BlackBerry sees 10 million BBM downloads in 24 hours

BlackBerry says its new app that opens up the proprietary BBM messaging platform to Android and Apple users was downloaded 10 million times in just over its first 24 hours of availability.

The free app was launched Monday morning.

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Using it, people with Android and iOS can exchange messages with friends and colleagues using the BBM system. The system notifies users when each message has been read and indicates when someone is in the process of responding. Files and photos can also be shared over BBM.

There are around 60 million active monthly users of BBM.

The launch of BBM on Android and iOS is about more than just making it easy for people to message BlackBerry users.

“We intend to be the leading private social network for everyone who needs the immediate communication and collaboration of instant messaging combined with the privacy, control and reliability delivered through BBM,” said Andrew Bocking, BlackBerry’s executive vice president for BBM, in a statement.

But to do that, BlackBerry is up against stiff competition from companies like Yahoo, AOL, and Google, which have operated open instant messaging networks for years. It will not only have to convince people of their need for a new platform and to download the app, but it will also have to get people used to exchanging a BBM PIN, an alphanumeric code each user has that identifies them, instead of their email address.

BlackBerry has struggled to keep a foothold in the competitive smartphone market ever since it delayed an update to its OS. Over the last few years, the company’s handsets didn’t keep up with innovations in the market.

That changed earlier this year with the launch of BlackBerry’s OS 10, which was critically praised. But the earlier delay now has BlackBerry battling a perception that it’s an also-ran in the market.

Earlier this year, BlackBerry said it was exploring its options and has been in talks with several parties that are interested in acquiring the company.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn’s e-mail address is

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Nokia Lumia 1520 hands-on: the weighty new flagship is here

Don’t act like you didn’t know this was coming. Nokia has finally removed the see-through shroud covering its latest high-end device, known as the Lumia 1520, here at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi. Thing is, it’s not like any Windows Phone you’ve gazed upon before — it’s a top of the line smartphone …

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FDA rejects again Alimera eye implant; shares slide

(Reuters) – Alimera Sciences Inc said U.S. health regulators rejected for a third time its eye implant device due to safety concerns, sending its shares down 39 percent before the bell.

Shares of pSivida Corp, which sold the rights to Iluvien to Alimera in 2005 but is in line for a 20 percent share of profits, almost halved.

Iluvien, used to treat retinal swelling brought on by diabetes, has been approved by some European regulators but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected it three times in the past three years.

The FDA raised concerns about the eye implant‘s safety profile in its complete response letter rejecting marketing approval, the company said on Friday. Marketing approval is the final OK needed to start selling a medical device in the United States.

The FDA also referred to deficiencies at the facility where Iluvien is manufactured, Alimera said.

Alimera said it did not believe that these deficiencies will affect its European commercial supply.

The FDA suggested at least 12 months of follow-up for all enrolled patients in a new trial and a meeting with the regulator’s advisory panel to address the deficiencies.

The panel would advise whether a patient population can be identified in which the benefits of the drug might outweigh the risks, the FDA said. The panel will convene on January 27.

Iluvien is a sustained-release implant used to treat vision impairment associated with chronic diabetic macular oedema.

(Reporting by Shailesh Kuber; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Rodney Joyce)

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Zac Efron Celebrates 26th Birthday With Robert Pattinson, Joe Jonas and Michael B. Jordan

Zac Efron is starting off 26 right. The Neighbors actor — who successfully completed a rehab program five months ago — celebrated his 26th birthday last night at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, Calif.

PHOTOS: See Zac post-rehab

“Zac had a small birthday party at Chateau last night,” an insider revealed to Us Weekly. “No girls at the table.” But some of his famous pals that did make it out for the celebration included Robert Pattinson, Joe Jonas and his Awkward Moment costar Michael B. Jordan.

PHOTOS: Sexy shirtless hunks

Earlier in the day, the heartthrob golfed a few rounds with his father David at the Callaway Golf Center in Carlsbad. The single actor dressed casually for the outing, wearing jeans, a blue t-shirt and his black shades.

In mid-September, multiple sources confirmed to Us that the former High School Musical star completed treatment for problems with cocaine and alcohol. “He realized he needed outside help,” one friend explained to Us. “He reached out for it and is doing great now.”

PHOTOS: Zac’s buff body

Another source added: “He is cutting those toxic people out of his life. [His] friends are happy for him.”

Indeed, the actor has been in high spirits since the shocking reveal. He’s since thanked his fans for their support via Instagram and was recently photographed having fun with his former Hairspray costar Brittany Snow at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride on Oct. 10.

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Robert Pattinson Looks Buff in Tight T-Shirt in Hollywood

Mission: Accomplished? On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Robert Pattinson stepped out in Hollywood looking buff and in better shape than ever before. The 27-year-old Twilight actor, sporting shades and a scruffy beard, was spotted by X17online grabbing a bite to eat while wearing a fitted navy T-shirt, shorts and sneakers. Though casual, the body-hugging ensemble showed off Pattinson’s toned body.

PHOTOS: The many sexy faces of Robert Pattinson

Pattinson, who split from Kristen Stewart in May and is currently dating Sean Penn‘s daughter Dylan, has been training with Harley Pasternak to bulk up for his upcoming role in Mission: Blacklist.

“He tries to come whenever he is able to come in, so sometimes five days a week,” Pasternak recently told Us Weekly of Pattinson. “He has really got it going on all cylinders. He’s eating properly, he’s exercising . . . he’s not a fitness fanatic. He’s not someone who normally loves working out, but he’s just sort of in a rhythm now.”

PHOTOS: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s crazy 2012

The slim actor has long expressed a desire to get into better shape (though he never looked particularly out of shape), but said he’s never enjoyed working out. In an interview with Australia’s Sunday Style in September, Pattinson revealed that he gets very nervous before red carpet appearances and is insecure about his body.

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“I get a ton of anxiety, right up until the second I get out of the car to the event, when suddenly it completely dissipates. But up until that moment, I’m a nut case,” he told the magazine. “Body dysmorphia, overall tremendous anxiety. I suppose it’s because of these tremendous insecurities that I never found a way to become egotistical. I don’t have a six-pack and I hate going to the gym. I’ve been like that my whole life. I never want to take my shirt off. I’d prefer to get drunk.”

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Reporter Glenn Greenwald, eBay Founder Forming New Venture

Reporter Glenn Greenwald, who became famous reporting on NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s government surveillance programs, is leaving the Guardian to form a new media company with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Vincent Yu/AP

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter and blogger who broke the story on the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program, is leaving Britain’s Guardian newspaper to join a new media venture.

Reuters reported Wednesday that the project will be funded by billionaire philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. The 46-year-old Omidyar founded auction site eBay in 1995 and became a billionaire at the age of 31 during the site’s 1998 initial public offering.

Forbes estimates Omidyar’s net worth at $8.5 billion. He has funded journalism projects before through his Omidyar Network, a “philanthropic investment firm” he runs with his wife, Pamela.

However, in a conversation with NYU’s Jay Rosen on Tuesday, Omidyar revealed that the new venture will be funded outside of his philanthropy and with his own personal investment. He also said that there is no print product involved and it is an all-digital, for-profit news venture. It will also not be a niche product and will cover sports, business, entertainment and technology.

The news site, he said, will be based on a “personal franchise model.” In essence it appears the goal is to seek out more journalists like Greenwald who “have their own reputations, deep subject matter expertise, clear points of view, an independent and outsider spirit, a dedicated online following, and their own way of working.”

In a statement posted on the Omidyar Group site, he said: “I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens. I think there’s more that can be done in this space, and I’m eager to explore the possibilities.”

The initial news of Greenwald’s departure and the new media site was first reported on Tuesday by Buzzfeed. In an ironic twist, the news was leaked early, before Greenwald and Omidyar were prepared to announce it, so further details were not provided at the time.

Guardian spokeswoman Jennifer Lindauer said they were “disappointed” to lose Greenwald, but that they were leaving on good terms and considered him “a remarkable journalist.”

Greenwald posted this statement on his blog on Tuesday:

“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.”

The new site also sought to hire Laura Poitras, reports the Washington Post, the filmmaker who was instrumental in linking former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Greenwald and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post.

Greenwald told Buzzfeed in August that he and Poitras will continue to be the only two people with full access to the documents provided by Snowden.

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Did China Rip Off the Apache Helicopter?

Did China Rip Off the Apache Helicopter?

With fully integrated avionics, weapons, and communications systems, the AH-64D Apache is one of the most successful and deadly aerial assault platforms America’s ever fielded, and the technology that powers it is a closely held secret. Imagine, then, the DoD’s surprise when these images of what appears to be an intact AH-64D surfaced over the weekend. In China.

Read more…

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Israel on Edge – Gas Mask Supply Limited Due to Budget Cuts as Israelis Scramble to Prepare for Syria Attack

Members of the Knesset, Israel?s parliament, pointed to budget cuts Wednesday as the reason why 40% of the country?s population has been left without access to gas masks, as Israelis scramble to prepare for potential retaliation by Syria if the U.S. moves forward with an expected attack on the regime as a response to its use of chemical weapons.

MK Gilad Erdan, Israel?s Communications Minister, who is responsible for Israel?s postal authority, which distributes the gas mask kits and atropine syringes used as an antidote to some chemical weapons, called a meeting for late Wednesday with representatives of the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Authority for a new assessment of what preparations are still required, Israel?s Channel 10 reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Home Front Command call center lines collapsed due to the high number of inquiries for the gas mask kits. In Jerusalem, a distribution center was mobbed, and gas mask kits were looted, while in Sharon, Israelis rioted and the Army requested police to help restore order.

MK Eli Yishai, joint leader of the Shas party, and former Interior Minister, said funding to prepare Israelis for any war or unconventional terrorist attack, had been completely cut, and called on the government to fund production of more gas mask kits. The Jerusalem Post reported that NIS 1.3 billion ($364 million) is required to supply the 40% of Israeli?s who don?t have gas masks, in addition to NIS 300 million ($84 million) for maintaining and refurbishing them every year.

?We all hear the winds from the north, and this obligates the government to approve the funding in the relevant section,? MK Yishai told Channel 10, adding that, in the absence of more kits, the government should prioritize distribution to areas where the risk is greater.

MK Reuven Rivlin of Likud, a former Chairman of the Knesset, said: ?There was a failure and now [the government] is working to create affordable kits, but the ultimate responsibility is on the State of Israel. Until a year ago, the state budget supported the production and distribution of kits, but in the last budget the state participation was zero due to economic and social distress.?

On Sunday, the Israel Postal Company said its call centers have been inundated with inquiries for gas mask kits that protect the user from many of the harmful toxins used in chemical weapons, with four times the number of calls, and a three-fold increase in orders. Normally, 2,000 kits are distributed in Israel each day.

The increased concern comes as U.S.-led armies have increased their rhetoric calling for a military response after Syrian rebel forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad claimed the regime used chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel stronghold, in a suburb outside of Damascus, last week.


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Brandon Phillips goes off on Cincinnati Enquirer baseball writer C. Trent Rosecrans

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips apparently took issue with something written recently by the stat-minded C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer and went off on Rosecrans in the visitor manager?s office Wednesday evening at Busch Stadium with manager Dusty Baker looking on.

ESPN 101, a St. Louis-based radio station, just posted audio of the heated altercation online:

Here is our attempt at transcribing that exchange (with the requisite edits) ?

Phillips: ?Hey Dusty, the fat motherf***er on the end is worried about my on-base percentage. Why don?t you tell him to have me bat eighth with my on-base percentage.?

Rosecrans: ?I don?t care about ??

Phillips: ?Fat motherf***er. Make him happy, Dusty. Fat motherf***er. I?m tired of you talking that negative sh*t on our team, dog. I found out your Twitter name now motherf***er. It?s a wrap.?

Rosecrans: ?Wow, took you how many years? Congratulations.?

Baker: ?I ain?t in that, man. That?s between you and him.?

Rosecrans: ?That?s between him and him.?

Baker: ?OK, even better.?


UPDATE, 9:45 PM ET: The Cincinnati Enquirer has issued a response?about the incident:

There was a situation that arose this evening prior to the Reds and Cardinals game involving our reporter C. Trent Rosecrans and Brandon Phillips.

Phillips took exception to our analysis concerning his on-base percentage and a follow-up tweet after being moved into the second spot in the lineup. It is a fair subject to consider, and one our readers would expect us to address.

While we are disappointed in Phillips? reaction, we understand it is a pennant race and emotions are high during a crucial series with a heated rival. This isn?t the first time a player has lost his temper in response to a reporters questions and it won?t be the last. It is part of covering the team day-in day-out.

This will not affect our coverage of the team or Phillips. We plan on moving on from this and we hope Phillips does too.



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Baseball America Video: Gallo and Brinson hit home runs

Baseball America has a short piece up at their website that includes videos of Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson hitting home runs yesterday for the Rangers’ low-A affiliate in Hickory.

Pretty cool stuff, so be sure to click on the link and check out two of the Rangers’ top young prospects doing their thing.


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