Monday, May 12, 2008

Microsoft Will Sell $25 Windows XP To Subnotebook Makers

IDG News Service reports Microsoft is launching a program to promote the use of its Windows OS in ultra low-cost PCs, one effect of which will be to limit the hardware capabilities of this type of device.

Microsoft plans to sell a somewhat crippled version of XP to the makers of low-cost PCs like the Eee PC and XO laptop for only $25. The major catch the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs…the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz.

Besides limits on the screens and hard drives, to be eligible, the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz. The program makes an allowance for some chips, including Via Technologies' C7-M processors, which run between 1.0GHz and 1.6GHz, and Intel's upcoming Atom N270.

The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service.

Microsoft has said it plans to stop selling new Windows XP licenses after June 30, but it has made exceptions, including for the use of XP Home in ULPCs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mozilla Shipped Xorer Worm With Firefox Vietnamese Language Add-On

Mozilla Corp. warned users on Wednesday about a worm that slipped into Firefox's Vietnamese language add-on and went undetected for months.

The malware-infected file has since been pulled from Mozilla's servers however according to Window Snyder, Mozilla's chief security executive, the download count for the add-on since last November has been 16,667.

The Vietnamese language pack for Firefox 2 contains inserted code to load remote content. This code is the result of a virus infection, but does not contain the virus itself. This usually results in the user seeing unwanted ads, but may be used for more malicious actions.

"The Vietnamese language pack for Firefox 2 contains inserted code to load remote content," said Snyder. She confirmed the information in a post to the company's blog on Wednesday. "Everyone who downloaded the most recent Vietnamese language pack since Feb. 18, 2008, got an infected copy."

According to messages posted on Bugzilla a computer used by Jasper Thai, the author of the Vietnamese add-on, had been infected earlier with the Xorer worm. When Thai created the add-on, Xorer hitched a ride by installing itself in the extension's code.

Xorer can spread via removable media -- including floppy disks -- and network shares, several security vendors said in their online malware databases. "Its effects can range from simply annoying to destructive," noted the write-up by Panda Security. Snyder said that infected users were being shown unwanted ads when they surfed with Firefox.

Although Mozilla scans Firefox add-ons, including language packs, for malicious code before making them available for download, its antivirus scanner missed Xorer because it had not added a signature for the malware until mid-April. Thai had wrapped up the Vietnamese pack nearly two months earlier, on Feb. 18.

Snyder has said that Mozilla would boost the number of times it scanned files for malware. "We are also adding after-the-fact scans of everything to address this sort of case in the future," she said.

TorrentSpy Lawyer Says "We Won't Pay $111 Million Court Order"

Just a day after a U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered TorrentSpy to pay $111 million, one of the largest fines in copyright history, Ira Rothken the lawyer for the torrent-tracking search engine said the $111 million judgment won't get paid.

Nevis-based Valence Media, the owner of TorrentSpy, filed for bankruptcy protection in England last week "and has no appreciable assets," attorney Ira Rothken said. "This was a Hollywood publicity stunt."

TorrentSpy and the Motion Picture Association of America have been in an ongoing legal battle since last year when the MPAA sued the search engine in Los Angeles federal court. The suit accused the site of facilitating copyright infringement of Hollywood movies. The MPAA won a default judgment last year after TorrentSpy refused to turn over internal documents, and on Wednesday a federal judge levied the $111 million penalty and ordered the site never to return online.

"It certainly is not a lesson for other search engines to look at what the rules are as they relate to dot-torrent files," Rothken said. "There was no analysis of the copyright."

Elizabeth Kaltman, an MPAA spokeswoman, said "We will pursue enforcement of the judgment."

The legality of torrent-tracking services has never been litigated on the merits in the United States, said Charles Baker, a Houston IP lawyer who defended Grokster and is Limewire's attorney in a case accusing the peer-to-peer software maker of facilitating copyright infringement.

The MPAA, he said, wants "other torrent owners and operators to look at the $111 million figure and say, 'I'm getting out of the business.'"

The TorrentSpy case, Baker said, "is another example of the studios eating these guys to death. They haven't tried the merits of the case."

While the MPAA may be claiming victory it isn't the clear cut win they'd really like to see. Since the case was a default judgment it doesn't set much precedence for future cases. Had the case actually been heard and an actual ruling been made then they'd have further grounds for more cases.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Is Free Starbucks Wi-Fi Coming To AT&T iPhones?

Earlier today the AT&T iPhone page noted that "Access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots" was included in all iPhone subscriber plans, with additional details that spelled out the extent of that access. "Unlimited Data (e-mail and Web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T's more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots, including Starbucks all for use in the U.S. *"Wi-Fi available at U.S. company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hot spot."*

However by 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, all mention of Wi-Fi hotspot access had been removed from the page. When contacted by an AT&T customer service representative was unable to explain the change.

Just last week iPhone users at had discovered that they could access AT&T's wireless access points in Starbucks coffee shops and other locations, including some Barnes & Noble bookstores, by entering their iPhone telephone number.

Within 24 hours AT&T had turned off the free access and users reported that they were being asked to now enter a username and password where one previously wasn't needed. The closing down of the service could in part be due to some users using tools to fool the hotspot into thinking their laptop browser was still an iPhone. (more info)

Earlier today, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel issued a blanket "no comment" when asked about the Wi-Fi information on his company's iPhone page.

Sun Launches Open Source Solaris

Sun and the OpenSolaris community are launching the first official release of Sun's open-source version of the Solaris operating system. Interested developers have had early preview versions to play with for some time, but the official release opens to door for corporate customers as well.

OpenSolaris is based on the Solaris kernel and uses many of its features like the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) and Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), which offers predictive self-healing capabilities. Initially, the OpenSolaris project will provide the core kernel, libraries and commands that are currently distributed with the Solaris OS. Over time, it is expected that additional parts of the Solaris OS will be made available through the project.

Download the latest version OpenSolaris 2008.05 in a single CD combined live/install image: a core operating system, kernel, system libraries, a desktop environment and a package management system.

The majority of OpenSolaris code is released under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) Version 1.0.

Source based on existing open source projects will continue to be available under their current licenses. Some binary components are covered under the OpenSolaris Binary License and some are covered under other open source licenses. Specific download pages provide license information associated with the available component pieces.

For more information check out the OpenSolaris homepage

TorrentSpy Ordered To Pay $111 Million

U.S. District Judge Florence -Marie Cooper in Los Angeles, ruling in a case brought by the Motion Picture Association of America, said site operator Justin Bunnell and associates must pay the maximum $30,000 for "each of the 3,699 infringements shown."

From the Copyright Act:

"...the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just."

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said the judgment sends a strong message to copyright violators. “This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. “The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders.”

The TorrentSpy site shut down in March, after it lost its case against the MPAA, saying the legal climate was too hostile to continue. TorrentSpy did not lose on the merits, but defaulted after it failed to produce internal records.

TorrentSpy's lawyers filed a document in court Monday saying Valence Media and its owners Justin Bunnell and Wes Park had sought bankruptcy protection in a United Kingdom court and requesting that the judgment be stayed.

No U.S. case has squarely addressed the legalities of BitTorrent tracking services, although this case and the case against Isohunt founder Gary Fung, which is nearing a resolution, will likely have strong impacts on future rulings.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Great PayPal Alternative, Revolution Money Exchange Reviewed

revolution money exchangeA few months ago we covered a story on the new online payment site Revolution Money Exchange (R.M.E.), that is trying to create competition for PayPal and Google Checkout. After three months of use I can say the site seems to be headed in the right direction. Not just with verifying users through their SSN (more on that later) but also with added security and lower fees.

The peer to peer money exchange site launched nearly four months ago. At the time, chairman Ted Leonsis said, "We want to become for social networks what PayPal is for eBay."

Revolution Money Exchange has been aggressively courting new members with a $25 sign-up bonus which was a great incentive for us to try them out.

Signing Up:

Obviously signing up is the first step in the process, as with any other site you begin with your first and last name and then create a username and password. At this time you must also create a security question, this is important as you will later need to use this question to be able to log into your account.

In the second step you simply input your address, this must be your home address. This information will be used in the verification process. In the third step you will need to enter your correct date of birth and SSN this too is part of the verification process. You will also need to create a unique PIN number, again this will be needed later in order to access your account for transferring funds.

Collect Your $25 Sign-up Bonus:
Update - they no longer offer the $25 sign-up bonus

As previously stated in order to promote Revolution Money Exchange and generate traffic they have been giving away a $25 free sign-up bonus. The $25 bonus will be credited as a pending transaction to your Money Exchange account within twenty-four hours of your account approval. To accept the $25 bonus and have it transferred into your Money Exchange account for immediate use, you must login into your account and accept the $25 bonus within 30 days from the date we notify you of the availability of this bonus at the e-mail address you provided during your account registration.

Once you login and accept the funds they are yours to do with as you wish. In my case I had my funds almost immediately. I attached my bank account, I use and recommend using a secondary account with limited funds for both R.M.E. and PayPal, and withdrew the funds the next day. As with PayPal it usually takes a couple days for the funds to be available from your bank.


First and foremost I have to say Revolution Money Exchange's security is far greater than anything PayPal or Google Checkout has. Unlike either of the two whereas you only use a login ID and password to gain full access to an account, Revolution Money Exchange requires users to input a security question at login and a specialized PIN number for transferring funds. This double blind type security makes it very difficult for any wrong doers to cheat you out of your money.

I will say I found it a little tedious to begin with as there are a few extra steps involved but when looking at it from a security stand point and thinking of the numbers of people that have been phished over the years I can see how it could be beneficial.

While a phisher might be able to get my login id and password they'd have to go the extra mile in order to actually get my security question and there is almost no way at all that they could get my pin number.

Verifying Users:

The one area people question me about the most is the need to add your SSN. I'll admit at first I was skeptical, that's why I did the leg work and checked the company out before I signed up. I'll be the first to admit the only reason I originally signed up was for the $25 bonus. But I wasn't going into it blindfolded, I've seen too many scams over the years for that. So I did the research, the information I found is covered in my original blog post. From all my ongoing research I have yet to find anything that points to any negative activity, fraud or scams. As best as I can tell everything is on the up and up.

Flip MinoWhen you sign up for your MoneyExchange account they create and account for you at First Bank & Trust in Brookings, SD (Member FDIC). They in turn ask for your Social Security Number, which is then used to confirm your identity against other information you provide. This helps keep identity thieves from using your personal information to open a MoneyExchange account in your name. It also makes it harder for potential scammers to open accounts!

I'm still on the fence about this aspect of R.M.E. While I can see its a good way to keep out scammers, faking SSNs is something that is a lot harder to do than just being verified at PayPal, I feel it makes more people less likely to sign-up, therefore making it a bit harder to find people that use the service. From my point of view this creates a big catch-22.


Sending and receiving funds on Money Exchange is free (as it is on PayPal for funds between two PayPal members) as well as transferring money to your bank account. A transaction fee applies for check withdrawals, check stop payments, paper statements, ACH returns, and overdrafts. See Schedule of Fees and Accountholder Agreement for more information.

My Conclusion:

As I've said I've used Revolution Money Exchange for a few months now, all in all the only two issues I have are not actually with the company itself nor are they with the site. Both seem to live up to my expectations. Transactions are handled smoothly and efficiently and the site never seems to have any downtime.

The first issue I faced was with eBay. According to eBay's Accepted Payments Policy you technically can not use R.M.E. for transactions. There is some ongoing debate about this however I've been told that sources at eBay have said they will not back R.M.E. as a payment option. Now obviously if both the buyer and seller agree to use R.M.E. then there is little that can be done, however should disputes over none payment arise you might be in a little trouble.

Flip MinoThe second issue is actually the lack of people that take R.M.E. Now this might simply be a case of me not doing as much trading as I have in the past therefore not finding them to be as prevalent. It could also be that the people are unaware of R.M.E. or they could be turned off by the SSN issue. However this is something that given time should remedy itself.

The same goes with Revolution Money Exchange and retailers or e-tailers, I haven't seen many that actually accept them as a form of payment. Not yet anyways! The RevolutionCard was recently part of a promotion (see link) however that's a different part of the company.

All in all I can say this, I've never once had an issue with pay-pal. I have heard tons of horror stories but never once has anything bad happen on my end. So that said why change to R.M.E? Well I'm not to happy with the fee structure at Pay-Pal. I'm also not happy that eBay force feeds me those fees. While I've only used R.M.E. for a few months, granted that's typically longer than most people that right reviews, I won't go so far as to say they are the perfect answer however it is nice to have an alternative

NVIDIA Launches Hybrid SLI Technology

PC users love the visual realism that high-performance graphics processors give their PCs, but would rather do without the noise and power consumption typical of modern entertainment and gaming PCs. Starting today, however, they can have the best of both worlds, thanks to the new NVIDIA platforms based on the company’s Hybrid SLI technology. These new platforms are the foundation for a new breed of PCs that deliver a richer visual experience while reducing energy consumption and costs, fan noise, and even heat. The new technology is available immediately with new NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI and GeForce 8 Series based motherboards.

Hybrid SLI Overview
View Video Clip

"Hybrid SLI will give consumers the extra GPU performance they need for the increasing numbers of visual PC applications such as today’s PC games," said Drew Henry, general manager of platform business at NVIDIA. "And it will give gamers and PC enthusiasts the quiet and power savings they demand. Hybrid SLI components could very well pay for themselves over the life of the PC."

The visual capabilities of typical PCs are driven by either integrated graphics on the motherboard or by higher performance, discrete graphics cards, like NVIDIA GeForce® GPUs. Unfortunately, the most common integrated graphics chips lack the performance and features needed by many popular modern 3D applications, games, and movies. Discrete graphics cards deliver a far superior visual experience, but consume more energy.

Hybrid SLI-enabled motherboards eliminate this problem by putting a GeForce GPU directly on the motherboard. This GeForce GPU has better DirectX compatibility and HD movie playback capability than the most common integrated graphics chips found in today’s PCs, but consumes less energy than a discrete graphics card. But that’s only the start.

Unleashing graphics performance when needed, and switches to low-power operation for everyday computing.
View Video Clip

Designed for PC enthusiasts and hard-core gamers, the HybridPower feature completely powers down the discrete graphics cards and switches graphics processing to the motherboard GPU in applications where major 3D horsepower is not required, such as e-mail and Web surfing. Users will appreciate the lower energy consumption, quieter PC operation, and less heat. When additional 3D horsepower is needed, it can be manually transitioned back to discrete graphics cards using HybridPower technology, which are then powered up and ready to rock the 3D world. Hybrid SLI technology can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs over the life of the PC for high-end, enthusiast-class PCs, and deliver additional graphics performance for more mainstream desktops via these two features.i

For mainstream users, a Hybrid SLI technology feature called GeForce Boost allows the user to add an additional graphics card for even more graphics horsepower. By combining the performance of the motherboard GPU and graphics card discrete GPUs, GeForce Boost increases overall graphics performance up to 50% for today’s visually intensive applications and home entertainment.

"NVIDIA continues to deliver outstanding innovation for AMD CPUs. We are especially excited that HybridPower, a feature of NVIDIA Hybrid SLI, will be introduced exclusively on AMD CPU-based platforms," said Leslie Sobon, director, product marketing, AMD. "The AMD Phenom X4 quad-core processors, together with this motherboard’s HybridPower features, deliver powerful performance and energy efficiency, an important combination for AMD."

GeForce Boost
Get an average of 55% more performance on Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare!
View Video Clip

The Hybrid SLI-enabled desktop PC motherboards are designed to create a balanced PC with GeForce GPUs and AMD Phenom processors. Eight models, including a newly available nForce 780a SLI motherboard, are available:
  • nForce 780a SLI, nForce 750a SLI, nForce 730a, and nForce 720a
  • GeForce 8300, GeForce 8200, and GeForce 8100

Currently available Hybrid SLI-enabled discrete graphics cards include:
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 and NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX (both HybridPower-capable)
  • GeForce 8400 GS and GeForce 8500 GT (both GeForce Boost-capable)

Hybrid SLI-enabled PC motherboards for Intel processors and Hybrid SLI-enabled notebooks will be available in Q3 of 2008. For more information about NVIDIA Hybrid SLI technology please visit

Santa Monica High School Team Wins National Science Bowl

The Associated Press reported yesterday that four California high school students from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, Calif. used a complex mathematical function called a Maclaurin series to come up with the correct answer — "two-thirds" — Monday to win the Energy Department's annual National Science Bowl.

The team beat 66 other schools and won a trip to the International Youth Science Forum in London this summer.

"We felt that if we were going to win it, it was going to be this year. Our team was just really solid," Dimitry Petrenko, 18, the team's earth sciences specialist, said after the win.

Petrenko and his teammates, Alexandre Boulgakov, 16, Marino Di Franco, 16, and Ian Fels Scheffler, 17, planned to celebrate by going out to dinner.

"Each of our guys really knows their stuff," said coach Ingo Gaida, a biology teacher at Santa Monica High School. "It's not like they're just studying for the competition; they just really love their subjects."

A team from Mira Loma High School of Sacramento, Calif., placed second, winning a trip to a nuclear science facility in France. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, Va., placed third and will get a trip to an accelerator facility in Virginia. Fairview High School of Boulder, Colo., came in fourth place.

More than 300 high school students on 67 teams participated in the competition. They represented 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The top 16 finishers each received $1,000 for their school science departments.

Grand Theft Auto IV Sales Top $500 Million

The Associated Press: Grand Theft Auto IV video game tops $500M in 1st-week sales

Video-game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said Wednesday that sales of its popular and eagerly anticipated title "Grand Theft Auto IV" reached more than $500 million in its first week of availability.

The company said it has sold more than 6 million units globally since the game was released April 29.

The New York-based company said it sold 3.6 million units on its opening day alone, worth a retail value of $310 million worldwide.

"Grand Theft Auto IV" follows the criminal exploits of protagonist Niko Bellic, an immigrant-turned-gangster who travels from Eastern Europe to Liberty City, the game's fictional locale based on New York City. As Bellic, players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activities, shoot innocent bystanders and visit strip clubs.

Critics say the extreme violence in "Grand Theft Auto" video games could be harmful to children, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving has complained that the latest version includes the ability to drive while intoxicated.

Grand Theft Auto IVGrand Theft Auto IV $49.99 after Google Checkout

Grand Theft Auto IV: Special EditionGrand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition $79.99 after Google Checkout

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Released to Web and Windows Update

After a few delays due to data corruption issues between XP SP3 and its retail point-of-sale software Windows finally released SP3 to the to Web and Windows Update. Microsoft has also resumed automatic distribution of Windows Vista, Service Pack 1 (SP1), which had been halted because of a similar problem.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (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. This white paper summarizes what is new in Windows XP SP3.

DOWNLOAD: Network Installation (316.4MB) | ISO CD Image File (545MB).

Microsoft still is not offering either service pack to Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers, having put in place a filter on Windows Update to prevent distribution to those customers. The company is still working on a fix it expects to have available later this month, it said.

Half Price Rock Band Songs

Source Major Neslon
MTV Games and Harmonix have teamed up with McDonald’s to drop the price on select Rock Band tracks in the United States and Canada. Each week until June 1st, you can grab two new tracks for 80 points each. To help you budget your time and money, here is the schedule of tracks:

5/6/08-5/12/08 :
Crushcrushcrush - Paramore
Rock 'n Roll Band - Boston

5/13/08-5/19/08 :
Shockwave - Black Tide
Sugar Magnolia - Grateful Dead

We Care A Lot - Faith No More
All the Small Things - Blink 182

Gimme Three Steps - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Dirty Little Secret - All-American Rejects

The lower price will start tomorrow at 0200 PT. But I wanted to give everyone a heads up as soon as I found out about this promotion.

Take-Two Sues Over Pulled GTA 4 Ads

Reuters reports that Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., the publisher of the controversial "Grand Theft Auto 4", has sued the Chicago Transit Authority in Manhattan federal court for violating its free speech and contractual rights, saying it pulled its posters within days of the ads first appearing on April 22.

Take Two accused the Chicago Transit Authority and its sales agent, Titan Outdoor LLC, of violating a $300,000 ad campaign agreement that included running "Grand Theft Auto 4" poster ads on the sides of buses and transit display spaces throughout the Chicago transit system scheduled for six weeks between April and June.

The suit seeks an order for the transit authority to run the ads as well as monetary damages of at least $300,000.

"Although we prefer to resolve these issues amicably," a Take-Two spokesperson said in a statement, "the CTA has refused to discuss with us its outrageous decision to pull advertising for the critically acclaimed game Grand Theft Auto IV while running ads for other forms of popular entertainment with similar content, including mature-themed TV shows and R-rated movies."

A CTA representative said at the time that the decision to pull the campaign was made not because of complaints over the GTA IV ads, but due to complaints over a series of ads that Take-Two ran in 2004 for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However Reuters reports that the suit said ads were removed following a report by a Fox News affiliate that questioned why the ad was allowed to run after a wave of violent crimes in Chicago,.

Consumer Reports Says Apple Tops In Tech Support

According to recent findings by Consumer Reports Apple's technical support is much more likely to solve users' problems than rival computer makers' help desks.

In Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey for the June 2008 issue 80 percent of the users that contacted Apple’s technical support reported that they had their computer problem solved. The industry average last year was 60 percent.

The survey, which polled subscribers on their experiences with technical support from September 2006 to January 2008, represented more than 10,000 desktop and laptop machines.
Apple led its rivals in both the laptop and desktop categories with reader scores of 83 and 81 percent. For laptop support, Lenovo finished second with a score of 66, followed by Dell (60), Toshiba (55), and Gateway (54); Sony (51) and HP (48) finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Lenovo finished second with a score of 66, followed by Dell (60), Toshiba (55), and Gateway (54); Sony (51) and HP (48) finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

For more on the survey check out these two great articles:

Dell Gives Inspiron Notebooks 45-nanometer Penryn CPUs

Dell will soon be fitting several of its Inspiron notebooks with Intel's new 45-nanometer Penryn processors.

Dell spokeswoman Anne Camden said that consumers will be able to order Penryn-based Inspiron 1420, 1525 and 1720 systems in the next few weeks. She also noted that Dell will be adding Penryn to its XPS M1330 and plans to offer Penryn processors to more XPS laptop models this spring.

"People want it because it's Intel's newest processor technology," Camden said. "The 45-nanometer technology delivers better performance, and it also brings in better battery performance."

[Source: Computerworld]

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo Stock Prices Drop After Buyout Talks End

Yahoo Inc.'s stock took a beating Monday after Microsoft Corp. withdrew its $47.5 billion takeover bid, but the punishment wasn't as severe as many analysts anticipated because investors suspect the rivals eventually will renew their mating dance.

Although Microsoft has publicly indicated it will focus on measures besides buying Yahoo in its effort to make its Internet division profitable, several analysts predicted the software maker will revive its offer in the summer or fall if Yahoo can't snap out of a two-year funk that exposed it to an unwanted takeover in the first place.

"Should the frustration of (Yahoo) shareholders come to a boil, we believe (Microsoft) could re-enter the picture, essentially playing the role of the white knight," analyst David Hilal of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. wrote in a Monday research note.

With similar opinions reverberating through the stock market, Yahoo shares shed $4.30, or 15 percent, to close Monday at $24.37. That wiped out nearly half the gain they made after Microsoft made its bid Jan. 31. The drop left the Sunnyvale-based company's market value about $12.5 billion below Microsoft's last offer.

Yahoo's stock price was $19.18 before Microsoft made its offer.

[Source:The Associated Press]

E3 May Be In Trouble As Major Publishers Drop Out

E3 Media and Business Summit (formerly known as Electronic Entertainment Expo) has fallen on hard times recently with many major game developers and publishers dropping out of attendance. The annual trade show for the computer and video games industry presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has seen attendance drop from approximately 60,000 to a mere 5,000.

Gamespot reported last week that Activision (and by proxy Vivendi) said it would not be attending this year's media event, and in fact would not be renewing its membership with the trade body at all.

Other companies have also announced that they will not be attending E3. These include online games maker NCSoft, Foundation 9 and Her Interactive. Initial reports stated that ID Software would skip the show, but the company has since confirmed their attendance.

Friday, May 02, 2008

5/2/08 This Weeks Top Stories

GTA IV Launched

GTA game smashes UK sales records -
Critically acclaimed video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV is on course to beat the record for highest first week sales of any video game in the UK.

The title sold a record 609,000 copies on its first day of release, generating an estimated £24.4m ($48.5m).

The previous record holder was GTA: San Andreas, which sold 501,000 copies in 24 hours in October 2004.

Grand Theft Auto IV at Top of All Time High-Rating List - PC World

It doesn't matter whether you play it on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360--Grand Theft Auto IV is scoring next-to-perfect review scores from dozens of media outlets.

The video games media gushed all over Rockstar's latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series in the lead up to today's launch, with both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version securing near-perfect review scores from more than 20 different outlets (and counting).

MADD Outraged By GTAIV's Drunk Driving -

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has petitioned the ESRB to reclassify Grand Theft Auto IV as an 'Adults Only' title in reaction to the game's inclusion of players driving while intoxicated.

Forums aflame over GTAIV freezing - GameSpot

PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players alike reporting crash problems with Rockstar Games' latest; Sony reports an "extremely low volume" of complaints, promises it is working on a solution.

Take-Two suggests PS3 GTAIV fix - GameSpot

Publisher's tech support department unveils an elaborate 12-step program to address frequent freezing by deleting saves, disabling online and rumble support; 360 remedy still MIA.

Windows XP SP3 delayed Vista SP1 recalled

Windows XP SP3 still officially AWOL, but can be found on BitTorrent, Microsoft servers - ComputerWorld

On Tuesday, in a low-key announcement on a support newsgroup, Microsoft said it would delay the release of XP SP3 because of data corruption issues between the updated operating system and its retail point-of-sale software. The week before, when it had touted the service pack's completion -- in its nomenclature, SP3 had reached the "release to manufacturing," or RTM stage -- Microsoft had said it would offer the update via Windows Update on April 29

iTunes to Offer Movie

iTunes to Offer Movie Downloads Same Day as DVD Release Date - PC World

Apple announced it will now allow impatient movie buffs a chance to download new Hollywood releases the same day the movies becomes available on DVD. That cuts sometimes weeks of waiting for a movie title to be release first as DVDs and then eventually as a download at services such as iTunes and CinemaNow.

Apple has locked up deals with 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios to make iTunes DVD purchases available on the same day as the DVD release.

Blockbuster beware: iTunes Store gets same-day DVD releases - Arstechnica

In January, Apple flipped the switch on movie rentals for the iTunes Store to much fanfare. A lot of customers don't want to own movies, digital downloads are just plain convenient, and the move seemed to finally crack the major studio nut and catch their attention. Since the announcement, the iTunes Store has been slowly but steadily marching towards a respectable selection of films from all the major studios, as well as independents. Despite this new beat in Apple's step, a number of quirks in the iTunes Store's movie offering have annoyed customers. First and foremost was the release delay: films had a 30-day lead time on DVD before arriving in the iTunes Store, and the majority of new releases were only available for rent, not to purchase. Both of these problems have now been fixed

A Good Wine For The Linux Lovers

Last night I was searching for a decent bottle of wine to try out while watching Lost. I was at Winco so my choices where fairly limited, however I spotted a bottle that looked fairly interesting.

The bottle was a Little Penguin 2006 Merlot from South Eastern Australia. I had never heard of it, however being a linux fan the little penguin caught my attention. I'd have to say I was apprehensive about trying a wine simply because the label struck my eye. Trust me that usually makes for a big mistake. I can't tell you how many times I've made that one, but needless to say I've learned that lesson.

Well I figure what the heck, after all my choices where fairly limited at this point and if nothing else the bottle would make for good conversation with my linux loving friends.

I was pleasantly surprised, it ended up being a fairly decent wine. When I say fairly decent I mean for a sub $10 bottle of wine it was fairly good, I'd actually drink it again. I'm not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination so I'd take my opinion lightly, just try it out yourself you might even be as surprised as I was.

If you want to check them out they've got a great website

Thursday, May 01, 2008

AT&T Gives iPhone Users Free Wi-Fi

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AT&T is reportedly offering free wireless access to iPhone owners at several thousands of its public hot spots, including those recently acquired at Starbucks.

Initially reported on several Apple iPhone users responded with their experiences at Starbucks. According to the reports, iPhone owners are presented with a specially formatted page when they launch the Safari browser. The form asks them to enter their iPhone phone number. Once the number is verified, users can browse using the hot spot rather than the much slower EDGE-based data network that AT&T also operates.

Computerworld confirmed the free iPhone Wi-Fi at a Starbucks location in Eugene, Ore., this morning.

Details about the wireless access are sketchy as so far AT&T has refused to comment. It is unknown, for example, if Wi-Fi access is unlimited, or available at all the 71,000-some hot spots run by AT&T, which include those at bookseller Barnes & Noble and throughout the McDonald's fast food chain.

MADD Becomes Mothers Against 'Grand Theft Auto IV'

The Associated Press: MADD attacks 'Grand Theft Auto IV'

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants a stricter rating on "Grand Theft Auto IV."

The organization is calling on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, the independent organization that assigns video-game ratings, to reclassify "GTA IV" as an Adults Only game. The action-driving game, which includes the ability to drive while intoxicated, is currently rated Mature.

"Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke," MADD said in a statement released Tuesday. "Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100 percent preventable."

MADD is also calling on publisher Take-Two Interactive and developer Rockstar Games to consider stopping distribution of the game — which analysts expect to sell 9 million copies and make over $400 million at launch — "out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving."

In the critically acclaimed open-world game, players have the choice of patronizing a bar and then attempting to drive drunk. While virtually under the influence, the screen becomes blurred and the controls are more difficult to use. Players also have the option of hailing a taxi or walking. The intoxication effects wear off after a few minutes in the game.

"We have a great deal of respect for MADD's mission, but we believe the mature audience for 'Grand Theft Auto IV' is more than sophisticated enough to understand the game's content," Rockstar Games said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "For the same reason that you can't judge an entire film or television program by a single scene, you can't judge 'Grand Theft Auto IV' by a small aspect of the game."

"GTA IV" follows the criminal exploits of protagonist Niko Bellic, an imigrant-turned-gangster who travels from Eastern Europe to Liberty City, the game's fictional locale based on New York City. As Bellic, players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activities, shoot innocent bystanders and visit strip clubs.

MADD declined to comment further about their statement.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

YouTube Hosts Playboy's 55th Anniversary Casting Call

Playboy is asking women interested in being the 55th Anniversary Playmate to submit video auditions through their Playboy Casting Channel on YouTube.


The Rules:
  1. All applicants must of course be 18 years of age or older

  2. Since YouTube doesn't allow nudity obviously no nude videos will be allowed — but two-piece swimsuits are encouraged, after all you need to show off the assets!

  3. Videos must be 2mins or less!

  4. You must give your first name and age at the start of the video

  5. Casting is open to US residents only

Models selected will receive round trip air fare to Hollywood were they will visit the Playboy mansion and participate in a private photo shoot for consideration as the 55th anniversary playmate.

For more info visit or the Playboy Casting Channel

Closing The Book On Mahalo

Many of you might know of the on going struggles I've faced in trying to collect money that Mahalo owed me from my work with the company last Oct/Nov. These struggles eventually led to me having to file a small claims suite and take them to court. On April 7th we did just that.

On April 9th the judge decided that I had not provided enough evidence to prove my case, in effect deciding Mahalo did not have to pay me for more than two thirds of the work done during that time period. I guess we can chalk it up to my ignorance of the legal system, and just plain old stupidity on my behalf in thinking that when you work for a company and they use your work (an continue to do so) that you should be paid in full.

The judge did not bother to elaborate on what part of the issue wasn't proven, just that I did not "prove by a preponderance of the evidence" that they withheld earnings.

I guess I get to mark this down as a $2500+ learning experience.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

$199 Apple iPhone, Fact Or Fiction?

There have been many rumors floating around the rumor mill following the 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.


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

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.


Originally posted by Scott Gilbertson at

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, and search using the 'Store Locator.'

Online Pre-Sale Orders

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ATI Radeon 4800 Series Specs Leaked

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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.


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


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.

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

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”.

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)