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Friday, April 18, 2014

Project Ara will change the mobile industry, looking to be released January 2015

Would you a buy a phone you could build yourself?
Would you a buy a phone you could build yourself?

AT THE first Ara Developers Conference, happening now in Mountain View, California, Google developers took to the stage to discuss their modular smartphone project that’s set to.

We already knew that the most basic model would be available at a starting price of about $50, but CNET reports that team leader Paul Eremenko told conference attendees yesterday that a grey version of the Project Ara device is slated to go on sale in January of 2015.

Project Ara is Google’s latest project that let’s you essentially build your own phone by adding “modules” to the device to completely make it your own. This could include a new screen, camera, processor and even extra speakers.

The colour option might not tickle your fancy, but the choice is a deliberate one. Functional modular hardware isn’t the only selling point of Project Ara. Eremenko made it clear that the team’s goal for the device is maximum customisation, which includes aesthetics; as a colour choice, grey represents a blank slate that future users can personalise to their heart’s content. The Project Ara website shows a few possibilities, from monochromatic grey blocks to bright, bold hues.

Also discussed was Project Ara’s expected timeline. For it to be made available for purchase early next year, a few milestones must be met first. The device will run Android, but the operating system is not designed with modular components in mind, so the team is looking to have a version of Android that can support the drivers used by Project Ara ready by December. It’s a tight deadline, but one that Eremenko and Regina Dugan, former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and current head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division are confident they can meet.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Slick Ubuntu Mobile OS Previewed

Slick Ubuntu Mobile OS previewed

Ubuntu Mobile Welcome 2
We’re still waiting for Ubuntu Mobile, Canonical’s mobile operating system, to finally make its official debut on a smartphone. To whet our appetite, smartphone manufacturer Meizu has published a short demonstration video showing the OS in action on one of its phones. In it, we get a closer look at how the software will perform when used for everyday tasks, such as typing on the keyboard, switching apps, and navigating though the home screens. Consider our appetite whetted Canonical, just get on with releasing a phone we can go out and buy.

You may not have heard of Meizu before. It’s a well-known brand in China, and recently announced its intention to start selling its phones internationally, including in America. Subsequently, it was confirmed one of its first devices to be sold outside of China would have Ubuntu Mobile installed. Meizu, along with Spanish brand bq, are Canonical’s first two official hardware partners for the new OS.

The phone on which Ubuntu Mobile is demonstrated is the Meizu MX3. Originally announced late last year, the phone has a 5.1-inch screen with an unusual 1080 x 1800 pixel resolution, and Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core processor inside. 

It usually runs Android, complete with Meizu’s own custom user interface named Flyme, and the phone also has an 8-megapixel camera. It’s likely to be representative of the Ubuntu Mobile phone which will be released in the future.

We caught up with Canonical during Mobile World Congress, and managed to spend a short while playing with Ubuntu Mobile, which was installed on a Nexus 4. One thing Meizu’s video doesn’t highlight is the cool welcome screen. The circle on the main screen, glimpsed briefly before it’s swept aside here, shows notifications and a wide variety of other information related to the phone, all of which can be cycled through with a tap. It’s just part of a fun, interesting, and attractive OS, which has been a long time coming.

If seeing Ubuntu Mobile in action makes you want to try it out, it’s possible provided you own the right Nexus device, and don’t mind installing a beta operating system on to it yourself. If you’d rather wait for an official phone, according to Canonical, the release will happen this year, but it hasn’t been any more precise than that.
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Narendra Modi in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa first time targets BJP

 BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Chennai on Sunday.  (PTI)

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Chennai on Sunday. (PTI)
Hours before the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi touched base in Chennai to campaign for alliance candidates in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa dropped her reluctance and attacked the BJP for the first time ever in this general election — but only just.

This reluctance has been a subject matter of intense speculation and criticism, with opposition parties and even former allies in the Left terming her party as the team B of the BJP-led NDA.

Speaking at Karur on Sunday, the 20th parliamentary constituency she addressed since kicking off her campaign three weeks ago, Jayalalithaa urged voters to ensure that neither the BJP nor the Congress retained their deposits from any of the seats in the state, targeting both on the Cauvery waters issue.

While this marked a departure from her strategy, by limiting the attack on the BJP to Cauvery, Jayalalithaa literally watered down some of the larger criticisms against the saffron party like on the Ram Temple and uniform civil code.

Her criticism of the BJP also comes on the back of two recent developments. As the coalition equation stands now, the DMK has two Islamist parties on board, while the Modi-led NDA has none. Even though the ruling AIADMK has patronage among Muslim voters, its image as a potential post-poll ally of the BJP is bound to have an impact. On Saturday, TNTJ, a non-political Muslim outfit, withdrew the support it had pledged to Jayalalithaa citing this reason.

Secondly, the NDA is looking to increase its momentum ahead of the polls on April 24, lining up its top campaigners led by Modi himself.

While her rival DMK and its former ally Congress have been her targets from the beginning, Jayalalithaa and her party campaigners had steadfastly stayed away from criticising the NDA, BJP or Modi, with whom she shares a personal friendship.

Her rivals — barring the NDA constituents — have questioned her sincerity in working for a non-BJP alternative. The most stinging comment came at an election campaign in Trichy on Saturday, when a leader of DMK ally IUML described Jayalalithaa as Modi in a sari.

Being a marginal player, the BJP has little to lose in Tamil Nadu, but for Jayalalithaa, the stakes are too high to play nice for long.

In agrarian Karur, that is dependent on the disputed waters of river Cauvery, Jayalalithaa charged that the BJP had betrayed the people of Tamil Nadu in the past, and could not be expected to change. 

Claiming that she had left the NDA in 1999 after realising that it would not do justice to the state on the issue, the AIADMK chief pointed out that both the national parties had a stake in Karnataka politics but not in Tamil Nadu. “That is why they adopt similar position on the Cauvery water dispute,” she said.

As ruling powers in both upstream neighbour Karnataka and the Centre, the Congress and BJP had repeatedly betrayed the interests of Tamils, Jayalalithaa added.

Regional NDA allies MDMK and PMK too were attacked by the AIADMK chief, who asked these parties to explain what assurances they had obtained from the BJP regarding Cauvery waters. “There is nothing in the BJP manifesto on Cauvery. Because if they offer to release water for Tamil Nadu, they will not win even one seat in Karnataka… Those aligned with the BJP cannot help people on this issue,” Jayalalithaa said.

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Priyanka Gandhi was very keen to fight Narendra Modi in Varanasi, but Cong leadership said no

Priyanka Gandhi was very keen to fight Narendra Modi in Varanasi, but Cong leadership said no
Priyanka is believed to have made a strong pitch to contest because she felt Modi was “bad for the country” and needed to be “stopped”.
NEW DELHI: Imagine a Narendra Modi vs Priyanka Gandhi contest for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. It would have been the mother of all election battles, and would have put everything and everyone else in the shade. It would have electrified the nation and riveted the attention of the world.

Priyanka Gandhi is reliably learned to have been very keen to be the Congress candidate in the holy city. But the party leadership finally decided against fielding her.

(Update: On Monday morning Priyanka Gandhi told TV channels that no one in her family would ever stop her from contesting an election. Priyanka Gandhi said that her brother and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has often said that she should contest in elections. But it is my personal decision not to do so, she said.)

Priyanka, who has so far limited her political responsibilities to managing her brother and mother's Lok Sabha campaigns in Rae Bareli and Amethi, is believed to have made a strong pitch to contest because she felt Modi was "bad for the country" and needed to be "stopped".

Apart from perhaps tying up Modi in Varanasi and forcing him to curtail his national campaign, Priyanka's entry would have charged up the rank and file of the Congress at a time when a number of ministers and leaders were reluctant to fight elections of fear of losing (one senior Cabinet member is reported to have feared a rout). The fact that she was willing to place 'a higher principle' above a real risk of defeat would have sent out a strong and defiant message to the demoralized troops, and hopefully, the entire electorate, Congress insiders said.

"Even if she'd lost, the results would have been only known after the elections. But it would have come as a huge booster before. It was very courageous of her. That's something senior Congressmen who've run away from contesting didn't understand," said a party manager.

Senior partymen said the decision to not field Priyanka was driven by the logic of preferring a 'local' to take on Modi the 'outsider'. But there may have been other reasons too:

* The estimate that Priyanka's presence in Varanasi would have accorded Modi "too much importance";

* The fear that defeat of one of the three Gandhis might have dimmed the 'halo' around them;

* It would almost certainly have exposed Priyanka to attacks from Modi and the BJP on account of her husband Robert Vadra's alleged ties with real estate giant DLF and brought some of his other reported land deals under the microscope;

* Most of all, it would have diverted attention from Rahul and his campaign, and raised questions as to whether Priyanka's entry was an implicit acknowledgement of her brother's lacklustre leadership. There might have been some apprehension that Priyanka, by the force of her personality, would have greater gravitational pull than Rahul. She has been variously described by those who know her as "charming, charismatic and connected"; her political instincts are also said to be sharp, and she can work a crowd. The 41-year-old Priyanka's entry could have undermined Rahul's authority not long after he'd been officially anointed future leader.

For Priyanka, who is said to be very close to her one-year-older brother, the reason for wanting to contest in Varanasi was never to position herself as an alternative to Rahul, but to "fight the good fight", according to an insider. "She has no larger ambition to lead the Congress," he added.

Still, her desire to take the field against Modi is significant because it's in stark contrast to the continuing perception of Rahul being a reluctant politician, and because it shows that the younger sibling may not be averse to broadening her political interests behind the family boroughs of Rae Bareli and Amethi. For a long time now, there has been a subterranean demand, 'Priyanka lao, Congress bachao', which periodically finds public voice.

One of the reasons the Congress delayed naming a candidate for Varanasi was because it was weighing the possibility of naming Priyanka. But the actual decision against fielding her was taken some days before Tuesday's announcement of local MLA Ajay Rai as candidate for the Congress; the last few days were spent seeking a tacit understanding with SP and BSP for complicating Modi's job in Varanasi.

Significantly, early this month, in perhaps the strongest push yet for bringing Priyanka to the forefront of the Congress, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that Rajiv Gandhi spoke to him about his daughter's political aptitude way back in 1990. The question is: Was Dwivedi aware of the secret confabulations and was he trying to test the waters?

While promising to reveal details in due course, Dwivedi said, "As far as I know, her (Priyanka) interest in politics started at an early age. She was keen to understand political developments and the language of politics from the very start. I even have proof of this but I don't want to discuss it now. All I'll say is that Rajiv Gandhi told me something about this in 1990. That's all for the moment."

The comment immediately led a group of Congress leaders to claim, off the record, that there were plans afoot to bring Priyanka into active politics.

That plan has been shelved, at least for the moment. As for Rai's chances in Varanasi, even the boldest gambler is likely to think twice before placing a bet on him.

But Priyanka is clearly still interested in Varanasi, even if she's not in the fight herself. At a meeting at the Tughlaq Lane residence of Rahul last Monday, Priyanka gave Rai a pep talk soon after the party decided to field him.

"Priyankaji ne kaha ki aap jam kar ladiye. Unhone apna personal mobile number bhi diya aur kaha ki aapko jo bhi zaroorat hogi woh aap turant bolen. Woh aapko muhaiyya karayi jaayegi. (Priyankaji told me to fight wholeheartedly. She gave me her personal mobile number and told me not to hesitate to ask for anything that I may need and said I will be given every help)," Rai quoted her as telling him.
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Bihar voters like Nitish Kumar, but may want Narendra Modi at Centre

Bihar voters like Nitish Kumar, but may want Narendra Modi at Centre

While Nitish Kumar’s performance as chief minister meets with almost universal acclaim, voters don’t see him having a lot at stake in the Lok Sabha polls.
While Nitish Kumar’s performance as chief minister meets with almost universal acclaim, voters don’t see him having a lot at stake in the Lok Sabha polls.
PATNA: Bihar's voters seem to be a conflicted lot. Yes, Nitish Kumar has done well as chief minister, they acknowledge. But against that, they feel the need to support Narendra Modi's campaign to become the country's next prime minister.

With many looking to make a distinction between how they vote for state and centre, there seems to be something of a wave in favour of the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate in Bihar. This could mean Kumar's JD(U) taking a hit in the elections to the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats.

"What Nitishji has done for Bihar can't be forgotten. But we want Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs at the Centre," said Keshto Tanti of Kaban village in the Jamui (SC) constituency. "Of course, when his (Kumar's) time will come in the state assembly elections, we will back him with full force. We want him here as the chief minister for at least 10 more years. There is currently no other leader better suited for the top job than Kumar."

Tanti belongs to the EBC or extremely backward caste category, which like the Mahadalits constitute Kumar's silent support base. His fellow villager Subodh Thakur, again of the EBC, also spoke highly of the chief minister but said he was supporting Modi for the PM's post.

Pochu Razak, a Mahadalit of the adjoining Nabinagar village, affirmed his loyalty for Kumar saying he had done a commendable job but predicted a split in the EBC votebank.

"There is a buzz in the name of Narendra Modi and the EBC vote of my village may have split this time," Razak said.

The chief minister may still be able to count on the goodwill of the upper castes, although they could be upset with Kumar for his decision to split with the BJP. But their voting behaviour may be largely influenced by the Modi factor.

"Nitishji has done good work but the Brahmins of my village will vote for Modiji this time," said Ratneshwar Jha of Brahmin-dominated Markanda village in Darbhanga Lok Sabha constituency. "We are looking at the Centre this time around and the Brahmins especially are rooting for Narendra Modi."

In the case of Muslims, support for Kumar could be weakened because many of them regard the RJD and Congress as better equipped to counter the BJP and will opt for tactical voting on these lines, although they too praised the chief minister's development focus.

"It is not clear which way the Muslims will vote. But I guess the majority vote will go to the RJD-backed Congress candidate Ranjita Ranjan," said Tauhid Alam, 55, who runs a textile store at Simrahi Bazar near NH 57 in Supaul Lok Sabha constituency. "But it is not a vote against Nitish Kumar who I admit has been able to script a turnaround story in Bihar. We are voting for Congress because it has the political wherewithal to stop Modi from forming the government."

Kumar may not have been able to convince enough people that much hangs in the balance for him in the Lok Sabha election.

"Nitishji has no stakes in this election but we will back him in the state assembly elections to the hilt," Alam said.

To be sure, the Muslim vote could still go either way, depending on the winnability of the RJD or JD(U) nominees.
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