Archive for January, 2012

Watching a Washing Machine Self Destruct Never Gets Old [Video]

Washing machines committing suicide (or being injected with a lethal brick depending on your perspective) are home appliances' gift to the Internet. It's like the machines are realizing their full comedic potential! This one, in particular, is awesome because of how meticulously it breaks down. Little by little, piece by piece, you can't look away. [G4TV] More »


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Casey Chan

January 31st

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Regional carriers ask FCC to impose a ‘shot clock’ for roaming agreements

MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and several other regional carriers have requested that the Federal Communications Commission initiate a “shot clock” for roaming agreements with larger wireless carriers. “Supporters stressed that imposing a shot clock on negotiations is necessary to provide the proper incentive for potential roaming partners to timely respond to inquiries,” a lawyer representing the regional carriers said in a letter to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch. “Although data roaming negotiations may involve complex issues, the Joint Supporters emphasized that other situations that incorporate shot clocks, such as interconnection and siting negotiations, also have the potential to involve complex issues, and yet, a shot clock still has been successfully implemented in those negotiations.” In other words, the smaller wireless carriers want larger carriers to stop stalling when it comes to negotiating roaming deals in areas where regional carriers provide connectivity and to instead “engage in good faith negotiations.”

[Via FierceWireless]

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Todd Haselton

January 31st

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Apple Is Totally Serious About That Stuff They Put At The End Of Their Emails

Spinquisition

Welcome, kids, to TIL – Today I Learned. Today’s TIL is “Don’t post your correspondence with AppleCare representatives or Apple will totally tell the government on you.”

David Boles had a nice Apple monitor that died on him. He had a little trouble transferring AppleCare coverage to his new monitor after it pooped out and so he posted some advice on his blog. Nothing major, just “don’t forget to connect your AppleCare accounts.” Very innocuous.

But then, from out of the inky shadows, comes Apple like the Spanish Inquisition, informing him he’s breaking the law worse than Josey Wales:

Hello,

I am one of the policy representatives here at Apple. It came to our concern that our policy was broken. It is illegal to transmit information from voicemails, e-mails, transactions, etc, into public or private blogs and forums, vlogs, as well as documentation onto the internet, except for the proper authorities.
We have been informed that a conversation with a member of our Agreement Administration team has been posted on a blogging website.
We do view all e-mails that are sent to our departments for security reasons. “This transmission may be privileged and may contain confidential information intended only for the person(s) named above.
Any other distribution, retransmission, copying, or disclosure is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please delete this message from your system.” This is a very strict policy that we enforce, and that the government is under watch of. We do ask that you take down the posting of the conversation that you had which was posted on
“http://goinside.com/2012/01/26/warning-check-your-applecare-support-profile/” . If no compliance is made, further action will have to be forced upon.
You will have 24 hours to take the post down.

Thank you.

Apple Policy Restrictions

I suspect that this email didn’t come from a native English-speaker (“If no compliance is made, further action will have to be forced upon”) and it’s laughable that anyone would hold that “This transmission” garbage up as proof that you can’t post an email. Heck, I just reposted it so now Apple will have to sic the government on me, too.

Anyway, it’s a fun situation that I’m sure will be cleared up by nobody caring about it in a few days.



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John Biggs

January 31st

Apple

Reuters: Facebook IPO To Raise $5B, Filing Wednesday, Morgan Stanley In Lead

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The drip-drop of financial news about Facebook‘s impending initial public offering is starting to turn into a downpour. The company is planning to file its initial prospectus on Wednesday morning, Reuters is reporting, with the intention of raising a conservative $5 billion.

The report, through Reuters subsidiary International Financing Review, also answers the question of which bank will lead — Morgan Stanley. The others will include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, which had appeared to be in the lead position last year after it helped Facebook raise a $1.5 billion late-stage round. However, issues around that funding may have contributed to Morgan Stanley getting the top spot.

If everything goes as planned with the SEC’s review, Facebook will likely go public in May.

The general IPO time-frame has already been widely reported. The most interesting part of this latest news, if you’re not a banker, is the relatively low amount that Facebook is seeking. Previous reports had put it seeking up to0 $10 billion. Considering the middling performance of other recent tech IPOs, Facebook appears to be wary of selling too much stock before it knows more about how the market feels. For now, the valuation and share price are still unknown, although shares on private secondary markets are currently selling at prices that would make it worth above $80 billion.



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Eric Eldon

January 31st

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This Is How Our Sun Will Look When It Dies—Yes, the Eye of Sauron [Video]

In a few billion years, our dear Sun will look like this, a beautiful glowing eye of spent starstuff trash in the shape of Sauron's Eye. And no ring is going to save us from this one. More »


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Jesus Diaz

January 31st

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Steam Mobile Apps Graduate From Beta, Now Open To All Gamers

steam-mobile

I know I say this a lot, but man that was fast. Valve’s new pair of Steam mobile apps have been in their respective marketplaces for less than a week, and already they have graduated from beta status.

That means that you, Mr. or Mrs. Game Enthusiast, will be able to sign into your Steam account on your iOS or Android device right now and begin chatting your far-flung friends or ogling new deals.

As noted when the apps first made their appearance, they provide most of the functionality you’d find in the standard PC/Mac client. Communication and robust game shopping experiences aside, the Steam apps also provide access to new Steam info as well as news pulled from syndcated sources like Kotaku, ShackNews and, RockPaperShotgun.

Of course, you won’t actually be able to play the games on your mobile device — look to services like Onlive if that’s your goal — but at least you’ll never miss a Holiday Sale ever again. That is of course unless you’re trapped in an aunt’s remote cabin without an internet connection, in which case you’ll need to while away the time the old-fashioned way.

[via The Verge]



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Chris Velazco

January 31st

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Credit Card Conman Forced Gang Members to Have Sex to Weed Out Undercover Feds [Sex]

The mastermind of a carding gang in Georgia devised a novel way for weeding out undercover Feds from his operation – he forced members to have group sex, according to a local police detective who helped bust the ring. More »


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Kim Zetter - Wired.com

January 31st

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Peavey Builds An Auto-Tuning Guitar

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Guitar-maker Peavey has teamed up with audio electronics experts Antares to create an auto-tuning guitar. While these things aren’t new – Gibson has had robotic tuners for a while – this system is unique in that it senses and corrects the pitch of the strings regardless of tuning, which means you can do all sorts of interesting tricks with vibrato even in what would amount to be an untuned guitar.

Peavy describes it thus:

The Peavey AT-200 guitar with the Antares Solid-Tune™ intonation system constantly monitors the precise pitch of each individual string and electronically makes any corrections necessary to ensure that every note of every chord and riff is always in tune, regardless of variables like finger position or pressure.

The guitar is physically no different from any other electric except for an upgradable module to handle tuning. While you probably still have to tune this guitar a little, once it is set up you can change quite a bit about it programmatically, reducing the need to fiddle with machine heads during your red hot solo.



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John Biggs

January 31st

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Amazon reports $17.4B in revenue, sales up 35% but misses Street estimates

Amazon on Tuesday reported its earnings for the fourth quarter, during which it took in $17.4 billion in revenue. While its net sales were up 35% from the $12.95 billion reported during the fourth quarter last year, the company missed analyst estimates of $18.26 billion in revenue for the quarter. Amazon’s net income decreased 58% to $177 million during the quarter, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared with the net income of $416 million it reported during the same quarter last year. Net sales for the year jumped 41% to $48.08 billion, up from the $34.20 billion the company reported in 2010. Amazon said its Kindle Fire tablet has been the #1 best-selling, most wished-for and most gifted product on its website for the past 17 weeks. In addition, the company said the nine-week holiday period ended December 31st, 2011 resulted in a 177% increase in Kindle unit sales, which includes the Kindle Fire. Amazon expects net sales to fall between $12 billion and $13.4 billion during the first quarter of this year, up between 22% and 36% from the first quarter last year. Amazon’s full press release follows after the break. 

Amazon.com Announces Fourth Quarter Sales up 35% to $17.43 Billion; Kindle Device Sales Nearly Triple During the Holidays

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 31, 2012– Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter endedDecember 31, 2011.
Operating cash flow increased 12% to $3.90 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $3.50 billion for the trailing twelve months endedDecember 31, 2010. Free cash flow decreased 17% to $2.09 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $2.52 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2010.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 468 million on December 31, 2011, compared with 465 million a year ago.

Net sales increased 35% to $17.43 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $12.95 billion in fourth quarter 2010. Excluding the $101 millionfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales would have grown 34% compared with fourth quarter 2010.

Operating income was $260 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $474 million in fourth quarter 2010. The favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter on operating income was $5 million.

Net income decreased 58% to $177 million in the fourth quarter, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared with net income of $416 million, or $0.91 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2010.

“We are grateful to the millions of customers who purchased the Kindle Fire and Kindle e-reader devices this holiday season, making Kindle our bestselling product across both the U.S. and Europe,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Our millions of third-party sellers had a tremendous holiday season with 65% unit growth and now represent 36% of total units sold.”

Full Year 2011
Net sales increased 41% to $48.08 billion, compared with $34.20 billion in 2010. Excluding the $1.09 billion favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, net sales would have grown 37% compared with 2010.
Operating income decreased 39% to $862 million, compared with $1.41 billion in 2010. The favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year on operating income was $53 million.

Net income decreased 45% to $631 million in 2011, or $1.37 per diluted share, compared with net income of $1.15 billion, or $2.53 per diluted share, in 2010.
Highlights
• During the nine-week holiday period ending December 31, 2011, Kindle unit sales, including both the Kindle Fire and e-reader devices, increased 177% over the same period last year.

• Kindle Fire is the #1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since its introduction 17 weeks ago.

• Amazon launched Kindle Stores at Amazon.it and Amazon.es. Kindle moved to the top of the bestseller list on launch day in both countries and held the top spot this holiday season. The new Kindle was also the bestselling product on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.fr.
• Amazon.com announced the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, a benefit of Prime membership that offers over 80,000 books to borrow for free – including over 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers – as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates.
• Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) announced KDP Select, an annual fund of at least $6 million dedicated to independent authors and publishers who participate in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In December alone, customers borrowed 295,000 KDP Select titles, and KDP Select has helped grow the total library selection of books by over 16X.
• Amazon continued to expand its catalog of title offerings for Prime Instant Video, announcing licensing agreements with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, which added the popular FOX and FX television shows Glee and Sons of Anarchy, and Disney-ABC Television, which added popular television shows including Lost and Grey’s Anatomy. These deals bring the total number of Prime Instant Videos to more than 13,000 movies and TV shows from partners such as CBS, Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony, Warner Bros., PBS, ABC-Disney and many more.
• The number of videos purchased or rented from Amazon Instant Video and the number of Amazon Instant Video customers both more than doubled year-over-year in the fourth quarter. In addition, the number of Prime Instant Video streams increased nearly 300% in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter.
• Amazon Appstore for Android customers nearly tripled in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter. In addition, customers downloaded more apps from the Amazon Appstore during the fourth quarter than they had during all previous quarters combined.

• North America segment sales, representing the Company’s U.S. and Canadian sites, were $9.90 billion, up 37% from fourth quarter 2010.
• International segment sales, representing the Company’s U.K., German, Japanese, French, Chinese, Italian and Spanish sites, were $7.53 billion, up 31% from fourth quarter 2010. Excluding the favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 29%.
• Worldwide Media sales grew 15% to $6.01 billion. Excluding the favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 14%.
• Worldwide Electronics and Other General Merchandise sales grew 48% to $10.91 billion. Excluding the favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 47%.
• Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of its new South America (Sao Paulo) Region and U.S. West (Oregon) Region, bringing the total to eight geographic regions worldwide to which the company has deployed its global cloud computing services.
• AWS announced the launch of Amazon DynamoDB, a fully managed NoSQL database service that provides extremely fast and predictable performance with seamless scalability. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can launch a new Amazon DynamoDB database table, scale up or down their request capacity for the table without downtime or performance degradation, and gain visibility into resource utilization and performance metrics.
• AWS announced that customers can now run their Microsoft Windows Server applications within the AWS Free Usage Tier – a program designed to help new AWS customers get started in the cloud. Developers and businesses with Windows Server applications can take advantage of 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Micro Instance usage per month, at no charge for a one-year period.

Financial Guidance
The following forward-looking statements reflect Amazon.com’s expectations as of January 31, 2012. Our results are inherently unpredictable and may be materially affected by many factors, such as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and consumer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce and the various factors detailed below.
First Quarter 2012 Guidance

• Net sales are expected to be between $12.0 billion and $13.4 billion, or to grow between 22% and 36% compared with first quarter 2011.
• Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(200) million and $100 million, or between 162% decline and 69% decline compared with first quarter 2011.
• This guidance includes approximately $200 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets, and it assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions or investments are concluded and that there are no further revisions to stock-based compensation estimates.
A conference call will be webcast live today at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, and will be available for at least three months at www.amazon.com/ir. This call will contain forward-looking statements and other material information regarding the Company’s financial and operating results.
These forward-looking statements are inherently difficult to predict. Actual results could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, in addition to the factors discussed above, the amount that Amazon.com invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, risks of inventory management, seasonality, the degree to which the Company enters into, maintains and develops commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. Other risks and uncertainties include, among others, risks related to new products, services and technologies, system interruptions, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com’s financial results is included in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

Our investor relations website is www.amazon.com/ir and we encourage investors to use it as a way of easily finding information about us. We promptly make available on this website, free of charge, the reports that we file or furnish with the SEC, corporate governance information (including our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics), and select press releases and social media postings.

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Todd Haselton

January 31st

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Barnes & Noble Declares Wimpy War on Amazon Publishing [Books]

Some people still buy books—and even buy them in paper format. So Barnes & Noble's decision to block books published by Amazon is fightin' words! But how much does it matter, and who's getting hurt? More »


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Sam Biddle

January 31st

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