Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lenovo plans to be first to make a Windows 8 tablet

(Mashable) -- Windows 8 won't be ready for consumers until fall, but that's not stopping hardware makers from fighting to be first in line to build hardware for Microsoft's new operating system.

Lenovo is planning to be the "first to market" with a Windows 8 tablet, The Verge reports.

Citing a "source," the report says Lenovo is planning to be ready to ship the device in October and that it will have an Intel chip, so it clearly won't be a Windows-on-ARM device. Other than that, there aren't any details on exactly what the machine will be, although given those basic criteria (tablet, Intel, Windows 8), there's at least one suspect: the IdeaPad Yoga.

Lenovo showed off the Yoga at CES earlier this year, and it got a lot of attention due to its unusual form factor: a laptop with a keyboard that folds over completely to transform it into a tablet.

Mashable: How windows 8 tablets could challenge the ipod

Michael Dell had also said publicly that Dell would offer a tablet when Windows 8 launches, and Nokia recently confirmed months of speculation that it was working on a tablet as well. There have also been reports that HP and Asus are working on Windows 8 tablets as well.

A key differentiator among Windows 8 tablets will be whether they're based on a traditional PC chip or one that uses the ARM architecture.

While the new version of Windows has been engineered to be near-identical on both, ARM-based Windows devices are going to be "end-to-end" devices (meaning Windows would come fully integrated) and have a few special features, like an ultra-low-power mode. However, most legacy apps won't work on them.

Are you interested in Windows 8 tablets? What would you like to see in them? Let us know in the comments.

See the original article on Mashable

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Anthony Bourdain: 'We are food pornographers'

Austin, Texas (CNN) -- Food-travel TV host Anthony Bourdain doesn't really get why people snap photos of all their meals and share them on blogs, Facebook or other social networks. He'd rather just eat his beef-tongue tacos or sea-urchin sushi than treat them like starlets on the red carpet.

But he doesn't want to be a hypocrite, either.

"We are food pornographers ourselves," he said of his popular shows, "No Reservations" and "The Layover," which follow him around the globe in search of authentic, exotic regional grub.

Bourdain seems to have mixed feelings about social media, which he called "a big bathroom wall where anyone can write anything." But he's pretty adept at it. He has almost 800,000 followers on Twitter and more than 1.4 million fans on Facebook, where he posts jokes, show plugs and ... yes, pictures of food.

"We took over the Twitter handle (in 2008) so it wouldn't suck," the ever-quotable Bourdain said with characteristic bluntness.

He and his TV crew spoke Tuesday afternoon at the South By Southwest Interactive conference, which invited them to discuss how they use digital media to engage with fans. Bourdain took the stage with a beer in hand -- a rarity even for this casual event -- and the resulting conversation was freewheeling, funny and a little profane.

Here are some of the highlights:

-- The sometime New York City chef described the formula for his TV shows in simple terms: "I go someplace, I eat a lot of food, I learn something, and I go home." He said that although he and his crew are miserable at the time, the trips where "things go terribly, terribly wrong" often make for the best television.

-- Bourdain hates it when governments or tourism officials try to choreograph his visits and steer him toward posh, shiny eateries instead of hole-in-the-wall places or street food. Nor is he a huge fan of clean, orderly countries: "I like hot, messy, dysfunctional countries that are barely keeping their s*** together."

-- His shows rely on local bloggers when trying to decide where to eat: "We pay a lot of attention to bloggers and actively recruit them as fixers (people who help arrange meals and sometimes appear on the show)."

-- When it comes to promoting his shows, social media can be a double-edged sword. Restaurants used to hear that Bourdain was coming and tweet the news to their followers; by the time he and his crew showed up, the place would be overrun with cameras. Now the places he visits must sign confidentiality agreements. Said his producer Tom Vitale: "Twitter giveth, and it taketh away, too."

-- Bourdain recognizes an unfortunate irony in what his shows do every week. "We're always looking for the unspoiled, authentic neighborhood joint. I genuinely love those places," he said. "And then we put them on TV and ruin them for all time. We destroy what we love."

-- He learns a lot about his fans through Facebook and Twitter. A photo he posted of some fish tacos got 13,000 "likes," almost as many as a photo of Bourdain with actor Christopher Walken. "No Reservations" recently filmed an episode in Finland after discovering that it had a huge fan base there. And drunken tweets always seem to produce a spike in followers, he said.

-- His crew is experimenting with other digital platforms. They have a Tumblr account. They're planning to spin music on on March 22. And they want to video-chat with fans in a Google Plus hangout.

-- He likes fake-chef Twitter accounts. "I really enjoy @AngryBobbyFlay. And of the fake Paula Deen accounts, @PaulaOnTrial is the best."

-- Asked where he's planning to eat in Austin, Bourdain said, "I'm not telling you where we're going. But we went to Franklin Barbecue this morning, and it was unf***ingbelievable."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First gorilla genome map offers clues to human evolution

(CNN) -- The first complete gorilla genome has been mapped by scientists giving fresh insights into our own origins.

Gorilla are the last of the genus of living great apes (humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans) to have their DNA decoded, offering new perspectives on their evolution and biology.

"The gorilla genome is important because it sheds light on the time when our ancestors diverged from our closest evolutionary cousins around six to 10 million years ago," says Aylwyn Scally, postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge and lead author of the report.

"It also lets us explore the similarities and differences between our genes and those of gorilla, the largest living primate," he added.

Read more: Mapping out a new era in brain research

A team of researchers examined more than 11,000 genes in humans, chimpanzees and gorillas, looking for evolutionary clues.

Initial findings have revealed that 15% of the gorilla genome is closer to human DNA than to our nearest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee.

Researchers found that genes relating to sensory perception, hearing and brain development showed "accelerated evolution" in all three, but particularly in humans and gorillas.

Having the entire length of the gorilla genome now means scientists can start to compare all the four great apes at every position on the genome, Scally says.

It forms the baseline, he says, from which to move forwards and really explore why and when our genes and those of the great apes diverged.

"Did it happen quite quickly or was it something that gradually happened? At the moment we don't know," he said.

"It could have been some climatic change that separated humans in the east of Africa from chimpanzees in the forest -- that's an idea some have floated. If we can see some imprint of it in the genome that would be very, very useful information."

Scientists used the DNA of a female western lowland gorilla (called Kamilah) who resides at San Diego Zoo.

In the wild, it is the most widespread species of gorilla, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with a estimated population of 100-200,000 individuals.

The majority are found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, west Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola.

Its cousin, the eastern lowland gorilla, is less prevalent (fewer than 20,000 individuals) and can only be found in the rainforests of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, says WWF.

The research is published in the science journal Nature.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Instagram hits 27 million users, says Android app coming 'soon'

Austin, Texas (CNN) -- Instagram, the iPhone photo-sharing app that turns almost anyone into an artful photographer, is growing at an astonishing rate.

The app now has 27 million registered users -- up from 15 million in December, its co-founders announced Sunday. And a long-awaited version of Instagram for the Android platform is coming soon.

"We've been able to put together one of the most incredible Android apps you will ever see," said CEO Kevin Systrom told audience members during a session at the South By Southwest Interactive conference, waving an Android phone with a prototype on it. "It's extremely fast."

Systrom said he's been using the Android phone since shattering his iPhone while climbing out of an Austin pedicab.

Systrom said the Android app is in private beta but will be released to the public "really soon." Instagram also is looking at WIndows Phone 7 as another possible future platform, he said.

"It's a very exciting time for us. We're growing faster more quickly than anyone right now," he said.

Launched by Systrom and partner Mike Krieger less than two years ago, Instagram already has more users than location-based network Foursquare, despite only being available on Apple's iOS.

Systrom and Krieger attributed their dramatic growth rate to the popularity of the iPhone 4S and Apple naming Instagram as its 2011 App of the Year. The pair also were featured in a Best Buy ad that aired during the Super Bowl last month.

The app lets users enhance their photos with filters, share them with their friends or other people and comment on friends' photos. Like Twitter, Instagram also allows people to follow other users.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Instagram is raising a new round of funding that would value the company at up to $500 million. Systrom declined to comment on that Sunday.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Google exec: We won't break users' trust

Austin, Texas (CNN) -- After concerns over a revamped Google privacy policy surfaced last month, some questioned whether the Web giant is still living up to its longstanding motto: "Don't be evil."

Absolutely, says Vic Gundotra, the man behind social network Google+. The company has to.

"If we do things that are evil, with one click you can leave Google," Gundotra said on the opening day of the South by Southwest Interactive festival on Friday. "If we break the users' trust, we can lose to competitors very quickly."

Under the policy, which went into effect on March 1, Google doesn't collect any more information about users than it did before. But all of that data, from tools like Gmail, Google search, YouTube and Android mobile devices, is now compiled into a single profile of each user's habits.

Privacy watchdogs, including some members of Congress and dozens of state attorneys general, have expressed concerns the policy is too invasive.

Gundotra said Google+ is an important part of the "new Google" that will use those profiles to provide more relevant services (advertisements were the ones that came up again and again) across the company's many platforms.

Before, he said, Google products were developed in "silos," unable to share information with each other.

"There are some things Google could have done better," he said. "If we could build a common notion of your identity and your relationships, we thought, we could make Google better."

For example, he said, on Google+ user could "+1" (the site's equivalent of a "like") a restaurant. Months later, a friend could be using Google search to find a restaurant in the same area and discover it as a recommendation of sorts.

Gundotra, a senior vice-president for engineering at Google, also used his "fireside chat" with tech writer and co-founder Guy Kawasaki to defend the success of Google+.

Last month, Web analytics firm comScore released a report saying that Google+ users averaged just 3.3 minutes on the site for the entire month of January. That came just weeks after Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced the site had hit 90 million users -- up from 40 million in October.

"Google+ is a social layer across all of Google's services," Gundotra said.

Gundotra said the site now has 100 million "30-day actives." But when pressed by Kawasaki for a definition, he said that's people who log in to Google+, then use one of Google's many other products within a month.

So, then, not only does Google+ plus have dramatically fewer than the more than 800 million users Facebook claims, but that return rate doesn't even mean people actually came back to Google+?

Gundotra said it's not legitimate to only study Google+ return visits as a measure of the network's success.

"That's counting only one aspect," he said. "We think that's crazy."

Instead of a Facebook-like standalone network, Google+ works to make all of the Google universe social, he said

That didn't stop him taking a thinly veiled jab at Facebook when asked about allowing developers to create third-party content on Google+ (Think FarmVille, Spotify or Pinterest).

Google has been slow to do so. Gundotra said he wants to make sure the months-old service's programming system is ready before opening it up to outside developers. In contrast, he suggested, Facebook has made several sweeping changes to its interface, sometimes forcing developers to start over from scratch.

"I'm going to release that (programming interface) when I know we're not going to screw over developers," he said. "We hold ourselves to a higher standard. Sometimes that means restraint."