Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address (Live Streaming, Video, Excerpts)

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress today.

Surge Desk has a live feed of the proceedings, which will be followed by an official response delivered by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, and an unofficial tea party rejoinder given by Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Coverage of the speech begins at 8 p.m. EST, and the president is scheduled to begin speaking approximately an hour later.

Watch here...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Breaking News: Snow Emergency Declared in New York, Boston

Snow emergency declared in Boston.
New York City declares weather emergency in advance of expected snowstorm - NY Times.

Source: via Twitter (@BreakingNews)

Should you buy a Verizon iPhone? Where to buy? Your questions answered

The Verizon iPhone has finally become a reality thanks to years' worth of collaboration between Apple and the "nation's most reliable network." We—and everyone else on the Internet—have been flooded with questions about the new and improved iPhone, Verizon's network, how the details compare to AT&T's version of the hardware, and more. Here, we answer many of the questions we've heard people asking and try to address the nuances behind the main question on users' minds: should I switch?

When can I get it and how much!?

Verizon is taking preorders starting on February 3, and the phone will be available in Apple and Verizon retail stores on February 10. The 16GB device will cost $199 with a two-year contract and the 32GB will cost $299 with contract, though Verizon says that customers will be able to buy an unsubsidized iPhone with no contract as well. To our knowledge, the company has not said how much a contract-free phone will cost.

Does this mean I can take my current iPhone to Verizon now without having to buy a new one?

No. If you want to switch carriers and you already have an iPhone, you'll have to buy a new one that works on Verizon's network. Verizon uses CDMA while all previous iPhones manufactured up until this point (whether from the US, Canada, Europe, or even Asia) come equipped with GSM capabilities, and the two technologies don't mix.

If you're desperate to join the Verizon clan, what you can do is sync your AT&T iPhone with iTunes before ditching it in the gutter, then restoring your shiny new Verizon iPhone from the backup. Then, at the very least, your settings and apps will all be the same (you can sync your previously downloaded apps back to your new iPhone even if you don't restore it from backup, too). If all you're doing is switching from one iPhone to another, you won't have to pay twice to buy your apps again, even if the phones are on different networks.

What are the speed differences between Verizon's 3G network and AT&T's 3G network?

The AT&T iPhone currently makes use of High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) on AT&T's GSM network, which offers a theoretical maximum of 14Mbps for downloads. Verizon's CDMA network uses EVDO Rev. A, which offers a theoretical maximum of 3Mbps for downloads, and it makes sense that the CDMA iPhone will support those speeds.

Of course, the speeds that you will get will depend highly upon where you are, what time of day it is, how many other people are currently using the network, how much interference there is from buildings and other radio waves, and so on. It's perfectly possible that the Verizon iPhone will bring data to a specific user faster than an AT&T iPhone in that same situation. But if we're talking about theoretical speeds here, AT&T's "3G" network currently wins out over Verizon's.

If and when Verizon and Apple finally roll out a 4G/LTE version of the iPhone, Verizon customers will have to buy a new one if they want to take advantage of the faster network Verizon switched on last month. Then again, so will AT&T's customers when AT&T's LTE network is up and running later this year).

Which phone is better for traveling overseas?

Generally speaking, CDMA is a technology that isn't very widespread outside of the US and China. (China, like the US, has relatively large networks that operate on both CDMA and GSM.) Sure, the technology exists outside of the US and China, as evidenced by a chart (PDF) created by RCR Wireless, but most Europeans will flat out express shock that CDMA is even still alive in the US since it's so rare (if not completely nonexistent) in European countries. If you're a frequent traveler to Europe and want to keep using your own iPhone, it's a wise decision to go with a GSM iPhone instead and eschew the Verizon contract.

Is the hardware the same as what's available through AT&T?

Verizon model on top, AT&T on the bottom

Aside from the CDMA/GSM technology difference, the answer is "mostly." The phone you get through Verizon is still considered an iPhone 4, just like AT&T's offering. The only differences are that the newer phones appear to have some antenna design changes, as evidenced by our picture post following the Verizon event, plus the volume controls have been shifted slightly. Beware of that last point, though—there are numerous iPhone 4 cases that are currently designed for the original (AT&T) iPhone 4, and the volume openings aren't likely to line up with the Verizon model.

Does last year's "antennagate" affect the Verizon iPhone?

This is largely subjective, but according to our early tests, the answer is "no." While we could easily create some signal attenuation using our hands on the original AT&T iPhone 4 (even after the software update that "fixed" the problem), this was not the case when we used the same death grip on the Verizon iPhone 4. Several readers e-mailed in to note that newer iPhone 4s bought from AT&T also have the antenna fix that the Verizon iPhones are seen with, so hopefully this is a problem of the past for all but the original iPhone 4 users.

What about the next-generation iPhone?

If Apple sticks to its yearly release schedule that it has used since the iPhone first came out in 2007, we can expect an even newer version of the iPhone to come out in the summer of 2011. Apple has not confirmed this by a long shot and plans can change at any time, but the company has been extremely predictable on this front for several years now. So, assuming an iPhone 5 will be released on AT&T this summer, we here at Ars would expect it to also be released for Verizon around the same time period. If you're unsure about the current hardware on either carrier, we'd tell you to wait.

I don't get it: who cares about being able to use data and voice at the same time?

This is obviously a personal usage scenario, and many people who already use Verizon seem to have no problem with this limitation. There are some ways in which this roadblock can get annoying, though. For one, Verizon execs confirmed that the iPhone won't be able to get push notifications while you're on a call, so even if you're not surfing the Web, nothing that uses data will be able to notify you of anything until you hang up.

Secondly, the voice calls will interrupt anything you're doing over the data connection. So, if you happen to be downloading an app or using Verizon's personal hotspot feature to share the 3G connection over WiFi, receiving a phone call will mean that you'll have to choose between interrupting everyone's WiFi connections or simply ignoring the call.

These things may or may not be a dealbreaker for you, but they're important to keep in mind.

How much will the plans cost?

Verizon hasn't yet announced what kind of voice and data plans it will offer to go along with its version of the iPhone, so we'll have to wait until February before knowing the true numbers. However, looking at Verizon's current plan model for other smartphones, they are very comparable to AT&T's. Macworld has a handy post full of comparison charts, but the key points here are that individual voice plans cost about the same, family voice plans are slightly cheaper at AT&T, and text messaging plans are sort of touch and go depending on what you're looking for.

Verizon's data plans are currently different from AT&T's—Verizon offers a 150MB plan for $15 per month while AT&T offers 200MB for the same price, but Verizon still has an unlimited plan for $30 while AT&T's $25 plan is for 2GB of monthly data. Verizon has spoken in the past about how it wants to move to a tiered model similar to AT&T's, so there's no telling what might change in the near (or far) future.


The Verizon iPhone 4 Is Here

It's confirmed. The iPhone 4 is coming to Verizon. Starting at $200 for the 16GB version, with a new antenna and a hotspot application that would allow you to connect your computer or any other device to the internet.


Verizon CDMA iPhone Launching on 1.11.11?

The latest scoop is emanating from Wall Street Journal, confirming the Verizon iPhone release date to be 11th January, 2011. Interestingly, Verizon Wireless is holding a special event in New York, at Lincoln Center scheduled at 11:00 AM. Lowell McAdam, President and COO of Verizon Wireless will be addressing the event. Well, there are reports that Gizmodo has not been invited, which confirm that CDMA iPhone 4 will be launched.


CNN News Update: Facebook NOT shutting down March 15

There's a silly rumor exploding on the Internet this weekend, alleging that Facebook is shutting down on March 15 because CEO Mark Zuckerberg "wants his old life back," and desires to "put an end to all the madness."

We have official confirmation from Facebook Director of Corporate Communications Larry Yu that the rumor is false.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Official Confirmation: Facebook Says It’s NOT Shutting Down March 15 [UPDATED]

We have official confirmation from Facebook Director of Corporate Communications Larry Yu that the rumor is false. We asked him via e-mail if Facebook () was shutting down on March 15, to which he responded, “The answer is no, so please help us put an end to this silliness.” He added, “We didn’t get the memo about shutting down and there’s lots to do, so we’ll just keep cranking away like always.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. Would Facebook decide to shut down the company just a few days after announcing a round of funding, consisting of $450 million from Goldman Sachs and $50 million from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies, on a valuation of $50 billion?


Saturday, January 8, 2011

FALSE RUMOR: Facebook Shutting Down on March 15

Attention Facebook and Twitter users:

The "news" that Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will shut down on March 15 because he finds running the company "too stressful" is false.

I repeat, false.

It's a rumor based on a fictitious, satirical story published on WeeklyWorldNews.com, a tabloid-style website (formerly a weekly newspaper) best known for such past scoops as "Alien Spaceships to Attack Earth in 2011" and "Megan Fox Is a Man."

It isn't news. It barely even qualifies as a rumor.

Pass that on.


Is facebook shutting down (ending) on March 15?

Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will be shut down in March. Managing the site has become too stressful.

“Facebook has gotten out of control,” said Zuckerberg in a press conference outside his Palo Alto office, “and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness.”

Zuckerberg went on to explain that starting March 15th, users will no longer be able to access their Facebook accounts.

“After March 15th the whole website shuts down,” said Avrat Humarthi, Vice President of Technical Affairs at Facebook. “So if you ever want to see your pictures again, I recommend you take them off the internet. You won’t be able to get them back once Facebook goes out of business.”

Zuckerberg said that the decision to shut down Facebook was difficult, but that he does not think people will be upset.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Major 7.1-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile — A magnitude-7.1 earthquake shook southern Chile on Sunday, prompting tens of thousands to flee the coast for higher ground amid fears it could generate a tsunami like the one that ravaged the area last year.

There were no reports of deaths or damage, and Vicente Nunez, head of the National Emergency Office, said no tsunami alert was issued.

"There has been no harm to people, no harm to property," Nunez said. "We will continue monitoring."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii also said a destructive Pacific Ocean-wide tsunami was not expected.