Archive for September, 2013

Delta Air Lines has decided to jump on Microsoft’s Surface bandwagon.

Delta will deploy the Surface 2 to 11,000 pilots by the end of 2014, the airline and Microsoft announced Monday. The airline will equip Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 pilots with the Surface 2 later this year, and will roll it out to all other cockpits by the end of 2014.

Rather than opt for the Surface 2 Pro, Delta has decided to invest in the Windows RT-based Surface 2. The slates will run on Windows RT 8.1 and come with apps the pilots need to complete their jobs, including carts, reference documents, and checklists, Microsoft said. Delta expects to save $13 million per year in fuel and other costs by using the Surface 2.

For Microsoft, the adoption of the Surface 2, in large numbers, for use by pilots is surely a significant customer win. For Delta, the move is a chance to applaud some expected cost savings — the airline says use of the tablets will allow it to cut 7.5 million sheets of paper per year and reduce fuel consumption by 1.2 million gallons annually.Before Delta can use the Surface 2 for all phases of the flight process, the company needs to get Federal Aviation Administration approval. According to Microsoft, Delta expects to receive full approval from the FAA to use the Surface 2 on all devices and flight phases sometime next year.

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The Galaxy Gear smartwatch pairs with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at launch

AT&T officially announced its pricing plan for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, which goes on sale this Friday at the carrier’s online and brick and mortar stores, and also at RadioShack.

The carrier will sell the phablet, which also packs in high-end specs and an improved stylus for more multitasking than in previous versions, for $299 with a new, two-year service agreement. If that number’s a little too daunting up-front, AT&T’s Next program lets you pay in $35 monthly installments.

In addition to the Note 3, the $299.99 Galaxy Gear smartwatch extends the phone’s capabilities to your wrist, in addition to the usual smartwatch capabilities, including a pedometer. While the Gear will only support the Note 3 at launch, in the future it will also pair with the Galaxy S4, Note 10.1 tablet (2014), and other select Samsung products

It sure seems like Samsung is clearly annoyed by the fact that rival Apple is getting all the credit for rolling out a gold smartphone.

The electronics company took to its blog to argue that it was first with a gold phone and that it wasn’t following Apple’s move. Since Apple rolled out the gold version of the iPhone 5s Sept. 10, it has been hugely popular and sold out at many stores as soon as it was released.

Samsung said it launched the gold version of its flagship smartphone in the United Arab Emirates back on Aug. 27. It started selling the devices in stores on Sept. 8 and later took the device to Kuwait and Qatar too.

“On 8th September 2013, the first Samsung #GalaxyS4 Gold Edition was already available in stores. The 8th comes before the 10th,” Samsung said on a caption for a picture posted on Facebook on Sept. 26, referencing the iPhone 5s announcement date.

To further drive the point that Samsung is not an Apple copycat, the company lists eight other gold cell phones it has released since 2004.

“See below to check out some of the phones we’ve released in gold in the past (just off the top of my head),” Samsung said on its blog.It’s doubtful Apple will get in on this who-was-first fight, but we’ve reached out to the Cupertino, Calif., tech company just in case.

HTC’s next Butterfly smartphone might have leaked to the Web before its time.
Images purportedly of the HTC Butterfly 2 cropped up on the Web over the weekend, showing what appears to be three color options — blue, white, and black. The images also show what appears to be a tall, large display, matching rumors that the handset could come with a 5.2-inch screen. There’s also talk of the device featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

HTC’s Butterfly isn’t necessarily a household name in the US, but has proven successful in Asia and other parts of the world. HTC launched an upgrade to its original Butterfly earlier this year, and called the update the Butterfly S. It’s believed that the next handset will be known as the Butterfly 2.

For its part, HTC has remained tight-lipped on any plans it might have for a future Butterfly handset. It’s believed, however, that the device could be unveiled soon.

Apple’s new iOS 7 mobile operating system has been wildly popular

As big as the lines outside Apple stores were for the launch of the company’s two new iPhones were last week, the virtual lines to download iOS 7 may have been even more impressive.

After iOS 7 became available to download last Wednesday, Internet traffic from Apple.com tripled to more than 13% for the average customers of Sunnyvale-based Blue Coat Systems. The company makes hardware and software that helps companies monitor and optimize their Web traffic.

Though streaming media services such as Netflix and YouTube can consume large amounts of bandwidth, the rush to download a single, fairly large file was virtually unprecedented, according to Blue Coat director Jeff Brainard.

In a blog post Thursday on the Blue Coat website, Brainard wrote that customers who usually get about 4% of their traffic going to Apple.com experienced a spike of more than three times that, to 13%.

For one customer, traffic to Apple.com spiked to 32% of Web traffic.

“During that period, iOS 7 downloads accounted for the second largest volume of traffic behind only YouTube videos,” Brainard wrote.

That means that in offices and schools across the country, IT managers were struggling to keep their systems working as employees as attempted to download the iOS 7 to their Apple devices.

And that also resulted in a busy day for the folks at Blue Coat, who scrambled to help their customers manage the surge of traffic and figure out ways to reduce its effect.

Of course, anyone who tried to download the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system when it became available on Wednesday knew there was a stampede to get it. Users experienced error messages or long download times.

On Monday, Apple confirmed that iOS 7 had been downloaded onto 200 million iOS devices. And other third parties reported that the adoption had pushed past 50% of all iOS devices, a far faster clip than previous updates.

Brainard said IT managers have grown accustomed to seeing big spikes in Web traffic around major events such as the World Cup or the death of a major celebrity. But it’s one thing for people to be posting lots of short tweets or Facebook posts and another thing for millions of people to suddenly try to download a large file from a single source, he said. “There was a ridiculous amount of popularity for this update,” Brainard said in an interview. “I think in the case of a big file update that’s had this kind of impact, no, I have not seen this in the four years I’ve been here.”

While 4K may make little sense on a tiny television screen, on a projector? Yes, please. Hearing these pleas is JVC, which has dropped not one but three consumer projectors with a 4K-like picture. Prices start at $4,999.

The three consumer models are the DLA-X900R ($11,999), the DLA-X700R ($7,999), and the DLA-X500R ($4,999), which include a new D-ILA device, 4K inputs, e-shift upscaling for 1080p-and-lower sources, and a user-selectable Intelligent Lens Aperture.

The projectors, which according to JVC aren’t technically 4K, use a system called “e-shift” which splits all incoming signals and spits them out to two 1080p panels. The image is then combined using “pixel shift” to emulate a 4K image.

JVC claims the Intelligent Lens Aperture produces deeper blacks while maintaining white levels and is “superior to what’s delivered by competing projectors using a dynamic iris”. The projectors feature an automated lens shift with memory presets for easier setup.

Of most interest is the entry-level DLA-X500R, which is the cheapest (pseudo) 4K projector we’ve seen so far, and half the expected price of the Sony 500ES. It features a 60,000:1 native contrast ratio thanks to a new Clear Black feature that provides local area contrast enhancement.

Pushing contrast levels even further are the DLA-X900R and DLA-X700R capable of 150,000:1 and 120,000:1 ratios, respectively.
The DLA-X900R and the DLA-X700R feature active 3D compatibility with THX 3D certification. The DLA-X900R ships with a 3D transmitter and two pairs of glasses.The new JVC D-ILA home theater projectors will be available November, and meanwhile the excellent 1080p DLA-X35 will stay in the range through 2014.

It’s getting only tougher for struggling BlackBerry as T-Mobile, one of the top U.S. carriers, said it will no longer sell the Canadian smartphones in its stores.

The only customers who are still interested in purchasing BlackBerry are business professionals, and they do not buy their devices in stores, said David Carey, T-Mobile’s executive vice president for corporate services, according to a Reuters report.

“Keeping stock in the retail distribution system was inefficient,” Carey told Reuters.

The T-Mobile announcement is another major blow to BlackBerry’s prospects.

The Canadian phone manufacturer was once the leader in mobile, but after the launch of the Apple iPhone and smartphones that run Google’s Android platform, BlackBerry began slipping in both market share and innovation.

Now, BlackBerry is practically irrelevant in the U.S. consumer market.The company has struggled so much it put itself up for a sale. BlackBerry reached a deal this week with Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. to be bought for $4.7 billion. BlackBerry shareholders will receive $9 per share under the tentative deal.

Carl Icahn tweeted that he and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook would talk over dinner about the size of the company’s stock buyback. (Associated Press)

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is scheduled to meet with shareholder activist Carl Icahn on Monday in New York City, according to a report.

On Thursday, CNBC reporter David Faber said he had confirmed the meeting will take place. Last month, Icahn tweeted that he planned to meet Cook for dinner to discuss Apple’s stock buyback plans.

“That planned meal, which no longer may be a meal, will take place on Monday,” Faber says.

Yes, you read that correctly. According to Faber, Icahn is more of a “late-night kinda guy” who “likes to have a couple of martinis with dinner.” And Cook, Faber discovered, is “more of an early morning guy.”

Last month, Icahn revealed that he had taken a large stake in Apple. And although the company announced a record stock buyback program earlier this year, Icahn would like to see it increased even more.

Since Icahn announced his campaign, Apple has launched its two new iPhones and new iOS 7 mobile operating system which have been big hits. However, the stock price has been mixed during the past two weeks.

The stock closed at $506.17 the day before Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. A week later, it had fallen to $450.12 as investors expressed disappointment that Apple did not introduce a cheap iPhone that many had expected.

On Thursday, in midday trading, Apple’s stock was up $5.34 or 1.11% to $486.87.

But the question on everybody’s mind is now this: What kind of alcohol might the two men consume Monday? And just what might that meal be technically called? (If there is a meal.)Watch here for the fascinating discussion on these, and other urgent topics related to Apple.

Ctrl + Alt + Del, a mistake by IBM

Bill Gates has described the decision to use Ctrl+Alt+Del as the command needed to log on to a PC as a mistake.

Originally designed to trigger a reboot of a PC, it survives in the Windows 8 operating system as the command to access the task manager toolbar and is still used in older versions to log on.

In an interview, the Microsoft co-founder blamed IBM for the shortcut, saying he had favoured a single button.

The keyboard shortcut was invented by IBM engineer David Bradley.

Originally he had favoured Ctrl+Alt+Esc, but he found it was too easy to bump the left side of the keyboard and reboot the computer accidentally so switched to Ctrl+Alt+Del because it was impossible to press with just one hand.

During IBM’s 20th anniversary celebrations, he said that while he may have invented it, Bill Gates made it famous.

His involvement in the invention has made him something of a programming hero though- with fans asking him to autograph keyboards at conferences.

Finger strike
The shortcut, also known as the three-finger salute – came to prominence in the early 1990s as a quick fix for the infamous “blue screen of death” on PCs.

But speaking at a fundraising campaign at Harvard University, Mr Gates said he thought that it had been a mistake.

“We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t want to give us our single button.”

While some loathe the clunky command, others took to news site Reddit to express their fondness for it.

“I feel a single button would be a mistake,” said one.”There’s a conscious commitment and in many cases a sense of satisfying sword play in executing the two-handed finger strike of Ctrl-Alt-Del.”

Ben Podgursky

Update 8/21:  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about issues with these rankings from comments, and have tried to address some of them here The data there has been updated to include confidence intervals.

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A few weeks ago I described how I used Git commit metadata plus the Rapleaf API to build aggregate demographic profiles for popular GitHub organizations (blog post here, per-organization data available here).

I was also interested in slicing the data somewhat differently, breaking down demographics per programming language instead of per organization.  Stereotypes about developers of various languages abound, but I was curious how these lined up with reality.  The easiest place to start was age, income, and gender breakdowns per language. Given the data I’d already collected, this wasn’t too challenging:

  • For each repository I used GitHub’s estimate of a repostory’s language composition.  For example, GitHub estimates this project…

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