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We are a group of active cell phone enthusiasts who have set up this site as a place to talk about Lightyear Wireless and all things cell phone related. In the Lightyear Wireless cell phone forum you can ask/answer questions, discover how to save big money on your cell phone service, get tips and tricks, post cool apps, share or learn about rumors, phone accessories, customizing your phone, data, games, music, videos, cell phone trends, wireless technologies and new technologies, mobile developments, OS systems, likes/ dislikes about phone, carrier, etc… and even an unrelated forum area. To visit the Rant and Rave Cell Phone Forum click here.


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Microsoft watch beats Apple to market



Investors will watch the clock Thursday as Microsoft (MSFT) is launching its smartwatch, beating Apple (AAPL) to the market for the critical holiday season.

A Microsoft-branded smartwatch has been rumored for months — but the company Wednesday announced the “Microsoft Band” watch is now available for order for $199.

Several online app stores, including the store for apps for Apple’s Mac and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, showed listings for an app called “Microsoft Health.” The app extracts data collected by the newly announced watch. The Microsoft Store posted on its Facebook page it is sponsoring a fitness event in stores Thursday, presumably to promote the device.

The listing for the app says it will be available for all three major smartphone platforms, including Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. This makes the device very different than other smartphone makers’ wearable devices, which are tethered to just their equipment. Microsoft is making the bet that modern consumers have devices made by multiple companies and are looking for equipment and services that work on all of them.

In addition to being a timepiece, the Microsoft Band will offer health-related functions such as 24-hour heart monitoring, GPS distance measurement, step counting, calorie counting and sleep monitoring. The Microsoft Band app will also show the user a graph of their sleep, displaying how much was restful, light and how many times the user was woken up – indicating it’s designed to be worn overnight. The watch will also measure UV light exposure.

Windows Phone store

Windows Phone store

But the Microsoft Band packs productivity features, too, making it different than some limited-function sport bands. The Microsoft Band allows users to check stock quotes, view previews of e-mails and upcoming calendar appointments and access to Twitter, Facebook and text messages. The watch can also be used for mobile payments at Starbucks. The Windows Phone version of the app says the Band features Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, which can be used to set appointments and reminders by voice command. The watch also will have a charge that last two days, much better than other smartwatches that mostly need to be recharged nightly.

Investors will closely watch the Microsoft Watch since it’s the latest big hardware push from the Redmond, Wash.-based company since the debut of its successful Surface Pro 3 tablet computer months ago. Microsoft’s Surface business appears to be on the verge of being close to a billion dollar in revenue business. Microsoft’s future with hardware will be a key to accessing its market value going forward, says Norman Young, analyst at Morningstar in a note to clients.

Shares of Microsoft are up 35% this year as investors see Microsoft making a stronger push to win back consumers lost as competing mobile platforms have caught on. Consumer businesses remain a very small part of Microsoft. Microsoft’s consumer-focused products, Xbox and Windows Phone, account for just 0.5% of the company’s stock price and about 11% of revenue, stock-research system Trefis says. Shares closed Thursday up 13 cents to $46.62.

Microsoft’s smartwatch is also a showcase of the tech company’s key differentiating factor when dealing with the consumer: the watch will function with all three of the major smartphone platforms. It’s also a sign of the company’s push to increase the speed at which it gets consumer products to market. Apple’s watch, in contrast, will only work with Apple’s own smartphones and won’t be released until next year and for $350. It’s widely believed Apple’s watch will need to be recharged daily.

This is just the latest in what’s been a long history of Microsoft and watches. Back in 1994, Microsoft launched the DataLink line of watches that were a hit with watch enthusiasts, programmers and was even certified for space travel by NASA. The DataLink allowed users to transfer contact and schedule data wirelessly by holding the watch in front of a computer monitor. That original DataLink watch was followed in 2003 with a version of the DataLink co-developed with Timex to be a rugged sportwatch, called the Timex Datalink USB. Many developers wrote apps that ran on the watch. More recently, Microsoft launched in 2004 SPOT watches that used radio technology to provide one-way data feeds.

The Band is the latest. We’ll see what investors think at 9:30 ET Thursday when the market opens.


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Photo: Fans gather near San Francisco’s AT&T Park after Giants win World Series – @JohnSasaki1

Photo: Fans gather near San Francisco's AT&T Park after Giants win World Series - @JohnSasaki1 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flipboard launches 3.0 with redesign and ‘topics’


SAN FRANCISCO — Flipboard, the social magazine that has found millions of users through its popular iPad app, has unveiled version 3.0. New features include better search and "topics" to find more stuff to read.

The app was originally designed to take advantage of the new iPad in 2010. It became a popular way to keep up with news via Flipboard's unique twist — turning our social feeds from Facebook and Twitter into a visual magazine.

But most of Flipboard's audience — some 70% — now access it on smartphones (Apple, Android and Windows) so the new Flipboard 3.0 has been redesigned to take advantage of the newer, bigger phones.

"It's getting harder to tell the difference now between a phone and tablet," says Flipboard co-founder Mike McCue. "A lot more people have phones, and they have big screens now."

Flipboard has a user base of over 100 million people, and is adding 250,000 new users every day, says McCue.

Flipboard now has followers(Photo: Flipboard)

In version 2.0, Flipboard added the ability to make "magazines" out of subjects presented. Over 10 million magazines have been created.

Flipboard has topics to explore in version 3.0 of app(Photo: Flipboard)

The problem for readers and magazine creators was having their content found. With the new version, "topics" have been added to the menu, so that folks with interests in photography — underwater, aerial, street, portrait and planetary, for instance — can add these topics, and get new magazines based on their interests pushed to them.

The social media trend of "followers" has also been added for the new version of Flipboard.

The app suggests topics, magazines and people to follow, including, naturally, magazine makers.

The new Flipboard is available at the Apple, Google and Windows app stores.

Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter


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Ebola Nurse to Officials: Don’t Violate ‘My Civil Rights’

As Maine officials said they were preparing to get a court order to enforce a mandatory quarantine, Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox said tonight she is not willing to "stand here and have my civil rights violated."

"You could hug me, you could shake my hand, I would not give you Ebola," she said outside her Fort Kent home.

Her comments came hours after Maine officials said they would seek to force Hickox, 33, to obey a 21-day quarantine, although the order would first need to be approved by a judge before it could be enforced.

"When it is made clear by an individual in this risk category that they do not intend to voluntarily stay at home for the remaining 21 days, we will immediately seek a court order to ensure that they do not make contact with the public," Maine Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew said during a news conference this evening.

But legal experts say it's not clear whether such an order would be approved by a judge.

“The state has the burden of proving that she is infected, or at least was credibly exposed to infection, and also that by her own behavior she is likely to infect others if not confined,” said public health lawyer Wendy Mariner, who teaches at Boston University School of Law.

“The state is not likely to have any evidence of that,” Mariner said, adding that Hickox should be able to prove that she isn't infected and plans to take precautions to not expose anyone to her bodily fluids.

PHOTO: Nurse Kaci Hickox is on her way back to her hometown of Fort Kent, Maine (pictured).

Michelle McPhee

PHOTO: Nurse Kaci Hickox is on her way back to her hometown of Fort Kent, Maine (pictured).

Earlier today, Maine's governor and other officials said they were are seeking legal authority to enforce what started out as a voluntary quarantine. They also said state police were monitoring Hickox's home "for both her protection and the health of the community," according to a statement today from the Maine governor's office.

"We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community," Maine Gov. Paul LePage said. "We are exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being of the healthcare worker, anyone who comes in contact with her, the Fort Kent community and all of Maine. While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state."

Hickox was treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders. She returned to the United States on Friday, landing in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where she was questioned and quarantined in an outdoor tent through the weekend despite having no symptoms.

Hickox registered a fever on an infrared thermometer at the airport but an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark showed that she actually had no fever, she said.

After twice testing negative for the deadly virus, Hickox was released and returned home to Maine on Monday. The following day, the state's health commissioner announced that Maine would join the handful of states going beyond federal guidelines and asking that returning Ebola health workers self-quarantine.

PHOTO: Kaci Hickox is seen in a Skype interview from her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Oct. 29, 2014.

ABC News

PHOTO: Kaci Hickox is seen in a Skype interview from her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Oct. 29, 2014.

"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to have to legally enforce an in-home quarantine," Main Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a statement. "We are confident that the selfless health workers, who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country, will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect the residents of their own country. However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers."

Hickox said she doesn't think it is reasonable.

"I will go to court to attain my freedom," Hickox told "Good Morning America" today via Skype from her hometown of Fort Kent. "I have been completely asymptomatic since I've been here. I feel absolutely great."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't consider health workers who treated Ebola patients in West Africa to be at "high risk" for catching Ebola if they were wearing protective gear, according to new guidelines announced this week. Since they have "some risk," the CDC recommends that they undergo monitoring -- tracking symptoms and body temperature twice a day -- avoid public transportation and take other precautions. But the CDC doesn't require home quarantines for these workers.

Someone isn't contagious until Ebola symptoms appear, according to the CDC. And even then, transmission requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood and vomit.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here. To be notified about our live weekend digital reports, tap here.

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Microsoft lays off 3,000, ending latest round of cuts


SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft laid off 3,000 workers Wednesday, finishing a round of 18,000 layoffs that the company announced in July.

"The reductions happening today are spread across many different business units, and many different countries," a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The majority of those who lost their jobs, close to 70%, were former Nokia staffers, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella said in a blog post.

Microsoft purchased the Finnish company's handset business for $7.5 billion in April. Microsoft scrapped the Nokia X Android phones, shifting them to become Lumia products running Windows, Nadella said.

The rest of the layoffs were part of a strategic shift in direction to help Microsoft "become more agile and move faster," Nadella said.

His goal is to simplify the company, ending up with a flatter organization with fewer layers of management that will result in "more productive, impactful teams," he said.

The 18,000 employees who have lost their jobs represent about 14% of Microsoft's overall staff.

Of the 3,000 let go Wednesday, 638 were in the Seattle area where Microsoft is based.


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IBM, Twitter to partner on business data analytics – Reuters


IBM, Twitter to partner on business data analytics
A person holds a magnifying glass over a computer screen displaying Twitter logos, in this picture illustration taken in Skopje September 10, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Ognen Teofilovski. Related News. T-Mobile forecasts slower subscriber growth in 4th quarter.
Twitter, IBM announce a new data analytics partnershipFortune
IBM's Watson to Tap Twitter Data to Help Clients Make DecisionsBusinessweek
Most Active Weekly Options: International Business Machines (IBM)Schaeffers Research (blog)

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Tech Five: Facebook shares slide off earnings

Tech Five: Facebook shares slide off earnings


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Tech Five: Facebook shares slide off earnings

Facebook. Groupon. LinkedIn. AT&T. Microsoft. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23

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Another social network is watching its shares plunge in morning trading. Let's look at the tech stocks to watch Wednesday:

Facebook. Shares of the social giant dropped 6.3% in pre-market trading after warning investors of a revenue slowdown in the fourth quarter. Facebook CFO David Wehner said expenses would be "significant" in future quarter as it beefs up investments in existing products and weighs additional acquisitions. This year, Facebook scooped up virtual reality company Oculus VR and messaging service WhatsApp.

Groupon. The daily deals service will report third quarter earnings after the markets close Thursday. Last quarter, Groupon reported a loss of $22.9 million off revenue of $751 million. The company forecast third quarter revenue between $720 million and $770 million.

LinkedIn. The social network targeting professionals will report third quarter earnings after the bell Thursday. Analysts project revenue of $557 million with an earnings per share of 47 cents, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Last quarter, LinkedIn sales and profits crushed Wall Street forecasts.

AT&T. The Federal Trade Commission is suing the wireless giant for allegedly slowing the data speeds of millions of smartphone customers who held unlimited data plans. The FTC claims AT&T throttled the data of at least 3.5 million unique customers more than 25 million times.

Microsoft. The company is expected to release the latest version of its Office software suite to launch during the second half of 2015, reports ZDNet. Microsoft is also working on the latest version of its Windows operating system, also expected to launch next year.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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Tracking mobile usability in Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Level: intermediate

Mobile is growing at a fantastic pace - in usage, not just in screen size. To keep you informed of issues mobile users might be seeing across your website, we've added the Mobile Usability feature to Webmaster Tools.

The new feature shows mobile usability issues we’ve identified across your website, complete with graphs over time so that you see the progress that you've made.

A mobile-friendly site is one that you can easily read & use on a smartphone, by only having to scroll up or down. Swiping left/right to search for content, zooming to read text and use UI elements, or not being able to see the content at all make a site harder to use for users on mobile phones. To help, the Mobile Usability reports show the following issues: Flash content, missing viewport (a critical meta-tag for mobile pages), tiny fonts, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other.

We strongly recommend you take a look at these issues in Webmaster Tools, and think about how they might be resolved; sometimes it's just a matter of tweaking your site's template! More information on how to make a great mobile-friendly website can be found in our Web Fundamentals website (with more information to come soon).

If you have any questions, feel free to join us in our webmaster help forums (on your phone too)!

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FTC: AT&T slowed speeds of unlimited-data smartphone users

AT&T is being sued by the government over allegations it misled millions of smartphone customers who were promised unlimited data plans but instead experienced slow speeds while browsing the Internet or watching streaming video. Newslook


AT&T slowed the data speeds of millions of smartphone customers with unlimited data plans, in some cases by nearly 90%, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The agency filed a complaint Tuesday in federal court charging that the nation's second-largest wireless carrier failed to adequately tell its unlimited-data customers that the company reduces or "throttles" data speeds if they use too much data in a given billing cycle. Such throttling often made many common functions such as Web surfing, GPS directions and streaming video difficult or nearly impossible to use.

"AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: 'Unlimited' means unlimited."

AT&T quit offering unlimited plans for new contracts in June 2010, but customers who had unlimited plans could keep them.

As wireless networks have improved, customers with unlimited data plans can gobble enough data to actually reduce overall network quality for the rest of a carrier's customers, says telecom analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics.

AT&T and other carriers must throttle those super-users as "basically, a network-management tool, because wireless capacity is not unlimited," Entner says. In court, AT&T will likely argue "that (the FTC) is unreasonable."

The FTC alleges that AT&T began throttling data speeds in 2011 for unlimited data customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period. Overall, AT&T has throttled at least 3.5 million unique customers a total of more than 25 million times, the agency says.

At the time AT&T started throttling, it had 14 million customers with an unlimited data plan, Ramirez said. The majority of those throttled were iPhone users. "We believe AT&T made the determination that the continuation of unlimited data plans would be too costly for them to sustain," Ramirez says.

But AT&T counters that the allegations are "baseless" and that the company adequately notified unlimited-plan users about actions it planned to take to maintain network availability for its entire user base.

"It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts," said Wayne Watts, AT&T general counsel and senior executive vice president.

AT&T may claim that it "was transparent about these practices, but clearly the government disagrees, and so do we," said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union. "We're glad the feds are going after companies that are ripping people off."

The Federal Communications Commission, which assisted on the case, has been warning carriers about throttling. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler this summer sent letters to all major carriers asking about throttling practices.

Earlier this month in another FTC-FCC matter, AT&T agreed to pay $105 million to federal and state authorities to settle charges that the carrier placed unauthorized charges for third-party services on customers' mobile phone bills.

Contributing: Natalie DiBlasio


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Review: New Nabi family tablet is big. Really big!

Personal Technology columnist Ed Baig takes Nabi's Big Tab for a spin.


NEW YORK — You heard rumors that Apple might unleash a bigger-screen tablet at its recent iPad launch event. It didn't happen.

But there is a brand-new big tablet just invading the market — and when I say big I'm talking biggggggg!

I'm speaking of the gigantic Nabi Big Tab HD 24 from Fuhu, an El Segundo, Calif., company known as a producer of tablets for kids. Big Tab is an Android tablet designed to encourage the entire family to cluster around.

Indeed, with 19.5- and 23.6-inch display models, the Big Tab is closer to a modest-size TV than what you would think of as a traditional slate, though the tabletop computing experience isn't entirely new — Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC comes to mind. At $449 and $549, respectively, the Big Tab prices are rather large, too.

You think of tablets as being portable, of course. Portability in this case means schlepping it from room to room rather than lugging it crosstown. My 7-year-old son, Samuel, said lifting the 13-pound, 24-inch model "put a strain on his muscles."

It does come with a removable frame that doubles as a handle and stand, which is a little awkward to deal with.

You also think of modern tablets as having a long-lasting battery. Although I didn't conduct a formal test, the battery surrendered way too quickly here. To be fair, though, I suspect most of the time you'll use this tablet near a power outlet.

You can lay the tablet flat — ideal for two-person games such as Hangman, Chess, Checkers or board games such as a Ladders and Slides, a variation on the classic Chutes and Ladders.

The Big Tab comes in two sizes.(Photo: Fuhu)

Or prop it up at an angle to engage apps or watch kid-friendly fare from partners such as Disney, Cartoon Network and Cookie Jar Entertainment. There are interactive eBooks, and you'll find grade-appropriate math, reading and writing lessons and exercises covering pre-K to sixth grade. The company says there are more than 17,000 lessons and 300,000 questions. Pre-loaded apps are designed to maintain your kid's privacy.

The large screen provides an excellent "canvas" for kids to draw on with their fingers. Kids can shoot their own videos, using a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. There's even a Nabi digital radio station, which is a bit frustrating to turn off.

There are two main modes of use on the tablet. Nabi mode is a curated and safe environment for kids, the area I figure they'll be in most, if not all, of the time.

Alternatively, Mom or Dad can use or manage the tablet in an unrestricted password-protected "Parent Mode," a more typical Android experience with, among other apps, access to the Google Play store.

The slate has 16 gigabytes of storage for apps, videos and other content.

In Parent Mode, there's also an App Zone app store where you can choose music, movies, books, apps and games for your kids, categorized by age and ratings. Kids need to ask parents for permission to add apps or engage in other activities, including sharing e-mails, instant messages and photos over a kid-safe network.

Parents can also set screen-time limits or restrict the use of particular apps, and track how their kids use the Nabi, even from an app on their smartphones.

Mom and Dad can also encourage physical exercise, or chart when Junior brushes his teeth, cleans his rooms or follows through on other chores. You can reward them by issuing Nabi Coins, a digital currency system that lets kids buy their own (parent-managed) content in a Nabi mode store. Parents buy the coins with real money.

Fuhu has a full-HD screen, which I didn't find all that sharp or the colors all that vibrant. Your youngsters probably won't mind, however. The screen wasn't always the most responsive to touch, either, at least when I was competing in Air Hockey.

The bottom line: I'm all for family activities and my kids enjoyed playing Fruit Ninja and other games on this supersize tablet. Ten-year-old daughter Sydney said it was like "a big iPad mixed with a Samsung Galaxy." Really big.


Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 24

$549, www.nabi.com

Pro. Big tablet can encourage family playtime. Kid-safe environment, parental controls.

Con. Screen and battery life aren't great. Expensive. Heavy for small kids.

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter.


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