I don’t have one and certainly don’t expect to buy one but It's Time To Say Apple Watch Is a Success

At company’s quarterly earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the holiday period was the company’s “best quarter ever” for Apple Watch — both units and revenues — “with holiday demand so strong that we couldn’t make enough.” He added: Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch in the world, and also the most-loved, with the highest customer satisfaction in its category by a wide margin. Apple Watch is the ultimate device for a healthy life, and it’s the gold standard for smartwatches. We couldn’t be more excited about Apple Watch. Long time Apple commentator Rene Ritchie writes: There’s a strange narrative in the tech community concerning Apple Watch being a flop, a failure, or in some way, shape, or form, a disappointment. It’s particularly bizarre given Apple Watch, as part of the wearable market, is doing record numbers. It could be that there is no real “Smartwatch market”, just an Apple Watch market. Much like there’s no real “tablet market”, just an iPad market. Since it’s such a new product category and most of the existing products are still bound to phones, it could also simply be too soon to tell.John Gruber adds: I think we should stop talking about “smartwatches” and just consider Apple Watch a “watch”, period. In September, Apple claimed watch revenues second only to Rolex. How can it not be considered a hit at this point?

This Week 'IT Issues' Ground Delta Airlines' Flights

Delta Air Lines has been forced to cancel at least 150 flights, and expects to cancel even more. But “the IT department is working to rectify the situation as soon as possible,” they tweeted Sunday — more than four hours ago. Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes CNBC:
Delta Air Lines U.S. domestic flights were grounded on Sunday evening due to automation issues, according to an advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration… “Delta teams are expeditiously working to fix a systems outage that has resulted in departure delays for flights on the ground,” the airline said in the statement. “Flights in the air remain unaffected”. [And their international flights were unaffected.]

Delta also grounded 2,000 flights last summer after a computer outage caused by a power outage in Atlanta. At the time Reuters reported that “Airlines will likely suffer more disruptions… because major carriers have not invested enough to overhaul reservations systems based on technology dating to the 1960s.” And sure enough, just last week, another “IT issue” forced United Airlines to ground all their domestic flights.

Tostitos' Breathalyzer Bags Can Detect If You're Drunk — Then Call Uber

Tostito’s corn chips “has developed a special bag, available for a limited time, that can detect if you’ve had too much to drink.” Its all-black packaging measures your breath for traces of alcohol, and if the test reveals you’re sober, a green circle appears on the bag. But, Mashable reports…

If it decides you’ve been drinking — regardless of how much — an image of a red steering wheel appears on the otherwise stark black bag along with a reminder not to drive and a code for a $10 Uber discount (valid only on Super Bowl Sunday). And if you’ve had so much to drink that the mere act of hailing an Uber becomes a difficult chore, the bag will even do that for you. The package is equipped with near-field communication technology that will automatically order a ride when tapped with a smartphone.

Who's Responsible For Accidents Caused By Open Source Self-Driving Car Software?

Here’s the problem. “You could download Comma.ai’s new open-source Python code from Github, grab the necessary hardware, and follow the company’s instructions to add semi-autonomous capabilities to specific Acura and Honda model cars (with more vehicles to follow),” writes IEEE Spectrum. But then who’s legally responsible if there’s an accident?

While many legal experts agree OSS is “buyer beware” and that Comma.ai and its CEO Georg Hotz would not be liable, it’s a gray area in the law. The software is release under the MIT OSS license and the Read Me contains the disclaimer “This is alpha-quality software for research purposes only… You are responsible for complying with local laws and regulatons.” The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of court cases in the 1990s, ruled open source code as free speech protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The question is does that release the author(s) from liability. The EU has no EU wide rules on liability in such cases. One open question is even if the person who used the software could not sue, a third party injured by it might be able to since they are not a party to the license agreement.

An EFF attorney told HotHardware “Prosecutors and plaintiffs often urge courts to disregard traditional First Amendment protections in the case of software.” But not everyone agrees. “Most legal experts that spoke with IEEE Spectrum — and Hotz himself — believe that if you use the company’s code and something goes wrong, then it isn’t liable for damages. You are.”

All-Corn Diet Turns Hamsters Into Cannibals

A new paper outlines the efforts of scientists at the University of Strasbourg to determine why the European hamster has been dying off at an alarming rate… Previously, the rodent’s diet consisted of grains, roots and insects. But the regions in which its numbers were dropping have been taken over by the industrial farming of corn… Researchers in France have discovered that a monotonous diet of corn causes hamsters to exhibit some unusual behavior — cannibalism.
âoeImproperly cooked maize-based diets have been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide and cannibalism in humans,” the researchers point out, and they believe it’s the absence of vitamin B3 which is affecting the hamsters’ nervous system and triggering dementia-like behavior. Hamsters are already an endangered species in Western Europe, so this is being heavily-researched. And they obviously won’t improve their chances of survival with cannibalism.

Finally! Adobe Is Killing Contribute, Director, and Shockwave

Reader Krystalo writes: Adobe today announced Adobe Contribute and Adobe Director will no longer be for sale nor supported as of February 1, 2017. At the same time, Adobe is also stopping Shockwave for Mac updates and support on March 14, 2017 after the last release of the product. The reason Adobe gives for the death of Contribute and Director is simple: The company’s customers are embracing “the new features and efficiencies offered by Creative Cloud.” As for Shockwave, its content is made with Director, so the company is merely tying up loose ends. It’s about time.

Apple Is Moving Its Entire International iTunes Business To Ireland

Starting February 5th, Apple will be moving its entire international iTunes business from Luxembourg to its European headquarters in Cork, Ireland, according to a note sent to developers this week. The non-U.S. iTunes business consists of Apple Music and the individual stores for iTunes, iBooks and Apps. Internationally, iTunes is available in over 140 countries, while Apple Music is streaming in roughly 115 territories. Billboard reports: Apple announced its intentions to move its iTunes biz to Ireland in September when it transferred an estimated $9 billion of iTunes assets. At that time it also shuffled all existing developer contracts to Ireland-based Apple Distribution International. Like Luxembourg, Ireland is known for being a low-tax haven for international businesses. Last month, both Apple and Ireland announced they would appeal a record $14 billion tax bill from the European Commission, which earlier found it had been underpaying tax on profits across the European bloc from 2003 to 2014. Apple today is the biggest private employer in Cork, the Irish Republic’s second-largest city, with a workforce exceeding 5,500. Economists estimate Apple’s Cork operation pumps around $17 billion annually in salaries, tax and investment into the Irish economy.