CharityBuzz is offering bidders the chance to have a cup of coffee with Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Bids are currently at $210,000 for the once and a lifetime chance to drink coffee with the guy who introduced the iPhone 5.
So far, 58 bidders have jumped on the chance to spend quality time with Cook. Those interested in the having a cup of Joe with Cook have until 14 May to make their dreams come true.
For those bidders who may try to milk their time with Cook, be warned that the coffee chat will last no longer than an hour. According to the auctions terms, Cook will not have coffee with anymore than two people and the winning bidder must supply their own travel to Apple HQ.
The auction brings up an obvious question. What would you talk about with the leader of Apple? Would you ask him about Steve Jobs? Whether the iWatch is for real? Can you have tea instead of coffee? There are just so many topics to cover and so little time.
No matter what the winning bidder talks about, the winning funds go to a good cause. All proceeds from the auction will go to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The group works to increase human rights around the globe.
Hopefully, Tim Cook's charitable nature extends to other past and present Apple executives. V3 looks forward to the day when former Apple chief executive John Sculley offers charitable souls the chance to spend a weekend with him.
Sculley is well renowned for firing Steve Jobs and selling sugar water. Perhaps Sculley could offer someone the chance to hang out for a total of two days in his derelict mansion.
For those unaware, Sculley's mansion is known as a design oddity that puts aesthetics over functionality. Architecture Digest called Sculley's mansion, "the architectural equivalent of the Apple III" and "the worst piece of design they have ever seen".
During your stay with Sculley you could be delighted with stories of the Newton PDA, Macintosh Portable, and what it's like to yell at Steve Jobs.
Communications with the International Space Station and Nasa briefly went offline.
According to Nasa, the loss of contact occurred during an update of the stations communications control software. The crew was eventually able to regain communications by switching controls to a backup computer.
During the communications blackout, the station's team was only able to communicate with Earth when orbiting above Russian ground stations every 90 minutes. Communications were down for about a three hour period in total.
The International Space Station was housing a six member crew at the time of the disconnection. Three Russian cosmonauts, two US astronauts, and a Canadian space explorer are reported to currently be on the station.
This isn't the first time that the space station and its crew have lost communications with Nasa. In 2010, the station and Nasa lost communications for about an hour.
Both cases highlight the annoyance of software updates. Whether you're working IT for a start-up or a scientist on the International Space Station, software updates are a chore.
Of course, if you do work IT at a start-up the chance that your update leaves you stranded in space is rather slim. That being said, if you do work at a start-up that could possibly leave you stranded in space: find new work immediately.
You could almost hear the collective spitting of tea over monitors when it emerged the carmakers were promoting their vehicles on the ability to hook up with a iPod.
Economists were agog that $20,000-plus vehicles were being promoted on the basis of a $200 add-on. But Apple's allure to the carmakers remains undimmed. From next year Chevy will be pushing some models capable of integrating with the iPhone digital assistant, Siri.
From early 2013, the Chevy Spark and Sonic will come in models that support iOS 6 users, so drivers can plug in their iPhone and operate it via Siri. The so-called Eyes Free mode will let drivers make voice-activated calls, play songs, compose text messages or check an appointment. The system which integrates Siri with Chevrolet's MyLink in-car platform, aims to minimise driver distractions by stopping the screen lighting up.
“Safe, easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers, and Siri complements MyLink’s existing capabilities to help deliver an incredible driving experience,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director for small cars.
One can only hope for all the sake of all the Siri-using Chevy drivers that will be out on the roads next year that Siri doesn't come with Apple Maps integration – they might otherwise set off a a journey to the shops and be directed to the Grand Canyon.
TorrentFreak recently released a ranking of the top 50 universities most likely to use file-sharing platform BitTorrent.
The pirate colleges were uncovered using the torrent tracking site ScanEye to see which college IP's logged into BitTorrent the most. TorrentFreak's data reveals that despite continued efforts to curb illegally downloading content at universities students still figure out how to pirate data.
Rutgers University in New Jersey led the piracy pack with 1809 average hits. While New York University ranked well behind with a total of 986 hits to rank second. The top 50 list is surprisingly missing the names of tech savvy schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology.
While many colleges's block access to torrent sites like PirateBay, many students are finding workarounds to get a hold of illegally shared media.
In 2010 the US government implemented rules requiring universities to put measures in place to prevent piracy. However, students are still using university bandwidth to illegally download software, movies, video games, and music.
Many students are illegally downloading thinks like movies and music, but software like Microsoft Office for Mac is also high up on the list of pirated content.
During a recent study from earlier this year it was reported that more than half of all computers were running illegally pirated software. While most of the damage was coming from developing countries, almost 34 per cent of illegally pirated software was coming from first world economies like those in Western Europe.
It seems that despite continuous attempts to prevent piracy many users will just find new ways to illegally pirate content. As consumers become more and more tech-savvy at an early age it looks like piracy will be hard to stomp out going forward.
14 Sep 2012
Ever wonder how many degrees of separation exist between Kevin Bacon and Russell Brand? No? Well, if you did Google will now tell you that answer.
Google has released a new search tool that gives answers for the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game.
The Bacon Number essentially tells users the degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and all other actors, based on the movies they have been. Just search the words "Bacon Number" followed by the name of any actor and you're off.
It puts the infamous "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" (SDoKB) game to the test. SDoKB (an acronym we just made up) hypothesises that every actor that ever existed and Kevin Bacon only has as much as six degrees of separation between them.
For an example, Kevin Bacon has a Bacon Number of zero because he's been in a movie with himself. Russell Brand, meanwhile, has a Bacon Number of 2 because he was in Get Him to the Greek with Rose Byrne, who was in X-Men: First Class with the illustrious actor with the delicious last name.
The new tool uses Google's Knowledge Graph to hunt down the connections. According to Google the Knowledge Graph "will enable us to make search more intelligent, moving us closer to the 'Star Trek computer' that I've always dreamt of building."
Just for the record Kevin Bacon has never been in Star Trek. However, Patrick Stewart's Bacon Number is only two so that must account for something.
06 Sep 2012
Bing's latest ad campaign has set out to prove its search engine superiority.
The "Bing it On" challenge asks users to compare five search terms between Google and Bing. Voters than get to choose which search engine came up with the better results.
"We're asking people to click and choose which web search results they prefer via a fun, non-scientific blind comparison test called Bing It On," said Bing corporate vice president and chief marketing officer Mike Nichol in a blog post.
"Our mission is to show people it's time to break the 'Google habit' and that Bing has reached a quality level that will make it easy to switch."
The new non-scientific comparison launches today with ads showing users taking on the challenge in the wild. According to the ads, users were at first sceptical but eventually brought around during the ads one minute run time.
Bing also showed off a commissioned study from independent research company Answers which shows users prefer Bing to Google at a 2:1 rate. Answers surveyed 1,000 participants above the age of 18 and gave them a double sized "Bing It On" challenge featuring 10 search quires of their choice.
When the results were compiled 57.4 per cent of participants chose Bing instead of Google.
Bing's latest decrees of supremacy come following a slew of search upgrades from earlier this year. Microsoft, who is behind the Bing search engine, said the upgrades make Bing searches faster and more relevant.
A bunch of Apple's planned iOS 6 features could make your favorite third-party apps redundant.
iOS 6 will add functions that third-party apps were already doing well. Apple's recent WWDC announcements must have sounded like a death bell for a group of app developers trying to develop a niche in the iPhone marketplace.
Here's a partial list of the apps you'll no longer need once iOS 6 hits this autumn:
Alarm Tunes (Or any Alarm Clock app)
Once upon time you needed to download an app like Alarm Tunes if you wanted to wake up to your favorite podcast, or music playlist. But with iOS 6 you can be waking up to your favorite tunes right out of the box.
I'm sure the developers behind Alarm Tunes will be waking up to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" for the next couple of weeks.
Saving web pages to view later when you're not hooked into Wi-Fi is a great idea. Unfortunately, for Apple they didn't come up with it. Instapaper did and they've been around since 2008. iOS 6 has officially made Instapaper redundant with its new offline reading list feature built into Safari.
I'm sure the people at Instapaper will have plenty of time to catch up on their reading when iOS 6 drops later this autumn.
Apple will be launching a whole new mapping system with iOS 6. The new maps do cool stuff like turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic updates, and 3D maps. All things GPS apps and devices have been doing for years.
GPS company TomTom is looking like a genius for pairing up with Apple for the new GPS guidance. TomTom will help Siri tell iPhone users how to get around, while apps like Garmin GPS will soon help nobody.
The Garmin GPS developers are looking like they lack direction now that iOS 6 is in town.
FlightTrack is a cool little app that offers live flight status tracking. Of course, with iOS 6's new Passbook feature you'll never need it again.
Passbook will let you load in your boarding pass and then do the same thing that FlightTrack does. Users will get updates on flights and any other relevant information an on the go traveler needs with Passbook.
The FlightTrack developers have clearly missed the boarding call for the new iPhone as Passbook just took their seat.
This one is a bit more complicated than the others. Through a mixture of new features Foursquare has lost its relevance. With iOS 6's new Find my Friends function you don't need Foursqaure to tell you where your buddies are. And now that iOS has Yelp support you don't need Foursquare to tell you about cool restaurants close by.
Apple has officially made it so you don't need Foursquare by throwing in all the stuff Foursquare does into iOS 6. Foursquare only really is useful if you have friends with Android devices, and judging by recent studies you probably don't.
It looks like iOS just found a really cool Japanese restaurant and isn't telling Foursquare developers where it's at.
Thats just some of the apps that iOS 6 has made redundant. All the new iOS features are pretty exciting, if not all together new. Apple prides itself on leading the technology pack but nothing about iOS looks particularly groundbreaking. Who knows, maybe all the cutting edge stuff will be introduced with iOS 7.
05 Apr 2012
Sometimes even the simplest ideas have to wait. Markus Kuhn, a computer scientist at the University of Cambridge, has been waiting patiently since 1995 to be able to exploit a simple bit of coding innovation.
Sadly for him, the intervening years have seen the technology this innovation was aimed at become obsolete. And he's in little doubt what's to blame: software patents.
Back in 1995, Kuhn had written roughly 4,000 lines of code as an open source implementation of the image compression algorithms used by fax machines. The trouble was, a single line of that code was covered by a patent awarded to Mitsubishi, for an image encoding standard known as JBIG1.
That patent was hardly revolutionary, having been awarded for making a minor improvement to a separate piece of fax image encoding awarded to IBM. But it was enough to prevent Kuhn from being able to distribute an open source version of his standard.
“The JBIG1 standard is a good example of a technology that could have been made much simpler and a bit more efficient if the authors hadn’t had to justify to their employers the time spent on developing the standard with the prospect that users of the standard would have to pay licence fees,” he wrote in a blog post detailing his travails.
Meanwhile, as he explains, it would have been relatively simple to write an alternative image compression technique – but it would have been incompatible with the standards used by every fax machine maker.
The IT vendors have found ways to carefully craft these standards, ensuring all compatible implementations require a patent licence, said Kuhn.
“Patents were meant to protect investors, such that they could justify the often large investment necessary to introduce a new technology on the market. The idea was to encourage innovation. In the field of standardised file formats and computer protocols, patents are now the main hindrance,” he said.
The patents covering JBIG1 have now finally expired. But Kuhn argues that his experience illustrates the folly of software patents.
He had envisaged his code could help with the exchange of scanned documents over the internet, or even make paper archives accessible to everyone. Instead, patent rules saw his idea wither on the vine.
“There is a simple solution: amend patent legislation such that no patent licences have to be obtained solely for the purpose of compatibility,” he concluded.