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July 13, 2009

Office 2010 and iPhone bricks

Posted: 10:40 AM ET

Sometimes you come back from the weekend already feeling behind. Here are a few of the latest tech stories to help you get back up to speed:

Microsoft Office 2010 gets the buzz award of the day. The new version of the mammoth computer applicaiton suite, which will be released to a select group today,  is expected to challenge Web-based applications, like Google Docs, which have been gaining popularity. From TechCrunch:

As a direct challenge to Google Apps, Microsoft is rolling out lightweight, FREE, Web-browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. All based in the cloud, the web-based versions of these products have less features than their desktop cousins but still give users basic tools to edit and change documents.

More on what Office 2010 means in the big scheme of things from CNET:

According to Microsoft, the focus of this update was on three things: to make work flows more efficient; to effectively use Web applications to make your work available anywhere; and to make collaboration with others much easier.

Mashable has a good post on location-based phone services. A new survey says the number of people using location-based services will double to 5.7 million this year. The rise in GPS-enabled smartphones - those that know where you are and act like mini-computers - accounts for much of the increase.

Some cool ways to use these services, from the blog:

Apps are responding in kind. Zhiing is a new mobile app for sending friends your location as quickly as possible, Yowza sends you coupons based on what stores are nearby, and Google Latitude helps map out where you and all of your friends are. This type of information helps get the most relevant information to you as quickly as possible. Weather forecasts, nearby friends, and local train schedules are automatic.

For the parents among us, BusinessWeek has an interesting story on the federal government's slashing of a program to put more technology in schools. Check out the story for the details of the impact, but the core of the story is in this factoid:

The Obama Administration in May proposed slashing funding for Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT), one of the main government sources of technology for public schools, to $100 million in 2010, a 63% decline from this year's $269 million.

Finally, for those looking to purchase some of the many new gadgets out there - especially the iPhone 3G S - take note of this Ars Technica post, which says bricks instead of phones are turning up in some retail boxes. But don't blame the Apple store, the site says:

The general consensus, however, is that customers themselves are responsible for the large majority of these cases. People purchase an expensive item, take it home, replace it with bricks, and sometimes even shrinkwrap the box for a return. Many retail stores won't check a box that looks like it was never opened in the first place, making this an easy switch to pull.

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Filed under: gps • iPhone • Microsoft Corp. • Microsoft Office • schools • technology

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greenman   July 13th, 2009 11:21 am ET

I've never purchased a phone without the saleman opening the box right in front of me to confirm everything is included. Then again I always purchase directly from the AT&T store. Also, I would think that a brick would be much heavier than an iphone.

No apple here baby!   July 13th, 2009 12:37 pm ET

Just goes to show you how mindless Apple owners are. They've dumbed down devices soo much that any moron can use it. Even if the moron isn't smart enough to be using one of these devices in the first place. They continue to go out and buy these devices that last a year or so before you have to have Apple service the battery, but by that time there is another model to go waste your money on.

Matt   July 13th, 2009 1:26 pm ET

maybe by "brick" they mean a bricked iphone (non-working)? who knows.
Even at the apple store, the salesmen/women are supposed to take it out of the box and show it to you... they did for me

Jason   July 13th, 2009 2:47 pm ET

When I first read through it, I figured they meant broken/unusable phone, for which "brick" is the usual slang. (i.e. "I downloaded the new software update and my phone is now a brick")

But if people were actually subbing in honest-to-goodness house building materials, well I can only fault the person buying the device and not checking it before they leave the store. Open the box, turn on the phone, make sure everything is working before you walk out the door.

In other news, it's good to hear that Microsoft is learning, albiet slowly. Keep the feature-packed full version of office for power users who need all those fancy tools. And let everyone else just read the document without having to shell out $200.

mysticshadow   July 13th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

greenman, a "brick" is a Iphone that is inoperable or does not work.It is not an actual brick that is used in construction.

Best-Buy   July 13th, 2009 4:26 pm ET

I worked at a Best Buy back in 1995-1997 and they had to start having PC techs or someone from the department the return would go to check it before accepting it. Best Buy was receiving bricks in boxes that were shrink wrapped. People then stopped doing bricks and started returning older model items like an old hard drive, video card, old modem, etc... Nice way to get a free upgrade... Then people wonder why some places have high mark ups or ridiculous return policies (2 weeks or less for things that can be used for a vacation and then returned).

ithappens   July 13th, 2009 5:36 pm ET

surely you are trying to be funny. just in case however ... when the article refers to a brick, it is talking about a dead iphone.

greenman   July 14th, 2009 12:02 am ET

Well I had also considered that it was a broken iphone he was speaking of but its not all that irrational to believe it would be an actual brick since it seems to have been happening lately, primarily with mac books and hand held game systems where people got them home only to open the box and find, literally, bricks.

Here's just one example:

Granted this could all just be due to customer dishonesty.

greenman   July 14th, 2009 12:43 am ET

Also, If you read the entire bit at the end he clearly states that customers purchase the phones then replace them with "bricks" and even shrink wrap the box and return to the store. The way he words it, it could be construed either way.

greenman   July 14th, 2009 12:46 am ET

oh, and if you click the link he provides, it takes you to an article which talks about consumers discovering rocks and bits of cement in their ipod boxes as opposed to an MP3 player.

cha0tik   July 14th, 2009 1:05 pm ET

I had also worked at a Best Buy in 95-96 timeframe (during college) and we had found a video conversion box on the shelf that seemed "dirty" inside the shrink wrap. We opened the box to find a potato inside it. Sadly if it came back "shrink wrapped", the service desk rarely looked at it.

Tom   July 14th, 2009 2:14 pm ET

Reminds me of the time I purchased a "refurbished" computer at Sears many years ago, it even came with the original warranty of a new computer. When I got home and opened the package and plugged it in nothing happened. I found a note from the repair department in the box that this item was non-repairable (no one read that I guess). Turns out the computer had been gutted and weights placed inside. I walked out of the store with a brand new computer for my inconvenience. The store never followed up on the person who returned it.

Rick   July 14th, 2009 2:42 pm ET

I once bought a bargain-bin game for $5, got it home and found the box was completely empty.
They let me exchange it for another, which I opened at the register (and have ever since).

Fool me once and all that.

usawatchphone   July 15th, 2009 1:38 pm ET

It's obvious we live in a society where everyone wants something for nothing. I am a cellular retailer myself with 3G Watches. We sell cell phone watches, or watch phones. I would probably lose my mind if a consumer returned a watch phone with a brick in place of it. As a watch phone retailer, we have been scammed by consumers a few times. I don't think those devious consumers understand what type of impact they are having on many businesses. We encourage a positive relationship between our sales staff and consumers. We have definitely earned their trust. Visit us at and see how our technology is giving the iPhone a run for its money.

Matt   July 15th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

Haha. I thought they meant a lot of the 3Gs phones were "bricks" meaning they were opened DOA. They literally meant people were returning BRICKS! ROFL

page   July 16th, 2009 7:50 am ET

Okay, did anyone understand? The "brick" title is referring to a hacked iPhone that someone tries to update with the new 3GS software. Due to the hack the corrupt OS then does not update, it becomes corrupt and inoperable. Please read validated articles and not just blogs. Always double check your sources. You have been duped.

greenman   July 20th, 2009 2:07 pm ET

how...has anyone been duped? I'm not doubting that people have returned inoperable phones to the store but this particular blog speaks of actual bricks. Meaning people have returned literal clay bricks to the store so they can get their money back for the phone and still keep the phone. Did you fail to read the blog?

astrotrain   July 21st, 2009 1:35 pm ET

All Microsoft software has always been expensive, and after shelling out $300+ for Office 2010, you'll find next year it's been replaced with... yes you guessed it Office 2011...


Sun Microsystems 'Open Office' is a free (no strings, spyware, virus, etc attached) Office suiet, that reads and writes to all other Office Suites (MS Office, Corel, etc).

Open Office

Oh yeah there is a portable version to allow you to carry it around on your USB stick for "on the fly" document changes:

I don't even think you get that option with the $300+ Microsoft version.

As for ipods, blah, they are overated, I like my Archos 605 WiFi better, so much more for less, and its based on Linux.

Gary Martin   July 21st, 2009 3:56 pm ET

I wouldn't mind getting a brick instead of an iPhone. If, it were a brick of gold.

Shaftdaddy   July 21st, 2009 8:33 pm ET

I am a brick expert. There are no phones that can be used as bricks. I went to school for this and know it to be true. With over 30 years in the brick industry you can bet the farm on what I say about bricks.

Redman   July 22nd, 2009 6:23 am ET

Uh, no. The "brick" in this article refers to building materials put in the original box and returned. I guess some of you need to go back to your respective schools and ask for your money back. Maybe you will get lucky and the person you ask will have gone to the same school, and actually be dumb enough to refund it for you.

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