Xbox 360 Sky Player down, relaunching ‘in phases’ today

via Joystiq [Xbox] by JC Fletcher on 10/28/09

While the Xbox 360 Sky Player apparently launched in the UK yesterday as planned, things veered away from the plan almost immediately thereafter. The service was “suspended” shortly after launch, for what must be the best possible problem in Microsoft’s eyes: too many subscribers.

“Unfortunately due to the unprecedented levels of simultaneous demand,” a statement on Xbox.com reads, “we did not have the capacity to satisfy all service requests and therefore temporarily suspended all access to the service.” The service is being reinstated in phases today, presumably with some upgrades in place to deal with the demand. An earlier statement (reproduced on Engadget) specified tomorrow as the target date for the relaunch — it seems likely that all users will be returned to their regularly scheduled programming then.

Map of Connectedness reveals world’s most remote places

via DVICE Atom Feed by Charlie White on 10/26/09

Map of Connectedness reveals world's most remote places

Physical distance used to dictate how remote a place was, but no longer. Now that there are airlines reaching around the globe, bullet trains, Autobahn-like superhighways and go-fast boats, the remoteness of the location is measured by how good the transportation is between here and there. In the map above, the darker a location is, the harder it is to get there.

Created by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center in Italy and the World Bank, the map started out as a model based on how long it would take to travel from each point to a city with a population of 50,000.

Just be happy you’re not in Tibet, the most remote place in the world — you’ll travel three weeks to get to a city of any decent size, including 20 days on foot. And we thought the Midwest was in the boondocks.

New Scientist, via Fast Company

AT&T Wants All Its Smartphones Running the Same OS, Eventually

via Gizmodo by John Herrman on 12/5/08

AT&T plans to run a single mobile OS on all of its branded smartphones, citing the “support nightmare” of maintaining multiple platforms at once. Curiously, this announcement was made at a Symbian conference.

It’s not entirely clear what AT&T means by this announcement, but one question was addressed right off the bat: the iPhone, which the company described as “a third-party device” that generally isn’t supported or interfered with by the company, is immune. Such a consolidation would push all but one of Microsoft, RIM, Nokia or even Google out of AT&T’s stable, which might be construed as brash.

Even more bizarre are the implicit expectations for phone manufacturers. Would RIM, assuming their phones aren’t deemed “third party products”, be expected to adopt a new OS? Will Nokia phones be excluded from AT&T’s lineup unless they run Windows Mobile? Simultaneously stating that the plan would only include AT&T branded smartphones (of which there are few) and that it would be a “dramatic restructuring”, the company has left the scope of this initiative a mystery.

As for which OS would be chosen, the location of the announcement and mentions of a preference for an “open” platform are all we have to go on. I could imagine these statements raising a few eyebrows around the industry, so don’t be surprised to see some kind of clarification issued in the next few days.

[Yahoo]

Japan’s Kizuna Satellite to Beam Souped Up Internet Connection Back Home

via Gizmodo by Haroon Malik on 2/24/08

Kizuna%20Launch%20GI.jpgJapan is launching the Kizuna satellite, which will bring high-speed internet access to Japan’s remote territories and neighboring countries, as well as providing continuous networking in case of emergency. The $342 million project, spearheaded by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is expected to culminate in internet connections reaching speeds of 1.2Gbps, dwarfing current ADSL connections that typically allow data transfer to occur at below 8 Mbps. Users will need to install an antenna to be able to receive a signal, but for those speeds, I’d be willing to trade in a pound of my very own flesh.

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Kizuna is expected to go live in July following a setup process once it is in position, but a speed boost is not the only aim of the game. Having a satellite in space means natural disasters on Earth are not going to have any ramifications on the country’s connectivity, which can be imperative in disaster zones. If all should go well, expect such an infrastructure to hit the mainstream. Does that mean everyone will have a 1.2Gbps connection? Will outages become a thing of the past? Does Simba eventually become a good leader? The answers come in July, when the service rolls out.

[JAXA via Yahoo News; AP]

Introducing the Nokia 2600 Classic and 1209, for the budget minded

via IntoMobile by Stefan Constantinescu on 1/22/08

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Phones for countries with developing economies are of interest to me only because it is fun to see the progress of what $100 will get you in terms of specifications. Take the Nokia 2600 Classic for instance: dual band GSM with GPRS support, S40 operating system, VGA camera, Bluetooth, FM Radio, email, MP3 ringtones, 128 x 160 resolution screen with 65,000 colors and is coming out in Q1 for 65 Euros. Three years ago that was top of the line and it was called the Nokia 6600. Will the N95 be 65 Euros in 2011?

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The other device (above) is the Nokia 1209. Running the dated S30 operating system it too is only dual band, has a 96×68 pixel screen, yet still manages to display 65,000 colors; end of the spec sheet, this is hyper low end. It is coming out in Q2 for 35 Euros.

[Via: Nokia PR]

Brazil ended last year with 121 million mobile phone owners

via IntoMobile by dusanb on 1/22/08

It may not have a population larger than a billion of people like India or China, but Brazil keeps growing like crazy nevertheless. At the end of 2007, 121 million Brazilians owned a mobile phone, 21.1 million or 21% more from 2006.

Brazil flagAccording to the country’s telecommunications regulator Anatel, net additions in December were a record 4.7 million, reflecting intense promotional activity in the pre-Christmas period.

Brazil’s main operator, Vivo Participacoes — which is jointly owned by Spain’s Telefonica and Portugal Telecom — ended the year with 27.7% of the local market, while Telecom Italia’s TIM Participacoes and Mexico’s America Movil owned Claro held 25.8% and 25% of the market respectively.

[Via: CellularNews]

$400 Ooma Gives You Free VOIP and Landline Calls for Life

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Companies such as Vonage had better look to their laurels, as new kid on the block Ooma is looking to steal their thunder with a product that offers VOIP calls – but with a twist. From September, you will be able to get your hands on the Ooma, a hub that combines VOIP with regular landlines. But you have to shell out a lot of dosh first…

And that’s $400 – or $399, to be exact. This is what happens. You buy your Ooma Hub and connect it. It gives you free internet calls, but also works with your existing landline. If you have to dial 911 it does so on your landline (VOIP apparently can have problems connecting to the emergency number). International calls are automatically routed through the internet – which means they are gratis.

There are other benefits as well: Ooma gives you a virtual second line, meaning that if another call comes in while you are already on the phone, your butler/gimp/special friend/warthog can answer it from another extension. It comes with a built-in answering machine, and you can check your messages and call logs online. So, kind of like Skype, but not Skype.

WSJ’s Mossberg has just had a go on one and gave it the Walt thumbs-up, with just one niggle: he had a bit of trouble with incoming calls until he connected to another jack.

The Ooma comes out in September but until then they’re making it rather exclusive – rather like the launch of gmail. Over the summer, 1500 lucky people will be getting freebies, as well as three Ooma tokens to give out to their friends so that they can pick up a hub for free. Lucky them. [Wall Street Journal]

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Who won’t be getting the iPhone?

To find out that the Apple iPhone (heard of it?) would roll out locked to Cingular on a multi-year exclusivity agreement was difficult enough for some folks to swallow. Imagine, then, the pain and suffering that’ll be experienced by those in areas that Cingular has forsaken. Case in point: the Burlington Free Press has noted that Cingular offers not a sliver of coverage in the quaint state of Vermont, leaving well over half a million good citizens (Ben and Jerry included, we reckon) without their fix. While our initial instinct might be to buy the phone elsewhere and just roam ’til the cows come home (literally — this is Vermont, after all), Cingular policy states that a customer’s address must lie in a directly covered area — and even for the few that manage to skate by that one, the carrier’s known for canceling accounts that roam excessively. Of course, Cingular points out that eager buyers are more than welcome to buy it contract-free without activating an account, but there’s not a lot of fun in that; meanwhile, Apple’s staying mum on the subject, perhaps for fear of further agitating hundreds of thousands of irate Vermonters. And the problem is by no means limited to Vermont: residents of large parts of Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Arizona, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado (among other states) might find that Apple has passed them over come June, unless Cingular goes into turbo mode lighting up new service areas. Anyone out there willing to move for a cellphone?

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FCC to Comcast: Get Moving on CableCARD

The FCC has told cable companies to get moving in supporting CableCARD technology, rejecting a bid Wednesday by Comcast to receive more time to implement the platform in set-top boxes it provides by July.

Speaking at CES in Las Vegas, chairman Kevin Martin chastised the cable industry for dragging its feet in offering the technology, and said its advent would lead to new options for consumers in viewing cable television.

Instead of renting boxes from the cable providers, long a cash cow for companies like Comcast, devices would be able to be shipped from the factory “cable ready” for today’s digital cable networks. Additionally, boxes would be able to be sold at retail.

Comcast has vowed to appeal the decision. The company says the FCC policy carries no benefit for consumers, and may cause rates to increase as much as $2 to $3 per month. While smaller operators would have more time to comply, the bigger providers would be required to comply by the July deadline.

The technology is more than a decade late. Congress passed laws in the mid-1990s saying that cable companies were to come up with technology that would allow consumers to plug cable lines directly into televisions to receive advanced services.

However, the cable industry won repeated delays, and only in the past few years has CableCARD technology been offered as a solution. While the first implementation did not support the advanced features, newer versions do.