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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Nov. 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM   |   Comments

Windows 8 not helping PC, tablet sales

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The introduction of the Windows 8 operating system hasn't lifted U.S. sales of PCs or tablet computers, sales and marketing analysis firm NPD Group says.

Windows device sales have fallen 21 percent compared to the same period last year following the highly anticipated launch of the software Oct. 26, the market research firm said.

Notebook sales were down 24 percent, desktop sales dropped 9 percent and Windows 8 tablet sales have "been almost nonexistent," NPD said Thursday.

"After just four weeks on the market, it's still [too] early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, told the Los Angeles Times. "We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for."

The sales figures excluded Microsoft's Surface tablet with Windows RT which also launched Oct. 26, NPD said.

Microsoft has not specified how many of the tablets it has sold.


Vultures to resume consuming dead in India

MUMBAI, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Parsi community in Mumbai says it will build aviaries at one of its most sacred sites so vultures can once again devour human corpses.

The plan comes after years of negotiations between Parsi leaders and the Indian government over restoration of a centuries-old Zoroastrian practice intended to protect the ancient elements -- air, earth, fire and water -- from being polluted by either burial or cremation, The New York Times reported.

With construction set to start in April, vultures may again consume the Parsi dead by January 2014, a Parsi spokesman said.

"Without the vultures, more and more Parsis are choosing to be cremated," Dinshaw Rus Mehta said. "I have to bring back the vultures so the system is working again, especially during the monsoon."

The Parsi community and the Indian government both said they hope the effort will also lead to the revival of two vulture species at risk of extinction.

The government would provide the initial population of birds, the Times reported.


Microwaves can create mold-free bread

LUBBOCK, Texas, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A technique that utilizes microwaves can make bread stay mold-free for 60 days by killing spores that make it go bad, its U.S. developers say.

Microzap in Lubbock, Texas, says the treatment in a sophisticated microwave array could significantly reduce the amount of wasted bread and can also be used with a variety of foods, including fresh turkey and many fruits and vegetables.

In normal conditions, bread will go moldy in around 10 days from the presence of Rhizopus stolonifer, the fungus that leads to mold.

Based on a metallic microwave device originally designed to kill bacteria such as MRSA and salmonella, the Microzap unit can kill the mold spores in bread in around 10 seconds, company Chief Executive Don Stull told the BBC.

"We treated a slice of bread in the device; we then checked the mold that was in that bread over time against a control, " he said. "And at 60 days it had the same mold content as it had when it came out of the oven."

Although the unit is similar to a home microwave oven, there are some important improvements, Stull said.

"We introduce the microwave frequencies in different ways, through a slotted radiator. We get a basically homogeneous signal density in our chamber -- in other words, we don't get the hot and cold spots you get in your home microwave."

The company said its device has attracted interest from bread manufacturers, although it acknowledges consumers might have trouble taking to bread that lasts that long.

"We'll have to get some consumer acceptance of that," Stull said. "Most people do it by feel and if you still have that quality feel they probably will accept it."


Apple released iTunes 11 after delay

CUPERTINO, Calif., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Apple has released iTunes 11, the latest version of its music and apps manager, delayed from October due to what Apple called "engineering difficulties."

First released in 2001 as a standard music player, iTunes has grown into a complex program including an App store, a music and movies store and a way to manage iPod, iPhone and iPad devices.

Mac users can obtain the update using Software Update in OSX and users of Windows PCs can have their current iTunes "Check for Updates," Mashable reported Friday.

While the most visible change is a completely overhauled user interface, Apple has also added a new mini-player, a refreshed instant-playlist tool, the ability to recommended songs you might enjoy and expanded use of Apple's iCloud.

Apple fans have been awaiting the new version since Apple announced it in September during its iPhone event it would be released in October.

Just before October passed, Apple announced a delay, saying more time was needed to polish the program.

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