Apple in hot water over E-book price fixing

Tech giant Apple has come under fire again, this time the heat is coming from the U.S. Justice department! The U.S. has accused Apple, and five publishers of banding together to keep e-book prices high.

Pretty much the pricing of e-book’s since Apple became involved has been sky high. An e-book should never cost more than five or ten dollars, and people who argue that “the value of the book” or “the value of the author” justifies these high costs which in many cases are more expensive than the actual paperback, are just plain delusional. The consumer is not paying for binding, shipping, packaging these are digital! And somehow Apple’s iBooks service manages to get away with charging almost double of what Amazon offers (which normally run at $9.99USD). Before the “iBooks” service was launched, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went to the major publishers he offered them a new model, the “agency” model which meant publishers could set their own selling prices and take 70% of the profits and Apple taking the other 30%. It was this new model that enticed the major publishers due to the fact that their previous way of doing this type of business was working under the “wholesale” model,in which an e-book seller such as Amazon pays roughly half the recommended cover price, and then sets its own pricing.

Justifiably the agency model became more popular after Apple entered the e-book business and they also reportedly stipulated that publishers who used the agency model couldn’t sell their books for cheaper elsewhere. What us the consumers will most likely get out of all of this is cheaper prices for our e-books after the justice department lays down some hefty fines on Apple and the book publishers. Cheaper e-book’s hurray!!!! No one likes paying higher prices for something if they dont have to and this will keep the playing field competitive between companies to further prevent another “iTunes” which has a firm grasp on the music industry.

Apple Introduces The New iPad!

The highly anticipated Apple media event set for today March 7th has come and gone and it did not disappoint for the most part, but then again no one is ever really satisfied . The event held in San Francisco was headed by Apple CEO Tim Cook. We first were treated to Apple’s seemingly obligatory rants about their amazing sales on their three post-PC devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad) then it got straight to the good stuff.

First thing announced was a new iOS update 5.1 which finally brings Apples patented voice assistant to Japan among a few other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Then the first big news of the day was a revamped Apple TV which will be available March 16th and will feature a beautiful new user interface and will now support FULL 1080P HD streaming! Pretty exciting news there and as part of the new UI it will now support third party apps and all of your iCloud content, such as Photo stream and your iTunes library.

The last new feature on the third generation Apple Tv is ability to stop watching on one iOS device and pick right back up where you left off on another device which is pretty sweet. The price point has remained the same as the last generation and will come in at the same low price of 99$

Now on to the big enchilada! The “New” iPad!! Before it was introduced Apple boasted about the sales figures and the future potential of the device and how it has become a favorite among users for email and books, and with over 200,000 apps tailor made for the iPad, I whole heartedly agree that the sales numbers reflect the quality and amazingness of this device which is still just under two years old.

The “New” iPad 3rd Generation features a beautiful retina display with a resolution of 2048X1536, which features over 3.1 million total pixels! Approximately 1 million more than HD TV itself. The elegant 9.7 inch screen boasts 44% saturation from its earlier version and features a quad-core A5X graphics chip, which will boost multimedia performance and allow for smooth operation of the iPad’s higher resolution. The 3rd generation iPad also contains an upgraded iSight camera coming in at 5mp backside illuminated and having the same optics as the camera in the iPhone 4s. Siri was one of the biggest features anticipated for the new iPad and when the inclusion of a microphone was shown many including myself were shocked not to see siri technology included, instead voice dictation will be the primary use for this new microphone. Which leaves siri integration something to look forward to in iOS 6.

The best news of all with all of these inclusions is that the starting price points will remain the same and so will the battery life! the new iPad will be capable of operating on 4G LTE and is 3G world ready which makes the 10 hour battery life that much more amazing. pricing is as follows

Wi-Fi only models 499$ 16GB, 599$ 32GB, 699$ 64GB

Wi-Fi & 4G LTE 629$ 16GB, 729$ 32GB, and 829$ 64GB and these are available for pre-order on Apple’s website and will be released March 16th in North America and March 23rd Worldwide.

Study Finds That There Is No Difference In Usage Between Unlimited Data Plans and Tiered Data Plans

You know when AT&T Started to send out the text messages with the “you’re in the top 5% of the people that use data so we’re going to slow it down” and every American started to get pissed over it? Well, AT&T and other major carriers said it was to save bandwidth usage… a.k.a. charge you an arm and a leg for something that’s completely useless and fake.

A study was conducted by Validas, an analytics firm that analyzed over 50,000 cellphone bills from AT&T and Verizon to see if throttling was actually something that was necessary to save bandwidth. After the study, it turns out that the numbers didn’t really add up. So why do they have the bandwidth caps? According to Validas’s findings, throttling may indeed simply be a ploy to push unlimited users into newer tiered plans – you know, so they can charge you an arm and a leg for the extra bandwidth.

That’s right, if you look at the chart above you can see that regardless of what kind of plan you have, you still use about the same kind of data – or at least you would if AT&T didn’t slow you down.

Subscribers who approach the top 5% of unlimited data users in a single billing period see their data speeds throttled, however, countless users have found that AT&T is now beginning to throttle users after less than 2GB of data usage in a billing period. So yes, you have unlimited data, but they want to literally annoy you into getting the 3GB tiered plan for the same price that you would pay for the unlimited plan – $30 a month. The only difference is that you have unlimited speed all the way to the end… THEN they start to charge you for going over.

It’s like going to Ihop to get unlimited pancakes, sure you may have as many as you want, but we’ll wait 20 minutes between pancakes OR you can get 3 pancakes right away for the same price without a 20 minute wait – if you want more we’ll charge you extra. So the tiered plan is really good for impatient people, but if you can tolerate the speed caps you should be alright.

According to Validas: “When we look at the top 5% of data users, there is virtually no difference in data consumption between those on unlimited and those on tiered plans — and yet the unlimited consumers are the ones at risk of getting their service turned off. So it’s curious that anyone would think the throttling here represents a serious effort at alleviating network bandwidth issues. After all, Sprint does seemingly fine maintaining non-throttled unlimited data for its customers.” Via BGR

Apple Wants to File Patent Lawsuit Against a Bankrupt Kodak

Talk about kicking a company while it’s trying to get back off the ground. On January 19, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Shortly after the announcement, they backed out of the digital camera field, a technology they invented and failed to commercialize. In their Chapter 11 Documents they listed assets of 5.1 billion dollars and a debt of 6.8 billion. In order to stay somewhat profitable, Kodak restructured their company so they could focus on digital printers as their main form of income, but out of the blue, Apple hits them a patent law suit.

Apple asked a US Bankruptcy Court for permission to go after Kodak. Which is actually kind of nice since they are not legally bound to request permission to sue a court-protected bankrupt company.

According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit focuses on technologies that Kodak uses in their printers, digital picture frames, and digital cameras. I can only imagine the frustration that the Kodak executives are feeling right now, immediately after finding a way out of full bankruptcy, Apple comes along and tells them “Yea, that rope you grabbed onto before falling of the ledge? We own it, and were going to cut it.”

Instead of Apple trying to take down Kodak, they should try to find an agreement where both can profit, imagine the different types of products they could come up with? I thought the point of being in the tech business was to develop newer and better technologies… not come up with ideas and storing them away until someone develops them, and then take them to court for beating you to it.

When I buy a product, I buy it because it’s going to make my life easier. I understand the importance of protecting your patented technologies, but at the same time, I think companies should share their technologies with other companies so they can develop better working products for everyone. Imagine if Apple had a patent for cellphones, and Samsung had a patent for LCDs? An iPhone would never exist without massive lawsuits – think about all the other products that need a specific part of technology to be finished but we have to wait on “legal terms.”

I miss the older days where technologies and products were made in factories instead of court rooms.

Photoshop CS6 Lets You Move Objects Around an Image

Photoshop can be a pain in the rear for the average user. Experts can modify a picture into anything that they want, but they learn the secret tricks by working on photos all day long. But an average user may never get the experience necessary to create or modify intricate designs by modifying one or two pictures a month. And that’s the beauty about photoshop,  every new product they release comes with tools that give the average user the ability to make professional touches without the hassle.

One of the features that in “awe” about comes installed with the new CS6.  This feature literally gives you the ability to move images around without having to cut and paste. The feature is called – Content-Ware Fill – and is basically a tool that lets you clone and move anything on an image. This feature basically “thinks” about what is located behind an image and then it replicates it. In real life, if you take a picture of a person standing infront of a box, you are aware of the box behind the person. Likewise, if you were to remove the person from in front of the box, you have a pretty good idea of how the image should look like once the person is removed. Content-ware has the ability to do the same. You may not get exact detail and pattern, but the technology is pretty amazing and really gets the job done.

Content-Ware, if used with other tools, can be an amazing tool for both novice and expert users alike. The video listed above is a small taste of what CS6 can do. Adobe also released a new function called the “Background Save” it allows you to save your work and continue to work on other projects while the image is being saved in the background.

Another awesome tool they have is the ability to add Dashed and Dotted lines directly into an image, I know it’s not anything that’s to big, but for the most part adding a dotted line around an image border was difficult in previous photoshop versions. I really can’t wait to get my hand on this new and improved version, it looks like it’s going to be awesome!

NASA Pulls the Plug on Their Last Mainframe Computer

And just like that, another era at NASA has come to an end. Linda Cureton, the Chief Information Officer for NASA announced in a blog post that the agency’s last mainframe computer was finally shut down. Main frame computers are the large computers that filled entire rooms, they’re not as big as ENIAC, but they are still larger than a refrigerator.

The computer was an IBM Z9, pictured on the left, it was a super computer that had the power to conduct complicated calculations, but NASA said tit was unnecessary and began to look for other alternatives. According to Cureton, they are best suited for applications that are more transaction oriented and require a lot of input/output – that is, writing or reading from data storage devices. The end-user interfaces are clunky and somewhat inflexible, but the need remains for extremely reliable, secure transaction oriented business applications.

These systems were replaced by smaller, faster and cheaper high-performance Linux and Unix systems that are more scalable and easier to manage. Cureton said it best when she wrote: Back then, real systems programmers did hexadecimal arithmetic – today, “there’s an app for it!” – Oh you need to fly out to the moon and then land a robot on the surface? not to worry, we have an app for that! only .99 cents! – with a free “land on Mars” expansion pack!

Verizon Teams Up With RedBox To Take On Netflix & Amazon

Verizon was trying to buy out Netflix a while back, at least that was the rumour, but today Verizon decided to take on Netflix by teaming up with Redbox to offer a new “compelling” service. The details are still not fully released, but the new Verizon-Redbox venture would provide Verizon customers with over 35,400 kiosks across the country. Verizon customers will be able to rent DVD’s, Blue-rays, and video games, in return, Verizon will give out streaming videos to RedBox customers.

The focus will be to deliver new movies to kiosks first and push older content to the streaming route. Let’s hope that this is a smart move because Verizon is putting in a whole bunch of money into something that may go out of fad soon.

DVD’s are slowly loosing their cool and movies are quickly moving to the streaming realm. This may be a great move for RedBox customers, but it may be a losing deal for Verizon, if it doesn’t work were going to be stuck with the bill. Via FastCompany.

SpaceX Test Drove Their Latest Rocket Engine

SpaceX is supposed to be the rocket company that’s going to take us to the next space frontier, at least that’s the plan. Just recently they tested their new rocket engine, the SuperDraco, which is supposed to allow space capsules land back on earth without the use of parachutes.

The new engine is going to be used in SpaceX’s emergency Launch Abort System, which is going to launch off and away from the main rocket and help it land safely on the ground. The capsule is going to use eight SuperDraco engines to stabilise the capsule as it lands back on earth. Normally speaking, a parachute would work better. Since the capsule uses eight engines, if one of the engines fails this could cause the capsule lose control.

The reason the Draco engine is so special, is because of a new type of technology that allows it to turn on and off in less than 1/10th of a second. This ability gives it the best control when it comes to making adjustments on the fly. The Engine on the video above puts out over 15,000 pounds of thrust, enough to keep the privately funded company growing with investors after they see how well it performed. Via Wired Autopia