Sunday, March 16, 2008

Top Stories Around The Web 3/16/2008

Gold jumps 2 percent to fresh record highs
Reuters
    Tokyo, Gold prices jumped more than 2 percent on Monday to hit new all-time highs as the dollar tumbled and news of the acquisition of Bear Stearns highlighted the depths of the U.S. financial market's problems.


Oil Rises to Record as Investors Buy Commodities on Dollar Drop
Bloomberg.com
    Crude oil rose to a record in New York as a sliding dollar and credit market losses in the U.S. prompted investors to buy commodities.


JP Morgan Pays $2 a Share for Bear Stearns
New York Times
    In a shocking deal crafted on Sunday to save Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay a mere $2 a share to buy all of Bear — less than one-tenth the firm’s market price on Friday.


Dalai Lama Watching Tibet 'Helpless'
The Associated Press
    The Dalai Lama called Sunday for his followers to protest peacefully against Chinese rule but said he would not order them to end demonstrations that have erupted into violence in Tibet and neighboring provinces.


Troops 'did not shoot Tibetans'
BBC News
    A senior Chinese official has denied that troops used lethal force to quell protests in Tibet's main city, Lhasa.


AOL Buys Bebo for $850 Million
AOL Money and Finance
    AOL said Thursday it will pay $850 million to acquire the online hangout Bebo, giving the struggling Internet company a foothold in an expanding business.


Hackers launch massive IFrame attack
ComputerWorld.com
    Hackers using a new scam continue to subvert hundreds of thousands of Web pages with IFrame redirects that send unwary users to malware-spewing sites, researchers said today.


Space Station Robot Is Up and Moving
ABC News
    Robot "Mr. Dextre," as the astronauts on the space shuttle and the space station have started calling him, is doing just fine.


Web creator rejects net tracking
BBC News
    The creator of the web has said consumers need to be protected against systems which can track their activity on the internet.
    Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system.


St Patrick's Day arrives early
The Guardian
    Large crowds turned out to celebrate St Patrick's Day yesterday with festivals in cities across the UK.

    London's annual parade saw bands, floats and stilt walkers make their way past some of the capital's most famous landmarks in front of tens of thousands of onlookers. There was also a festival of Irish music and dance in Trafalgar Square. St Patrick's Day officially falls today but many people decided to mark the event at the weekend.

Updated Guide to Buying Digital Converter Boxes

dtv coupon
Looking for Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes? Hopefully the information below will help you find the answers you are looking for.

Earlier this month I wrote a brief guide to buying digital converter boxes. At the time there was, and still is, very limited information available about most of the boxes. However I did find a few links that might be helpful to anyone that is still looking to buy their DTV box.

Getting Started
The first place to start, if you haven't already is to go to dtv2009.gov and apply for your convert box coupon. TV Converter Box Coupons will be shipped on a staggered basis to accepted households. They come in a clearly marked envelope and they come in the form pf a plastic card that look like a gift card. Coupons cannot be printed or downloaded from the Program Website and are not available to pick up at retail locations.

Where To Shop?
Currently DTV2009.gov only list the following four national retailers, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Radio Shack and Best Buy as participating in the program. They also list three online retailers Data-Action.com, SolidSignal.com and BSAT.net. Along with those options they've got over one hundred retailers total, mostly local, you can check the list via PDF.


Which Box Can I Buy?
Here is the current list of Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes however from the looks of it you are going to be limited to a few selections from the national retailers, the local guys might carry a broader selection but it really looks like it will just be hit and miss.

Comparison of CECB units

I recently came across a great side by side comparison page on Wikipedia. The page gives a pretty good break down on most if not all the current boxes on the market. There is also a good link for more information from ConsumerReports.org

Currently Available Digital Converter Box

The following products are sold in store only.



Online Shopping

RIAA Lawsuit Could Expose Investigative Techniques

Computerworld.com, An Oregon woman whose lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was thrown out by a federal judge last month plans to file an amended complaint Friday in a move that could finally force the industry group to share details about its controversial techniques for investigating alleged file sharers.

The original case, Atlantic Recording v. Andersen was dropped by the RIAA, due to an overwhelming number of counterclaims by Andersen. Andersen accused the organization of malicious prosecution, libel, negligence, invasion of privacy, electronic trespass and fraud. Sitting that that the recording labels had used unlicensed investigators to illegally gather evidence against her and that the RIAA had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

However once the RIAA decided to drop the lawsuit Andersen was allowed by the court to drop her counterclaims and file them instead as a direct legal action. That lawsuit, filed in August 2007, and charged the RIAA and five music labels with a string of misdeeds. However on Feb. 19 the suit was dismissed by Oregon District Court Judge Anna Brown. Sitting that that Andersen had failed to adequately state her claims for relief as she couldn't clearly identify the legal basis for each of her claims.

According to Lory Lybeck, Andersen's attorney, the amended complaint will ask the RIAA to provide details on a variety of issues, including how exactly Media Sentry goes about collecting its evidence against alleged copyright infringers, when the RIAA first engaged Media Sentry to carry out such investigations and how it decides which file sharers to sue.

Read more on this story at ComputerWorld.com

Vista SP1 On Windows Update This Tuesday

Microsoft's Windows Vista Blog already announced "Announcing the RTM of Windows Vista SP1" and gave us a target date for the mass release to public of "mid-March". Now several sites including Amazon.com and TechARP.com, the Malaysian Web site that nailed the update's release to manufacturing (RTM) date several days early, have said thats users would be able to download SP1 starting Tuesday, March 18.

The service pack has already been made available to OEMs, previous beta testers, volume licensing customers and subscribers to IT subscription services and has been leaked to torrent sites. However this is the first time it has been made available to the general public.

When asked by ComputerWorld.com to confirm the release date a Microsoft spokeswoman only repeated the company's earlier statements. "In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update and the download center on microsoft.com," she said in an e-mail. "Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1. Any system that Windows Update determines has a driver known to not upgrade successfully will not be offered SP1."

Microsoft recently cut Vista prices up to 48% in some parts of the world. With significantly smaller cuts of 15-20% here in the US.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New MySpace Page and Email

First off I'd like to say thanks to all of our great readers out there, I really appreciate the support. For the most part the blog has been doing very well, and the transition to out new domain has been rather smooth.

I've been working hard over the weekend to get a few changes made and hopefully I've got them all up and running smoothly. I'm still debating the transition to WordPress. I've played around with it and made a few test runs. But so far I haven't found a template or a theme that is to my liking.

So for the recent changes:
First and foremost I've got a new email address. Anyone wishing to contact me for any reason may do so via the new address in my profile. I won't post it here as I'd like to limit the spam as much as possible!

And secondly we are proud to announce our new MySpace page. MySpace is always a great way to meet new people and socialize so we went ahead and joined up. We'd like to invite anyone and everyone to add us as friends.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Intel Confirms Notebook Specific Quad Core CPU's



IGN News Service reports that Intel confirmed today that it will ship quad-core chips designed specifically for notebooks later this year.

The quad-core chips will be based on the Core 2 Duo microarchitecture and will ship in the third quarter, Intel officials said. Intel declined comment on chip details, though enthusiast Web sites reported the chip is Intel's Core 2 Extreme QX9300.

The Core 2 Extreme QX9300 will be manufactured at 45nm and have a core frequency of 2.53GHz. The CPU will come in a socket P package and support FSB speeds up to 1066MHz. The chip will include 12MB L2 cache and have a maximum TDP of 45W.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Verizon Adds P2P Improvements

Verizon announced that it will be using an improved form of peer-to-peer management technology to lower the cost of P2P applications used by customers on its network.

While other ISPs have banned, blocked or slowed peer-to-peer traffic in their efforts to keep users from sharing files across their networks Verizon has set out to help its users share files faster, as long as they are doing so legally.

At a conference in New York, the Verizon group will present test results showing that when an ISP cooperates with a file-sharing software maker they can speed downloads an average of 60 percent — though collaboration boosted some downloads six-fold on fast Internet connections.

"This test signifies a turning point in the history of peer-to-peer technology and ISPs," said Robert Levitan, chief executive of file-sharing company Pando Networks Inc. "It will definitely show ISPs that the problem is not peer-to-peer technology, the problem is how you deploy it. It is possible to deploy P2P to their advantage."

Net neutrality has been a heated debate recently, with companies like Comcast and AT&T deciding to fight back against P2P usage. AT&T announced earlier this year plans to block file-sharing and Comcast has been defending themselves against several lawsuits. The move by Verizon to embrace, at least some form of, file-sharing is a big step.

P4P technology does nothing to affect the number of inbound and outbound connections, which doesn't affect Verizon as much as say Comcast. So it probably won't be adapted by many of the other ISPs and Verizon Wireless will still forbid peer-to-peer applications on its network. However should this prove a success it could be a building block for future programs that allow legal file-sharing.

Trend Micro Site Hacked, Possibly Infected Users With Trojan

From ComputerWorld.com "Trend Micro site infected users with Trojan"

Antivirus vendor Trend Micro Inc. confirmed Thursday that "some portions" of its site had been hacked earlier this week, but hedged when asked if those pages had been serving up attack code to unsuspecting visitors.


"'When users viewed any of the modified pages, they were reconnected to other sites without realizing it, and a type of virus was installed on their computer that causes them to download other viruses in a series,'" Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan's largest newspapers.

Sophos, a Trend Micro rival, claimed that the hack had been an SQL injection attack and included a link to an alert Trend placed on its Japanese-language site that identified the malware as JS_DLOADER.TZE. The alert also said that users could have been infected by accessing one of 11 infected pages on the Japanese site or 20 pages on the English site, or by clicking a link embedded in the malware's name

Electronic Gadgets Preloaded With Viruses

CNN.com and The Associated Press reports; Electronic gadgets latest sources of computer viruses.

From iPods to navigation systems, some of today's hottest gadgets are landing on store shelves with some unwanted extras from the factory: pre-installed viruses that steal passwords, open doors for hackers and make computers spew spam.

Recent cases reviewed by The Associated Press include some of the most widely used tech devices: Apple iPods, digital picture frames sold by Target and Best Buy stores, and TomTom navigation gear.

In most cases, Chinese factories -- where many companies have turned to keep prices low -- are the source.

So far, the virus problem appears to come from lax quality control, perhaps a careless worker plugging an infected music player into a factory computer used for testing, rather than organized sabotage by hackers or the Chinese factories.

Microsoft Submits "Windows 7" For Antitrust Review

According to PC World Microsoft has submitted their follow-up to Windows Vista aka Windows 7, to the committee that oversees its U.S. antitrust compliance, to ensure the operating system is meeting the terms of the company's agreement with the government.

The Technical Committee will conduct middleware-related tests on future builds of the software aimed at tracking Microsoft's compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement, which requires the company to ensure its own applications do not have an unfair advantage over competitive software that runs on Windows. The agreement also requires Microsoft to make sure its software can work well with third-party applications. Lack of compliance with a 2004 antitrust agreement in the European Union has cost Microsoft nearly US$2.6 billion to date; the E.U.'s most recent fine against the company last month was $1.3 billion.

BattleBots Returns To TV

The very "Geeky" very popular television show BattleBots will be returning to television thanks to ESPN.

The first episode to air will be a Collegiate BattleBots Championship. The Championship will feature robots built by students enrolled in institutions of Higher Education and will air as a series on ESPNU and ESPN2.

BattleBots is also staging a Pro competition as well as introducing a new class the "Experimental Class". This "anything goes," experimental class has NO rules and NO weight limits.

They are hoping to start filming in the San Francisco Bay Area as soon a June 2008 however due to the level of interest from schools around the country and requests for more time to develop robotic entries, the event will likely be held in November.

Gone are the days of the "wedge"

Trey Roski CEO of BattleBots has made it clear: "I'm not going to allow wedgers,". There has been no mention of banning nor a mention of how they will keep them in check. They have supposedly added newer, more powerful arena hazards. "The ramps in the past were pretty slow," Roski says, referring to the compressed-air-powered panels springing up from the floor. "Now, these ramps could throw Toro five feet in the air." Super heavyweight Toro, was one of the most popular robots on the show, with its ability to launch targets with a pneumatic arm.

For more information checkout BattleBots.com

Asustek Still Backs Windows XP



Asustek, the world's top maker of motherboards, has confirmed that 60% of their very popular Eee laptops will be shipped with Windows XP.
"About 60 percent of them (Eee PCs) will have Windows XP operating system," Asustek Chairman Jonney Shih said at a news conference.


The company is currently selling two different versions of the Windows Eee PC laptop. The cheapest one, the Eee PC Surf XP, priced at $408 (U.S.), has a 7-in. LCD screen, 4GB of NAND flash memory for storage and 512MB of DDR2 dynamic RAM. The more expensive version, the Eee PC 4G XP, costs $473 (U.S.) and includes an additional 4GB SD card for storage as well as a slightly better battery, which can last up to 3.5 hours vs. 2.8 hours for the cheaper model. The more expensive model also will have a built-on 3-megapixel digital camera.

The lowest cost Eee PC available runs on a Linux OS from Xandros, carries just 2GB of NAND flash for storage and sells for around $261 however the company has predicted that the Windows version will out sell the Linux models.

ArsTechnia: $5 a month for legal P2P, Or Mandatory Piracy Surcharge?

The great folks over at Ars Technia published this article this afternoon, "$5 a month for legal P2P could happen sooner than you think". The article is related to the wired story "Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs", however after reading the ARS article it would seem (to me at least) that ARS missed Jim Griffins key points.

He is not advocating a voluntary system, whereas users could pay $5/mo to their ISP and have unlimited P2P downloads. From reading the wired article it looks as though he is in fact suggesting a mandatory collection of $5/mo per user from ISPs regardless of P2P usage. And we know any fees imposed upon them will be handed down to the consumer, P2P user or not.

Griffin's idea is to collect a fee from internet service providers -- something like $5 per user per month -- and put it into a pool that would be used to compensate songwriters, performers, publishers and music labels. A collecting agency would divvy up the money according to artists' popularity on P2P sites, just as ASCAP and BMI pay songwriters for broadcasts and live performances of their work.


Maybe I'm misreading the article but that would be my take on. I see nothing mentioning voluntary action, the way I read it the "Piracy Surcharge" would be mandatory for the ISPs thus becoming mandatory for subscribers. I for one do not need a higher bill from my ISP!

The article has sparked some interesting debate over at the Ars Technia forums.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Acer Releases Two Blu-Ray Laptops

Wednesday Aspire announced the release of the Gemstone Blue 8920g and 6920g, Acer's new multimedia notebooks. The laptops are part of the "Blue" series, which refers to the notebook's blue, black, and silver color scheme and interior/exterior lighting effects.

The 8920g will have an 18" foot print and features a Blu-ray drive, one or two hard drives with a possible combined capacity of 640GB, NVidia GeForce graphics, and up to 4GB of DDR2 667-MHz memory.

The notebook also includes an integrated TV tuner, six integrated speakers, and support for Dolby Home Theater sound technology. In addition, there's a touch-sensitive media console for navigating menus and adjusting volume without going through the standard Windows menu.

The smaller 6920 line will be a 16" footprint will pack many of the same features and is powered by the same Intel Centrino platform with only half the hard drive capacity.

No word on pricing at the moment but it is expected to range from about $900 to $1,700.

PopSci.com: Earth as You've Never Seen it

Popular Science's gallery Earth as You've Never Seen it has some awe inspiring shots taken from high-tech sensors on various international satellites. While they currently only have 10 images some of them look amazing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hulu Goes Live


Hulu the much anticipated online video on demand service made its public debut today. The service is a joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corp and will offer full-length episodes of NBC and FOX television programs, as well as shows from Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, Sci Fi, Style, Sundance, and Oxygen channels.

It has been said that Hulu has signed licensing deals with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to show select gmaes.

A similar program, Joost, was launched last year.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tech Savy Prodigies

One of the great things about the internet and technology is neither can discern a persons age. So anyone out there with a computer, a little technical know how and the drive to succeed is given the chance, no matter what their age.

Here are a few kids that prove that point, showing that you don't even have to be old enough to drive to succeed in the ever expanding online world. These talented youngsters all under 21 have shown that the next generation of entrepreneurs has got what it takes to compete with the big boys.

Comcate Founder Ben Casnocha

Ben Casnocha is one of the worlds up coming stars. At only 19 years old he has already started a successful business Comcate, written a book, My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley and has a personal blog that has been named one of the top 25 in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

For more information on Ben I'd suggest reading the interview "The WhizKid Files: Ben Casnocha:" from Tynan on Technology or the S.F. Examiner article "Ben Casnocha: Business prodigy living a large start-up life"

Whateverlife.com Founder Ashley Qualls

Before she could even drive Ashley Qualls was well on her way to making millions. Her site Whateverlife.com cashes in on the MySpace crazy. Specializing in MySpace layouts and designs for young girls, Ashley has built Whateverlife.com into a million dollar hit. Plans to branch the site out into an online magazine and a virtual store only mean more money making opportunities.

BizChair.com founder Sean Belnick

Sean Belnick took a $1000 a month eBay trading hobby and turned it into an online furniture business, BizChair.com, that grossed $38 million in 2007. Currently Sean is ranked number 2 on Inc. Magazine's list of America's "30 coolest young entrepreneurs" and his company employees more than 75 people and sells over 25,000 products to companies like Microsoft, Google and Abercrombie and Fitch.

myYearbook.com co-founder Catherine Cook

At 15 and unimpressed by sites like MySpace, Friendster and Facebook Catherine wanted to create something she and her friends would actually use. So along with her older brothers Dave and Geoff started myYearbook.com, the world's seventh-largest social network. Catherine along with her brothers are currently ranked 10,11 and 12 on on Inc. Magazine's list of America's "30 coolest young entrepreneurs".

iPhone wiz kid George Hotz

18 year old Geaorge Hotz became the first person to unlock Apple's iPhone last August, enabling it to work with any GSM wireless carrier. For doing so George landed a $50,000 Nissan 350Z and three more iPhones. He recently published another exploit that permits a full software unlock of the latest iPhone software, earning him an additional $1182 from a Web-sponsored unlocking contest.

As you can see from their list of accomplishments these teens are doing quite well for themselves. However not all teenage internet endeavors are on the positive side. Dark Reading recently featured the article "Hacking: The New Child's Play?". The article covers several illegal exploits carried out by teenage hackers.

Verizon Business To Deploy 100Gbps Network in '09

PC World reports Verizon to Move to 100Gbps Network in 2009.

Verizon Business' executive vice president of operations and technology Fred Briggs has said Verizon will deploy 100G network capabilities over all its major routes within the United States, which include routes connecting cities such as New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, in 2009.

Verizon became one of the first telecom companies to conduct a field trial over a native 100Gbps network last year. In addition to 100Gps network Verizon will deploy reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers that will allow the company more efficient management of its bandwidth by remotely provisioning wavelengths.

Winning The Web's Craziest Internet Marketing Contest

While visiting John Chow's blog yesterday I cam upon this post "Win 5,348 In Cash and Prizes from Winning The Web" and had to go take a look.


Gyutae Park owner/author of Winning The Web has came up with a great contest with over over $7,119 in cash and free prizes. All of which will help to take your Internet business to the next level.

The contest dubbed "the Craziest Internet Marketing Contest You’ve Ever Seen!" awards prizes from several great marketing sites. Including advertisers, SEO developers, blog optimizers and developers.

Prizes Recap - $7,119 Total

The winners of all of the individual prizes will be selected by a random draw on March 31. In order to participate in the contest, you'll need to perform certain actions that gain you more entries. The more entries you have, the higher your chances of winning a prize.

For more information visit Winning the Web

**Contest Clue #1 is already up Will You Stumble Upon a Crazy Prize?

Startup Advice, Mark Cuban Vs. Jason Calacanis

Whom would you rather take startup advice from, multimillionaire internet guru Jason Calacanis or multibillionaire Mark Cuban?

Jason recently posted "How to save money running a startup (17 really good tips)" which in turn sparked the posts "Calacanis Fires People Who Have A Life at TechCrunch and "Calacanis: Working at Mahalo is Like Prison Except We Gots Better Coffee" at Center Networks. A heated debate followed questioning Jason poor choices in business tactics for "Firing people who are not workaholics".

In response to Jason's post came Mark Cuban's post "A Couple of My Rules for Startups". In his post Mark pokes a few jabs at Jason, pointing out a few questionable spending areas and a few great ideas to help along employee relations.

Upon reading both you can see a few areas of similarity. Both are focused around cutting costs and raising employee productivity. However Jason's approach looks more of that or a forced labor camp. Run things with a firm hand, lots of fear and a domineering attitude. While Mark's ideas and approach are a little more open and casual. Increasing productivity through desire and positivity.

AMD 780G Chipset Reviews

amd 780g logo
Last week AMD released the new 780G chipset, this week we can show case some of the reviews..

First up is Motherboards.org's article "AMD 780G Chipset / AMD Athlon X2 4850e Platform Review" featuring the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H and the AMD X2 4850e.

As you can see from the numbers posted the new chipset and on-board graphics perform extremely well. So much so that Motherboard.org has concluded that, "AMD has redefined what the integrated graphics should be"

"With their first DirectX 10 integrated graphics chipset, AMD has redefined what the integrated graphics should be. Performance of the integrated graphics is near on par with the HD3450 that ATI sent with the kit. Integrated graphics that nearly equal discrete graphics of the mainstream is excellent, as that means you don’t have to purchase an additional add-in card for the $50 they are targeting the motherboard chipset at. Building a new system with an inexpensive CPU and memory is a definite boon to the OEMs."


Second is Tom's Hardware with the article "AMD's New 780G Chipset Has Powerful GPU" also featuring the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-SH2. This review takes it a step further (as Tom's alwasy does) and provides us with a few benchmarks using several different CPU's and dedicated video cards.

And again the conclusion seem to be the same. The new platform is a hit!
Conclusion - Very Fast On-board Graphics With HD Video Support
AMD's 780G is an improvement in every way over its predecessor, the 690G, offering better graphics performance, lower power consumption and greater functionality.



Legit Reviews previews more motherboards, the new MSI K9A2GM, ASUS M3A-H/HDMI, ECS R780M-A, Foxconn A7GM-S, J&W A78G and Jetway PA78GT3 in their article "AMD 780G Chipset Motherboard Preview". While not as impressive nor as informative as the above reviews it is still an article worth mentioning.


Current Newegg Pricing


All in all so far 24 Boards from 13 companies have been announced. From the looks of these reviews I'd say the 780G may just be the platform for my next project build.

News Corp Not Interested In Yahoo

According to Reuters media mogul Rupert Murdoch has said News Corp would not get into a fight with Microsoft Corp over Yahoo Inc.

"We're not going to get into a fight with Microsoft, which has a lot more money than us," Murdoch told investors at the annual Bear Stearns media conference.

It looks as though Yahoo will have to look elsewhere for salvation. Yahoo has been seeking to block Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid and possible hostile take over attempts.

CrossFire X Reviews


With last weeks release of the new Catalyst 8.3 drivers, ATI released support for what it is calling CrossFire X signifying support for 2, 3 and 4 GPUs.

According to the release notes:
"This release of Catalyst introduces CrossFireX Quad support. Users with any combination of a ATI Radeon HD 3870, ATI Radeon HD 3850, and ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics accelerators running with 3 or 4 GPUs will be able to run in CrossFireX Quad mode (when used in a CrossFireX compatible PC). CrossFireX Quad will deliver significant performance improvements in a number of applications. Users can expect to see further DirectX 10 QUAD CrossFireX performance improvements in future Catalyst releases.
Users are now able to run in CrossFireX™ (Quad) mode while running in extended desktop mode on the Windows Vista desktop"


Two sites have great reviews posted already, ExtremeTech's article "CrossFire X Performance--Two, Three, and Four GPUs in One" and Anandtech's "CrossFireX Arrives: First Look at 3 and 4 GPUs in 2 Card Setups".

Both article, as we all would have guessed reached the same conclusion. A single graphics card still provides the best cost to performance ratio. Moving to a dual-GPU 3870 X2 still delivers good price/performance, as many applications now scale pretty well to two GPUs. Three is where the value proposition starts to fall of in lots of applications, you may see a slight gain in performance but at a great cost.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ziff Davis Media Files For Bankruptcy

According to the Associated Press and Yahoo News Ziff Davis Media filed for bankruptcy.

Ziff Davis Media is the publisher of several technology and video game magazines including PC Magazine 1Up.com and Electronic Gaming Monthly.

It is reported that Ziff Davis owed $500 million in liabilities and only had $313 million worth of assets. It filed for Chapter 11 protection to restructure debt that had become burdensome. The company has reached an agreement with senior creditors, to whom it owes $225 million. Under the deal, the senior creditors will be owed $57.5 million and at least 88.8 percent of the common stock in the company once it emerges.

Make 3D, An Innovative 3-D Modeling Advance

Technology Review covers an article on new innovation in 3d modeling. Two researchers Andrew Ng and Ashutosh Saxena have developed Make3d, a Web service that lets users turn a single two-dimensional image of an outdoor scene into an immersive 3-D model.

According to the article Make3D's current algorithm only works on outdoor scenes or landscapes. With very limited support for indoor pictures and even people. However they are working to extend the algorithm to a broader range of settings, as well as improving the current site.

Robberson Brothers Sentenced For Piracy

Maurice and Thomas Robberson were sentenced Friday to multiyear prison terms for selling "massive" amounts of pirated software online.

The brothers have been estimated at making over a $1 million selling pirated software through their sites Bestvalueshoppe.com,TheDealDepot.net, CDsalesUSA.com and AmericanSoftwareSales.com. Both men have agreed to forfeit all their proceeds from the businesses, the Department of Justice said as well as serving sentences of 3 years (Maurice) and 30 months (Thomas).

From late 2002 through October 2005, these individuals ran businesses that sold counterfeit software from companies such as Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc., and Macromedia Inc., at discount prices. These counterfeit items were manufactured by members of the conspiracy and included labels that featured trademarks and service marks of the legitimate software companies.

Two other people who conspired with Maurice Robberson to commit copyright infringement have already been sentenced, the DoJ said. Danny Ferrer, 39, was sentenced to 72 months in prison Aug. 25, 2006, for selling more than $4 million in pirated software with a retail value of nearly $20 million on BuysUSA.com. Alton Lee Grooms, 56, who helped start some of the businesses and gained more than $150,000 in profit, was sentenced on Jan. 18, to one year and one day in prison, after he cooperated with the government's investigation.

For more information please read the DoJ press release

Friday, March 07, 2008

Answering Scott Wainner's Call To Increase Longetivity Research

Scott Wainner has posted a challenge to get us all involved in demanding more research to stop the aging process. Kudos Scott, I applaud the involvement and hope everyone steps up to take the challenge.

I personally have never felt strongly one way or another about extending life. After all we all live, we all die. However reading the resources listed for the challenge did raise a few thoughts in my mind.

Resources:


I sat controversial therapies such as gene mutation and stem cell research aside and headed straight for an area or two that have always been of interest to me, Nanotechnology.

There have been great breakthroughs recently with nanotechnologies such as nanotubes, nanoemulsions and nanoparticles. And I feel strongly that nanotech and nonotech research are going to be on the forefront of even greater breakthroughs in the next few years.

A recent article fromTechnology Review"A New Approach to Combatting HIV" discusses the potential of Nanoemulsion vaccines as a way to generate immunity to smallpox and HIV in mice.

Another recent article, "Wiring Up DNA", discusses the use of carbon nanotubes to rapidly screen DNA for disease-linked mutations. And promising strides have been made in using New Nano Weapons against Cancer.

The technology is out there and is showing its potential to build solutions to previously unsolved problems. With more research and greater funding the limits are boundless.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Circuit City HD DVD Exchange Program

circuit city logo
Several sites including PC Magazine and Gizmodo have confirmed that Circuit City is allowing customers who purchased an HD DVD player at Circuit City to return them to the retailer, which will give them store credit if received within 90 days of purchase.

Jackie Foreman, a representative for Circuit City, said in an email, "We did not make a public announcement about extended returns for HD DVD players, but we have instructed our stores to take care of our customers, therefore, we will accept returns for HD DVD players within 90 days of purchase. Customers returning these products will receive store credit for the purchase price."

The policy doesn't apply to HD DVD movie discs just HD DVD players, and it is reported your refund will come in the form of a gift card or store credit

Apple iPhone SDK Launched



Today Apple promised to reveal details on its software developers' kit for the iPhone. At the special event held this morning at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Apple executives said the SDK provides developers with the same tools it uses to develop applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.

“We’re excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.


Scott Forstall, Apple’s vice president of iPhone Software, explained that Apple had to build a version of its development framework, Cocoa. Dubbed Cocoa Touch, the new development tools are based on the touch interaction with the iPhone instead of the keyboard and mouse interaction users have with a desktop computer.

Forstall said the SDK is made up of several Core technologies. Much of what you find in the iPhone operating system is the same as what you would find in the Mac, except power management, which is even more robust on the iPhone, according to Apple. Core Services, Core Location and Core Audio will also be available to developers.

“So we have a fantastic set of tools, in addition to the amazing set of frameworks that make up the iPhone OS,” said Forstall.

On the enterprise end, the iphone will now support Microsoft Exchange. The iPhone can now work directly with the Exchange Server. Push email, push calendar, push contacts, global address list, remote wipe. We can also look for WI-FI with wpa2 and 8021x.
Enforce security policies.

Developers will have access to Keychain, Bonjour, SQLite and Core Location as well as a mature, Quicktime-based media layer including video playback, Core Audio, Core Image, Core Animation, PDF rendering, OpenAL, and OpenGL ES. Cocoa Touch gives developers access to the hardware and interface, including Multi-Touch events and controls, Accelerometer, View Hierarchy, Localization, Alerts, Web View, People Picker, Image Picker and the integrated Camera.

Apple will provide an AppStore for developers to distribute iPhone apps directly to users via download over WiFi or EDGE. Developers may specify any price or list apps for free however Apple keeps 30 percent to cover hosting, marketing, credit card fees and the like. Apple retains the right to not distribute any app if it is deemed to be malicious, invade privacy, or include "porn."

Apple allowed a few companies a head start and few apps are currently available. Apple developed a demo space shooter game, EA had a version of Spore AOL was on hand to demo a native instant messaging client, Sega demoed a version of SuperMonkeyBall, and reps from Salesforce.com and Epocrates showed off some business-critical apps they have in the works.

The free beta iPhone SDK is available now and can be downloaded from Apple’s Web site. The $99 iPhone Developer Program, also introduced today, will initially be available in the US and will expand to other countries in the coming months. Apple is accepting applications beginning today from enterprise customers who would like to join the private iPhone Enterprise Beta Program.

Update, 3/31/08
Apple released the second beta version of the software development kit for building applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

The free download is available online through the company's Apple Developer Connection Web site. The second beta of the SDK includes an interface builder, the Xcode integrated development environment, the iPhone simulator, frameworks and samples, compilers, and the Shark analysis tool.

Developers who want to test their code directly on the iPhone and distribute their applications through Apple's App Store have to apply for membership in the iPhone Developer Program.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Calacanis Wants to Ban Affiliate Links; What About Banning Employee Linking?

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CenterNetworks' Allen Stern writes Calacanis Wants to Ban Affiliate Links; What About Banning Employee Linking? "Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs 2.0 service Mahalo, has apparently left the world of pissing off SEO folk and is now pissing off affiliate folk. This time he wonders if the search engines (including Google, Yahoo and Mahalo) should ban affiliate links from being indexed."

Love him or hate him, one thing Jason will do is self promote. To me it reaches the extent of spamming. Its one thing to promote within your own blog or your own company, but having teams of employees actively posting links on social sites just to increase your traffic, page ranks or placement is no different than everything Jason says he's against.

Mahalo constantly asks employees, either part time guides or in house staff to push out the pages to their blogs and their social services. Once the social side of Mahalo was created Jason even sent out mass emails to everyone on Mahalo telling them to make sure to add his profile. And a big push was made for everyone to add all their profiles (MySpace, Flickr, Twitter ect), friends and any Mahalo employees they could so as to create a bigger web ring.

Some day Jason is going to have to give up his double standard and call Mahalo what it is. An SEO or SEM play. All you have to do is look at the page structure for so called "search engine result pages (SERPs)". Everything about the way pages are structured and created is directly geared towards optimization.

Now days they push more towards creating "stubs", optimized pages with 5-10 of the hottest links from Google, about the hottest trends. Maybe someone can tell me how these pages differ from Splogs. Scraping content and links from Google, chasing hot topics and Google Trends, if thats not Splogging I don't know what is.

Firewire Windows Hack

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Dark Reading reports Tool Physically Hacks Windows. Attackers using Firewire can take over a 'locked' Windows machine.

Adam Boileau, a noted hacker and researcher with Immunity Inc. originally built the tools two years ago. Winlockpwn bypasses Windows’s authentication system and lets an attacker take over a “locked” Windows machine without even stealing its password.

A hacker simply connects a Linux machine to the Firewire port on the victim’s machine. In turn receiving full read-and-write memory access and the tool deactivates Windows’s password protection that resides in local memory. Then he or she has carte blanche to steal passwords or drop rootkits and keyloggers or any other malicious code you like onto the machine.

On his Web site, Boileau said Microsoft doesn't consider the attack a legitimate security vulnerability. Indeed, as Microsoft points out in the third of its 10 Immutable Laws of Security, "If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it's not your computer anymore."

“That Firewire port is, as designed, literally there to let you plug things into your laptop memory banks,” says Thomas Ptacek, principal with Matasano Security. “When you think of Firewire, you really should just think of a cable coming directly out of your system's DRAM banks. That's basically all Firewire is.”

Ptacek says this tool raises the bar in physical hacking. “People think about physical hacking as something you have to do with a screwdriver and 20 minutes, under cover of darkness. Attacks like Adam's can be done in the time it takes you to pick up a sheet of paper off the office printer,” he says.

The tool has been demonstrated to work on PCs and laptops running Windows XP, Windows Vista, MAC OSX and even Linux.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Beta

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Internet Explorer 8 Beta is available for download. This beta is aimed at web developers and designers to help them take advantage of new features in Internet Explorer 8 that will enhance their websites. Id say this is more than likely not intended for general use so expect several issues.

IE8's list of new features includes:
Activities
Activities are contextual services to quickly access a service from any webpage. Users typically copy and paste from one webpage to another. Internet Explorer 8 Activities make this common pattern easier to do.

WebSlices
WebSlices is a new feature for websites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.

Favorites Bar
In Internet Explorer 7, the Links bar provided users with one-click access to their favorite sites. The Links bar has undergone a complete makeover for Internet Explorer 8. It has been renamed the Favorites bar to enable users to associate this bar as a place to put and easily access all their favorite web content such as links, feeds, WebSlices and even Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Automatic Crash Recovery
Automatic Crash Recovery (ACR) is a new feature that can help to prevent the loss of work and productivity in the unlikely event of the browser crashing or hanging. The ACR feature takes advantage of the Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer feature to provide new crash recovery capabilities, such as tab recovery, which will minimize interruptions to users’ browsing sessions.

Improved Phishing Filter
Internet Explorer 7 introduced the Phishing Filter, a feature which helps warn users when they visit a Phishing site. Phishing sites spoof a trusted legitimate site, with the goal of stealing the user’s personal or financial information. For Internet Explorer 8, we are building on the success of the Phishing Filter with a more comprehensive feature called the "Safety Filter."

PC Magazine's The Best Free Software

PC Magazine has compiled a great list of 157 free software tools you probably shouldn't live without.

Why spend money when you can get what you need for nothing? Every one of the programs listed is free, and in many cases better than software costing hundreds of dollars.

The top picks
    Adobe Reader This simplest of Adobe's PDF programs lets you do just about anything PDF-related (besides create new ones), including online collaboration. It includes a host of features to aid users with disabilities. AIM One of the most widely used pieces of free software ever, AOL Instant Messenger offers a ton of capabilities. Personally I prefer Trillian its free and works with almost all IM services. Audacity Whether you're recording or editing, Audacity is all about audio in practically any format. Firefox This PC Mag Editors' Choice Web browser has been on top of the heap since version 1.5 came out in late 2005. Look for FireFox 3 to be released soon! GIMP The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does most of what Photoshop does; the Gimpshop project (plasticbugs.com) even makes it look like Photoshop. GIMP is a great tool with many of the features and functions that Photoshop has, you can even use photoshop brushes and actions. iTunes When you're attached to the top media player in the land (iPod), success is a given. iTunes continues to build sales and refine its organization of songs, video, games, podcasts, and more. OpenOffice You can spend a lot for Microsoft Office or nothing for this suite with full-function word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, even an equations editor. Skype You'll pay to call regular phones, but if you sign up all your friends, Skype provides easy (and even international) calls and video-conferencing for nothing. Thunderbird Mozilla's no-cost e-mail alternative is extensible, fast, and easy to master. And a wealth of free add-ons means there's not much this program won't do, from calendars to encryption. Ubuntu Linux This Linux-based OS comes with many of these Hall of Fame products (Firefox, OpenOffice.org) preinstalled. WinAmp Windows After a decade of playing music, the "skinnable" WinAmp has several versions, including one with full CD ripping and burning.


The rest are broken down page by page into the following categories:

PC World's 11 Pimped Out PCs

Case modding has been around for years, and while not as widely popular as it has been in the past the niche is still going strong.

PC World shows off 11 mild to wild and even shaggadelic extravagantly modded PCs and Notebooks.

But if you think those are wild you haven't seen anything yet. Checkout the users gallery over at GruntVille or the wild mods at Bit-Tech.net. For even more great mods visit two more of my favorite modding sites Modders-INC and MofoCases.

eBay Padding Listing Numbers?

eBay logo
It looks like eBay is in more hot water with its sellers after reports have surfaced that they may be adding fake listings to boost the bottom line.

eBay on Tuesday admitted that a "bug" in its system had accidentally placed listings from eBay-owned shopping.com onto eBay.com late Friday night.

According to AppScout eBay blamed the false listing on a bug that was related to the gallery feature. A feature that has recently been offered to sellers for free and was supposed to go into effect February 20.

eBay admits the error and has said "when we wrote the code to implement that fix in the database table, there was a string that was left on there that populated and sent shopping.com listings onto ebay.com". The error sent 5,000 listings from shopping.com to eBay in the form of auctions.

Sellers pointed to the listings snafu as evidence that eBay was inflating its numbers to make up for losses sustained during the recent boycott. When the bug first emerged on Friday, the spokesman told a reporter that it was actually a planned test.

"But it wasn't a test. It ended up being a bug," he said. "So I ate a little bit of crow on that."

Sellers have not been convinced, and some are taking actions by forwarding "fake" listings to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

"I have been collecting all eBay's padded listings and forwarding them to the FTC so they will investigate them," one forum poster wrote.

For more information and further reading checkout the full article at Powersellers: eBay is Padding Post-Boycott Numbers

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mebroot Rootkit Virus

Mebroot rootkit infects a PC's master boot record (MBR), making it nearly invisible to security software.

F-Secure, a Finish anti-virus and computer security software company, originally discovered Mebroot back in December.

Trojan.Mebroot takes control of the system by overwriting the MBR with its own code. This allows the trojan to start before any other programs including the operating system. Which makes it nearly impossible for anti-virus programs to detect.

Analysis of Trojan.Mebroot shows that its current code is at least partially copied from the original eEye BootRoot code. The kernel loader section, however, has been modified to load a custom designed stealth back door Trojan 467 KB in size, stored in the last sectors of the disk.

For now, Trojan.Mebroot seems to run successfully only on Windows XP (all Service Packs) however Symantec Security reports there may be variants that will affect Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000.

Once a machine is infected, the hacker controlling the rootkit has complete control over the victim's machine, opening up the potential for a variety of other attacks. For example, the hacker could try and download other malicious software to the machine to log a person's keystrokes and collect financial or personal data.

F-Secure, which specializes in finding rootkits, says its technology is only able to "suspect" if Mebroot is on a PC. F-Secure has said it is possible to detect the trojan using their security software CD to boot up the PC.

Dungeons & Dragons Creator Gary Gygax Passed Away

Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.

He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.

Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys, and eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.

Gygax always enjoyed hearing from the game's legion of devoted fans, many of whom would stop by the family's home in Lake Geneva, about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee, his wife said. Despite his declining health, he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January, she said.

"It really meant a lot to him to hear from people from over the years about how he helped them become a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, what he gave them," Gygax said. "He really enjoyed that."

Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rules. The quintessential geek pastime, it spawned a wealth of copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that's still growing in popularity.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Besides his wife, Gygax is survived by six children.

AMD 780 Series Released

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Businesswire.com reports AMD has released what AMD is calling the industry’s most advanced motherboard GPU, the AMD 780 Series.

The AMD 780 Series motherboard GPU is scheduled to be widely available from more than 40 AMD partners at launch. Global OEMs are expected to offer AMD 780 Series-based PCs starting later in 2008.

The AMD 780 Series motherboard GPU is a core platform component for both the AMD desktop PC platform codenamed “Cartwheel” and AMD notebook PC platform codenamed “Puma” which are both scheduled to launch in the second half of 2008.

ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology & Mainstream DirectX10 Gaming

As the first AMD chipset to offer DirectX 10 game compatibility, casual gamers can now enjoy enhanced game performance, truly lifelike 3D graphics and dynamic interactivity in the latest game titles. Gamers looking to scale their performance with the addition of a discrete graphics card can achieve superior performance with ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology This technology harnesses the graphics power of both a discrete graphics card and the motherboard GPU in tandem, delivering in some applications up to 70 percent improvements in 3D performance. In addition, the AMD 780G chipset is the second generation AMD chipset to feature AMD OverdriveTM, a simple user interface that brings performance tuning and overclocking to the general public.

“AMD continues to deliver innovative hardware technology so that consumers and game enthusiasts can enjoy improved graphics experiences on Windows Vista," said Kevin Unangst, senior global director of Games for Windows, Microsoft. "The new 780G series chipset provides enhanced performance scalability in DirectX 10 to gamers of all types, from casual to hardcore, so that everyone using DirectX 10 on Windows Vista can have a fantastic gaming experience that is tailored to their needs."

The Ultimate Visual Experience™ for HD

The AMD 780G chipset brings a full HD experience with support for the latest and most demanding formats, including VC-1, MPEG-2 and H.264 to the mainstream PC. Featuring the AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD), it directs HD playback to the better-suited GPU rather than to the CPU so consumers may enjoy a smooth HD viewing experience—no lag, stalling or dropped scenes—in the latest HD-DVD™ and Blu-rayTM titles. As a cool and quiet solution, AMD 780G-powered PCs may be placed in the living room as part of a home theater. In addition, PCs built around the AMD 780G can give consumers tremendous flexibility with a broad range of video interfaces, including DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI, and with support for AMD SurroundviewTM consumers may connect to multiple monitors.

Energy Efficient Computing

As the world’s first chipset to deliver 55nm process technology, the AMD 780 Series motherboard GPU delivers optimal power management both in idle, or when playing Blu-ray movies, without compromising performance. This motherboard GPU provides more computing power than the previous generation, yet draws less energy at idle, making the AMD 780 Series- based PCs ideal for consumers and enterprises looking for cool, quiet, energy efficient PCs.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Buy.com RevolutionCard Promotion

Buy.com and RevolutionCard also the founders of Revolution Money Exchange are currently running a promotion of $50 off any purchase over $51.00 when using your RevolutionCard.

Promotion ends on March 21, 2008, is valid for new RevolutionCard accountholders only. So shoppers must apply and be approved for a new credit account with RevolutionCard.

The RevolutionCard offers
    Greater security because it's a PIN-based credit card.
    Non-embossed card helps protect your identity.
    No annual fee. No gimmicks.
    Low APRs with no teaser rates.
    Card issued by First Bank & Trust, Brookings, S.D.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

No Tech Hacking

Forbes.com covers a story on Johnny Long the "No-Tech Hacker".

Long shows us the no or low tech way hackers have worked for years by exploiting the simple things. Why use cross-site scripting, DNS poisoning or SQL injection when you can gain access through the back door. And no I don't mean through a software back door. I mean through the emergency exit.

"By law, employees have to be able to leave a building without showing credentials," Long says. "So the way out is often the easiest way in."

Hired to breach a secure building with proximity card readers, Long to the old-fashioned approach. Instead of looking for vulnerabilities or trying to hack the card readers at the building's entrances, he and another hacker shimmied a wet washcloth on a hanger through a thin gap in one of its exits. Flopping the washcloth around, they triggered a touch-sensitive metal plate that opened the door and gave them free roam of the building. "We defeated millions of dollars of security with a piece of wire and a washcloth," Long recalls, gleefully.

Long, who runs the site IHackStuff.com, has recently released the book No Tech Hacking: A Guide to Social Engineering, Dumpster Diving, and Shoulder Surfing also works as a penetration tester for Computer Sciences Corporation. A company which employees and outsources "white-hat" hackers to probe weak points in a company's information security.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Guide To Buying Digital Converter Boxes


Looking for Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes?

If you've already gone to dtv2009.gov and applied for and received your convert box coupon that means you are now looking for places to buy your new box. As of right now your options are going to be limited to a handful of stores.

Currently DTV2009.gov only list the following four national retailers, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Radio Shack and Best Buy as participating in the program. They've got over one hundred retailers total, mostly local, you can check the list via PDF here. Here is the current list of Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes however from the looks of it you are going to be limited to a few selections from the national retailers, the local guys might carry a boarder selection.

Where to buy your Digital Converter Box?

The following products are sold in store only and I'd suggest calling ahead to check for availability.



All four stores range from $49.87-$59.99 meaning you will need to pay a small amount to receive your converter.

There is currently only one online store listed as an NTIA certified retailer and that is BSAT. They have two boxes listed, the Artec T3A for $56.99 and the CoShip 9900T for $57.99, both with free shipping.

iPhone SDK Launches March 6th


Thursday, March 6, Apple will host one of its Town Hall meetings at its Cupertino headquarters to discuss the state of the iPhone. Apple will likely divulge information about the SDK itself, the approval process for applications, and information on how the applications will be distributed.

With the iPhone SDK, developers can create Web 2.0 applications which look and behave just like the applications built into the iPhone, and which can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, including making a phone call, sending an email and displaying a location in Google Maps.

Hackers have already been crafting clever add-ons that range from instant access to a Blockbuster Online DVD queue to a pocket guitar that takes advantage of the touch screen. However with the new SDK package Apple expects there will be an influx of both commercial and freeware programs for user to use.

Several sources familiar with Apple’s plans, have said Apple with distribute the new programs through iTunes and they intend to approve all the applications that will made their way on iTunes. This controversial decision was rebuffed by others saying Apple’s approval will apply only to the commercial applications, while the free ones are not the subject to the same rules. But is still unclear if Apple plans to distribute the free applications through its iTunes.

Speculation as always with Apple should be taken with a grain of salt. We truly don't know what to expect until Steve Jobs and crew make it official.

eBay Facing More Business Challenges


eBay Inc warned shareholders in its annual report on Friday that it faces difficulty getting former customers to return, adding to the normal challenge of attracting new users to its sites.

The significant changes made in January in fees and policies on its marketplaces have been controversial with many sellers. The backlash cultivated a recent strike by sellers, which reverberates what eBay has told its shareholders. Sellers are simply moving to other options such as Amazon.com.

"If these changes cause sellers to move their business away from our sites or otherwise fail to improve gross merchandise volume or the number of successful listings, our operating results and profitability will be harmed," eBay said.

It looks like the auction giant might want to rethink some of their recent policy changes.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Microsoft Cuts Vista Prices

Microsoft has announced plans to cut retail prices on several Vista versions once service pack one is released to the public.

Windows Vista Ultimate will drop to $319 from $399 for the full version and down to $219 from $259 for an "upgrade" version. Vista Home Premium will be slashed down to $129 from $239. And for users that are ready to take the Vista plunge yet Microsoft said it would continue to sell Windows XP until June 2008.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Intel Vs AMD, The Updated Version

With emerging technologies coming out so quickly its always hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest. Finding accurate updated comparisons of Intel and AMD's CPUs is no different.

There are several sites on the web that have posted great articles comparing the best of the best from both companies. And doing a quick Google search turns up many great results. However articles such as "AMD vs. Intel: What to Get? Which is Better?" posted on PCStats.com back in Aug. 2007 or "Intel vs. AMD: Today's generation compared" posted on The Tech Report in March 2007 aren't going to be very useful given the fact that we now have several new CPUs on the market.

In fact one of the top hits shown on Google was from CNet.com. Thew article titled "CNET prizefight: AMD vs. Intel dual-core CPUs" is from 2005. While it was a decent article back then it really shows little relevance to todays market.

To avoid the pitfalls of finding outdated material I recommend looking at two sites that are constantly updating.

The first would be Tom's Hardware, they have CPU charts dated from 2004-2007 (with '08 CPUs). The 2007 Interactive CPU Chart allows users to compare most of the popular CPUs on the market today.

The second site is the PassMark CPU Benchmarks at CPUBenchmark.net. PassMark is a hardware benchmark utility that allows users to test and compare the performance of their computers to a number of standard 'baseline' computers. The charts provides a visual guide of CPU rankings from low-end to high-end CPUs.

Both charts provide accurate, easy to use impartial information. The PassMark chart doesn't allow for comparison within common programs as Tom's Hardware does however for the beginner its a great place to start. I highly recommend either one for anyone from beginner to advanced as a guide on which CPU would best fit their budget for their next PC.