Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Man stole buses, drove them on routes, returned them at night

200807251348.jpgIf James L. Harris really did what police say he did, then I would like to award him a Happy Mutant Criminal Award certificate.
The 18-year-old is accused of stealing at least three Miami-Dade Transist buses, and driving them on their routes.

Poilice say Harris wore a Miami-Dade Transit employee uniform, did not steal the fares, and returned the buses to the depot each night.

He's been charged with three counts each of third-degree grand theft and burglary of an occupied conveyance.

Monday, July 21, 2008

8 Killer iPhone 3G Alternatives

Apple's iPhone 3G may be hogging the headlines, but there is a slew of other smartphones from HTC, Samsung, RIM, Nokia, LG, and GPS-maker Garmin, that can offer the same, if not better features.

While the iPhone 3G has undoubtedly been a hit -- with over 1 million sold in three days -- it's not for everyone. Gripes are piling up about the mandatory AT&T service, the camera, the lack of a physical keyboard, and some of the decisions made behind the Apple App Store.

Fortunately, there are multiple handsets that can provide similar, if not better experiences than Apple's latest smartphone.

While the iPhone 3G's enterprise capabilities are a highly-touted, some IT departments may still be nervous about it. But, those departments are likely to have experience with BlackBerrys, and Research in Motion is readying its next generation of smartphones.

1. BlackBerry Bold
The BlackBerry Bold is generating much pre-launch buzz due to its snazzy redesign, integrated Wi-Fi, 3G-network capabilities, and assisted GPS. Fitting for a RIM device, the handset will have a full, physical QWERTY keyboard that will make shooting off e-mails a breeze. The Bold, reviewed here, is expected to be released in August or September.

2. HTC Touch Pro
If you're a fan of touch-screen interface but still need a physical keyboard, the HTC Touch Pro may be your next smartphone. The Windows Mobile handset uses the TouchFlo interface to navigate programs, browse through the Web, and flip through photos and contacts. It also packs a slide-out, five-row QWERTY keyboard for composing e-mails, and editing documents.

HTC Touch Diamond supports 3G broadband-like networks, and includes features that focus on Web browsing and checking e-mail.
(click for image gallery)

The Touch Pro also has Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth support, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and 3G-network capabilities. HTC's Touch Diamond also packs in all these features, but it ditches the physical keyboard.

3. LG Voyager
If a physical keyboard is your desire, reach for the LG Voyager, which also has a touch interface. While not necessarily a "smartphone," -- it's not able to add independent apps -- the Voyager does have a 3G data connection, an HTML Web browser, a digital player for music and videos, and a microSD memory slot that holds up to 8 GB of storage. Corporate e-mail capability is not native to the device, but can be achieved using the Voyager's RemoSync application.

4. LG Dare
Another option for Verizon Wireless subscribers is the LG Dare, which is clearly aimed at the casual market, but has features and a design that may make mobile professionals look twice. This small touch-screen phone has a large screen with haptic (touch) feedback, and the handset sports a stylish finish.

It also packs a full HTML browser that uses Verizon's EVDO Rev. A network, a microSD slot, and Bluetooth capabilities. The phone also bests the iPhone with a 3.2-megapixel Shneider-Kreuznach certified lens, face-detecting technology, and video-recording capabilities. 

5. Nokia N96

In terms of sheer power and features, the Nokia N96 and Samsung Omnia are arguably better than Apple's handset.

Nokia's latest flagship in its N series is a powerhouse. It has full Internet browsing capabilities over Wi-Fi or high-speed data networks, and is compatible with corporate e-mail. Its 16 GB of internal memory can be expanded via microSD slot.

The Symbian-powered device has assisted-GPS, a document viewer, Bluetooth capabilities, and is capable of receiving mobile television. It also has an impressive 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, and a front-facing camera for video calls.

Samsung's Omnia features a touchscreen that automatically adjusts from landscape to portrait mode.
(click for image gallery)

6. Samsung Omnia
Announced the same day as the iPhone 3G, the Omnia sports a 3.2-inch WideQVGA display that's navigated by touch. The Windows Mobile device has an auto-rotating accelerometer, handwriting recognition, a 5-megapixel camera, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi, and it will have 3G-network capabilities.

7. Samsung Instinct
For Sprint subscribers, the Samsung Instinct provides a legitimate alternative to Apple's handset. Since its unveiling in mid June, the Instinct has been flying off the shelves. The touch-screen device features a large display, expandable memory, a multimedia player, 3G-data capabilities, and is capable of receiving corporate e-mails.

8. Garmin Nuvifone
If there's a wildcard in the deck, it's from Garmin, which will be rolling out its first mobile phone later this year. Well known for its personal navigation and GPS devices, Garmin is now diving into the smartphonemarket. The Nuvifone will pack a large touch-screen display, built-in Wi-Fi, e-mail capabilities, and a Web browser. Because it's coming from Garmin, the phone is expected to offer excellent turn-by-turn navigational services.

The iPhone 3G frenzy is going strong, but the phone's competitors are worthy of serious attention. Before you buy your next smartphone, take the time to look at these iPhone alternatives -- you may be pleasantly surprised.

Will the iPhone Kill Radio?

I remember when the promise of Internet radio was totally hot back in 2000. But as long as it was tied to the PC and Internet radios, it was doomed to a second tier existence.

With the new 3g iPhone all that is changing; and fast. Services like Pandora are emerging as the killer apps of the iPhone. It’s a free, mobile, digital radio station that only plays music you like and lets you skip the stuff you don’t. It's currently the fourth most popular free app on iTunes (behind Apple’s Remote, AIM, and WeatherBug), and has reportedly been seeing a new listener every 2 seconds.

With the launch of Pandora’s new iPhone app last Friday, it looks like the service is about to reach a long awaited critical mass. TechCrunch reported that usage over the past weekend hit an all-time high for the service, with 3.3 million tracks streamed to iPhone listeners alone, with a staggering retention rate of listeners, who are averaging over an hour of listening per day.

The personalized music service employs a team of 50 musicians to create a “Music Genome” that describes each song according to 600 attributes. Listeners input a few of their favorite artists, and the Pandora engine analyzes the Genome to serve up an endless stream of recommended music.

Not surprisingly, Pandora’s usage stats are mind boggling. Pandora is currently the fourth most popular free app on iTunes (behind Apple’s Remote, AIM, and WeatherBug), and has reportedly been seeing a new listener every 2 seconds. Usage over the weekend hit an all-time high for the service, with 3.3 million tracks streamed to iPhone listeners alone. Perhaps more impressive is the retention rate of listeners, who are averaging over an hour of listening per day.

White usage and ad revenues have been shifting away from TV and print at lightspeed in the Digital Age, radio has remained a bit more resilient. The latest technology used to measure ratings -- the Portable People Meter -- shows ratings are down about 30% in the first markets to use these monitors. (Ratings in the past used journals, a far fuzzier approach; the PPM picks up a signal to record exactly which station is tuned on the dial). Despite soaring fuel prices, we are still a car culture. We live in our automobiles and radio still rules there, despite the iPod invasion.

The cellphone will forever change the radio landscape by not only establishing a two-way modality but by ushering in new the most promising new mobile ad formats models that are targeted to people's musical tastes and perhaps locally relevant as well thanks to GPS mapping.

McCain adultery story rocks political world — oh wait, no it doesn’t

The Los Angeles Times did some solid investigative reporting and published a very damaging item yesterday on John McCain’s personal background, which is of course a key part of his campaign. We learned that McCain turned his back on his wife after she was seriously injured in a car accident, committed adultery, and left the mother of his children when he found a younger, wealthier woman.

Worse, we also learned that McCain didn’t tell the truth about this in his own memoir. McCain insisted that he was separated from his first wife before he began dating his second wife. That’s not true. McCain also insisted he’d been divorced for months before remarrying. That wasn’t true, either. (In fact, the LAT reported, “McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife.”)

Clearly, this is the kind of salacious story reporters just love. A presidential candidate, running on his personal background, is found to have a messy past. The story has sex, drama, and fairly obvious lies — everything a news outlet needs for wall-to-wall coverage. What does this tell us about McCain’s character? Will voters care about a conservative Republican’s adultery? What will the “family-values” crowd say? How do we reconcile McCain’s untruths with his alleged proclivity for “straight talk”? Will the revelations hurt McCain in the polls? It’s the kind of story the media can obsess over for months.

So, let’s take a moment to step back, and analyze the media frenzy we’ve seen over the last 24 hours, as the political world comes to grips with McCain’s controversial personal life and his willingness to be less than truthful about it:

(picture tumble weeds rolling by)

Nada. Mark Halperin quickly featured the LAT story yesterday morning, but removed it soon after. Campaign reporters didn’t ask McCain about it at all yesterday (ironically, McCain was emphasizing his concern for women yesterday, so it might have been apropos).

A couple of mid-size papers republished the LAT article, with an emphasis on McCain’s relationship with the Reagans. The networks didn’t touch the story. The major dailies ignored it altogether (the NYT’s Nicholas Kristof mentioned it on his blog, but there was nothing in the actual newspaper).

This may be an awkward subject for reporters — McCain did, after all, give them barbecue — but it is a legitimate news story.First, as far as the media was concerned when Bill Clinton was running for president, adultery counted as a character issue. Maybe reporters got burned out on the subject, but it creates a glaring double standard — a Democrat guilty of infidelity is a major news story; a Republican guilty of infidelity deserves a pass.

Second, even if news outlets decided McCain’s character issues are too old to deserve attention, there’s the issue of McCain’s memoir, which clearly includes stories about his marriages that aren’t true. Obama’s books were scrutinized in great detail, and news outlets highlighted minor inconsistencies. McCain, meanwhile, lied about cheating on his wife.

What constitutes major news lately? Wesley Clark, who has a tangential connection to Obama and supported his primary opponent, accurately questioned McCain’s presidential qualifications. Jesse Jackson, who hardly has any connection to Obama at all, whispers to a friend, off the record, about his dissatisfaction with Obama’s message to the African-American community. These were huge stories that generated excessive coverage.

McCain lies about the circumstances of his marriages? Nothing. No interest whatsoever.
I’d ask reporters to consider one simple question. If investigative reporters at the LA Times had discovered that Barack Obama had been divorced, cheated on his first wife, left her after she was injured in a car accident, pursued a younger woman while still married, and then lied about the circumstances of his marriages in his memoir, does anyone seriously believe that news outlets would blow off the story completely?

Or is it more likely we would never hear the end of this?

The next time someone suggests the media is covering the candidates even-handedly, keep this story in mind.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Safe code for iPhone

iPhone Dev Team said: 

So we’ve been working hard on getting the release ready and during this process we’ve been fixing some final bugs, the actual base of PwnageTool application is working fine and working with all devices that we support. We’ve been restoring our devices to various firmware revisions so that we can try to reproduce the conditions that most users will have. We are able to fully install any applications on any part of the current devices running 2.0 (and b103) and these versions are the iPhone 114, iPhone 2.0, iPhone 3G.

Apple released an update (b103) just before we were about to release and that support had to be added to the current version, it is pointless to release something that doesn’t work on devices out of the box (we’ve been told new 3Gs will have this firmware), we don’t want drama, and we want to do as little support as possible, so we want to make it right the first time.

It was lucky that we delayed slightly as we discovered a bug that causes unexpected behavior when using AppStore and third party applications on the same device. We are working on fixing that bug now, we don’t anticipate it is a big one, it has some really odd side effects, causing WiFi dropouts and the loss of stored passwords for WiFi networks. Of course this is only a minor software issue, nothing like the horrible static MAC address that another “elite byte adjuster” forced upon their users.

So, currently (when released) PwnageTool 2.0 will support:-

iPhone (1st Gen) with 2.0 - Activated, Unlocked & Jailbroken, (with support for third party applications).

iPod Touch with 2.0 - Activated & Jailbroken, (with support for third party applications).

iPhone (3G) with 2.0 - Activated, Jailbroken (with support for third party applications).

We’ve made some progress on the baseband unlock of the 3G device, but at this point PwnageTool will not support 3G unlocking or BootNeuter on the 3G device. It is, of course supported on the first generation device with 2.0. We’ll push out an update with 3G support if and when it is completed.

As soon as we fix this up and test a bit more we’ll be ready for release, we’ll get back to you with a release schedule soon.

Please loosen that seatbelt slightly while our cabin crew serve you complimentary drinks.

iPhone Dev Team still unable to unlock iPhone 3G

While it have successfully jailbroken the 3G iPhone, the iPhone Dev team has yet able to unlock the newly launched phone. This puts more delay on the new Pwnage tools that many people has been waiting for.

The first generation of iPhone was jailbroken and unlocked by the devs team, however having 3G baseband, the unlocking algorithm for iPhone 3G is not quite the same. Here is the breakdown of what pwnage tools 2.0 can do at this time :

iPhone (1st Gen) with 2.0 - Activated, Unlocked & Jailbroken, (with support for third party applications).
iPod Touch with 2.0 - Activated & Jailbroken, (with support for third party applications).
iPhone (3G) with 2.0 - Activated, Jailbroken (with support for third party applications).

Still no release schedule yet, but the iPhone Dev team's blog post suggests the tool will be available soon.

Want an almost unlocked iPhone 3G? Then nip over to France

So are you one of the gagging iPhoner’s that wish they could get hold of an unlocked Apple iPhone 3G handset or even a jailbroken iPhone 3G, and all for the right subsidised price as well? The answer is you have maybe two options…

First option is you wait for the developers to release the Pwnage Tool 2.0 and then set about hacking your iPhone 3G…Second option is you book a flight and nip over to France where you order a prepaid iPhone 3G handset. Well obviously the price won’t be that right, but you won’t be lumbered with a two year contract.

So if you’re thinking about opting for option 2 over in France the 8GB iPhone 3G will cost roughly $808.00 and the 16GB roughly $966.00. Sound good? One small catch, you’ll need a SIM from Orange France, which means it isn’t quite as unlocked as it sounds is it.

Thing is, Orange France is forced by French law to unlock any mobile handsets they sell, sounds like a good law to me, but then the prices shoot up.

Source – mobilewhack

iPhone 3G unlocking to be harder

Apple is apparently changing the way the new iPhone 3G will be activated. The original iPhone could be activated through iTunes at home. 

Gizmodo talked to AT&T's President of National Distribution Glenn Lurie and he said that the new iPhone 3G can only be activated in-stores (Apple Stores or AT&T stores). 

In a story on Reuters AT&T said that there would be penalties for users who do not activate the iPhone in the first 30 days.

The move is understandable as the grey market of unlocked iPhones is gotten pretty big. Now that there is an SDK the whole jail breaking stuff becomes unnecessary as well. 

In some countries the iPhone 3G will be available from more than one carrier already. Maybe this will change eventually in the U.S. as well, but most likely not very soon. AT&T is already complaining that the new low price is hurting its numbers. 
More iPhone 3G News. See also all about Unlocked Phones.

Compare Prices now for iphone or find the best deal for iphone on Amazon.com.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hacking the new 3G iPhone!

A year ago, George Hotz was a New Jersey suburb-dwelling teenager with a new iPhone, engineering talent, an anti-authoritarian streak and a lot of free time.

Two months later, he had successfully hacked the phone to work on T-Mobile in spite of the best efforts of Apple and exclusive carrier AT&T to keep the handset locked to AT&T's network.

After the 17-year-old posted detailed instructions of the feat on his blog, the media came calling and hackers declared him a hero. When Apple updated the phone's software last winter to tether phones back to AT&T, Hotz cracked the code again.

Fast-forward a few months: Hotz is gainfully employed at Google, on leave from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was studying biotechnology. While he pronounces his hacking days are behind him, he still uses that first unlocked iPhone.

Visitors from around the world continue to frequent his blog, seeking technical help and urging him to unlock the iPhone 3G, 'just for the challenge'.

Forbes.com talked to Hotz about his take on the new iPhone, whether or not he plans on hacking it, and what he's doing at Google.

Forbes.com: What's your opinion of the iPhone 3G?

Hotz: In a lot of ways, it's a step backward from the original iPhone. I should be able to buy service from AT&T and a phone from Motorola, Apple [or] whomever I choose. That's the beauty of a SIM card--you can pop it into any phone.

Think about buying a TV. You get the service separate. Cablevision doesn't try to sell you a TV. With cars, you can do a down payment and pay a bit per month, but you can also buy the car in full. The iPhone doesn't give you that option. In Europe, it's a lot more straightforward.

So that's your take on the business model, but what's your impression of the phone?

I wonder what Apple was doing for a year. I know they added a GPS chip, 3G support, designed a new case. But it's the same ARM11 Samsung chip, not the Intel Atom, like people wanted. And it still uses the same CPU and software.

In some aspects, that's nice, because everything will work with older iPhones. Still, they could have put in a front-facing camera, the ability for video conferencing. Apple could have done everything everyone wants. But that's probably what's going to be in the next iPhone. They have to ration out the features.

The new iPhone's hardware also looks more like that in other cellphones. The first iPhone didn't. If you open up phones like the Samsung BlackJack or a Motorola phone, they look like they were laid out by cellphone engineers. They look cheap. If you open up the [first] iPhone, it looks like a PDA, like computer engineers worked on it. But the new phone is moving away from that.

How can you tell? Do you have an iPhone 3G?

No, no one sent one to me, but I have the firmware files. I can look through and see what the parts are.

Does that mean you won't be upgrading?

I can't buy one. I don't want to pay $70 a month. And it won't even work on T-Mobile's 3G network, because it uses different [frequency] bands. I figured out you can get an unlocked iPhone with all that stuff for $480 [$200 for the phone, $35 for the activation fee, $175 for the contract early-termination fee, $70 for the first month of service], but it's a hassle. You'd have to call to terminate the service, probably argue with people for an hour.

What's your take on the App Store? People are calling it a game-changer.

Apple controls whether you're allowed to be a developer. If they don't like what you're doing, they can take away your certificate and say your apps won't go on anyone's phones. I don't like control. There's cool stuff on there, though. I was playing [Sega's iPhone game] 'Super Monkey Ball' this morning. The existence of the App Store brings a certain level of legitimacy. Companies are involved that have resources. It's not just guys in their basements working on it.

That seems like a strange statement from someone who used to work in his bedroom.

Exactly. I can't write quality apps. My earlier ones were hacks. My attitude was, "If it helps you out, good. If not, it's not my problem. Don't call or e-mail me for tech support." I assumed a certain level of knowledge.

So you won't be writing any applications for the App Store?

I bought a nice Mac Pro to play with the Apple development environment. But I'm not a software developer. I'm more interested in the internals. I never much liked polishing my code and making it pretty. And would Apple really give me a developer's key? "Hi, my name's George Hotz" … probably not.

Will you try to unlock the new iPhone?

When I did the first one, I had just graduated from high school. The only thing on my agenda was partying. Now I work at Google, I go in from 9 am to 5 am and am tired by the time I get home. I don't have the same kind of time or the same drive. The [first] iPhone was a huge launch, an entirely new environment to play around in. That's not the case this time.

One thing does interest me about the new iPhone. I haven't seen the amplifier chip yet. If it's an S-Gold 3 [from iPhone chip maker Infineon], it's possible that by changing sections of the firmware, the phone would work on Verizon. The EDGE chip set wasn't flexible enough, but the S-Gold 3 chip set supports both GSM [the cellular technology AT&T uses] and CDMA [that which Verizon uses].

What are you doing at Google?

I'm an intern on Google's Street View team. We drive around and take street-level pictures. I probably shouldn't say anything else. I've been there since April. I'm taking a break from school.

Are you tired of the iPhone and being associated with it?

I am sort of sick of it. I haven't really touched the iPhone since February. But I know a lot about it and feel it's a waste if I don't do anything on the new one.

So you will be working on the new iPhone?

I bought a URL, yiphone.org, and put a Web page up. If the community doesn't come through with an easy solution for the iPhone 3G, keep your eye on yiphone.org.

Do you ever worry that your work will get you in trouble legally?

Nope. Companies don't sue kids in their basements. It wouldn't justify your legal fees even if you took everything I own.

What else are you working on? You have a project you call a universal radio.

Within five years, I believe we will have a universal device the size of a cellphone that can do everything. So many things are in radio spectrum already, TV, traditional radio, car systems like OnStar, garage-door openers, Bluetooth, wi-fi, cellular technology, GPS. I think they could all be in one universal chip with very fast links between the technologies. Why should I carry a Google work badge around? You should just have an RFID transmitter in your cellphone that you can wave by the door.

You could build it now, but the power consumption is high, the software isn't clean enough, the processors aren't fast enough yet.

Would that be a business venture? So far, you've given away your work for free.

Apple iPhone 3G unlocked already


Brazillian video claims to show first hacked handset

A group from Brazil has managed to unlock Apple's iPhone 3G handset just days after its release.

The unlocked iPhone is displayed and demonstrated in an online video on a Portuguese-language news blog.

An unlocked iPhone can be used with any Sim card and service provider.

IPhone user Bruno MacMasi said in an interview with Gizmodo that the unlocking process involved modifying the Sim hardware so that the International Mobile Subscriber Identity can be overwritten and removed from the original network.

A similar process was used to unlock the original iPhone last year.

Separately, a group of researchers known as the iPhone Devteam has released the first 'jailbreak' software releases for the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software update.

The 'jailbreak' term refers to the process of removing the software controls which prohibit users from installing software outside of the iPhone App Store.

The group, which has asked not to be linked to directly for bandwidth purposes, is currently offering a software utility which automatically performs the jailbreak process.

Unlocked and modified handsets have been an issue ever since Apple first released the iPhone. Users initially were eager to remove the strict controls over installing software and run the handset with other carriers.

While the iPhone App Store has allowed for the distribution of third-party applications, there remains a dedicated group of users wishing to run older third-party applications and software which have not been approved for the Store.

Apple has attempted to remain relatively neutral on the matter. The company said that, while the jailbreak processes will void the warranty and possibly cause damage to the phone when new updates are installed, no special efforts will be made to deliberately disable or 'brick' hacked iPhones.

The iPhone 3G Gets Unlocked

A group in Brazil has unlocked the phone to run on other carriers' networks, and a hacker team has enabled independent apps to run on Apple's latest handset.

Just a few days after its launch, a group from Brazil has managed to unlock Apple's iPhone 3G to operate on almost any GSM carrier.

On its Web site, DesbloqueioBr posted a video showing the unlocked handset making a phone call.

In an interview with gadget blog Gizmodo, developer Breno MacMasi said the unlocking process involved modifying the phone's SIM hardware so the International Mobile Subscriber Identity can be overwritten.

The procedure allows iPhone 3G users to makes calls with any compatible GSM carrier, not just ones with which Apple has an exclusive agreement. But users of an unlocked phone wouldn't be guaranteed to have 3G-network access, and Apple could potentially wipe out the hack with a software update.

The company plans to charge between $250 and $375 to unlock a phone, according to reports.

Separately, a group of hackers known as the iPhone Dev Team said they have successfully removed Apple's software controls that prohibit users from installing independent applications. The team posted avideo of this "jailbroken" phone, and the team claims users will be able to run Apple-approved applications side-by-side with independent ones.

While there have been 10 million downloads from Apple's App Store since the launch last week, some developers and customers may want to jailbreak their phones to bypass Apple's application restrictions. For example, Apple explicitly prohibits applications that run in the background.

The team said it will be offering the jailbreaking software for free soon, and the final version will also let users use their iPhones on any compatible network. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey Los Angeles . . . Just a Reminder . . . TechCrunch and MySpace Pre-Screening of Batman Is Tonight

The Dark Knight Trailer

Well, our tickets to tonight’s IMAX pre-screening of Batman The Dark Knight are all sold out, but we do have 10 tickets left to give away (2 sets of 5 tickets). We will give the tickets away to whoever leaves the best comment about why they should be invited attend the screening (video comments get more credit). Our summer interns will pick the winners.

Obama website's opposition to successful surge gets deleted

A funny thing happened over on the Barack Obama campaign website in the last few days.

The parts that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared. John McCainand Obama have been going at it heavily in recent days over the benefits of the surge.

The Arizona senator, who advocated the surge for years before the Bush administration employed it, says the resulting reduction in violence is proof it worked with progress on 15 of 18 political benchmarks and Obama's plan to withdraw troops by now would have resulted in surrender.

When President Bush ordered the surge in January, 2007, Obama said, "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse,"  a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.

Tuesday, while Obama gave a speech on foreign policy, the New York Daily News was first to notice the removal of parts of Obama's campaign site listing the Iraq troop surge as part of "The Problem." An Obama spokeswoman said it was just part of an "update" to "reflect changes in current events," as our colleague Frank James notes in the Swamp. The update includes a new section on the rise of al-Qaeda violence in Afghanistan.

But some might see the updating as part of Obama's skip to the political center now that he's secured the Democratic nomination. "Today," McCain said Tuesday, "we know Sen. Obama was wrong" to oppose the troop surge.

An old quote of Obama's criticizing the "rash war," which helped him with the left wing of his party and helped differentiate his stand from that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, a primary opponent who voted for the use of force in Iraq, has been replaced on his site by one saying that ending the Iraq war will make America safer. That's more of a general election message.

And hat tip to the folks over at the Wake Up America blog for their continuing trenchant analyses of the summer campaigns in general and, specifically, for highlighting the video below that contrasts Obama's pre-surge position with a more recent interview of David Axelrod, his chief campaign strategist, denying Obama's statements. A reminder of how carefully voters must listen during these last four campaign months.

AOL talks with Microsoft and Yahoo heat up

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc's discussions to merge or sell its AOL Internet division with Microsoft Corp or Yahoo Inc have taken on new urgency ahead of Yahoo's Aug 1 shareholders meeting, a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Tuesday.

The structure of any deal is not immediately clear, though a combination of any of the parties is expected to redraw the landscape for advertising on the Internet.

Sources had said earlier that a deal with Yahoo would likely involve merging AOL with the Web pioneer, with Time Warner taking a minority stake in the combined company. A deal with Microsoft would likely be a sale of AOL, the sources said.

Time Warner and Microsoft declined comment. A representatives of Yahoo was not immediately available.

Time Warner's talks come after Microsoft's buyout talks with Yahoo fell apart, with Microsoft withdrawing its $47.5 billion (23.7 billion pound) bid in May. Since then the two have waged a public war of words.

Discussions with Time Warner have accelerated as both Yahoo and Microsoft view AOL as potentially beneficial to leverage their positions in the Internet marketplace, where Google Inc dominates.

AOL plans to split its dial-up Internet business and has focused on building a one-stop online advertising shop over the past two years.

Yahoo's interest in AOL is designed to show shareholders that it could grow without Microsoft.

Yahoo needs to be convincing because it faces a proxy battle against activist investor Carl Icahn on Aug 1. Icahn, who owns about 5 percent of Yahoo shares, has aligned himself with Microsoft, and seeks to replace Yahoo's board and oust CEO Jerry Yang.

Icahn this week said he and Microsoft had structured a deal to buy out Yahoo's search advertising business that would have guaranteed Yahoo $2.3 billion in search revenue annually for up to 10 years assuming Yahoo's audience remained intact and the parties renewed after five years.

Microsoft's interest in acquiring AOL would serve to bulk up its display advertising business as well as gain more traffic to weaken Yahoo's and Google's position. The software company also needs to convince shareholders it has an Internet strategy independent of its so far unsuccessful pursuit of a Yahoo takeover.

Yahoo rejected the Icahn/Microsoft deal over the weekend and has said it remained open to a full buyout of the company at $33 per share, Microsoft's last offer before walking away.

Microsoft has said it would only strike a deal to buy Yahoo's search business or the entire company if Yahoo's board was replaced.

Since Microsoft walked away from it initial bid to buy Yahoo, Yahoo has separately struck a nonexclusive search advertising deal with Google Inc, which is currently under review by U.S. regulators.

Meanwhile, Time Warner is shopping AOL as part of a strategy to realign its business to focus on content, not distribution. It plans to complete a deal to separate from its Time Warner Cable by the end of the year.

Yahoo CEO allegedly admitted deal with Google would reduce competition

A Microsoft executive tells a Senate antitrust panel that Jerry Yang made the comment during a private meeting.

WASHINGTON -- As if the battle over the fate of Yahoo Inc. didn't have enough drama, a Microsoft Corp. executive Tuesday accused Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang of acknowledging during a private meeting that the company's Web search advertising deal with Google Inc. would reduce competition.

The testimony by Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith roiled a Senate subcommittee hearing on the proposed Yahoo-Google deal, which was also the subject of a House subcommittee hearing. Although lawmakers have no formal role in approving the deal, which is being reviewed by the Justice Department and attorneys general in several states, congressional concern could influence those decisions.

Smith told senators that Yang made the comment during a meeting in San Jose last month involving Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

According to Smith, Yang said the search business had become "bipolar," with leader Google on one pole and Yahoo and Microsoft, both trying to remain competitive, on the other.

"He said, 'If we do this deal with Google, Yahoo will become part of Google's pole,' " Smith testified. "And Microsoft, he said, would not be strong enough in this market to be a pole of its own."

Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan, who attended the June 8 meeting with Ballmer and also testified at Tuesday's Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing, said he couldn't recall Yang making such a statement. A Yahoo spokesman later said, "The alleged comment is inconsistent with our stated position and inconsistent with any comment we recall making."

Callahan reiterated that Yahoo's board of directors had decided to continue competing against Google, and he said the ad deal would help Yahoo do that by increasing its operating cash flow by $250 million to $450 million in the first year. Yahoo would replace some of the text ads it places next to search results and on sites with more valuable ads brokered by Google, generating more money for both companies because they share the revenue when the ads are clicked.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who chaired the hearing and already had expressed reservations about the Yahoo-Google deal, called Smith's sworn testimony "pretty explosive stuff" that he would have to consider.

The hearing added to the tensions among the three companies, which are battling intensely over the lucrative Internet search market. Some lawmakers asked what would be worse: a Yahoo-Google ad deal or Microsoft buying Yahoo.

David C. Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said the prospect of Microsoft buying Yahoo was more troublesome because it would eliminate one of the major online players.

"Yahoo's staying in the market. They're going to be a competitor going forward. . . . There still will be three large aggressive competitors competing across the board in Internet services," Drummond told Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House antitrust task force. "If Microsoft is successful in swallowing up Yahoo, one will be gone."

Smith said the Yahoo-Google deal would raise search advertising prices, hurting consumers, businesses and websites. But Conyers did not appear sympathetic.

"I never felt so sorry for poor, little old Microsoft," Conyers said sardonically.

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone 3G, the unexpurgated arrival-day FAQ

What you should know as Apple's new iPhone goes on sale

July 11, 2008 (Computerworld) After months of speculation, and weeks since CEO Steve Jobs trumpeted it at his company's annual developers conference, Apple Inc. today rolls out its new, faster iPhone 3G.

But with the hype seemingly on mute compared to last year's original frenzy when the first-generation iPhone debuted -- is there anything worth knowing?

We certainly think so.

Because Apple changed the game with iPhone 3G -- it's no longer demanding a slice of carriers' subscriber revenues and now takes subsidy payments from operators instead -- the first day of iPhone v.2 is a completely different deal. By now you probably know that the "3G" in the name stands for the new network capabilities it offers, including faster data transfer speeds. And, of course, there's the built-in GPS, which application developers will no doubt make use of with a slew of new apps. (There were already more than 550 available when Apple's App Store went live on Thursday.)

And yet, on opening day, we expect you'll have questions. And we have some of the answers.

When does the iPhone go on sale? In the U.S., doors open on Friday, July 11 at 8 a.m. local time. In the other 22 countries that get the iPhone out the gate, your mileage may vary. Japan's Softbank Mobile Corp., for example, was going to start selling the iPhone 3G at its store in Tokyo's Harajuku district at 7 a.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT Thursday in the U.S.) In some markets, however, the phone won't arrive for a week or more.

Where do I get one? With Apple's strategic shift -- it's taking the money up front from carriers in the form of subsidies, rather than a piece of the subscriber action -- there's not much online action for the new model. (Some exceptions: O2, the exclusive carrier in the U.K., took pre-orders online earlier this week, not that it did most customers much good, as the site melted down within an hour.)

In the U.S., the only places to get one on Friday, and for the foreseeable future, are Apple or AT&T retail stores. If you don't know where the nearest stores are, you can use Apple's store locator or AT&T's to get an exact address. If you're going early, don't surprised to find a few folks in line in front of you.

What countries will get the iPhone 3G today? Apple puts the tally at 21: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

France, which was on the list last month, fell off; Apple now says that the iPhone 3G goes on sale there on July 17. Mon Dieu.

What will I pay for the iPhone 3G? No offense, but that depends on who you are. If you are a current iPhone owner in good standing with AT&T -- you've paid your monthly bill on time -- the price tags are $$199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB.

Not an AT&T customer, but new to the iPhone? You're in like Flynn: You also qualify for the $199 and $299 prices.

But if you're an AT&T customer now and using another phone, you might have to fork over as much as $399 or $499 for an 8GB or 16GB phone, respectively. Depending.

Depending on what? On your status with AT&T.

"Eligibility for the upgrade discount typically involves a number of factors, including how long you have been in your current service agreement, your payment history, for example, prompt payment of bills, and more," AT&T spokesman Wes Warnock said last week. "In general, you are more likely to qualify if you are at or near the end of your current service agreement and pay your wireless bills promptly."

Typically, consumers must fulfill their contract -- two years is the general rule in the U.S. -- before they're eligible to get a subsidized phone or purchase one at the subsidized price. In other words, AT&T's not breaking new ground here.

Current AT&T customers can determine their eligibility for the iPhone 3G's discounted prices online by logging in to their wireless account.

Will there be a line Friday? Does Steve Jobs like black turtlenecks? Although lines have already formed in some places and there will undoubtedly be crowds at some stores, especially larger stores in major metro areas, the buzz, noisy though it has been, is nothing like last year.

How's that for a non-answer?

We asked Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with JupiterResearch, this very question, and his answer beat ours by a mile. "I think we'll see lines, particularly at the larger Apple stores, like the one [in New York City] on 5th Avenue. Will the line go around the block five times, like last year? No. It'll only go around the block twice."

Another analyst, Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research Inc., was a bit more cynical. "Sure there will be lines, but that has nothing to do with the product," said Gottheil. "Some people just seem to like to stand in line with other people who stand in line."

How long will it take to get an iPhone, what with the in-store activation? Apple says no more than 15 minutes in its stores, while AT&T has pegged the time at 12-15 minutes in its outlets, not counting the time spent standing in line.

We'll see if that plays out. Anyone who has shopped for a mobile phone, even during slow hours, knows that the wait can drag on longer than that, what with all the paper to shuffle, phone to test and the like. Some, like JupiterResearch's Gartenberg, are optimistic that the 15-min. range will be on the mark. "Apple and AT&T have clearly had time to think about this," he said, referring to the in-store activation requirement, and will have staff in place -- hopefully, trained staff -- to speed up the process.

Apple's retail chief, Ron Johnson, told Bloomberg yesterday that the company's stores will handle about 30 customers at a time. No word from AT&T on its crowd-management plans.

What do I bring with me to the store? To get out of the store with an iPhone 3G, you'll need a credit card to pay for the phone, and your Social Security number and photo ID for the credit check that's part of the process. (The credit check is something AT&T requires prior to signing up a subscriber.) Apple's also said you'll need your current mobile phone number and password or PIN if you want to transfer that number to your new iPhone.

I'm going to wait a day or two to buy. Is there a way to tell whether a store has stock before I spend my grocery money on gas? Apple will fire up its inventory tool -- which it used last year with the first-gen iPhone and then earlier this year after the launch of the MacBook Air -- so you can check online before you leave the house.

The availability tool will be here, and will reflect next-day's status after 9 p.m. local time for the store you're checking.

AT&T doesn't have anything similar, and in fact explicitly says that just because a store pops up on the locator doesn't mean it has iPhones in stock. "To make sure iPhone is at the store closest to you, call that store's number," AT&T said.

How do I transfer the names and messages and my other data in my old iPhone to the new one? iTunes is your best friend here.

Apple posted a support document last week that spells out the steps you'll take to move information from an old iPhone to the one you just bought. The short version: Sync the original iPhone to iTunes -- you'll need iTunes 7.7, the just-released version to complete the process -- then connect the iPhone 3G to the same computer and sync that from iTunes.

AT&T, meanwhile, offers tips on how to transfer data on non-iPhone phones, whether they're associated with a current AT&T account or not (download PDF). According to that document, AT&T will even transfer contacts from a non-AT&T phone to a new iPhone at an AT&T retail store.

What do I do with my old iPhone? If the words "toss it" bring on a flash-back to the $600 you plunked down a year ago, don't sweat it: You can pass along the old iPhone to a family member or friend.

Apple's provided some help here, reminding users that they should delete all their existing information from the old iPhone -- after transferring it, of course, to a new model -- by tapping "Settings>General>Reset>Erase all Content and Settings>Erase iPhone."

AT&T's advice is a little more detailed, not surprise, really, since it wants that old iPhone to stay in business as a cell phone. If you give the old iPhone to someone who is already an AT&T customer, they can simply take the SIM card from their old phone and stick it in the iPhone, then activate using iTunes, as early-adopters did when they bought the first-gen model.

People new to AT&T will have to head to an AT&T store for a SIM card that they can then insert into the old iPhone.

Of course, if you transfer your number to your new iPhone 3G and don't want to give away the old one, you can use it as a pseudo-iPod touch for surfing via Wi-Fi hotspots and your home wireless network, taking and viewing photos and playing tunes.

Throw me a bone here Isn't there something for those of us who have a first-generation iPhone but don't want to blow another $200 on a new one? You get iPhone 2.0, the long-awaited upgrade to the iPhone's software, or firmware. iPhone 2.0 adds two important capabilities. First, it lets you download and install third-party applications from Apple's online App Store, which debuted -- sort of -- on Thursday.

Second, the firmware update also allows for sync with corporate Exchange mail servers, and for consumers, provides the iPhone-side tools for connecting with MobileMe, Apple's revamped online service that now offers push e-mail, push scheduling and push contacts. Before you grab the 2.0 update, install iTunes 7.7; that's needed to download App Store applications to your Mac or PC. Then, plug in your iPhone, fire up iTunes, click on it under Devices, and click the Summary tab. Click "Check for Update."

Be prepared to wait if your broadband connection is on the slower side: the iPhone 2.0 update weighs in at 225MB.

AT&T Kicks Off Sales of iPhone 3G

Online Resources Available to Help Customers Prepare for Purchase Variety of Attractive Plans Combine Voice and Unlimited Data

DALLAS, July 11, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- AT&T begins selling iPhone 3G today in its retail stores at 8 a.m. local time across the United States, along with a variety of attractive monthly plans that combine voice and unlimited data use. iPhone 3G uses the nation's fastest 3G wireless network, which reaches 300 major metropolitan areas.
Pricing and Eligibility
AT&T Inc. (T: 32.77+0.65+2.0%has announced that AT&T is making it easy for customers to prepare for their iPhone 3G purchase by posting "Get iReady" tips and frequently asked questions at www.att.com/iphone. The site also includes a link for customers to check their upgrade eligibility and other wireless account information.
iPhone 3G will be available for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. These prices require two-year contracts and are available to the following customers:
    --  iPhone customers who purchased before July 11*     --  Customers activating a new line with AT&T     --  Current AT&T customers who are eligible, at the time of purchase, for         an upgrade discount    
Current customers who are not eligible for an upgrade discount can purchase iPhone 3G for $399 for the 8GB model or $499 for the 16GB model. Both options require a new two-year service agreement. Current customers may also choose to wait until they become eligible for an upgrade discount. Eligibility is generally determined by amount of time remaining on a current contract and payment history.
Current AT&T customers who are upgrading to iPhone 3G will pay an $18 upgrade fee and new AT&T customers will pay the standard $36 activation fee.
Voice, Data and Text Messaging Plans
AT&T brings iPhone 3G customers the best coverage on the globe and the largest mobile-to-mobile calling community with unlimited calling to AT&T's 71.4 million wireless customers. iPhone 3G customers can choose from four individual AT&T Nation plans, which bundle voice and unlimited data (e-mail and Web browsing).
    --  AT&T Nation(SM) Unlimited: Includes unlimited Anytime Minutes for         $129.99 a month.     --  AT&T Nation 1350: Includes 1350 Anytime Minutes and unlimited Night &         Weekend Minutes for $109.99 a month.     --  AT&T Nation 900: Includes 900 Anytime Minutes and unlimited Night &         Weekend Minutes for $89.99 a month.     --  AT&T Nation 450: Includes 450 Anytime Minutes and 5,000 Night &         Weekend Minutes for $69.99 a month.    
All AT&T Nation and AT&T FamilyTalk(R) plans for iPhone 3G include nationwide long distance and roaming, Visual Voicemail, Rollover(R), unlimited Mobile to Mobile calling, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting, Three-Way Calling and Caller ID.
AT&T will offer FamilyTalk plans, with bundled voice and unlimited data, starting as low as $129.99 a month for two iPhone 3G lines. Up to three additional iPhone lines can be added for $39.99 each.
Unlimited text messaging can be added for an additional $20 ($30 for FamilyTalk plans of up to five lines); $15 (1,500 messages), or $5 (200 messages).
Additional Tips for Consumers
New AT&T customers who wish to port or retain their phone number from another wireless carrier should consider bringing a copy of a bill from their current service provider. Customers will be asked to provide account information as it appears on record with their current provider, including:
    --  Account number     --  Name of the account holder     --  Account holder's SSN or Tax ID     --  Billing address     --  PIN or password (if applicable)    
Customers who inherit an original iPhone from a friend or family member will need to request a SIM card from AT&T for the phone and activate the device using the in-home activation process through iTunes.
Customers should listen to voice mail messages on their current devices and write down any necessary information before purchasing iPhone 3G, because existing voice mail messages will be lost when upgrading to iPhone's Visual Voicemail feature.
AT&T will offer accessory bundle options specific to iPhone 3G in its retail stores.
iPhone 2.0 Software
All iPhone customers will benefit from the iPhone 2.0 software, which will be pre-loaded on all iPhone 3Gs and available as a free download for current iPhone customers. The new software will include numerous enhancements, such as business-class e-mail access via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync; the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), which allows a business to easily create applications customized to its needs; and the App Store, available atwww.apple.com/webapps, which offers a wide-range of applications -- from games to business, education to entertainment and productivity to social networking.
For example, AT&T has developed YELLOWPAGES.COM Mobile for iPhone, which takes local mobile search to a new level by allowing users to discover businesses and local events based on their popularity among other iPhone users, get directions and access business reviews. Numerous enterprise applications are and will continue to be available on iPhone 3G, via the App Store, including Oracle's CRM, collaboration and e-mail applications.
iPhone for Business
Oracle and Kraft Foods Inc. are among the first business customers to deploy iPhone 3G. Business customers interested in iPhone 3G should contact an AT&T business sales representative or review their account information online to determine their eligibility for upgrade pricing. Corporate e-mail and other business applications require the Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone, which is $45 a month and bundled with an eligible voice plan. Small business customers may qualify for AT&T BusinessTalk, the industry's only shared plan specifically for small businesses. Additional details on iPhone business offerings are available at www.att.com/iphoneforbusiness.
* iPhone 3G is available to customers who are currently prepaid customers; however, there is no prepaid plan for iPhone 3G. Additionally, customers' accounts must be in good standing at the time of purchase.
About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (T: 32.77+0.65+2.0%is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates, AT&T operating companies, are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. Among their offerings are the world's most advanced IP-based business communications services and the nation's leading wireless, high speed Internet access and voice services. In domestic markets, AT&T is known for the directory publishing and advertising sales leadership of its Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations, and the AT&T brand is licensed to innovators in such fields as communications equipment. As part of its three-screen integration strategy, AT&T is expanding its TV entertainment offerings. In 2008, AT&T again ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine's World's Most Admired Telecommunications Company list and No. 1 on America's Most Admired Telecommunications Company list. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com.
(C) 2008 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.
Note: This AT&T news release and other announcements are available as part of an RSS feed at www.att.com/rss. For more information and detailed disclaimer information, please review this announcement in the AT&T newsroom at http://www.att.com/newsroom.