USA Stories November 4, 2015

appletvui1

While Siri voice search is a core feature of the new Apple TV, right now it’s limited to only eight countries: UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Japan. In other regions, the Siri Remote is simply called the Apple TV Remote (not to be confused with the old Apple TV Remote) and pressing the mic button just opens the Search app.

This is despite the fact Siri on iPhone is actually available in 30 countries, so it wasn’t clear why Apple had pinpointed only a subset of those. It turns out, according to a chat with Apple by MacPrime, that there are some clever optimizations Apple makes with Apple TV Siri to improve speech recognition.

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USA Stories March 19, 2015

Man using/working on laptop computer

Update: Both 11/9 and my second technothriller, The Billion Dollar Heist, are now available on Amazon.

Of all the stereotypes we hear about Apple owners, there is perhaps none so enduring as the guy writing a novel on his MacBook in Starbucks. Well, one November, I became that guy. Fast-forward a few years, and I have a 110,000-word technothriller ready to unleash on an unsuspecting public.

I’d had an idea for a novel years earlier, but I’d initially done what almost everyone does when they have an idea for a novel: absolutely nothing. The gap between having an idea and having a completed novel seemed too enormous to contemplate, especially when it would have to be combined with, you know, working for a living.

But then someone told me about something called NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Every November, around 400,000 people across the USA, UK, Canada and a number of other countries around the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. I decided to become one of them–using Apple technology, naturally …  expand full story

USA Stories July 25, 2014

OECD data reveals one mobile Internet connection for every person in the U.S.

Data released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reveals that there are now as many mobile Internet connections as there are people in the USA. While not everyone has a mobile data SIM or dongle, those with multiple devices make up for those left out, taking the average to a fraction over 100 percent.

Six other countries also manage to have more mobile data subscriptions than people, Finland topping the list with an average of 1.25 connections per person. The overall average across the 34 countries within the OECD grouping was 72.4 percent.

(via The Register)

USA Stories February 10, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

If you were wondering why Apple chose Mesa, Arizona, as the location of its latest manufacturing plant in the U.S., a story today from Bloomberg explains that Apple, not shy about going after tax breaks, has taken advantage of many perks put in place by the suburb’s mayor:

So last year, when Apple was searching for a place to house a factory that makes a stronger glass for its gadgets, Mesa pulled out the stops. The city, which was ravaged by the 2007 housing crash, offered tax breaks, built power lines, fast-tracked building permits and got the state to declare a vacant 1.3 million-square-foot facility that Apple was exploring a foreign trade zone. With unemployment high, such are the lengths that towns are willing to go to to lure the world’s most valuable company.“Any time you have a company like Apple come in and invest in your area, especially with this type of operation, it’s significant,” said Smith, who triumphed late last year when Apple spent $114 million to buy the factory. The mayor celebrated by placing bowls of green and red apples in City Hall.

Smith added that original preparations were done before the city even knew it was Apple, but later Apple requested additional perks before moving in and even got construction permits expedited. Among the other advantages of choosing Mesa for Apple was a $10 million building grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority and an agreement with the city’s power company to build solar and geothermal installations and a new power substation for the plant: expand full story

USA Stories August 21, 2013

AT&T’s LTE coming to 50 more parts of the USA by the end of the year

AT&T, which claims to have the fastest and most reliable LTE service, is planning to expand its coverage to 50 more parts of the USA by the end of the year. This is expected to boost access from 225M people at present to 270M by the end of 2013.

The new areas are:

1. Fairbanks, AK 2. Dothan, AL 3. Selma, AL 4. Redding, CA 5. Durango, CO 6. Pueblo, CO 7. Tifton, GA 8. Waycross, GA 9. Kauai, HI 10. The Big Island, HI 11. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 12. Twin Falls, ID 13. Lewiston, ID-WA 14. Decatur, IL 15. Kankakee-Bradley, IL 16. Peoria, IL 17. Paducah, KY-IL 18. Alexandria, LA 19. Lake Charles, LA 20. Lewiston-Auburn, ME 21. Battle Creek, MI 22. Jackson, MI 23. Joplin, MO 24. Poplar Bluff, MO 25. Rolla, MO 26. Brookhaven, MS 27. McComb, MS 28. Natchez, MS-LA 29. Kalispell, MT 30. Greenville, NC 31. Jacksonville, NC 32. Fargo, ND-MN 33. Elmira, NY 34. Utica-Rome, NY 35. Portsmouth, OH 36. Sandusky, OH 37. East Stroudsburg, PA 38. Pottsville, PA 39. Abilene, TX 40. Amarillo, TX 41. Longview, TX 42. Marshall, TX 43. San Angelo, TX 44. Tyler, TX 45. Port Angeles, WA 46. Appleton, WI 47. Fond du Lac, WI 48. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 49. Gillette, WY 50. Sheridan, WY

Over the past five years, AT&T invested nearly $98 billion into operations, and claims to have invested more into the U.S. economy than any other corporation, getting top-ranking in the Progressive Policy Institute’s list of U.S. Investment Heroes.

USA Stories July 2, 2013

USA TV network lands on iOS with new app to watch full show episodes

The NBC-owned USA TV network has launched its own iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch application to bring the USA show viewing experience to the small-screen. The application, like many TV network apps currently on the App Store, allows customers to watch shows the day after they air. The application also includes a backlog of past show episodes.

Like some other applications of the same category, users will need to authenticate the application with their credentials for their home TV provider. If a user does not subscribe to USA on their home TV setup, they can still watch some exclusive content via the application. Besides TV shows, the application can access behind-the-scenes clips, a full programming guide, interviews, and more.

USA today airs popular shows such as Burn Notice, Graceland, and Suits.  The new app is free on the App Store.

USA Stories December 2, 2012

imac-assembled-usa iFixit

From iFixit’s ritual iMac dismemberment yesterday, we learn that the particular 21.5-inch iMac they bought says it was “Assembled in USA”. The moniker isn’t new—we’ve seen it since at least a few iMac models back on the packaging. But as far as we can tell, “Assembled in USA” wasn’t etched in the actual machine’s aluminum, leading people to believe that the iMacs that were shipped were “refurbished in the USA”. However, this forum shows that some were actually assembled and sold new with the “Assembled in USA” label (below—27-inch iMac, previous gen).

iMac_label

Regardless of previous endeavors, Apple is shipping new iMacs “Assembled in USA”.  PED at Fortune found one. Jay Yarrow at BI found one, too. This isn’t an isolated incident. We also heard that other new iMacs say “Assembled in China”, as you’d expect.

Still, it makes for an interesting question:  Is Apple building some of its iMacs in the United States? Is that percentage growing since it seems much of the first line of iMacs are coming with USA labels?

The “Assembled in USA” label doesn’t just mean that foreign parts screwed together in the U.S. either. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission assumes that a “substantial transformation” must happen in the U.S. for the label to be used.

Specifically, the FTC states that the label “Assembled in the USA” should be the following:

A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA” without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why a “screwdriver” assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled in USA” claim.

Example: A lawn mower, composed of all domestic parts except for the cable sheathing, flywheel, wheel rims and air filter (15 to 20 percent foreign content) is assembled in the U.S. An “Assembled in USA” claim is appropriate.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. The FTC gives the specific example of a computer manufacture:

Example: All the major components of a computer, including the motherboard and hard drive, are imported. The computer’s components then are put together in a simple “screwdriver” operation in the U.S., are not substantially transformed under the Customs Standard, and must be marked with a foreign country of origin. An “Assembled in U.S.” claim without further qualification is deceptive.

That means one of two things: Either Apple or its contractors have some sort of significant manufacturing operations in the U.S., or it is being deceptive in its marketing (something that sadly, isn’t out of character)… expand full story

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