May 26, 2010

Essential Trait of Embryonic Stem Cells Found

In a groundbreaking new investigation that could have significant implications for the field of bioengineering, researchers at the University of Edinburgh managed to gain new insight into how embryonic stem cells are defined, and into how they work. The new data could be of vital importance for bioengineers in their quest to produce artificial organs from stem cells. Understanding the behavior of these cells, and also the reasons underlying those behaviors, could advance this field at a fast pace.

The work reveals that embryonic stem cells (ESC) are made up of cells that continuously shift states between precursors of any other cell type in the human body. The investigators believe that this is one of the most important traits for these cells, as this must be the thing that allows them to eventually differentiate into any type of cell in the body. Though this constant shifting has yet to be understood thoroughly, the UK scientists say that they will continue to investigate this behavior further. The end goal of such investigations is to identify the exact time at which ESC exist in a certain form so that experts can isolate them.

If bioengineers want to create an artificial liver, for example, they need liver tissue. Over-simplifying things, they basically need to know when the ESC shift into a state that makes the viable precursors for liver cells. Once they know this, they can either create artificial cells with the same properties, or harvest the needed organic material from lab-grown stem cell cultures. A major implication of the new study is that ESC are not a single type of cell, but rather a collection of such structures, that constantly shift form. Details of the work appear in the latest issue of the open-access scientific journal PLoS Biology. The investigation was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Scottish Funding Council.

“This study changes our view of what embryonic stem cells are and how they behave. Knowing that embryonic stem cells can switch between different founder cell types could help us isolate cells at a point in time when they are primed to become specific cells. This could improve the ability to produce specific cells in the laboratory,” explains University of Edinburgh Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine expert Dr Josh Brickman.
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Google Nexus One Android 2.2 Link Pulled

Last weekend Google [GOOG] uploaded Android 2.2 for Nexus One users to download and update their smartphone. Today we found out that in fact, the Android 2.2 AKA Froyo available for download, wasn't the final build.

We now learn that Google has pulled the download link and will make users wait for the official and final OTA update to arrive which is expected in the next couple of weeks.

With Google making the link live a few days ago, for a few days, it isn't out of the question that you could probably find a copy of it somewhere on the internet.

If you are desperate to get your hands on a copy of the Android 2.2 build then have a hunt around on Google and you should find it. Alternatively, just hang on a couple of weeks for the final build which might include some last minute bug fixes.
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May 20, 2010

After Facebook, Pakistan Blocks YouTube Over Sacrilegious Content

Hot on the heels of Pakistan’s blockade of Facebook due to caricatures of Prophet Muhammad comes the news that Pakistan has also blocked YouTube due to content that’s offensive to Islam.

While the Facebook ban in Pakistan was a direct result of a group calling users to submit drawings of Prophet Muhammad, the YouTube blockade isn’t explained in detail. According to AP, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority simply cited “growing sacrilegious contents” as the reason for the ban.

The ban of Facebook and YouTube is likely to continue until representatives from both sites resolve the dispute with the Pakistani government in a way that “ensures religious harmony and respect.” Facebook representative said the usual way to resolve such issues, if the group in question doesn’t break its terms of service but is illegal in another country, is to restrict the group from being shown in that country.

However, the blockade seems to be much wider, as some of our readers, as well as reports on Twitter, point out that access to Flickr, Wikipedia and other sites has been restricted, too.
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May 17, 2010

Google Nexus One running Windows 3.11 for Workgroups

Windows 311 Nexus One 300x194 Google Nexus One running Windows  3.11 for Workgroups

It's not often you see Windows 3.11 for Workgroups these days. In fact, the last time I probably used that OS was back in the 90's while at college. One user with a Google Nexus One has managed to get the old OS running on his smartphone.

Although the demonstration shows Windows 3.11 running on a HTC Nexus One from Google [GOOG], you can actually get it working on any Android OS based smartphone that has a decent processor and performance.

Other items used include a Bluetooth Wireless keyboard for sending commands to MS-DOS and a computer to get DosBox running.

If you are familiar with the Android OS, one thing you may be saying “huh?” about at this moment is that there is no HID support within the Bluetooth stack to allow the use of wireless keyboards. But we won’t let that stop us now, will we? Since ADosBox does not yet support the use of the onscreen virtual keyboard, we have no other choice! Don’t worry, there’s a solution that I’ll cover in here shortly.

What you need....

* On your phone:
* ADosBox
* Teksoft BlueInput for Android (this will give us the HID input we need for the iGo Stowaway keyboard… sorta). You will need the paid version because you need use of the Enter key. Also, this software is so buggy and inaccurate that I do NOT recommend it for anything outside of a project like this.

* On your computer:
* DosBox
* An installation image of Windows 3.11

If you have all that then head on over here for full instructions on how to install Windows 3.11 on your Android OS based smartphone. I'm sure it will be fun to use for maybe 30 minutes until you realise how much things have changed since the 90's! One good thing that could come out of this is Minesweeper although I really have no idea if that was included with 3.11 or not.

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Apple iPhone 4G Leaked Again

iPhone 4G Leak 300x168 Apple iPhone 4G Leaked Again

Things can't be going too well for Apple [AAPL] at the moment after another iPhone 4G has been leaked in Vietnam. Perhaps we are looking at the same phone we have seen a couple of times before though. Right now, I've lost track of how many phones there have been captured on camera that all look very similar. I believe it might be the fifth as there was one captured earlier this year before the Gizmodo leak, then the Gizmodo leak, then Vietnam, then France and now Vietnam again. The last three and perhaps the first could all be the same unit though.

Either way, we now have a video of the iPhone running what appears to be some sort of diagnostic screen called Inferno. This looks to be a "bonfire" at the top of the screen with some text at the bottom of the screen showing some sort of USB status and a command saying Run Bonfire.

Some people believed the Inferno screen was just a static image, as in a sticker on the screen or a fake screen. We now see that this is part of the innards of the OS.

It is unclear at the moment where these phones are coming from and if Apple will pursue the factories were they are being built and the individuals who have been seen on previous videos.

Either way, it will certainly be a different product release for Apple with most of the anticipation not being there due to knowing most things about the phone already.

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May 11, 2010

Apple Confirms AT&T Has iPhone Exclusivity Until 2012

It was speculative before given the lack of independent confirmation, but now apparently Apple has gone on record to confirm that the original deal signed with AT&T for iPhone exclusivity back in 2007 was a five-year deal. That means at least some legal hoops would need jumping through if we’re ever going to see that oft-rumored Verizon iPhone before 2012.

Engadget reports that court documents filed by Apple in a California class-action suit confirm the original AT&T exclusivity deal had a five-year duration. The suit, ongoing since 2007, claims that Apple and AT&T were exerting a monopoly over iPhone service by surreptitiously locking iPhone buyers into renewing contracts with AT&T once their initial two years was up.

On the flip side, there are a number of reasons such a contract might be amended or canceled, so it’s not exactly a total given that the iPhone won’t appear on another carrier before 2012. But given the original terms, it could require some tricky negotiation or legal fancy footwork to get there.

Moreover, the class-action suit also alleges an illegal monopoly over the iPhone App Store, which the court ruled substantial enough to move forward. On both fronts then — consumer market and legal proceedings — it will be fascinating to watch for further details on when the AT&T iPhone exclusivity curtain might drop or even be forcibly struck down.

Do you think we’ll see the iPhone come to another carrier before 2012?
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Twitter to Launch Twitter Business Center

We have confirmed with Twitter that beta testing of its new business features, dubbed the “Twitter Business Center,” has begun.

According to the company, “only a handful of accounts have these features presently,” but it will expand on a gradual business to more accounts. One of the biggest additions: the ability for businesses to accept Twittter direct messages, even from people they don’t follow.

We were able to grab exclusive information and screenshots of the Twitter Business Center thanks to our friend Dave Peck, a social media strategist at LSF Interactive/blogger at New Media Chatter.

Here is an overview of some of the new features that businesses can expect to enjoy in the near future:

Starting Up with Twitter Business Center

A small group of business users are getting emails from the Twitter team, inviting them to test “the Twitter Toolkit.” This is how the invite email begins:


Your account has been invited to participate in testing one of Twitter’s newest business-centric features, the Twitter Toolkit. We’ll be rolling it out to you within the next few days (if you don’t have it already) for your business or organization’s Twitter account. To get started, visit your business’ Twitter account settings…

…and look for the “Business” tab. From there you’ll be directed to fill out some information which will help us verify your business or organization.”

Once businesses clicks the link, they have to activate the business features for their accounts. It then takes them to a page where they fill in information such as business contact info and whether they are a small business, large company, or an individual/group:

Digging into the Features

Once a business activates its account, it is automatically verified. This is important because Twitter Verified Accounts have been limited to individuals thus far. It seems like Twitter has finally decided to expand the Verified Accounts program to brands and organizations.

After activation, four tabs appear: Overview, Business Info, Verification, and Contributors. Overview provides basic information about business accounts and Business Info allows a company to change the information that it submitted during initial registration. The Contributors tab, which we revealed several months ago, gives businesses the ability to add multiple users to a business account so that they can tweet on its behalf.

The tab that interested us the most though was the “Verification” tab. Take a look at the “Preferences” section in this screenshot we obtained of the Verification tab:

Twitter has a new feature for businesses: the ability to accept direct messages from any of their followers, regardless of whether they follow that person or not. This is huge for businesses that perform customer service via Twitter: they can get feedback and deal with private customer issues without having to follow the person back first.

The microblogging startup seems focused on getting more businesses the tools they need to effectively manage their Twitter accounts. There are no details yet as to how much Twitter will charge businesses for these features. For now though, the company is refining and testing its Twitter Toolkit before its eventual public debut.

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May 3, 2010

New Samsung S8500 Wave camera samples here to impress

The Samsung S8500 Wave is one of the most eagerly anticipated devices of the season and its supposed availability has been keeping the mobile world on its toes since last week. But here we aren't going to discuss whether or not you can actually purchase the handset from those stores that claim to have it in stock.

Instead we will give you several camera samples that we created with the latest Samsung S8500 Wave unit that we received. It's not a final market-ready unit but it comes damn close, or at least so it seems from the photos and videos that we are about to show you.

As you know the Wave, the first Bada-running smartphone, captures 720p videos, which is all the rage these days. The nicely saturated colors and the good framerate (those are real 30fps, no duplicated frames gimmicks this time) make up for really pleasing results.

See for yourselves in the samples below.

We also took several 5 megapixel still shots with the Samsung S8500 Wave camera. The pleasing colors are again there for you to see, but the slightly too aggressive noise reduction takes its toll on the fine detail. Still this is only a pre-release unit, we might see further optimizations.

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Good Q1 for Samsung, more touch phones and smartphones to come

We've seen how the other companies did during the first quarter of the year and now we'll have the chance to see how things are going for Samsung. As expected, their Q1 financial report looks pretty well.

After the impresive Q4 here comes the equally strong Q1 for Samsung. The company managed to sell 64.3 million handsets during the first three months of 2010, which makes good 40% increase compared to last year's Q1.

Those brought the company approximately 7.66 billion US dollars which is an 8% sales increase Year-on-Year. The operating profit of nearly 1 billion US dollars marks a 1% decrease Year-on-Year.

Samsung estimate their market share to around 22%, which is better than the 20% in 2009. That guarantees the company's second position in the Top 5 mobile phone manufacturers ranking.

The future looks quite bright for Samsung, too. Due to the economic recovery and the expected increase in the demand the company should ship 10% more handsets than last year.

19% of them are expected to be smartphones, compared to the 16% of last year. 27% of all phones sold in the first quarter of this year were equipped with a touchscreen, while only 12% of all sold mobiles in Q1 2009 were touch-driven.

Samsung see the reasons for their success in the strong product lineup (including an increasing number of touch phones, smartphones as well as China 3G models) and the improved distribution channels in the emerging markets.


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