Monthly Archives: November 2012

Desperately Seeking Siri | Fox Business

TV is boring. Not the 57 Channels and Nothin’ On kind of boring, the kind of boring you experience when you’ve been using the same old technology for far too long.

It’s always the same story: a flat panel on a wall or table, a viewer on a couch and a remote control that connects them. Sure, remotes have changed over the years but regardless of how many buttons or touchscreens you slap on them, the way users interact with their televisions is the same. And that’s why Apple’s (AAPL) upcoming reentry into the living room is so compelling.

I could not possibly be less interested in an HDTV from Apple. I like my TVs and if the various rumors we’ve read for more than a year now are to be believed, I’m not convinced television hardware from Apple would offer any real advantages over market leaders like Samsung and LG. What I am very interested in, however, is Siri.

Siri is pretty great on an iPhone. The ability to speak conversationally to perform functions, get answers or find points of interest is a nice value-add. Siri is somewhat less useful on an iPad. The functionality is the same but the tablet form factor makes using Siri much less convenient.

But Siri on a TV remote? Now we’re talking.

Using voice commands to interact with a cell phone is feasible only for a fraction of the functions one might perform with a smartphone. Siri’s utility is further limited by the user’s situation and surroundings. Speaking to a phone is not ideal while in a meeting, while eating in a restaurant, while in close quarters with other people, while exercising, or in countless other scenarios.

via Desperately Seeking Siri | Fox Business.

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In-flight films cleared for take-off and landing – Telegraph

New CW seat, 747 upper deckBritish Airways has reached an agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority which will allow passengers to use an aircraft’s in-flight entertainment system from the moment they reach their seat to when they arrive at their destination.

This will only apply to BA‘s new generation of seatback inflight systems, and will not change the regulations for passengers using their own iPads or other tablet devices.

Up until now passengers had to wait more than half an hour before being able to watch a film. The entertainment system has also been turned off about 20 minutes before landing, for safety reasons.

Following a series of trials BA has satisfied the CAA that its new in-flight entertainment system will not interfere with the normal running of the aircraft. In addition the pilot can override the entertainment for important safety notices, such as telling as telling passengers to fasten their seatbelts during turbulence.

The change, which begins on Saturday, will also end the ritual of cabin crew collecting headsets from passengers during the closing stages of the flight.

via In-flight films cleared for take-off and landing – Telegraph.

Why One Poll Says 45% Would Rather Skip Christmas – US Business News – CNBC

Some children looking at a selection of Christ...Despite a whittling away of consumer debt that has been underway since the recession, many Americans are still entering the holiday season unprepared to cope with the expenses that crop up around this time of year.

Think Finance, a provider of payday loans and other financial services for consumers with limited or no access to banking services, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans across all income levels who use various forms of alternative financial services — including payday loans, prepaid debit cards and direct deposit advances.

Although many of these consumers are on better financial footing and optimistic about their economic future this year, the holidays are still a source of stress and strain on their precarious finances, Think Finance said in the poll.

Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.

That’s probably because nearly the same amount — some 45 percent — say they do not expect to have enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses.

via Why One Poll Says 45% Would Rather Skip Christmas – US Business News – CNBC.

RIP Larry Hagman: “Dallas” Oilman J.R. Ewing Had A Passion For Solar Energy – Forbes

English: Larry Hagman attending the "Nigh...Larry Hagman may have played television’s most famous evil oil baron, J.R. Ewing, but in real life the “Dallas” actor was a fierce proponent of solar energy.

In July 2010 I interviewed Hagman, who died Friday in Dallas at age 81 while shooting a sequel to the long-running television series, when he agreed to revive J.R. in a commercial promoting solar power. As I wrote in The New York Times:

J. R. Ewing returned to the small screen on Tuesday, and the boys down at the Cattlemen’s Club just might need a double bourbon when they hear what he has to say.

“In the past, it was always about the oil,” Mr. Hagman says in a TV commercial that was unveiled Tuesday at the Intersolar conference in San Francisco. “The oil was flowing and so was the money. Too dirty. I quit it years ago,” he growls as he saunters past a portrait of a grinning J. R. in younger days and a TV showing images of an offshore oil rig and blackened waters.

Putting on a 10-gallon hat, he heads outside into the sunshine and gazes at a solar array on the roof of the house. “But I’m still in the energy business,” he says. “There’s always a better alternative.”

“Shine, baby, shine,” he says, ending the spot with his trademark J. R. cackle.

Hagman told me the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico energized him to go public with what had been a private passion.

via RIP Larry Hagman: “Dallas” Oilman J.R. Ewing Had A Passion For Solar Energy – Forbes.

In between discount events, a discount event for Main Street folks

Logo of the American Booksellers Association.

NEW YORK, Nov. 24 (UPI) — Independent U.S. booksellers are using an independent retail store discount holiday to kick off a retail discount week this year, an industry newsletter said.

“We love the message of thanking our customers for supporting independent businesses during the Thanksgiving holiday,” Libby Cowles, community relations manager for Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colo., told the cleverly named newsletter ShelfAwareness.

The Christian Science Monitor reported Saturday that sandwiched in between Black Friday, a big box store discount extravaganza, and Cyber Monday, the Internet retail attempt to not be left behind, is Small Business Saturday, a sort of “me-too,” for independent store owners.

With those shopper-friendly puzzle pieces in place, the American Booksellers Association decided to go with “Thanks for Shopping Indie,” a week-long discount prices event that celebrates stores that cater to browsing customers.

via In between discount events, a discount event for Main Street folks – UPI.com.

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