Tuesday, April 29, 2008

$199 Apple iPhone, Fact Or Fiction?

There have been many rumors floating around the rumor mill following the Fortune.com blog post "AT&T to cut the price of Apple’s new iPhone", but is there any truth behind them?

Several well known sites like Dailytech, TG Daily and MacWorld have jumped on the story and ran with it. However in my opinion a few things just didn't add up.

Fortune reports that AT&T is preparing to offer a $200 subsidy for customers who sign two-year contracts when buying the next-generation iPhone. It writes that since the new, presumably faster models will start at the same $399 base price as the current iPhones, that will drop the effective price to $199.

But wait a minute, what about people who buy in Apple stores? Its hard to imagine that Apple would want to sell iPhones for even a dime more in its stores than in another store. And we all know how Apple keeps exceedingly tight controls over its pricing. So Fortune is leading us to believe that AT&T is going to be undercutting Apple, a move I personally don't see happening.

This is an opinion shared by at least two other people. Saul Hansell over at the NY Times wrote today "The $199 iPhone? Something’s Missing from the Picture", and PC World's Editor in Chief Harry McCracken posted "The $199 iPhone: Cool! Possibly Imaginary!". Both share the same questions in regards to the Fortune blog post.

Rumors about the second generation 3G iPhone aren't new. Engadget recently reported that the new phone will have full GPS capabilities, a headphone jack that is no longer recessed, chrome volume buttons, and a shiny black rear housing all in a footprint slightly thicker than the existing iPhone.

The source of the Fortune blog posts is cited as confirming a few of these details. Stating the new iPhone will be 2.5 mm thinner than the 11.7 mm original and will also have a GPS chip for navigation and other location-based services.

As we all should know by now when it comes to Steve Jobs and the Apple crew rumors are just rumors and can be taken lightly until they actually make a release. So until the time comes that I show up at an AT&T store and see a $199 second gen iPhone I won't be getting my hopes up.

Wigix An Ebay Killer?



Wigix, the "Want it, got it Xchange" launches in public beta today with the intent to standardize online marketplace listings, and consequently make it easier for consumers to find the products they desire.

Wigix is not a new auction company, its modeled after a stock style price-matching system. Buyers and sellers list their desired prices for a particular item, and the system will notify people when they have matching orders there is no bidding involved.

Buying and Selling

The new SKU based selling system is setup with an auto-listing feature. The feature is similar to that found on eBay when selling books, movies or music. Sellers will no longer need to go through the task of describing items and posting pictures. Instead, they find the item in Wigix’s database, select it, and choose a price.

Similarly buyers need only find the item they’re looking for through a single search. Once they’re on the page for that item, they can see the last prices it sold at, how many buyers and sellers there are, descriptions, reviews and more. If they want to buy it, they put in a bid for a buy price; when a seller list and item thats meets the price, the transaction will be made.

Fees

The fee structure changes dramatically over eBay's system. Wigix charges no listing fee, and any transaction less than $25 is free. Wigix always charges the buyer $1.50, but the seller pays a variable amount: $1.50 for a sale between $25 and $100; $1.50 plus 2 percent of the amount above $100 for a sale between $100 and $1,000; and $21 plus 1 percent of the amount above $1,000 for a sale of more than $1,000.

For example, if somebody buys a digital camera for $200, Wigix charges the buyer $1.50 and the seller $3.50--$1.50 plus 2 percent of $100.

Make Money Without Selling

Wigix is also offering members several way to make money without selling items.

Category experts get paid 1% of the category's revenue (advertising and transaction fees) for checking listing and approving items.

Homesteading or category creation, allows user to add and expand the Wigix catalog of items. If you find something new that is not in the database you will earn 5% of that item's revenue (ad revenue and transaction fees)!

Golden Items, in an attempt at driving traffic to more areas of the site Wigix has secretly marked hundreds of items with a golden SKU. When you see the gold bar, click on it and your Wigix account will be credited $1!

Referrals, what site would be complete without a referral service? Wigix will give you up to 4% of any revenue (advertising and transaction fees) made by your referral's homestead items as well as a share from second and third tier referrals.

My thoughts

While looking over the site researching the post I saw it as an interesting idea. I did see a few areas I don't care for. For starters as a bargain hunter I'm not big on the "want it now" buying style. That cuts down the chance at getting any great deals. Which for me is one of the biggest draws to an auction site.

I also have a few concerns about listing items. I like to see pictures of actual items, not just a stock photo. The same goes for listings, I want an accurate description of the item I might be buying, not the generic one provided. You'll be forced to ask sellers to provide details and pictures, which would otherwise be provided in an eBay type environment.

But I'm willing to give it a chance. I'll try it out over the next week or two and see how I like it and post a review of my findings then.

For more on Wigix check out these great articles:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Which BlackBerry is Best for You?

Laptop Magazine explores the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry 8800 Series in order to help you pick the best BlackBerry for you.

The challenge any smartphone buyer faces is picking the right phone for your needs. That’s where this guide comes in. They break down the three different series and show in detail the features found on most of the popular models in each series.

The BlackBerry Pearl for example has comparisons of three models, the 8110, 8120 and 8130. While most of the differences are carrier specific knowing what those differences are might help you to decide which carrier to choose as well as which model to choose from a carrier that provides more than one option.

Read more at Laptop mag.com

2009 Corvette ZR1 Hits 638 Horsepower, 200+MPH

2009 ZR1Photo from Serious Wheels

Popular Mechanics reports the new ZR1 will feature GM’s hardest pumping engine ever. With the sky rocketing cost of fuel will the car be a boom or bust?

"The Corvette ZR1 is shaping up to become the beastliest of just about any supercar. Chevrolet just announced that the ZR1's supercharged 6.2-liter V8 would deliver a whopping 638 hp and 604 lb.-ft. of torque. That's 18 more ponies than the original estimate back at the Detroit auto show in January (click here for video, here for more pix and here for history).

And that makes this Vette's LS9 the most powerful automotive production engine General Motors has ever produced. It's also six more horses than Lamborghini's top dog, the LP 640—now that's really impressive. Chevy says the horsepower and torque were necessary to help the ZR1 achieve a top speed of more than 200 mph. The supercharged 376 cid V8 is routed to a six-speed manual with race-hardened gears and a dual-disc clutch technology, for better clamping power and lower inertia. And all that power is delivered to strengthened rear axle components. Could GM be anticipating smoky burnouts? Natch.

GM says the ZR1 will be the most fuel-efficient 600-hp car in the industry at 26 mpg on the highway—not exactly a shocker, given how thrifty the 505-hp Z06 rides.

We can't wait to get behind the wheel of that ZR1. But when we do, fuel economy probably won't be the first thing on our mind. —Ben Stewart"


For more on the 2009 ZR1 checkout PM's Video at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show as well as MotorTrends 2009 ZR1 First look

GeForce 9600 GSO 384MB Officially Released

Nvidia releases another mid range card that is slated to site somewhere on the shelf next to the 8800gt/gts and the 9600gt, where we aren't sure yet but one thing is certain Nvidia is flooding the market with cards lately!

Specs wise the 9600 GSO is a curious card. It packs 96 stream processors compared to the 9600 GT's 64, which should imply it will be a better performer, but in every other way the GSO is decidedly crippled. Stock clock speeds sit at 550MHz, 1,375MHz and 1.6GHz for the core, shaders and memory respectively - all slower than the GT.

The 9600GT offered 512MB of RAM on a 256-bit memory interface, but the GSO only uses a 192-bit interface with 384MB of RAM. On paper, those specs mean the GSO may even be able to keep up with the 9600 GT in some scenarios - especially the board partner pre-overclocked versions - as long as anti-aliasing isn't used, wherein the memory limitations will show up.

Importantly and rather oddly, the first 9600 GSOs showing up with UK retailers are being priced at about £80 ($160). This compares very well with both the 512MB version of the 3650, that it should be faster than, and 9600 GT. However if these prices are correct under current Newegg pricing the GSO would be more expensive than the GT.

So we'll have to wait and see where it lands on the performance charts, and we'll have to wait on actual pricing figures. Keep your eyes peeled for reviews which should be out in a day or two.

Link:
GeForce 9600 GSO product page.

Security Vendors Bash Defcon's "Race to Zero" Contest

There will be a new contest at the Defcon hacker conference this August called "Race to Zero," the contest will invite Defcon hackers to find new ways of beating antivirus software.

The announcement of the contest has security vendors in an uproar. "It will do more harm than good," said Paul Ferguson, a researcher at antivirus vendor TrendMicro. "Responsible disclosure is one thing, but now actually encouraging people to do this as a contest is a little over the top."

According to what I read on the Race to Zero site security and antivirus vendors are taking this way to seriously. After all contestants are going to be given a sample set of viruses and malcode that is already know, they then have to modify and upload through the contest portal. We are talking about a contest that is seeking to create new viruses or malicious code.

"We are not creating new viruses and modified samples will not be released into the wild, contrary to the belief of some media organizations. Above all we want the contestants to have fun!"

The contest is not organized by Defcon, but is one of the unofficial events that the show's organizers have encouraged attendees to arrange. It is unclear of what the contest winners will receive however according to organizers awards will be given for "Most elegant obfuscation," "Dirtiest hack of an obfuscation," "Comedy value" and "Most deserving of beer."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fellow Beer Drinkers Take Note

Finally, a Website for Something That Matters: Finding a Good Beer, well that is if you are from New York City.




Here's one for your Friday afternoon daydreams: BeerMenus is great new little website that tracks bars' beer selection so you can search for a particular bar and find out what's available.

Even better is the reverse. Just type in your favorite beer and BeerMenus will tell you where you can find it on tap (or in a bottle if that’s your thing). Think of it as MenuPages for beer.

The site uses a nice Google Map to show all the locations where your favorite beer can be found and even let’s you know how much it will set you back (a handy self-reminder of why I don’t live in NYC — beer is really expensive).

The big catch is that right now BeerMenus is only available for some 170 bars in Manhattan, which doesn’t help the majority of us, but it’s a start.

Curiously, while you can submit bars and their beer menus, the form only accepts submissions for Manhattan locations. A comment from one of the developers on the site’s blog suggests that additional burroughs like Brooklyn and Queens are coming soon, but no word on when the site will support non-NYC locations.

In the mean time I’m suddenly thirsty; fortunately I keep my own favorite beer in the fridge.

[viaCNet]


Originally posted by Scott Gilbertson at Wired.com



I love the idea of this site, I think I need to contact Will and Eric over there at BeerMenus and talk expansion!

GameStop to Host Nationwide Grand Theft Auto IV Launch Events

GameStop Corp. announced today that it will host events on Monday, April 28, 2008, at over 3,500 of its U.S. GameStop stores for the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV by Rockstar Games. These events celebrate one of the most highly anticipated games of 2008 and will include trivia contests, Grand Theft Auto character look-a-like contests and giveaways leading up to the 12:01 a.m. Tuesday release.

Most participating GameStop locations will begin their events after 9:00 p.m. local time; however, customers are encouraged to contact their local store to confirm the exact time of the event.

To participate, visit a GameStop store for details. To find a local store, log on to GameStop.com, and search using the 'Store Locator.'

Online Pre-Sale Orders

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ATI Radeon 4800 Series Specs Leaked

ati logo
Thanks to TG Daily we get a sneak peek at the soon to be released ATI HD 4800 series of graphics cards.

All Radeon 4800 graphics will use the 55nm TSMC produced RV770 GPU, that include over 800 million transistors, 480 stream processors or shader units (96+384), 32 texture units, 16 ROPs, a 256-bit memory controller (512-bit for the Radeon 4870 X2) and native GDDR3/4/5 support as reported before. At first, AMD’s graphics division will launch three new cards - Radeon HD 4850, 4870 and 4870 X2:
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850 - 650MHz/850MHz/1140MHz core/shader/memory clock speeds, 20.8 GTexel/s (32 TMU x 0.65 GHz) fill-rate, available in 256MB/512MB of GDDR3 memory or 512MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1.73GHz
  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 - 850MHz/1050MHz/1940MHz core/shader/memory clock speeds, 27.2 GTexel/s (32 TMU x 0.85 GHz) fill-rate, available in 1GB GDDR5 version only
  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 - unknown core/shader clock speeds, available with 2048MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1730MHz
The 4850 256MB GDDR3 version will arrive as the successor of the 3850 256MB with a price in the sub-$200 range. The 4850 512MB GDDR3 should retail for $229, while the 4850 512MB GDDR5 will set you back about $249-269. The 1GB GDDR5 powered 4870 will retail between $329-349. The flagship Radeon HD 4870 X2 will ship later this year for $499.

We can't wait to see these things in action so look for reviews and benchmarks to be posted soon!

Microsoft Backslides On Windows XP Cut Off Date

windows xp logo
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the company could extend the shelf life for Windows XP based on customer input.

According to InformationWeek Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly said that the company could extend the shelf life for XP "if customer feedback varies,". Meaning that the June 30th expiration date for the Windows XP operating system is not written in stone.

As previously reported the Windows XP lifecycle is expected to come to and abrupt halt on June 30, when Microsoft will no longer make Windows XP available to large PC vendors.

"XP will hit an end-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies we can always wake up smarter but right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments," Ballmer said, according to Reuters.

Its not immediately clear whether Ballmer was just making off the cuff remarks or actually testing the feedback waters for some response. However he needs to look no further than the several "save xp" petitions that are circulating the web. People want their XP, there is no doubt about it!

While its uncertain as to whether or not the remarks were serious what is certain is the amount of backlash and trepidation towards Vista. Today InformationWeek reported exclusively that Dell will make XP available on business computers until 2010.

Buyers who want a Dell system with XP pre-installed after June 30 will technically be purchasing a system with a license for Vista. However, Dell will also include a preinstalled copy of XP on systems marketed as Windows Vista "Bonus" edition.

Dell's move is in line with the belief that a considerable portion of its customers are not willing to upgrade to Vista, despite the fact that the OS has now been available for more than a year and has been fully updated with Service Pack 1.

**Update**

Comments by Steve Ballmer at a press conference in Europe today have led to speculation that Microsoft is reconsidering its June 30 deadline to stop selling most new Windows XP licenses. A spokeswoman from Microsoft's public relations firm said Thursday that there is no plan for a change in deadline, however.

"Our plan for Windows XP availability is unchanged. We're confident that's the right thing to do based on the feedback we've heard from our customers and partners," the spokeswoman said, reading from a Microsoft statement.

The spokeswoman said Microsoft is aware that some customers are pushing for an extension to the deadline -- more than 160,000 people have signed a "Save XP" petition launched by Infoworld magazine, for example. But the company has also done its own research among partners and customers, and feels that "the dates are right," she said, speaking on behalf of Microsoft.

"We feel we've made the right accommodations for customers in certain segments who may need more time to transition to Windows Vista," she said. "But as Steve noted, we maintain a constant stance of listening to our customers and our partners. That's what is guiding our plan, and will continue to guide us going forward."


Source: PC World

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hardware Reviews: AMD Phenom X3 8750 Edition

amd x3 logoAMD has made a big push towards its standalone X3 triple core CPU design, but should users jump on-board?

Just yesterday AMD announced the release of the new X3 8x50 series, but how do these CPU's stand against whats out there already? Listed below are some of the reviews of the flagship of the X3 series the AMD Phenom X3 8750.

AMD Phenom X3 8750 Triple-Core Reviews


Conclusion

Having read all the reviews I'm still stuck with the question, why triple core and not quad? I understand in general its a cost saving move, however at a price point of $195 you could buy a better performing Phenom X4 9750, or get the far superior Intel Q6600. I've been a long time fan of AMD and do feel they have made a push in the right direction with some of their latest line however adding a triple core line just for the sake of "niche marketing" falls short of my expectations of them. Hopefully in the next year or so they can right the ship and get back into the war with Intel.

AMD Announces More Processor Releases



AMD rather silently released two more energy-efficient Athlon desktop processors with a TDP of 45W. Both the Athlon X2 4450e and the Athlon X2 4050e are dual-core Socket AM2/AM2+ processors clocked at 2.3GHz and 2.1GHz respectively. They are built on 65nm technology and feature 1MB of L2 cache.

They followed that announcement up with the announced availability of three new AMD Phenom X3 triple-core processors. The new Phenom X3 chips fill out AMD's family of X86 triple cores, as the new X3 8450, the X3 8650 and the X3 8750 which join the Phenom X3 8000 series that was unveiled last March.

Like the newest quad-cores, these Phenom X3s are the latest version, the B3 stepping, which resolves the flaw in a CPU cache, the Translation Lookaside Buffer or TLB, that hurt the performance of early Barcelona processors. They will be looking to bundle the Phenom X3 chips with its 780 graphics silicon in low-cost gaming PCs.

Availability
AMD Phenom X3 processors are expected to be available from AMD's leading channel providers.
  • AMD Phenom X3 8750 triple-core processor - (2.4GHz) - $195
  • AMD Phenom X3 8650 triple-core processor - (2.3GHz) - $165
  • AMD Phenom X3 8450 triple-core processor - (2.1GHz) - $145
For more inforamtion rad the AMD Press Release and check out processor pricing details at http://www.amd.com/pricing.

Sony Europe Confirms Grand Theft Auto IV PS3 Bundle

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today confirmed the release of an official Grand Theft Auto IV bundle exclusively for PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™).The bundle, available on April 29, 2008, will consist of a PLAYSTATION®3 40GB model, a SIXAXIS™ wireless controller and a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, the latest title in the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto franchise, all for just €439 (RRP).

“We are delighted to offer the millions of PS3 and GTA fans the ultimate gaming package,” said David Reeves, President, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) is the eleventh, upcoming installment of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto video game franchise.

View the full press release.

In related GTA IV news Kotaku reports pirated copies of Grand Theft Auto IV have been leaked online. According to the article, the PAL version of Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360 was ripped and leaked to various torrent sites by a ground called iCON. This would of course enable burning a copy for the home console. Meanwhile, the NTSC version is expected within the next 48 hours. YouTube clips have been popping up online of the game's opening and early missions — however they have been short lived and quickly taken down.

Kotaku hasn't verified whether the 6.32 GB file really is the full game, but there are plenty of listings on torrent sites now and they have contacted Rockstar for comment. So be on the look out for some follow up.

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

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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