Friday, June 28, 2013

Doink the Clown

Pro Wrestler Dies at 55 Ex-WWE star Doink the Clown -- a hugely popular wrestler in the '90s -- was found dead today in Texas. Doink, real name Matt Osborne, was known for pulling pranks on the other wrestlers ... all while decked out in full greasepaint and a green wig. Details about Doink's death are unclear at this point -- but his girlfriend reportedly found him dead in her home ... where he'd been staying lately. After leaving the WWE, he continued wrestling for ECW and independent leagues ... still sporting the clown costume. More recently, he's been attending wrestling conventions and doing autograph sessions with fans. Doink was 55. Read more:

The EyEs





How it Smell

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Google gooses Chrome with network speed-boost idea: 'QUIC' Trying to cut Net communication delays, Google has begun testing a new technology called QUIC that seeks to marry security, reliability, and performance. On the heels of its SPDY success for goosing Web communications standards, Google is tinkering with an even lower-level protocol with a project called QUIC. To see if the technology meets its potential without causing new problems, Google has built QUIC into developer versions of Chrome and enabled it for a fraction of users. The hope is that it will cut the round-trip time of the back-and-forth communications between computers on the Internet, according to a blog item posted Thursday by Google engineer Jim Roskind. "If we're able to identify clear performance wins, our hope is to collaborate with the rest of the community to develop the features and techniques of QUIC into network standards," Roskind said. SPDY is now well on its way to revising the HTTP standard, which governs how Web browsers communicate with the Web servers that house Web pages. Even Microsoft, an early skeptic, is on board with IE 11. Google has a powerful interest in a faster Internet. Lower delays mean Web pages and services respond faster, and that generally means people use the Internet more. That means, of course, that they use Google services more, especially search and its attendant search advertising. With a popular browser and popular Web sites, Google has the ability to run experiments that involve both ends of the network. Unlike SPDY, QUIC actually stands for something: Quick UDP Internet Connections. It offers an alternative to TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) one of the most fundamental parts of how data is transferred across the Internet. TCP's job is to make sure packets routed across the Internet really are delivered. It offers reliability, but at a price. Another fixture of Internet data transfer, UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is faster but doesn't offer TCP's error-checking reliability. QUIC is based on UDP but offers its own error-correction technology, Roskind said. Google couldn't build a whole new protocol, because network equipment on the Internet generally blocks any traffic that's not UDP or TCP, Google said. Thus, it recrafted UDP to get something that works on today's Internet. In addition, QUIC offers an encryption mechanism for security similar to the TLS standard used in encrypting Web site communications. Google built encryption into SPDY, too, something that caused indigestion for some companies running content delivery networks (CDNs) accustomed to serving as useful middlemen between origin servers and people's browsers. But Google believes it's necessary. "As we learned with SPDY and other protocols, if we don't encrypt the traffic, then middle boxes are guaranteed to (wittingly, or unwittingly) corrupt the transmissions when they try to 'helpfully' filter or 'improve' the traffic," Google's QUIC FAQ said.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung has expanded its Galaxy S4 family of products to appeal to niche markets, but consumers will likely find trade-offs in certain specifications and functionality in these devices. The company has been touting the expanded family of Galaxy S smartphones for a couple of months now. But earlier this week, at its event in London, Samsung specifically talked up the three new additions to its Galaxy S4 family of devices. The new devices are meant to address niche markets. But in tailoring the devices for specific audiences, Samsung has diluted some of the core specifications that make the Samsung Galaxy S4 one of the most advanced smartphones on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a camera first but also happens to be a smartphone. The device is designed to provide shutterbugs with a much improved camera that offers a 10x optical zoom. But when it comes to the phone part of the device, it's definitely no Samsung Galaxy S4. CNET UK's Andrew Hoyle, who took a look at the device at the London event, said "its 4.3-inch, 960×540-pixel display and 1.5GHz dual-core processor are much less impressive specs than the standard Galaxy S4." The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is designed as a rugged version of the Galaxy S4. It's water resistant up to a depth of 1 meter, according to the company, and it's also sand and dust-proof, suggesting it's a perfect device to take to the beach. And really it's one of the more advanced and high-end smartphones in this rugged category. But is it really a GS4? Well, the name certainly indicates that it is, but some of the specs that make the Galaxy S4 a true high-end smartphone are missing in this device. For example, while the GS4 sports an impressive AMOLED display that produces really great colors, the GS4 Active has a less expensive LCD screen, which isn't as colorful and simply doesn't look as vibrant as AMOLED. The camera has also been downgraded. Instead of a 13 megapixel camera, such as the one on the flagship GS4, the GS4 Active's camera is only 8 megapixels. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is being called the little brother of the Galaxy S4. It's specifically meant to be smaller and less expensive than the Galaxy S4. And to be clear, it's not really targeted at the U.S. market. It's really meant to extend the GS4 brand to markets where phones are not generally subsidized by carriers. At any rate, it should come as little surprise that the specs on the GS4 Mini also don't match those of the bigger GS4. While it does sport a Super AMOLED display, it comes with a slower 1.7GHz dual-core processor, only 8GB of internal memory, and an 8-megapixel camera. I am not at all suggesting that the specs on these phones are not good enough for many users. They certainly are. And many consumers might never notice the difference. But the fact is that while the phones sport the Samsung Galaxy S4 name, they may not be all that similar to the flagship Galaxy S4, which could confuse or disappoint some consumers. The question then becomes if this might present a problem for Samsung in the future and possibly dilute the high-end brand it has spent years and millions of dollars building. "Samsung has to maintain some core 'Galaxy S' attributes in each branded product," said Avi Greengart, a market research analyst with Current Analysis. "And Samsung has to continue investing in advertising for the flagship Galaxy S." But Greengart said he isn't too worried Samsung will falter much here. And he seems to think the newly added devices in the Galaxy S family are good enough. Still, he warns that Samsung must still push hard in marketing the high-end Galaxy S4. "As long as Samsung does that and makes a desirable flagship, I'm not that concerned about brand dilution," he said. Samsung's marketing approach has long been to develop tons of products at different price points and throw them into the market to see what catches on. But with the Galaxy S series, the company seemed to take a cue from Apple. Unlike Samsung and many other device makers, Apple has been very focused on selling one smartphone per year. And it takes a very one-size-fits-all approach. Customers looking for less-expensive devices can purchase last year's model, which is always discounted when a new version is introduced. For the past few years, Samsung has fashioned its Galaxy S strategy to look more like Apple's approach. This isn't to say Samsung abandoned churning out plenty of other smartphones during this period. And in fact, it has also done well building another major high-end smartphone product brand, the Galaxy Note series. But when it comes to the Galaxy S series of smartphones, consumers around the globe, and especially among the four major wireless operators in the U.S., have had access to a single flagship device. And like Apple, Samsung has introduced these flagship devices once a year: the Galaxy S, which launched in 2010; the Galaxy S2, which came out in 2011; the Galaxy S3, which debuted in 2012; and now the Galaxy S4, which was launched earlier this year. Samsung has seen a good deal of success with this approach. And for the most part, it's handsets have been the biggest alternative to Apple's iPhone. But now Samsung is expanding the brand and going after specific niche markets. This might make sense, given the increasing competition in the high-end smartphone market. But as I've described above, it will force consumers to make choices and even some compromises. For instance, if you want a rugged phone, such as the Galaxy S4 Active, to meet your very active lifestyle, you won't be able to get the top-of-the-line specifications you'd get in the flagship Galaxy S4. The same is true of the Galaxy S4 Zoom. There is no question the camera is far superior to the flagship Galaxy S4's camera, and probably to many other smartphone cameras that rely on digital zoom instead of optical zoom. But a sacrifice must be made in terms of other aspects of the device. Of course, the reason Samsung is likely skimping on some aspects of these niche market devices is because the advanced features included in the Active and Zoom raise the price of the device. And in order to compete with a bevy of new devices that are hitting the market now and in the coming months, Samsung must keep its costs down and appeal to a wider array of consumers. In fact, analysts say Samsung will likely downgrade its sales forecast for the flagship Galaxy S4 for this quarter. Earlier this month, an analyst from JPMorgan said sales of the GS4 were "20-30 percent lower" than the firm had previously expected. And now there's talk that Samsung is going to cut production of the device and retire the previous model, the Samsung Galaxy S3, in order to not cannibalize sales of the flagship. Right now it's hard to say whether the niche products with less advanced specifications will help Samsung or not as it competes with the mighty iPhone and other devices. The market is certainly different than it was a year ago, with competitors such as the HTC One, the new BlackBerry 10 devices, and Nokia's latest Windows Phone device all hitting the market in recent months. Perhaps Samsung's approach is the right one to take: selling a device for every consumer. But there's a risk that these devices are just creating a noise in the market. And they could confuse consumers. It will be interesting to see what type of reception the spin-off Galaxy S4 smartphones get in the market.