Surface Pro Woes

The highly anticipated launch of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet went over well. How well? So well that inventory levels appear to be minimal just two days later. Shoppers flocked to Microsoft’s website at the stroke of midnight, February 9 to place orders but encountered frustration. 128GB units ($999) ended up selling out, leaving 64GB units at $899 as the available option. Other shoppers chose to visit Staples or Best Buy, only to find only a couple units on hand – which, of course, went quickly. Speculation is that total inventory levels were lower than anticipated. Could it be an effort to portray it as more popular? Was there supply chain issues? Or was that Microsoft’s intention? Who knows.

As we discussed in January, the Surface Pro is a Microsoft PC in a tablet’s body. Windows 8, Intel chip mean it performs like a computer. A touch screen mean it functions like a tablet. We will soon see what the market has to say about the latest Microsoft product and whether the PC performance in a tablet product will succeed. Keep in mind that Microsoft has had their share of successful product launches which are followed by less than average sales. But with the popularity of tablets perhaps long-term Surface Pro demand will live up to that experienced on launch day .

Thanks: Forbes
[ Surface Pro Woes copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

A High Tech Toilet

Most every part of our world has been touched by technology. It keeps us entertained, enbles communication and socializing, it keeps us safe and informed. The toilet will even feel the impact of tech. Yes, I’m writing about a toilet. But trust me, it is cool.

The plumbing hardware masters at Kohler want your toilet experience to become the next technology-impacted part of your life. The Kohler Numi toilet brings stylish design and state of the art engineering together into a unique package. Numi includes features like hands free (motion activated) opening and closing plus articulated cover movement so you never see the bottom of the lid. The heated seat means you avoid the cold shock we have all encountered. A warm air vent on the bottom also keeps your foot space heated. Control the temperature and pressure of the self-cleaning bidet as you need to. The most impressive part about Numi is the touch screen remote which controls all of these functions mentioned and more. Choose your flush ( or full), set up different user preferences and even plug into the auxiliary jack on the remote’s wall mount which then plays through the speakers on the back of the unit. Yes, tunes on the toilet. And of course included lighting will guide you to your seat in the dark. Numi performs too – being Kohler’s lowest flow and quietest commode – and is EPA WaterSense certified. Obviously the design of the Numi matches the technology within. So much so that it actually fits in the lifestyle pictures with fashionable models in a sleek L.A. home. Brace yourself for the price tag: $6,390. Yes, a six thousand dollar toilet. But for the person who has everything they can add some tech to their toilet time.
[ A High Tech Toilet copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

Sunday’s Super Bowl Means Lena Dunham Today

girls super bowl

Attention, fans of Colin Kaepernick and Lena Dunham!*

Now you don’t have to fret on Sunday, when the Super Bowl and the newest episode of “Girls” were set to collide: A clever stunt from HBO will let you watch Dunham’s sitcom in advance, starting today.

HBO is letting subscribers watch the next episode of “Girls” right now, via its on-demand cable service and its HBO Go online service. And if negotiating either of those options is too much for you, the pay network will air the new episode Saturday night, a day before the show would normally run. The same goes for “Enlightened,” the Laura Dern sort-of-sitcom.

That’s a smart promotional move, which primarily highlights the benefits of HBO’s watch-when-you-like features. And it gives people like me a chance to write about “Girls,” which is a win-win-win.

But what about the plight of “Downton Abbey” fans, who face the same scheduling dilemma? Slightly less good news for them: They’ll also be able to watch Sunday’s show in advance, if they’ve paid up for an iTunes season pass.

*And yes, we’re assuming there’s someone who falls into that Venn diagram.

Software Companies Find Tax Advantages in the Cloud

Expanding use of cloud computing to deliver software as a service can make it easier for global software companies to earn and keep its profits abroad, outside the reach of U.S. taxes.

VMware has cut its federal tax bill in the past three years because the company conducts the majority of its international business through Ireland. In the three-year period ending in 2011, the company’s tax bill fell despite its revenue rising 86 percent and its pretax profit more than tripling. In fiscal 2011, its U.S. tax rate was 4 percent.

Read the rest of this post on the original site

Your iPad May Accidentally Put Your Macbook to Sleep

If you have an iPad and one of Apple’s laptops (a not too uncommon pairing), then be aware that, depending on how you arrange them, your iPad may put your Mac to sleep. Apple has made some creative use of magnets in its systems over the years, with lid latches, MagSafe power connections, and other accessory attachments for its systems. One notable area where Apple has made use of this technology is in its MacBook laptops, where magnets and magnetic sensors in the chassis and lid bezel activate when in close contact, so the system will automatically go to sleep when the display is in a closed position. This feature is a convenient option to have; however, unlike mechanical latches, magnetic fields are not specific to the desired device and will attract or repel items whether you want them to or not, so they may trigger or be triggered unintentionally.

Read the full story at CNET.

Report: MegaUpload’s Shutdown Increased Movie Sales

While Kim Dotcom continues to fight his Megaupload copyright case in New Zealand and the United States, a new academic study concludes that “the closing of a major online piracy site can increase digital media sales, and by extension we provide evidence that Internet movie piracy displaces digital film sales.” On Wednesday, Brett Danaher and Michael D. Smith, professors at Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon University respectively, published a paper on the well-known Social Science Research Network. The pair write: “Controlling for country-specific trends and the Christmas holiday, we find no statistical relationship between Megaupload penetration and changes in digital sales prior to the shutdown. However, we find a statistically significant positive relationship between a country’s Megaupload penetration and its sales change after the shutdown.”

Read the full story at Ars Technica.

Android is having 58% market share in smartphone app downloads, but iOS will move a head in tablet app download, this year- ABI

There are many ways to encounter the success of mobile platform, but if you are intending to measure the success by numbers of app downloads metric, than do not worry, ABI Research has already did it for you. According to ABI, the Android will win the race in 2013 with 58% of smartphone app downloads. Apple will be lagging behind with just 33% of downloads. By the inclusion of tablet app downloads, the figures will drastically change.ABI predicted that in 2013, almost 56 billion times app will download and majority of these apps will be of iOS and Android, it is showing that in smartphone market these two are enjoying duopoly. It is said earlier this year by ABI that Android will be having 57% share and iOS will be enjoying 21% share in the global smartphone market. Jointly, these two players were enjoying 92% of the chunk in the market in 2012 Q4 and this is now down to 72% and indicating that some second player is having chance to show its performance.

However, it is clear that Android is having bigger piece of share this year and it is expected to grow further. It will be too early to predict the figures knowing that China is urging in adoption of smartphones. For instance this February, China has passed US in order to become the world’s largest iOS and Android smartphone and tablet users. Apple is certainly not ignoring China and Tim Cook has already announced that China is an important market for Apple. There are many options for Chinese customers to buy, and Apple has also offered them option to buy Apple devices on credit terms.

No doubt, ABI prediction about Android app download is correct, because Android is having low cost smartphone market and having more numbers of customers. But, Apple in terms of making revenue formation from the app is still the leader, as their developers know exactly how to monetise their paid apps, in app purchases, virtual goods and upgrades.

ABI also declared that in terms of tablet app downloads, iOS is leading and this is another reason for shakiness of Android. This year it is predicated that almost 14 billion tablet apps will be downloaded and 75% of them will be accounted for iPad and 17% will be accounted for Android (excluding Kindle Fire). Amazon will be having 4% and Windows Tablets will be having 2% share, as claimed by the firm.

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EasilyDo has launched a new feature for creating automated task

Mikael Berner, the cofounder and CEO of EasilyDo has shared his views on the launch of this app last year as, “this app increases the productivity and make life simpler.” After one year, this company is taking another step to make life more simpler with the launch of EasilyDo Builder.
Initial version of EasilyDo Builder app prepares the list of the tasks to be done by synchronizing it from the iPhone contact lists, Facebook account and other emailing accounts, with couple of taps. To do list regarding to wish a friend on his anniversary or birthday and merging duplicate from the contacts in address book etc, can be done with the help of this app. Berner claimed that EasilyDo already managed to perform 750,000 plus actions for the users.EasilyDo Builder app will facilitate the users to customise their app for performing certain tasks automatically. Although, it will take time to fully explore the app, but Berner and Hetal Pandya (The co-founder) said that app is having pretty simple structure. Users just have to trigger and when trigger will occur, task will be done automatically. For instance, if user wants to post the birthday message on the Facebook timeline of his friend, the app will automatically do this.

Tasks allotted to the app can be done after taking approvals or it can be done automatically. The creation of the “Do Its” is done on the website of EasilyDo, but app works on iPhone.

EasilyDo incorporates the tasks in social context and thus some people are not happy with the automation. It would be so much bad, if some of my friend is using this app to wish me birthday without writing a single word himself. Thus Pandya and Berner said that this sort of things will be up to each individual user.

Berner also forecasted that EasilyDo will be following the model of Wikipedia, this means users will not need to create Do Its themselves. There will be a small group of the power users which will share their tasks with other users. By following the specific task creators, you can also add their set task in your DO Its list.

Pandya and Berner is also looking forward to expand the platform by allowing the developers to create their tasks by using the same model. For this purpose, they are planning to hold a hackathon in the Redwood City on 15 and 16 March.

Related posts:

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  3. Miller launched ontract, a real time analytics platform to analyze student data

Chatting Is Great, But GroupMe’s Mobile Apps Now Let Users Split Payments Too

While the folks at GroupMe have spent some time exploring the world outside group messaging, they certainly haven’t given up on refining the formula that made them so appealing in the first place. Earlier today, GroupMe pushed out a pair of considerable updates that add some curious (and tremendously thoughtful) features to the company’s iOS and Android apps.

As you’d expect these updates play host to a few minor tweaks and bugfixes (they’re apparently so minor GroupMe won’t even lay them out on its blog) but two new features are the real stars of the show here.

First up is GroupMe’s new gallery view — rather than forcing users to scroll upstream through scores of old messages in search of previously shared photos, the app now lets them view all those photos in one fell swoop. Useful, sure, but nothing all that weighty. More importantly, GroupMe users can now include what the company calls a “Split” into any conversation – as the name sort of implies, it’s a way for users to quickly add expenditures in hopes that the rest of the group will chip in.

Users can either set up the expense as a fixed goal that group members can contribute to, or as a set dollar amount that each person must contribute, and the actual payments are handled by YC-backed Balanced. Aside from learning which of your compatriots are unrepentant cheapskates, the caveats are few — the first transaction could take up to 3 to 5 days to clear with a user’s bank, and the inevitable contributor fees ($0.99 plus 4.0% of the total amount) will kick in on March 12.

Granted, there’s really no shortage of cute ways to split a payment these days (consider PayByGroup and PayDivvy, just to name a few) but baking that sort of functionality directly into a messaging application is an awfully savvy move. After all, GroupMe is already providing a useful way for multiple people to communicate and get things done — further enhancing that ability to get things done by adding support for in-app payments could help cement GroupMe as something more substantial than just another media-centric messaging app.

The SXSW Transportation Wars Are On, As Uber And SideCar Launch Free Ride Sharing In Austin

It looks like transportation around Austin during SXSW might not be as painful as it has been in years past. Increased competition in the ride-share market means that getting around will be a whole lot easier, as conference goers won’t have to sit around and wait for a taxi. Not just that, but transportation could be free, as both Uber and SideCar have committed to offering free rides over the next week or so.

Last week, SideCar announced that it would have ride sharing available during SXSW, as the company seeks to make Austin one of its first expansion markets. For its launch, the company had planned to introduce a fun (but complicated) promotion where some handpicked VIPs would be able to pick certain “spotlight” areas throughout town where riders could be picked up or dropped off for free.

The Austin City Council had other plans, however. Seeking to keep ride sharing out of town, the city passed an ordinance that stated that unlicensed drivers who accepted payments for rides could have their cars impounded. The goal seems to have been to keep unlicensed drivers from taking rides during one of Austin’s biggest events of the year.

But if the goal was to protect the revenue of cab drivers, the ordinance might have backfired. That’s because rather than have to deal with sting operations during the conference, SideCar decided to make all rides during the conference free, paying its drivers as brand ambassadors during the event. Theoretically, at least, since no money is changing hands between passenger and driver, the local police would have no grounds to impound any vehicles during the SXSW ride-share experiment.

SideCar won’t be alone in Austin, as Uber announced on its blog today that it would make UBERx available for the first time in Austin for SXSW Interactive. That’s a big step up from previous years, when Uber made pedicab rides available during the conference. But it also falls in line with the startup’s plan to introduce low-cost ride offerings in all of the markets that it operates in.

Late last month, Uber began recruiting new people for its UBERx service in San Francisco, accepting unlicensed drivers driving their own cars for the first time. Previously, it had partnered with third-party limo services for its black car and UBERx rides, but with the California Public Utilities Commission softening its stance on ride-sharing services while it investigated the possibility of accepting a whole new class of mobile app driven transportation services.

That opened the door for Uber to offer ride-sharing in San Francisco (and potentially Los Angeles), it does nothing for Uber’s promotional offering in Austin during SXSW. So it, like SideCar, will be making UBERx rides from unlicensed drivers free, to avoid running afoul of the new city ordinance. And, of course, driving app adoption from tech-savvy users at the conference should be a positive side effect.

Uber will have free pedicab and UBERx rides throughout town, but those who want to ride in style will also be able to do so. That’s because Uber has partnered with a local limo company to offer UberLUX rides in Austin as well. Those who choose UberLUX will pay a lot more — $75 a ride — but they’ll get ushered around in some baller vehicles, like a Rolls Royce Ghost or Porsche Panamera.

While Uber and SideCar will have free ride shares throughout Austin over the next week, the city is apparently reconsidering its stance on ride sharing. Thanks in part to a petition on urging Austin to embrace ride sharing, as well as some talks with SideCar over the last week, the city will soon vote on a new ordinance that will study ride sharing, with recommendations for new law in June.

In the meantime, though, folks on the ground at SXSW get free rides. Not a bad deal for the rest of us.