Tuesday, July 19, 2011

iPhone 4 still works after 13,500-ft fall from skydiver's pocket!

London, July 19 (ANI): In what is sure to make Apple proud of its gadgets, one of their i Phone 4 units, which recently slipped out of a skydiver's pocket, survived intact after a 13,500-ft fall to the ground. That's not all, it can still make and receive calls!

Jarrod McKinney said he was in such a rush to "get out the door" of the plane on a recent tandem jump that he forgot to secure his device. As a result, it landed on top of a two-storey building.

McKinney, however, managed to locate using a GPS application. It was then that his friend Joe Johnson, a skydiving instructor, jokingly dialed Mr McKinney's number - and the iPhone rang.

'They were all like, "It works! It works!"' he said.

While the glass exterior was cracked to pieces, the 37-year-old from Minnesota was still able to make a call.

"As unbelievable as it sounds, my phone had fallen 13,500ft, and was still sending out a signal," the Daily Mail quoted him as telling CNN.

The news that an iPhone 4 could survive a 13,500ft fall is especially surprising considering the problems the model had with its antenna reception upon its release last year.

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Man found in suitcase trying to escape from prison by her girl friend.

CHETUMAL, Mexico (AP) — Police say a woman was caught trying to sneak her common-law-husband out of a Mexican prison in a suitcase following a conjugal visit.

A spokesman for police in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo says staff at the prison in Chetumal noticed that the woman seemed nervous and was pulling a black, wheeled suitcase that looked bulky.

Spokesman Gerardo Campos said Monday that prison guards checked the bag of 19-year-old Maria del Mar Arjona and found inmate Juan Ramirez Tijerina curled up inside in the fetal position.

Ramirez is serving a 20-year sentence for a 2007 conviction for illegal weapons possession.

Arjona was arrested and charges are pending.

In this photo taken Saturday, July 2, 2011, prison inmate Juan Ramirez Tijerina is curled inside a suitcase after he tried to escape from prison with the help of his girlfriend following a conjugal visit in Chetumal, Mexico. Ramirez is serving a 20-year sentence for a 2007 conviction for illegal weapons possession. His girlfriend was arrested and charges are pending. (AP Photo/SIPSE)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Three blasts in Mumbai

Three near-simultaneous explosions rocked Mumbai at rush-hour on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring 141 in what the government said appeared to be another terrorist strike in the city hit by a major attack nearly three years ago.

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the latest attack killed 20 people, and home minister P Chidambaram said the toll was likely to rise.

Television footage showed dozens of police officials, several of them armed, at the sites of the explosion and at least one car with its windows shattered. A photograph showed victims of a blast at the Zaveri Bazaar crowding into the back of a cargo truck to be taken to a hospital.

Because of the close timing of the string of explosions, ``we infer that this was a coordinated attack by terrorists,'' home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

One blast hit the crowded neighborhood of Dadar in central Mumbai. The others were at the Zaveri Bazaar, which is a famed jewelry market, and the busy business district of Opera House, both in southern Mumbai and several miles (kilometers) apart, police said.

All three blasts happened from 6:50pm. to 7pm., when all the neighborhoods would have been packed with office workers and commuters.

The 2008 attack killed 166 people and was blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups. Tensions escalated between the countries and peace talks were suspended. The talks recently resumed.

Soon after Wednesday's blasts were reported, Pakistan's government expressed distress on the loss of lives and injuries.

The blasts would mark the first major attack on Mumbai since the November 2008 violence, when 10 terrorists laid siege to the city for 60 hours, targeting two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a busy train station. There was no immediate indication that Wednesday's blasts were part of a prolonged siege.

Mumbai has been on edge since then. In December, authorities deployed extra police on city streets after receiving intelligence that a Pakistan-based militant group was planning an attack over New Year's weekend. Police conducted house-to-house searches in some neighborhoods for four men who authorities believe entered the city to carry out a terrorist attack, and computer-aided photographs of the four suspects were released.

In March 2010, Mumbai police said they prevented a major terrorist strike after they arrested two Indian men, who, police said, were preparing to hit several targets in the city. Then in September, police issued a terror alert for the city during a popular Hindu festival.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Infy's own social network

Infosys Limited may not be your friendliest neighbour or the most employee-friendly IT company around. But they sure are making amends.

'Infy Bubble', their recently launched internal social networking site is supposedly a platform for disgruntled Infoscions to vent on. The site mirrors Facebook and allows employees to connect across borders with colleagues as well as bicker about anything they want, said Nandita Gurjar, Vice President and Group Head, Human Resources, Infosys Limited.

She added that the site doesn't encourage personal attacks but it does welcome negative feedback about their bosses and peers. The site also allows them to share photographs and other stuff just like they do on Facebook, thus giving them a platform to engage themselves with other employees.

This is one of the internal PR exercises Infosys is conscientiously indulging in to salvage their image. The company has been battling severe criticism and high attrition rates lately.

And, despite rising wages hurting the IT bellwhether's profit margins, it isn't stopping its hiring momentum. Infosys that plans to hire 12,000 employees this quarter has already added 9,992 employees this year.

When asked if this would further affect their revenues, the management strongly responded by saying that they are going as per their yearly target of 45,000 new additions. With the improving business sentiment and revival in IT spends , IT firms are stepping up hiring to meet demand for their services.

The company today posted a 15.72 per cent jump in consolidated net profit to Rs 1,722 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2011. During the first quarter, Infosys and its subsidiaries saw over 7,000 employees leaving.

As we know, with increased hiring comes a high rate of attrition. But the company isn't really worried about it. Gurjar says, "This is the quarter when we normally expect employees to go for higher studies. 30% of the employees who have quit cited this reason."

She says, the company can't stop employees from pursuing higher studies. However, they are pondering on how to get them back with acquired skill sets. Gurjar says, "95% of the employees who quit to pursue higher studies actually want to come back. But since we have a structured process they have to undergo the complete interview cycle in the campuses. So may be in the near future we might have a policy where an employee can come back after getting MBA degrees or something else without getting into the complete interview cycle.".

But there is an interesting bit of information that Gurjar revealed. "34% per cent of our total employee workforce is woman. So in this quarter 32% of the woman employees who quit didn't cite any reason for quitting the job. They just wanted to take a break. Now this is something that we want to review."

While they ponder on what's working and what's not, the company is also planning an Infosys radio service through which the management will regularly interact with the employees. Looks like the company is engaging in some serious PR exercises with employees to build a few bridges. But will it curtail attrition? In true Infosys management lingo, "We might have to wait for the next quarter" for an answer.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Maruti stops production of Swift hatchback, to relaunch new version by September

India’s largest carmaker Maruti has ended the production of its highly selling premium hatchback Swift, to make way for the next generation Swift, which will be launched in late August or early September.

Dealers have started accepting bookings for the new Swift. Maruti has codenamed the new Swift as YP8 and its trial runs are on in the Manesar plant, reports Economic Times.

According to a report in Business Standard, The car will come with 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel variants. It was reported that the new model, built on a slightly longer yet new platform, will be little extra roomy, lighter and return better mileage than the current generation Swift. Besides, engineers have also achieved a substantial reduction in the overall weight of the car by replacing the metal fuel tank with a plastic tank. This will improve its fuel efficiency by a little over 13 per cent. This will be the first major face-lift for the Swift since it was launched six years ago. Pricing details of the new car has not been shared by the company.

It was also reported that the new Swift will be produced at the company’s Manesar facility in Haryana, which has recently seen labour unrest. The petrol variant will return a mileage of around 20 km a litre, as compared to 17.9 km per litre certified by the Automotive Research Association of India. Similarly, the diesel model will deliver around 23.8 km per litre, as against the existing 21 km a litre.

The report stated that for installing the plastic fuel tanks, Maruti Suzuki India has tied up with France’s Plastic Omnium, the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic fuel tanks as it was mentioned that plastic fuel tanks are usually 25-35 per cent lighter than the conventional metal tanks. Besides, these are corrosion-free, durable, non-explosive and easily recyclable. Maruti Suzuki India has entered into a tripartite joint venture with Suzuki Motor Corporation and Plastic Omnium to manufacture fuel tanks at the Manesar facility. The new plastic tank manufacturing facility, Inergy Automotive Systems Manufacturing India Private Ltd, was inaugurated in Manesar on Monday.

According to the report, Maruti may also offer a four-speed automatic transmission option in the petrol version, besides the regular five-speed manual. The Swift which is available now in petrol, diesel and CNG versions and priced between Rs 3.9-5.5 lakh, sells close to 12,000 units every month. It recorded a growth of 21 per cent last year selling over 140,000 units as against 116,000 units sold in the previous year. The Swift accounts for about 25 per cent of the hatchback segment, and competes with Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia, Nissan Micra, Fiat Punto and Toyota Liva. It was also mentioned that Maruti is also preparing to launch a new Swift Dzire, which will be cheaper and will probably hit the market by early 2012.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Facebook and Skype in video chat deal

Facebook will soon add Skype video chat as a new feature, aiming to add appeal to the world's already most used online social networking service while fending off increased competition from Google.

The agreement between the two companies was announced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the company's California headquarters on Wednesday, deepening the company's relationship with Microsoft Corp, which is in the process of buying Skype to build its web presence.

Zuckerberg said Facebook has hit a record 750 million users. The new service could be a huge boost for Skype, which currently has about 145 million regular users.

The partnership comes as competition heats up in online social networking market, with Facebook and Google, as well as fast-growing companies such as Groupon and Twitter, vying for billions of dollars in online advertising revenue.

Facebook's Skype service, initially limited to one-to-one video chat, will be free. Financial details of the deal, if any, were not disclosed.

Tony Bates, Skype's chief executive, said Wednesday's deal with Facebook is only the start of a potentially lucrative partnership.

"For us, this makes a lot of business sense," said Bates. "We get huge reach. In the future we're talking about potentially also having Skype paid products available within the web format we saw here today."

In a phone interview later on Wednesday, Neil Stevens, the general manager of Skype's consumer business, said the company was planning on introducing a for-pay service that would allow users on Facebook to place calls to landline and mobile phones.

Stevens said he could not provide a timeframe for when such a service might be available.

Returning fire

Facebook, which also unveiled a group messaging function is returning fire from Google, which last week announced its newest social netweorking competition, dubbed 'Google+'.

While many of Google+'s social networking features are similar to those already available on Facebook, Google is generating interest with its video-conferencing function, which allows up to 10 people on the service to participate in a video call.

Zuckerberg hinted that video chat for multiple people could eventually be available on Facebook. But he said that most video chats today occur between two people anyway.

"We think this is awesome because we're using the best technology that's out there for doing video chat with the best social infrastructure that's out there to create some really cool new scenarios," said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday's announcements were the first of several to come in what he described as "launching season 2011".

Facebook's new Skype feature will likely benefit Microsoft, which owns 1.6 per cent of Facebook and announced its $8.5bn purchase of Skype in May.