BlackBerry maker RIM set to lay off 2,000

BlackBerry maker RIM(Credit:
Research In Motion)

Troubled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is planning a major global restructuring that will include at least 2,000 layoffs worldwide, according to a report.

Canada’s Globe and Mail cites “several people close to the company” in reporting the news about the Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which, the Globe and Mail says, has about 16,500 employees globally.

The paper said the layoffs “will sweep across departments, ranging from senior positions in RIM’s legal division to human resources, finance, sales, and marketing” and that the pink slips will go out June 1, a day before RIM’s first quarter ends — if not earlier.

The report is not exactly unexpected. During a March 29 conference call, CEO Thorstein Heins said, “It’s clear to me substantial change is what we need.” RIM swung to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter amid an 80 percent plunge in BlackBerry shipments from a year ago. Apple and
Android phones meanwhile have seen their shipments soar.

RIM shook up its leadership team during the fourth quarter, with former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigning as director, and Chief Technology Officer David Yach and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, also heading for the door. And March and April, saw reports of a number of other senior-level executives being invited to leave. And this week, Head of Global Sales Patrick Spence made his exit from the company. (RIM also appointed a new chief operating officer and a new chief marketing officer this month.)

RIM laid off 2,000 workers last summer.

In an analysis piece last month, CNET’s Roger Cheng said, “RIM needs some radical changes to even have a chance at mounting a comeback.” Heins has said he’s not ruling anything out: selling assets, forming partnerships, licensing patents, or even — a worst-case scenario — selling the company. Such moves, Cheng notes, could help RIM boost revenue and profits in the short term, but its planned lineup of BlackBerry 10 smartphones — pitched as comeback devices — may not be able to compete with Android handsets and the

Some rumors set the launch of BlackBerry 10 as early as August of this year; others say it could be October.

CNET contacted RIM for comment on the Globe and Mail report and was told the company’s offices are closed till Tuesday.

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How Facebook’s Timeline is like genital herpes

How Facebook's Timeline is like genital herpes(Credit:
InWonderlandFilms. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

If this week has proved anything, it is that Facebook needs to be managed.

Let it get carried away with itself and untold eventualities can result.

That’s why Facebook, and especially its octopus-like Timeline feature is like genital herpes.

No, this isn’t my analogy. This thought came to the brains and talents of InWonderlandFilms.

I am infected with gratitude toward The Huffington Post for spotting this heady gem.

Its conceit is that Timeline (like all of Facebook) is something you have to deal with. You can’t let it take over your life, even though it was given to you when you never asked for it.

You can’t let it become, well, you.

Some might notice that the structure of the film and the performances of the actors closely mirror the Valtrex TV spots that so happily pepper our sporting broadcasts.

The remedy for Timeline is, in fact, real life. Indeed, some would say that real life can be a very fine remedy for Facebook as a whole.

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Obama Pot-Smoking Details Revealed in New Book

Obama Pot-Smoking Details Revealed in New BookPresident Barack Obama’s pot-smoking past is detailed in Barack Obama: The Story, a new biography of the Commander-in-Chief by David Maraniss, who had previously revealed Obama’s early girlfriends (including Genevieve Cook) in Vanity Fair.

The President himself has been remarkably and refreshingly candid about his past drug use, but new details of Obama smoking marijuana with his buddies at Hawaii’s Punahou School are still setting the web ablaze (sorry).


Maraniss writes, “When a joint was making the rounds, [Obama] often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!’ and took an extra hit.”

Yeah. Let’s all take a moment and let that image sink in.

“But Obama’s buddies, who called themselves the “Choom Gang,” didn’t mind him messing up the rotation,” he continues. “After all, this was Hawaii.”

Indeed. That’s not all. Maraniss writes that Obama was known for starting a trend called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” Use your imagination.

“When you were with ‘Barry’ and pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty,” writes the author.

“Your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

Maraniss also describes Obama’s technique of “roof hits” while hot-boxing cars … i.e. smoking up with all the windows closed: “When the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

The book is one of two biographies making the rounds about Obama. The Amateur, by Edward Klein, contains this alleged Obama divorce story.

Again, it’s worth noting Obama has been less than shy about his drug use in the past, writing about the topic in his memoir Dreams from My Father.

“Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it,” the future president wrote in the memoir, before taking a darker tone.

“Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. Except the highs hadn’t been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was. Not by them, anyway.”

“I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind, something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory.”

As Obama moved to higher stage, he’s also been forthcoming about drug use. On Bill Clinton’s absurd claim that he had once tried marijuana but “didn’t inhale,” Obama said smiling in 2007, “That was the point, wasn’t it?”

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Mount Everest climbers shares journey on Instagram

Mount Everest climbers shares journey on Instagram(Credit:
National Geographic)

Climbers on Mount Everest have been documenting the harrowing journey to the peak using their iPhones and Instagram.

Over the last month, the climbers on National Geographic’s commemorative climb to the top of the of the world’s tallest peak have captured moments filled with steep terrain and friendly locals, according to the Instagram blog .

The expedition is expected to make it to the peak on Friday and the magazine is hoping the team can share the victory in real time on Instagram under the @natgeo account. The magazine posted a QA with the climbers to talk about favorite techniques and filters, and using special gloves so their fingers don’t freeze off.

Climbers representing Outside Magazine have also been using Instagram on Everest over the past two weeks, with recent Instagram photos documenting rescue efforts to save stranded climbers. At least four climbers died last weekend, raising concerns about overcrowding at the top.

The National Geographic expedition commemorates the first American ascent, sponsored by National Geographic, in 1963.

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Crave giveaway: Puzzle package from Marbles brain store


Crave giveaway Puzzle package from Marbles brain storeMindstein asks players to answer five successive multiple-choice questions in their heads and then unscramble a five-letter word based on the letters associated with each correct answer.

Marbles: The Brain Store)

First off, congrats to Andrew P. of Ann Arbor, Mich., for winning a Zoom Q3HD HD video recorder in our last giveaway. Now, get your gray matter in gear. This week, we’re giving away a bundle of fun from Marbles: The Brain Store, a purveyor of games, puzzles, books, and software aimed at strengthening your brain. (If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, Marbles opens its first West Coast store tomorrow at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park.)

The Geekbox(Credit:
Marbles: The Brain Store)

The giveaway package will include The GeekBox, a collection of wooden puzzles that employ your memory, visual perception, and strategic thinking skills.; Mindstein, “a trivia game where it pays to be a know-it-all”; and daVinci’s Catapult, a build-it-yourself throwing machine perfect for ambushing pesky siblings or co-workers.

You’ll also get a Daily Brain Perpetual Calendar, which offers 365 puzzles.

Normally, this package of brain-teasing entertainment would cost you about $110, but you have a chance to get it gratis.How? There are a few rules, so please put down The Astrophysical Journal for a moment, brainiacs, and listen up.


  • Register as a CNET user. Go to the top of this page and hit the Join CNET link to start the registration process. If you’re already registered, there’s no need to register again.
  • Leave a comment below. You can leave whatever comment you want. If it’s funny or insightful, it won’t help you win, but we’re trying to have fun here, so anything entertaining is appreciated.
  • Leave only one comment. You may enter for this specific giveaway only once. If you enter more than one comment, you will be automatically disqualified.
  • The winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will receive one (1) package of games and puzzles from Marbles: The Brain Store with a value of approximately $110.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified via e-mail. The winner must respond within three days of the end of the contest. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.
  • Entries can be submitted until Monday, May 28, at 12 p.m. ET.


And here’s the disclaimer that our legal department said we had to include (sorry for the caps, but rules are rules):


Good luck.

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New Breaking Dawn Posters: Forever…

The Dark Knight Rises, The Twilight Saga will see your new TV spots and raise you a trio of exciting posters for Breaking Dawn Part 2.

The film comes out on November 16, 2012, which is clearly stated on all three photos – but we understand if you miss those numbers, considering the faces also featured below: Those of Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

Click through and ogle away now:

We’re still a couple months away from major promotional efforts revving up in honor of this final installment, but Summit Entertainment has at least unveiled a teaser Breaking Dawn trailer that depicts Bella as a vampire.

Look for the cast to be on hand this July at San Diego Comic-Con and for THG to be live with a full report. Until then, take comfort in the simple tagline on these posters.

The saga will last, in our hearts, forever.

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Private spacecraft near historic link

Private spacecraft near historic linkprivate spacecraft has maneuvered closer to the International Space Station in preparation for what would be a historic rendezvous Friday, the company behind the project announced.

The unmanned SpaceX Dragon that launched Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, has successfully completed all tests so far in preparation for the attempt to be the first private spacecraft to link to the space station, a SpaceX statement said Thursday.

If all goes well, the Dragon capsule carrying food, clothing and scientific experiments would connect to the space station’s robotic arm around 9 a.m. ET Friday, according to the company.

Stellar week for SpaceX founder Elon Musk

The mission, hailed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as a step toward a new future of private innovation in the space industry, comes as government funding of the space program decreases in an era of fiscal austerity.

According to the SpaceX statement, all has gone smoothly so far.

“Only minutes after the spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, its solar arrays successfully deployed, providing power to the spacecraft,” the statement said. “The door that had been covering sensors needed for proximity operations opened successfully.”

After that, Dragon orbited the Earth on Tuesday and Wednesday, “firing its thrusters to catch up to the space station,” SpaceX’s statement said.

On Thursday morning, “Dragon’s thrusters fired, bringing the vehicle 2.4 kilometers (about a mile and a half) below the International Space Station,” and the craft established a communications link, the statement added.

Connecting to the space station Friday will require NASA’s approval in a staged approach that the statement called “the most difficult aspects of the mission.”

Only after a series of maneuvers and tests are successful would the Dragon craft be allowed to approach the space station, and astronauts would “grapple Dragon with the space station’s robotic arm” to complete the attachment, the statement said.

If the connection goes as planned, the space station crew will open Dragon’s hatch Saturday, it said.

Private space travel: A new era begins?

Under the mission plan, Dragon will remain attached to the space station for two weeks before it plummets back into the atmosphere and splashes into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, according to SpaceX.

Tuesday’s launch marked the culmination of six years of preparation to bring commercial flights to the space station after the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet last year. It’s backed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal.

The Falcon 9 rocket that carried Dragon into orbit launched without a hitch Tuesday following a flawless countdown that came three days after a faulty valve on one of the rocket’s engines forced a last-second postponement.

At 180 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter, the Falcon 9 rocket is tiny in comparison to the football-field-long Saturn V rockets that carried Apollo spacecraft into orbit.

The cargo manifest for the trip included 674 pounds of food, clothing and miscellaneous supplies, 46 pounds of supplies for use in science experiments, 271 pounds of cargo bags for use in future flights and 22 pounds of computer equipment.

It will return with science experiments, hardware and used gear.

Cremated human remains were placed in the second stage of the Falcon and will orbit the Earth. Celestis Inc. charges families $2,995 to launch 1 gram of remains in this type of memorial spaceflight.

NASA’s Internet tool SkyWatch is providing information about viewing the Dragon from Earth.

The launch is an important step for NASA and the United States, which currently has no means of independently reaching space. NASA relies on the Russian space agency to ferry U.S. astronauts to orbit.

“What’s really important is not control, as much as it is the fact that the United States will once again be in the lead, will be providing our own vehicles to take our own astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station,” Bolden said. “It’s fine to rely on partners, but that’s not where the greatest nation in the world wants to be.”

SpaceX is conducting the flight as part of a contract that could be worth as much as $396 million, according to company spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham. The company has completed 37 of the 40 milestones in the contract and has received $381 million so far, she said.

Musk likened the significance of the launch to the growth of the commercial Internet — from its underpinnings as a government initiative to the technological, economic and cultural engine it is today.

“I think we’re at a similar inflection point for space,” he said. “I hope and I believe that this mission will be historic in marking that turning point towards a rapid advancement in space transportation technology.”

The first attempt to launch the rocket was halted Saturday when a flight computer detected high pressure in an engine combustion chamber. Workers replaced the valve Saturday, SpaceX said.

The company plans 11 more flights to the space station.

One of a handful of private companies receiving funds from NASA to develop a space taxi system, SpaceX hopes the experience with the cargo flights will help the company reach its goal of carrying astronauts aboard the Dragon.

The company is developing a heavy-lift rocket with twice the cargo capability of the space shuttle, and also dreams of building a spacecraft that could carry a crew to Mars.

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Parent set up fake porn profile in revenge against school official

Parent set up fake porn profileFrank Hendricsen, now the Interim Principal of the school.

Gateway Pointe Elementary School Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Ask not why people do things. Ask how it felt when they’ve done them.

I wonder, indeed, how Robert Dale Esparza Jr. must have felt last year when he set up a fake profile on a porn site. It was in the name of Frank Hendricsen.

Not necessarily a sexy name, that. But it so happened to be one belonging to the assistant principal at the school attended by Esparza’s then 13-year-old son.

I find myself moved by the reporting of the Arizona Republic on the conviction of Esparza Jr. for taking the identity of another and computer fraud.

You see, Esparza Jr. wandered on to a porn site, created the profile and then added 20 porn videos to it. This didn’t quite satiate. So he began to enter into sexy chats on the site and even set up an e-mail address under Hendricsen’s name.

His idea was apparently to excite those who subsequently Googled Hendricsen. They would discover his allegedly racy second life.

Detective Dennis Ogorchock, of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Computer Crimes Unit told the Arizona Republic: “I’m sure this guy (Esparza) felt that it was funny, thought it was a joke. He definitely could have damaged this guy’s (Hendricsen’s) reputation and his job prospects.”

What caused this all to come to court is that last year Hendricsen was offered a position at another school. Then one of the parents performed a Web search and unearthed his apparent proclivities, which, astoundingly, lost him the job offer.

The porn site cooperated with the police investigation and Esparza Jr. was located through his IP address. Hendricsen ultimately seems to have survived the ordeal, for he is now the interim Principal at the very same school then attended by Esparza Jr.’s son: Gateway Pointe Elementary.

But, really. What had caused the drive for this misbegotten revenge? Well, it seems that Esparza Jr. believed that Hendricsen had confiscated his son’s
iPod. That was it. Nothing more that I can find.

There is no evidence that this happened and the iPod never reappeared. However, now Esparza Jr. — who, according to police, initially said his son was the miscreant — is likely destined for jail.

No matter how much pleasure some things give you at the time, they need to be thought through. Otherwise, the laughter may turn to tears, handcuffs, and very difficult stares from men you’ve never met.

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Opinion: Get used to a life of layoffs

Get used to a life of layoffs Are technology companies ailing?

Hewlett-Packard certainly is. The venerable behemoth announced it will implement a restructuring that includes eliminating 27,000 jobs. HP tried to bring itself around by replacing its CEO last year. That didn’t quite do the trick, so now it’s resorting to the good old-fashioned mass layoff.

One suspects that HP is a little too venerable. It was the first “Stanford spinoff,” fittingly reflected in the presence of Hewlett Hall and Packard Hall in the engineering corner of the Stanford campus. Yet HP hasn’t stayed ahead of the innovation curve, failing for instance to adapt well to the tablet craze.

 This could be the end of an era.

Consider two Stanford neighbors of Hewlett and Packard Halls — Gates Hall and the Huang Center. Bill Gates’ company may be losing the innovation war, too. It’s getting pummeled by the tablets as well, and just this week Google’s Chrome Web browser overtook Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in popularity. By contrast, the Huang Center was funded by Jen-Hsun Huang, whose firm NVIDIA has been revolutionizing the supercomputer field.

But won’t those laid-off HP engineers be snapped up by the booming tech sector? Many will not.

The tech job market is excellent for younger workers, but many of those who are laid off and over 35 will find the market less welcoming. They’re perceived as too expensive. The HP layoff will consist disproportionately of older workers. Indeed, jettisoning the veterans is often the hidden agenda in mass layoffs. It’s no coincidence that many of the U.S. core engineering openings at HP have titles like Recent Graduate, Intern and Post Doc, all aimed at the younger crowd.

The difficulties of older techies have been investigated statistically in studies at American University and the National Research Council, but a very public human face was placed on this recently in an online town hall meeting with President Obama.

The wife of electrical engineer Darin Wedel explained to the president that her husband has never found a permanent job after being laid off by the electronics giant Texas Instruments. Granted, family issues restricted him to the Dallas area, but if the hype regarding a seller’s market for engineers were true, Wedel should have been able to find something in that region, which sadly has not been the case.

A former student of mine was a star at HP for 10 years or so, acquiring patents and promotions. Yet he, too, got caught up in a huge layoff, and could find engineering work only sporadically afterward. Ultimately he left the field.

Those who survive this round of HP layoffs will likely find themselves being asked to not only do their own jobs, but also those of the departed. Engineers are exempt employees, hence no overtime pay, and HP will accrue a net reduction in labor costs.

Another tried and true fix for a sick firm (and for the well ones) is to ship work abroad. A few years ago, HP executive Ann Livermore made it plain: “A basic business tenet is that things go to the areas where there is the best cost of production.” HP’s jobs Web page shows that 48 of the 113 open core engineering positions are outside the United States.

Unlike Livermore’s explicit position on cheap labor, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina said that HP offshores work because the American educational system doesn’t develop good math skills in its students. That claim is a red herring. HP workers, including those being discarded, are among the best in the business, and were whizzes in math when they were in school. Many of our technology leaders, from Hewlett to Huang, are products of the American school system.

The offshored operations often require U.S.-based workers to make periodic site visits. Survivors of the HP layoffs who always wanted to visit Singapore may now get their chance — monthly.

To her credit, HP’s current CEO, Meg Whitman, conceded that layoffs “adversely impact people’s lives.” But she insisted that the action is necessary. Probably so, but the message here is that engineers, like many others, will have to get used to a life of layoffs in a globalized economy.

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China cracks down on illegal visitors

China cracks down on illegal visitorsAt just after midnight on Saturday, in a bar down an old lane in Beijing, the band suddenly stops playing. Grabbing the microphone, the manager tells everyone to remain in the venue; the police are outside threatening to escort to the nearest police station any foreigner not carrying valid documents. The atmosphere instantly sours.

This is just one of many incidents that have occurred in Beijing over the weekend following last week’s launch of a 100-day campaign to “clean out” non-Chinese living or working illegally in the city. Until the end of August, all foreigners are expected to always have on them a valid passport, visa and resident permit, as stipulated by an announcement on Peaceful Beijing, the official Beijing Public Security Bureau account on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo.

If not, they will face repercussions, which range from fines to police detention and deportation.

A number for a hotline locals can call to report suspicious foreigners was also included in the announcement. Since then, the police presence in the main expat and student areas of the city has noticeably increased, households and companies have been spot checked, and queues at local police stations to register residency are large.

Lin Song, media officer of the Exit-Entry Administration Department under the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, was not available to immediately comment when asked about the crackdown. However, last week in an editorial in the Global Times, he remarked: “Some foreigners do not know Chinese laws well, and they might feel strange being randomly questioned by the police, but it is necessary to improve their legal awareness and make sure they stick to Chinese regulations.”

Beijing police announced on Thursday…read the rest of this story below

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