Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HTC One M9

As much as we've talked about the big early 2015 flagship smartphones, one thing we've been mum on is pricing. We're still waiting on word about the Galaxy S6's price tag, but today HTC is getting more specific about theOne M9 – including the option to buy online starting at midnight EDT on March 27 (i.e. tonight in the US).
We already knew that the One M9 would begin launching with US carriers on April 10, but what we didn't know is that HTC would start selling it earlier than that from its online store. Starting at 12:01 am ET, buyers can order the One M9 two weeks before it starts rolling out elsewhere.
We've reached out to HTC to confirm whether those models are ready to ship, or will require some sort of wait, and will update when we hear back. The "be one of the first to get yours" language on HTC's website points to an earlier than April 10 ship date, but that still doesn't tell us how much earlier you can expect it.
You might experience deja vu when you see the One M9's design, but it's still quite the lo...
Though specific carrier pricing should start trickling out soon, HTC is charging US$650 for an off-contract unlocked version of the M9. That lines up perfectly with the launch prices of the One M8 and One M7, essentially squashing any hopes that this year's model would be cheaper. And if every $650 smartphone from the last few years is any indication, then that will almost certainly translate to $200 upfront with a two-year contract.
The One M9 has an only slightly updated design from the last two HTC One flagships, but has a faster processor, larger battery capacity and much higher-resolution camera. It also includes one of the most aggressive mobile warranties we've seen, offering a one -off replacement for accidental damage (including cracked screen, water damage or even switching carriers) during the first year of ownership.
Stay tuned for Gizmag's HTC One M9 review. And if you want to get in on those early bird orders after midnight in the US, you can hit up HTC's page below.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Les Wexner founder of Victoria's Secret

You've probably never heard of Les Wexner.

Say the name to Gen X-ers and baby boomers and they might think of Les Nessman from the TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati." (Google it, millennials. The first season is on Hulu.)
Les Wexner is real though. And he lives in Ohio. He rarely does interviews. But the 77-year old founder and CEO of Columbus-based Victoria's Secret owner L Brands (LB) is worth $7.6 billion, according to Forbes.
That makes him the richest person in the Buckeye State. LeBron James has a way to go before he can claim that title.
But Wexner -- like King James -- remains at the top of his game. Shares of L Brands are near their all-time high.
Earnings rose 15% last year and hit a record in the process.
Victoria's Secret is obviously a huge part of the company's success. Sales rose nearly 5% in 2014.
And the brand is a pop culture phenomenon. Fashion shows featuring "angel" models wearing little more than bras and panties tend to attract attention. Who knew?
Still, L Brands is more than just Victoria's Secret. The company's Bath & Body Works stores are growing more rapidly.
Revenues at that division were up 7% last year and now account for nearly 30% of the overall sales at L Brands. (My mom constantly refers to these stores as Bath Body & Beyond. Does anyone else mix them up? I wonder if Wexner has ever thought to acquire BBBY (BBBY).)
L Brands shares surged 42% in 2014 thanks to the strong results. It's a big reason why Wexner made my list of top CEOs last year.
And the stock is up another 9% this year as sales continue to head higher.
Wexner, who founded the company with one store called The Limited in a Columbus mall in 1963, has much of his wealth tied up in the company's shares. He owns a more than 15% stake in the firm and that is currently worth about $4.2 billion.
How has he stayed on top? By never being complacent and always adapting to new trends.
The company has morphed a lot in the past 52 years. It was known as Limited Brands up until 2013. The company sold off The Limited in 2007. It's now owned by private equity firm Sun Capital Partners.
L Brands sold Express to another PE firm -- Golden Gate Capital Partners -- in 2007. Express is once again a public company. L Brands also owned (and subsequently sold) Lane Bryant, Lerner (now part of New York & Co. (NWY)) and Galyans, a sporting goods retailer that wound up merging with Dick's (DKS).
The company even once owned Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). L Brands bought it in 1988 and spun it off in 1996.
Wexner must be tickled PINK (a franchise that's part of the current L Brands portfolio) that he's no longer involved with the struggling teen retailer.
But clearly the best thing that Wexner ever did was to acquire Victoria's Secret, which now operates more than 1,000 stores and generated more than $7.2 billion in sales last year.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

unmanned drones to provide internet connections appear one step closer to reality.

Mark Zuckerberg's plans to use unmanned drones to provide internet connections appear one step closer to reality. The Facebook CEO today revealed that his Internet.org initiative has put the aircraft to the test for the first time, describing the operation as a success.
Zuckerberg first unveiled his vision for flying wireless internet access points in March last year. The aim of Internet.org is to use solar-powered, internet-beaming aircraft flying over remote communities to connect parts of the global population that don't currently have internet access.
In a Facebook post this morning, Zuckerberg revealed that the Internet.org aircraft have been successfully tested in the UK. Indicating that it is still under development, he says the finished aircraft will have a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737, but still weigh less than a car. It will be capable of flying at an altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m) for months at a time.
"Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10% of the world's population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure," Zuckerberg writes.
And Facebook isn't the only company with high-flying internet aspirations. Last year, Portuguese company Quarkson announced its SkyOrbiter program that plans to use UAVs to transmit internet access "to every corner of the world," while Google has floated the idea of using balloons with itsProject Loon and is continuing testing of the concept having just successfully sent a balloon on a 20,000 km (12,400 mi) trip from New Zealand to Australia – the long way around.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

RadioShack’s retail empire went on the auction block

日本語: RadioShack
日本語: RadioShack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The remnants of RadioShacks retail empire went on the auction block on Monday, giving bidders the first chance to snap up the company’s trademarks, patents, leases—and the names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of millions of RadioShack customers.
For RadioShack itself, the stakes are enormous. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday morning that Standard General, a hedge fund that is one of RadioShack's creditors, has won the auction. Hanging in the balance on Thursday, when a federal bankruptcy court is expected to approve or reject the asset sale, is the continuation of the 94-year-old retailer's operations. Standard General has said it will try to keep the retail chain operating on a smaller scale.
RadioShack's customers—even those whose most recent purchase came years ago—could also find themselves sold off in the deal. The company included personal data in its bankruptcy auction as its own asset class. A website maintained by Hilco Streambank, which is serving as an intermediary for RadioShack, says that more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale. Hilco Streambank is careful to note that the bankruptcy court might not approve the deals, and there have already been two legal filings in attempts to block the sale of customer data. 
The broader challenge, filed last week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argues that RadioShack made an explicit promise to its customers not to sell their personal data. Paxton claims that 117 million people are included in RadioShack's customer data sale, which he says offers some details about shopping habits. The filing cites text from a sign displayed in RadioShack stores reading: “We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” State law in Texas prohibits companies from selling personally identifiable information in a way that violates their own privacy policies. On Monday, Tennessee's attorney general joined Texas's objection.  
AT&T is also trying to stop RadioShack from sharing some of its consumer data for a different reason: The wireless carrier believes the information isn’t RadioShack’s to sell. AT&T worked with RadioShack to market phones, allowing RadioShack to build up a trove of information that includes, among other things, lists of AT&T customers. AT&T says it owns this data and wants RadioShack's records destroyed. Given that one bidder in the bankruptcy proceedings plans to co-brand some RadioShack locations as Sprint stores, AT&T is clearly concerned that the auction could give sensitive information to a competitor.
The court has appointed a “privacy ombudsman” to handle issues related to sensitive data, and that official hasn’t yet ruled publicly on either challenge. 
A long list of RadioShack customers’ names and shopping habits has some market value, though it's unclear how much. In his legal challenge, Paxton asked that each bidder be required to break out its offer for the data so that the court could recalculate bids if it were to block the deal. It was not immediately clear how bids for consumer data might be valued. 
While the focus on consumer data has become intense in recent years, the first legal challenge to the sale of such information during bankruptcy came 15 years ago. Toysmart.com, an online toy store, proposed selling information about its customers as part of a bankruptcy auction in 2000. The data proved to be the company’s single most valuable asset in bankruptcy.
The Federal Trade Commission sued to stop Toysmart from completing the sale, citing a company privacy policy that promised not to share information with third parties. The FTC found the proposal especially egregious because much of the information being offered was personal data about children that had allegedly been gathered illegally in the first place. “Even failing dot-coms must abide by their promise to protect the privacy rights of their customers,” said Robert Pitofsky, the FTC chairman at the time. Toysmart eventually destroyed the information, and the case led to federal legislation restricting asset sales in bankruptcy. 
Whether RadioShack’s attempt to sell customer data withstands legal challenge could come down to the structure of the sale. An FTC spokeswoman pointed toward a 2011 letter addressing the bankruptcy of Borders, the bookstore chain, as a general statement of its approach to the issue. In that letter, the FTC said it realized that bankruptcy is a special case and agreed not to oppose the sale of personal data—with several conditions. The data couldn’t be sold as a stand-alone asset, the buyer had to be in the same line of business as the seller, and the buyer must agree to adhere to the same privacy policy. Any substantial changes to the privacy policy would require explicit consent from customers. (The FTC declined to discuss RadioShack specifically.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

New interactive city guides and eBooks at CanAmShop

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Microsoft Project Spartan

As Microsoft gears up for the first release of Project Spartan, the company has detailed Adobe's contribution to its next-gen browser.
Adobe is a major contributor to the open source WebKit (Safari), Blink (Chrome, Opera), and Gecko (Firefox) browser engines, but like everyone else, it's been locked out of Internet Explorer.
"As a result, Adobe improved the web platform in other browsers, but couldn't bring the same improvements to Microsoft's platform. This changed a few months ago when Microsoft made it possible for the Adobe Web Platform Team to contribute to Project Spartan," explained Bogdan Brinza, program manager with Project Spartan.
Adobe has contributed to Project Spartan, specifically in layout, typography, graphic design, and motion, Microsoft said. Project Spartan is expected to ship in the next update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview.
Adobe's first major contribution in the March Windows 10 Technical Preview update was support for CSS gradient midpoints or "colour hints".Several new features in the Internet Explorer rendering engine released as part of the first Windows 10 Technical Preview come courtesy of the Adobe and Microsoft partnership.
"With this feature, a web developer can specify an optional location between the colour stops of a CSS gradient. The colour will always be exactly between the colour of the two stops at that point. Other colours along the gradient line are calculated using an exponential interpolation function as described by the CSS spec," Bogdan Brinza, program manager with Project Spartan, said.
Developers can test out the new rendering engine by installing the technical preview and enabling Experimental Web Platform Features in the 'about' section, under 'flags'.
The new rendering engine's full support for blend modes, bringing IE up to par with other major browsers, is also thanks to Adobe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. shale oil industry, which has quickly abandoned its heavy-spending

Baker Hughes
Baker Hughes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prudence will be the new normal for the U.S. shale oil industry, which has quickly abandoned its heavy-spending ways in the face of sliding crude prices,Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N), the world's No.1 oilfield services provider, said on Monday.
Spending cuts already announced by producers - to the tune of 25 to 60 percent have dropped the rig count by 45 percent since late 2014, and output will soon decline or flatten out so prices can recover, Schlumberger's Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said.
U.S. oil prices have fallen by 50 percent since June to around $46 per barrel as Saudi Arabia and OPEC try to push higher cost producers out of the market. At the time of $100 oil, some U.S. highly-leveraged U.S. players were known for their intensive capex budgets. That may change forever.
"Going forward, we believe financial prudence, where investments are limited to the cash flow generated by
production, will be the new normal for U.S. tight-oil developments," he said at the Scotia Howard Weil Energy conference in New Orleans.
Outside of North America, Schlumberger expects the oil and gas industry's international spending on exploration and production to drop by 10 to 15 percent in 2015, continuing a trend seen last year.
That means, he said, "the global oil market is clearly heading for a tightening ... in the second half of this year."
The rebalancing would come in part from less supply but also stronger demand in a market currently oversupplied by about 1 million barrels per day.
Schlumberger, which has seen its share price fall by about a third since July, would be positioned to take advantage of any uptick in demand for its range of oilfield services, from drilling to fracking, Kibsgaard said.
He emphasized that Schlumberger has been generating more free cashflow than its two main competitors, Halliburton Co (HAL.N) and Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI.N), which are in the process of merging.

But he also acknowledged that the industry is going through an rocky downturn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system will be available this summer

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages, the software giant said this week.
Microsoft did not reveal an exact rollout date for what it has called its most comprehensive software platform ever.
"We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. Windows has always been global with more than 1.5 billion users around the world and here in China hundreds of millions of PCs operate Windows today," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's operating systems group, wrote in a blog post, referring to Microsoft's presentation at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) summit in Shenzhen, China.
Myerson's news came amidst announcements about new strategic partnerships and Windows 10 customizations for smartphones in the Chinese market. At WinHEC, Redmond revealed new alliances that will help Windows 10 reach customers in China and worldwide.
Deals with Lenovo, Tencent, and Qihu 360 promise upgraded services, new phones, and universal apps for multiple hardware platforms ranging from mobile devices to PCs. Lenovo also announced a commitment to build Windows phones, expected later this year via China Mobile.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Future Smart by James Canton

Future Smart

by James Canton
Step into the future with this one!
Game-changing trends are coming in business, technology, workforce, economy, security, and environment. Climate change, energy demand, and population growth will redefine global risk and power. Exponential new technologies will emerge in digital money, mobile commerce, and big data. An explosive new middle class of over one billion consumers will enter the marketplace. Every nation, job, business, and person will be transformed. To thrive in this future you have to become predictive, adaptive, and agile—to become Future Smart. Dr. James Canton, a renowned global futurist and visionary business advisor, illuminates the pivotal forces and global power shifts that everyone must understand today to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape:
Regenerative medicine will extend our lifetimes and rebuild our bodies.
Robots and drones will drive our cars, teach our kids, and fight our wars.
Smart machines will design, manage, and service 40% of all global businesses—energy, commerce, finance, and manufacturing—without humans
Digital consumers who live always connected will challenge every business to change its strategy.
Climate change wars will redefine security and resources.
Most of us are not prepared to meet the challenges the future will bring, but these changes are coming fast. Armed with knowledge, those who are Future Smart can take action to reinvent themselves, their businesses, and their world.
Editorial Reviewsfuturesmart
“James Canton’s newest book, Future Smart, reinforces his standing as one of the leading futurists of our generation.”—Peter J. Blatman, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
“A thought-provoking, engaging, and fascinating narrative of the very near future that explores what it means to be human in an always connected, always on world. A must-read.”—Srini Koushik, President & CEO, NTT i3.”A call to action for every one of us to reinvent ourselves in the presence of a smart future.”—Grady Booch, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering, IBM Research
“A call to action for every one of us to reinvent ourselves in the presence of a smart future,”—Grady Booch, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering, IBM Research.
“Predicts how game-changing trends will impact the next generation of business and urges today’s executives to consider bold new ideas to ensure their future success.”—M. R. Rangaswami, Founder, Corporate Eco Forum.
“A bold and provocative yet realistic forecast of what the future may be. If you want to understand the next disruptions, innovations, challenges, and opportunities that face us, read Future Smart now.”—Rudy Burger, Managing Partner, Woodside Capital; former Director, MIT Media Lab EU.
Future Smart‘s insights, trend analysis, and deep dives into specific sectors are invaluable. This is your executive briefing on the future of innovation and what’s next for business.”—Toby Redshaw, CEO, Covington Advisors; former Global CIO, American Express.
“Explains the provocative and in-depth global scenarios of what lies ahead in our future. Everyone should read this book.”—Larry Paulson, Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
“Delivers insights into tomorrow that everyone should apply today.”—Lane F. Cooper, Contributing Editor, CIO Magazine.
“The next 30 years will usher in more change than the previous three centuries. Future Smart is your guide to this extraordinary future. Canton’s enthusiastic, prescient vision will captivate you.”—Andrew Sobel, international bestselling author of Power Relationships and Power Questions.
“There are so many great ideas for growing your business that Future Smart really should be called an ‘idea manual.'”—Robbin Phillips, Courageous President, Brains on Fire and co-author of Brains on Fire and The Passion Conversation.
“Book smart, people smart, street smart—now James Canton shows us why, with the world changing at warp speed, we all had better get future smart. Whatever you’re planning in business or in life, this book will give you pause and a sense of promise.”—Bill Schley, bestselling author of The UnStoppables and The Micro-Script Rules.
“What separates great innovators from the rest is that they operate from a bold vision of the future. In Future Smart, Canton arms you with this critical advantage.”—Kaihan Krippendorff, CEO and author of Outthink the Competition.
About the Author.
James Canton, PhD, is a global futurist, social scientist, and visionary business advisor. He is CEO and Chairman of the Institute for Global Futures, a think tank that advises Fortune 100 companies and governments on future trends, innovation, strategy, and global risk. The Economist recognized him as a leading global futurist and CNN named him the Digital Guru. Articles about Dr. Canton have appeared in the Wall Street JournalFortuneForbes, and the New York Times. Previously, he was an executive at Apple Computer, a founding board member of the Singularity University, a digital entrepreneur, and an advisor to three White House administrations. He is a regular media commentator or CNN, CNBC, and FOX.
More About the Author.

Biography
James Canton, Ph.D.
Futurist, Author and Visionary Business Advisor.
web http://globalfuturist.com
blog http://futureguru.tumblr.com
Twitter #futureguru
Dr. James Canton is a renowned global futurist, social scientist, keynote presenter, entrepreneur and visionary business advisor. For over 30 years, he has been insightfully predicting the key trends that have shaped our world. He is a leading authority on future trends in innovation and The Economist recognizes him as one of the leading futurists, worldwide.
Dr. Canton is CEO and Chairman of the Institute for Global Futures, a leading think tank he founded in 1990 that advises business and government on future trends. He advises the Global Fortune 1000 on trends in innovation, financial services, health care, population, life sciences, energy, security, workforce, climate change and globalization. From a broad range of industries, clients include; IBM, BP, Intel, Philips, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, FedEx, and Proctor & Gamble. He has advised three White House Administrations, the National Science Foundation and MIT’s Media Lab, Europe.He has held positions as Advisor, National Science and Technology Council, Fellow at Kellogg School of Business, KIN, the founding Co-Chairman of the Futures and Forecasting Singularity University at NASA, Economic Development Board, State of Singapore and Visionary Advisory Board, Motorola.
Recognized as “one of the top presenters in the 21st century” by Successful Meetings Magazine, Dr. Canton is a highly sought-after keynote presenter. He has spoken to thousands of organizations on five continents. He is noted for his fascinating, informative, dynamic and entertaining keynotes.
A frequent guest of the media, he was named “the Digital Guru” by CNN and “Dr. Future” by Yahoo. Dr. Canton’s media coverage has included CNBC, Fox, PBS, ABC, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Bloomberg Report, The New York Times, US News and World Report, CEO, CIO and CFO Magazines.
He is the author of Future Smart Managing the Game-Changing Trends that will Transform Your World, The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the 21st Century and Technofutures: How Leading-Edge Innovations Will Transform Business in the 21st Century.
 R.G. Richardson in association with Da Capo Press.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Startup valuations!

Snapchat, the photo-messaging app raising cash at a $15 billion valuation, probably isn't actually worth more than Clorox or Campbell Soup. So where did investors come up with that enormous headline number?
Here's the secret to how Silicon Valley calculates the value of its hottest companies: The numbers are sort of made-up. For the most mature startups, investors agree to grant higher valuations, which help the companies with recruitment and building credibility, in exchange for guarantees that they'll get their money back first if the company goes public or sells. They can also negotiate to receive additional free shares if a subsequent round's valuation is less favorable. Interviews with more than a dozen founders, venture capitalists, and the attorneys who draw up investment contracts reveal the most common financial provisions used in private-market technology deals today.
The backroom agreements are becoming more common as tech companies stay private longer, according to the interviews and financial documents obtained by Bloomberg Business. The practice obfuscates the meaning of a valuation, which can become dangerous down the road because private investors aren't taking the same risks a public-market shareholder would. By the time a company does go public, the valuation it got from VCs may not align with its balance sheet. Just ask Box.
Some VCs defend the practice by saying valuations are just a placeholder number, part of an equation fueled by other, more important factors. Those can include market share, growth projections, and a founder's ego. The number is typically set by the company and negotiated alongside various provisions designed to protect a new backer's money. That often comes at the expense of employee shareholders and earlier investors, whose holdings are diluted to make room for new entrants. If you've seen the movie The Social Network, you have an idea of how that works.
"These big numbers almost don't matter," says Randy Komisar, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "Those numbers are just a middling shot at a valuation, and then it's adjusted later" through various legal techniques, if an earlier valuation was too high, he says.
For Uber to get to $40 billion or Airbnb to $20 billion, you'd need to get a little creative with the variables underlying that logic. Since private tech companies often lack earnings or enough historical data to inform projections—or, in the case of Snapchat, any significant revenue—investors can't rely on the metrics available for public companies.