Too busy to keep up with the tech news? Here are some of the more interesting stories from CNET News for Friday, June 3.
"Welcome to McDonald's. My name is HAL 9000. May I take your order?"
McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn't look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.
The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald's Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald's could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker.
The touch screens will only accept debit or credit cards, adding to the slow death knell of cash and coins. This all goes along with an overall revamp of McDonald's restaurants worldwide aimed at projecting a modern image as opposed to the old-fashioned golden arches with a slightly creepy (to my taste anyway) clown guy hanging around the french fries.
This puts McDonald's one step closer to opening up its first Alphaville location. At least our new computer overlords will be nice enough to serve us a Filet-o-Fish. Maybe they'll even throw in an iPad with the Happy Meal one of these days.… Read more
Medici is the iOS adaptation of Reiner Knizia's classic bidding game, a board-game simulation of a dockside auction over the course of three days, in which three to six merchants bid to fill the cargo holds of their ships.
As with adaptations of similarly complex, European-style board games, existing fans of this popular game will have a much easier time with this app--but thankfully, comprehensive rules (perhaps overly so) along with nine different AI choices (each with varying skill levels and tendencies) help to make the learning curve a little less steep. Gameplay is actually very simple once you'… Read more
Links from Friday's episode of Loaded:
New rules in Europe prevent Internet advertisers from tracking people without permission
The next version of Apple's OS X operating system may have a do-not-track option in the built-in Safari browser
Toshiba has a new hard drive that will self destruct in the wrong hands
Google now allows you to set your own background image in Gmail
You can now control your Netflix queue with motion control in Microsot Kinect
The next Madden NFL game will launch August 30
Today on preGame we demo just a fraction of what there is to experience in the epic sequel from BioWare, Dragon Age II! Tune in to see how the improved combat system plays, and check out the advanced automation features that are available.
But first, we'll talk about last week's Nintendo 3DS sell-out debut in Japan and whether we think the 3D portable system will have similar success here in the States. Also, we'll try and make sense of the European PS3 seizing that has begun because of a patent infringement claim filed by LG.
Right before … Read more
Motorola, attempting to expand its brand among European customers, today announced retail partners that will carry its upcoming Android-based Xoom tablet.
Among those partners in the U.K. are The Carphone Warehouse and its ally Best Buy, along with Dixons Retail, with its Currys and PC World chains. In addition, Deutsche Telekom will carry it in "selected markets," Motorola announced at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.
The Xoom, with a 10.1-inch display, will mark the debut of the upcoming version 3.0 "Honeycomb" edition of Google's Android operating system, which is tailored … Read more
Summer may seem like it's a long way off, but over here at Geek Gestalt, it already feels like it's just around the corner.
That's in large part because I'm already deep in the planning for Road Trip 2011, which will be my sixth annual journey in search of some of the best destinations around for technology, military, architecture, science, nature, and so on.
European telcos say companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook should pay to help them keep up with growing demand for data on their networks, according to an article published by Bloomberg today.
France Telecom-Orange, Telecom Italia, and Vodafone Group would like to charge content providers fees linked to usage to help cover the cost of upgrading wireless broadband networks.
France Telecom-Orange Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard discussed the issue at the "Le Web" conference in Paris Wednesday. Richard said the current mismatch between revenue and investment for Internet infrastructure providers is not sustainable.
"Service providers are flooding … Read more
As of November, the Italian city of Rovigo is home to the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar plant in Europe, SunEdison announced today.
SunEdison, a subsidiary of the silicon wafer manufacturer MEMC Electronic Materials, is right, but even it admits the claim comes with a qualifier by calling the 70-megawatt plant "Europe's largest single site solar farm."
For there are many large-scale solar projects both in existence and under way in Europe involving more megawatts, but very often those announcements of super-megawatt projects are really a series of smaller, interconnected PV farms spread out over a region.
Brandenburg, … Read more
If you live in the United States and have used your cell phone on a European holiday, it's very likely you became acquainted with Orange. I'm not talking about the color or the fruit, but rather the cell phone carrier.
Incorporated in 1994 and now a division of France Telecom, Orange is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world with both wireless and fixed data networks. That's not a small feat by any means, particularly when you consider that the company employs 166,384 people and serves 182 million customers in 32 countries. What's more, it also serves as a roaming partner for U.S. GSM carriers.
Up until this week, the main thing I knew about Orange was that it was the debut iPhone carrier in France. On Wednesday, however, I had the opportunity to talk with Olaf Swantee, Orange's executive vice president of operations for Europe and sourcing. Born in the Netherlands, but now with a home in Switzerland and an office in London, Swantee oversees Orange's business in 11 countries in Europe and the Caribbean. Swantee was candid and informative as we discussed wireless growth in developing countries and whether cell phone networks in Europe really are that much better than in the United States.
Q: What is your business focused on right now? A: It's much more about retention than acquiring new customers. First, we're focusing on after-sales services like customer care to make sure that our existing customers stay with us and spend more money with us.
The second key leader is efficiency. In mature markets you need to spend much more time defining the "how" than the "what." It's not so much about reducing costs, but about doing things better.
The third thing is new services. We really try to take our "people interface" really seriously. We want to make sure that our 90,000 employees working in call centers and in shops are installing things for the customer. We're helping people use their phones after they buy them.
That interface is the point of our differentiation, but it can't be just for free. This is something that operators are not used to. Mostly, they include [services and features] as part of a bundle or a package. In contrast, we're saying that there is a lot that's part of a bundle, but if you want something specific, you pay a small amount. We turn that interface into a profit center.
Q: A popular notion in the United States is that this market is behind Europe in wireless use and adoption. What do you think the differences between the two regions really are? A: There are a few things. To start, the networks [in] the Europe and the U.S. are different. Most of the time it's CDMA technology [in the United States], but [Europe] has networks built around GSM technologies like HSUPA and HSDPA. Our advantage in Europe is that those technologies scale a little bit better. So we don't need to have LTE tomorrow morning.
In the United States, [LTE] is a much bigger priority because the current networks are not sufficient to cope with the data growth. That's an important difference. We can do with twice and three times the growth right now. It's fascinating that even in small countries like Armenia, where the GDP per head is a tenth of what it is in the United States, data use is 40 percent of our revenue.… Read more