Tuesday, April 22, 2008

eBay Sues Craigslist

eBay Inc, has sued Craigslist in a dispute over whether the Internet bulletin board tried to weaken eBay's control. eBay has alleged in the lawsuit that the board of directors of Craigslist took "unilateral actions" to dilute eBay's 28.4 percent stake by more than 10 percent.

The suit, filed on Tuesday under seal, asked a Delaware Chancery Court to rescind the unspecified actions to protect eBay's stockholders and preserve its stake in Craigslist. The suit names as defendants Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, who runs the company in a famously open-minded style, and Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster. Newmark and Buckmaster are the only members of Craigslist's board of directors.

In a blog posting late on Tuesday, Craigslist said it was "surprised and disappointed" by eBay's allegations, which "came to us out of the blue, without any attempt to engage in dialogue with us."

The lawsuit by "a company that views Craigslist as a prime competitor ... seems unethical, and suggests ulterior motives" such as a "hostile takeover" of Craigslist or the sale of eBay's stake to an "unfriendly party," the posting said.

Craigslist said it has always treated eBay "very fairly" and plans to continue doing so, despite this "unfortunate development."

Read the full eBay press release

GeForce 9600GT Voltmods

The guys over at TechPowerUp up have learned a few secrets to pulling the most out of that 9600gt. So grab your soldering iron and they'll guide you to extracting the last drops of performance out of your NVIDIA 9600 GT - we present you ”GeForce 9600GT Voltmods”.

Disclaimer:
Performing these voltmods will void any and all warranties your video card may have. You - and only you - are responsible for any damage caused indirectly (or directly) by these modifications.

Hardware Reviews: Western Digital VelociRaptor VR150

velociraptorWestern Digital recently announced their fourth-generation "Raptor" design, aptly named the "VelociRaptor" as a nod to its promised capabilities. The capacity is now at 300GB up from previous limitations of 36, 74 and 150 gigs. However that is the least of changes for the new VR150 product family.

Western Digital has moved to a 2.5" form factor with the VelociRaptor, while at the same time providing a unique 3.5" chassis mounting system for the enthusiast desktop market. This mounting system is named "IcePAK" and features a finned aluminum design that offers some degree of thermal dissipation. However, its primary purpose is to ensure this drive works in the multitude of desktop chassis.

The key new features for the "VelociRaptor" are faster connections SATA 3 Gb/s, as apposed to the 1.5 Gb/s for previous models. Faster read/write seek speeds, 4.2 ms/4.7 ms compared to 4.6/5.2. The drives will also show a considerable drop in power dissipation as little as 0.42 Watts in standby and 6.08 Watts during read/write.

Pricing is estimated at $300 for the VelociRaptor and the drive will be available in retail channels in the latter part of May. So these little drive do come with a hefty price tag, however for you geeks out there that are looking for the fastest of the fast early benchmarks do show a reasonable speed increase over current raptor models.

Checkout detailed benchmarks and reviews from:

Monday, April 21, 2008

GTA Founders Not Interested In Big-Screen Adaptation

GameSpot reports GTA not coming soon to a theater near you. Rockstar cofounder says idea of a big-screen Grand Theft Auto "never seemed interesting creatively," addresses game's delay and turmoil at Take-Two.

It turns out the GTA creators at Rockstar Games simply aren't interested in turning their signature series into a movie. Rockstar cofounder Dan Houser gave Variety an extended interview that touched on a slew of topics, including the noticeable absence of a cinematic GTA adaptation. The reason came up in an explanation of how cautious the company is about milking its cash cow.

"We try and protect it," Houser said. "The intellectual property is the main asset in the company. That's why GTA is still relevant 10 years later. We haven't put one out every year. We haven't fleeced it. And we haven't put it on 50 different formats. We're not per se against moving properties between different media but for GTA it just seems so perfect as a game. You lose a lot of what makes it what it is if you move it into being, say, a movie. It just never seemed interesting creatively."

That might be because Houser already thinks his game makes for a perfectly good movie in its current form. In addressing the controversy surrounding the series, Houser said it wouldn't exist if Grand Theft Auto weren't a product of the gaming medium.

"If this was a movie or TV show and was the best in its field, you'd give it loads of awards and put those awards shows on television," Houser said. "I genuinely don't aspire to that, but I do aspire to not being called an a****** for doing the same thing in a videogame. So what you're really saying is, 'It's not the content, it's the medium.' You've proven that by your actions in other areas. So what is it about the medium you don't like? Because maybe we should challenge those ideas. It's not what you think it is to a lot of people. To us, it's way of experimenting with non-linear interactive storylines."

Read more from Gamespot

Windows XP SP3 Officially Released, Goes Public April 29

Microsoft made the announcement public today on the Technet forums
"Windows XP Service Pack 3 Released to Manufacturing"

“Today we are happy to announce that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) has released to manufacturing (RTM). Windows XP SP3 bits are now working their way through our manufacturing channels to be available to OEM and Enterprise customers.

We are also in the final stages of preparing for release to the web (i.e. you!) on April 29th, via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Online documentation for Windows XP SP3, such as Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and the Microsoft TechNet Windows XP TechCenter, will be updated then. For customers who use Windows XP at home, Windows XP SP3 Automatic Update distribution for users at home will begin in early summer.

Thanks to everyone here who installed the public betas – you not only gave us detailed feedback but also helped each other out with timely troubleshooting. Through the beta program we found several important issues and were able to confirm some essential fixes. We couldn’t have done this without you.

We will still be monitoring this forum during the next few weeks in case you have more feedback about the release of Windows XP SP3.”



SP3 is being shipped out to OEM sources and retailers now and will be available to the public via download on April 29th.

SP3 includes all previously released updates for the operating system. This update also includes a small number of new functionalities, which do not significantly change customers’ experience with the operating system.

I've been using the latest beta release for awhile and have not seen any major improvements, and no noticeable increases in performance. There is also the lack of IE7 as well as media player 11, two features I thought should be added.

The new release is said to feature a few improvements:

  • Improvements to “black hole” router detection.

  • Network Access Protection, which is a network policy enforcement platform previously seen in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

  • Enhanced Control Panel Security Options which better explains the impact of the various settings.

  • Product key-free installation now possible. {unattended installation)

Sony To Unveil Online PS3 Video Service In July

According to anonymous executives close to the Los Angeles Times, Sony will announce an online video service for PS3 as early as summer, presumably (or conveniently) in July at E3, gaming's largest worldwide press event.

The company has been in licensing talks with studios in recent weeks, according to these executives, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of continuing negotiations.

The initial version of the service would include movies and television shows flowing from the Internet to the PlayStation 3.

The new service would position Sony to compete with the growing number of Internet-connected devices and services that deliver video to the TV, including AppleTV, Vudu and Microsoft's Xbox 360 console.

Read more from the LA Times

PayPal Denies Plans To Block Safari

PayPal Inc., has denied that it plans to tag Apple's Safari as "unsafe" and block it from accessing the site.

"We have absolutely no intention of blocking current versions of any browsers, including Apple's Safari, from our Web site," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail late Friday.

PayPal was reacting to recent reports that they would ban browsers that lacked a way to block known or suspected phishing sites and didn't support Extended Validation (EV) certificates.

Although PayPal only called out Microsoft Corp.'s 1996 browser, Internet Explorer 3, and 1997's IE4, Michael Barrett, the firm's chief information security officer, defined "unsafe browsers" as those "which do not have support for blocking phishing sites or for Extended Validation certificates." This would also include Safari as it does not have an antifraud blocker and does not support EVs.

On Friday, the company made a major backtrack of that statement. "PayPal is developing features to block customers from logging into PayPal when using obsolete browsers on outdated or unsupported operating systems," the company's spokeswoman specified. "An example of such a browser/OS combination might be, for example, Internet Explorer 4 running on Windows 98."

According to PayPal's revised criteria of "obsolete browsers on outdated or unsupported operating systems," it would not block IE5 until 2010 and would not bar Safari 2.0 on Tiger until Apple ships the successor to Mac OS X 10.5, a.k.a. "Leopard."

Intel Cuts Prices, Debuts News Chips

Intel posted price cuts on Sunday that included reductions of 50 percent on select quad-core processors at the same time they introduced new Celeron and Core 2 Duo processor models.

The price of the Core 2 Quad Q6700 (2.66GHz) fell 50 percent from $530 to $266, while the quad-core Xeon X3230 (2.66GHz) saw an identical cut: from $530 to $266.

Celeron price-cut highlights include the Celeron 430 (1.8GHz), reduced 23 percent from $44 to $34 and the dual-core Celeron E1200 (1.6GHz), falling 19 percent from $53 to $43.

The dual-core Xeon 3085 (3GHz) was reduced 29 percent from $266 to $188, and the Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 (3GHz), from $266 to $183, or 31 percent.

Pentium dual-core chips saw price drops too: The E2200 (2.2GHz) and E2180 (2GHz) were cut 12 percent and 14 percent to $74 and $64, respectively.

The chipmaker introduced the dual-core Celeron E1400 (2GHz) at a price of $53 and Celeron 570 (2.66GHz) at $134.

New Core 2 Duo chips were also introduced. The E8300 (6MB cache, 2.83GHz) and the E7200 (3MB cache, 2.53GHz) at $163 and and $133, respectively.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Are We Ready For A Nationwide P2P Monitoring System

If Senator Joe Biden, a democrat from Delaware, has his way we might have to be. His new plan for combating kiddie porn on the internet would seek to do just that.

It’s “pretty easy to pick out the person engaged in either transmitting or downloading violent scenes of rape, molestation,” said Biden, because all you have to do is look at the filenames. He cites a piece of software, known as “Operation Fairplay,” which currently sees use around the world and at regional Internet Crimes Against Children task forces in the U.S.

Operation Fairplay is a “comprehensive computer infrastructure” that gives law enforcement officers a view of the “big picture” of child pornography transfers around the country. Biden says Special Agent Flint Waters of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office developed the program, and describes him as an expert in the field.

Based on Waters' statements to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, the system appears to work like this: Investigators log onto peer-to-peer file-sharing networks as any other person would and search for files containing certain keywords that are likely to indicate child pornography is involved. Then they download the files--frequently videos, sometimes as long as 20 to 30 minutes, with names like "children kiddy underage illegal.mpg" and much more obscene--to their own machines. They're able to use the Fairplay software to obtain the IP address of the file's sender and, in some cases, display its geographic location in map form.

Once armed with an IP address and date and time of the download, investigators can subpoena the Internet service provider for more information, such as name and address of the subscriber who was assigned it at that moment. "It's not necessarily the suspect but it tells us the physical location to start," Waters said. (He didn't say whether any wiretaps were conducted to monitor ongoing file swapping.)

Fairplay is also capable of tracking the files themselves, monitoring where a file goes by its hashcode – often generated by the P2P client itself as a means of identifying identical files with different filenames.

According to Biden, the FBI’s “Innocent Images” unit only has 32 investigators working on the case – allowing the agency to tackle less than 2 percent of what he calls “known” cases of child pornography tracking on the internet. As a result, Biden is pushing the “Combating Child Exploitation Act,” which would authorize over $1 billion, spent over the next eight years, to hire an additional 250 agents for the child pornography unit and increase child pornography enforcement worldwide. “We can get our arms around it, the worst aspect of it,” said Biden, “if we provide the resources.”

Biden’s stance is unique in that he isn’t directly opposed to P2P as a whole, recognizing the technology’s use in legal situations. “Blaming this problem on peer-to-peer innovation,” he said, “is like blaming the interstate highway system when someone uses it to transport drugs.”

Senator Biden has pushed for passage of a bill known as the Combating Child Exploitation Act. It would authorize more than $1 billion over the next eight years to hire 250 new federal agents devoted to Internet crimes against children, provide additional funding to regional computer forensics labs, and give out more federal grants to the regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces. The House of Representatives passed a companion bill in October.

More reading


My thoughts

I'm not against tracking and catching internet predators, nor do I condone child porn, I think its relatively sick and twisted, however tracking someone down and accusing them of being involved in these activities based solely on a filename is something I won't agree on. My long standing opposition to any type of net censorship, tracking ect aside, focusing law enforcement time and resources to track someone just for having a file with a "sensitive" name really borders on civil infringements.

DailyTech - The Megahertz Race is Now Officially the Multi-core Race

AMD engineers reveal details about the company's upcoming 45nm processor roadmap, including plans for 12-core processors.


The next major milestone for the CPU engineers comes late this year, with the debut of 45nm Shanghai. Shanghai, for all intents and purposes, is nearly identical to the B3 stepping of Socket 1207 Opteron (Barcelona) shipping today. However, where as Barcelona had its HyperTransport 3.0 clock generator fused off, Shanghai will once again attempt to get HT3.0 right.

"Don't be disappointed, AMD is making up for it," hints one engineer. Further conversations revealed that inter-CPU communication is going to be a big deal with the 45nm refresh. The first breadcrumb comes with a new "native six-core" Shanghai derivative, currently codenamed Istanbul. This processor is clearly targeted at Intel's recently announced six-core, 45nm Dunnington processor.

A twin-die Istanbul processor could enable 12 cores in a single package. Each of these cores will communicate to each other via the now-enabled HT3.0 interconnect on the processor.

The rabbit hole gets deeper. Since each of these processors will contain a dual-channel memory controller, a single-core can emulate quad-channel memory functions by accessing the other dual-channel memory controller on the same socket. This move is likely a preemptive strike against Intel's Nehalem tri-channel memory controller.

Motherboard manufacturers claim Shanghai and its many-core derivatives will be backwards compatible with existing Socket 1207 motherboards. However, processor-to-processor communication will downgrade to lower HyperTransport frequencies on these older motherboards. The newest 1207+ motherboards will officially support the HyperTransport 3.0 frequencies.

For more information read the full article over at DailyTech

Rock Band's First Downloadable Album: Judas Priest

Finally making good on its pre-launch promise Harmonix is set to release the first full album download for "Rock Band". The first title coming next week will be Judas Priest's classic Screaming for Vengeance which features the band's hit "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and nine other tracks, will cost $15, with individual songs from the album going for $2 each, MTV said.

"Rock Band" has long promised full albums, and the Judas Priest album will be followed in May by the self-titled debut album of 1980s rockers The Cars, and in June with "Doolittle" from alternative band The Pixies.

Originally Harmonix and MTV Games promised that duet Rock Band would feature full downloadable albums, with The Who's "Who's Next" and possibly even Nirvana's "Nevermind". However, these albums were conspicuously absent from the game's launch lineup of downloadable content, and months passed with no word of when they would finally arrive.

When asked about the other two albums Alex Rigopulos, co-founder of MTV-owned development studio Harmoni said "Who's Next" is still caught up in the process of a record company delivering the master music assets to the game developer. And what of Nirvana's Nevermind? Rigopulos said that one is just a rumor.

For more on the story check out MTV.com

PayPal's Answer To Phishing, Block Older Browsers

According to recent reports PayPal plans to take the dramatic step of locking out people using older versions of Web browsers in order to stem phishing attacks.

PayPal has said a "significant" group of people still use older version of IE such as IE3, IE 4 and IE5. Those browsers lack a phishing filter, which can block users or will at least warn them when they are trying to access a reported phishing Web site.

"In our view, letting users view the PayPal site on one of these browsers is equal to a car manufacturer allowing drivers to buy one of their vehicles without seatbelts," according to a paper released during the RSA security conference in San Francisco earlier this month.

The ban on older browsers could eventually mean trouble for users of Apple's Safari browser, which has no phishing filter. PayPal could decided to try and block any/every browser that is not equipped with the filter. Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 and Opera 9 have phishing filters, but Apple's browser -- Safari -- does not. Safari also does not support Extended Validation SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificates, issued to Web sites that have been vetted as legitimate.

Obviously there are several flaws in PayPal's plan. Phishing has been around for a long long time, and even though it has been highly publicized people still get duped into clicking links and entering personal information on the would be sites. This does prevent a person from being victim, this only pushes people towards updating. Updating to the latest version of your browser is always a good idea, as is staying away from IE. But the use of common sense and safety are the only things that will solve the phishing issues.

Everyone should learn safe internet practices, and learn to spot phishing attempts, scams, hoaxes ect. By now you should know to question any emails you get from your bank, Pay-pal or any other site that involves important personal information. Don't just click the links in the emails, use your own bookmark so you know where you are going to. Once you are there double check the address bar and make sure you are actually on the right site.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Latest NVIDIA GT200 News

nvidia logo
Nvidia Corp. said at a press conference that it plans to launch its next-generation graphics processor this Summer. The new product code-named GT200, is projected to release in June or July and supposedly will dethrone the current flagship GeForce 9800 GX2.

Information on the new cards is sparse and often times conflicting. About the only specs that have been consistent are that the new card is projected to consist of about one billion transistors and feature “around” 200 unified shader processors and that the card will be based on a 55nm technology.

Unlike AMD/ATI, NVIDIA is not expected to use GDDR5. Instead it will go for a more complex PCB with GDDR3, which means a wider bus instead of higher memory frequency. GDDR3 chips tops out at 1100MHz today. We expect GT200 to use these chips, and with a 512-bit bus it puts it on par with RV770 and its 256-bit bus and 4GHz GDDR5 memory.

VR-Zone reports that the new GeForce 9900 GTX and GeForce 9900 GT will be based on the new GT200 architecture, however Nordic Hardware suggested that the 9900 series will be based on the 55nm G92b core and won't be based off the GT200.

Reports are also conflicting as to whether the Nvidia GT200 sports DirectX 10.1 feature-set or are compatible with DirectX 10 only. This is one area that has been of concern to Nvidia fans of late. Their recent releases have all been high end cards, faster than previous releases, but none have come with additional features.

Speculation aside, as of right now Nvidia is dominating the GPU market. AMD/ATI has released a few good products but nothing blockbuster like those that Nvidia is putting out there. Hopefully this summer we'll see that change a little when AMD releases the RV770/HD 4000 series cards.

Six Apart Launches Cross-Platform Facebook Blogging App

blog it logoSix Apart Ltd., the creator of the widely used Movable Type blogware and TypePad blog hosting service, unveiled its new Blog It tool today. The tool allows Facebook users to post to multiple blogs or micro-blogs across the Web from within the social network.

"Blog It is one of the few applications that takes content created inside Facebook and makes it available for use outside Facebook," said David Recordon, open platforms tech lead at Six Apart, in a statement. "Blog It users are able to update their personal blogs, business blogs, online journals, Facebook status, or Twitter or Pownce activity all from one central environment. This is a concrete step away from the silos and walled gardens of the past and toward the open Web of the future."

Blog It supports about a dozen services, including Blogger, TypePad, Twitter, Movable Type, Vox and WordPress. Facebook users can add Blog It here.

Why use Blog It?
  • Update all your blogs from within the Facebook environment.
  • It's a free Facebook application.
  • Blog It is powered by TypePad, one of the best blogging services available.
  • Update all your blogs and web services. Blog It supports TypePad, Twitter, Blogger, Livejournal, Movable Type, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org, and more.
  • Increase the number of people who see your posts.
  • Keeps your friends on any network informed of your activities.

For more information checkout the Six Apart press release or the Blog it features page.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Join Geek-News.Net On SocialVibe

SocialVibe.com is the new "sponsored" social website that allows users to earn rewards and donate to the cause of their choice. Geek-News.Net has decided to give it a test run and see what its all about.We figure there is no harm in trying something at least once, right?

Here’s a quick break down on how it works.
  • Signup, obviously! Its probably best to use your current social networking name or the name of your site so your friends can find you
  • Choose a cause, they have a list of several causes including the StarLight Foundation, PETA and of course the one we thought suited us best One Laptop Per Child
  • Choose a sponsor, again they had several to choose from including Apple, Samsung, Abercrombie and Fitch and Rockstar. As Geeks we couldn’t pass on having Xbox and EA Sports, originally they had a few perks for earning points but hey its all about the charity not us.
From there its all about the networking. The more people you invite and the more views you get the more points you raise. You can also upload photos, do surveys ect and the more active you are the more money more you raise for your charity. I figure we’ll at least try it out for a few weeks and see where it heads. If it goes nowhere then so be it.

Click here to join up and help us earn some points for One Laptop Per Child.


Win a box of Grand Theft Auto IV goodies!

GamePro.com is giving away a a couple of big boxes of Grand Theft Auto IV goodies. All you have to do is checkout their article, post a comment telling them the funniest or craziest thing you've ever heard a pedestrian or driver say in a GTA game. And they'll pick two winners by Friday!

While your there checkout their Grand Theft Auto IV Preview

Gaming News: Battlefield: Bad Company Releases June 23

EA announced that Battlefield: Bad Company will ship out June 23 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Electronic Arts recently faced some controversy over the inclusion of for-purchase downloadable weapons in the game. 10 firearms appeared to be available only as downloadable content or through the purchase of the collector's edition of the game which led to SarcasticGamer organizing a boycott. EA however quickly backed away and has recently told GameSpot that all weapons will now be included in the game's purchase price, but standard-edition buyers will need to unlock them by playing the game.

Karl-Magnus Troedsson, senior producer on Battlefield: Bad Company, laid out the situation for GameSpot in a recent interview.

"It all started when the beta came out," said Troedsson. "The beta is a beta. We had some problems with explanation of the weapons that are available or you can see on the unlocking page. We had some weapons that we were planning to release through various marketing programs, but they were actually flagged there like you were supposed to buy these weapons through Xbox Live Marketplace, and that was a misunderstanding between marketing and us the developers. We clarified that in the last statement that went out, but lately there's been a lot going on about the Gold Edition weapons."

"I should pretty much start at the end, we listen a lot to what people say out there. I think that's important to show, because we don't have time to comment on everything, because there's so much noise out there, but DICE is built upon the multiplayer community, and we do listen to what people say out there. When we saw this big uprise about people that really felt it was dissatisfying that some people bought the Gold Edition, those five weapons you couldn't get or that you had to buy if you had the ordinary version of the game, that we just decided that all weapons will be free in the game, and that's how it is now."

"These Gold Edition weapons, we won't give away, you have to do something as a gamer. The Gold Edition guys and girls that actually buy that game will have some time where the weapons are exclusive, because if you don't buy the Gold Edition, you have to earn them. That means you have to rank up all the way to the top rank, which is rank 25, and then you have a massive unlock of five new weapons which are the same that are in the Gold Edition."

The standard edition carries a $59.99 price tag, while the Gold Edition--which includes unlocked versions of the five controversial weapons and various behind-the-scenes bonuses--will run for $69.99

A Dozen Ways to Spend Your $600 Tax Rebate

Need help spending that extra $300-600 you should be getting back as part of the economic stimulus package? The guys over at ExtremeTech have a few ideas that might help you out. Checkout their article "A Dozen Ways to Spend Your $600 Tax Rebate."

But hey before you go out and spend that check you might need to know when its coming. Well first off today is tax day so you had better have filled, or are doing so today. Second you must qualify. The basic guidelines are these: If you made over $3,000 and less than $75,000, you get back $600. If you're married filing jointly, that's a $150,000 ceiling and you get back $1,200. You get $300 for dependents and if you make over $75,000, you get less (the amount goes down further the more you make).

For those with direct deposit, the rebates start going out on May 2nd (for those with social security numbers ending in 00–20) and will be all done by May 16 (for socials ending in 76–99). If you're getting a check in the mail, May 16 is when the first checks go out (for socials ending in 00–09) and they keep going out until July 11 (for socials ending in 88–99).

If you still aren't sure if you qualify or have more questions checkout the IRS Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Processor Review

Just last month AMD announced the release of the new B3 stepping Phenom CPUs which are meant to solve several problems, or at least those concerning the TLB errata. In order to avoid confusion between the old and new models, AMD has altered their naming scheme to include the Phenom X4 9550 (2.2GHz), 9650 (2.3GHz), 9750 (2.4GHz) and the 9850 (2.5GHz).

In terms of performance, AMD has stated that the new B3 processors will be no faster than the original Phenom X4 CPUs without the TLB erratum fix enabled on a clock-for-clock basis. Therefore the Phenom X4 9600 and the new Phenom X4 9650, for example, should be no different in terms of performance. Just as well that should mean that today’s flagship Phenom, the X4 9850, should sit somewhere between the Phenom 9700 and 9900 processors that we reviewed earlier this year.

Currently the Phenom X4 9850 can be found online for roughly $235. At this price point, the 9850 can be had for roughly the same price as the original 9600, which is quite remarkable. Even more so considering this is a “Black Edition” processor, in other words it features an unlocked multiplier for improved overclocking headroom. This price point also puts the fastest clocked Phenom X4 head to head with the highly regarded Core 2 Quad Q6600, which is the cheapest quad-core CPU you can get from Intel.

TechSpot has put together a rather in depth comparison featuring the Phenom 9500, 9600, 9700, 9850, 9900 and Intel's e8400 and Q6600. Overall the numbers where not surprising, the Q6600 still reigns supreme.

The numbers that did surprise me however where the overclocking results. Even with the unlocked multiplier they could only pull out another 200mhz. Needless to say thats a very poor oc!

Monday, April 14, 2008

PC World: 18 Great Linux Replacements for Your Favorite Windows Apps

PC World shows us 18 Linux alternatives to Windows applications, giving us yet another reason to take the leap from MS and join the Linux revolution.

If you are already using Linux then you are probably already aware of most of these applications, heck even if you aren't then you should be. Especially apps like OpenOffice, which is a great free alternative to Microsoft's Office. However for many users out there there is a fear of jumping ship from MS to Linux and many times I hear questions about app compatibility and the ability to find reasonable replacements the ones they are most comfortable with.

Most all of your popular Linux distributions come pre-packed with equivalents to many Windows applications that are often as good or in my opinion even better than the Windows based programs you're used to. In some cases the apps are also available in Windows and Mac OS versions, allowing dual-booters to stay with the same set of free programs regardless of the operating system in use.

For anyone interested in making the switch or just checking out some of the apps read the full article "Linux Replacements for Your Favorite Windows Apps".

Blockbuster, Circuit City Merger Could Produce 'Exclusive' Content

In his public letter to the CEO of Circuit City requesting that negotiations commence on a merger deal, Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes suggested that the combined retailers would not only be able to secure exclusivity deals for content -- as Blockbuster has already been known to do for its 7,800+ rental outlets in the US -- but might also have the ability to market and sell an undefined, exclusive content delivery device.

"The combination of Blockbuster and Circuit City will result in an $18 billion retail enterprise uniquely positioned for the convergence of media content and electronic devices," wrote Blockbuster's Keyes this morning. "We would seek to differentiate products in both Blockbuster and Circuit City stores by offering exclusive content and content-enabled devices. Both companies would benefit from complementary products, marketing, management strengths, technology and distribution and the resulting synergies would significantly improve consolidated financial performance."

Blockbuster announced earlier today a hostile takeover bid of between $6 and $8 per share or just over $1 billion for Circuit City Stores Inc.. Circuit City's response has only been to question Blockbuster’s ability to finance the deal.

Circuit City said it has exchanged information with Blockbuster, but advised its shareholders to take no action until the board examines the bid. Blockbuster hopes to enlist Circuit City shareholder support for its bid by disclosing previously private communications with Circuit City's executives.

At the end of trading today Circuit City shares climbed 27 percent closing at $4.97, while shares of Blockbuster plunged to an all-time low eventually closing down 10.2 percent, to close at $2.81.

The New Face Of Tom's Hardware

Our good friends over at Tom's hardware are getting a makeover. As part of the Bestofmedia Group buyout of TG Publishing, the long-time owner of Tom's Hardware, the site will be receiving a face lift and undergoing a few changes.

Anyone whom might happen to visit the site come April 16th will notice a brand new design of the home page.

tom's new home page
Click the image to see a larger version.


There will be a new rotating menu on the left side of the page; like the old menu, this one will rotate through a list of articles, showing you a graphic image and brief description for each article. All of the stories will be Tom's Hardware stories there will be separate boxes lower down the page for Tom's Guide and Tom's Games articles.

In this image of the lower part of the page you can see the areas for more Tom's Hardware articles, as well as the boxes for Tom's Guide and Tom's Games articles. You'll also notice links to their popular graphics card and cpu charts, as well as a forum box with a few of the latest posts.


The Desktop VGA Charts

Two of my favorite Tom's pages have to be the Video card charts, and the CPU charts. While the article only discusses the graphics card charts one can assume the other charts will undergo similar changes.

tom's new vga charts
Click the image to see a larger version.


As you can see you'll use the dropdown menu at the bottom of the screen capture to select the benchmark you want to use to compare graphics cards. In a second image you can see the dropdown menu that will be used to select a benchmark. And in the third image you can see the actual benchmarks. You can delete cards from the chart by clicking the red circle with the X inside. Lower down on the page, there is a place where you can add cards back into a chart.

What we can expect

Bestofmedia Group laid out their plans for the future of Tom's Hardware, Gear Digest and TwitchGuru.

Three key ideas were presented.

  1. Editorial experts from around the world would benchmark and write about the best and most important new products in the areas covered by each website.
  2. All of the Bestofmedia websites around the world would share articles, increasing the number of high quality stories available to all readers.
  3. All the websites would be identified by the Tom's trademark.


Tom's Hardware should remain one of the industry leaders in product benchmarks and reviews and Gear Digest will/has become, Tom's Guide and TwitchGuru is now going to be Tom's Games.

For more information on all the changes check out the full article at Tom's Hardware

IBM 'Racetrack' Nano-Magnetic Memory

ibm logo


IBM has announced that they are developing a new type of memory which will be faster than current hard drives and flash memory while offering about 100 times the storage capacity. Dubbed “Racetrack,” the technology is similar to flash memory in that it has no moving parts, which reduces the likelihood of mechanical malfunction. However, unlike flash memory, which can typically last 100,000 read-write cycles before problems emerge, "racetrack" can supposedly be endlessly rewritten with no wear and tear.

Using spintronics--the storage of bits generated by the magnetic spin of electrons rather than their charge--a proof-of-concept shift register was recently demonstrated by IBM. The prototype encodes bits into the magnetic domain walls along the length of a silicon nanowire, or racetrack. IBM uses "massless motion" to move the magnetic domain walls along the nanowire for the storage and retrieval of information.



"We have now demonstrated a current-controlled, domain-wall, shift register which is the fundamental, underlying technology for racetrack memory," said Stuart Parkin of IBM's Almaden Research Center. "We use current pulses to move a series of domain walls along a nanowire, which is not possible to do with magnetic fields."

IBM stated tey hope to have a prototype ready within 2 to 4 years, with mass production possibly within 7 years.

Ultra Sues 22 Competitors Over Modular Power Supplies

ultra modular power supply
Ultra Products Inc. was the first to patent this modular power supply technology in 2004, , and is now seeking triple damages from 22 of its competitors.

Ultra filed the suit in the United States District Court of Florida Orlando Division and named as defendants no less than 22 of the top power supply makers. Named in the suit as defendants are Antec, Inc., Channel Well Technology Co. Ltd., Channel Well Technology Co. U.S.A., Inc., Corsair Memory, Inc., Enhance Electronics Co. Ltd., E-Power Technology/PCMCIS, SPI Electronic Co. Ltd., FSP Group USA Corp., Koolance USA, Mushkin, Inc., OCZ Technology, Sea Sonic Electronics Co. Ltd., Silverstone Technology, Inc., Spire-Bytecom Fanner Corporation, Tagan Technology Co. Ltd., Tagan Technology Co., Thermaltake Technology Co. Ltd., Thermaltake, Inc., Topower Computer Industrial Co. Ltd., Topower Computer U.S.A., Inc., Zalman Technology Company Ltd. and Zalman USA, Inc.

Unlike most other patent infringement lawsuits, Ultra Products is not seeking an injunction against the 22 other companies. Ultra argues that since the other manufacturers were informed in 2006 and early 2007 (shortly after the patent was granted) they willfully infringed on Ultra's intellectual property. Thus, Ultra is seeking up to triple damages against the power supply manufacturers -- the maximum allowed by law.

Read more at Dailytech.com

Sunday, April 13, 2008

NASA's 2008 Great Moonbuggy Race

High school and college students, representing 20 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany and India, were having a blast in their home-made moonbuggies. They were spinning out in "moondust" and rumbling over "craters" at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on April 4th and 5th, competing to traverse the 0.7-mile course faster than any other team.

The two-person crews had to first assemble their odd conveyances as part of the race before setting off from the starting line and competing against the clock on a solo run. Course challenges included obstacles like craters, rocks, hardened lava ridges, inclines, lunar soil and -- one thing never found on the moon -- a gullywasher of a rainstorm. Amazingly, most of the vehicles held up well enough to finish their runs, and a few of the crews actually did so with no penalties at all, whizzing across sandpits and the like as adeptly as the drivers in that 1969 movie they never saw.



While awaiting their turns on the track, crews worked on their buggies out in the parking lot. A Fairhope, Alabama, team was elevating the use of duct tape to high art, securing all the required parts (simulated radios, simulated cameras, simulated batteries, etc.) in place.

"Our buggy isn't as fancy as some of the others, but we're proud of it," said one of the Fairhope crewmembers: photo. Indeed, his buggy went on to make a respectable run, all in one piece. (Is it any wonder?)

Dr. Paul Shiue, faculty advisor for the Memphis, Tennessee, Christian Brothers University crew, was on hand to support his team. He laughingly called duct tape their "best engineering tool."

Several teams based their buggies on junk yard parts, resulting in (predictably) tough vehicles: "One of the high school teams badly bent both rims on one side of their buggy in a leap over obstacle #3, then blew out the intertube with a bang on one of those wheels a few obstacles later," describes onlooker and NASA physicist Dennis Gallagher. Despite all that, "they managed to finish the race."

"Meanwhile, a team from India made do without critical parts that never arrived in a lost luggage bag," he continues. "They also forgot their safety helmets, goggles, and gloves, but another team gave them theirs. One of the event highlights is how teams are willing to share their knowledge, tools and parts."

Cooperation, seat-of-the pants ingenuity and serious engineering know-how were on full display--just as they were 30+ years ago when NASA engineers created the original Lunar Roving Vehicle for the Apollo program.

The moonbuggy of that era had to travel in breathtaking vacuum across a dusty, bumpy landscape, in temperatures exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit with very little gravity (1/6 g) to hold it down. Weighing only about 450 pounds on Earth, or just 75 pounds on the Moon, the moonbuggy could carry up to 1000 Earth-pounds -- more than twice its own weight. As if that wasn't enough, it also had to fit in the tight confines of the lunar lander. Designers made it fold up (a bit like a Transformer toy) for the voyage to the moon and easily unfold for adventure when the lander descended to the lunar surface. All in all, the original moonbuggy was a nice little ride!

Here on Earth, in the 2008 Great Moonbuggy Race, all the "daring young" men and women, winners and losers alike, seemed to have fun, and their vehicles were remarkably well constructed. Erie High School Team II from Erie, Kansas, won the high school race, charging through the course in a mere 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The college winner was Evansville University from Evansville, Indiana, with an impressive time of 4 minutes and 25 seconds.

And they didn't even use much duct tape.

Checkout more photos

Firefox Logo Spotted In Deep Space



The image on the left was taken by the Hubble space telescope on December 17, 2002, featuring the variable star V838 Monocerotis. The image on the right is the same shot with the familiar Firefox logo overlayed.

While the original photo of the star was edited, the only modification supposedly done was rotating of the image, you can see a striking resemblance.

Amazon, Walmart Add HD DVD Rebate Program

Taking cues from Circuit City's HD DVD Exchange Amazon and Walmart have decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Amazon is "rewarding" all customers who bought an HD DVD player before February 23 with a $50 Amazon.com credit, no strings attached. The deal isn't mentioned at Amazon.com, but the company has reportedly e-mailed all qualifying customers with details on the rebate.

According to the Wall Street Journal Walmart has also launched its own program, though again, details aren't being advertised on the company's web site. Any Walmart customer who bought an HD DVD player on or before November 1 is eligible for a refund for the full purchase price. Original packaging is not required, but you must have a receipt for the purchase, and the offer expires April 30.

AMD CTO Phil Hester Resigns

AMD has announced that senior VP and chief technology officer Phil Hester has resigned. Hester joined the company in 2005 after working for more than two decades at IBM Corp. and was responsible for crafting AMD's technological roadmap over the past three years.

"He is leaving to pursue other opportunities," said Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesman, adding that Hester has not yet disclosed his professional plans for the future.

Hester's responsibilities will be distributed among the chief technology officers of AMD's individual business unit, Prairie said.

"We don't have any plans to continue that global CTO position," Prairie said, adding that Friday was Hester's last day at the Sunnyvale, California-based company.

Hester’s resignation follows AMD's recent announcement that it will reduce its workforce by 10%,or nearly 1,600 employees.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stupid News Of The Week

When Craigslist attacks!
Brandon and Amber Herbert are the married criminal masterminds that attempted to masquerade their recent home burglary by posting a bogus invitation on Craigslist. The couple attempted to masquerade their recent home burglary and ransacking of a Pacific Northwest domicile by posting a bogus “come get all my crap — FREE!” invitation on the oft-demonized online community.

Couple sues Google for posting house pix
A western Pennsylvania couple has sued Google Inc., saying pictures of their home on its Web site violate their privacy and devalued their property.

Images of the home Aaron and Christine Boring bought in the Pittsburgh suburb of Franklin Park in October 2006 appeared on Google's "Street View" feature, which allows users to find street-level photos by clicking on a map.

"A major component of their purchase decision was a desire for privacy," according to their complaint, filed Wednesday in state court, which also says the couple suffered mental distress.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Earners Forum, Webmaster-Talk Forums Merger Contest

I ran across this contest over at ShoeMoney and thought I'd pass the info along. Its a points based contest which looks rather involved but it might be worth it to someone that has the time to devote.

In order to celebrate the merger of EarnersForum.com in to Webmaster-Talk.com we have rallied the support from 10 AMAZING sponsors that all wanted to put on the contest of the year

There has never been a contest with so many valuable prizes and so much cash in the world of webmaster communities. We want to give a special shout out of thanks to each of our sponsors for making this possible.


How The Contest Works Click Here!

Prizes

1. A beautiful new Macbook Air laptop from ClickBooth valued at $1,800.00!

2. A Professional version Shopping Cart solution from Interspire valued at $995.00!

3. $500 cash in a Max Bounty affiliate network account awaits you!

4. Another $500 in the form of a Text Link Ads gift certificate should help with your marketing efforts!

5. How about another Apple product, the iPod Touch from Rocket Profit….wow!

6. Another $250 cash in a Pepperjam Network account will make you smile!

7. Sure would be nice to have some custom T-shirts printed for your headline website, right? Well, Ndesigns is going to do that for you! This is 24 Custom Printed Shirts (color T’s, 3-4 color printing, one-sided).

8. The hottest new camera for blogging, The Flip, is provided by AdValiant!

9. Speaking of blogs, the MOST AMAZING paid theme ever is now yours from Revolution Theme and it isn’t just one, but the complete multi-pack!

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THE CONTEST ENDS MAY 13th AT MIDNIGHT (CST), SO…Start Today to Win!



For more information you can read the official rules here and more updates can be found in the official contest thread.

Sony PS3 Firmware v2.30 Details

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) announced Thursday that the next system software update for PlayStation 3 (PS3) system, slated for release next week, will add DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, enabling consumers to enjoy Blu-ray movies with studio-quality, high-definition audio. The technologies, from DTS, Inc. (NASDAQ: DTSI), provide PS3 users with the complete high-definition Blu-ray movie experience, matching the format's crisp visuals with rich, lifelike sound. In addition to the new audio capabilities, the free system software update (v. 2.30) will allow PS3 owners to access the revamped PlayStation Store, as previously announced.

DTS-HD Master Audio brings Blu-ray movies on PS3 to life, delivering everything from explosive sound effects to intricate orchestral scores with pure, high-quality audio that is bit-for-bit identical to the original studio master. DTS-HD Master Audio has the capacity to deliver audio at the incredibly high variable rate of 24.5 mega-bits per second (Mbps) on Blu-ray disc, a rate significantly higher than standard DVDs. DTS-HD Master Audio also offers 7.1 audio channels at 96k sampling frequency/24 bit depths. More than 100 Blu-ray movies and concert videos featuring premium DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are available.

Additionally, the DTS-HD High Resolution Audio codec allows content creators to deliver uncompromised, high-definition audio on Blu-ray, while requiring less disc space than DTS-HD Master Audio. DTS-HD High Resolution Audio streams audio at a high constant bit rate of 6.0 Mbps on Blu-ray discs, and is also capable of up to 7.1 audio channels at 96k sampling frequency/24 bit depth resolution, thereby producing outstanding sound quality.

Beyond enhancing PS3's audio capabilities, installing the latest system software update will also enable users to seamlessly access the new, more dynamic interface and enhanced navigation of the PlayStation Store. As part of a revamp, the PlayStation Store will transition from an integrated online storefront to an application living natively on PS3, enabling customers to more easily and quickly locate and purchase games, and download demos, game videos, Blu-ray movie trailers and other game-related content for PS3.

These updates further demonstrate how the future-proof PS3 continues to evolve as a gaming and home entertainment system with the flexibility to deliver the newest technology innovations without requiring further investment from consumers. For additional details and instructions on how to update the PS3 system software, please visit http://www.us.playstation.com.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

OS Smackdown: Linux vs. Mac OS X vs. Windows Vista vs. Windows XP

Computerworld throws together another great article when they asked four experts to lay out their best arguments in support of their desktop operating systems of choice:

Each is of these guys are positive that their choice in operating system is the best and they try their hardest to convince you that they are right. These are not rational, disengaged reviews; these are opinionated essays meant to sway your point of view and I will say they do make some interesting arguments for their side.
When you've read all the arguments, you make the call by voting in their reader poll -- and of course your own arguments or comments are welcome.

New Weapon On Terrorism Hand-held Lie Detector

Move over M16 the U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan have a new weapon to fight terrorism, the lie detector. Starting this month U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan will be issued hand-held lie detectors pushing the debate over accuracy of the polygraph to the battlefront.

According to MSNBC.com the soldiers will be issued the new device, known by the acronym PCASS, for Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System. Which uses a commercial TDS Ranger hand-held personal digital assistant with three wires connected to sensors attached to the hand.

The Defense Department says the portable device isn't perfect, but is accurate enough to save American lives by screening local police officers, interpreters and allied forces for access to U.S. military bases, and by helping narrow the list of suspects after a roadside bombing.

“We're not promising perfection — we've been very careful in that,” said Donald Krapohl, special assistant to the director at the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment, the midwife for the new device. “What we are promising is that, if it's properly used, it will improve over what they are currently doing.”

At least one prominent scientist says the lie detector will actually put U.S. soldiers in harm's way, because they will put too much faith in a technology that is unreliable.

"I don't understand how anybody could think that this is ready for deployment," said statistics professor Stephen E. Fienberg, who headed a 2003 study by the National Academy of Sciences that found insufficient scientific evidence to support using polygraphs for national security.

How it all works

An interpreter will ask a series of 20 or so questions in Persian, Arabic or whichever language is needed. Intermingled between the actual questions will be some test questions "Are the lights on in this room?", "Do you intend to answer my questions truthfully?", "is the sun shining?" "Are you a member of the Taliban?" ect. The operator will punch in each answer and, after a delay of a minute or so for processing, the screen will display the results: "Green," if it thinks the person has told the truth, "Red" for deception, and "Yellow" if it can't decide.




The PCASS uses two electrodes to attempt to measure stress through changes in electrical conductivity of the skin. It also gauges cardiovascular activity through with a pulse oximeter clipped to a fingertip. Unlike the polygraph, the PCASS does not measure changes in the rate of breathing, and it has no way to detect countermeasures, or efforts to fool the machine, such as by making unusual movements.



Accuracy

Much debate has been made over the device’s accuracy therefore questioning its usefulness and effectiveness.

The Pentagon says the PCASS is 82 to 90 percent accurate. But Pentagon studies obtained by MSNBC.com show a more complicated picture: In calculating its accuracy, the scientists conducting the tests discarded the yellow screens, or inconclusive readings. If you take into account the yellow screens, the PCASS accuracy rate in the three Pentagon-funded tests drops to the level of 63 to 79 percent, a result which is less than effective.

My thoughts

Given the discrepancies in the statistics and the fact that terrorists already know these are being used and are training to combat the effectiveness I don't see much point behind deploying them. You put a lot of lives at risk when you rely on something that is less than effective, or something that is easily circumvented.

Read more of the story from MSNBC.com

Vegas Using RFID To Keep Tabs On Bartenders, Chips And Maybe Even You

Several bars in "sin City" (and probably bars near you) use RFID tracking chips that measure the flow and amount of liquor in each drink poured. Tucked away in the pour spouts are small chips that act as part of the loss-control system. When linked to point-of-sale systems you can produce information on types of drinks poured, amount of alcohol used ect.

According to hospitality industry experts, every year in the United States, over $7 billion is lost due to “liquor shrinkage.” What is “liquor shrinkage?” It happens when bartenders give out free drinks, "overpour" (intentionally making drinks too strong), or make mistakes as they mix cocktails. It also happens when bottles of liquor disappear from bar storage areas due to theft. RFID tracking can dramatically cut those losses.

The drawbacks, at least from the bartenders point of views is that tracking of sales and limiting pours threatens the long-standing practice of giving bartenders generous tips in order to get generous drinks. While not a concern for bar owners, bartenders largely make their livings off of these tips.

RFID inventory control and liquor management systems are hardly revolutionary, however these are just a few uses Vegas has found for tiny RFID tracking devices.


RFID chips are now being placed in some casino chips, and according to a recent Computerworld article the MGM Mirage is looking at room keys that not only open doors, but also keep track of customer preferences and gaming play. This would essentially allow the hotel to monitor every aspect of a gamers stay.

We all know casinos currently film your every last move as well as track every bet but adding RFID tags to the mix would also mean they could track you outside the casino walls. An RFID tag in your room key could be used to pin point your exact location anywhere within range of their service, and with assistance from other casinos they could track any and every activity while in another location.

A scary though to some, a fact of casino life to others, certainly anyone not willing to give up a certain level of privacy shouldn't be in a Vegas casino.

Technology and Vegas seem to go hand in hand and casino are no exception. They are constantly working on new facial recognition technologies to track players as well as potential cheats. The latest in technology can be seen everywhere from the fountains at the Bellagio, to the newest in touchscreen slots.

Some of the newest technology used is algorithms that can predict customer wants. Sending information to systems that will respond to newly arrived hotel guests by automatically turning on lights, adjusting blinds and setting the television to the customer's preferred language. The algorithms will take into account everything you've done, bought, ate and drank and will have that at your finger tips prior to your arrival

"What we want to be able to do is predict the future." Predictive modeling of the hotel's guests' activities and requests makes the algorithms that sit on top of the data warehouse a "killer app for us," says Tom Peck MGM Mirage's senior vice president and CIO.

Yahoo Teaming Up With AOL? Microsoft to Team With News Corp?

Yahoo Inc appears to be running out of alternatives to accepting Microsoft's takeover offer, or is it. According to Reuters Yahoo is closing in on a deal with Time Warner's AOL unit. In the mean time News Corp is reportedly considering joining Microsoft in a bid for Yahoo a combination which would bring together three of the biggest Web site publishers on the Internet: Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and News Corp's MySpace

Reports on any plans from the Microsoft were sketchy to say the least, so its on exactly how any of the deals might be structured. However the article says the Yahoo's talks with Time Warner are nearing an agreement. The deal would see Time Warner adding AOL's business, excluding its legacy dial-up Internet access operations, into a combined Yahoo company. Yahoo would receive cash from Time Warner in exchange for 20 percent of a combined Yahoo-AOL, the source said.

The Wall Street Journal cited sources saying Yahoo would use the Time Warner cash and other funds to buy back several billion dollars worth of Yahoo stock at a price somewhere in the middle of the range between $30 and $40 a share.

To add yet another wrinkle to the equation Reuters also reports Yahoo is going to begin testing the use of Google search ads. A move which Microsoft claims is anti-competitive. In a statement, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said "Yahoo and Google would consolidate over 90 percent of the search advertising market in Google's hands" thus creating a virtual stranglehold on the advertising market.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Turning Great Video Games Into Ok Films

Hollywood has tried several times to turn some of our favorite games into good movies, however most of the time these turn into huge flops. Lets face it some games just aren't meant to be movies. Movie moguls see a widely popular game and dollar signs light up.

While some game to movie projects have turned out to be very successful the majority have not. In general video games aren't written to be live action movies. For the most part the plots, story lines and character development just aren't there. However its not the game producers fault when movies flop. Movie producers, who in my opinion have never played the games, have issues sticking to the very thin story lines and try to take development too far. Scripting/writing for many of the movies is atrocious and casting for many of the roles has been less than stellar.

“Few games have translated well to film,” says Michael Pachter, videogame analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities. “'Doom' was a flop, as were the second 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Super Mario Bros.' movies. 'Resident Evil' has done well, as have the Lara Croft films, so I’d say it’s hit and miss.”

The next great game to attack the big screen is "Max Payne" which supposedly will be released in Oct, with Mark Wahlberg in the starring role. The film will be directed by John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, and The Omen). Fans have had a mixed reception of some of the casting as well as some of the behind the scenes calls.

John Moore is a less-than-acclaimed director and then there is first-time screenwriter Beau Thorne was hired to pen the script. Add to that the casting of Chris O'Donnell for a major role and the movie starts to slide a little.

MSNBC's article "Turning good video games into great films" explores some of the ins and out of transporting video games into live action films.

Some of the people behind the scenes of "Max Payne" are working hard to see that game to movie porting works out better than in the past.

In June 2007, Hollywood producer Scott Faye, owner of Depth Entertainment; Scott Miller, also head of game developer 3D Realms; and Jim Perkins, former CEO of game developer-publisher Arush Entertainment, formed Radar Group.

Rather than creating a game, then licensing it as a film, or vice versa, Radar will cultivate story lines—“storyverses” in company parlance—that transcend any one medium, whether linear or interactive. From there, they can spin out movies, videogames, comic books, and anything else that might emerge.

“I think that because we’re starting at the outset, both cultures will have an incredibly solid foundation for an ongoing evergreen franchise,” says Faye.

Usually, a movie based on a game gets green-lit only after the game has been released and built an audience. But Depth Entertainment is already shopping Radar’s stories around to studios—even though the games are still a few years away from hitting shelves. Merchandising and expanding an intellectual property from the get-go has been a long-standing Hollywood strategy, but the concept is still new in the game business, where all the focus generally remains on creating the game.

EA & Epic Extend Unreal Engine 3 Agreement

Electronic Arts has announced that it is extending its current licensing agreement with Epic Games for use of their Unreal Engine 3. The new deal will allow EA to use UE3 in more than 5 upcoming games, although specifics on which titles those may be are still unknown.

Electronic Arts originally licensed use of the gaming engine back in 2006 and currently publishes several titles under that license including Medal Of Honor Airborne and Army Of Two.

"With the largest and most talented studio operation in the world, it's critical for us to give our studio teams the best tools they need to make great games," Frank Gibeau, President of the EA Games Label said, "This agreement reflects our commitment to Epic's technology which, in combination with our own cutting-edge systems, allows us to create ground breaking hits."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Internet Scams At A New High

According to reports from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) money lost in Internet crimes reached nearly $240 million.

The 2007 Internet Crime Report compiled by the Internet Crime Complaint Center states they received 206,884 complaints of crimes perpetrated over the Internet during 2007. Of the complaints received, more than 90,000 were referred to law enforcement around the nation, amounting to nearly $240 million in reported losses. This represents a $40 million increase in reported losses from complaints referred to law enforcement in 2006.

The data shows that more men than women were scammed and at a costlier rate. The average loss for men was $765; for women, $552 men lost $1.67 to every $1 lost by women in online fraud.

Age was also a key factor in relation to losses, victims in their 20s lost $385 on average while people over 60 reported lost an average $760 per scam.

Although Internet auction fraud was the most widely reported complaint, others cited in the report include fraudulent activity such as non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, and non-fraudulent activity such as computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited e-mail, and child pornography. In an effort to raise public awareness, the report also describes the characteristics of commonly reported scams such as those involving the purchase or sale of pets, check scams, e-mail spam, and online dating fraud.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). They serve as the governments clearinghouse for all complaints involving Internet related crimes

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stephen King Speaks Out Against Video Game Legislation

Popular Horror Novelist Stephen King has criticized plans by legislators in Massachusetts to restrict or ban the sale of video games that depict violence, nudity or sexual content to buyers under 18.

HB 1423, is the Massachusetts bill that would seek the restrict or ban the sale of video games that depict violence to buyers under 18. Among other things, it seeks to define "harmful to minors" in terms of whether the game is "obscene".

(1) describes or represents nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement, so as to appeal predominantly to the prurient interest of minors; (2) depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors; (3) is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed as to suitable material for such minors; and (4) lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.


Mr King spoke out against the ban in his recent Entertainment Weekly column.

"I'm no fan of videogames; pretty much gave them up in the late '70s or early '80s," says King, "so, nope — videogames are not my thing. Nor am I some kind of raving political nutcase. But when I heard about HB 1423, which happens to be a bill pending in the Massachusetts state legislature, I still hit the roof."

''What really makes me insane is how eager politicians are to use the pop culture as a whipping boy. It's easy for them, even sort of fun, because the pop-cult always hollers nice and loud. Also, it allows legislators to ignore the elephants in the living room.''


King's resentment towards government intrusion is one that is shared by many. As are his views on banning the sale of video games to minors. In fact several of these laws have recently been blocked or overturned, including bills in Minneapolis and Louisiana.

In my opinion the government needs to stop the slew of senseless legislation aimed at "parenting". Let parents be parents, they should know by now that they need to be proactive in their children's lives. We don't need government intrusion and bureaucracy telling us how to live.

AMD Announces Job Cuts

amd logoAMD announced this afternoon that it would cut 10 percent of its work force, or about 1,680 jobs.

Citing lower-than-expected sales across its business, AMD estimated revenue for the quarter which ended March 29 at about $1.5 billion, well below the average analyst forecast of $1.62 billion.

AMD has been a strong competitor fighting Intel for a share of the CPU market for years. However their newest products have fallen short of consumer expectation leading to a decline in sales. The recent $5.6 billion acquisition of graphics chip maker ATI Technologies Inc., has pushed the companies even lower. AMD recently said is worth about 30 percent less than when it was acquired.

AMD viewed the acquisition as a key way to attack Intel and incorporate better graphics capabilities into its chips. The reviews of the newly released 780g chipset show great promise, however both Intel and Nvidia have taken strangle holds on the market.

Nvidia's recent introductions, the 9600gt , 9800gtx and 9800gx2 have proven to be better, faster and cheaper than most offerings from Ati.

All the while Intel has seated itself as the top dog with several outstanding dual and quad core cpu's. Their 45 nanometer chips are trumping anything AMD has been able to release so far. Lower power consumption and higher performance are hard to beat.

Its not all roses for Intel however. They also issued warnings about the first quarter profits. In early March, Intel cut its gross margin forecast, citing weaker pricing for NAND memory chips used in consumer electronics, such as digital music players and cell phones. Intel is scheduled to report results on April 15.

Digg Back In Service

One of our favorite news/social sites Digg.com was out of service for several hours this afternoon. The following statement was posted by Digg's Eli White on the Digg Blog

Hey everyone,

We know that we are currently having some issues on Digg at the moment. Submissions, commenting, digging and other actions may sometimes fail. We have a crack team assigned to it and will be making
numerous fixes as soon as possible to get Digg back to 100% for ya.

Please bear with us …

Eli


I'm sure we are all glad to see the Digg staff got things squared away and the site is back up and running smoothly.

Blogging A High Risk Occupation?

According to a recent report from the New York Times the stressful lives that us bloggers lead may put us into the same "dangerous jobs" category as coal miners and Alaskan crab fisherman. The article says the stress accumulated from long exhaustive hours of blogging can lead to serious medical conditions, even death.

Recently well know tech blogger Russell Shaw died at the age of 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived his heart attack.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet. I can attest first hand that I often find myself spending hours reading through news and information looking for stories to post however I've never seen the types of stresses they are implying.

The NY Times is quick to point out there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic.

Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch is quoted as saying he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

Popular blogger John Chow has a different take on things. He writes "The only thing I have to say about this story is, you got to be kidding me? No wonder the mainstream media is losing ground so badly to the Internet. Some 60 year old has a heart attack. It must be caused by blogging! I guess the fact that Om Malik weighs something like 400lbs has nothing to do with his heart attack, right?"

Travis Hudson, from PC world writes "I'm not too surprised by this report, but it's pretty obvious. Most bloggers have the opportunity to work out of their home, which many would assume is stress-free, but it's quite the opposite. Working from home lets you work all day and all night. There is no way to easily separate yourself from work."

I would in know way put my experiences up there with Pro-Bloggers Michael Arrington or Om Malik, I don't have deadlines, I don't have advertisers breathing down my neck, I don't have any outside influences in the way I blog. The opinions of my readers is the only concern I have.

But work is what you make of it, it doesn't matter if you are at home, in the office or on the road. As John Chow once said "One of the best things about being a blogger is it gives you the option to do it from anywhere in the world." If working from home starts to be stressful find another place. If you need to get out of the office, visit a Starbucks

John made $31k in March so if it works for him it'll definitely work for me.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Your ISP Is Watching Closer Than You Think

Reading that fine print might reveal that you have fewer rights than you realize.

MSNBC.com recently published an Associated Press article that made a few interesting discoveries in the fine print that most of use usually agree to without reading.

By now everyone should be aware that ISPs such as Comcast ad ATT have been watching their users and usage of P2P/file-sharing programs. However you might not be aware that they can go even further, reading your emails, blocking you from sites they deem inappropriate. They even reserve the right to block traffic and, for any reason, cut off a service.

The Associated Press reviewed the "Acceptable Use Policies" and "Terms of Service" of the nation's 10 largest ISPs — in all, 117 pages of contracts that leave few rights for subscribers.

During their review they discovered that AT&T Inc. had a blanket provision that stated their right to block any activity that causes the company "to be viewed unfavorably by others."

Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University is quoted as saying, "The idea that they would ever invoke it and point to it is nuts, especially since their terms of service already say they can cut you off for any reason and give you a refund for the balance of the month."

According to the A.P. AT&T removed the "unfavorably by others" after being asked about the reason behind it. Most subscribers wouldn't know that unless they checked the contract word for word. Which more than likely most didn't even know it was there to begin with.

Common clauses of ISP contracts

ISPs can read your e-mail
Practically all ISPs reserve the right to read your e-mails and look at the sites you visit. Yes read your "Terms of service" carefully, their is more than likely a stipulation in there that says they can without warning, probable cause or wiretap order open and read your emails.

Some ISPs, like AT&T Inc., make clear that they do not read their subscriber's traffic as a matter of course, but also that they need little or no excuse to begin doing so.

ISPs can block Web sites you visit

While this may be a difficult task and can certainly be circumvented they do hold the right to try to block the sites you visit. Comcast for one reserves the right to block or remove traffic it deems "inappropriate, regardless of whether this material or its dissemination is unlawful." They can use their sole discretion as to what they feel is "inappropriate".

ISPs can shut you down for too much traffic

For cable ISPs, up to 500 households may be sharing the capacity on a single line, and a few traffic hogs can slow the whole neighborhood down. Most people see the effects of this during "peak usage hours" you'll notice slow downs in service when lots of people are at home using their connections.

But rather than saying publicly how much traffic is too much, some cable companies keep their caps secret, and simply warn offenders individually. If that doesn't work, they're kicked off. And trust me they aren't shy about removing and banning you.

While for the average user it might be difficult to reach these bandwidth caps users that are downloading large amounts of high-quality video from the Internet or downloading larges quantities of files might find themselves reaching that limit. With the advent of high-definition Internet video set-top boxes like the Apple TV and the Vudu this could be a much more common issue.

More bannable offenses

Off course Spam, pornography and hate related content are always going to be on the top of the list. However you might not know that you could be banned and your account removed for simply allowing others to connect and browse the net. There are terms in most contracts that stipulate you and members of your household are the only ones allowed to use your connection.

Another offense many people are unaware of is using your pc and their connection for hosting your own website, mail server or file server. Most ISPs block the ports needed to host your own sites or servers at home, however there are a few that don't. Either way in many cases ISPs have written in clauses that disallow using their bandwidth in that fashion.

The one thing all this does make clear is that we all need to learn to take our time and fully read the contracts we are agreeing to. I know I am a guilty party, I might browse through them but I never read them in full. Then once an issue arises I dig out the contracts and spend hours trying to understand the exact terms.

iPhone Pwnage 1.0 Released

The iPhone Dev Team has released version 1.0 of its Pwnage utility.

Official Press Release
April 03, 2008

The “DevTeam” would like to announce the release of the OS X version of the PwnageTool application.

The team (and especially Wizdaz) have been working hard to bring you this release in as short a time as possible.

The plan (4 weeks ago) was to release a Mac tool only. This was decided because of the lack of reliable Mac filesystem tools on Windows, and the fact that the task of porting them would be too time consuming.

With that in mind the genius that is “cmw” stepped up to the plate and offered his services to the DevTeam. He proposed to provide a tool that would give the same functionality and User Interface as the Mac tool.

cmw has done an almost unthinkable task and ported the almost complete Pwnage Tool to Windows in a little under a week, and we would like to thank him for this unbelievable work. He is currently in the final test stages and hopefully this should be finished within the next 24 hours (but even he needs sleep and family time occasionally!) We'll post a link as soon as the testing has finished.

cmw's site is at http://www.iphonelinux.org

The Mac tool is available at http://www.iphone-dev.org

Thanks to Sal Iovine for the awesome Steve parody image, this is copyrighted material and is provided to the DevTeam under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license, you can see more of his work at http://www.saliovine.blogspot.com/

ENDS


The Dev Team is a group of dedicated, “white hat” hackers trying to help the regualr folks out there get the most out of their iPhones. Their program Pwnage can do it all, unlocking, activating, and even Jailbreaking.

As you can see from their statement currently Pwnage only runs on OS X Tiger, however they have been working hard on a Windows version.

For more information checkout Crunch Gear's great article.

New Windows Coming Next Year?

Bill Gates said on Friday he expected the new version of Windows operating software, code-named Windows 7, to be released "sometime in the next year or so."

According the Reuters Microsoft has said it expected to release a new version of Windows approximately 3 years after the introduction of Vista. Last month we reported that Microsoft submitted Windows 7 for anti-trust review, that along with Gates' comments would put the numbers right in line.

I think we could probably see beta testing information popping up by the end of the year with full beta trials coming early next year.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Judge Rules Against RIAA Subponea

Federal court judge Judge Nancy Gertner has dealt a blow to the Recording Industry Association of America, finding that merely exposing music files to the Internet is not copyright infringement.

"Merely because the defendant has 'completed all the steps necessary for distribution' does not necessarily mean that a distribution has actually occurred," wrote Gertner in her order. "As noted above, merely exposing music files to the Internet is not copyright infringement."


The judge did note that an "offer to distribute" is sufficient basis for a copyright infringement claim, which means that the RIAA can continue to make that allegation in its lawsuits. There is, however, a big difference between having evidence for a copyright infringement claim and showing by a preponderance of evidence that infringement actually took place.

More information

  • The full story from Ars Technica

  • The EFF's press release

  • PDF copy of judge Gertner's decision