By now you’ve surely heard about the huge hack of several A-listers’ iCloud accounts. The hacker or hackers released a trove of highly private material from Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and others.
Being A-listers, they are targets and will always be targets for blackmail, invasions of privacy, even terrorism. Surely they know this by now.
Apple has confirmed that the leaked material came from its iCloud service.
Update 9/2: Apple has released a statement confirming that the company’s investigation found no evidence that any of its services were compromised; the accounts affected were attacked using conventional (security question/username) password reset methods.
Update 2:35 pm ET: Over at The Guardian, tech reporter Charles Arthur summarizes the current thinking about the image release from security researchers. Some are surmising that these images were gathered over months or years (the earliest timestamps are from 2011, the most recent from last month) and then the repository itself was hacked or stolen. iCloud is still under scrutiny as a vector for gaining access to private images.
So it’s not a system-wide security breach. The hackers attacked at the most obvious point of failure, the users themselves. “Password” is not a viable password, folks. iCloud is probably the single largest hack magnet on earth. iPhones are more status symbols than technological necessities these days. Every celebrity and millions of non-celebrities have iPhones, or Android competitors, and they all can interact with the cloud.
A few months ago, I noticed that my phone was uploading my photos to the cloud automatically. They were just pics of family trips and mundane stuff, but I still didn’t want it outside my immediate control. It took a few clicks to get to the right place and turn that off. Turning the cloud services off on phones should be made so simple that anyone can figure out it. That doesn’t mean that people will take the steps to turn it off, of course.
iCloud and similar cloud storage is great, but it’s also creepy and fraught with problems. I wrote that post three years ago, when iCloud first came out, only to get poo-pooed by some because “I don’t have anything to hide!” Or, “Apple has to keep up with technological trends!” True, but not the point.
Director Neal Edelstein has finished filming my script for the sequel of the bestselling and Appy-award-winning storytelling app Haunting Melissa. It’s called Haunting Melissa 2: Dark Hearts, and I have to say, it is looking unbelievably good. I had a chance to see some of the dailies as they were coming in, and then dropped in on Neal in the editing room the other day to watch some rough cut scenes. As spooky as the first story was, he is definitely taking the thing to a new level.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to download the first Haunting Melissa app, it’s very innovative, very cool. It delivers filmed portions of a ghost story to your iPhone or iPad on its own schedule. You never know when your phone is suddenly going to whisper, “Melissssssa,” scaring the bejabbers out of you and announcing that a new chapter of the creepy tale has arrived.
The first film, also directed by Neal and written by me, told the story of Melissa Strogue, who begins hearing voices while staying alone in the farmhouse where her mother died. If you want to watch the story before the sequel comes out, it’s still available, though it’s exclusive to iOS devices and as far as I know, there are no plans to do an Android version any time soon.
Anyway, when you write for film but don’t direct, you never know how things are going to turn out, and I’m very excited to see the way this is going. Every scene I’ve watched so far has been well shot, well acted, emotional and scary. The beautiful Kassia Warshawski returns to play the title role, and the somewhat less beautiful but still talented Greg Lawson — who just recently had a part in the Fargo TV series — is back as her father.
It’s nice when you’re able to plug something you’ve worked on and do it with complete honesty. I think I can honestly recommend: if you like ghost stories, download Haunting Melissa and watch it now, because you’re definitely going to want to see the sequel.
You could argue that if the Amazon Fire Phone under-indexes, it probably isn’t by much; you could multiply the number by 25%, based on the average of the Samsung and HTC figures. That takes you up to about 33,000 devices.
Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely – based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data – that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.
Amazon had not responded to a request for comment on the calculation by the time of publication.
Although I can’t say I’m surprised. The phone is phugly, and by nearly every account, the user interface is an unusable and clumsy mess. And it’s priced the same as an iPhone or a top-tier Android device, when clearly it’s neither.
Still, it’s comforting to know that not even Amazon’s marketing muscle — and I say this as a happy and devoted customer of theirs — isn’t enough to push people into buying overpriced craptaculence.
A leaked Gamma Group study indicates which smartphones are the easiest to hack with FinSpy spyware:
Among the major mobile platforms cited in a chart in the document, all of them were susceptible to FinSpy. The spyware was able to bully its way into Android (all versions from 2.x.x to 4.4.x), BlackBerry (versions 5.x, 6.x., and 7.x), Symbian, and Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 (Windows Phone 8 is not yet supported by the software). And what of iOS? Apple’s mobile OS did make the list but only in jailbroken mode.
And what can FinSpy do? Read:
FinSpy is “designed to help Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies to remotely monitor mobile phones and tablet devices.” FinSpy can gain full access to phone calls, text messages, the address book, and even the microphone via silent phone calls. It can also trace a device to determine its location. Used by law enforcement and government agencies, FinSpy has earned a reputation for itself as a powerful but controversial tool for sneaking into mobile devices.
Scary stuff. If you need Android’s openness, there’s probably no better alternative. But the vast majority of Android buyers don’t need open — they aren’t even really smartphone users. They buy Android because it’s inexpensive and it’s good enough and it works on their carrier. But what those buyers really are is feature phone users. They’d probably be better off, and they’d certainly be more secure, sticking with simpler Symbian devices.
President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.
Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.
Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)
Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?
There was a time, not too many years ago, when I was up on all the latest games on any given platform. Nowadays, with a wife, two young sons, and several other responsibilities — not so much.
I never even tried the most recent smartphone craze, something called Flappy Bird. Now, I may never get the chance. IGN reports:
The creator of Flappy Bird… pulled the game from the iOS App Store and Google Play because it’s become an “addictive product”.
In his first interview since he followed through on his threat to remove the game, 29-year-old Dong Nguyen told Forbes that he has no plans to bring it back.
“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” he said. “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”
Ultimately, it was guilt that motivated his decision to pull the game. “My life has not been as comfortable as I was before,” he explained. “I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think it’s a mistake. I have thought it through.”
Thus Nguyen disposes of his intellectual property in a manner that would make John Galt proud. We can argue whether Flappy Bird was actually addictive or whether it caused real harm. Regardless, though many may enjoy the game Nguyen created, as its owner he retains sole discretion as to whether it should remain available.
The decision to yank a smartphone game from the market may not prove controversial. However, similar decisions made upon the same principle of ownership generate controversy all the time. The champions of antitrust law and consumer protection, along with critics of intellectual property, adhere religiously to that famous Vulcan maxim: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
Think of all the smartphone users like me who will never get the opportunity to play Flappy Bird. Who’s looking out for us? Who does Nguyen think he is, robbing us of the fun we never knew we could have?
Of course, it was never ours to have in the first place. We played no role in its creation, and thus hold no claim upon its use. Wasn’t there another flappy bird, The Little Red Hen, who taught us this long ago?
If you have a phone that’s equipped with a camera, you’ve likely noticed how easy it is to lapse into observing life vicariously, through the lenses of our cameras, instead of truly savoring the moment. Afterward, we regret that we were passive observers and we didn’t fully immerse ourselves in the experience. Be honest, who hasn’t let their food get cold while they scrolled through Instagram filters or “staged” the corned beef sandwich in an attempt to share the goodness with friends and family on Facebook? Even if you have decided to eschew participating in this Brave New World of head-nodders milling about, you will find yourself accosted on all sides by serial selfie-snappers at family events, restaurants — even at funerals!
In a new video, Buick teams up with “intertainers” Rhett and Link, asking us to take a step back to evaluate our relationships with our phones through the parody song, Get Off the Phone:
Get off the phone now!
It’s gonna be okay
There’s no need to be afraid.
It doesn’t love you
Its gonna die one day.
The government is probably
Spying on you with it anyway.
Rhett and Link’s song, and the accompanying #IntheMoment campaign, turns the camera lens back on those of us with our heads buried in our smart phones — those of us watching virtual life on four-inch monitors while the real world transpires around us — sometimes without us. In one scene, a young dad is shown missing his son’s first taste of birthday cake as he’s busy Facebooking — about his son’s birthday. This hits a little too close to home for some of us.
There’s something tangentially related to a Buick in the ad/PSA/parody (Rhett and Link drive a Buick Regal in the video), but it’s mostly a secondary, subliminal message. As we continue down this road of smart technology and on to Google glass and whatever the Silicon Valley geniuses think up next, Buick asks us to consider some boundaries going forward. Technology shapes us — the way we work, play, and relate to one another as human beings. It’s important to pause now to consider how our increased dependence on technology wreaks existential changes to our relationships and our daily lives.
Should we dial it back at this point? Is that even possible or have we crossed the technological rubicon from which there is no return?
Are you “typical” for your generation or are you a “freak?” Well, now you can find out.
The Pew Research Center has a quiz, “How Millennial are you?” It surveys your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and compares them to other Americans who have taken a national survey. Intriguing.
I took this quiz. Although I was born in the late 1980s, I wasn’t very “Millennial.” The Millennial point spread is from 73-100, with 100 being the “most Millennial” you can be. Below 72 points, you leave the Millennial spread and enter into Gen Xer range.
I received 80 points on my test, putting me on the low end of the Millennial attitude/behavior range. A good friend from college also took this quiz. She received 40 points; putting her in the Gen Xer range (the Gen Xer range is 33-72 points). I know many of my other friends would either be on the low-end of the Millennial scale or a Gen Xer.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. I’ve noticed that there isn’t just a difference between generations, but also within them. Sometimes, I look around at my generational peers and think “who are these people?”
“That is just wrong,” posted one commenter in response to a story out of Los Angeles which raises vital questions about the morality of the market. From Ubergizmo:
A businessman in L.A. took scalping to a whole new level, when he picked up about 100 homeless people from Skid Row in Los Angeles. He promised to pay them if they waited overnight in the line outside Apple’s retail store in Pasadena, California. Since Apple allows customers to purchase no more than two units, he would have had 200 iPhones, all while paying each hired hand $40 for the trouble.
The operation did not proceed as planned. When the employees within the iPhone store heard what was happening, they refused to sell to the hired buyers. The scalper then refused to pay those who were unable to deliver iPhones to him. That upset the homeless crowd and aroused a disturbance which prompted police to escort the scalper away for his own protection.
Heads shake and fingers wag in reaction to this scheme. This scalper exploited homeless people, the story goes, proving himself to be a jerk at best and perhaps even a criminal.
The incident evokes a similar story involving Trader Joe’s. A guy from Canada drove down through California to buy inventory from the grocer which he then resold back home (where no Trader Joe’s stores exist). We used to call that an import business. Like Apple, when Trader Joe’s discovered his operation, they refused to do business with him. Yet it’s not entirely clear why, because he was helping them get their product to a market they have not otherwise reached.
Likewise, in the Apple case, the iPhone scalper was providing a value to all parties concerned. Obviously, the homeless people were getting income they otherwise would not have. Apple was moving its inventory. And the scalper’s end-customers had access to a rare and desirable product without having to wait in line. Whom did this hurt exactly? How was anyone’s access to trade unjustly restricted? There is no right to purchase a product at a particular price under particular circumstances. That’s why the police rightly deemed this a “business issue” and not a crime.
It may be tempting to scoff at the scalper’s refusal to pay those who were unable to purchase phones. Then again, we may safely presume that the agreement was for orders fulfilled, not attempted.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” Luke 16:10
Have you ever had an epiphany?
Are all epiphanies so simple you wonder why you could’t see it before? That’s the way mine was. It went something like this: You know how your bank account seems to leak? Just $20.00 here, and $35.00 there, and the next thing you know a hundred dollars has vanished?
Well, if that’s true, then it has to work both ways. Just $20.00 here and $35.00 there, and the next thing you know a hundred dollars has accumulated. Genius — I know.
Ok, so one man’s epiphany is another man’s “Well duh.”
The bottom line is that the little things really do matter. The old adage “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves” kept coming to mind this week. Although I plugged most of the holes, at least one of my money saving strategies backfired and it cost more rather than saved.
Here’s what happened and how I fixed it.
Yes, that’s two in two weeks. Here’s the latest:
Microsoft Corp will offer its console and computer games for Apple Inc’s iPhone and other smartphone platforms this fiscal year, through a tie-up with Japanese smartphone game maker Klab Inc, the Nikkei said on Monday.
Through a licensing deal, Klab will bring Microsoft’s Xbox and Windows-based computer games to the iPhone and smartphones using Google Inc’s Android operating system, according to the Nikkei.
As I’ve strangely felt the need to remind them over the last few months, Microsoft is a software company. And with iOS and Android there are hundreds of millions, maybe more than a billion, of software platforms bereft of Microsoft software. Which, for a software company, seems… odd.
I suppose the problem is, Microsoft came to dominance in the ’90s as a platform company. But in mobile, they don’t own any platforms. OK, technically with Windows Phone and Surface RT they own two mobile platforms — the problem is that consumers don’t own them. They seemed to think they could buy their way into platform dominance in mobile, but a confused effort has prevented that from happening. Also, with Apple owning most of the profits and Android owning most of the low end, there just isn’t much room for a Microsoft platform.
But selling software, starting with Age of Empires?
Microsoft is great at that, and they’ll be a welcome new developer to both platforms.
POSSIBLY RELATED: Barnes & Noble is getting out of the business of making their own Nook tablets, as a way to stem their losses. I know very happy Nook owners, just not many Nook owners. They’ll license the platform to third-party OEMs.
I am a firm believer that technology can sometimes make you “dumber.” Sometimes having “an app for that” can lead to the loss of basic skills — and we become dependent on a machine to do actions for us. Calculators have dulled our ability to do basic math, texts have degraded the English language to sentences like “C U L8r,” and Mapquest has made us paper-map illiterate. The infiltration of technology into autos is no different… soon we might not even have to know how to drive! (And that would be a sad day.)
Cars are now packed with the newest examples of the “cutting edge” — but technology and computers aren’t always the best thing. Some features are “so smart” they can be downright annoying or end up being completely unhelpful. Here is my take on some of the cool features available today… but are they really enriching our lives or are they making us lazy, easily-annoyed, distracted drivers?
Haunting Melissa — the first-ever app movie — produced by Neal Edelstein and with a script by me — got a nice launch last week. The ghost story that pushes itself to your mobile i-device got coverage from ABC, Fox, Bloomberg and CNN, among dozens of other places. It was named Best App of the Day by the Best App of the Day namers. And has been climbing rapidly up the bestseller lists.
It’s a free download. Make sure to turn on the push notifications and to use a headset. And let me know what you think.
Crossposted from Klavan on the Culture
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Three weeks after publicly proclaiming seven self-improvement goals for the new year, my quest for more disciplined time management still remains the most elusive. Some of the problem is that I have not yet figured out how best to utilize the four tools that will navigate me through the combination of my personal and professional lives:
*** Cell phone – currently a Motorola Droid but soon to switch to an iPhone… Finally!
Part of this I can blame on not having all the puzzle pieces yet. My new journal — a birthday present from The Wife — arrived on Friday. And our new phones won’t appear until the end of the week. But soon I’ll have only myself to blame for those all-too-familiar feelings of anxiety and frustration that still arrive some days when I fail to achieve all the goals set.
I suspect that part of the problem is my tendency to multitask. As much as I want to focus on just writing a blog post or just editing an article or just reading a book from the stack of to-review titles, it’s so easy for interruptions — a phone call from a writer, an instant message from another PJM editor — and stray thoughts to lead me astray. And then before I know it I’m juggling numerous tabs across devices, drowning in a sea of emails, tweets, and YouTube videos. And then I’ll have half a dozen tasks part of the way done. Then Maura, our Siberian Husky, comes and asks for me to take her out.
Part of the problem is the nature of the technology itself. For most of the tasks that I do throughout the day I can technically use either my laptop, phone, or iPad. And often even within the same program. Writing emails, reading news reports, and publishing PJM articles through WordPress — these all happen in a single program on one device, and thus end up intermingling together. I haven’t figured out yet which devices and programs are the best.
A few areas that I’ll investigate on in the next few weeks and then report on:
1. Is it easiest to keep track of and respond to emails the traditional way with a computer or primarily on ipad, or phone?
2. Can I really get to the point where it’s possible to publish and edit WordPress articles from the iPad? Can one blog more efficiently and effectively from iPad instead of laptop?
3. What possibilities do the cameras on the iPad and iPhone allow for increasing organization? Am I the only one who has gotten in the habit of casually taking photos of bits of information I’d rather not forget?
4. Maybe I should experiment with this as a “division of powers” of sorts: A) To encourage concise communication, email primarily on the iPhone or iPad B) Use laptop for serious writing and editing, work C) The iPad should be utilized for consuming and sharing media (keeping up with news, blogs, and Kindle books) and social networking.
But what I’m definitely going to start doing:
5. With my new Moleskine journal (volume 15) I’m going to get in the habit of early EVERY day, taking the time to write down a quick summary — perhaps a bullet list — of my goals and plans for the day. If I can visualize the ideal day first thing can I then project an image of it through the visual reminders on the iPad and cell phone? Can I program my technology to help program me into a more organized, more focused person? We shall find out…
Related at PJ LIfestyle:
What can your smartphone teach you about gratitude? A great deal.
Not many years ago, I despised the idea of a cell phone. I value my autonomy, which to my mind includes the ability to remain deliberately unavailable. The notion of carrying around a phone in my pocket sounded a lot like putting a leash around my neck.
The issue was forced one Christmas when my in-laws purchased phones for my wife and me, even paying the subsequent bill for a year. Later came the advent of smartphones. I stood unimpressed. Phones make calls. They don’t need to sing and dance. Nevertheless, a new device caught my wife’s eye during an opportunity to upgrade our cellular contract. The price seemed reasonable and I reluctantly traded up.
It was my exploration of that device which prompted a dramatic change in my attitude toward mobile technology. As I pilfered apps and discovered capabilities, I quickly realized that this tiny gadget was becoming the most used and essential tool in my navigation of life. It came to serve as my administrative assistant, my calendar, my GPS, my library, and my gateway to news, information, and entertainment. It grew into an extension of my civilized being. Like my wallet or keys, it stays with me at all times and remains jealously guarded.
No longer pulled reluctantly into the future, I recently became the puller, convincing my wife that it was time to switch providers and upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S III. Our old phones barely qualified as “smart” and were woefully inadequate to fulfill our new demands.
Consider that transformation in attitude. How could I go from not knowing I had a need to eagerly fulfilling it? Behold the magic of the market!
The critic of consumer culture might suggest that I was right to perceive no need for something like a smartphone. After all, people got by fine without them for millennia, and much of the world still does. Then again, people got by without electricity and automobiles too. If you regard the function of the market as meeting only known demand and current needs, then it becomes easy to dismiss an innovation like the smartphone as somehow decadent.
However, the magic of the market is that it does not stop at known demand or current needs. It anticipates demand for products which do not yet exist. Specifically, individuals apply their minds to dream up new ways to deliver value. Strangely, more individuals seem to dream up new products and methods when they are politically free with their rights protected. Something called profit motive, they say.
“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”
Before the advent of answering machines, and decades before mobile communications and social media, waiting by the phone for your man to call was an ancient mating tradition that single women of all ages thankfully will never again have to endure.
I was reminded of this dating ritual since we are on the cusp of celebrating what is traditionally known as the greatest date night of all, New Year’s Eve.
While wracking my brain thinking of a suitable baby boomer topic applicable to this holiday, it hit me… New Year’s Eve, 1971, when I was a high school sophomore and my boyfriend was a senior.
All that stands out about that evening was my having to wait by the phone for my boyfriend to call to tell me the time he was coming by to take me to a house party (where someone’s parents were out of town).
As 5 pm turned into 6 pm, turned into 7 pm, turned into 8 pm, I became extremely anxious, especially when my mother said, “Would it be so bad if you stayed home?” (Yea mom, how about the end of the world as I know it.)
When Mr. Considerate finally called at 8 pm the trauma ceased. But thinking back upon that 1971 New Year’s Eve, it was how waiting by the phone helped form five positive personality traits that women like me did not even realize we were developing. Eventually these five traits served baby boomer women extremely well as we made our way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s taking advantage of all the new career opportunities that the women’s movement afforded.
Here are the five personality traits aging baby boomer women learned while waiting by the phone.
When you were forced to accept someone else’s timetable you learned it was not just all about you. Waiting by the phone developed patience and was superb training for almost any career and life in general.
This feeling was experienced when you finally realized that he was not going to call after he said (or you assumed) he would. Learning to cope with rejection without feeling like a complete loser was an important life lesson. The key was to think about all your positive attributes that this man was obviously missing. Then move ahead and don’t look back. This concept was easily applied to the professional world, especially if you were a business owner or involved in sales of any kind. Women of a certain age who experienced sitting by the phone waiting for him to call learned how to be resilient in the face of rejection.
3. Self worth/Self esteem
You waited by the phone and he did call. High five! You were on top of your game. All your flirting skills worked and you were the master of the feminine universe. (But sometimes you discovered that he was not worth waiting for!)
Later in life this same initial exhilaration was experienced when you landed a new job or a new client/contract/project was won. But you never let it go to your head. One learned early on that you must never be cocky because rejection in love or life could be lurking right around the corner.
He called, (maybe even weeks after he said he would) and you refrained from telling him that he was an insensitive jerk. But since you were really glad to hear from him you said no such thing. Later in the business world this skill came in handy when “the customer was always right” even if he/she was not.
5. Playing the Game
Once while chatting with some guy friends in my high school classes they admitted to me that often they did not call a girl after they said they would because they did not want to appear “pussy whipped.” (Yes, that was the operative term at the time.) So from this conversation I learned that there was a lot of game playing going on when it came to the timing of “the call.”
As a result, my friends and I would discuss when it was time to stop waiting and time to start living. (However, flirting with his friends was always an appropriate response.) The lesson “stop waiting and start living” developed into positive personality traits that were applicable to many future life situations.
But alas, girls/women today don’t have to deal with any of this waiting by the phone. In fact, waiting is a thing of the past since now there is no stigma attached to calling a boy before he calls you. Girls today will call, text, tweet, Facebook, or email and if that does not get his attention they will have their friends call, text, email, Facebook or tweet. From what I have heard about today’s dating habits, “whatever it takes” to catch the attention of the man of the moment seems to be acceptable behavior.
This behavior is a result of both the instant communications revolution and the women’s movement which generally has made the girls/women of today much more aggressive than my friends or I ever were in high school and college.
Perhaps this more aggressive behavior is cultural “payback” for all the countless hours their baby boomer mothers and grandmothers spent waiting by the phone especially in the weeks leading up to important date nights like New Year’s Eve. For around that time whenever the phone rang, teenage girls and young women were conditioned into thinking, “It must be him, it must be him, please be him or I will die.”
Happy New Year’s everyone!
More on generations at PJ Lifestyle:
PJ Lifestyle plans to continue expanding in many directions after the election — hopefully along with the rest of the economy! Over the coming months we’ll be seeking out new voices to complement our usual team of humorists and cultural critics. (Keep an eye out for future openings for new writers and bloggers.) Today we’re looking for freelance writers with experience and skills to review products.
Gadget Gurus and Tech Thinkers.
With the holiday season approaching we’re looking for people who can highlight the must-have gadgets and gifts: laptops, phones, tablets, stereos, cameras, TVs, and all manner of electronics. Can you compare and contrast different products? Rank which is the best to worst TV, phone, or tablet? Also seeking software and video games reviewers.
We’re also interested in people who can look at the tech industry in the broader perspective, arguing not just if you should buy the new Apple or Google product, but whether either company’s new move is good or bad, and what the future holds as the two contend with Amazon.
Please email your resume, introductory letter, and urls of writing samples to PJ Lifestyle’s managing editor David Swindle: DaveSwindlePJM@gmail.com
Apple’s Web store went offline early Wednesday morning, only hours before the company is set to kick off a media presentation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif. The company is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 5, a device with a larger 4-inch display and a redesigned exterior.
In New York City, Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store has already become a gathering place for media looking to report on the buzz surrounding today’s event. Inside the Fifth Avenue store, it’s business as usual thus far, with no signs yet of any new products potentially going on sale immediately.
Beyond the next iPhone, Apple is believed to be prepared to introduce a number of new products this fall. Perhaps the most anticipated among them, a new 7.85-inch tablet known colloquially as the “iPad mini,” is not expected to debut today. Instead, Apple is rumored to hold another media event in October to expand the iPad lineup.
Price: The iPhone 5 will start at $199 for a model with 16GB of storage and a two-year contract, the same starting price as its predecessor. The price on the iPhone 4S will drop to $99, with a contract. The new phone will be available starting Sept. 21 in the U.S.
Measurements: The new phone is thinner and longer than the iPhone 4S but weighs less. It weighs 112 grams, compared with 140 grams.
Screen: The new iPhone has a 4-inch screen, measured diagonally, compared with 3.5 inches for the 4S. That’s smaller than some of Samsung’s and Motorola MSI +0.78%’s newest Android phones. The screen has 326 pixels per inch, the same as the iPhone 4S, but because it is longer has 1136 by 640 resolution.
Is Apple (AAPL) a sin stock?
That’s the question Gerry Sullivan, portfolio manager of the Vice Fund (VICEX), raised in his interview with Forbes capital market reporter Abram Brown in “Guns, Booze and Gambling: Sinful Stocks for a Recession-Proof Portfolio.”
Brown asked Sullivan if the vice industries-focused fund was considering adding any new sin stocks.
Here’s Sullivan’s response:
I’d consider video games an addiction. Apple products too. We’ve actually gone through and asked, is Apple a vice stock?
So, is it?
I asked tech experts, sin stock specialists, and a Jesuit priest.
What’s a sin stock?
The Vice Fund concentrates on four sectors: alcohol, tobacco, gaming, and weapons/defense. Investopedia defines a “sinful stock” as “Stock from companies that are associated with (or are directly involved in) activities that are widely considered to be unethical or immoral.” More broadly, vice industries tend to have higher barriers to entry, may or may not produce products that are harmful or addictive, and could have complex legal and tax issues.
The way investor James Altucher sees it, Apple is a “spice stock,” somewhere between a vice stock and not.
“I would not think of [Apple] as a vice fund, but I certainly use the iPad as an escape, so it depends on how we define vice,” Altucher says in an email. “Although I guess the best thing would be if I just meditated on planes, instead of played Temple Run the entire time.”
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Imagine we were just developing spoken language for the first time. And someone came up with a new word to describe an action, thought, or feeling – like “magnify” or “dreadful.” But in this strange world, the person who came up with the word demanded anyone else who used it to pay him a dollar every time the word was uttered. That would make it pretty difficult for us to negotiate our way to a society that communicated through speech.
That’s the way the patent wars on smartphone and tablet advances are beginning to feel to me.
As a human being, I do not particularly care about Apple’s recent victory in the US version of its patent lawsuit against Samsung for copying its iPhone and iPad’s form and features. Now that Apple is demanding that Samsung pull eight of its products off the shelf, my only personal interest is whether the Samsung products, once banned, will become collectors’ items. Will I one day want to show my grandchild the phone that dared to mimic the iPhone?
But while the details of legalities and impact to share prices and even consumer choice don’t keep me or any of my friends up at night, there is nonetheless something creepy about Apple’s suit. It’s not so much that Apple – the biggest company in the world – has turned into a competitive monster; it’s the territory that Apple’s fighting over. It feels as if the technology innovation wars are no longer over one piece of technology or another, but over us humans.
More on technology from PJ Lifestyle:
Cue is a new iPhone app aimed at making our increasingly complex, daily online lives form an orderly queue of events and reminders.
That’s a difficult nut to crack, but the startup has the confidence and financial backing of Bret Taylor, the departing chief technology officer of Facebook. He was also a co-founder of Friendfeed with Gmail creator Paul Buchheit – another Cue investor.
There are similarities. Friendfeed, which influenced and then was bought by Facebook, aggregates dozens of social feeds into personal streams, but Cue is taking on the tougher task of combining such feeds with other services such as email and diary items to predict what your day is going to be like.
The founders – ex-Y Combinator twentysomethings Daniel Gross and Robby Walker – told me the main idea was to reduce information overload. But I found a beta version of the iPhone app, which is now available in the App Store, was actually guilty of TMI – too much information.
Sick of watching your battery icon seemingly go as fast as a stoplight from green to yellow to red? It could well be all the apps you have installed — even the ones you aren’t using.
A team of researchers at Purdue University released a study to TechNewsDaily that thoroughly examines what dozens of popular apps are doing on Android phones, and what many of them are doing wrong. (Though the study was only on Google’s Android operating system, the researchers say that they can do the same for Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows phone operating systems.)
Apps turn on parts of the phone, such as the processor, the GPS or the camera, when they need them, which is normal. But by digging into the code of apps, the researchers often found what they call “no-sleep energy bugs,” mistakes in the program that fail to turn the components off when they are done. Unlike computers, which are often plugged in and “awake” most of the time, smartphones try whenever possible to be in a “sleep” mode to save precious battery life.