Google’s Modular Smartphone Gets Rockchip’s Latest Processor

Google  announced a partnership with Chinese System-on-Chip (SoC) manufacturer Rockchip, using its SoC in the latest prototype of its Project Ara modular smartphone.

The partnership with Rockchip is good news for enthusiasts of the modular phone concept. In order for the vision of an affordable and fully upgradable smartphone to become a reality, developers had to solve a problem that lies at the heart of the concept; the ability for the processor to work as a module rather than the underlying backbone of the device. This means that the new processor will not require any bridge chip and will operate as an independent module that can easily be replaced.

Rockchip’s new custom-made system-on-chip processor, set for release in early 2015, will use a UniPro interface that will allow it to run as an application processor in the modular design rather than serve as the hub for the entire device. Thus, the expected date of release initially set by Google for the project might be linked to the date of release of the chip.

Project Ara currently uses chips developed by Texas Instruments Incorporated and plans to start shipping its first-generation hardware to developers in the coming weeks.

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5 Things You Can Give To Your Boss On “Hug Your Boss Day”

Many of you might not have heard of “Hug Your Boss Day” because it is not an official holiday and the idea sprung up only a few years ago.

If you are an employee with a horrible boss, you might choose to ignore this day, but you should keep in mind that a happy boss can result in a better work environment for you and can also improve productivity.

If you love your boss, you can use this day to tell your boss how much you appreciate his mentorship and guidance. 
If you are a boss, you won’t be able to sit on your seat today, as you might be getting multitudes of hugs and words of appreciation today.

As an employee, you can give your boss a hug, and that is bound to make him/her a very happy person. But what if you or your boss has Haphephobia, a rare phobia that involves the fear of touching or being touched? And what if you love your boss so much that you think a hug would not be enough to tell him how great he is?

We have made a list of five gadgets that will add comfort and happiness to your boss’s office life and can show him how much you appreciate his efforts.

For The Boss’s Caffeine Needs

Brugo’s Coffee Mug

If your boss is a coffee addict, he is probably used to drinking coffee that is either too hot or too cold because his coffee drinking session was interrupted by an important phone call or a client meeting. Brugo solves this dilemma by making a thermodynamic mug with a cooling chamber that keeps coffee hot and cools it down at the same time. Are you thinking how? The Brugo mug has two sections, one which keeps coffee hot and one which cools it down. The coffee is stored in the chamber which keeps it hot by default. When you want to take a sip, just tilt it away and coffee amounting to a large sip will enter the cooling chamber. When it cools down to a drinkable temperature in 2-3 seconds, you can take a sip.

How it will increase productivity

If you think clearly, this mug can improve productivity in multiple ways. Firstly, your boss can roam around in the office more quickly as he won’t have to balance a mug filled with coffee to prevent the contents from falling. Secondly, he would find a lot more time to work, as he wouldn’t be nursing a burnt tongue or making trips to the kitchen to get a hot refill.

The Brugo Mug can be bought here for $19.95.

For Your Boss’s Work Needs

Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen

What if, on this day, you give him something that will help him write smoothly and act as a digital assistant that records everything he says? Well, the LiveScribe Echo Smart can enable him to do that. The pen can come in handy when your boss is taking down notes, and can also help when he is checking the report that you submitted and makes a mental note to tell you to confirm a fact.

The pen combines the beauty of traditional note-taking and writing with the power of digital. But it does have a downside: it only works with Live Scribe Special Notebooks that look and feel like normal notebooks with a play/pause button. All your boss has to do is to tap the record button with his pen when he starts writing, and the pen will start recording. The 2GB memory enables the pen to store 200 hours of audio recording and with the addition of wi-fi, the notes get stored in an Evernote account automatically. This ensures that all your boss’s great ideas and notes are never lost. The pen can also be connected to earphones to ensure that even the faintest voices are audible to your boss.

How it will improve productivity

The Live Scribe Pen ensures that all your boss’s ideas get executed. It would also save his time as he wouldn’t have to try to remember what happened two hours ago. If your boss has a habit of taking notes while speaking to someone, his notes would not have anything missing as he can just use his pen to check if he hasn’t missed out on anything. At the end of the day, your boss will be a lot more organized with a really cool pen in his pocket.

You can buy it here for prices starting at $119.95.

Much of the time your boss spends in the office is devoted to typing on the keyboard. With the introduction of wireless keyboards, your boss can relax as he leans back on his chair, keeps the keyboard in his lap, and types away. But wireless keyboards run on batteries that run out pretty quickly. What if you give your boss a keyboard that runs for months without the need for a recharge? If you are willing to do that, then you should go for the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard. With solar panels that can recharge from natural as well as artificial light, Logitech claims that the battery can last for three months, even with no light. Even if the claim seems too ambitious, two months without charging is huge. Add to it the sleek design and the ergonomic keyboard, this device is bound to improve your boss’s work experience.

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5 Apps To Make Your Life Easier

1. Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a wonderful receipt tracker app that will put an end to panic attacks at month-ends. The app is released by the company of the same name, developed by co-founders, Taylor Mingos and Tobias Walter. It is great for all businessmen/women out there who find it difficult to keep a track of receipts on-the-go. The user simply uses the app to scan the receipt and the app automatically organizes all the information into usable data. It also prepares reports which only need to be exported and sent. Can life get any easier?

Cost: Starting from $9.95

Compatibility: Android, iOS, and Web.

2. PocketLock

Pocketlock is a wonderful app by William X which renders the power button useless; it’s about time phone-locking in smartphones became smarter as well. No more awkward button pressing – PocketLock is an app which locks and unlocks your phone as per need. This app makes the phone ready to use without the user worrying about first unlocking the phone and then continuing with a task.

The app has three different locking modes; namely, proximity sensor, gravity sensor, and lastly a combination of both. Put your phone inside your pocket and it locks, take it out and it unlocks. Put your phone face down and it locks. One can even use hand gestures to lock and unlock the phone. Never before were phones so obedient!

Cost: FREE

Compatibility: Android.

3. Next Deadline

For all those procrastinators out there, Next Deadline is an app that can easily become their best friend, or worst nightmare. This app, developed by Liat Zeldes, helps you increase your productivity by prioritizing your workload according to when it is due.

Basically, it stores all the information about ongoing tasks and commands the user to perform them according to a timeline. It reminds you of the task and the time remaining before the deadline so that you perform better (or feel the apprehension of a ticking time-bomb). No more slacking!

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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S: Ice Bucket Challenge Hits Technology Products

During the past few weeks, not a day has gone by without a news update on a “viral stunt” known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Designed to raise awareness and money for the ALS disease, this challenge has increasingly been undertaken by celebrities from all walks of life and it was about time that Tech giants made an appearance on the scene.

SAMSUNG ELECT LTD released a commercial on Friday in which it made its water-resistant Galaxy S5 take the Ice Bucket Challenge (which was described by the phone’s S-voice digital assistance as “freezing.”) Samsung is known for flaunting the water-proof qualities of its Galaxy S5 as opposed to the iPhone and subsequently posed the challenge to its other competitors like Apple Inc. (for its iPhone 5S), Nokia Corporation (for its Lumia 930) and HTC Corp(2498.TW) (for its One M8). Samsung has smartly kept the waterproof Xperia Z2 out of its nominee list.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was amongst the first ones to take up this challenge along with other big names like Microsoft Corporation CEO Satya Nadella, its founder Bill Gates, and even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It would not be surprising to see Apple responding to Samsung’s challenge soon. Samsung’s donation – the amount of which has not been disclosed by the company – will go to the British Motor Neurone Disease Association charity.

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6 Trends Seen From Emmy Nominations 2014

The 66th Primetime Emmys air tomorrow on Comcast Corporation’s (CMCSA) NBC, the moment which we all had been waiting for! We’re biased in our predictions about who’ll win this year, but observing this year’s nominations and keeping the previous ones in mind, we have safely deduced that the Emmy voters will never get it right. Year after year the same names keep coming up for nominations which make it seem like we’re reading the same book over and over again. The torrential flow of nominations exposed a few powerful lessons about the Emmy’s process which we’ll help you explore in this article.

The Emmy’s Drool Over Movie Celebrities

Seems like an Emmy nomination is powerful enough to lure every other movie celebrity to perform on the small screen. Oscar-winning actors line up to try their shot at television, thus thwarting the chances of budding television actors to even get a nomination. In 2014, 83% of those nominated for the “Outstanding Supporting Actors in a Drama Series” have acted in movies; a similar trend seen in other categories as well confirms the fact that movie actors have a greater chance of making it to the nomination list. Movie superstars such as Mark Ruffalo, Angela Bassett, Kevin Spacey, and Matthew McConaughey have been nominated in various categories. Apart from hitting a few powerful scenes in her miniseries, “The Normal Heart”, Julia Roberts didn’t manage to stun the viewers. Jane Fonda, as a guest actor in The Newsroom, did a fairly good job but the disastrous show ends up wasting her tremendous potential. The movie celebrities already have their Oscars and we at Bidness Etc observe that now (quite unfairly if you ask us) they are also encroaching on the awards that are for the celebration of television celebrities.

Recognition Of High-Quality New Series

Despite the Emmy’s nominations being the same year after year, the new entries that have squeezed their way through are from high-quality shows that are relatively new. True Detective serves as a classic example for this where it earned a nomination as “Best Drama Series” competing with recognized and highly popular shows such as Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones. The “Best Comedy Series” nominations also included 2 new shows: Orange is the New Black, and Silicon Valley. Thus this year, the Emmys tried to break through its stereotypical image of siding with the same shows every year.

Too Much Drama!

This year, another noticeable trend is that with the excess of new drama shows, it’s really hard to even get nominated for this category. Thus it didn’t come as a surprise that Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Mad Men made it to the list of “Best Drama Series” running for the Emmys; however, it was surprising that it also welcomed the new kid on the block, True Detective. This show’s entry for the category is highly contentious as it’s deemed more suitable to be classified as a miniseries. However, as per HBO’s discretion, it was submitted as a drama and the voters responded to it accordingly. Fans of Orphan Black, The Walking Dead, and Homeland weep tears of sorrow as the Emmys overlooked these shows.

Lack Of Diversity

Ellen Pompeo criticized last year’s Emmys awards saying that “I didn’t see any diversity in the Emmys at all. The Emmys felt so dated to me…That dance number was embarrassing. Did you see one person of color in that dance number?”

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Burning Man: How Technology Is Impacting The Festival

Burning Man, the one-of-its-kind community experience that promotes human expression is back this year at the Nevada desert and is expected to be attended by around 70,000 adventurers and techies. Different researchers and experts perceive the event in a different light.  According to New York Times, the event “has been the annual getaway for a new crop of millionaire and billionaire technology moguls, many of whom are one-upping one another in a secret game of I-can-spend-more-money-than-you-can and, some say, ruining it for everyone else.”  Has the inclusion of tech geeks and big names from this arena affected the festivals main purpose? Bidness Etc presents you an analysis.

Before analyzing the event, it is better to get familiar with its rules. At Burning Man, the participants enter the arena with items necessary for a living: a tent to sleep in, food to eat and bare minimum items of clothing. Access to internet or cell reception is denied and participants are only allowed to buy coffee and ice. Selling things is disallowed and Burners (as the participants are called) just give things away to each other.

The dynamics of the event has evolved overtime. During the previous years, the likes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google) brought fame to the event. However, recently the younger lot from the tech world have been the highlight of the show. This includes Facebook Inc’s  Mark Zuckerberg along with popular names from Twitter Inc and Uber, trying to blend in with the usual crowd at the event.

According to TechCrunch, investors and venture capitalists have seen this event as a rare opportunity to meet like-minded people and strike up profitable deals later. Moreover, the event is an exceptional platform for people to get inspired and share their creativity, artwork, and a few drinks over some classic music. They can come up with new inventions and creations in this regulation-free environment. It can be correctly compared to Google Inc’s “20% time” management phenomenon which allows its employees to use 20% of their time in developing and coming up with new innovations and trying out new strategies.

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Video Games Developers: Ignore Female Gamers At Your Own Peril

Heads up male gamers, you have competition! According to a recent report compiled by gaming industry trade group, Entertainment Software Association, up to 48% of the total number of people who play games in America are female. The argument that mobile gaming has been a driving factor behind women making up nearly half the gaming population, can be easily countered by the notion that women account for nearly a third of the users who indulge in PC and console-based games.

Despite the statistics, which are sure to continue their positive trajectory, and despite rising numbers of female attendees at Gamescom, a prolific annual trade exhibition for digital gamers, astonishingly only 15% games have playable female characters. However, that may all soon change as video and mobile games developers are beginning to notice the increasing female interest in an industry expected to generate a whopping $100 billion in sales this year. Even French multinational, Ubisoft Entertainment SA (UBI), one of the world’s largest developers of video games, couldn’t escape the backlash from gamers after their announcement earlier this year that it had gotten rid of the option that allowed players to play as female characters, in its upcoming Assassins Creed Unity Game. The severe reaction from the gaming community forced the company to introduce a non-playing female character, a Templar warrior by the name of Elise, with additional promises that future titles coming from them would feature a more diverse range of characters, though no specific details were shared. Fredrik Rundqvist, a games developer at the company, was quoted as saying, “We see a big and fast increase in female players, over all genres.”

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‘Swing Copters’: The New Game From The ‘Flappy Bird’ Developer Is Out Now

Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen’s “Flappy Bird” gained so much popularity that it went on to earn around $50,000 a day. The brains behind that game has developed yet another game named “Swing Copters” which goes live today. The game is available for free for iOS and Android devices, with an option to purchase it for $0.99 for its ad-free version.

Swing Copters looks extremely similar to its predecessor, Flappy Bird. The game requires moving a man wearing a propeller hat, left and right (instead of up and down in the previous game) in order to save him from swinging hammers (the obstacles are no more stationary in the new game) as he makes his way upwards, scoring a point per obstacle. According to iOS gaming site, Touch Arcade, which got to play the game before its roll out, the new game is “even more brutally difficult.”

The news of this new game coming out is extremely surprising especially since Dong himself got his previous game, Flappy Bird, removed from the Apple and Android stores in February 2014. The reason cited by Dong for this removal was that could not take all the criticism and attention surrounding the game anymore and also because the game was “highly addictive.” He thereby decided to get it deleted despite the game being downloaded more than 50 million times by various users. Dong even received death threats after announcing his decision.

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Thanks To Tom Hanks’ App, The Typewriter Makes A Comeback

Tom Hanks – The name alone is more than enough to guarantee a movie’s success and attract millions of people to cinemas and cineplexes. It seems like the Academy Award-winning actor has applied the same philosophy to his app – Hanx Writer – because as of now, the app is ruling Apple’s iTunes App Store’s in the “overall” and “Productivity” sections. Besides this typewrite app for iPad being ranked as the number one iPad app in the US, it ranks second in same categories in the UK. The app is free to download, but has a paid version as well.

To the delight of every hipster and other old-school people, Hanx Writer replicates the pleasure of typing on a typewriter without having to physically type on a typewriter. The idea for the app seems to have come from Hanks himself, who said in a New York Times opinion piece – titled “I am TOM. I like to TYPE. Hear that?” – last year that he had been a typewriter collector since 1978. The beloved star of movies such as Forrest Gump, Turner & Hooch, Castaway, and Saving Private Ryan confessed his love for the machine during a Twitter Q&A session with the iTunes App Store and said, “I wanted to have the sensation of an old manual typewriter - I wanted the sound of typing if nothing else cause I find it’s like music that spurs along the creative urge. Bang bang clack-clack-clack puckapuckapuckapucka… I wanted the ‘report’ of each letter, each line.”

The app does a very good job of replicating the sensation of typing on a typewriter and also offers modern features like the ability to delete or correct a mistake without having to use white tape or a correction fluid such as White-Out. Apart from the typical clickety-clack sound, you also get to hear the typical ding sound upon reaching the end of a line which was kind of a trademark sound that typewriters made back when they were in use. Furthermore, after you are doing typing on an old-fashioned typewriter on your iPad or iPhone, you can show-off your inner hipster to your friends by emailing them the document.