Month: May 2010

No plastic? No iPad!

iCaramba! That’s what Bart Simpson would say, because even Bart Simpson has a heart. It would be heartless to be rude to an old woman, but it would be downright evil to be rude AND to break the heart of an old disabled woman. But that is exactly what Apple did this week. According to San Francisco’s KGO-TV, a Palo-Alto Apple store refused to sell an iPad to a disabled woman. The reason? She wanted to pay them the full amount IN CASH!!! Diane Campbell had been saving up for months so that she could buy an iPad to browse the internet. Once she had enough cash saved up, she dumped it in a backpack and set off to the Apple Store. At the store she picked up a nice looking iPad and went up to the counter to purchase it. That’s when she discovered Apple’s NO CASH policy. Simply put, No plastic-No sale. Like many of the old school Americans, she did not possess a credit card and so she was turned away. The story has raised a public outcry and directed a lot of anger in Apple’s direction. While the policy may work well online and for the iTunes Store, as a corporate policy it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. Thankfully, after the issue was highlighted, Apple changed the policy a few days later. They...

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A Sheep in Wolfram’s Clothing

A year ago the Google killer was born… or so it was said at the time. Wolfram Alpha launched with a lot of expectation and much fanfare, but a year later the Wolf is yet to make a kill. It is sad to note that visitors to the site have actually dropped. Fewer visitors went to the radical search engine this April than they did last May. This perhaps suggests that it was just the curiosity factor that drove traffic there in the first place. It is actually a shame that it has turned out this way; not that anyone wants Google to be “killed” or any such nonsense. But the fact is Stephen Wolfram, the founder of Wolfram Alpha, wanted to give people a search engine with a true difference. The engine is geared towards computational queries and by curating its results, it provides very authoritative information. However, this has more or less led to its downfall of sorts. The general public does not feel very comfortable with this type of strategy. To address this, the company is going more “mainstream”. The homepage is being given a revamp and music, sports, health and other pop culture friendly subjects are being added to its repository of information. Stephen Wolfram said that they were building something that could understand what people were saying. The project has now more than doubled...

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LG defeated in U.S. court

Usually when the big boys hit the courtroom, the small fry have no chance. But in what could be compared to a David versus Goliath situation, LG Display has actually lost a case it brought against AUO and Chi Mei Optoelectronics. The South Korean arm of LG filed the patent infringement action against the Taiwanese firm in 2006, who in turn filed a counter claim. After four long years, not only did the case go against LG Display, but the proceedings also determined that LG itself had infringed on four patents. The patents are those that deal with 1. Technology that enhance the response times 2. Technology that improves reliability 3. Technology that fixes image defect problems 4. Technology that enables compact form factors (e.g.: Handheld devices, etc). The ramifications of this ruling will be felt in time to come. But in the immediate future there looms an import ban which AUO and Chi Mei Optoelectronics are trying to get enforced. If the ban comes into effect, it will mean that LG can longer import and sell any device that is deemed to be infringing these patents. This in effect rules out many models of cell phones, LCD TVs, public information displays, notebooks and monitors manufactured by LG. As a result, LG could be staring at millions if not billions in losses ahead. So far there has been no...

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Another iPhone Supplier Suicide

The spate of suicides at Foxconn continued, as a woman identified as Chu/Zhu took her own life this week. The 24 year old jumped off her apartment block to her death in the city of Shenzhen. The city is home to a 300,000 strong Foxconn factory. Foxconn is the world’s largest assembler of electronics. According to the Associated Press, the number of suicides at Foxconn this year now stands at eight. The most infamous of these suicides is that of Sun Danyong. He also leapt off of a building after the iPhone 4G prototype incident. Sun was allegedly roughed up by security personnel at Foxconn after the prototype mysteriously went missing. The suicide followed shortly thereafter. Zhu’s suicide, so far, does not have any apparent technology leak associated with it. Hon Hai Precision Industry, the holding company of Foxconn, stated that police had reported to them that Zhu’s suicide was due to “personal matters”. Nothing further on the matter has been revealed and the incident remains shrouded in mystery. Whether the true reason for the suicide will ever come to light is a question that will be answered in the future. Foxconn has been suspected of employee abuse in the past. It is suspected that the team Apple sent to investigate matters at an unnamed iPod manufacturer in 2006 was actually sent to Foxconn. The team did not find...

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