Friday, August 29, 2008

Warning: Windows XP SP3 Users IE 8 Beta 2 Installation Is Irreversible

Yesterday we reported that Microsoft had released the second beta version of Internet Explorer 8. Shortly after that announcement we found out that installing IE8 beta on systems running Windows XP SP3 would be irreversible.

According to a Microsoft IEBlog post, users of Windows XP SP3 who installed the IE8 Beta 1 pior to installing XP SP3 may actually find the browser being locked into their system without any chance to remove the browser without a full reinstallation of the operation system.

This scenario will be in place if you installed IE8 Beta 1 before installing Windows XP SP3 and you now are now choosing to install IE8 Beta 2 on top of Beta 1 - and ignore a window with a warning. Microsoft said that you will be able to install Internet Explorer 8 Beta2, but once installed, you will not be able to uninstall either IE8 or Windows XP SP3 later.

“If you chose to continue, Windows XP SP3 and IE8 Beta2 will become permanent. You will still be able to upgrade to later IE8 builds as they become available, but you won’t be able to uninstall them,” program manager Jane Maliouta wrote in her blog post.

To avoid being locked into SP3 and IE Beta 2 we strongly encourage you to follow these steps before installing Internet Explorer Beta 2 (Again this only applies if you installed SP3 after installing Beta 1 or the uninstall of Beta 1 is greyed out):

  1. Uninstall Windows XP SP3
  2. Uninstall IE8 Beta 1
  3. Re- install Windows XP SP3
  4. Install IE8 Beta2

For more information check out the IEBlog's guide "Upgrading To IE8".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Steve Jobs Has One Hell Of An Obituary, Even If He Is Still Alive

Steve Jobs may have been in a battle with pancreatic cancer and speculation over his health may continue to be a subject touched on by many in the press however he hasn't passed away, not yet anyways.
So it might have come as a shocker when Bloomberg financial newswire inadvertently published his obituary!

Gawker was able to grab a a full copy of the obituary moments before it was pulled Gawker. com - Steve Jobs's Obituary, As Run By Bloomberg and a minor retraction issued.

As previously mentioned there has been much speculation about Jobs' health since he appeared to have lost a great deal of weight and looked gaunt at the The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Many wondered if Jobs' was suffering from a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer that he had in 2003. Subsequently, rumors were fueled by media reports which further speculated about the health of the Apple leader, including debates about whether Jobs' health was a private matter (which I personally believe it is), if he was in fact ill -- which Apple denied. would like to wish Mr. Jobs a long happy and healthy life.

Malware That Is Out Of This World

NASA confirmed yesterday that Malware has managed to get off the planet and onto the International Space Station and it's not the first time that a worm or virus has stowed away on a trip into orbit.

Laptops brought aboard The International Space Station were infected with a computer worm known as W32.Gammima.AG.

W32.Gammima.AG is a worm that mainly attacks gamers. It spreads by copying itself to removable media and then attempts to steal passwords to various online games.

Wired magazine said that NASA characterized the virus as a "nuisance" and said it was only on "non-critical space station laptops" that have e-mail and nutritional experiments. Furthermore, NASA said the July virus wasn't the first computer virus to hit the final frontier.

"This is not the first time we have had a worm or a virus," NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told Wired. "It's not a frequent occurrence, but this isn't the first time."

The first public reports of the malware was logged on Aug. 14. In NASA's daily status report on the station, the agency said that Sergey Volkov, the ISS commander, was "working on the Russian RSS-2 laptop" and "ran digital photo flash cards from stowage through a virus check with Norton AntiVirus"

A week later, on Aug. 21, Volkov "checked another Russian laptop, today RSK-1, for software virus by scanning its hard drives and a photo disk."

The next day, Volkov transmitted antivirus scanning results from the laptop to Earth, and U.S. astronaut Greg Chamitoff scanned another computer for possible infection. NASA also said in Friday's report that all laptops on board the ISS were being loaded with antivirus software.

"All A31p laptops onboard are currently being loaded with [the] latest [Norton AntiVirus] software and updated definition files for increased protection," said NASA.

Microsoft Launches IE8 Beta 2

Earlier this week Microsoft delivered on a promise made early in June by long time Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, then still a full-time employee of the company, that it would post IE8 Beta 2 before the end of August.

The newest version of Internet Explorer offers a set of features that makes Web browsing faster and more intuitive, including more intelligent tabs, a much improved Address Bar, and new tools designed to deliver information from other Web pages and services.

The beta has other new features as well, including those that improve privacy and security, and InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Blocking or what some people have called "porn mode." The beta is still rough in some places, but for anyone interested in seeing the next big browser release, it's stable, useful and well worth the download.

Keep in mind that IE8 is beta, and therefore may be buggy. In addition, if you install it, it will replace IE7 rather than run alongside it, so you won't be able to run IE7 and IE8, although IE8's compatibility mode does a good job of working with sites built for IE7.

IE8 Beta 2 can be downloaded from its own page or from Microsoft's Download Center.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Misleading iPhone Advertising

Lawyers for Jessica Alena Smith filed suit in U.S. District Court in Alabama and seeking damages in excess of $5 million against Apple Inc. for misleading her with their commercials which said the newly-released handset is “twice as fast.”

In a 10-page complaint filed in court, Smith said that her iPhone 3G was not at all what Apple ads said it would be. While Apple made profit by selling its famed handsets, she, and other customers as well, had been misled into buying the new version of the iPhone, but did not get for their money what the producer said they would.

"Defendant intended for customers to believe its statements and representations about the Defective iPhone 3Gs, and to trust that the device was 'twice as fast at half the price'," the unsatisfied customer wrote in the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks "actual, general, special, incidental, statutory, and consequential damages," plus interest and attorneys fees.

Apple customers have been complaining about 3G network problems since the iPhone's July 11 debut. Since then, several thousand messages have been posted to Apple's support forum, detailing difficulties making calls from areas supposedly covered by a 3G network and griping about weak signals, dropped calls and slower-than-promised data download speeds.

On Monday, Apple issued an iPhone software update that a company spokeswoman said "improves communication with 3G networks." Complaints have continued to surface on Apple's support forum, reporting that the iPhone 2.0.2 update did nothing to solve their 3G reception and connection problems.

Smith's lawsuit touched on Apple's promises stating, "The defendant (Apple Inc.) expressly warranted that the defective iPhone 3G would be "twice as fast" and would otherwise perform adequately on the 3G standard or protocol," it says.

"The defective iPhone 3Gs do not conform to these express representations because they fail to connect and/or adequately maintain a connection to the 3G standard and/or protocol."

The lawsuit asked that a federal judge grant the case class-action status, claiming that "the proposed Class contains thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of members." Smith also asked the court to force Apple to repair or replace the iPhone 3G, and award her, and if the case is given class-action status, other iPhone owners, an unspecified amount of money in damages.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sony Announces New 160 GB PS3

Today at the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced it would release a new 160GB PlayStation 3 in Europe for €449 ($660) shortly after that announcement Sony Computer Entertainment America announced a similar model for the American market with a $499 price tag.

The new limited edition Drake: Uncharted Fortune PS3 bundle using the new 160GB hard drive will include a DualShock 3 wireless controller and a free download of the game PAIN. The limited edition bundle will go on sale in November, just time for the holidays.

President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Jack Tretton said in a statement, "As PLAYSTATION Network continues to evolve with our recently launched video delivery service and more exclusive games, PS3 owners are demanding more storage capacity. Consumers also are utilizing PS3 as an entertainment hub for their digital media, placing content such as their entire music collection on the hard drive. The 160GB PS3 system addresses this growing consumer demand in a compelling bundle that delivers significant value."

In addition to the new PS3 Sony also introduced a new Wireless Keypad accessory that attaches to the top of standard PS3 controllers. Sony says that the Wireless Keypad is paired to the PS3 by connecting it with the USB cable to the PS3 system. Once paired with the PS3 the keyboard connects to the PS3 with built-in Bluetooth.

eBay Cuts Fixed Price Auction Fees

ebay logo

eBay announced on Wednesday that it will be lowering fees on fixed-price "Buy It Now" listings in most categories. The highlight of the new fee structure is a flat rate of $0.35 for "Buy It Now" auctions and an extension of the listings' time length from seven to 30 days. eBay has also said they will let merchants list multiple quantities of the same item for a single $0.35 fee.

The most impacted category is the one for books, music, DVDs, movies and video games, which will see an even lower flat-fee listing fee of $0.15, but higher commission charges. A full run-down of the new fee structure has been posted in this page.

The move which becomes effective September 16, is a bid to reduce the clutter of similar items on eBay -- 100 pairs of white socks will now be sold as a group, for example. The change comes just in time to boost business heading into the crucial holiday season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Study Shows 35% Of Vista PCs Downgraded To XP

According to market research firm Devil Mountain Software, which runs a global community-based network to collect “real-world” metrics from windows computers, almost 35% of users who purchased a PC within the past six months downgraded from Windows Vista to Windows XP. Apparently, this trend continues, despite the fact that Microsoft officially retired Windows XP from retail and OEM channels back in June.

The survey covered more than 3000 users who voluntarily provided data to Devil Mountain's Devil Mountain came up with final results by matching vendor and system ID data from the database and comparing it with system vendor offerings, which enables the firm to estimate the number of systems most likely shipped within the past six months.

"Either these machines were downgraded by Dell or HP, or they were downgraded by the user after they got the machine," said Devil Mountain's chief technology officer Craig Barth. "In any case, these machines are no longer running Vista." The EULAs for Vista Business (including Vista Enterprise) and Vista allows end users to downgrade to Windows XP Professional. Barth noted that 35% is an estimate rather than an exact figure. However, he considers the result an indication that "people are taking advantage of Vista's downgrade rights."

The study does not mention the reasons customer give for using the downgrade option so frequent it just gives an estimate on the total numbers that have been downgraded. However, the news about the survey’s findings contradicts Microsoft’s expectations of stronger Vista sales in the short term. The downgrade option will bed phased out in a few months and then customers won’t have the alternative anymore.

There may be a glimmer of hope coming from Microsoft as soon as next year with Microsoft set to reveal Windows Seven features as early as next month. Until then I suggest anyone wanting to avoid Vista to check out and try some of my favorite Linux distributions, which include Open Suse, Slackware and Ubuntu.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Microsoft Set To Reveal Windows 7 Features Next Month

Microsoft said that it will publicly reveal details and "in-depth technical information" about Windows 7 to developers attending its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) set to take place from October 26-29 and at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) scheduled for November 5-7.

On Thursday Microsoft launched the new Windows 7 blog headed by Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan, senior engineering team leaders.

"With this blog we’re opening up a two-way discussion about how we are making Windows 7. Windows has all the challenges of every large scale software project—picking features, designing them, developing them, and delivering them with high quality. Windows has an added challenge of doing so for an extraordinarily diverse set of customers. As a team and as individuals on the team we continue to be humbled by this responsibility."

Microsoft has said it is aiming for the launch of Windows 7 for late 2009 or early 2010. The company first demonstrated Windows Seven and its new multi-touch technology, among other features, at the WSJ's D: All Things Digital conference in May.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AMD Launches ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, World’s Fastest Graphics Card

AMD today announced what is being labeled as the world’s fastest graphics card, the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Also announced today is the ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 graphics card.

Based on an advanced 55nm design and leading DirectX® 10.1 support, the ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series delivers engineering elegance and the industry’s most compelling feature set. The ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 is immediately available from e-tailers worldwide priced at USD $549 SRP, while the ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 is scheduled to be available in September at an estimated price of USD $399.

“The ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series is proof that our graphics strategy is working. The response from OEMs, system integrators, game developers, press, and most importantly, from gamers regarding the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series products has been incredibly positive. Now, only a few short weeks after the launch of those products, AMD reclaims the ultimate performance crown and continues to deliver winning products to market in the ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “The ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series continues AMD technology leadership with support for DirectX 10.1, tessellation, and now 2GB of frame buffer. The new products join a line-up of stellar offerings, all of which are designed to give gamers experiences that approach eye-definition computing.”

The graphics chips used on the 4870 X2 run at clock speeds of 750MHz, while the chips used on the 4850 X2 run at 625MHz. Another difference lies in the graphics memory used on the two cards. The 4870 X2 has 2G-bytes of GDDR5 (graphics double data rate 5) memory, while the 4850 X2 has 2G bytes of GDDR3 memory.

AMD ATI Radeon 4870 X2 reviews:

Source: AMD

Once You Know, You Newegg

Monday, August 11, 2008

Steve Jobs Confirms iPhone Kill Switch

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confirmed the existence of the so-called "kill switch" capability, some form of application blacklist built into the new 3G iPhone. Jobs came forward with the information following last week's ruckus over early reports of just such a function.

The admission came from Jobs at the bottom of a story in today's Wall Street Journal about Apple's first month of sales at its App Store.

Apple needs it in case it inadvertently allows a malicious program -- one that stole users' personal data, for example -- to be distributed to iPhones through the App Store. "Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull," he says.

Hacker Jonathan Zdziarski was the first to discover the mechanism that periodically checks in with an Apple Web page for applications that should be removed. Until Jobs' comments, Apple had refused to discuss the matter.

Zdziarski, author of the books iPhone Forensics and iPhone Open Application Development, offered up information on his blog on how disable the functionality using the iPhone Dev Team's Pwnage Tool.

So far there are no confirmed cases of Apple deactivating any iPhone applications remotely, however the company has been criticized for removing applications from the App Store without explanation. One such application was Nullriver's NetShare, which makes it possible for iPhone customers to use their high-speed Internet connections to provide Web access to a PC.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mozilla Labs Introduces "Aurora", The FireFox Of The Future

Mozilla Labs and Adaptive Path have unveiled their spectacular new Web 3.0 concept browser, codenamed Aurora.

Aurora has been designed with the intent of creating what Mozilla feels will be the Web of the future, featuring an integrated Web and desktop environment. "With Aurora, we set out to define a plausible vision of how technology, the browser, and the Web might evolve in the future by depicting that experience in a variety of real-world contexts."

Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

The Aurora browser demonstration shows a highly advanced way of collaborating data between two users from information gathered on the web. The information gathered and collated as "objects" can then be seamlessly dragged and dropped on to the desktop and dynamically manipulated.

The video shows two people (Alan and Jill) working in different offices comparing rain reports. In the demonstration Alan invites Jill to join him on a weather report page, where they each highlight important bits of information on the page for each other.

The video follows Jill as she enters a 3D visual bookmarking system in which related pages are grouped by cells, modeled after cells in the human body. Recently opened pages appear closer to the screen, and gradually fall back the longer they're ignored.

Aurora shows what could be a potential integration of all your desktop, web, networking and communication needs.

The guys at Mozilla Labs and Adaptive Path are quick to point out a few notes and points of clarification about Part 1 of Aurora:

  • This is not a demonstration of a real product. What you see in the video is a visualization of our ideas created by animators. Technologically, much of Aurora would be difficult or impossible to implement today. However, we expect everything you see to be possible in some form in the future.
  • We don’t expect this kind of change to happen all at once. There are many intermediate steps we’d expect interfaces to take between the present day and Aurora.
  • There’s a difference between “lots of stuff” and “clutter”, and the difference is relevance. In the spatial view, distance communicates time, but opacity communicates contextual relevance. If something isn’t relevant to what you’re doing right now in Aurora, it literally becomes invisible. When you change contexts — like moving from a music feed to a news site — the relevance of objects changes, and their opacity shifts accordingly.
  • The device Jill uses in Part 1 is real: It’s called the Novint Falcon, and it’s a 3D haptic controller. It not only allows movement in three dimensions, but it also simulates forces and textures. It’s currently being sold as a gaming peripheral, but we think it has the potential for broader applications. We didn’t work out exactly what the haptics of Aurora would be, but from the presence of the Falcon you can assume that it has some.
  • Yes, there are easter eggs.

For more information and videos on the Aurora project visit Adaptive Path.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

FCC Rules Against Comcast In BitTorrent Blocking Case

In a precedent-setting decision the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled against Comcast, finding the cable operator in violation of net neutrality rules by a margin of 3-2, but it will not issue fines.

The FCC asserted a new authority and ordered the cable giant to stop certain practices that interfere with online traffic. At a meeting in Washington, the agency called Comcast's actions inconsistent with "an open and accessible Internet."

The ruling came following a complaint by Free Press and Public Knowledge as well as a petition for declaratory ruling, the Commission concluded that Comcast has unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice. Specifically, the Commission found that Comcast had deployed equipment throughout its network to monitor the content of its customers’ Internet connections and selectively block specific types of connections known as peer-to-peer connections.

The Commission’s determination that Comcast was not engaging in reasonable network management is supported by the overwhelming weight of expert testimony in the record. For example, Professor David Reed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, widely respected as one of the architects of the Internet, said that “[n]either Deep Packet Inspection nor RST Injection” — Comcast uses both to manage its network — “are acceptable behavior.”

The Commission announced its intention to exercise its authority to oversee federal Internet policy in adjudicating this and other disputes regarding discriminatory network management practices with dispatch, and its commitment in retaining jurisdiction over this matter to ensure compliance with a proscribed plan to bring Comcast’s discriminatory conduct to an end.
Under the plan, within 30 days of release of the Order Comcast must:
  • Disclose the details of its discriminatory network management practices to the Commission
  • Submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these discriminatory management practices by the end of the year
  • Disclose to customers and the Commission the network management practices that will replace current practices
Source: (word doc/PDF)