Saturday, October 4, 2014

Boot up: Samsung's European PC exit, Stanford's Google pledge, bending iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung Ativ Book Q Samsung’s Ativ Book Q, unveiled in June 2013, can run on Windows 8 and Android software. But now the company is exiting the European PC market.

A feast of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Erika Hall:

Everything focus groups purport to give you, you can get through interviews and contextual interviews, without the unpleasant side effects. Here is what you get from a focus group:

Opinions that participants are willing to speak in the presence of a group of strangers.
One-on-one interviews can be challenging to get right, but they always have the following advantages:

• Fast to set up and run.
• If one bad participant makes it through the screening, you can cut your losses and stop the conversation without affecting other recruits.
• You can have the conversation with participants in their natural environment.

Also worth reading for:

People are lazy, forgetful, creatures of habit. We all are. This is why the mega bestselling book is called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, instead of An Infinite Number of Novel Tasks Performed by Highly Effective People.

"Yesterday, I left at 10am with the iPhone in my left FRONT pocket of my suit pants. I drove 4 hours to a wedding, which also involved a lot of sitting during dinner etc but also 2-3 hours of dancing. I left at 2am and went to bed, driving home 4 hours back.

So in total, the 6 Plus was about 18 hours in my pocket while sitting mostly.

As I lay it on the coffee table and sat down on the couch to relax from the drive (yes, sitting again ), I saw the reflection of the window in the iPhones slightly distorted."

Er, yes.

Following in the path of Sony and its Vaio PCs, Samsung has decided to exit the laptop market stopping sales of Ativ Windows and Chromebook devices in Europe, PC Advisor can confirm.

It's common knowledge that the PC market is in decline with Sony pulling out and selling its Vaio business back in February of this year. Despite being a giant of the tech world, Samsung has now followed suit.

Things have been quiet from Samsung this year on the laptop side of things with no new devices at IFA 2014 in Berlin. The firm's main recent releases have included the Ativ Book 9 Plus and Ativ Book 9 Lite.

"We quickly adapt to market needs and demands. In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops including Chromebooks for now. This is specific to the region – and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets," said a Samsung spokesperson.

Sony, Toshiba, Samsung - who's next to retrench?

Somewhat like the way old Androids are:

Researchers are already using data collected from an Android app that measures barometric pressure. Jacob Sheehy and Phil Jones built the app, called PressureNet, and have been sharing data collected from it with scientists. They also let other developers build their technology into third party apps as a way to further distribute the technology and collect more data.

They launched PressureNet in 2012 and have had 95,000 downloads but only about 22,000 people actively use it, Sheehy said. However, including third party apps, like Beautiful Widgets, around 300,000 phones are capable of feeding pressure data to PressureNet.

So far around 300 people have signed up to use the data from the app, 100 of whom are researchers. But only around 10 or so are active, Sheehy said.

That's the real problem - getting scale.

The 10 app was created to reduce the friction GoPro users currently have when finding and editing videos to share. Currently, anyone who attaches a GoPro to their snowboard, surfboard or any other device usually ends up waiting until they get home and upload videos to their computers before being able to access them. Then they have to go through the trouble of sorting through all the content they recorded for just the choice bits and cut them down before uploading them to YouTube or other networks.

BrightSky Labs hopes to simplify that process, which they believe will make for a lot more shareable and shared GoPro content making its way online. The 10 app makes it simple for extreme sports enthusiasts to finish recording, check out the videos they've recorded, and get right back to the slopes or the surf, or whatever it is they're being extreme on.

Stanford University recently declared that it will not use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society, according to a legal filing made by the school.

"Since 2013, Google funding is specifically designated not [to] be used for CIS's privacy work," the university said in the court filing, found by ProPublica in documents filed in an unrelated lawsuit.

Stanford's Center for Internet and Society has long been generously funded by Google, but the center's privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant in the past two years. Two years ago a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5m fine.

Academics not happy, and prepared to say so publicly.

The industrial design of the iPhone 6 is close to flawless... except for one flaw so weird, so major, that it's maddening: the fact that the camera protrudes from the body of the phone, meaning it never lies completely flat and gets caught on all kinds of stuff.

The perfectionists at PeripateticPandas have a solution, and it involves industrial machinery.

Maybe iron out the lumps on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha next?

Apple will be launching the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in India on October 17. With less than a month to go for the official launch, the smartphones have hit India's grey markets, with prices touching a ridiculous Rs 140,000 for the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB variant.

In Delhi's grey markets, the 16GB variant of the iPhone 6 is priced as much as Rs 80,000. The bigger iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, is retailing at Rs 120,000 for the 16GB variant, and Rs 140,000 for the 64GB variant.

Last year, before the iPhone 5S was officially launched, it too hit the grey markets in India. It retailed for around Rs 75,000 for the 16GB variant, and the rare gold colored variant was available for as much as Rs 115,000.

Rs 140,000 is about £1,400; the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB retails for £699 in the UK.

We saw how the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of performance, but how well do Apple's new smartphones stack up to the competition when it comes to battery life? We ran our battery test over the weekend to find out.

Answer seems to be: battery life follows a basic law of physics, so endurance is almost exactly proportional to capacity.

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