Monday, March 31, 2008

Virgin Media Sends File-Sharers Mixed Messages

UK broadband provider Virgin Media says they'll be the first UK ISP to voluntarily track their users' pirated file-sharing transfers, and will terminate the accounts of repeat "three strike" offenders.

The UK broadband firm has agreed to a test project that will scan for illegal copies of music and other media across the service. The monitoring will follow a three-strike rule that will see users receive a letter for a first violation; a second violation will result in a temporary suspension of Internet access, while a third will force the customer to cancel their service altogether.

However in a complete 180 of tracking file-sharing Virgina announced it will offer an enhanced service which will provide customers get free Usenet binaries access, untraceable by the ISP, music industry or nay other snoops out there.

Skype International CallingAccording to Reuters a Virgin spokesman said: “We’re delighted to be working with Highwinds to build out our newsgroup service. Our expanded access to newsgroups will give our customers a free news feed to newsgroups with exceptional retention, providing one of the best free newsgroup services in the UK.”

The British government has been pushing for legislation requiring ISPs to take action against users using their networks for illegal file-sharing. Virgin media would simply be taking a preemptive stance by teaming up with the UK's version of the RIAA, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

According to The Telegraph, "the BPI has teams of technicians to trace illegal music downloading to individual accounts. It will hand these account numbers over to Virgin Media, which will match them to names and addresses."

News like this saddening, it means a break down in the nature of the internet. While I don't condone nor do I participate in illegal file-sharing I whole heartedly disagree with content filtering, internet censorship or any other infringement on the free and open use of the web.

Having Vista Issues, Blame Nvidia MS Does

According to documents released from the ongoing Microsoft "Vista Capable" lawsuit 48 percent of Vista crashes where related to graphical drivers. Thirty percent of those Vista crashes were attributed to Nvidia software drivers.

While this information puts Nvidia directly in the spot light it doesn't take blame away from Microsoft, who has been accused of caving to pressure from Intel and others to lower its requirements specifically its graphics to include less-than-optimal graphics drivers. Microsoft itself was to blame for nearly 18 percent of graphical issue, while Intel and AMD were said to be responsible for 9 percent.

All this has come to via the 'Vista Capable' lawsuit. The suit claims that the labeling of computers as "Windows Vista Capable" misled consumers because many of the machines weren't powerful enough to run all of Vista's features, such as the Aero user interface.

In 2006 when Vista first made its big splash 'Vista Capable' was a huge marketing strategy. One that led many unknowing, unsuspecting consumers to buy machines they thought were powerful enough to run any version of Vista. However many of the computers touted as Vista Capable could run only the stripped-down "Home Basic" version.

What does this mean to Nvidia, probably not much, I highly doubt they will be named in any part of the lawsuit anytime soon. Nvidia PR director Derek Perez has said "These issues are a year and a half old." Noting the company took a number of steps in response to the issues, including establishing a Web site where people could report such issues and said the company made significant progress in reducing those errors.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Forbes: Youngest Billionaires

Forbes "In Pictures" features ten of the worlds youngest billionaires. Names like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, German prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis and China's richest person Yang Huiyan are all featured, along with how they had made there way on the list.

For instance 23 year old Mark Zuckerberg, number 785 on the "World's Billionaires" list. Mark is the founder of Facebook, which we all know is one of the web's most popular social networking sites. Forbes estimates his net worth at being somewhere near $1.5 bil.

For the full list of young billionaires visit Forebes.com Youngest Billionaires

Forbes: Concept Cellphones

Forbes in pictures lists some of the latest in Cool Future Phones.

Some of these cool "concept" phones are pretty wild in design, but then again the iPhone was said to be a wild idea. Concepts included are videophones, nanotechnology phones that change shape, clean itself, capture solar energy and intelligently analyze its environment. Phones powered by fuel-cell technology and a "wellness" phone which has a built in pedometer and meters that can read your pulse, body fat and even bad breath.

Most of the concepts are from Nokia, which spends nearly $4 billion annually to research and development projects. "It's a way to go from theoretical to concrete," says Nokia spokesman Keith Nowak. "We can show it to people, get feedback and start conversations." However Nowak does concede that some of the designs are a bit outrageous and may not make it to production, "None of this is on a particular roadmap, some concepts may never come to pass. But some may very well change the way we make devices in the future."

For more information read Forbes' article "Innovative Cellphones"

TorrentSpy Says Its Goodbyes



TorrentSpy shut down last week following a two-year copyright battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

The site that was once one of the most popular indexes for Torrent files was forced to shut down after a costly battle which saw them being accused of copyright infringement in a 2006 lawsuit.

Friends of TorrentSpy,

We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the Torrentspy.com search engine to an end and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008.

The legal climate in the USA for copyright, privacy of search requests, and links to torrent files in search results is simply too hostile. We spent the last two years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, defending the rights of our users and ourselves.

Ultimately the Court demanded actions that in our view were inconsistent with our privacy policy, traditional court rules, and International law; therefore, we now feel compelled to provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users - permanent shutdown.

It was a wild ride,

The TorrentSpy Team


I must note the shut down of the site was a voluntary decision, the court ruled in favor of the MPAA however the ruling only addresses the fact that TorrentSpy admins were guilty of hiding and the destruction of evidence made that made a fair trial impossible.

"The court finds that plaintiffs have suffered prejudice, to the extent that a rightful decision is not possible," the ruling said. "Defendants' conduct during discovery in this case has been obstreperous," the court concluded. "They have engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence and have provided false testimony under oath in an effort to hide evidence of such destruction."


The ruling means there is no direct U.S. legal precedent in relation to BitTorrent tracking sites. The central legal question of whether such sites violate U.S. copyright law for solely pointing to where users can download copyrighted works from others is still under question.

While the shutting down of TorrentSpy is a victory for the MPAA it is not the clear victory they were looking for. They want a full legal trial that sets legal precedence. If they achieve such a victory then both they and the RIAA could go on a legal rampage and have any and all Torrent sites shut down.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vista Laptop Becomes Pwn to Own's Second Victim

A laptop running Vista Ultimate, was compromised by a previously undiscovered flaw in Adobe's Flash software making it the second victim to be hacked by Pwn to Own contestants.

Shane Macaulay and Derek Callaway of Security Objectives along with Alexander Sotirov, were able to gain control of the Fujitsu laptop using an Adobe Flash zero day vulnerability. They are the second successful team to hack a machine at the PWN to OWN contest at the CanSecWest security conference. However, since the rules had been relaxed, they only get $5,000 and the laptop of course.

Yesterday ISE security researchers Charlie Miller, Jake Honoroff, and Mark Daniel used a zero-day vulnerability in Apple's Safari 3.1 Web browser to hack the MacBook Air in just two minutes.

It looks like at the end of the last day of the contest, only the Sony VAIO laptop running Ubuntu, a popular linux distro, was left standing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

MacBook Air Hacked In Just Two Minutes

ISE security researchers Charlie Miller, Jake Honoroff, and Mark Daniel used a zero-day vulnerability in Apple's Safari 3.1 Web browser to hack the MacBook Air in just two minutes.

The researchers from Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) were participating in the "PWN to OWN" competition at the CanSecWest security conference, which began Wednesday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Contest participants had their choice of trying to hack an Apple MacBook Air running OS X 10.5.2, a Sony Vaio VGN-TZ37CN running Ubuntu 7.10, or a Fujitsu U810 running Vista Ultimate SP1. During the first day, when attacks were limited to network attacks on the operating system, no one managed to compromise any of the systems.

That changed Thursday when attacks on default client-side applications -- Web browser, e-mail, IM -- were allowed. Using an attack code already set up on a Web site the ISE team "tricked" the judges using the MacBook into visiting the site and retrieving a file.

The team won $10,000 from security firm TippingPoint Technologies for compromising the MacBook Air.

The undisclosed vulnerability in Safari 3.1 has been shown to Apple and no further information about it will be revealed until Apple can issue an update, TippingPoint said.

The contest rules stipulated that winners immediately sign a nondisclosure agreement relating to their technique, so that the vulnerability could be disclosed to the vendor, and TippingPoint said Apple has been informed of the vulnerability.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

EBay's Robert Kagle To Stand Down

EBay Inc said on Thursday that early venture capital backer and long-time board member Robert Kagle plans to stand down as a director of the company at its next annual shareholder meeting.

Kagle made one of his earliest investments in eBay of between $5 million and $7 million as a partner with Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark Capital. At its high point the investment was worth upward of $5 billion.

eBay has said that Kagle was leaving solely for personal reasons and time considerations and did not involve any disagreement with the company, the company's management or the board of directors. But one has to wonder given the inauspicious timing.

Earlier this week eBay announced the cut of 125 jobs. That along with the retirement of CEO Meg Whitman, and recent issues with a sellers strike leads on the believe there might be more going on at eBay than they are letting on to.

It looks to me like everyone is abandoning ship while the getting is good. Its definitely something Geek-News.Net will be keeping an eye on.

Comcast Decides To Work With BitTorrent And P2P Users

In a shocking announcement, Comcast and BitTorrent have said they will partner to address issues of network management and architecture, as well as content distribution.

According to the Wall Street Journal Comcast and BitTorrent are negotiating to allow BitTorrent's peer-to-peer software to run more effectively on Comcast's network.

The companies are in talks to collaborate on ways to run BitTorrent's technology more smoothly on Comcast's broadband network, and allow Comcast to transport video files more effectively over its own network in the future, said Tony Warner, Comcast's chief technology officer.


The announcement might come to as a major shock to many users, especially given Comcast's previous stance of blocking P2P content. Several lawsuits have been filled over the past few years over Comcast's alleged blocking of P2P applications and protocols.

The FCC has been looking into issues with Comcast and its content filtering practices. The ongoing inquiry looks into what constitutes "reasonable" network management practices--and, specifically, whether it should find fault with Comcast's special treatment of file-sharing traffic

"This deal is the direct result of public pressure -- and the threat of FCC action -- against Comcast," Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, said in his statement. "But with Comcast's history of broken promises and record of deception, we can't just take their word that the Internet is now in safe hands. The issue of net neutrality is bigger than Comcast and BitTorrent."

The agreement doesn't protect other P-to-P companies or other "innovative" applications and services, and it doesn't prevent other ISPs from blocking or slowing Internet traffic, Ammori said.

AMD Launches New Phenoms, Adds Triple Core CPUs

amd x3 logo
Thursday AMD announced the launch of two new AMD Phenom X3 processors.

AMD Phenom triple-core processors are the world’s first PC processors to integrate three computational cores on a single die of silicon. That’s an improvement over Intel's quad-core processors that have two dual-core silicon chips inside a multi-chip package that does not include the memory controller.

“In 2007, AMD committed to delivering AMD Phenom triple-core processors in Q1 2008 and today the company makes good on that promise,” said Bob Brewer, corporate vice president, strategic marketing, AMD. “AMD understands that today’s PC applications are best accelerated with a range of multi-core products from quad- to triple- to dual-core processors, and that’s why we now deliver the broadest multi-core desktop lineup in the industry.”


Labeled AMD Phenom X3 8400 (2.1GHz) and 8600 (2.3GHZ), the new processors are intended to be paired with the new AMD 780 series chipset.

"The value proposition is simple. Three cores versus two cores. You make the choice," Pat Moorehead, VP of Advanced Marketing at AMD said, according to CNET News.com. "When you've maxed out your two cores...(this is an) extra core to do background tasks," he added.

In addition, the company announced its first 65W quad-core desktop processor, the AMD Phenom X4 9100e.

Overall AMD released seven new CPUs, four of the which are the new 50-series CPUs (also known as the "B3 stepping") that fix the TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer) erratum that plagued the first batch of Phenom processors out of the gate. The TLB erratum necessitated a fix on the affected system's motherboard BIOS (turning the TLB "off") resulting in some reduced performance.

The new 50-series processors have similar model numbers and have the same speed clock-for-clock: i.e. the Phenom 9500 and 9550 are both 2.2-GHz quad-core processors. The new processors are the Phenom X4 9550 2.2 GHz ($195 per unit in 1,000 unit lots), the Phenom X4 9750 2.4 GHz ($215), and the unlocked Phenom X4 9850 "Black Edition" 2.5 GHz ($235, unlocked and overclockable).

MaximumPC tested the new 2.5GHz Phenom X4 9850 in a side by side comparison with the Intel Core 2 Q9300 and the Core 2 Q6600. As you can see from their results the Q9300 owned both the Q6600 and the Phenom X4 9850. While the Phenom is still fastest AM2 chip available today Intel still has the upper hand in the quad core performance market.

Legit Reviews has a more comprehensive comparison featuring eight different CPUs, the QX9775, QX9770, QX6850, Q6600, E8500, E6750 from Intel and the Phenom 9850 and Phenom 9600 from AMD.

Adobe Launches Free Photoshop Express

Adobe announced on Today the launch of the long-awaited Web component to its digital imaging line, Photoshop. Debuting today in public beta, Adobe Photoshop Express is a free online photo sharing, editing, and storage site.

Along with with an easy-to-use, one-click editing tools like cropping, red eye correction, sharpening, touchup and more, including a set of advanced effects for changing colors, distorting images and converting photos to black and white, users will be provided with 2GB of free storage and integration with popular Web apps like Facebook, Photobucket and eventually Flickr

"Photoshop is trusted technology that has changed the visual landscape of our world. Now, Photoshop Express allows anyone who snaps a digital photo to easily achieve the high-impact results for which Adobe is known," the company's vice president of Consumer and Hosted, Doug Mack said. "Photoshop Express is a convenient, single destination where you can store, edit and share photos whether you're at home, school or on the road."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

1.2 Million Year Old European Fossils Found

National Geographic News reports the prehistoric fossils were excavated last June at Atapuerca in northern Spain, along with stone tools used for butchering meat.

At the time, scientists announced that they had dated one of the jaw teeth to 1.2 million years ago but that more research was needed before the find could be reported in a scientific journal.

An analysis of an ancient jaw and teeth has confirmed that humans reached Western Europe well over a million years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

Read more at NationalGeographic.com

$29 Intel Atom 230 CPUs

DigiTimes has reported that Intel is planning on pricing its entry-level desktop Atom 230 processor down to a price around $29 in thousand-unit tray quantities.

In an attempt to prevent AMD from grabbing a strong hold in the low-cost desktop Laptop and PC market share Intel intends to ship out its new line of low-end desktop and laptop CPUs at incredibly low prices.

The Atom 230 is based on the 45nm Silverthorne platform, featuring a single-core 1.6GHz CPU with 512KB L2 cache and a 533fsb. Similarly Intel plans to price the Atom N270, a Diamondville based laptop CPU, at $44. The 45nm processor will come in various speeds up to 1.8 GHz with a 533fsb and 512KB L2 cache.

Asus has already confirmed that they will adopt the Atom 230 chip in its forthcoming Eee PC-branded E-DT desktop. The E-DT is scheduled to launch at $199 in the May-June time frame. Asus intends to put Atom processors in forthcoming 8.9" Eee PC notebooks due in May, as well.

Laptops Of The Future

Ever wonder what laptops will look like three to five years? Well thanks to Computerworld and a handful of designers, engineers and marketers we get a sneak peek of how laptops will change over the next seven years.

"Between now and 2015, we expect to see a series of big changes that will redefine what a notebook is and what it looks like," said Mike Trainor, Intel Corp.'s evangelist for mobile products.


While some of these designs are down right wild some are extremely innovative. Take for instance the screenless Siafu. A touch based concept for the visually impaired. Because the blind can't see what's on the screen, Siafu converts images into corresponding 3-D shapes that are created with Magneclay, an oil-based synthetic material that instantly forms shapes in response to electrical fields.




More Power

While the current laptop models are running dual and in some limited instances Quad Core Cpus, the next generation will be running six to eight computational cores.

Storage will no longer be a concern, as the typical mainstream notebook could be outfitted with a 2TB hard disk drive. Lower costs in SSD's will also mean more mainstream push to the faster lighter devices. We can look to having something like 250GB of super fast flash memory.

Powering all this will still likely fall to lithium-ion cells as batteries will continue to dominate the power scene. However they will become smaller, lighter and will be formed in a variety of shapes and sizes. Meaning designers will be able to pack more into a smaller space, providing more power.


Brighter, lighter displays

OLEDs with touchscreen capabilities that draw far less power and, when powered from a battery, can operate longer will be the main stay. OLED's are flexible, brighter and lighter than today's LCD screens. All making for a much more portable, much more viewable laptop.




Checkout more on the article at Computerworld.com

Xbox Live Gamerscore Corrections

For any of you that have been cheating, or more commonly known as “game-saving”, for gamerscore on Xbox Live, your days of having a high gamerscore are limited, at least that is what the Director of Programming for Xbox Live, Larry Hryb has said in a few of his recent blog posts.

xbox gamerscore correction

Larry Hryb, aka Major Nelson, explains in a blog post what his team is doing to the accounts of the most serious offenders:
  • Resetting the entire Gamerscore for an account to zero
  • The account will be unable to regain all previously obtained achievements and Gamerscore, however, the players will have the ability to gain future Achievements by earning them fairly, like the majority of the Xbox LIVE community does.
  • The account will be clearly labeled as a cheater for the community to view on xbox.com, see below for a screenshot. In dash, the personal view of the gamercard will be labeled too.

The vast majority of Xbox LIVE members play games legitimately to earn Achievements and are unaffected by this. Anyone who plays inside the actual game to get Achievements does not fall into the category we are taking action on.

Xbox.com has a Q&A on the topic, answering some questions, including:

    Under what circumstances does LIVE correct a specific gamerscore? Specific and automated criteria are used to determine if a player has earned achievements by using tools that circumvent the game or avoid game play entirely. A player who meets these criteria has their gamerscore corrected. How does LIVE know a player has been cheating on their gamerscore versus another player? We look for abnormal achievement and gamerscore activity using criteria that identifies users who have used external means to earn achievements without really playing the game. Users who play games legitimately to earn an achievements are unaffected by this.


Back in October Larry and the XBox team informed users that they will no longer be tolerating account sharing and Gamesave tampering, stating:
"If you decide to employ some nefarious techniques to artificially increase your Gamerscore or obtain achievements by manipulating the Xbox software without playing the game, bad things will happen. What type of bad things? For one thing we may remove the entire Gamerscore for an account that contains manipulated gamerscore. Let me be more clear: If you use tampered gamesaves to boost your Achievements and Gamerscore, you may sign in to Xbox LIVE one day and discover that we have removed your Gamerscore. Once we do that, you will never be able to re-earn those achievements on that account. Even worse, you might have your account and/or console banned from Xbox Live."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nvidia 174.53 GeForce 9 ForceWare Drivers Released

A mere week after the launch of the newest top dawg in the graphics world, the GeForce 9800 GX2, Nvidia has released drivers for both the new dual-GPU graphics card and its more affordable (and in my personal opinion best price to performance nvidia card) GeForce 9600 GT.

This new 174.53 release is the first GeForce 9800 GX2-compatible driver set to have received Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certification from Microsoft, and it includes support for Quad SLI technology, new PureVideo HD features, and new Nvidia Control Panel functionality for Windows Vista.

The new control panel features include "Manage Custom Resolutions," "Adjust Television Color Settings," "Adjust Screen Size and Position," and "Move CRT Position." Users can also look forward to the following new PureVideo HD functionality:
  • Dynamic Contrast Enhancement
  • Dynamic Blue, Green & Skin Tone Enhancements
  • Dual-Stream Decode Acceleration
  • Microsoft Vista Aero display mode compatibility for Blu-ray & HD DVD playback
Of course Aero isn't available for Windows XP and Nvidia doesn't list Quad SLI support as a feature for the XP version of the new drivers, either. (Although who would want blow $1,200 on DirectX 10 graphics processors and then run Windows XP, which only supports DirectX 9.)

You can find the 174.53 drivers on Nvidia's website.

Man loses everything in Craigslist hoax

According to the Associated Press a pair of hoax ads on Craigslist cost an Oregon man much of what he owned.

The ads popped up saying the owner of a Jacksonville, Oregon home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings were free for the taking.

But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave.

Jackson County Det. Colin Fagan says Salisbury was on his way home when he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater. Salisbury informed them he was the owner, but they refused to give the items back, showing the Craigslist printout and sped away.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury told Associated Press. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

When Salisbury got to his house he found around 30 people rummaging through his home looking for things to take. Again he told them that the advert was a hoax but again they refused to accept his word.

"They honestly thought that because it appeared on the internet it was true, " he said. "It boggles the mind."

Fagan says prosecution was likely for anybody caught with Salisbury's property unless they return the items with no questions asked. Detectives have contacted Craigslist's legal team to try to trace the ad.

My thoughts

I had read this story yesterday, and honestly wasn't shocked.

There are lots of people out there on Craigslist that are genuinely good hearted people, but as with any community there are also those that are out only for themselves. I've personally seen many instances where people have been kind enough to offer a few specific items only for Craigslisters to come and take more than they should.

Its sad when you see the kindness of strangers being mistreated. I've been a long time member of the popular Freecycle Network and have seen time and time again people that use and abuse the system for personal profit and gain as much as possible. Instead of thinking of people that could actually use the hand up they think only of themselves.

Yahoo, Google, MySpace form non-profit OpenSocial Foundation

Google, Yahoo, and News Corp.'s MySpace.com announced on Tuesday that they have formed the OpenSocial Foundation, a non-profit group to support the OpenSocial initiative that Google kick-started last year as a way to promote a universal standard for developer applications on social-networking sites.

"OpenSocial has been a community-driven specification from the beginning," Joe Kraus, Google's director of product management, said in a joint statement from the three companies. "The formation of this foundation will ensure that it remains so in perpetuity. Developers and websites should feel secure that OpenSocial will be forever free and open."

The OpenSocial Foundation is expected to be formed within 90 days, with more OpenSocial partners from across the Web on board in addition to the three responsible for the announcement.

The specific purpose of the new non-profit, according to a release, is "to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web." It's a particularly crucial move for Google, which has been eager to emphasize that OpenSocial is a community standard, not a Mountain View project.

The only major social network not to commit to OpenSocial in one way or another has been Facebook, the site that started the social-networking platform craze in the first place.

And Facebook won't be joining the OpenSocial Foundation, either. "As the largest contributor to the memecached system, Facebook has long been a leader and supporter of open source initiatives but will not join the foundation," a statement from the company read. "The company will continue to evaluate partnership opportunities that will benefit the 300,000 Facebook Platform developers while improving the Facebook user experience."

Read more from CNET News.com

eBay Cuts 125 Jobs In North America And Europe, Could This Mean Tough Times Ahead?

eBay logoeBay Inc. said it's cutting 125 jobs in Europe and North America, including 70 positions at the company's San Jose headquarters, according to a news report from the Associate Press.

Jose Mallabo, an eBay spokesman, told the Associated Press that the workforce reduction was not a cost-cutting measure, but part of a reorganization needed to streamline operations. The cuts amount to less than 1% of the 15,500 people who work for the company worldwide, according to Mallabo.

According to the report, eBay said it was making the job cuts in Europe to centralize its corporate functions. However, Mallabo declined to give the AP any information about the layoffs at the company's headquarters.

"It's more of a streamlining, particularly on the customer service front," Mallabo told the AP.

eBay has announced the cuts as John Donahoe is set to take over the company from CEO Meg Whitman, who will retire March 31. The timing of these cuts leaves a lot of speculation that eBay may be facing tough times.

Last month, the company announced a new fee structure and changes to eBay's feedback system, that prompted a sellers strike by many of its top sellers. The strike reportedly forced a 13% drop in new listings.

Here at Geek-News.Net we reported earlier this month that "eBay is facing more business challenges" with many power sellers revolting and many more people moving to sites like Amazon.com.

One thing is for sure, eBay has had a busy few months. First the retirement of their long time CEO, then the pricing and policy changes and more recently the creation of the "eBay Partner Network" dropping Commission Junction and ValueClick as affiliate partners.

Monday, March 24, 2008

How Accurate Are First-Person Shooter Weapons?

How Accurate Are First-Person Shooter Weapons?

With a spate of new military shooter titles hitting the market, PopularMechanics' resident geeks get the inside story on gaming's next-gen guns from top developers, who have to balance coolness with correctness for every M-16 they recreate.

In real life, people rarely want to get into a firefight. But in many video games, particularly military-themed first-person shooters (FPS) like the just-released Rainbow Six Vegas 2, you can’t wait to step into the line of fire. After all, you’re an elite commando, and there’s no way not to fight—no button to press to call your nervous wreck of a wife or go hang out with the kids. It doesn’t matter how many bullets you take while gunning down whole platoons of terrorists and mercenaries, because this is red-blooded escapism at its geekiest. So shut up and starting shooting guys.

But unlike sci-fi FPS games such as Halo or Doom, military shooters have a tradition of so-called realism. Most of the in-game weapons are available now—or at least loosely based on designs that could eventually reach the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, as optimistic as game developers might be about a high-tech replacement for the M-16 assault rifle, there are no plasma rifles or rail guns in your arsenal. Firefights look and sound like something out of Blackhawk Down, with that unnerving, staccato crackle of modern-day warfare. And the damage inflicted feels more accurate, too: In games like Call of Duty 4 or Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, most enemies are vulnerable to a single burst, and a few incoming rounds can kill you easily. So as this successful genre continues to deliver best-selling titles, will increasingly powerful PCs and game consoles allow military shooters to become more realistic than ever?

Read more from PopularMechanics

24 Ultralight Notebooks

"Ultralight portable laptops from Dell, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Fujitsu promise mobile productivity in a slender package, but can this crop of lightweights get the job done?"
Read the full article by Bill O'Brien at InformationWeek

NBA In 3-D

What’s the next best thing to being at a live NBA game? How about watching it in 3D? Mark Cuban is using his NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Magnolia Theatre in Dallas to orchestrate a rare 3-D broadcast of a live event.

"I think 3-D will play a huge role in out-of-home entertainment for the next few years," said Cuban, founder of HDNet. "It will be a unique experience for watching sports, concerts and special events that only theaters will be able to offer."

Tuesday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers will still be televised in traditional 2D, but will also be broadcast in 3D using the same technology used to shoot the “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” movie.

FSN Southwest is producing the event along with 3-D production innovator Pace, which supplied its Fusion 3-D camera system and mobile unit as well as the production crew. The game will be displayed at the Magnolia Theatre in Dallas on a 40-foot screen. Two Sony SXRD 4K 10,000 lumens digital cinema projectors will also be used.

Pace and the NBA began testing 3-D theatrical broadcasting about a year ago when they presented invitation-only live 3-D HD viewing parties of the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.

In addition, the NBA's Cavaliers and Pace offered a live screening in Cleveland's home arena of the NBA Finals from San Antonio in 3-D HD. The March 25 broadcast will be the first NBA game to go to a theater.

Read more from the Reuters article.

Gibson Sues Over Guitar Hero And Rock Band

Gibson Guitar Corp has announced that it has filed its second patent infringement lawsuit in realtion to to the wildly popular "Rock Band" video game and Harmonix's previously developed game, "Guitar Hero."

The lawsuit, filed against Viacom Inc's MTV networks, Harmonix and Electronic Arts, relates to the same patent involved in another suit Gibson filed earlier against various retailers of "Guitar Hero," a competitor to "Rock Band,".

The original lawsuit filed last week against Wal-Mart, Target Corp., Kmart, Amazon.com, GameStop Corp. and Toys "R" Us claims the retailers should stop selling the games. Claiming they too closely match a musical virtual-reality patent from 1999.

Activision contends Gibson's patent assertions have no merit. Gibson has said it wants Activision to stop selling Guitar Hero until it gets a license under the patent.

"Our Guitar Hero retailing partners have done nothing wrong," Activision said in released statement. "We will confront this and any other efforts by Gibson to wrongfully interfere with Activision's relationship with its customers and its consumers."

The "Guitar Hero" series, published by Activision, has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than $1 billion since its 2005 debut, while "Rock Band" is a newer rival.

Microsoft Offers Free Vista SP1 Support

Amidst a barrage of gripes over Vista SP1 driver issues, blue screens of death and other related malfunctions Microsoft has announced it will be offering free support to any Windows Vista user experiencing problems with installing Service Pack 1 (SP1).

"[Anyone] needing technical support regarding your installation of Windows Vista SP1, please go to the following URL and choose the bottom option that says, 'Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (All Languages),'" said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft employee who posted several comments to the company's Vista blog. The link LeBlanc pointed users to led to a Vista SP1-specific support site.

The SP1 support site offers support via e-mail, online chat and telephone during operation hours. Free phone support is available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time on weekends. The free support will be available for one year, and it covers installation and compatibility issues.

Normally, Microsoft offers no-cost support only to users who bought Windows at retail. Users who obtained the operating system already installed on a PC are referred to the computer manufacturer or reseller; the company's for-fee support runs $59 per request unless the user or business has a prepaid support plan with Microsoft.

Ubisoft Buys Tom Clancy Name Rights

With games series such as Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and the Splinter Cell all featuring the Tom Clancy name, Ubisoft made a bid to secure its continued use.

"After ten years of a highly successful collaboration which has seen the creation of blockbusters that set standards in the videogame industry, such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, today, acquiring the perpetual property rights of the Tom Clancy name for video games and related projects is a major event,” stated Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer at Ubisoft.


In a move that will undoubtedly save the company a bit of money, Ubisoft acquired the intellectual property rights to the Clancy name. While the actual sum paid for the rights has not been disclosed, the purchase is thought to be giving Ubisoft around US$7.8 million a year in profits, however, making it a worthwhile investment.

The deal not only secures the use of the name on games, but also “ancillary products including books, movies and merchandising products.” So, you can pretty much guarantee Ubisoft is going to publish a lot more supporting products for its games series as well.

“The future of our industry lies in our capacity to create and develop brands that captivate consumers and that present myriad of opportunities for the full spectrum of entertainment, be it video games, books, movies or other media. The Tom Clancy brand is recognized around the world for offering exciting video games, films and books. The most recent example of such value creation through brand management is the EndWar book, based on the video game story, which has been in the NY Times top 10 Paperback Mass Market Fiction bestseller list for the last four weeks. Capitalizing on the strong franchises that we’ve built over the past 10 years, we will take the Tom Clancy game brand to the next level of the global entertainment industry."


Read more at GamesIndustry.biz and the Ubisoft press release.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Online 3-D Interactive Human Body

Update: The visible body is now a subscription only service however Google now offers a free service called the Body Browser which is a nice interactive tool that provides many of the same features. Information about Google Body can be found here

The "Visible Body", is a new free interactive human anatomy visualization experience from Argosy Publishing.

The fully interactive, 3D human anatomy model provides users with detailed 3D models of over 1,700 anatomical structures, including all major organs and systems of the human body, with dynamic search capability.

Screen Shots:



I must note, you must register before using, the tool is for PC users only with Internet Explorer (no firefox). And XP is probably your best bet since Vista users have apparently reported some glitches when using the beta version of this very cool new interactive tool. If you enjoy checking out the human anatomy you'll dig this.

Buyback programs turn electronic trash to cash

Leave it to the gadget industry to turn concern over electronic waste into a sales opportunity. Simply put, they're offering to buy back old devices to recycle or resell, in return for cash or in-store credit.

Coming to consumer electronic retailers nationwide this spring is the ecoNEW program from NEW Customer Service Cos., the company that provides extended warranty plans and protection programs for such retailers as Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Under the program, consumers can return any electronics products they own to participating retailers (which have not yet been announced) -- even if they weren't purchased at the store. In return they'll receive an in-store credit gift card for a predetermined amount based on the type and condition of the device. EcoNEW handles all the collection and evaluation details and issues the gift cards directly.

Read more of the story from Reuters

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Windows XP Lifecycle Coming To A Close

We all knew it would happen eventually, and the date has been set by Microsoft. But can the end truly be near, are we really ready for forced migration to Vista? According to Microsoft's timeline, XP is on its way to becoming our ex-operating system.

XP is the most widely used operating system on the planet, and Microsoft is planning a coup. A sort of "forced" upgrade to Vista. This in spite of recent issues with the Vista's new SP1 update.

Microsoft has already been forced to push back its timetables: Last year, the company extended the sales lifecycle to June 30, 2008 and said it will stop selling XP altogether on January 31, 2009. And it extended the mainstream support period for XP to April 14, 2009. So this time next year it might be burdensome for users to get legit copies of XP.

XP Timeline
June 30, 2008
PC manufacturers and system builders stop selling computers with XP installed.

January 31, 2009
Microsoft stops selling XP altogether.

April 14, 2009
Mainstream support (free live support and warranty support) ends. Free maintenance is limited to security fixes.

April 8, 2014
All support for XP ends.


Anyone that recently purchasing a PC or Laptop wanting to revert back to XP have already felt the stinging reality. In many cases drivers for XP are not available, and in cases where they are users are having to hunt them down. I know I've spent a few hours on Google tracking drivers for people asking for support.

So what does this all mean for the user? Extended support means that your XP machine will still have some life expectancy after the loaming lifecycle termination. However don't expect widespread application support to continue. When some of your favorite programs are updated they might not be XP compatible. Some of the newer gadgets on the market might not have widespread XP support. And well once the software stock pile is depleted you simply won't be able to get your hands on a legitimate version.

Unlimited Music For iPod/iPhone

Apple is reportedly mulling unlimited music bundle. The new business model would give customers free access to its entire iTune music library in exchange for paying a premium for its iPod digital music players and iPhones.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Apple is supposedly in negotiations with big music publishers to provide a "all-you-can-eat" service for its customers.

According to the Financial Times, research has shown that consumers would pay a premium of up to $100 for unlimited access to music for the lifetime of the device or a monthly fee of $7 to $8 for a subscription model. According to Ars Technia Apple wants to make the premium about $20, arguing that it should cover the "average" consumer's downloads. However sources cited by the Financial Times say music labels are looking for numbers closer to the $80 users pay for Nokia's "Comes With Music" program.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 New York Auto Show Highlights

Popular Mechanics has some great layouts from this years New York Auto show, here a few links to some of my favorites stories, videos and pictures.

Design Students Mod 3 Custom Nissan Cube EVs
    To celebrate the announcement, Nissan turned to New York's Pratt Institute of Industrial Design to create some innovative and aesthetically pleasing exterior and interior treatments that will communicate the Cube's personality and style to the masses attending the show here this week. Nissan is calling the project "Automobile Meets Art."



Saleen S5 Raptor Concept
    The Raptor runs on E85 and is a showcase for Saleen's next-gen supercharged 5.0-liter V8. Theodore said the Raptor will hit 60 mph in the low 3-second range and uses an all aluminum frame with lightweight composite body panels. Top speed? The Saleen folks say it will run past 200 mph.



2008 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
    Named in honor of legendary Modenes stylist and coachbuilder Sergio Scagletti,, the 612 features a massive V12 engine capable of developing 540 hp and a tire shredding 434 lb.-ft. of torque. The six-speed, F1-style gearbox features a new SuperFast technology that cuts shifting times to just under 100 milliseconds (put that in perspective: F1 vehicles shift times range from 40 to 60 milliseconds). Ferrari also equipped the 612 with a twin-plate clutch to reduce weight and rotating masses, plus thermal and mechanical inertia. This sled’s top speed is a blistering 198 mph, and it zips from 0 to 62 mph in under 4.0 seconds.


2009 Dodge Challenger
    The 2008 Challenger SRT8 that was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show offered a glimpse of Dodge’s top-dog muscle car, but we’re finally able to take a closer look at the entry and mid-level 2009 SE and R/T models here at the 2008 New York Auto Show. While the 425-hp 6.1-liter V8-powered SRT8 is the clear choice for tire-melting enthusiasts, we’re guessing Dodge will sell far more of the affordable SE and R/T models—just as Ford does with its successful V6 Mustangs.



Maserati Gran Turismo S
    The Gran Turismo S has an all-new V8 engine that develops 440 hp and torque of 361.4 lb- ft. It accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.9 seconds and has a maximum speed of 183 mph—the highest ever reached by a production Maserati.


For more hot cars from this years show check out the official vehicle galleries, you won't be disappointed! PopSci.com has also updated their gallery of the best and brightest cars.

Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 Reviews

Nvidia recently introduced its new power house graphics card the GeForce 9800 GX2 and we've got reviews for you from Tom's Hardware and Overclockers Club.

This monster of a card, measuring nearly 27cms features GDDR3, memory bus of 2x256 bits, GPU clock speeds of 600 MHz, shaders clock speeds of 1500 MHz and memory Clock at 1000 MHz. It is built on a dual card platform giving a total of 1gig of memory (2x512 MB).

While both the reviews clearly show the 9800 GX2 is currently the fastest card in the world both concluded that the 9800 GX2 remains weak at the highest resolutions where you'd expect the most out of this card. Its features haven't evolved much compared to the GeForce 8, contrary to what the name indicates. Given its price, the card is for those who are willing to change their graphics card in a year.

Tom's hardware was quick to point out that the current drivers don't fully support Quad SLI benchmarks so they postponed the testing. Maybe the next gen of drivers will boost performance as well. However given the $600 price tag, lack of DirectX 10.1 support and the fact there is really nothing new with this card I'd say its a bit of a disappointment.

Newegg 9800 GX2 Pricing:
  • EVGA GeForce 9800 GX2 01G-P3-N891-AR Video Card
    Current price $269.99
  • EVGA GeForce 9800 GX2 KO 01G-P3-N895-AR
    Current price $419.99
  • KFA2 by Galaxy GeForce 9800 GX2 98XGF1HSFEXX
    Current price $219.99 After $150 MIR exp 10/31
  • Palit GeForce 9800 GX2 NE/98GX2+H305
    Current price $299.99
  • BFG Tech GeForce 9800 GX2 BFGE981024GX2E Video Card
    Current price $544.99

Monday, March 17, 2008

eBay Drops Commission Junction and ValueClick, Launches The eBay Partner Network

eBay announced today that it will be will no longer be running its affiliate program through Commission Junction nor ValueClick. Beginning April 1st, affiliates will need to register with the eBay Partner Network and migrate their links from CJ to the new platform. eBay has said it will continue its valued partnership with ValueClick’s technology division, Mediaplex, for ad serving, tracking and other custom projects.

“Affiliate partners are central to eBay’s ongoing strategy of improving the user experience and increasing engagement,” said Matt Ackley, vice president of Internet marketing at eBay. “The new eBay Partner Network will allow us to have a direct relationship with our affiliates, innovate faster and deliver new products and tools in a more timely and efficient manner, providing new revenue opportunities for our affiliates and creating a more streamlined user experience for our buyers and sellers.”

More information on the transition process for eBay affiliates, as well as the eBay programs affected, can be found at affiliates.ebay.com.

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?