Former Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky set to teach at Harvard

19 Dec 2012

Recently axed executive Steven Sinofsky has reported that he will began teaching at Harvard this spring.

Sinofsky disclosed the news on his Twitter feed. The former exec left Microsoft earlier this year. His combative nature reportedly played a factor in his dismissal from the company.

"Excited to return to [Harvard Business School] to teach again this spring," said Sinofsky on Twitter.

Sinofsky's new job will be his second go around at Harvard. He worked as a part-time professor at the university in the late 90s. While there he wrote a book about his experience's at Microsoft.

The former executive spent over 20 years at the company. He resigned from his position as the firm's head of Windows and Windows Live last month. The resignation was said to be a mutal parting of ways between Sinofsky and Microsoft.

Reports have since surfaced that he was ousted from because of his inability to work with others in the company. Analysts have claimed that his "authoritarian" nature led to his downfall.

His ouster came around the same time as Apple's decision to let go of their combative executive Scott Forstall. Both execs shared a difficult nature that led them to become very divisive figures.

Sinofsky and Forstall shared their confrontational personalities with the likes of Steve Jobs. The Apple founder was notorious for his never-back-down approach to business.

However, in recent years that style of management has gone to the waist side. Under the likes of Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer technology corporations have offered a much more collaborative environment.

Perhaps with his new position Sinofsky will look to bring the Jobs-style of management back to the forefront. Through his teachings maybe some students will latch onto the "my way or the highway" management style of the former exec.

Marissa Mayer and Tim Cook up for Time's Person of the Year

18 Dec 2012

marissa-mayer-hope-posterTwo Silicon Valley executives are in competition with president Obama and Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi for Time Magazine's Person of 2012 award.

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer and Apple chief executive Tim Cook will look to beat out the political leaders for the award. Mayer candidacy comes as she tries to bring Yahoo back to its glory days. While Cook attempts to move out of the shadow of Apple's founder Steve Jobs.

If the two executives win the award they will join the ranks of past winners like Mark Zuckerberg, who won the award in 2010. Other notable winners include Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, and You.

If Mayer wins it will add to her rather eventful year. She was appointed chief executive of Yahoo last July.

For Cook, the win would be big news for the man who stepped into Steve Jobs shoes late last year. During his tenure as chief executive of Apple, Cook has overseen the release of the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and the much maligned Apple Maps.

If V3 had a vote, and we don't, we'd give serious consideration to Mayer. Not only has she had one of the most eventful years in Silicon Valley but she's also put her fingerprints all over Yahoo during her brief tenure.

Fixing Yahoo is no easy task. However, Mayer has so far shown she has the vision and support to get it done. Plus, she'd be the first women to win the award since former president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino won it in 1986.

Google Maps for iOS surpasses 10 million downloads in under 48 hours

18 Dec 2012

Google Maps for iOS surpassed 10 million downloads within the first 48 hours of being available.

People hated Apple Maps. Australian police even blamed it for almost getting tourists killed. Users were obviously clamouring for an Apple alternative to maps and they got it two days ago when Google dropped its mapping app on iOS 6.

"We're excited for the positive reception of Google Maps for iPhone around the world," wrote Google's senior vice president of commerce & local Jeff Huber in a recent Google+ posting.

"Congratulations to the Maps Team on the recognition for the passion and hard work they poured into it, for this release and over the last seven-plus years."

Google Maps have set the standard for mobile phone mapping systems. Up until this year it came standard on all iPhone and iPad devices. However, with the release of iOS 6 Apple dropped the beloved maps app for its own directions application.

The news of Google's map comeback comes after Apple's spotty attempts to makes its own maps app for iOS devices. Apple's maps were so bad that company chief executive issued an apology for the blunder.

The maps were even so reviled that they reportedly led Apple to fire two executives. Vice president of the iOS platform Scott Forstall resigned from Apple last October. While senior director of the iOS platform Richard Williamson was let go in November.

So good job Google, people like your maps more than Apple's maps. If statistics are true they also prefer your entire ecosystem to Apple, so good work on that too.

IBM predicts computers will become touchy-feely, and smelly

17 Dec 2012

A hand on a computer keyboard

As we rush headlong towards to end of the year, technologists always like to indulge in a spot of crystal ball gazing. IBM is no exception, and this year Big Blue has decided to make a bold bet on what it thinks will be the most eye-catching innovations of the next five years.

According to IBM researchers, we're about to enter the era of so-called cognitive systems – computers that interact with the world around them using the same five sense that humans use. 

“Cognitive systems will bring even greater value and insights, helping us solve some of the most complicated challenges,” said Bernie Meyerson, IBM vice president of innovation.

According to IBM, advances in haptic technologies will transform our ability to touch objects via our smartphones – enabling users to distinguish between two dresses shown on screen by feeling the differences in fabric.

Computers will also get far cleverer when it comes to sight, being able to analyse the content of images with far more sophistication. They will be able to analyse medical images and spot the first signs of diseases, IBM predicts.

Most people might not think they need a computer that can smell, but that hasn't stopped IBM trying to make one. Electronic noses embedded in smartphones could potentially detect the first whiff of bad breath that might indicate the user is coming down with a bug or is even hypoglycaemic.

The next five years will also bring computers that can listen to their environment, acting as sensors in remote locations to warn of the dangers such as landslides, IBM reckons.

And Heston Blumenthal watch out. IBM estimates that within five years, we'll have computers that can interpret tastes and flavours. IBM researchers believe it will be possible for computers to come up with previously unimagined recipes, potentially finding ways to make healthy foods that taste every bit as good as artery-clogging fast food.

Stephen Hawking renews calls for Alan Turing to be pardoned

14 Dec 2012

Alan Turing was born in 1912 and hearlded as the father of modern computing

If anyone knows about fighting against the odds, it's eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed as suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 21 and told he only had years to live. As we all know, the 70-year-old Hawking has gone on to establish himself as one of the most brilliant thinkers of our times.

But in his latest quest, Hawking and 10 other high-profile figures, face a fight against a seemingly immoveable foe: the British establishment. Their aim? To win a pardon for war-time code breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing.

Hawkings, along with 10 other signatories, including the Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow and Sir Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society have written an open letter calling on the British government to cast aside previous intransigence, and formally pardon Turing.

“We urge the prime minister formally to forgive this British hero, to whom we owe so much as a nation, and whose pioneering contribution to computer sciences remains relevant even today,” they wrote in a letter to The Telegraph.

Turing was convicted of homosexuality in 1952, when the law perversely stated a person's sexuality could constitute a crime. The conviction ultimately resulted in Turing's untimely death at the age of just 41.

We have, sadly, been here before. The last government rejected calls for Turing to be pardoned, with then-prime minister Gordon Brown apologising, but deciding that Turing's conviction in 1952 was valid.

Hawking and his colleagues remain unmoved by such flimsy arguments.

“To those who seek to block attempts to secure a pardon with the argument that this would set a precedent, we would answer that Turing’s achievements are sui generis. It is time his reputation was unblemished,” they said.

Surely a pardon would be the most fitting tribute to finish the celebrations that marked the 100th year of Turing's birth?

John McAfee to leave jail and return to US

12 Dec 2012

John McAfee

The bizarre and highly colourful controversy surrounding security luminary John McAfee appears to have reached something of a conclusion after it was announced he is to be released from prison in Guatemala and be allowed to go back to the US.

McAfee has been fleeing the authorities who want to speak to him regarding the apparent murder of his next door neighbour in Belize. He crossed into Guatemala last week but was soon apprehended, mostly due to a picture containing location data posted online. D'oh!

McAfee didn't let it get him down and began keeping a blog of his experiences, although the situation was clearly a heavy strain as he was rushed to hospital at one point due to a suspected heart attack.

Now, though, his ordeal appears to be over after a blog post on his website announced the authorities in Guatemala have ruled his initial arrest was unlawful.

"A Guatemalan judge has just ruled that Mr. McAfee was detained illegally. He will be released from detention at the central imigration centerin Guatemala City tomorrow morning. It is believed he will be allowed to return to the United States," it said.

In light of the photo that led to his arrest being relased with geographic data by Vice Magazine, McAfee has said he will no longer be working with the magazine as he believes the information was released purposefully.

"Due to information just received, it is no longer clear to Mr McAfee that the 'accidental' release of his co-ordinates due to Vice Magazine's editorial department's failure to remove location data from their now notorious photo, was indeed an accident. This incident led directly to Mr McAfee's arrest."

The controversy just never stops, and what the bungled arrest by Guatemalan authorities will mean for its relations with Belize is anybody's guess.

Amazon gets patent for tablet airbag

12 Dec 2012

Drawing of Jeff Bezos phone protection patent

Jeff Bezos must be a pretty clumsy billionaire because he just patented a method for putting airbags on mobile devices. While the method is never called an "airbag system" in the patent, that's exactly what it is.

"Prior to impact between a surface and a device, a determination of a risk of damage to the device is made. If the risk of damage to the device exceeds a threshold, a protection system is activated to reduce or substantially eliminate damage to the device." reads the patent.

So it's like the airbag in your car, expect it's on a tablet.

Usually, it would be easy to say the guy who invents the tablet airbag is crazy. But when the name on the application is that of the founder of Amazon, you got to think he's on to something. Bezos is a self-made billionaire who makes a lot of money on un-traditional ideas.

So while a gadget airbag sounds like a terrible idea, maybe its not. Just maybe it will revolutionise the smartphone market and soon led to patent wars on airbag technology. Just maybe it's the greatest thing ever made. Maybe soon we'll all be able to dash our Kindle's to the floor in the knowledge that they're safe from harm.

Or maybe it's just a terrible idea.

Cookbook sheds light on Silicon Valley's cooking prowess

11 Dec 2012

Food in fridge

What does the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, eat for breakfast? Doritos and Mountain Dew, right? Wrong. In fact, Mullenweg eats a specially made slow-cooked egg dish that he calls "Eggs à la Matt".

The revelation that the techie responsible for WordPress can actually cook something other than Pot Noodles comes from the new e-cookbook The Startup Chef

Startup Chef is a 75-recipe tome full of the foods that tech start-up executives make.

According to the book's authors, Maya Baratz and Hunter Walker, the e-book sets out to show that the same creativity that one needs to build a tech company can be moved into the kitchen.

"A cookbook by people who make technology products may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first. Technology, after all, is about bytes, not bites," the authors wrote in a description of the book.

"But the creative process that goes into cooking a great meal - and the raw vision, passion and imagination one applies to making something new out of a sum of unsuspecting ingredients - is not so different from the process of creating innovative technology products."

Among the techie's recipes inside the book, readers will find out what gets cooked up at a Zuckerberg family dinner.

Both Mark Zuckerberg's sisters, Randi and Donna, shared recipes for the project, including the family recipe for "Eggnog Cinnamon Chip Scones" in the book.

Unfortunately, there is no word on Mark's culinary aptitude in the book. However, may we recommend hoodie-wearing gingerbread man as an ideal dessert for the holiday season?

Those interested in learning how to eat like a Silicon Valley bigwig can check out the e-book now for $10. As an added bonus all proceeds from the book go to charities that are helping to stop world hunger.

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