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October 30, 2011

Hey Apple: I don't want to talk to my TV

Nick Bilton's post in Bits last week -- about Siri being the technology that would power a bona fide Apple television -- troubled me.

It's not that I'm attached to my remotes. I have three and I'm always losing them. It's just that I don't need another thing in my house to talk to. That's what my wife and three kids are for. Even my two cats are starved for attention -- I should be talking to them more than my TV.

And how would this really work? I'm sitting on the couch with my wife. She's reading a book. I'm talking to the TV. So my wife has to listen to me talking to the TV, PLUS the TV itself? Uh-huh. I can tell you: that ain't happening.

Does anyone appreciate how hugely annoying it will be to live in a house where someone is talking to their TV? And what if you want to flip the channel to a program that you don't want your mom upstairs to know you're watching?

There are too many things to worry about here!

Another point: many of us work all day talking to people. We spend hours on the phone, in interviews and meetings. The last thing I want to do at night is to demand my vocal chords talk to the Apple boob tube.

I understand that Siri is cool technology and I do see it's potential in a range of devices. And I'm sure there will be many people who really do want to talk to their TVs. I just won't want to hang out with them in their living rooms.

I just hope Apple gives us other ways to control it, too, i.e. a regular remote, or an iPad/iPhone interface. Pretty please, Apple?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:42 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Big Ideas, Gadgets
        

October 28, 2011

Head-to-head on taxes: Baltimore vs. Philadelphia

baltimorevsphilly.png
One thing I discovered today is that if you're interested in doing business in Baltimore, the city has a great website for helping you get started. It's called: Baltimore: Open For Business.

But it would be super-handy if Baltimore simply put all the tax, fee, and license costs on one page, so that business owners and entrepreneurs can be sure they're not missing one because they're not looking in the right place. (Kind-of like what Philadelphia does here.)

With some help from Internet helpers today, we put together a public Google Spreadsheet that lists various Baltimore taxes, licenses and fees in one place -- and compares them to our neighbor, Philadelphia.

Check out the spreadsheet there: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AqxNNmU_YSifdE5Hek5KM0dlaDc0YXk0SWtTTnlYbFE&hl=en_US#gid=0

Some highlights:

* Philly has a weird "business privilege tax" of 6.45 percent. Baltimore doesn't.
* Baltimore's amusement tax is double Philly's.
* Billboard advertisers pay a tax in Philly, not in Baltimore.
* Vehicle rentals are taxed in Philly, not in Baltimore.
* And people who live and work -- or just work -- in Philly pay a local income tax of 3.4% or 3.9%; in Baltimore, you only pay a local income tax, of 3.2%, if you live in the city
* Baltimore hasn't legalized "illegal" drugs, but it has no problem taxing drugs classified as "controlled dangerous substances."

What I think may be worth doing -- just for fun and informational purposes -- is compiling similar tax/fee/licensing rates and numbers from other Mid-Atlantic and East Coast cities, i.e. Washington DC, Newark, Richmond, etc. Feel free to help. Just add some columns and rows and leave links to any information you cite.

So far, what I think the spreadsheets show is that both Baltimore and Philadelphia use taxes and licensing/registration fees in varying degrees to raise revenue. Philadelphia is trying to streamline startup expenses for new businesses, to make their city less "business unfriendly", according to this Philly.com article.

What's your experience starting a business in Baltimore or Philadelphia? Are taxes and fees really a big part of your consideration in establishing a business within (or outside) either city? Or do other things matter more, such as access to talent, technological resources, and clients?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast
        

Forget location check-in -- how do you check-in with your spouse?

Forget Foursquare and the location check-in, how do you solve a more important concern: checking-in with your significant other?

With three kids now, my wife and I are operating at a whole new level of communication. Gone are the days of tolerating muddled, muffled or mixed-up messages. We need battlefield situational awareness and standard communications protocols to make every day happen with 3-month old twins and a 3-year-old girl.

So far, there are two pieces of tech that we use to communicate. One, our iPhones' sync'ed calendars. We set reminders for ourselves and we always know what's on our respective schedules that we can't miss.

The second piece of tech is a little free app called "HeyTell." It allows us to use our iPhones as walkie talkies. We send short voice messages to each other, replacing the need for typing out texts. It just works, better than you think. We even use it when we're both home, i.e. she's on the second floor and I'm in the basement.

There's a third thing I'm trying to convince my wife to use: Google Docs. I figure we can create a running document where we're checking in with each other on stuff we're thinking about, projects we have ideas for, etc. But my wife is not a Gmail/Google Docs fan. (I'm wondering if I can do something similar with iWork.com. Haven't explored yet.)

So this got me thinking: to all the people with significant others out there, what tech do you use to stay on the same page with him or her? Is it a desktop app? A mobile app?

For couples, with or without kids, it's obviously important to communicate. But, during the work week especially, we're all running like crazy and maybe not able to check in as much with each other. What do you do?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:59 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Big Ideas
        

TED taps Hopkins brain as a 2012 Fellow

jimmy-lin.pngHere's a shout-out to Jimmy Lin, a Johns Hopkins University Phd/MD candidate who's marrying two cool ideas: mapping genomes and Internet crowdfunding.

His novel approach with his nonprofit startup, Rare Genomics Institute, earned him a spot among the 25 TED Fellows for 2012. Being a TED Fellow is a high profile honor because the group attracts big thinkers from across the sciences, arts and humanities. TED conferences all over the world are typically big events where the overarching theme is a sharing and cross-pollination of envelope-pushing ideas.

TED Fellows get to participate closely in at least one big conference. The TED Fellows program is still young, but it's had over 5,000 applicants over the past few years, with only a few dozen being selected.

Lin, as a TED Fellow, becomes eligible to be chosen as a senior fellow, which is a two-year program that brings them to four worldwide conferences to learn and share new ideas.

I believe that Lin is the first Baltimorean to be a TED Fellow. Good news!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:38 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 24, 2011

A Baltimorean in Silicon Valley

The Economic Alliance of Baltimore took 30 business and community leaders on a field trip to Silicon Valley recently. Local entrepreneur and tech-scene advocate Mike Brenner put together a thoughtful post describing Silicon Valley's startup ecosystem -- and how it compares to Baltimore.

Here's the post, over at the Startup Baltimore website.

Some key takeaways that Mike covers:

* Investors are less risk averse in Silicon Valley.... and

* Mentorship is everywhere.

Read the post for more of Mike's observations.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, West Coast
        

Makers of porn film "Illegal A** 2" going after Maryland illegal downloaders

If you illegally downloaded a copy of "Illegal A** 2" in Maryland, your butt may be in hot water.

Fresh out of federal court a few days ago, we learned that the makers behind the popular porn film have brought their national campaign against illegal downloading to Maryland. (In case you're wondering about the asterisks, I'm not allowed to write the word "a**.")

Third Degree Films, of Chatsworth, Calif., has been pursuing people who downloaded the film through peer-to-peer online media sharing network BitTorrent. The film typically sells in DVD format for $11.49.

In Maryland, Third Degree is seeking the identities of 118 people who they allege illegally downloaded the film. Interestingly, Third Degree claims these people all swapped the exact same file.

The Smoking Gun website reported in July that an unidentified Purdue University college student tried to quash a Third Degree subpoena that sought his or her identity. The website says the main star of the X-rated "Illegal A** 2" is "Sasha Grey, one of porn’s best-known actresses, who has also appeared in HBO’s “Entourage” and director Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 movie “The Girlfriend Experience.”

Third Degree is going after thousands of illegal downloaders of the film, according to the Smoking Gun.

Below, Sasha Grey:

sasha-grey.jpg


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Steve Jobs: A complex man who made simple stuff

That's what I gathered from the 20 or so minutes watching the 60 Minutes episode last night, where Steve Kroft interviewed Steve Jobs' biographer, Walter Isaacson. (The book debuts today.)

Steve Jobs was adopted. He was a bit of a dirty hippie in his youth, but really geeky and driven in his belief of the power of computing. He was both mean and seductive to people, demanded perfection, and didn't suffer fools.

He didn't actually know a lick of computer programming. And many techies often mock him for that supposed failing in his skill set. But Jobs knew something more critical: the passions, desires and tastes of people who want to feel satisfaction, even pleasure, when they interact with technology.

It's not hard to find engineers who can build stuff. It is harder to find someone with a clarity of vision for products that give people what they want, even when they don't realize yet they want it. That's a really special talent, and one that Jobs was handsomely rewarded for over his career.

He also had a false belief that he could cancer his illness with non-surgical remedies. And he ended up regretting that choice as his cancer ate away at him.

In case you missed it, below is the 60 Minutes video:



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Geeks, West Coast
        

Stories of three entrepreneurs in mobile apps

This past Sunday, I wrote about the "mobile app economy," and told the stories of three Baltimore area entrepreneurs who are finding successful with building apps. Check out the story.

Thanks to Todd Marks, of Mindgrub; Shawn Grimes and wife Stephanie of Shawn's Bits and Campfire Apps; and Jason King, of Accella, for opening up to me and sharing some great details about their businesses.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Apps, Big Ideas, Smartphones
        

October 21, 2011

Job postings in Baltimore City tech

rico-singleton.jpgIf you're interested in the tech side of city government, Baltimore's chief information officer, Rico Singleton (left), has openings for three positions in his office.

You can find details on the positions here, in a Google Doc.

The jobs are: web development team senior position, executive administrative assistant, and performance management analyst. I learned of these openings -- and Singleton's earnest desire to fill them quickly in a tough recruiting environement for IT specialists -- through a Facebook group, Baltimore Tech.

If you haven't been paying attention, some committed and motivated people are working to improve the technology scene in Baltimore, and many of them are active on the Baltimore Tech Facebook group.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

October 20, 2011

NYTimes Paywall: "Hold....Hold....Hold....NOW!!!!"

braveheart-hold.jpg

Well looky here once more! The New York Times, watching its revenues and profits drain out to the web, took a gamble in erecting a paywall -- and it seems to be holding.

Better still -- they're actually gaining digital subscribers.

William Wallace would be proud. New York Times execs have not yet had to drop their sharpened spears and nicked shields in the face of the everything-should-be-free-on-the-Internet hordes and head for the last refuges of newspapers executives, that is the twin ivory towers of academia and public relations.

In its third-quarter earnings release today, the NYT reported that digital subscriptions rose to 324,000 -- compared with 281,000 in the previous quarter, according to Bloomberg. [Here is the NYT official news release on their earnings today.] In total, the NYT has 1.2 million regular digital users.

Meanwhile, even as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Baltimore Sun (and Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News....) turn toward digital subscriptions, the Washington Post's publisher today told Politico that that paper ain't going paywall anytime soon.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Media
        

Lytro: a light field camera that makes "living pictures"

Huh? Light field? What's that? And why is it in a camera?

I vaguely remember reading something about light field cameras awhile ago and passed it off as future tech that wouldn't see the market for some time.

But I was wrong.

A company called Lytro is bringing light field camera technology out of the lab and putting it in a little eight-ounce body starting at $399. They unveiled it yesterday.

The killer tech behind it is that the camera is able to capture the entire light field in your shot, and not just a single pane of light, according to the company. This effectively means that you can shoot out of focus and then re-focus the shot after it's been taken. Or you can choose to focus on a part of the photo that was previously out of focus.

No auto-focus and no shutter lag, the company touts. So you're presumably taking pictures faster. Here's a photo gallery of Lytro photos.

Killer possibilities for the photographers and photo editors of the world, for sure.

But some of us like zooming in and focusing, don't we? I mean, part of the fun of photography is making choices about what to shoot in the field. It's an exercise of the mind, not just the eye and the fingers. It's not about snapping away at everything and focusing later in post-production.

Or maybe that's what it will soon be about.

Once again, it seems photography is on the verge of changing all over again with light field technology.

Below is an embedded image of a Lytro camera shot. Click on the image with your mouse to re-focus it. Pretty cool stuff.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets
        

October 19, 2011

Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" coming in November

ice-cream-sandwich.jpg


Well, looky here: I can't unlock my iPhone with my face? Can you?

Facial recognition to unlock the phone screen is one of the many features being introduced by Google in its latest Android update 4.0, aka "Ice Cream Sandwich." It's coming in November, but the software developer kit is being released to developers today, according to multiple reports.

Google announced the news today, along with a new flagship handset, the Galaxy Nexus, the first phone with Ice Cream Sandwich.

The updated 4.0 OS is being touted as a more refined user interface, according to This Is My Next. That site has a good rundown of the changes.

PCWorld's Sascha Segan thinks Ice Cream Sandwich could help Android flourish on phones and tablets, but the platform still has its problems with fragmentation, slooooooooow updates and poor app discovery in the Android Market.

Interestingly, Andy Rubin, of Google, told This Is My Next that he doesn't think there should be apps specific to phones and tablets. He thinks one app should be able to scale to both devices.

I have to respectfully disagree. I think accomplishing that scaling is hard to do well, and you may end up sacrificing some of the uniqueness inherent in each platform. I think people are willing to pay for a unique, specific, and refined tablet experience that can't be replicated on a smaller phone screen. I expect different -- and sometimes more -- from a tablet app than I do a phone app.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:55 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 12, 2011

AirPlay mirroring in iOS5: Oh, this can be big -- really big -- for Apple TV.

airplay-mirroring.jpg

When I finally get around to downloading iOS5 for my iPhone and iPad, I'll certainly appreciate the 200+ new features that Apple is introducing with this big, free software upgrade, such as full Twitter integration, iMessage and Reminders.

But the big one I'm looking forward to? AirPlay mirroring. (SplatF's Dan Frommer's post about his most anticipated iOS5 updates got me thinking about this topic this morning.)

So what is AirPlay mirroring and why will it matter for users and the Apple TV? (Note: As a commenter below states, the AirPlay mirroring feature is only available for iPhone 4S and iPad 2.)

AirPlay is Apple's Wi-Fi content-streaming technology that enables you to push music and video from your iDevice to your television, with Apple TV ($99) as the wireless intermediary that makes it happen. Since I've owned an Apple TV, I've streamed photos, videos, and music from my iPhone to my TV. For instance, I take a bunch of photos of my kids playing outside and later, when we're inside, I flash those photos quickly on my TV. Wirelessly. Simply.

Now, AirPlay mirroring will allow you to mirror the entire iPhone or iPad, including all your apps. Suddenly, you can presumably start playing an iPhone game, and shift it to play on a bigger screen.

Or how about that Keynote or PowerPoint presentation you've been preparing? Imagine you have a demonstration to present to a group, and there's a 50-inch TV in the conference room. You bring your slim Apple TV and your iPhone/iPad and, bam!, you're giving a presentation without a laptop.

I really believe if Apple sets up a couch, a big-screen TV, an Apple TV and an AirPlay-enabled iPhone or iPad in each Apple Store, the company will see its Apple TVs fly off the shelves in short order. So much for Apple TV as a side "hobby," as Steve Jobs once called it.

I really believe AirPlay mirroring can be the sleeper hit feature of iOS5, which actually drives more hardware sales for Apple.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:37 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless
        

BlackBerry outage comes to U.S., Baltimore

I just got an email from our corporate parent's help desk notifying us of a BlackBerry outages affecting email, text messaging and Internet service.

How many other corporate IT departments are sending out such an email across the U.S. this morning? And how many municipal governments, who rely on BlackBerrys for critical communications, are also affected?

In Baltimore, the city employees' BlackBerry services are down, according to Rico Singleton, in a brief email. He did not provide a number for city workers affected.

Reuters reports that Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, is saying that some clients are experiencing outages in the Americas. It's the third day of outages around the world for the Canadian company, and a serious setback for its legions of business customers who rely on these smartphones for communications.

Search for "BlackBerry outage" on Twitter to find remarks and other news articles about the topic.

For you loyal BlackBerry users out there, is this outage the last straw? Will you switch to iPhone or Android or Microsoft phones?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:23 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Two tech events not to miss this week: TechNite and UMD Boot Camp

The two tech events that should be on everyone's calendar this week will offer up a double-dose of networking opportunities and food for thought.

First, tomorrow night is the annual TechNite, the annual showcase hosted by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, featuring some tech exhibitions and major networking opportunities. Also, there's a bit of a milestone here: this year's TechNite's top two major sponsors, for the first time, are technology companies: Advertising.com and Millennial Media.

This is significant, in my view. In the past, the top sponsors have usually been deep-pocket service providers, such as law and accounting firms. It's gotta be a feel-good moment for those in the tech community to see two of the biggest names in local tech take the top sponsor spot. Tickets are here -- can you get your company to pay for it? :-)

The second big event is Friday, at the University of Maryland College Park: It's the UMD Technology Startup Boot Camp, starting at 10 a.m. I've been to this in past year's and it's a cool day of programming and networking, ripe for people interested in partnering with University talent or getting access to some professional business plan development.

Here's the full agenda.

Unfortunately, you won't see me at either TechNite or the boot camp, because I've got some family commitments. But I'll be following the tweet streams closely.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 11, 2011

Americans love to shoot secret smartphone videos: report

A Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,300 adults showed that 50 percent of American adults would use a smartphone to take a secret video.

The top targets?

• 23% - people in embarrassing outfits
• 20% - athletes at a sporting event
• 15% - someone tripping/falling
• 10% - sexy waitress at a restaurant
• 9% - shirtless hunk mowing the neighbor’s lawn
• 7% - cheerleaders
• 7% - boss or coworker sneaking a second doughnut
• 6% - disgusting grooming habits
• 5% - couple kissing or making out
• 8%- other

Stay classy, America!

For the full press release on the survey, hit the jump:

Qumu Survey: 50% of Americans Say They Would Use Smartphones to Take Secret Videos
Secretly recording people in embarrassing outfits was #1 choice

A majority of Americans think it would be funny or interesting if videos were shared at work

CTIA CONFERENCE, San Diego, Calif. Booth #1022 — October 12, 2011 – Qumu, www.qumu.com, the leading business video platform provider, today announced the findings of its September 2011 survey of 2,361 Americans aged 18 and older, conducted online by Harris Interactive. The survey, which was drafted based on Qumu’s experience in mobile and tablet use in the workplace, discovered that 50% of Americans would use a smartphone to take a secret video. When asked which scenarios, if any, would Americans choose to record secretly, they revealed:

• 23% - people in embarrassing outfits
• 20% - athletes at a sporting event
• 15% - someone tripping/falling
• 10% - sexy waitress at a restaurant
• 9% - shirtless hunk mowing the neighbor’s lawn
• 7% - cheerleaders
• 7% - boss or coworker sneaking a second doughnut
• 6% - disgusting grooming habits
• 5% - couple kissing or making out
• 8%- other

A majority of Americans (57%) say they would find it funny or interesting if a coworker was to share, upload, or post online a video in the workplace (e.g., on the company intranet or on the company shared files server). The number one video Americans might find funny or interesting if posted is of someone pulling a prank on a co-worker (30%), followed by someone imitating the boss (27%), a high-level executive being forced to make coffee (23%), someone napping on the job (21%), co-workers fooling around while thinking no one is watching (13%), a company party ending in inappropriate behavior (12%) and someone “pigging out” in the workplace kitchen (11%).

Men are more likely to find any videos of these types of activities more funny or interesting than women (60% vs. 54%); especially those between the ages of 18-34 (25%) when it came to videos of co-workers fooling around while thinking no one was watching.

To help companies adapt to the challenges posed by video, social media, and mobile use, Qumu is educating the enterprise about enabling video content to be centrally managed and also embedded in virtually any business application, portal or mobile app. The Qumu Video Platform includes both the Video Control Center 6.0 and its sister product VideoNet 2.0. The Qumu Video Platform enables the enterprise to manage, organize and securely distribute live and on-demand video to each desktop and every mobile viewer, such as iPads, iPhones and Android devices.

“While the social aspects of video can be fun for employees and can enhance corporate culture in a positive way, it’s becoming critical for corporations to provide employees with an easy to use video platform that can manage the video sharing process,” said Ray Hood, CEO of Qumu.

“At Qumu we provide the opportunity for employers to better control the way video is shared, organized and distributed to employees. We provide automatic transcoding and an approval process prior to publishing that ensures corporate standards are upheld, as well as reports that show what videos employees are watching. Qumu knows the future of business depends on video being consumed anytime, anywhere – a Video Powered Enterprise means providing the Freedom to work with existing infrastructure; the Power to reach all audiences; and the Control to do it right.”
About Qumu

Qumu, Inc., based in San Bruno, California, is the leading business video platform provider, empowering organizations to better engage and inspire employees, improve productivity, and reduce costs. Video is pervasive – it appears in all business applications and is consumed on all devices. The largest Global 1000 companies depend on Qumu’s video platform to capture, manage, and distribute live and on-demand content with total reliability and security. Regardless of audience size, viewer device, or network configuration, Qumu simply makes video work. Only Qumu delivers the Freedom to work with existing infrastructure; the Power to reach everyone; and the Control to do it right.
Visit www.qumu.com

About Rimage Corporation

Founded in 1978, Rimage Corporation (NASDAQ: RIMG) helps businesses deliver digital content directly and securely to their customers and employees. Its disc publishing business, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, supplies more than 10,000 customers in North America, Europe and Asia with industry-leading solutions that archive, distribute and protect content on CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs™. With its acquisition of Qumu, Rimage will become a leader in the rapidly growing enterprise video communications market. The combination of Qumu and Rimage’s disc publishing business and virtual publishing initiative enables businesses to securely deliver their videos, documents, audio files and images in today’s multi-platform, multi-device world. Additional information can be found at www.rimagecorp.com.
Blu-ray Disc™ is a trademark of the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery omnibus product on behalf of Qumu from September 21-23, 2011, among 2,361 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Curtis Sparrer at Grayling Connecting Point.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:52 PM | | Comments (0)
        

UPDATE: Facebook app bricking iPhones -- Facebook apparently working on a fix

facebook-brick.PNG

For the latest update, see below.

Facebrick?

It happened to me this morning: I downloaded the new Facebook app update for the iPhone and minutes later, my iPhone 4 fell into a dark coma.

I reset it several times (hitting the power and home buttons at the same time), then plugged it into my computer and iTunes. Twenty minutes later, it was back to normal. I deleted the Facebook app and reloaded it a few minutes ago.

It wouldn't download to my phone.

This appears to be a common problem, if you look at Twitter and search for "Facebook iPhone brick." Or just search for "Facebook iPhone." How common? Don't know yet. But it's clear Facebook has some type of quality control issue with the app.

On Apple's discussion forums, people have been talking about an apparent bug in the Facebook iPhone app. Check out: "Did the Facebook app update kill my phone?"

Did the Facebook update brick your iPhone? What are you doing about it?

UPDATE: At about 2:30 pm today, a Facebook spokesperson emailed me the following statement:

“We test all products vigorously before we launch them. However, as with all new technology products, occasionally unexpected bugs will surface once people start using products on a mass scale. We are committed to providing the best user experience possible, and are listening to and following up on feedback.”

In a followup email, I asked when an update that fixes the problem will be released, this person replied: "Will come back to you on this."

So, I guess we wait.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:32 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 10, 2011

Did Steve Jobs have OCD?

"For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through." -- Steve Jobs, as quoted in the Economist.

Journalists routinely pepper their copy with everyday terms that sometime have deeper meaning in a medical setting. Today, I'd like to consider the term "obsessive," as it has been applied to Steve Jobs in articles about him since he died last week.

A search of the Nexis news database turned up the word "obsessive" in connection with a Steve Jobs-related article a total of 68 times in the past week.

Numerous news reports have noted Mr. Jobs' "obsessive" attention to detail and perfection in the products he brought to life. Indeed, when you get past the tribute articles and dig deeper into Mr. Jobs' past, you find stories of him being tyrannical and harsh as a leader, paying exacting attention to details that he undoubtedly paid other top executives to monitor. But the vision of Mr. Jobs that we seem to get is of someone who just can't help but be involved in every single minute step of the process of product development and marketing.

So, I ask: Did Steve Jobs have obsessive-compulsive disorder? A search via Google today didn't turn up much, except for an OCD blogger taking on the topic (sort-of). Type into Google News "Steve Jobs" and "obsessive" and you find articles where journalists and bloggers used the term to describe him, i.e. "obsessive visionary."

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? Many people's frame of reference about OCD is really informed by compulsive behaviors. Checking the lights, checking the door locks, checking the stove knobs, walking on sidewalks a certain way -- the behaviors that an OCD sufferer HAS to do. If not, they risk overturning their entire daily routine.

But not many really consider the "O" in OCD -- the obsessive thinking, the repetitive thinking, the attention to detail. The inability to not think about something for long stretches of time -- even if you just don't want to think about it any longer.

Or, to note the phrase Mr. Jobs uses himself, the inability to sleep well at night when thinking about something to no end. There are many, many people in this world who sleep very well at night without obsessing about the supposedly minor details that Mr. Jobs apparently did. So why did he?

Here's the NIH's definition of OCD. Sufferers with severe OCD often have a real hard time functioning in daily life. But as with many types of medical diagnoses, there's often a spectrum of behavior and functionality.

Look -- I never met Steve Jobs and I'm not trying to commit an armchair diagnosis here. I don't have a medical degree. People keep referring to his "obsessive" behavior as a leader and innovator, and I think the question is worth pursuing. What makes "genius"? What are the qualities of a true innovator? Does obsessiveness play a role?

My hope is that the official biography of Steve Jobs, due out later this month, really gets to the heart of Mr. Jobs' psychological state. If not, author Walter Isaacson will have missed a huge opportunity to inform us about the inner workings of the inner mind of Steve Jobs.



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:53 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Technology, social media disrupt Baltimore's tech association

sharon-webb.PNG I recently caught up with Sharon Webb, the new-ish CEO of the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, for a nice long chat about technology, the GBTC, and entrepreneurial activity -- oh, and raising multiples. (She's a parent of triplets and I have twins.)

Since I've been covering local tech the last 2+ years, I've definitely noticed a big surge in networking and startup events. The GBTC is sometimes involved, sometimes not.

So the main line of questioning I took with Sharon was: Can the GBTC be relevant in a world where anyone (with a half decent reputation and set of connections) organize meetups, talks, breakfasts, panels and events.

Here's the full interview with Sharon. Take a look.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

Netflix abandons Qwikster plans in embarrassing reversal

netflix-image.jpg

Can you say: D'oh!

Recently, Netflix said it was going to raise prices and split off its video streaming service from its DVD rental service.

The plan was to maintain Netflix.com as a streaming-only service. And a new venture, Qwikster.com, would be for customers interested in only DVDs.

But, customers hated the idea -- and left in droves. Netflix slashed its third-quarter subscriber forecasts by a million, according to the WSJ.

So today, Netflix reversed course. In a blog post, the company said "two websites would make things more difficult" for their members. And, no more price increases, the company promised.

Up until this debacle, Netflix could do little wrong. But their reputation has taken a hit with these changes, course reversals, and back-trackings. Is this a chance for competitors to swoop in?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:38 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 6, 2011

Reflections on Steve Jobs

stevejobs-apple-site.PNG

[Image via Apple.com]

The news that Steve Jobs had died flashed on my iPhone last nite -- and hit me like a punch in the gut. My wife and I were talking to my mother on my iPhone when the AP alert dinged. I looked around on my kitchen table as the news sunk in. On the table were two iPhones and a new MacBook Pro. Nearby, an iPad lay on its back.

Here I was surrounded by stuff that this man had willed into reality. And all these gadgets were now an intricate and important part of my life. Ninety percent of the photos and videos I've taken of my three young kids have been with iPhones -- and Steve Jobs put them in my hands.

We don't just build and use tools to make things. These tools, in turn, re-make us.

So much has already been written about the impact of Steve Jobs on the world of technology and business, and on industries such as computers, music, and software.

But this blog post isn't about that. This is about the impact his vision has had on me and my family.

Ever since my young daughter was about six months old, she was handling an iPhone. She learned the sounds and images of animals on it. She learned her numbers and letters on it and later, an iPad. She was touching digital screens with fingers that were only a few millimeters wide.

She has grown up in a touchscreen world that largely Steve Jobs help bring about in the last four years. Now, when she sees a screen, she touches it, expecting the digital world to also deliver her a tactile experience.

This is new for all of us.

At 2 1/2, she started using the MacBook Pro and playing basic games that helped sharpen her memory. She has an incredibly scary memory already.

So last night, as I was tweeting my thoughts on Jobs' death, I pulled up Apple's website, which had posted a photo of Jobs and a warm message. My daughter sat on my lap and asked: "Daddy, who is that?"

I actually choked up. I said, "That's the man who invented our iPhones."

"Awwwwww," she said, with a smile. I couldn't bring myself to tell her he had died.

I came to appreciate -- and afford -- Apple relatively late in my life. Their products were never cheap, but they often satisfied and delighted, usually. And of course, Apple itself wasn't always hitting homeruns with its products, but on balance, its last decade has been pretty amazing.

No, I grew up in a PC household, where my computers were more like pack mules than exquisite machines. Oh and they were loud, with buzzing and whirring fans at all hours of the day and night.

My first Apple product was a 30GB iPod with video, seven years ago. I'm sure the iPod was the "gateway drug" for many who've adopted Apple products in recent years. It was different, small, powerful and easy to use. When it came time to buy a desktop computer a few years later, I had arguments with my wife over whether we should stay Mac or go PC. She was highly skeptical. She wanted to stay PC because it was compatible with her job's software. I wanted to go Mac because I believed it would help my creative exploits on the Web.

I won that argument (but have lost many, many since.) And now, my wife is indeed a Mac convert. (Guys -- it's a LOT easier to open up the wallet nowadays for tech purchases when the spouse is on board.)

From there, we got iPhones, iPads and a MacBook. They've all "just worked" wonderfully. The retail experience and customer support at the Apple Store in Towson is, by and large, excellent. It's just always crowded.

In my view, I think so many people -- tech geeks, customers, fanboys -- connected with Steve Jobs not only for his flair and showmanship, but in his ability to make you believe that he had your best interests in mind. This was part of the mythical "reality distortion field" that so many thought Steve Jobs could ensnare people with -- it even has its own Wikipedia entry. He projected the attitude of a guy who didn't tolerate crap for himself, and he wasn't going to let you, his customer, deal with crap either.

His passion and zeal for making cool stuff was real, and he brought us all along for the ride.

Thanks for the wonderful ride, Steve. RIP.



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:38 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 4, 2011

The new iPhone 4S: Same design, new guts inside, sold by Sprint now

Can your wallet take the debut of another iDevice?

Today, at 1 PM Eastern/10 am Pacific, Apple's Tim Cook will take to the stage at the company's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to unveil what many believe to be a new iPhone.

I expect the fireworks to be more about some killer software (i.e. rumors of a very "world changing", powerful voice integration/assist feature) rather than hardware, though there will be some hardware upgrades, too.

It's been more than a year since Apple came out with the iPhone 4, which has been a smash success despite the early complaints about its antenna. (Remember "antennagate"?)

I'll be posting highlights here of the announcement as it happens, and will share links to other resources online that are covering it, too.

Places I'm watching Apple live-blog updates: engadget.com and gdgt.com.

Stay tuned.......

UPDATE:

The event has started. So far here's what's new:

* Apple introduced a new App called "Cards," which allows user to design their own greeting cards with their photos on their mobile device. Apple then ships it via USPS. Watch out, Hallmark!

* So far, there's been a lot of rehashing of the new features coming via iOS5, the next software update for iPhone, iPod and iPad devices.

* A new Apple app called Friends and Family, for sharing locations with trusted groups of people. Watch out, Foursquare.

* Just introduced: The Apple iPhone 4S. Same design as iPhone 4, but new electronic guts inside, include a dual-core processor chip. Also, it's a "world phone", meaning it works on both GSM and CDMA networks. CDMA is common in the US but GSM is huge in Europe. Apple going for world domination.

* New tech: a digital voice assistant that makes it easier than ever to interact with your iPhone and retrieve information. We'll see how it works IRL.

* Sprint gets invited to the iPhone party! So now AT&T, Verizon and Sprint -- the big three -- will have the iPhone.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:13 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 3, 2011

Apple iPhone 5 -- aka "iMaggeddon" -- tomorrow?

The next version or generation of the iPhone is expected to be announced tomorrow at Apple's headquarters, and it will likely go on sale in the next few weeks.

The likelihood that you'll be able to buy one before Christmas? Zilch.

Okay, maybe I'm being over-dramatic, but ... remember trying to get hold of an iPad, an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4? It wasn't THAT easy. You had to hustle and think ahead. And you usually had to have the stamina and patience to -- gasp! -- wait in a long line.

A survey last month projected unprecedented demand for the new iPhone. [CIO covered the survey here.]

So what is the tech media saying about "iPhone 5", aka "iMaggedon"?

Take a look:

* PCWorld's looks at the theories of what to expect.

* 9to5Mac.com throws water on the iPhone "5" rumor and says we're really only getting a souped-up iPhone 4.

* This WSJ piece talks about what many others have speculated -- the newest iPhone will have enhanced voice and speech recognition abilities.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:46 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones
        

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. scores $1.25B anthrax vaccine contract from Feds

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. today said it won a huge government contract to supply 44.75 million doses of its anthrax vaccine, worth up to $1.25 billion over five years.

Emergent's Biothrax vaccine is the only anthrax vaccine approved by the FDA. It has already delivered 55 million doses of the vaccine under various previous contracts with the federal government.

The Rockville based company has a manufacturing plant in Baltimore that's currently under renovation, and is not operating.

According to a press release this morning: Initial deliveries under this award are expected to commence in 2011 with 8.5 million doses scheduled to be delivered during the first contract year. Deliveries are scheduled to continue, subject to availability of funding, through September 2016. The company retains the ability to modify the timing of deliveries depending on manufacturing yields and other factors.

The press release is available on the jump:

ROCKVILLE, Md.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE: EBS) today announced that, in response to solicitation RFP-2011-N-13414, it has received an award to supply the U.S. government with 44.75 million doses of BioThrax®(Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed) over a period of five years for a total value of up to $1.25 billion. BioThrax is the only vaccine licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect against anthrax infection.

“Emergent is proud to be able to contribute to the U.S. government’s program of protecting the nation from the threat of anthrax”

“Emergent is proud to be able to contribute to the U.S. government’s program of protecting the nation from the threat of anthrax,” said Fuad El-Hibri, chairman and chief executive officer of Emergent BioSolutions. “This 5-year award provides for uninterrupted supply of this critical biodefense countermeasure while addressing the government’s mandate to reduce spending across all programs. In coming to agreement, Emergent and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked diligently to establish business terms that incorporate substantial price concessions.”

Initial deliveries under this award are expected to commence in 2011 with 8.5 million doses scheduled to be delivered during the first contract year. Deliveries are scheduled to continue, subject to availability of funding, through September 2016. The company retains the ability to modify the timing of deliveries depending on manufacturing yields and other factors.

About Emergent BioSolutions Inc.
Emergent BioSolutions protects and enhances life by developing and manufacturing vaccines and therapeutics that are supplied to healthcare providers and purchasers for use in preventing and treating disease. Emergent's marketed and investigational products target infectious diseases, oncology and autoimmune disorders. Additional information about the company may be found atwww.emergentbiosolutions.com.

About BioThrax
BioThrax is the only FDA-licensed vaccine for the prevention of anthrax infection. It is indicated for the active immunization of adults who are at high risk of exposure to anthrax. BioThrax is manufactured from a culture filtrate, made from a non-virulent strain ofBacillus anthracis. To date, Emergent has delivered over 55 million doses of BioThrax to the U.S. government and continues to deliver additional doses under active procurement contracts. Since 1998, over 10 million doses have been administered to more than 2.6 million military personnel. For full prescribing information, please visit www.biothrax.com/prescribinginformation_biothrax_us.pdf.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements, other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management, including any potential future securities offering, our expected revenue growth and net earnings for 2011, and any other statements containing the words “believes”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “estimates” and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. There are a number of important factors that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including appropriations for BioThrax® procurement; our ability to obtain new BioThrax® sales contracts or modifications to existing contracts; our plans to pursue label expansions and improvements for BioThrax®; our plans to expand our manufacturing facilities and capabilities; the rate and degree of market acceptance of our products; the success of preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates and post-approval clinical utility of our products; and other factors identified in the company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2011 and subsequent reports filed with the SEC. The company disclaims any intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this press release.

Contacts
Emergent BioSolutions
Investors:
Robert G. Burrows, 301-795-1877
Vice President, Investor Relations
BurrowsR@ebsi.com
or
Media:
Tracey Schmitt, 301-795-1800
Vice President, Corporate Communications
SchmittT@ebsi.com


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, BioTech
        
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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