Review: Motorola Quench


motorola quench

You can’t blame Motorola, or any other phone manufacturer, for jumping on the Android bandwagon and launching a seemingly unlimited number of handsets to take advantage of Google’s free operating system.

So it was with some degree of marketing understanding that I took a Motorola Quench unit to review.

The Quench is not to be compared with that great Android phone, the HTC Desire, or the iPhone, of course.

It is sold as an entry-level 3G smartphone handset in Australia. At A$19 a month through Optus on a 24-month contract, it is priced to appeal to teenagers or as a second cheap handset for those addicted to multitasking.

Its promise is that it is an affordable “social phone” – one that aggregates its owner’s online social life or ‘happenings’ on one screen.

For this it uses Motoblur, the company’s way to serve all social posts, messages and pictures from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace plus email, in one stream.

That is all very well until you turn the phone on and realise that not even a single call can be made – apart from emergency calls – without you singing up and creating a Motoblur account first.

To make check out the phone, make calls, set up your contact book first or download a few apps or games, you must first enter Motorola’s walled garden.

It is ironic then that the phone should run on Android, the string-less operating system that was meant to set users free from dictatorial marketing ploys.

I like the idea of Android phones and the apparent freedom they offer, but being forced to join before going anywhere seems utterly contradictory.

Enough ranting.

Setting up your Motoblur account is ultimately problem-free. A Gmail address gets you in and starts off your social communication in a few seconds. You can then sign in to your other lives – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace – individually and soon enough your screen will be populated with posts.

An advantage of Motoblur is that it backs up your contacts and messages to the cloud, so you can bring it all back should your data get wiped out for any reason. You can even remotely wipe the data if the phone is lost or stolen – a service for which some phone manufacturers charge a monthly fee.

And because you’ll be permanently connected to Motorola via Motoblur, it can send software updates to the phone without you having to worry about it.

The handset itself is good value for what it costs. The hardware buttons feel slightly clumsy, but it has a 5 megapixel camera and a tactile rubber backing that betrays its cheap price.

The touch screen behaves adequately and the user interface is straight forward. The search button works both as a contact search and opens the browser on a Google search if on the home screen.

It doesn’t have a hardware button for the phone function, something I believe is crucial for a phone aimed at young people.

In an emergency, it is always easier to press a hard phone button than to wake the phone, unlock it and then have to touch the soft button on the screen to bring up the keypad.

Motorola says it has dual microphones and noise cancellation technology that enables clear calls – but I’m unsure this is perceptible to most users.

The Quench’s siblings are the Dext and the Backflip, also offering Motoblur.

Verdict: The phone is too restrictive for my liking, but if you’re 13, social networking rules your life and you don’t mind being in a walled garden, $0 on a A$19/month plan sounds good.


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Microsoft sharpening Razor view engine for ASP.Net

By: Paul Krill

Microsoft is developing a “view engine” for its ASP.Net Web development platform, optimized around HTML generation via a code-focused templating approach, a Microsoft official said in a blog post.

A public beta release of the view engine, which is codenamed “Razor,” will ship shortly, said Scott Guthrie, vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, in a late-Friday evening blog post. View engines, he said, are pluggable modules that implement different template syntax options. Other view engines used with ASP.Net have included Spark and NHaml.

“We think ‘Razor’ provides a great new view-engine option that is streamlined for code-focused templating.  It [features] a coding workflow that is fast, expressive and fun. Its syntax is compact and reduces typing — while at the same time improving the overall readability of your markup and code. It will be shipping as a built-in view engine with the next release of ASP.Net MVC (Model View Controller),” Guthrie said. 

Design goals for Razor including compactness, expressiveness, and fluidity, in which Razor minimizes the number of characters and keystrokes in a file and enables a fast, fluid coding workflow.

Microsoft intends for Razor to be easy to learn and to work with any text editor. Microsoft also is pondering how Razor could enable development of re-usable HTML helpers using a more declarative approach. Razor is designed to provide a rich code editing experience within the Visual Studio IDE.

“We will provide full HTML, JavaScript, and C#/VB code Intellisense within Razor-based files,” said Guthrie.

But Razor will not feature a new imperative language.

“Instead we wanted to enable developers to use their existing C#/VB (or other) language skills with Razor, and deliver a template markup syntax that enables an awesome HTML construction workflow with your language of choice,” Guthrie said.

In other application development news, Microsoft announced on Tuesday general availability of its Silverlight rich Internet plug-in technology for the Symbian mobile phone platform.

“We are very pleased to announce the general availability of Silverlight for Symbian. This brings the Silverlight experience to the 20+ million users of Nokia S60 5th edition Nokia 5800 XPressMusic and Nokia N97 devices,” the company said in a blog post.

Silverlight for Symbian features hardware-assisted playback of H.264 content, IIS (Internet Information Services) smooth streaming and rich UI capabilities.


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IBM Acquires Enterprise Data Security Software Company BigFix

by Leena Rao

IBM is making another acquisition today, buying up computer security software company BigFix. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BigFix security software identifies all of a company’s PCs, laptops, server and then monitors and flags IT administrators when devices are not in compliance with corporate IT security standards. Its software promises to make security fixes across at least 500,000 machines in a matter of minutes.

IBM says that this acquisition is important to helping Big Blue’s customers protect themselves against realtime security threats. IBm plans to include BigFix is a part of its Dat Center offerings. BigFix’s software is used by more than 700 customers including Miami-Dade County Public School BlueCross/BlueShield of Alabama, Allianz Global Investors and Princeton University and SunTrust Bank.

This year alone, Big Blue has acquired Coremetrics, Sterling Commerce, Cast Iron Systems, Initiate and Intelliden.


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thebigword rises to 12th in world rankings

thebigword rises to 12th in world rankings

Leeds, England: 23 June 2010 – The translation, interpreting and language services company, thebigwordGroup, has risen to 12th in the world rankings and has become the largest private language service provider in Northern Europe.

thebigwordGroup, headquartered in Leeds, UK, has increased its world ranking by five places (from 17th) since last year, despite the impact of the global downturn and a highly competitive market.

The global market for language services will reach US$26 billion in 2010, according to market research firm Common Sense Advisory which carried out the study. In its report, ‘Language Services Market 2010’, the firm details the findings of its comprehensive, six-month study, which identified 23,380 unique suppliers of translation and interpreting services across 149 countries.

Globalisation, and the need for businesses to expand their markets during the economic downturn, has continued to fuel thebigwordGroup’s growth.  The company’s turnover has reached US$54.71 million, a 9.6 per cent increase on the previous financial year.

thebigword has invested heavily in staffing, infrastructure and technology to meet the increasing demand from both the public and private sectors.  The company has acquired a new 21,000 sq ft office building in Leeds to house 220 staff in its Global HQ, translation services, and its burgeoning technology business.

A further 45 staff are employed at its Interpreting Centre in London and a new 10,000 sq ft office building has been acquired on Broad Street in New York’s financial district, where staff numbers have increased from three to 40.  thebigword also has offices in Beijing, Tokyo, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf and Abu Dhabi.

According to Common Sense Advisory, the language services market is growing at an annual rate of 13.15 per cent and is expected to reach UK$38.14 billion over the coming five years.

A significant investment in technology, including the establishment of a separate business, Gould Tech Solutions, will enable thebigword to capitalise on the expected growth of the sector.

thebigword sees innovation as central to its success.  The company’s founder and CEO, Larry Gould, says:  “Innovation is not just the role of our technical staff but the responsibility of everyone from the project managers to our finance team, to make both thebigword and our industry stronger.”

“We’re looking across software and systems, electronic workflow systems, and innovative global telephony solutions to deliver continuous improvement in our services and efficiencies for our clients.

“We’ll be working with our staff, our customers and our community of linguists to provide companies with a high standard of cost-effective language services and technologies to drive their global business development.”


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Sony joins e-reader price war

Sony has cut the price of its Reader devices, joining an electronic-reader price war between and Barnes & Noble.

On Sony’s website, the Daily Edition version of the Reader was listed at US$299.99 ($434.20), down from US$349.99.

The Touch Edition was priced at US$169.99 from US$249.99, and the basic Pocket Edition was discounted to US$149.99 from US$169.99.

Last week, Amazon cut the price on its most expensive Kindle electronic reader, the Kindle DX, to US$379 from US$489.

A week before, it had reduced the price of its cheaper version of the Kindle to US$189, just hours after bookstore chain Barnes & Noble lowered the price of its Nook to US$199.

The price war comes as makers of e-readers anticipate competition from Apple’s iPad tablet computer, which can also function as an e-reader.

It has a starting price of US$499, sports a color screen and has the ability to play video and browse the Web.

Sony could not be reached for comment.

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Salesforce Chatterizes 10,000 Of Its Customers First Week After Public Launch

By: Leena Rao

Unsurprisingly, Salesforce is seeing rapid adoption of its social collaboration platform Chatter among its existing customers after launching to the public last week. In its first week of general availability, Chatter has been integrated by 10,000 of Salesforce’s 77,300 existing customers, or 13 percent of Salesforce’s customer base.

Salesforce CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff said in a statement: “We’ve never seen this kind of excitement around a product release before.” Chatter was made available to the public last week after four months in private beta. Announced last November, Chatter leverages what Benioff calls the Cloud 2, delivering realtime access to data and information, using social sources, such as YouTube and Twitter.

Of course, there is no financial barrier for existing Salesforce customers to use Chatter. For Salesforce customers, Chatter is free all paying users of Salesforce CRM and Chatter-only user licenses are available for customers using Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition for $15 per user, per month. So it appears that these 10,000 customers aren’t paying for Chatter.

In contrast, Chatter competitor Yammer now has 70,000 corporate clients, and 800,000+ total seats (users), with over 1,000 paying customers. While 13 percent adoption is certainly impressive in the first week of availability, I think the real test will be to see the adoption of Chatter amongst paying clients.


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A Day in the Life of a Translator

Remember that old adage, never work with animals or children? This most fundamental advice of old clearly eluded me when I decided to go freelance along with two children, a dog and two cats. Phrases involving plans, mice and men feature strongly in my working day, with organisation flying out of the window along with the computer on occasion.

My typical day begins with a walk through the woods to school. Besides being a very serene start to the day not least for the dog, and especially if I have been at my desk since 5 am it has the additional benefit of allowing me to contra off any chocolate consumed during a sedentary days translation and also to mull over any headlines or anything else requiring quiet contemplation. I often use this time to give translations or editing a final read-through manic multi-tasker that I am.

Once home, medicinal coffee in hand, I make my way to my desk, carefully blinkering out anything vaguely domestic in my path that might hamper my progress. This is somewhat impeded, however, when the dog has raided the larder and the cats are chasing a clearly terrified starling round the kitchen. Faced with feathers, muesli and myriad other items, I find myself having to make a ludicrous decision between rescuing my favourite china and meeting my deadline

Finally seated at my desk, I am immediately conscious of all that I have to get through, the few hours available and the speed with which time passes. Foreign language translation is not something that can be rushed, though the challenge of creating a piece of copy in a restricted timescale is both challenging and immensely satisfying. My advertising and marketing background means that practically everything I handle has a creative slant and I have worked on everything from the transcription of German TV commercials to the adaptation of a new version of Pinocchio.

My bête noire is not so much the pressure of deadlines but the stuff of life that tends to crop up with an almost ironic sense of timing. I have run out of fingers on which to count the number of times that I have just promised to squeeze in an extra six hundred words for a particular afternoon when the phone line crackles with the dulcet tones of the school nurse.

I quickly learned to value my laptop. Having once decided to delay taking my daughter to hospital as there were no obvious signs of bruising or swelling typical of a greenstick fracture I later discovered I now have no qualms about sitting in paediatric A&E with it perched on my knee.

It is also surely no coincidence that there appears to be a definite correlation between a looming deadline and gremlins in the works. I have been found sobbing uncontrollably into my keyboard on occasion and I often yell at the screen it doesnt achieve anything, of course, but I remain ever hopeful that a miracle will occur. I always sleep with a back-up disk under my pillow for good measure. Burglars may not be interested in how you can tell a Frolic dog but I cant take the risk!

I have worked through the night to complete a job and I have lain on the settee with my laptop nursing a fever but I would not swap this life. Come summer, I have been known to relocate my office under the apple tree in the garden. A project manager on the phone once asked, Is that birds I can hear twittering? That reminds me, I must go and vacuum up those feathers.


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