Remember how it seemed too good to be true that Sony's back to school promo would let you buy a VAIO T and get a free PlayStation 3 or Vita worth a third of the value of the Ultrabook you just bought? Well, it was. Sony has quietly dropped the $750 laptop from the PCs that qualify for the deal, raising the real qualifying price to $970 for a 15.5-inch VAIO S. Some will cry foul at being denied such a killer bargain without warning, but it's easy to see why Sony backed out: that's a lot of gear to give away for little in return. Dreams of heading to class with an ultraportable in hand and a PS3 at the dorm will have to be postponed, then, even if it's still an ample discount.
It hasn't been Samsung's best week. Just days after Judge Lucy Koh granted a preliminary ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, she's following it up with a similar granted request on the Galaxy Nexus. Judge Koh had already signaled that she thought Apple's lawsuit over four patents might have merit, but it's only now that she's deciding the potential damage is worth halting sales of the phone until there's a final trial verdict. Samsung will no doubt try to appeal the dispute, which centers on Android 4.0's slide-to-unlock mechanism (among other elements), but there's a lot more urgency here than with the outgoing Tab 10.1: the Galaxy Nexus is still a current-generation device, and just became Google's Android 4.1 phone flagship. Samsung's odds aren't great given that Apple has already used one of the patents to give HTC grief with its imports.
Update: As patent lawsuit guru Florian Mueller found, the clincher for the ban was the patent on unified search that's linked to Siri. Although Judge Koh is inclined to believe Apple's view regarding all four patents, that search patent is the one whose violation would reportedly merit more than a slap on the wrist. She's similarly convinced that Apple's patents are legitimate and likely won't be dismissed anytime soon.
Space Telescope Opens Its X-Ray Eyes
Mission Status Report
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has snapped its first test images of the sizzling high-energy X-ray universe. The observatory, launched June 13, is the first space telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-rays, the same kind used by doctors and dentists, into crisp images.
Soon, the mission will begin its exploration of hidden black holes; fiery cinder balls left over from star explosions; and other sites of extreme physics in our cosmos.
"Today, we obtained the first-ever focused images of the high-energy X-ray universe," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who first conceived of NuSTAR about 15 years ago. "It's like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing aspects of the world around us clearly for the first time."
NuSTAR's lengthy mast, which provides the telescope mirrors and detectors with the distance needed to focus X-rays, was deployed on June 21. The NuSTAR team spent the next week verifying the pointing and motion capabilities of the satellite, and fine-tuning the alignment of the mast.
The first images from the observatory show Cygnus X-1, a black hole in our galaxy that is siphoning gas off a giant-star companion. This particular black hole was chosen as a first target because it is extremely bright in X-rays, allowing the NuSTAR team to easily see where the telescope's focused X-rays are falling on the detectors.
In the next two weeks, the team will point at two other bright calibration targets: G21.5-0.9, the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred several thousand years ago in our own Milky Way galaxy; and 3C273, an actively feeding black hole, or quasar, located 2 billion light-years away at the center of another galaxy. These targets will be used to make a small adjustment to place the X-ray light at the optimum spot on the detector, and to further calibrate and understand the telescope in preparation for future science observations.
Other telescopes, including NASA's Swift and Chandra space telescopes, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, will look at 3C273 in coordination with NuSTAR, helping to further calibrate the telescope.
The mission's primary observing program is expected to commence within two weeks.
"This is a really exciting time for the team," said Daniel Stern, the NuSTAR project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We can already see the power of NuSTAR to crack open the high-energy X-ray universe and reveal secrets that were impossible to get at before."
Throughout its two-year prime mission, NuSTAR will turn its focused gaze on the most energetic objects in the universe, producing images with 100 times the sensitivity and 10 times the resolution of its predecessors operating at similar wavelength ranges. It will take a census of black holes both inside and outside of our Milky Way galaxy, and answer questions about how this enigmatic cosmic "species" behaves and evolves. Because it sees high-energy X-rays, NuSTAR will also probe farther into the dynamic regions around black holes, where matter is heated to temperatures as high as hundreds of millions of degrees, and will measure how fast black holes are spinning.
Other targets for the mission include the burnt-out remains of dead stars, such as those that exploded as supernovae; high-speed jets; the temperamental surface of our sun; and the structures where galaxies cluster together like mega-cities.
NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.; and ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, Calif. NuSTAR will be operated by UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission's outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif. NASA's Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.
For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/nustar and http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
Another day, another speaker dock. We initially dismissed Gear4's latest accessory at Google I/O 2012 until we noticed that the attached Nexus 7 was playing audio digitally via the USB port instead of simply through the headphone jack (or wirelessly over Bluetooth for that matter). It turns out that Jelly Bean supports USB audio, a software feature that's bound to spearhead a whole new generation of accessories for Android devices. Gear4's universal speaker dock with alarm clock radio is the first to handle USB audio. While the sound for any app can be routed to the USB port in Jelly Bean, the functionality is missing from older versions of Android. Thankfully, Gear4 includes an app with its accessory that can be used to set alarms, sync time, tune the radio and play media over the USB port on legacy versions of Android. Want to know more? You'll find our gallery below and our hands-on video after the break.
First Netflix, then Instagram, now BBM? We're getting reports along with plenty of Twitter noise that the popular BlackBerry service has headed south. This makes for one heck of an anti-social weekend if you're a photo-sharing, BBM-er for sure. Let us know if you've been affected by the service, in the meantime why not read up on some tech news? We've plenty!
Update: We've just received word from RIM itself explaining the situation. Basically, you might experience some hiccups with BBM and webrowising, but everything else should be back to normal. Check out the response below:
Today, we experienced a service issue which may have affected some of our customers in certain parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Some minor issues relating to browsing and BlackBerry Messenger may still persist, but all other services are operating as normal. We apologize to any customers in these regions who may have been inconvenienced.
Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/30/users-reporting-bbm-down/
Just in case GPS and GLONASS didn't make for enough of an acronym soup, BAE Systems wants to add one more to the navigation broth. NAVSOP (Navigation via Signals of Opportunity) uses some of the basic concepts we know from cell tower triangulation and WiFi location-finding to lock down a position, but goes much further to geolocate from nearly anything that pushes out a signal, such as nearby radios and TVs. It doesn't even need to know what kind of signal it's looking at, and it can get its position in places there's no GPS to work from, whether it's in an urban canyon or the natural kind. BAE is most excited about the prospects of ending GPS jamming against soldiers and UAVs, once and for all: not only is the new technology mostly impervious to attempts to block its signal, it can use the jamming attempt itself to get the position fix. Thankfully, the company's roots in defense aren't precluding use for civilians, so there's a chance that future smartphones might never have to use guesswork to get their bearings -- provided that governments around the world sign off on the idea, that is.
Since 1999, the BBC's Red Button feature has delivered alternative camera angles, sports scores and the like over broadcast spectrum, but it's now set to become internet enabled. Channel surfers shouldn't expect a full-blown web experience, however, as the Beebs stresses it's not about to include everything and the kitchen sink in terms of functionality. Rather, their Connected Red Button aims for simplicity. Punching the clicker could bring up the iPlayer to catch previous episodes of shows or save recipes from a cooking program for later viewing on a computer or smartphone. Companion screen experiences such as the Antiques Roadshow app, which is slated for a September release, are also part of their web-connected roadmap. Mum's the word on when these new features might roll out, but we're promised the BBC's Olympics coverage will give us a taste of what's to come.
Panasonic's Eluga V smartphone arrived at NTT DoCoMo back in May and now the company has dropped one of its handsets off at the FCC's underground bunker. The Ice Cream Sandwich-running phone has a 4.6-inch, 1280 x 720 display, wireless charging, the same water and dust proofing that we saw in its two brothers, HSPA, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. Don't let the news of governmental approval get your hopes up for a stateside launch however, this one's just to ensure that tourists won't have the handset seized as soon as they reach customs.
Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/30/eluga-v-fcc/
If you invested in the Pebble e-paper smartwatch -- and who didn't? -- you'll be happy to hear that the firm has unleashed a preview of the Kickstarter darling's SDK at Google I/O this week. That'll give developers a head start on creating apps for the ARM-powered e-paper device, allowing them to learn exactly how it receives data from Mountain View's robot OS. The company said the new kit supports multiple program languages to boot, allowing developers of all skill levels to create Pebble-enabled apps. The document is still a work in progress, of course, but advances like this should help keep it from getting trampled by the cavalcade of smart wrist devices now coming out. Check the source link if you want to grab it.
Things were looking grim for gaming in April, when the International Trade Commission decided that the Xbox 360 violated Motorola patents and the console's US future was in doubt. The agency hasn't necessarily reversed its decision, but it just gave Microsoft a significant (and possibly permanent) reprieve. The Commission has remanded Motorola's case back to the Administrative Law Judge that gave the initial ruling, which very nearly restarts the clock: a new ruling won't come for months, and the usual review process guarantees even more of a delay even if the decision once more works in Motorola's favor. Patent suit watcher Florian Mueller is now confident that the Xbox 360 won't face any real risk of a ban in 2012, at a minimum. If the new decision doesn't clear Microsoft outright, it still pushes any ruling past a Microsoft lawsuit's trial in mid-November, when Motorola might be blocked from attempting any ban using its standards-based patents. We've rarely seen a majority or total reversal of this kind of ITC patent dispute before it reaches the appeals stage, but there's a distinct chance of that flip happening here -- especially as the ITC is using Apple's successful dismissal of an S3 Graphics victory as the judge's new template.