vice president of product.

On balance, then, this may be the familiar Facebook redesign shuffle: two steps forward, one back. You may love the new large photos but hate the black bar. Or you may love the fact that all your friends who posted the same story are grouped together now, but find yourself terribly confused by dozens of News Feed options.

Either way, Facebook has once again displayed its characteristic restlessness. That new one-letter logo seems to say it all: f that old design. And f anyone who doesn't like the new one. [Mashable]
Jumat, 22 Februari 2013

Google Glass patent application gets really technical

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Google sure is trying to head off any possible Glass copycats with its detailed patent application, published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The application, originally filed by Google in August 2011, goes into deep detail on how the glasses could be constructed, with long sections describing factors seemingly as mundane as the arms and bridge of the glasses frames.

As for the display, in a section of the application labeled "Background," Google explains that some head-mounted displays can "almost entirely obstruct the wearer's vision outside of the screen." Others can be "heads-up displays" where an image is displayed on, in, or through a transparent display that superimposes the displayed image over the surrounding environment. Google cautions, though, that the heads-up display can have many limitations, including fit and comfort to the wearers, as well as limited functionality.

The company notes that both head-mounted and heads-up display gadgets can be "passive" and deliver things like video and audio tracks from outside sources, like cell phones or tablets. However, it noted that those would have limited functionality. Accordingly, Google argued that "further advances in wearable devices including displays have been needed," hence its push in the area.

There's too much detail for CNET to include all of it here, and it's unlikely that Google will implement all of the items described in its application. But in the competitive (and litigious) world of patents, Google likely wants to be safe to create anything it desires related to the area. [CNET]
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