HTC dumping unsold ‘Re’ camera inventory by slashing 75% off retail price

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The poorly named, poorly designed asthma inhaler/kitchen faucet shaped device was launched a year ago during a disastrous and equally cringe-worthy keynote that featured one fashion model taking a selfie with a teddy bear that she was pushing about on stage in a baby stroller. The keynote left myself and tech journalists like Slashgear’s Chris Burns asking “What on Earth is HTC thinking?”.

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“…models walked across the stage with MegaMan-like electronic music and soulless, model eyes. And no purpose. Or if the purpose existed, it wasn’t immediately obvious. It’s as if HTC picked up on the strangest and most useless elements in the average big-time Samsung Galaxy event and blew it up for their own event” — Chris Burns (Slashgear)

Fast forward to just a day ago when HTC made drastic cuts to the price of the device reducing the price from $200 to a paltry $50 now does this mean they are trying to quickly dump off devices because they are coming out with something new or do they have a warehouse full of devices that they can’t sell?

 

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Either way, it appears they are trying get rid of the devices fast and aren’t confident that they can sell them at 50% ($100), it’ll be interesting to see if they are done with external devices or are coming out with something that they are confident consumers will give them another chance.

Even though its poorly designed, I did pick one up for $50 because it does have a lot of interesting features for the price like Time Lapse, Live video streaming and the photo quality isnt bad either although the fisheye effect is quite annoying but according to HTC it can be removed in settings.

Sample Photos and Videos (Posted by YouTube and Flickr users)

HTC Re Camera Samples

HTC RE camera samples  

Traffic:

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Microsoft caught trying to force Windows 10 on PC users without their permission?

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Ever since Windows 10 was announced Microsoft has been desperately trying to get users to integrate over to the latest operating system by resorting to everything from installing hard to remove popup ads on Windows 7 and 8 users computers to launching a multi-million dollar ad and marketing campaign to even downloading up to 6GB of Windows 10 files on user’s PCs without their permission but this latest move crosses the line, reeks of desperation and erodes trust users have with this company.

 

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It was recently reported by Arstechnica, Ultimate Outsider, ZDTV and others that Microsoft was forcing some users to upgrade to Windows 10 by making it a non-optional/mandatory update although it appears there needs to be user interaction to make the final update complete.

On Oct 15th PCWorld writer Jared Newman reported that:

Some users now claim that they no longer see an option in the Control Panel to install updates to their current version of Windows. Instead, a message says that the “upgrade to Windows 10 is ready,” and prompts users to “restart your PC to begin the installation.” Another user claims to have seen a countdown timer for installing Windows 10, with an option to reschedule but no way to call off the upgrade entirely.

In a statement published by Arstechnica, Microsoft didn’t deny making Windows 10 mandatory but claimed that it was a mistake

As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel. This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check.

Although they said they are removing the settings that makes it mandatory, it remains unclear how they intend to do that or a timeline of when it will be fixed.

Privacy Concerns

 

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Since Windows 10 launched its been plagued with questions about privacy. The OS admittedly can log everything a user types and upload that data to Microsoft’s servers by default and even though they offer encryption through BitLocker, if you sign into Windows 10 using your Microsoft Account, it will automatically upload the encryption key to their OneDrive servers.

Although Microsoft claims users can opt-out and other intrusive settings can be disabled, there is no way of verifying and or trusting that they will respect it with it since its not an open source OS and it doesn’t help that Arstechnica discovered the operating system still phones home and transmits data to Microsoft servers even after they opted out.

In the article they noted that:

Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins are using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. The exact nature of the information being sent isn’t clear—it appears to be referencing telemetry settings—and again, it’s not clear why any data is being sent at all. We disabled telemetry on our test machine using group policies.

This has driven many users concerned about security and privacy to start blocking certain Microsoft domains and IPs from their HOSTS file not realizing that Microsoft has been whitelisting their own servers and bypassing the HOSTS file for over a decade.

Given Microsoft’s terrible track record on privacy which includes remotely searching a journalist’s hotmail account to track down a source that was leaking information, to submitting a DMCA request to completely take down Cryptome’s domain over publishing the company’s 2008 “Global Criminal Compliance. Handbook” which contained no trade secrets according to Wired, its getting increasingly difficult for users to trust anything the company says.

It appears things have taken a turn for the worse under Satya Nadella who once said that its “Bad Karma” for women to ask for a raise, these recent events gives the appearance that he has little to no concern or respect for user privacy, data caps, user input, etc and just recently they began inserting ads for suggested apps in Windows 10 start menu.

 

 

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Slickdeals users openly discuss how to commit retail fraud at Walmart and Target stores

File Photo
File Photo

Slickdeals is a site where users communicate about deals they find online and for companies like discover card, chase bank and amazon to advertise their goods and services but things got a bit out of hand recently when two posters using the monikers nditiz1 and omega4 started discussing how to get an Xbox One game for free from Target then returning it to Walmart without a receipt for a sizable profit.

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Target no longer accepts returns without a receipt. However, I think they can look up your purchases via your credit card (which would not help you given what you would like to do). WalMart is your only recourse. However, they only allow 3 unopen item returns without a receipt and then make you wait 45-90 days before you can do so again. — Omega4

I recommend WalMart. You get the full value of the game (including taxes on top) as a gift card. eBay gets you cash, but you won’t get top dollar and you have to pay eBay Seller fees. Just be sure to go to WalMart soon before NBA 2K16 gets discounted, as then you’ll only get the value of the discounted game. — Omega4

It’s up to you and BigCTM. But at WalMart, I got $65 for it ($59.99 for the game and sales tax on top). — Omega4

During this conversation which I took a screenshot of one user bragged about getting $65 with sales tax by committing fraud/larceny.

According to data released by the The National Retail Federation (NRF) and published by LPMagazine, return fraud alone cost the retail industry more than $9.6 billion in 2006 which forced Target to change their policy and limit the amount of money given out for no receipt returns.

Its unclear if Walmart plans to make changes to their return policy in the future but if this type of activity continues they may have no choice but to.

We will try to reach out to Slickdeals to find out if they will take any action against these accounts but it should be noted that anyone thinking about doing this face prosecution, jail time and a criminal record if caught.

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Makerbot cuts 180 jobs and closes all 3 retail shops in less than a year

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MakerBot which was founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith quickly ballooned into a megacompany with a 50,000 square foot factory in Brooklyn, 150+ employees in 2013 and they grew to 580 employees by early 2015 just before the 2 rounds of layoffs began (100 for the 1st round and 80 for the 2nd).

The fact that they had over 500 employees at one point is shocking since they made and sold relatively expensive devices to a very small niche market.

While its nice to have something that is truly made in America with devices that were assembled in America, the reality is most people aren’t interested in putting together a model airplane let alone draw up a design in cad, spend over a thousand dollars ($1,375 for mini to $6,499 the larger version) to print one out in MakerBot section by section, paint it then assemble it, at least not enough people to justify the rate the company was expanding at in such a short amount of time.

I’ve dealt a lot with MakerBot’s and I would personally never buy one. There are many comparable alternatives for almost half the price and the newer 5th Gen models have AWFUL extruders… they clog like crazy and are not nearly as easy to disassemble and clean as other models. — greysplash (Reddit.com)

The company is also facing a class action lawsuit over faulty extruders that frequently clogged and allegedly led to shareholders losing millions of dollars once the issue came to light.

Like Krispy Kreme over a decade ago, it appears MakerBot also bought into its own hype and is now paying a huge price. Sadly for the 100 or so former employees who only wanted to make a living they were unceremoniously escorted out by security earlier this year and left to find work elsewhere.

“3D printing is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world today. To keep up with the growing demand in the 3D printing industry, MakerBot is hiring 50+ new employees in the coming months” — Makerbot Press Release 2013

It seems like their business strategy was banking on demand catching up with supply.

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Sprint’s CEO shocked over Verizon rate hike on unlimited data even after increasing own data rates a week ago

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In this tweet, Sprint’s current CEO Marcelo Claure seemed shocked and dismayed with Verizon over a recent announcement that they were increasing rates by $20 on November 15th for unlimited users who according to the company make up less than 1% of its customers.


The tweet is perplexing to say the least because earlier this year Marcelo Claure hinted at raising data rates in an interview with KSHB-TV in Kansas City as well as hinting at doing away with Unlimited Data in the future.

On September 30, 2015 he ultimately gave consumers a two week notice that rates would be increased by $10 on new customers but its unclear if he has any plans to increase rates on existing customers anytime soon.

Update: Claure responds to a twitter user who confronted him over increasing prices at Sprint

Clearly he meant “existing” not “executing”. #Autocorrect

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The ‘Amazing’ pluto announcement that never was

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In article written by Doug Bolton and published in The Independent, it was rumored that the Principal Investigator for the New Horizons mission to Pluto would publicly reveal an ‘Amazing’ discovery on Thursday.

The story quickly viral and was shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and various conspiracy blogs and partially due to the way the article was written, rumors began to wildly swirl and even lead some to wonder if life had been discovered on the distant planet.

What was noticeably absent from the article though was an official statements or a time when the announcement would be made Thursday, it was later discovered that story itself was quickly shot down by the man who was supposedly going to make the announcement in this tweet where he called the rumor ‘Completely false’.

Despite this rumor being dismissed a full day later, the writer has not updated the story or posted a retraction which makes one wonder if this was nothing more than another case of click-bait journalism or just a massive misunderstanding.

 

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