Posts Tagged ‘ edpicks ’


Big tech firms back Wi-FAR for remote broadband

Written by admin
August 7th, 2014

802.22 standard, approved in 2011, promises low-cost broadband for remote areas

Google, Microsoft and Facebook are cranking up an emerging wireless technology known as Wi-FAR to help reduce the digital divide in remote and unconnected regions of the world.

Wi-FAR is a recently trademarked name from the nonprofit WhiteSpace Alliance (WSA) that refers to the 802.22 wireless standard first approved by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in 2011.

The standard shares the underused TV band of spectrum called whitespace to send wireless signals, typically over distances of six to 18 miles in rural and remote areas. It has a theoretical download speed of more than 22 Mbps per TV channel that serves up to 512 devices, according to the WSA. That could result in speeds of about 1.5 Mbps on a downlink to a single device.

While such speeds are far slower than for the gigabit fiber-optic cable services that Google and AT&T are building in some U.S. cities, the speeds could theoretically begin to compete with some 3G cellular speeds, although not 4G LTE speeds. For an impoverished or sparsely populated region where businesses and schoolchildren have little Internet access, Wi-FAR could be a godsend when used to link base stations (typically found at the ground level of cell towers) in a distributed network.
Students in South Africa
Students at the University of Limpopo in South Africa use laptops connected to the Internet using Wi-FAR wireless technology. (Photo: Microsoft)

About 28 million people in the U.S. don’t have access to broadband, while globally, about 5 billion people, nearly three-fourths of the world’s population — don’t have broadband Internet access, said Apurva Mody, chairman of both the WSA and of the 802.22 Working Group.

“This is cheap Internet access and there are dozens of trials underway, with Google in South Africa, Microsoft in Tanzania and other continents, and even Facebook’s interest,” Mody said in an interview. “You have 1.2 billion people in India who need cost-effective Internet access. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for Wi-FAR.”

Wi-FAR will be cheaper for access to the Internet than LTE and other wireless services. The lower cost is partly because Wi-FAR works over unlicensed spectrum, similar to Wi-Fi, which allows network providers, and even government entities, to avoid paying licensing fees or needing to build as many expensive cell towers, that can cost $50,000 apiece, Mody said. “The prices for Wi-FAR service will be very small, perhaps less than $10 per month per household.”

The 802.22 technology can be low cost because the whitespace spectrum is shared with conventional users, including TV stations on UHF and VHF bands. Thanks to sophisticated databases that track when a whitespace channel will be in use in a particular region, a cognitive (or smart) radio device can determine when to switch to another channel that’s not in use. Testing in various Wi-FAR pilots projects, many of them in Africa, is designed to prove that Wi-FAR devices won’t interfere with other existing users on the same channel.

“We have yet to have an interference problem,” said James Carlson, CEO of Carlson Wireless Technologies, a Sunnyvale, California-based company that is working with Google on two six-month trials of 802.22 in the UK, among other areas. The company completed a successful trial with Google serving students in South Africa in 2013. Carlson, in an email interview, said the company is working with five database providers, noting that the “prime purpose of the database is to protect the incumbent spectrum user.”

Whitespace spectrum sharing, coupled with the use of the databases, is generally called dynamic spectrum allocation technology. In January, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved Carlson’s RuralConnect TV whitespace radio system for use with a Spectrum Bridge TV whitespace database, effectively bringing the first dynamic spectrum sharing product to market.

In the U.S., RuralConnect is authorized for use in the UHF TV band, running from 470 MHz to 698 MHz. The FCC opened up the band in 2010.

At the time, Carlson said the FCC’s approval would give a boost to global efforts to use whitespace technology. “Providing connectivity to underserved populations worldwide is more than an interest to us,” he said in a statement. “It’s our corporate mission.”

RuralConnect will get competition from products in other companies, including Redline, Adaptrum and 6Harmonics, Carlson said. In addition to other providers, Google has built a whitespace database that Carlson is testing.

In all, Carlson Wireless has piloted dozens of whitespace projects, and expects to start its largest yet for 30 base stations and 5,000 users near New Delhi in the next six months, Carlson said.

“India is the next big boom for online needs, and the rural areas are not getting [Internet service] with [typical] mobile systems,” Carlson said. “So they are choosing to go with the TV whitespace because the UHF band is almost all vacant in rural areas and 600 MHz propagation is superb.”

While Carlson has been working with Google, Microsoft separately announced in June a whitespace pilot project at the University of Limpopo in South Africa. It is part of a Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative to help ignite economic development in Africa.

In May, Microsoft and Facebook joined with SpectraLink Wireless to announce a whitespace project for students and faculty at universities in Koforidua, Ghana. That project brought the number of nations where Microsoft has whitespace pilots to 10 countries on four continents.

In the Microsoft and SpectraLink partnership, Facebook’s Connectivity Lab team will lead efforts to better understand how TV whitespace spectrum can support wireless Internet users, according to a statement.

Microsoft and others believe that TV whitespace technology will best work in combination with Wi-Fi and other low-cost wireless technologies. While much of whitespace technology is focused on building specialized bridge hardware for use in base stations, Mody said some companies are developing fixed wireless 802.22 routers, similar in appearance to Wi-Fi routers, that will be placed inside of homes.

Microsoft also spearheaded the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, which Google and Facebook joined last November. The alliance is exploring many uses for whitespace spectrum, including Internet of Things device connectivity.

Craig Mathias, an analyst and wireless consultant for The Farpoint Group, said 802.22 devices may compete against or complement a number of other technologies, including cellular and Wi-Fi.

“802.22 is not a pipe dream, but so far there’s not a lot of evidence of its success,” Mathias said in an interview. “It does make sense. The rate of innovation in wireless is so high that you hear something exciting every week. But not all wireless standards are successful in terms of having [successful] wireless products.”


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The just-announced plan to keep OpenVMS going gets mostly positive reaction

Hewlett-Packard’s decision to license OpenVMS source code to a new engineering firm is getting mostly positive reaction.

One year ago, HP put OpenVMS on an end-of-life path by announcing that it would not support the operating system on the latest Itanium hardware. But on Thursday, HP announced that it had licensed the OpenVMS source code to VMS Software Inc. (VSI), which will port the software to new hardware, release new versions of it and even develop an x86 port.

“HP and VSI have provided what appears to be a path forward for existing VMS sites,” said Stephen Hoffman, who was on the OpenVMS engineering team at Digital Equipment Corp., where the system was developed, and then at Compaq, which acquired Digital and was later acquired by HP. Hoffman is now an independent consultant at HoffmanLabs.

Overseas, OpenVMS user group HP-Interex France reacted positively to the news. HP-Interex France had recently published an open letter to HP CEO Meg Whitman, urging her to reconsider the company’s earlier decision on OpenVMS.

Gerard Calliet, a consultant who wrote the letter on behalf of the French user group, said Thursday’s announcement “is the beginning of a very interesting story.”

Calliet said that for historical and cultural reasons “HP had placed OpenVMS in a sort of sleeping state.” As a result, some user groups like his were “a little bit asleep also” until last year’s HP move. Open VMS experts were even thinking about retiring, he said.

But the 2013 decision woke people up, and with the changes unveiled this week, the ecosystem that supports OpenVMS is “is living now a sort of revival,” Calliet added.

VSI is a new company formed by investors at Nemonix Engineering, a support and maintenance firm of OpenVMS systems.

VSI plans to deliver new software, beginning early next year with a port to Integrity i4 systems running the eight-core Poulson chip. Previously, HP said it would not validate OpenVMS beyond the Integrity i2 servers running the Tukwila quad-core processor.

“There is obviously a need to build a track record here,” Hoffman said of the new company, noting that VMS customers “are classically conservative” and will want to see and touch the software that VSI delivers before they run it in their production environments. “That would not be particularly different from a new HP release,” he added.

Moving an OpenVMS application to another platform is costly and time-consuming, according to Hoffman. VSI “has the potential to throw customers a lifeline in that regard, and the customers are definitely interested in it,” he said.

The change in the road map for OpenVMS may already be having an impact. On the comp.os.vms Google Groups discussion forum, one person wrote, “two OpenVMS exit projects here at work (a conversion to Linux and another to SAP) have been put on hold indefinitely. :)”


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Windows 8 brushes up against 10% user share mark

Written by admin
October 2nd, 2013

In the last two months, Microsoft’s newest OS has added 3.5 points to its share of all computing devices powered by Windows

Windows 8 powered almost 10% of all devices running Microsoft’s OSes last month, even as its uptake pace slowed, according to analytics company Net Applications today.

Meanwhile, Windows XP’s decline continued as customers, prodded by the upcoming April 2014 support deadline, again ditched the veteran operating system in droves.

Windows 8’s user share of all computing devices running Windows, a tally that includes Windows 8.1, the update slated to ship in two weeks, jumped to 9.8% in September, Net Applications said. The 1.4-point gain was down from the record one-month increase set in August, but nearly double the OS’s 12-month average.

The August-September surge of Windows 8 may have been driven by sharp back-to-school sales of touch-based notebooks, which accounted for a quarter of all sales from June 30 through Sept. 7, the NPD Group said last week.

About one out of 10 devices running Windows 8 ran the Windows 8.1 upgrade last month, said Net Applications. Microsoft launched a public preview of Windows 8.1, the restart to the problem- and perception-plagued OS, in June. The update will hit the Windows Store, where it can be downloaded by current users, on Oct. 17, and hit retail on Oct. 18, when many of Microsoft’s OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners are expected to unveil and start selling new hardware.

Microsoft will launch its revamped Surface tablets several days later.

Windows 8 also increased its lead over Windows Vista, the oft-derided flop from 2007, when each OS’s share was compared 11 months after launch. At that point in its release cycle, Vista accounted for 8.5% of all Windows PCs. The gap between Vista and Windows 8 — 1.1 percentage points in August — widened in September to 1.3 points.

Windows 8 will certainly pass the 10% mark of all Windows PCs this month.

Part of the rise of Windows 8 must also be credited to the decline of Windows XP, the 12-year-old operating system slated to drop off Microsoft’s support radar next April.

For the second month running, Windows XP shed several percentage points of user share, ending at 31.4% of all personal computers worldwide. That was equivalent to 34.6% of all systems running one Windows flavor or another.

The rapid two-month decline of Windows XP hints at the final push to dump the “walking dead” OS that many analysts predicted would accelerate as the April deadline looms. Microsoft will issue its final security update for XP that month; after that, while the operating system will continue to run, it will do so in an increasingly dangerous environment because Microsoft will not provide patches to the general public for any vulnerabilities, critical or otherwise.

Some security experts have speculated that cyber criminals will unleash attacks in the months after April 2014, having saved up their “zero-day” vulnerabilities and associated exploits until the deadline has passed.

Using the trends in Net Applications’ data, Computerworld now predicts that XP will power between 18% and 26% of the world’s personal computers at the end of April 2014. The lower number assumes that the accelerated decline of the last few months continues, while the higher user share assumes XP’s drop-off resembles the more stately 12-month slide.

Microsoft has aggressive plans for deprecating XP, although it has not shared any new specifics. “We have plans to get [XP's share] to 13% by April when the end-of-life of XP happens,” said Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO, during a half-day presentation last month in front of Wall Street analysts. “This has been a major and multi-year initiative for us, and one that we’ve worked very hard on to make sure we can execute towards.”

While Windows powered nine out of 10 personal computers in September, Apple’s OS X — the foundation of its desktop and notebook Macs — ended the month with a record 7.5% user share. Linux, which has never made good on its loyalists’ hopes that it would dominate desktop PCs, finished September up slightly, to 1.6%.

Net Applications measures operating system user share by tracking unique visitors to approximately 40,000 sites it monitors for clients.

 


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The last of our three-part how-to series helps you take your Google+ experience to the next level.

Getting started on Google+ may be simple, but mastering the service’s full potential is an art. Thanks to advanced options and third-party extensions, there’s always some new way to give Google+ an extra pinch of power.

Here are 25 tips and tricks to help make your G+ experience as good as it can be.
Work faster and better

1. Put your mouse down, homey: You can get around Google+ almost exclusively by using your keyboard. In typical Google fashion, G+ is loaded with keyboard shortcuts. Just press shift + the question mark key on your keyboard when you’re in the main stream view and you’ll get a list of available commands.

One common command is conspicuously missing from Google+’s keyboard shortcut collection: the ability to open up the notifications window. There is a workaround: From the stream view, press the forward-slash key, press Tab twice and then press Enter. It’s a bit involved, admittedly — sort of like a secret handshake — but if you’re a keyboard shortcut nut like me, it won’t take you long to get in the habit.

2. Need to get back to the top of your stream from the Google+ desktop site? You can always use your keyboard’s Home key, but if you prefer a mouse-oriented approach, clicking anywhere on the top navigation bar will also take you there.

3. When you mention another Google+ user in a post or comment, type a plus sign before you start typing her name. Google+ will then give you a dropdown list of users from which you can select. Doing so will notify the person that you mentioned her; it’ll also let other users hover over the person’s name to learn more about her and view her profile.

When you mention another Google+ user in a post or comment, type a plus sign before you start typing the name and Google+ will give you a list of users from which you can select.

4. Google+ makes it easy to make your posts look good: Surround any text with asterisks to turn the text bold, with underscores to make it italicized, or with hyphens to give it a strikethrough effect. Those formatting commands work in comments, too.

5. Next time you’re trying to find a particular type of photo from the images you’ve got stored on Google+, try the intelligent photo search feature. Just head over to the Photos page (you can find it in the left-hand menu) and type a term into the search box at the top of the page — “dog,” “ocean,” “picnic,” or any phrase that describes what’s in the image you want. The system’s accuracy will surprise you.

Google+’s intelligent photo search feature lets you find your photos by typing in a descriptive word or phrase.

6. You may know that Google+ automatically makes animated GIFs from related images you’ve uploaded, but did you know you can easily find all your animated GIFs in a single place? Just search for the keyword “motion” within the Google+ Photos section to see all the GIFs G+ has generated from your photos.

7. Google+’s automatic photo enhancements work on images uploaded to Picasa, too — even old images uploaded before G+ was around. To check out enhancements made to your Picasa photos, first be sure you’ve signed into Google+ from the same account you use (or used) with Picasa. Then try searching the Google+ Photos section for keywords like “motion,” “hdr” or “mix” to see the enhancements in action.

Streamline your stream

8. If there’s a post in your stream you don’t want to see, move your mouse to the upper-right corner of its card and click the small down arrow that appears. From there, select the option called “Mute post” to banish it from your life forever. You’ll also find options in that menu to report spam or abusive behavior — and, provided the post is from someone you’ve added yourself, an option to remove him from your circles right then and there.

9. Want to get a permanent standalone link to an individual post — either for sharing on another social network or for referencing somewhere outside of Google+? You’ll find a “Link to post” option in that same top-right arrow menu mentioned in the last tip; you can also just hover your mouse over a post’s timestamp and then right-click to copy the link.

10. Social media is all about engagement, but sometimes you may want to limit the ways in which people can interact with your posts. Google+ has you covered: Just click the small arrow on the right side of the “To” box while you’re writing a post. There, you’ll find commands to prevent people from leaving comments on the post and also to prevent users from resharing it.
25 Google+ tips and tricks

Get the word out

11. Track how widely any post is being shared with Google+’s Ripples feature. Click the small arrow at the top-right of a post to find the option; selecting it will show you a scalable chart with detailed info about who shared your post and how it spread.

You can also use Ripples to gauge how widely an external page — a news article or YouTube video, for instance — has been shared on G+; just add the URL to the end of this string:

http://plus.google.com/ripple/details?url=

Paste it into your browser’s address bar or add a bit of code into your browser’s bookmarks to create a one-click Ripples button.

(Note: If a post or page hasn’t been publicly shared on Google+ — in other words, if you’ve limited it to a specific set of people or circles — no Ripples data will be available. So if you do want to take advantage of the feature, it’s best to choose Public on the share dropdown.)

You can track how widely any post is being shared with Google+’s Ripples feature.

12. Think you’ve got some interesting people in your G+ stream? Share the love with a Google+ shared circle: From the Circles page (click on “People in the left-hand menu and then choose “Your circles” from the top menu), click on any circle you’ve created. The circle will turn black and offer three icons: a pencil (to edit), a right-facing arrow (to share) and a garbage can (to delete). Click on the arrow icon and you can then share the entire circle with your followers, who will be able to add everyone you’ve included into their own circles with a single click.

13. Take a minute to make sure you’ve filled in the “Tagline” and “Employment” sections of your Google+ profile. They’re particularly important, as the text you put in those sections appears in a small card every time someone hovers over your name while viewing content on G+.

You can edit both sections by opening your profile, selecting the “About” tab at the top, and then clicking “Edit” in the appropriate areas on the page.

14. If you have your own blog or website, you can put interactive Google+ follow buttons and badges there to encourage visitors to circle you. Google+ doesn’t currently offer a full-fledged widget for showing your latest posts, but you can create your own using a third-party service such as Widgetbox.

15. Google+ doesn’t provide any official tools for creating RSS feeds from your posts — no surprise, given the company’s broad moves away from RSS — but once again, third-party services can fill the void. A free service called pluss.aiiane.com is a solid option that works well.

Customize and control
16. Not thrilled with the way Google+ collapses long posts on the Web? No problem: Install a free Chrome extension called Replies and more for Google+. It’ll make the service automatically expand all posts by default. It offers a number of other interesting options, too, such as the ability to add a two-click command for sharing any post to email, Facebook or Twitter.

17. If you miss the way the Google+ stream used to refresh automatically, grab a Chrome extension called Auto Load New Posts for Google+. The extension does exactly what you’d think: It makes new posts show up in your stream as they’re sent instead of requiring you to click an icon every time they arrive.

A Chrome extension called Favorite Posts for Google+ adds a one-click “Favorites” section into the desktop G+ site for you to use.

18. For a robust post-saving setup, check out a Chrome extension called Favorite Posts for Google+. The extension adds a one-click “Favorites” section into the left-hand sidebar of the desktop G+ site for you to use; it also adds one-click commands within individual posts for you to save the post to Pocket or Instapaper.

19. You automatically see your Google+ notifications at the top of most Google services, but if you use Chrome, you can make it so they’re available anywhere on the Web: Just install the Google+ Notifications extension. It’ll put a Google+ notifications box in your browser’s toolbar area.

20. Ever wish you could schedule Google+ posts for the future? You can — sort of. While Google+ itself doesn’t yet provide such functionality, a Chrome extension called Do Share gets the job done. The catch is that your browser has to be running whenever the post is scheduled to go live in order for it to work.

Beyond Google+

21. You can interact with Google+ directly from Gmail. First, be sure you’ve set up your G+ email notifications the way you want (go into the Google+ settings and scroll down to the “Receive notifications” section). Then, when you get a G+ activity alert in your inbox, look for the commands to moderate comments, add comments or +1 a post. Performing those actions within Gmail will work exactly the same as if you had performed them from the main G+ site — and you’ll save a few precious seconds.

22. You can save content directly from Google+ to Evernote and other similar note-taking services. First, you’ll need to sign into the note-taking service and find the email address associated with your account (for example, here’s how you find your Evernote email address).

Then go to your G+ Circles page. Type that email address into the white box at the top right of the page. You’ll see a box appear with your name and the Evernote address. Click on the box; you’ll see a pop-up that lets you “Add and invite.” When you click on that, you’ll be able to create a new circle called “Evernote.” Now anytime you want to save a post to Evernote, just share it to your Evernote circle and — abracadabra! — the deed will be done.

(Note: By virtue of the nature of this process, you’ll likely receive an automated invitation to join Google+ in your Evernote account the first time you set it up.)

23. Google+ can serve as a note-taking tool itself: Just create a new circle called “Save.” Add only yourself into the circle. Anytime you want to save something for your own personal reference — whether a new note you’re making or content someone else posted — just share it into your Save circle and it’ll be there waiting for you when you need it.

24. If you use Google Docs, you can share documents, spreadsheets and presentations directly from there into Google+. Click the blue Share button at the top right of any open document and then select the G+ icon. You’ll be prompted to choose how public the document will be — either accessible to anyone on the Web or accessible only to those who have the direct link — and can also set whether other users will be able to edit, comment on or simply read the file.

Like with any G+ post, you can share a document with any circles or subsets of users you want. Once shared, it’ll show up in your followers’ streams as a readable thumbnail and will open in Docs when clicked.

25. You can make phone calls using Google Voice right from the Google+ desktop site: Open the service’s Hangouts feature, located at the right side of the main stream. Once you’ve signed in, click the small down-facing arrow in the Hangouts section and then select “Call a phone” to get started.

(While Google Voice is free to use within the United States, there is a per-minute rate for international calls. To find out what they are, click the downward arrow that appears after you’ve selected “Call a phone” and then click on “Rates.”)

You can also conduct video calls and group video chats from the same G+ Hangouts section, though those options work only with other Google+ users.


 

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With Chromecast, Google reveals Chrome as its strategic big gun
The browser is behind Google’s play for user data from as many screens as possible

Chrome is Google and Google is Chrome.

The Chrome browser is Google’s most potent strategic weapon, a former Microsoft program manager said last week.

“Chrome is the focus at Google; Android is an afterthought,” asserted Ben Thompson, who writes on his Stratechery blog. Thompson, who left Microsoft earlier this month, has quickly made a name for himself with insights into the technology market, in particular Microsoft, Apple and Google, ranging from Microsoft’s massive reorganization to the possible role for a larger, 13-in. iPad.

“Chrome shouldn’t be thought of as a Web browser,” Thompson wrote. “Rather, it’s an optimized bi-directional delivery vehicle: the best experience with Google services for users, and maximum user data for Google. And it runs everywhere. This is why Google has been investing millions of dollars in building the Chrome brand.”

Thompson’s latest post was reacting to the debut of Chromecast, the $35 stream-to-TV device Google introduced last week. Chromecast, said Google, is powered by a simplified version of Chrome OS. (Although GTVHacker.com claimed Chromecast is “more Android than ChromeOS.”)

“As a horizontal company, Google wants to be on every screen, and their vehicle to accomplish that across verticals, both from a technical and brand perspective, is Chrome,” Thompson added. By “verticals,” Thompson meant “devices.”

It’s hard to argue with Thompson.

Google has been expending significant resources to push Chrome into as many corners as possible.

Not only is Chrome (the browser) available for all major desktop and mobile platforms — from Windows and OS X to Android and iOS — the major features of Chrome OS are being added to the browser, including packaged, nee “native,” Web apps and the ability to view and edit Microsoft Office documents.

The goal? From Thompson’s viewpoint, control of a “multi-screen world.”

Others have had similar thoughts.

“It looks like Google is defining the Chrome platform as what I’d call ‘Web Platform Plus,’ and intends for Chrome OS and the Chrome browser to be a ‘platform on a platform’ on any device it is permitted to run on,” said IDC analyst Al Hilwa in a May interview, months before Chromecast.

By defining that “platform on a platform” — Chrome on Windows, on Android, on iOS, on OS X, on the television — Google is trying to turn as many devices and screens as possible into ones locked into the company’s ecosystem, keep users loyal to that same ecosystem of sites, service and apps, and entice others to join them.

The ultimate prize is more revenue, which Google generates almost exclusively from online advertising. All Google does, argued Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester, is driven by its search for more, and more expensive, advertising.

“Google is advertising driven. All its efforts, including Chromecast, are not just about selling more ads, they’re about aggregating data about the customer to make those ads more valuable,” said Golvin in an interview last week. “The more you can target the ads, the more attractive they are to advertisers, and the more Google’s real customers — advertisers — are willing to pay.”

Thompson dubbed that “maximum user data,” but his meaning was the same as Golvin’s.

Chromecast is Google’s newest blatant example of a Chrome-centric strategy. Not only does it carry the “Chrome” moniker, important in itself as an expression of brand identity, but it heavily leans on the browser for functionality.

Only a handful of dedicated apps support Chromecast out the gate: Google’s own YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music; and the only third-party entry, Netflix. The rest of the lifting is done by Chrome, the browser.

Content on any Chrome tab active on a device within range of a Chromecast-equipped TV can be displayed on the television. During installation on a Windows or OS X personal computer, Chromecast automatically adds the Google Cast add-on to the browser; it can be downloaded separately from the Chrome Web Store, but again, requires Chromecast.

Not only does Chrome’s ability to cast ease the early adopter pain of too-few Chromecast-supporting apps, but it circumvents the limitations of accumulating data when third-party apps are used to display content on a television.

Instead, the normal data collection rules — as Google spells them out in its privacy policy for Chrome — apply.

Specifically, Google knows what you watch, at least in a general way.

“For Chromecast users, Google may collect system activity, crashes, and other details about how you use Chromecast, including use of apps and domains (but not full URLs) accessed by Chromecast,” Google’s privacy policy states.

Maximum user data, as Thompson put it.

In fact, argued Thompson, Google has bet its strategic coin on Chrome, not Android, the mobile operating system also launched in 2008, the same year as Chrome. Thompson noted that Android was largely absent from last week’s unveiling of Chromecast — even to the point, if GTVHacker.com was correct, fudging the code foundation of the device’s firmware — as it was earlier this year at Google’s I/O developer conference.

That’s no coincidence, Thompson said.

“Android … enables several of those verticals [devices], and keeps Apple honest in phones especially,” said Thompson. “However, by virtue of the hardware world it lives in, it’s not the best vehicle for reaching all users, and Google is fine with that. Now that Android is good enough on phones, there simply isn’t any point in investing in it as heavily as before.”

Put plainly, Chrome is Google … and Google is Chrome.

 


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Tablet flop hits earnings, which missed Wall Street’s expectations by large margin

Microsoft today took an unexpected $900 million charge to account for what it called “inventory adjustments” for the Surface RT, the poor-selling tablet that debuted last year.

Later today, Microsoft will hold a conference call with Wall Street analysts, but its fourth-quarter fiscal numbers — published on its website shortly after the U.S. financial markets closed — pointed out the massive write-down.

The company has been aggressively discounting the Surface RT, which runs the scaled-down Windows RT, a tablet-specific version of Windows 8 that relies exclusively on the “Modern,” nee “Metro,” tile-based user interface and app ecosystem.

On Sunday, for instance, Microsoft chopped the price of the Surface RT by $150, or 30% for the 32GB model, to bring it down from the original $499 to $349. The 64GB Surface RT was also discounted by $150, a 25% price cut from $599 to $449.

Today’s $900 million write-down reflects not only those discounts, but also the extended inventory that Microsoft believes it may never sell.

Microsoft today reported revenue of $19.9 billion for the quarter ending June 30, a 10.3% increase over the same period the year before. But earnings of $5 billion, or 59 cents a share, were significantly below the Street’s expectations of 75 cents a share.

During the second calendar quarter of 2012, Microsoft recorded earnings of just $192 million because of a pair of one-time charges: a $540 million revenue deferral tied to the then-upcoming Windows 8 upgrade program, and a $6.2 billion write-off to account for the loss of goodwill for its online services group.

Amy Hood, the company’s new CFO, acknowledged in a statement that, “Our fourth [fiscal] quarter results were impacted by the decline in the PC market” and added, “While we have work ahead of us, we are making the focused investments needed to deliver on long-term growth opportunities like cloud services.”

Last week, Microsoft announced a corporate overhaul and spelled out its new strategy to become a devices-and-services seller after nearly four decades of selling packaged software.


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