AT&T denies ‘vacation blackout’ rumors

Reports emerged over the weekend about AT&T forcing its employees into a Sept. 21 to Sept. 30 “Vacation Blackout”.

According to an AT&T sales rep, AT&T staff has been given a vacation blackout from September 21 to September 30, just like Verizon employees. Our source also mentioned that blue carrier employees are undergoing training for an “iconic release.”

“Not true!” we’ve heard. We reached out to AT&T to see what it had to say regarding the above. An AT&T spokesperson told us this morning that there is no company-wide vacation blackout for the end of September.

We also talked to AT&T reps at other stores who implied more people are being put on duty, depending on staffing levels of that particular store, but there is no “blackout.” One New York employee will even sit out the first week of the iPhone launch due to a long-planned vacation.

TechCrunch sourced one rep from a single AT&T store, which may have its own little under-staffed blackout, but, as we heard, the policy is not nationwide.

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Which iPhone carrier has the fastest network in your area? AT&T, Verizon, & Sprint get accurate comparison by city

The argument over which carrier has the fastest network speed in any given location in the United States is still up for debate. Putting network speed comparisons aside, which are often not an accurate representation of speeds, you will receive in your specific area, a new app from startup SwayMarkets aims to provide a more realistic comparison.

The app, CarrierCompare, allows users to test the network speed of their current carrier against the two other major iPhone providers. CNNMoney went hands-on when the app released last month and just posted the user data it obtained that compares major iPhone carriers in multiple locations.

Analyzing user-generated data from Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, these were the results:

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Sotheby’s to auction 1 of 6 working Apple I’s and rare Steve Jobs memo

Sotheby’s plans to auction two pieces of Apple history on June 15 in New York, including a rare document penned by Steve Jobs while working at Atari and an operational Apple I motherboard expected to fetch up to $180,000 USD. An excerpt from Sotheby’s description for the Apple I lot is below, and it claims less than six Apple I’s in working condition are known to exist:

As the first ready-made personal computer, the Apple I signaled a new age in which computing became accessible to the masses. The interface of circuitry and software that Woz created enabled users to type letters with “a human-typable keyboard instead of a stupid, cryptic front panel with a bunch of lights and switches,” as he explained to the Homebrew Computer Club. Even so, it was sold without a keyboard, monitor, case, or power supply, An exceptionally rare, working example with original Apple cassette interface, operation manuals and a rare BASIC Users’ Manual. It is thought that fewer than 50 Apple I Computers survive, with only 6 known to be in working condition. Read more

Western Digital begins shipment of their Thunderbolt Duo Drives (WDBUPB0040JSL-NESN and WDBUPB0060JSL-NESN)

We first profiled the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo at CES in January and noted the extraordinary speed of the drives, especially when daisy chained (above find 780MB/s read, 600+MB/s write). Today, Macrumors notes that Western Digital is making the drives available for $599 (4TB) and $699 (6TB).  While those prices are steep, they fall in line with new Thunderbolt parts across the line.

We’ve reviewed the much slower Firewire/USB Western Digital Studio 6TB drives and came away impressed. Those retail for around $430 currently ($270 less than the Thunderbolt version) but use energy efficient (read: slower) internal drives and slower Firewire 800 connectivity options.

Notably B&H Photo and Video is selling the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo already with $50 discounts (6TB – $649, 4TB- $549) and tax only in New York but without solid shipping dates. Read more

Apple acknowledges use of Corning Gorilla Glass on iPhone, means Gorilla Glass 2 likely for iPhone 5

Apple’s relationship with Corning has always remained shrouded in mystery. The relationship started famously when Steve Jobs visited Corning Headquarters in 2006 and told CEO Wendell Weeks not to be afraid to make the stuff.  Corning however never made it into Apple marketing material after that and even isn’t included in Apple’s supplier lists (PDF).

That and Apple’s reliance on Asian parts materials makers had led some to believe that Apple had gone to Asian glass manufacturers for their iPhone production.

In the New York Times’ iEconomy series, Corning is said to have shifted its glass manufacturing to China.

“Our customers are in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China,” said James B. Flaws, Corning’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.”

However, today, Apple released its US Jobs report which included the following info:

Corning employees in Kentucky and New York who create the majority of the glass for iPhone,..

What’s the takeaway? Read more

Inkling takes on iBooks Author with ‘Habitat’ professional publishing platform

Less than a month after Apple introduced its free “iBooks Author” e-book publishing platform, interactive iPad textbook startup Inkling introduced its own publishing platform called “Habitat.” Founder and CEO Matt MacInnis, who also happens to be a former senior manager of international education markets and Asia education marketing at Apple, made the announcement today in New York at the “Tools of Change for Publishing” conference.

Inkling dubbed Habitat the “First-Ever Digital Printing Press for Professionals,” and suggested the company hopes to offer a more comprehensive solution to professionals than Apple’s iBooks Author platform. In its press release, Inkling runs down some of habitat’s features: standards-based content including “guided tours, 3-D exhibits, interactive quizzes, and high definition video,” and single-click cross-platform publishing, cloud storage for collaboration, object-oriented content, and “Infinite revision management” to backup every change to your project.  The platform also has an “automated error reporting” feature to scan published content for broken links, and other issues with content…
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