Google Wave: Is the World Ready?

google-wave-logo

On May 28th, tech circles went wild when Google revealed Google Wave at its Google I/O conference. The response to and the questions about the new communication platform were staggering. Is it something I should use? Is it a game-changer? Could it kill email itself?

This type of lofty rhetoric will always raise hopes and draw scrutiny. We want to believe that new and radical technologies like Wave will change the very way we live. And while our experiments with Wave have brought us to the conclusion that this platform may indeed be a game changer, it won’t happen if there isn’t widespread adoption. So instead of asking whether Wave will kill email, the better question to ask is this: Is the world ready for Wave-based communication?

It’s All or Nothing with Wave

I have used Wave extensively since the sandbox preview became available, and I will tell you this: it breaks normal conversation conventions left and right. While it looks and feels like email in many ways, its unique hybrid of realtime and message-based communication takes some getting used to. Using applications in-wave, editing other people’s messages, and integrating robots into your conversations are going to confuse and even scare people.

We know that the early adopters will use this (and forgive its flaws) in a heartbeat. The real question is whether or not its new approach to communication is a dealbreaker for the early majority and late adopters of the world.

Watch Google Wave Preview

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Apple’s Mesmerizing Window Display, Featuring An Infinite Flurry Of iPhone Apps

apps-iphone

Earlier this evening I was walking down the streets of Palo Alto near TechCrunch HQ, when I stumbled across what is likely the coolest window display I’ve ever seen, unsurprisingly housed at the Apple Store. The display features a giant wall of apps flying by, accompanied by a massive iPhone that briefly displays a handful of featured apps for a few seconds apiece. As far as I know this is new, though it’s possible that it has appeared in front of other stores before now. In any case, it’s damn cool, and reminds me of the incredible App Wall that Apple featured at this year’s WWDC. Check out the video above.

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BlackBerry cries foul over UAE ‘spyware’

DUBAI: The makers of BlackBerry have charged that an update issued by UAE telecommunications company Etisalat was actually spyware, the local press reported on Wednesday.

BlackBerry’s parent company Research in Motion said the software offered by Etisalat could “enable unauthorised access to private or confidential information stored on the user’s smartphone,” according to a statement carried in several newspapers.

‘RIM confirms that this software is not a patch and it is not a RIM-authorised upgrade. RIM did not develop this software application and RIM was not involved in any way in the testing, promotion or distribution of this software application,’ it said.

There was no immediate comment from Etisalat, which offered the ‘performance enhancing’ patch to the 145,000 BlackBerry users on its network about two weeks ago.

The Khaleej Times newspaper said the ‘snifferware’ could intercept emails and drain battery life quickly, with more than 300 users reporting that the phone had been rendered useless with the battery dying in less than 60 minutes. -AFP

MORE RELATED POST:

MoGo Talk integrated folding Bluetooth headset line expands to BlackBerry models, we’re giving 50 away

RIM Launching A BlackBerry Social Network For Venting Tomorrow

Voice Translation Software for iPhone/BlackBerry.

Verizon Specific BlackBerry Tour Smartphone (BlackBerry Tour Announced for This Summer)

Chinese worker commits suicide over missing iPhone

GUANGZHOU, China: An employee at a factory that makes iPhones in China killed himself after a prototype went missing, and Apple Inc. responded Wednesday by saying its suppliers are required to treat workers with dignity and respect.

The dead worker, Sun Danyong, 25, worked in product communications at Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese firm that makes many Apple products at a massive factory in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.

Although Apple and Foxconn have confirmed Sun’s suicide, they have not provided details about the death’s circumstances, which have been reported by the state-run Southern Metropolis Daily, one of the region’s most popular papers.

There’s tremendous pressure on employees dealing with Apple’s new products to maintain a high-level secrecy over the gadgets, traditionally launch amid great suspense and a big marketing buzz. Apple is also a constant target of prying journalists, rabidly faithful customers and competitors who make great efforts to try to steal a peek at its latest gadgets.

Sun was responsible for sending iPhone prototypes to Apple, and on July 13 he reported that he was missing one of the 16 units in his possession, the newspaper reported. His friends said company security guards searched his apartment, detained him and beat him, the paper reported.

In the early morning of July 16, Sun jumped from the 12th floor of his apartment building, the paper said.

Jill Tan, an Apple spokeswoman in Hong Kong, issued only a brief statement about the incident.

‘We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death,’ Tan said. ‘We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect.’

Foxconn said in a statement that its security chief has been suspended and turned over to the police.

The security official, Gu Qinming, was quoted by the Southern Metropolis Daily as saying he never hit Sun. Gu reportedly said that after three security personnel searched Sun’s apartment and did not find the phone, the employee was ordered to go to Gu’s office on July 15.

The security chief said he didn’t think Sun was being truthful about the phone, the paper reported.

‘I got a bit agitated. I pointed my finger at him and said that he was trying to shift the blame,’ Gu was quoted as saying.

He added, ‘I was a little angry and I pulled his right shoulder once to get him to tell me what happened. It (the beating) couldn’t have happened,’ the paper reported.

Local police declined to respond to questions from The Associated Press.

Foxconn executive Li Jinming said in a statement that Sun’s death showed that the company needed to do a better job helping its employees with psychological pressures.

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List of EU’s worst CO2 emitters released

LONDON: Poland is home once again to Europe’s dirtiest power plant, but German utilities still owned 11 of the 30 most polluting facilities in the European Union in 2008, final EU data showed.

Poland’s Belchatow coal plant, run by state-owned utility BOT Elektrownia, spewed the most climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) of any EU installation last year, pumping the equivalent of 30.9 million tonnes into the atmosphere.

Belchatow’s chief executive was dismissed earlier this month amid an ongoing restructuring of the plant’s owner Polska Grupa Energetyczna, a company spokeswoman said. It was unclear if this restructuring would affect the plant’s emissions.

The ‘dirty thirty,’ a term first coined by green group WWF in 2005, belched some 387.8 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008, down 1.9 per cent from 2007. Analysts estimate this number will drop further this year as the global economic downturn severely erodes EU industrial production.

Coal-fired power plants made up the bulk of the list, though several steelmakers including ArcelorMittal and US Steel also ranked.

Steelmakers are expected to be largely absent from the list next year as EU steel production figures were down 44 per cent year on year in May, according to Barclays Capital.

BarCap analysts forecast EU industrial production will drop by 15 per cent in 2009, meaning steelmakers and other industrials will see emissions fall, giving them an even larger surplus in EU Emissions Trading Scheme carbon permits than they had in 2008.

Only eight installations in the top 30 opted to export emissions cuts to poorer nations under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism in 2008, the data showed.

Seven power plants in Germany, Italy and Poland and a US Steel plant in Slovakia imported 9.3 million Certified Emissions Reduction (CER) offsets, issued by the United Nations to clean energy projects in countries like India and China.

Below is a list of the EU’s ‘dirty thirty’ that includes CO2 emissions figures for 2007 and 2008 in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, as well as per centage change. — Reuters

CO2 Emissions (mln tones)

Rank Country Company Installation 2007/08 2008/09 % change

1

Poland BOT Elektrownia Belchatow S.A.

30.9

28.3

9

2

Germany RWE AG <RWEG.DE> Niederaussem

24.9

31.3

-20.4

3

Germany Vattenfall <VTTG.DE> Jaenischwalde

23.5

24.2

-3

4

UK Drax Group <DRX.L> Drax Power Station

22.3

22.2

0.6

5

Germany RWE AG Weisweiler

21.4

19.7

8.9

6

Germany RWE AG Frimmersdorf

18.6

19.6

-5.4

7

Germany RWE AG Neurath

18

16.8

6.9

8

Italy Enel SPA <ENEI.MI> TE Brindisi Sud

14.9

14.2

5

9

Poland BOT Elektownia Turo S.A.

12.9

12.3

4.4

10

Germany Vattenfall Schwarze Pumpe

12.5

12.4

0.3

11

Greece Public Power <DEHr.AT> Agios Dimitrios

11.8

13

-8.9

12

Germany Vattenfall Bohlen

11.4

11.7

-3

13

France ArcelorMittal <ISPA.AS> Dunkerque

11.3

12.1

-6.6

14

Italy Riva Group Taranto

10.8

10.6

1.5

15

Germany E.ON AG <EONG.DE> Scholven

10.6

12.6

-16.4

16

UK EDF <EDF.PA> Cottam

10.2

10.2

-0.8

17

Poland BOT Elektrownia Kozienice

10

10.5

-5.1

18

UK E.ON Ratcliffe on Soar

9.9

9

9.7

19

UK EDF West Burton

9.7

9.3

3.5

20

Greece Public Power Kardia

9.6

9.5

1.5

21

Germany Vattenfall Boxberg

9.3

9.2

1.3

22

Italy Riva Group Taranto

9.3

9.5

-2.5

23

Slovakia U.S. Steel <X.N> Kosice

9

9.7

-7.2

24

Germany ThyssenKrupp <TKAG.DE> Duisburg

8.8

7.8

13.5

25

Estonia Eesti Energia Narva

8.3

9.4

-11.6

26

Poland BOT Elektrownia Rybnik

8.1

8.4

-3.6

27

UK EDF Eggborough

8.1

7.8

3.8

28

Romania ArcelorMittal Galati

7.6

9.8

-22.2

29

Romania Termoelectrica Turceni

7.4

6.8

9

30

Germany GKM (RWE, EnBW & MVV) Mannheim

7.1

7.4

-4.6

TOTAL

387.8

395.4

-1.9

Source: European Commission

World’s first arm transplant man dreams of raising a beer

BERLIN: The world’s only recipient of two full arms in a landmark transplant operation said Wednesday he expected to be able to toast the success of the procedure with a good Bavarian beer soon.

Karl Merk, a dairy farmer from the southern German city of Munich who lost both arms in a work accident, showed off his new-found mobility, waving his arms around and scratching his head for the cameras a year after his operation.

Asked if he was able to drink a glass of beer in typical Bavarian fashion, Merk said: ‘well, yeah, at the moment I’m drinking from a straw otherwise it would be a bit dangerous but it should happen soon.’

However, he said his life was ‘basically back to normal’ after the 15-hour surgery carried out by around 40 doctors, surgeons and nurses on July 25 and 26 last year.

‘My biggest dream is to be able to move my fingers a bit and basically do everything independently for myself,’ Merk added.

Nevertheless, Merk said he was able to enjoy simple pleasures again. ‘It’s going really well. I often go with my wife to walk the dog,’ he said.

He demonstrated some of the gruelling rehabilitation exercises he must perform daily to regain strength, crossing his arms several times for the cameras.

The transplant, carried out at the teaching hospital of the Technical University in Munich, was a pioneering operation and the only one ever performed.

The five teams working in two operating theatres gathered at 10:00 pm the night of the operation, one on each side of the patient and the donor, who had died only hours before. A fifth group removed a leg vein from the donor. -AFP

Astronauts take spacewalk to replace batteries

CAPE CANAVERAL: Two astronauts are taking a spacewalk to replace some batteries on the international space station.

David Wolf and Christopher Cassidy floated out Wednesday morning. It was the third spacewalk in five days for the shuttle Endeavour crew.

The spacewalkers will remove four old batteries from a solar panel electrical assembly, and plug in new ones that were carried up by Endeavour. They are nickel-hydrogen batteries weighing about 370 pounds (170 kilograms) apiece. Two other batteries will be replaced Friday.

The battery work will take place on the far left side of the space station, along the framework holding the solar wings.

Endeavour’s astronauts have been in orbit for a week now. They will remain at the space station until Tuesday. — AP

Longest 21st century solar eclipse wows millions

solar-eclipse-608
VARANASI: A total solar eclipse began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow swathe of Asia, where hundreds of millions of people watched the skies darken despite thick summer clouds.

The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century was visible along a roughly 250 km-wide corridor, according to the US space agency NASA, as it travelled half the globe and passed through the world’s two most populous nations, India and China.

Thousands of people snaked through the narrow lanes of the ancient Hindu holy city of Varanasi and gathered for a dip in the Ganges, an act considered as leading to salvation from the cycle of life and death.

Amid chanting of Hindu hymns, men, women and children waded into the river with folded hands and prayed to the sun as it emerged in an overcast sky.

‘We have come here because our elders told us this is the best time to improve our after-life,’ said Bhailal Sharma, a villager from central India who came to Varanasi with a group of about 100 people.

The eclipse then swept through Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and over the crowded cities along China’s Yangtze River, before heading to the Pacific.

Crowds gathered along the high dykes of Wuhan, an industrial city in central China, roared and waved goodbye as the last sliver of sun disappeared, plunging the city into darkness.

‘As soon as the totality happened, the clouds closed in so we couldn’t see the corona. That’s a pity,’ said Zhen Jun, a man whose work unit had given the day off for the spectacle.

But eclipse viewers in central China was luckier than those in the coastal cities near Shanghai, where overcast skies and rain in some places blocked the view of the sun entirely.

LONGEST THIS CENTURY

Eclipses allow earth-bound scientists a rare glimpse at the sun’s corona, the gases surrounding the sun.

‘In the 21st century this is the longest,’ said Harish Bhatt, dean at the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

‘This is indeed quite an important event for scientific experiments. Its long duration provides you an opportunity to make very complicated, complex experiments.’

Scientists in China planned to snap two-dimensional images of the sun’s corona — up to 2 million degrees Celsius hot — at roughly one image per second, Bhatt said.

The eclipse lasted up to a maximum of 6 minutes, 39 seconds over the Pacific Ocean, according to NASA.

The eclipse is seen as a mixed blessing for millions of Indians. Those who considered it auspicious bathed in holy rivers and ponds for good fortune during the solar blackout.

But astrologers predicted the eclipse spelled bad luck for others. Expectant mothers asked doctors to advance or postpone births to avoid complications or a miserable future for their children.

Parents in several schools in India’s capital, New Delhi, kept their children home from classes since the eclipse coincided with breakfast. According to Hindu custom, it is inauspicious to prepare food during an eclipse.

In ancient Chinese culture, an eclipse was an omen linked to natural disasters or deaths in the imperial family. Chinese officials and state media were at pains to reassure the public that city services would run normally.

‘We heard about it on television last night,’ said Qian Qiangguo, speaking in a thick Wuhan accent.

In modern China, people who wished to see the astronomical rarity clearly tried to escape thick pollution caused by the rapid industrial growth, avoiding cities where smog smudges the horizon, even on clear days.

‘The majority of people decided to go to Tongning, in Anhui, because they’re worried about the serious air pollution from industrial areas in Shanghai,’ said Bill Yeung, the president of the Hong Kong Astronomical Society, who organised 120 eclipse chasers from Hong Kong.

Those who chose Shanghai ended up fleeing to inland cities to escape the clouds, he added.

Pimping his way to the Olympics

PARIS: A lot of women will have to have a lot of sex with a lot of men to get Logan Campbell to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Yes, you read that right. Campbell, to cut a long story short, is a New Zealand taekwondo athlete who has opened a brothel to finance his ambition of lifting an Olympic medal in London.

At the last Games, in Beijing, Campbell competed in the 68-kilogram category only to be swept aside in the first round by eventual bronze medal winner Sung Yu-Chi of Taiwan.

To do better in London, Campbell figures he needs roughly $200,000 so that he, a doctor and a coach can travel, train and compete beforehand in Europe and Asia. Unlike last time, he doesn’t want his parents to foot most of the bill.

‘My mother has wanted a new kitchen for the past 10 years but hasn’t been able to do that because she has spent all her money on my taekwondo,’ he says.

Hence his conversion to brothel-keeping. He has more than a dozen women handing over half their earnings to him. It is, in his words, ‘a good moneymaking industry.’

Here’s the question: can a pimp be an Olympian? The answer would have to be ‘no.’

The two must be mutually exclusive if Olympic values are to be preserved.

But this is a tricky one because, legally, Campbell is doing nothing wrong.

New Zealand decriminalised prostitution six years ago. The parliamentary vote – 60-59, with one lawmaker abstaining – could not have been closer – a measure of how sensitive this was.

The result – at least according to government-appointed experts – has been more positive than negative. In a review last year, they concluded that the Prostitution Reform Act has not, as some feared, led to a surge in prostitution and that ‘the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off … than they were previously.’

Brothels and prostitutes openly advertise (‘Wet & Wild Sunday Special,’ ‘Tuesday 3Some – get your second lady half price!’). Campbell sees himself as nothing more than a businessman, able thanks to the law to sell sex as others would kebabs or cars, without an ounce of shame.

‘I’d feel worse selling cigarettes than doing what I’m doing,’ he said in a phone interview. ‘What I’m doing is safe and healthy.’

‘I run a real classy place, it’s not a third world country,’ he added. ‘All the girls are over 20 years old, they are here of their own free will, they make more money than I do.’

Minimum charge is 500 New Zealand dollars for two hours, including sex, while 3,000 dollars buys ‘a whole night with one of our ladies, restaurant, dancing and then back to the hotel.’

‘We supply everything for them, advertising, drivers, security, even condoms.’ Campbell says his profit margin is 15-20 per cent.

The one thing he and his Olympic Committee agree on is that athletes from New Zealand suffer a natural disadvantage: being on the bottom of the world puts them a long way from anywhere other than Australia, and that translates into extra costs and hassle for those like Campbell who want to train overseas.

‘It’s a fact of life for every New Zealand sports person,’ says Barry Maister, the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s secretary general. ‘We travel for 30 hours every time we leave the country.’

But, as Maister also points out, that’s hardly an excuse. Campbell, after all, is not the only Olympic athlete who struggles to make ends meet. Yet others don’t resort to brothel-keeping.

Whether it’s legal or not in New Zealand isn’t the point. Pimping simply isn’t suitable employment for an Olympian.

Like it or not, people around the world – including those in countries where prostitution is illegal – look up to these sporting gods. Being a role model is integral to being an Olympian. Campbell is failing there – just as Olympians from the Netherlands would if they financed themselves by selling marijuana, even though it’s tolerated in their country.

Being an Olympian is about succeeding through your own sweat, not that of prostitutes. Perhaps Campbell’s case would be stronger if he was selling his own body, not others’. But he’s avoiding that route.

‘I’ve got a girlfriend and there’s no market over here for male escorts,’ he says.

Rightly, New Zealand Olympic officials are making it clear that Campbell is unlikely to be selected for London as long as he stays in his current line of work.

The International Olympic Committee seemingly agrees. In a statement for this article, it said it ‘generally does not comment on individual athletes whose actions are within the law. However, as a general rule, the IOC would expect athletes to be strong role models for the rest of society and for youth in particular.’

Be a pimp or an Olympian, not both. —AP

Relations with India to improve: Qureshi

PHUKET: The stunning confessions of the lone surviving gunman in the bloody Mumbai attacks will not set back the peace process between archrivals Pakistan and India, Pakistan’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

The unexpected confession of Ajmal Kasab this week, which detailed training camps and safe houses across Pakistan, bolsters India’s charges that Islamabad is not doing enough to clamp down on terrorist groups.

The three-day siege of India’s financial capital in November left 166 dead and severely strained relations between the nuclear-armed enemies. Peace talks that began in 2004 were put on hold.

‘Certainly that was a hiccup,’ said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the Mumbai attacks. ‘We are overcoming that because both sides believe this is a common challenge. The only way forward is engagement with each other. So I think we will be back on track soon.’

India appears more cautious. After meeting Pakistan’s president last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India was again ready to talk peace but cautioned that relations remain ‘under considerable stress’ and progress would be slow, with each step forward dependent on Islamabad’s willingness to take on anti-India militants.

Qureshi told The Associated Press that Islamabad was waiting for copies of the gunman’s confessions from the Indian court but said the issue would not impede the dialogue effort.

Qureshi spoke on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN Regional Forum, a gathering of ministers and senior officials from Asia, Europe, the United States and Russia.

Washington is represented by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Thailand after high-level talks in India, during which the two nations agreed to expand US defense and civilian nuclear sales.

Qureshi said Pakistan was not concerned about closer ties between Washington and Delhi.

‘We have a very independent relationship with the United States. If India gets closer to the United States it will not affect us because we have been allies for 60 years. India is shifting its policy. Pakistan has been consistent,’ he said.

He praised the new US administration’s policy on regionalizing the fight against terrorism and its recognition that this fight had more dimensions than merely a military one.

Qureshi said his country’s recent operation against Islamic militants in the Swat Valley was a major success because it had behind it a national consensus to fight terrorism and political-military cooperation that had not earlier existed.

He said between 1,500 and 1,700 militants were killed and their second and third-tier leadership was wiped out in the Swat Valley, casualty figures that have not been confirmed independently.

‘Obviously there are some big names (left) and we are trying to reach them. I hope we will be successful,’ he said of Pakistan’s efforts to track down top Taliban and al-Qaida leaders hiding out along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Qureshi said he hoped the Phuket conference would recognize Pakistan’s sacrifice in fighting the militants and provide greater help in aiding internal refugees spawned by the recent fighting.

The UN says about 2 million people have been displaced by the Swat fighting.

‘We are not just fighting for ourselves. We fight for the democratic world. We are fighting for people who subscribe to our values,’ Qureshi said. -AP