According to a report on Laptopmag.com, Office Depot associates "routinely lie about notebook stock" and would rather turn notebook customers away if enough isn't being spent on extras. Laptopmag.com says they themselves experienced this firsthand, and following a blog on the topic, users who purport to work for the retail chain chimed in with user comments suggesting it's true.
"At store level, OD puts too much pressure on sales consultants and managers to sell the PPPs (Product Protection PLans) & TDS (Tech Depot Services)," a reader going the moniker Office Depot Employee wrote. "I know of several stores in my market that will 'feel out' the customer to see if they are the type to purchase these services. If the customer lets on that they only want the computer and no services...then that store simply claims to be out of stock!"
The reader went on to say that employees are required to sell at least 30 percent on upgrades or risk getting written up or even fired.
Laptopmag.com says it contacted one of the readers (Rich, last name withheld) who comment on the story, who also provided a pay stub to prove he works for Office Depot. According to Rich, lying about notebook stock is not official Office Depot policy, but that store managers are held to a strict minimum "attachment rating" and could face disciplinary action if it falls below 30 percent. Instead of a percentage, sales associates must upsell $200 each week.
Hit the jump and tell us what your Office Depot experience has been like.
Pop the champagne and ready the party hats, IBM announced it has ranked #3 overall on the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, an annual list published by the Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) magazine, and beat out all other technology companies making the list.
"Some believe the current economic climate dictates corporate citizenship efforts be put on hold. At IBM we believe just the opposite. A strong commitment to corporate citizenship strengthens our brand and increases shareholder value," said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs at IBM.
To come up with the list, CRO magazine looks at the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. and uses publicly accessible documents to determine who the leaders are in seven categories. These include environment, climate change, human rights, philanthropy, employee relations, finance, and governance, with environment and employee relations being given the most weight.
Ahead of IBM are Bristol Myers-Squibb (1) and General Mills (2). Some other popular tech companies making the list include Intel (13), AMD (46), Dell (34), Microsoft (47), and Apple (77).
If all you can remember getting with your baseball cards is a stick of hardened bubble gum, then maybe you were born into the wrong generation. Or the right one, depending on your outlook. Today's baseball card collectors know nothing of the chewy goodness that came with the hobby years ago, and instead are being encouraged to sit in front of their webcam to bring their cards to life.
It's all part of Topps' new 3D Live series. Place one of the special cards in front of a webcam and a three-dimensional avatar of the player appears on the computer screen. As you rotate the card, so too does the avatar. By going to ToppsTown.com, you can play a catching or batting game with the cards you acquire. There's a term for this meshing of real-world and computer generated data, and it's called "augmented reality."
"This is the 'Beam me up, Scotty' version of a baseball card that will get kids to buy more," said Steve Grimes, chief digital officer at Topps. "We see this baseball season as a redefining moment for us."
And not a moment too soon, either. The sports trading card business has plummeted from a $1 billion per year business to a comparatively small $200 million per year. Technology is seen as hurting the industry, as collectors can easily and quickly look up sports facts online for any player.
On a related note, if you happen to score a 3D Live card of Manny Ramirez and find that his avatar refuses to play on your PC, nothing is amiss - it's just Manny being Manny.
We've seen some interesting advances in battery technology as of late -- ZPower, for example, promises we'll see its silver-zinc batteries in at least one notebook line later this year -- but don't count lithium ion out. A new breakthrough in lithium battery technology could lead to either a higher storage density than what's being used today, or the ability to charge and discharge much faster.
How it works is that the lithium resides in a material designed to move through the battery quickly, paving the way for charges to be shifted in and out of storage at a much faster rate than what's possible when relying on lithium ions to act as the primary charge carrier. The process involves creating a disorganized lithium phosphate coating on the surfaces of LiFePO4 crystals. Tweaking the ratio of iron to phosphorous in the starting mix and heating the material to 600C under argon for several hours, a material with a glass-like coating is created with high lithium mobility. This allows lithium to move quicklly through the outer coating.
The end result is a battery that can fully discharge in under 10 seconds, a feat that previously would have required using supercapacitors. Capacity retention is improved too, as after 50 charge and recharge cycles, no significant change in the total capacity of the battery was noted.
We’re not even sure what a “next-gen” is anymore (The next batch of consoles? Current PCs? What’s the Wii?), but whatever it is, it’s almost here, according to gaming’s own bells-and-whistles-slinging Xzibit-equivalent, Crytek.
This month’s GDC Expo, which runs from March 25-27, will see the unveiling of Crytek’s most ambitious project yet: CryEngine 3. The “all-in-one game development solution” promises to allow for development on most any machine – DX9, DX10, Xbox 360, PS3, etc. -- provided that said machine isn’t afraid of staring straight into the face of oblivion and watching it blink and contort its retched features at an infuriating 13 frames per second.
However, the engine certainly seems to be designed with “upcoming” systems in mind.
“Our complete game engine solution enables realtime development, ensures teams are able to maximise their own creativity, saves budget and creates greater gaming experiences. Also with our solution developers can start working on their next generation games today,” said Cevat Yerli, CEO & President of Crytek.
“CryEngine 3 is a revolutionary change from our previous PC-only engines – and we’re applying a similar revolution to the service we provide to developers using the software to create extraordinary games.”
The question, then, is whether or not Crytek’s newfound desire to join the cool kids club will lead its wandering gaze to spend less time hovering on the PC gamers who first gave it some love. However, knowing Crytek’s penchant for mind-blowing graphics – in addition to current-gen consoles’ somewhat surprising ability to remain graphically relevant at this stage in the game -- we doubt our concerns will matter too much in the long run.
The Windows Mobile marketplace was one of Microsoft’s major announcements at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It has been conveniently presumed that the online marketplace for Windows Mobile will be an application itself. But now that the Windows Mobile marketplace website is online, it is possible that the online application store may turn out to be a mobile-formatted website.
This conjecture has been spawned by the new Windows Mobile marketplace website, which greets users with a mobile-formatted “coming soon” message. It also must be noted that distributing apps through a mobile-formatted website will make it easier for Microsoft to make the marketplace available on both Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Mobile 6.1. But such a web-based app store will have its limitations. Though it is plausible, it’s merely a conjecture.
From inside the depths of a showroom within Lenovo’s Beijing office lurks this pretty little beastie. While details on this are scarce (no one is even sure if this is a working model), what we can say is that this is most likely a ThinkPad Reserve Edition (and bears heavy resemblance to a VAIO P).
Sadly, that’s all the information we’ve got. If you’re looking to see more blurred shots of the notebook, be sure to check some out over at Engadget.
Relative unknown HABEY has recently released an HTPC powered by an Atom N270 that’s capable of handling 1080p content (or so they claim).
The diminutive box, also named the BIS-6550HD, is supposed to be the most energy-efficient HTPC available, and while a fairly weak processor powers it, it has a powerful hardware decoder that allows it such powerful throughput. It also packs up to 2GB of RAM on a single DIMM, has wireless / HDTV tuner options, plenty of video output options, a multi-card reader, gigabit Ethernet and four USB 2 ports.
No pricing or availability information is available yet.
While some touchscreens seem to react when you hover your finger near it, Mitsubishi has turned this concept into something tangible with their latest tech – 3D motion tracking.
This 3D motion tracking is done with no extra cameras or sensors, and with an extremely high level of precision. So high, that it can measure your finger distance in increments of .08mm, up to a distance of 20mm, and does this action quickly enough that it can correctly guess the approach speed. It’s reported that this will most likely find its home in mobile devices, adding an extra level of interaction.
No word yet on when this will become available on a consumer level, but it has been mentioned that they’ll first use it in their own products (duh).