31772a6dd13fa30012a6de614c7ac0fc9734955e5797a33812 Money And Knowledge: February 2013

Microsoft: Google reads all your emails

Google reads every email that you send and receive, so claims software giant Microsoft. In its latest campaign titled 'Don't get scroogled by Gmail', the software maker says that Google reads every email a user sends and receives in order to dish out related advertisements. 

Through the campaign, Microsoft asks users to switch to its own free email service Outlook.com, which it claims "doesn't go through the content of users' emails to show ads." It also asks users to sign an online petition against Gmail to let Google know that "going through personal email messages to sell ads is unacceptable." 

On its website, Google says, "In Gmail, most of the ads we show appear next to an open email message and are related to the contents of the current email conversation or thread." Microsoft explains this with a host of examples on its website Scroogled.com. One example is Google advertising details of divorce lawyers to a woman who has emailed to her friend that she is separating from her husband. 

The maker of Windows operating system says Google has not given users the choice to not show their private emails to the company. It also highlighted that the internet search giant currently faces six class-action lawsuits because of its practice of sifting through subscribers' emails. 

Microsoft said, "We honour the privacy of our Outlook.com users, and we are concerned that Google violates that privacy every time an Outlook.com user exchanges messages with someone on Gmail. This campaign is as much about protecting Outlook.com users from Gmail as it is about making sure Gmail users know what Google's doing." 

Citing a GfK Roper study it commissioned, Microsoft states that 70% of email users in US are unaware that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads. When informed of the same, 88% of the people disapprove of this practice. 

BlackBerry Z10 to cost Rs 39,000 in India

BlackBerry recently unveiled its much-awaited new OS BlackBerry 10. The company also showed two high-end devices running on the all-new OS, BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. The devices are available only in few countries so far. However, a report in tech blog Fonearena, citing sources, says that the Canadian manufacturer is launching Z10 in India on February 24 for a whopping Rs 39,000.
Before the worldwide unveiling of BlackBerry's new smartphones, the managing director of the Indian division of the company told TOI that the phones are expected to be launched within 2-3 weeks of their global showcasing. 

At this price band, the all-new BlackBerry Z10 will take on the likes of Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 920, Apple iPhone 5 and HTC Butterfly. Recently, TOI reported that BlackBerry Z10 headed for India may have different hardware specifications from its overseas counterparts. 

BlackBerry Z10 features a 4.2-inch touchscreen with 356ppi pixel density and 1280x768p resolution. It is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz Krait processor and comes with 2GB RAM. The company has provided the new device with 16GB onboard storage and support for expansion up to 32GB via microSD card. The all-new Z10 also has an 8MP camera that can take 1080p videos, and a 2MP unit in the front. For connectivity, the device has Wi-Fi, 3G, 2G, 4G (market dependant), Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. 

The phone is available in only a few markets, such as UAE and UK, but is available on eBay at three times of its US retail price of $599. 

There was no word on the launch date of BlackBerry Q10, which has a 3.1-inch touchscreen and a keyboard.

Milky Way may hold 4.5 billion Earth-like planets, one of which sits nearby

It seems the Milky Way may have more than one Earth.
According to a team of astronomers, a planet similar to Earth may lie much closer to us than previously thought. The potential Earth-like planet is estimated to be just 13 light years away, or 77 trillion miles.
While astronomers have yet to discover the planet, recent research on red dwarf stars suggests that upwards of nearly 5 billion Earth-like planets may exist in the Milky Way alone.
When considering the sheer size of the universe, the potential Earth-like planet is much closer than scientists ever imagined. While the proposed distance may seem like quite a lot, relative to the vast expanse of the cosmos, it’s fairly short. According to the study’s lead author, Harvard University graduate student Courtney Dressing, if the Milky Way was the size of the United States, the distance between Earth and an Earth-like planet is the equivalent of a stroll across Central Park in New York City.
“The nearest Earth-like planet is simply a stroll across the park away,” Dressing said at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics research team was able to reach its conclusion regarding the existence of an Earth-like planet based on their research of red dwarfs stars. There is an estimated 75 billion red dwarfs in the Milky Way galaxy, making it the most abundant type of star. According to astronomers, six percent of red dwarf stars contain a planet similar to Earth, leading them to calculate the figure. In order to be considered “Earth-like,” the planet must match in size to Earth and receive as much light from its star as Earth receives  from the sun. The ultimate goal of finding Earth-like planets is to narrow down the search for extraterrestrial life forms on alien planets.
Despite fitting the criteria of being “Earth-like,” co-author David Charbonneau pointed out that these planets are quite a bit different from our native planet. Most of these differences are attributed to differing distances between the planets and their red dwarf stars.
Red dwarf stars are usually much smaller than the sun in our solar system so the Earth-like candidates must orbit much closer to the red dwarf than Earth does the sun. While the planets may be rocky like Earth, the astronomers pointed out that they may have drastically different atmospheres and thus very different life forms.
Some red dwarf stars are also much older than the sun in our solar system This has led scientists to wonder if life on Earth-like planets could be more highly evolved than life on Earth.
It should be noted that this is not the first study to attempt to estimate the number of Earth-like planets in our own galaxy. A number of studies released over the past several months have put forth estimates ranging from billions to trillions of Earth-like planets. Among the most interesting analysis comes from a study based on initial data from from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which  says the Milky Way galaxy may be home to at least two billion Earth-like planet. The figure, at the time, was far higher than astronomers predicted.
That said, the new finding is “extraordinarily exciting” for astronomer John Johnson of the California Institute of Technology, who said discovering a true Earth-like planet will likely occur during our lifetime.
“It’s right within reach,” he said. Scientists are “hot on the trail of finding life elsewhere in the galaxy.”
While estimates for the number of Earth-like planets continue to grab headlines, NASA astronomers say they expect the figures to be refined over time as its planet-hunt telescope, Kepler, continues to collect data on exoplanets.
These latest findings are based on data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope and they are set to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

iTunes Store Sets New Record with 25 Billion Songs Sold

Apple® announced that music fans have purchased and downloaded more than 25 billion songs from the iTunes Store® (www.itunes.com), the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store. The 25 billionth song, “Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch, was purchased by Phillip Lüpke from Germany. As the downloader of the 25 billionth song, Phillip will receive a €10,000 iTunes® Gift Card. 

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Averaging over 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, the iTunes Store connects music fans with their favorite artists, including global sensations like Adele and Coldplay and new artists like The Lumineers, on a scale we never imagined possible.”

“In a lot of ways, iTunes has leveled the playing field for musicians. Whether you’re unsigned, indie, major, whatever—it’s the place most people go to buy digital music,” said Wesley Schultz, guitarist and lead vocalist of The Lumineers. “iTunes doesn’t exclude any musicians simply because they’re not yet established or popular.”

The iTunes Store is the world’s most popular music store with a catalog of over 26 million songs and over 25 billion songs downloaded, and is available in 119 countries. The iTunes Store is the best way for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod®, Mac® and PC users to legally discover, purchase and download music online. All music on the iTunes Store comes in iTunes Plus®, Apple’s DRM-free format with high-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings. iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to your devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to your iOS devices.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

IBM Looks To Acquire NetApp

An acquisition of NetApp would give IBM a full line of unified SAN-NAS solutions, a recent clustered storage infrastructure, and an increasing presence in the flash storage market Speculation about a possible acquisition of storage vendor NetApp, this time by IBM, has resurfaced, with Bloomberg listing NetApp as one of a few potential acquisitions Big Blue is considering as it looks for ways to grow its business. 
NetApp, which has also been rumored to be on several large IT companies' short list of potential acquisition, including Oracle's and Cisco's, would strengthen IBM's standing in the cloud storage business, Bloomberg reported. 
Such an acquisition would mean more than cloud storage for IBM. IBM currently sells NetApp's storage solutions under an OEM deal stretching back to 2005. An acquisition of NetApp would give IBM a full line of unified SAN-NAS solutions, a recent clustered storage infrastructure, and an increasing presence in the flash storage market. 
Such an acquisition could also disrupt the tight relationship between NetApp and Cisco, the latter of which competes with IBM in the server and networking markets. 
In addition to NetApp, Bloomberg also reported on other potential acquisition targets it said are on IBM's list. They include big data analytic software developer Splunk and business security solution developer Imperva. 
Bloomberg reported that IBM is looking at such acquisitions as a way to restart its sales growth, which amounted to a meager 0.8 percent in four years. 
Splunk did not respond to requests for more information. Spokespeople from IBM, NetApp and Imperva declined to comment on the report.

Google Glasses to include bone conduction technology

Google recently submitted FCC filings for their upcoming Google Glasses. The pair includes 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, but they also include bone conduction technology, meaning that you can listen to audio without having pesky earbuds or headphones. Vibrations that travel through bones near your ears allow you to listen to music, while still hearing what goes on around you.
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In the FCC application, there’s a paragraph referencing to an “integral vibrating element that provides audio to the user via contact with the user’s head.” Of course, just a few days earlier, Google filed for a patent dealing with a bone-conduction earpiece for glasses, meaning that there could very will be a connection between the patent and the FFC filing.
Bone conduction technology isn’t anything new by any means, but we haven’t really seen a breakthrough in the technology, and it hasn’t become that popular yet. If Google Glasses does, in fact, include bone conduction technology, we finally might see it fly into the mainstream quicker than it would otherwise.
We first saw glimpses of Google’s “Project Glass” earlier last year, as well as at Google I/O over the summer, where the company demonstrated the new technology to developers and press. Developers will be able to get their hands on a pair in a couple of months at a price of $1,500, while regular consumers are said to be able buy a pair sometime within a year from when devs get theirs.

Nokia to launch iPad rival in February?

Nokia has sent out invites for a press meet scheduled for the first day of Mobile World Congress and tech grapevine is abuzz that the company is likely to use this event to showcase its first tablet. The manufacturer was absent from Consumer Electronics Show in 2012, but may make its move against rival Apple in the tablet segment at the biggest mobile device expo. 

The Finnish manufacturer is, as expected, mum on the devices it will unveil at the event. It is rumoured to be working on a tablet that will operate on Windows RT and have a 10.1-inch touchscreen. Previously, Taiwan-based tech website Digitimes reported, Nokia is in talks with Microsoft, Qualcomm and Compal Electronics to manufacture this tablet. Another report said this device will have two batteries - one standard and other in keyboard cover. The upcoming Nokia device is also rumoured to have HDMI as well as USB ports and support cellular data connectivity. 

Apart from this tablet, a smartphone with 'true' PureView camera technology is also expected to be showcased at the event. Earlier, The Verge reported that the company is working on a new Windows Phone-powered smartphone - codenamed EOS - that will have true PureView technology. This phone is rumoured to have aluminium body and launch this year. 

The company's flagship phone, Lumia 920, also features this imaging technology in its camera, but has an 8.7MP sensor. This sensor is small compared to the 41MP unit used in Nokia 808 PureView, which was unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2012.