Tuesday, June 17, 2008

PhotoBucket Hacked

Somewhere around 6:30 est popular photo sharing site PhotoBucket.com fell victim to hacking by the NetDevilz, an infamous Turkish hacking group.

The site still remains down, redirected due to some DNS poisoning. Users shouldn't worry about their images being lost. The site is only being redirect and everyone's accounts should be intact. In fact if you are still having issue you might try a proxy server or clearing your DNS cache to correct the issue.

We are on Comcast and are still having a few issues reaching the main site, however using a proxy allowed us to bypass any issues and reach any files we needed.

FireFox 3 Record Attempt Crashes Servers

Mozilla has been campaigning for several weeks to try to set a world record with the official release of the newest version of FireFox, however the attempt might be hampered by failing servers.

Mozilla encouraged users to host download parties so it could set a Guinness World Record for the number of downloads in one day. Currently, Guinness does not hold recorded information on the number of downloads in a single day.

Nevertheless, Mozilla has generated plenty of excitement about the launch, with nearly 2 million people saying they would download the latest version. In fact, so many people tried to access the site that the servers appeared to crash. Attempts to reach the site for the latest version of Firefox were unsuccessful at least 20 minutes after the 1 p.m. Eastern time zone launch. Mozilla hopes to successfully complete 5 million downloads of the browser in 24 hours.

Several of my own attempts to download the latest version sent me to a page producing results for the latest official release of FireFox 2. However I was later successful in downloading from one of the official mirrors. Several sites such as MajorGeeks.com are also hosting the files for anyone wishing to go through unofficial channels.

Sony Ericsson Announces C905 8.1-megapixel Camera Phone

Sony Ericsson has been keeping tights wraps on the Sony Ericsson C905 Cyber-shot codenamed Shiho, until now. They have made it official when they recently announced the release of the new 8.1 magapixel camera phone.

sony ericsson c905

The Sony Ericsson C905 Cyber-shot features quad-band GSM/ tri-band UMTS/ HSDPA 850/ 1900/ 2100, a built in GPS receiver, a stereo Bluetooth, a useful TV-out and Wi-Fi with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) support which allows a direct wireless transfer to TV.

The screen is a 2.4 inch scratch-resistant QVGA display mineral glass cover. The display will also feature an accelerometer which will allow for screen to auto rotate when you go through your camera album.

The phone’s center piece has to be the impressive camera. The camera offers the new Xenon flash, an image stabilizer, smart contrast, red-eye reduction, auto focus and also faces detection, in addition to its BestPic technology, video recording with stabilization and a very effective digital zoom of 16x. Users will find the C905 photos can be geotagged thanks to the built-in GPS receiver.

The photos and videos are stored on a 2 Giga Bytes Memory Stick Micro (M2) or can be uploaded to your PC via an included USB cable. Battery life is set at about 9 hours of conversation or 380 hours of standby. We can expect the C905 sometime in Q4 of 2008.

Image via the Unofficial Sony Ericsson Blog

Phoenix Processor Sets New Lower Power Processing Record

Engineers at the University of Michigan have developed a new microchip that uses 30 picowatts in sleep mode, which roughly computes to 30,000 times less power in sleep mode and ten times less power when working than other comparable chips on the market.

The processor, called The Phoenix Processor could theoretically run on a standard watch battery for up to 200 years.

The processor isn’t physically any smaller than other chips on the market, what makes the Phoenix revolutionary is that its thin-film battery is the same size as the Phoenix chip. Typically batteries used with processors are much larger than the processor itself making the overall size of the device much larger. Engineers also used a little old school ingenuity, using much smaller power gates that let smaller amounts of electricity leak past the power gates when in sleep mode.

The draw back to smaller power gates is that they place sever limits on the processing power of the chip. To remedy this performance loss the researchers run the Phoenix at a higher operating voltage of about 20% greater than needed when the chip is awake. Despite the higher power sent to the chip when awake it still consumes only 0.5 volts. By comparison the Intel Atom processor needs 1.1V to operate.

U-M researchers built the chip with the major application coming for use in sensors. Thus the push for lower power consumption during sleep mode. "Sleep mode power dominates in sensors, so we designed this device from the ground up with an efficient sleep mode as the No. 1 goal. That's not been done before," said Dennis Sylvester, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The system defaults to sleep. A low-power timer acts as an alarm clock on perpetual snooze, waking Phoenix every ten minutes for 1/10th of a second to run a set of 2,000 instructions. The list includes checking the sensor for new data, processing it, compressing it into a sort of short-hand, and storing it before going back to sleep.

The timer "isn't an atomic clock," Hanson said. "We keep time to 10 minutes plus or minus a few tenths of a second. For the applications this is designed for, that's okay. You don't need absolute accuracy in a sensor. We've traded that for enormous power savings."

A team of researchers has already been putting the Phoenix into biomedical sensors. They plan on building a sensor to monitor eye pressure in glaucoma patients. Engineers envision that chips like this could also be sprinkled around to make a nearly invisible sensor network to monitor air or water or detect movement. They could be mixed into concrete to sense the structural integrity of new buildings and bridges. And they could power a robust pacemaker that could take more detailed readings of a patient's health, researchers say.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gpcode.ak Ransomware Fix

Last week we reported on Gpcode.ak, new nasty piece of "ransomware" that has been spreading around the web. This week Kaspersky labs believed they have found a solution to the virus.

The Gpcode.ak virus encrypts files on a victim's hard drive and demands a ransom to decrypt them/ So far the encryption that is sued has proven too strong to crack. But Kaspersky Lab, which first identified Gpcode.ak earlier this month, says there is a way for most victims to at least recover their files.

Kaspersky says Gpcode.ak works by making a copy of the original file it wishes to kidnap using 1,028-bit encryption, then deleting the original. However, "it doesn't wipe the file from the system," says Roel Schouwenberg, senior antivirus research analyst at the security company.

Kaspersky has been recommending the freely available PhotoRec utility, a nifty piece of software that was initially created as a tool for graphic files’ recovery. The program was crated by Cristophe Grenier and is distributed with GPL license, so anyone can use it.

For more details and instructions checkout the Kaspersky Forums

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 Edition Reviews

gtx280Today, NVIDIA officially announced it's new GeForce GTX 200 series of GPUs, and the first two products in the family, the GeForce GTX 280 and the GeForce GTX 260.

Nvidia claims the GeForce GTX 200 processors provide up to 50 percent faster gaming performance over the GeForce 8800 Ultra GPU, which is even faster than the top-end Nvidia graphics card available as an add-on board for today’s Mac Pro systems. The GPUs also support Scalable Link Interface (SLI), a technology that enables more than one Nvidia card to work together in the same computer in parallel; PureVideo HD, video decoding and post-processing technology; and Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA), which enables programmers to offload processor-intensive tasks to the Nvidia graphics chip and card.

The new chip has 1.4 billion transistors, yes that billion with a "B", about 80% of which are used to perform the mathematical calculations required for 3D rendering. (By comparison, only a small fraction of the 820 million transistors in a quad-core Intel processor are directly used to execute software; the rest comprise memory blocks, instruction decoders, data transfer channels, and other support functions.)
That's almost twice as many transistors as found on NVIDIA's 9800 series chips. The extra transistors boost the number of cores per chip from 128 to 240. Each core runs at almost 1.3 GHz.
Pricing for the cards is set at $399 for the GeForce GTX 260 and $649 for the GeForce GTX 280.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

AT&T Fee Hike Means The New iPhone Will Actually Cost More

Consumer set to run out and buy the new lower priced iPhone will be surprised to know that the new rate hike from AT&T means their $199 iPhone will actually cost them more money over the life of their contracts.

The service plan will cost $10 a month more than the current plan, meaning an additional $240 over the life of the mandatory two-year contract with AT&T Wireless, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier.

Consumers with the current generation iPhone pay $20 a month for an unlimited Internet and e-mail use, and can send up to 200 text messages as part of that plan. However, those who buy the new iPhone, due out July 11, will pay $30 a month for the same services. AT&T has not yet made it clear as to whether text messaging will be part of that cost, or an add-on.

“That’s part of the pricing we’ll get into more detail about as we get closer to launch date,” said Mark A. Seigel, executive director of media relations for AT&T Mobility. “That’s not something we’ve discussed yet.”

The new iPhone were revealed earlier this week during Steve Jobs Worldwide Developers Conference keynote presentation. Pricing was set at $199 for 8GB version, and $299 for the 16GB version. Thats a $200 drop from the current prices of $399 for an 8-gigabyte iPhone, and $499 for the 16-gigabyte version.

The lowest-priced iPhone plan, now $59.99 a month, with $20 of that for data and the other $39.99 for 450 voice minutes, will go to $69.99 a month. If AT&T decides not to include text messaging in to that plan users could easily be paying upwards of $75/mo for their new plan.

AT&T points out that the data plan for the iPhone was lower than comparable plans for other smartphones, such as the BlackBerry, however the pricing might push a few users away.

“That $30 price point for Internet and e-mail is not uncommon,” said Bill Ho, research director for Current Analysis’ wireless services. “AT&T is aligning that plan with the prices for its other smartphones like the Treo or the BlackBerry.”

AT&T needs to make up for the subsidy of the new iPhones. Providing a lower up front fee and higher back end fee's allows AT&T to entice more users to switch to iPhones.

Overall, it will cost a minimum of $40 more for the new iPhone and contract, compared to the current pricing. A customer with the new 8-gigabyte iPhone will spend $1,878 over the life of the contract, compared to $1,838 for the current 8-gigabyte phone and agreement. A customer with the new 16-gigabyte iPhone will spend $1,978 over two years, compared to $1,938 for the a first-generation, 16-gigabyte iPhone and contract.

RIAA Walks Out On P2P Case

After two years the RIAA has voluntarily dismissed the case Warner v. Cassin, or more commonly know as the "making available" case.

Cassin was originally sued by the RIAA in April 2006 for copyright infringement. The complaint used by the RIAA at the time doesn't provide many details, but the exhibits attached to the filing show that MediaSentry detected a user with the handle omc@KaZaA sharing 406 files on KaZaA, including tracks from Madonna, Bob Seger, Dixie Chicks, and Sade.

Instead of filing an answer, Cassin's attorney filed a motion to dismiss in early 2007. One of the issues raised in the motion was the now-well-known argument that merely making a file available over a P2P network constitutes distribution. Indeed, Warner v. Cassin looked as though it would be one of the first cases where the issue would be argued in court.

Subsequent rulings against the RIAA may be behind their sudden change of heart. In April Geek-News.Net reported on federal court judge Judge Nancy Gertner dismissal of an RIAA subpoena. Judge Gertner stated that "Merely because the defendant has 'completed all the steps necessary for distribution' does not necessarily mean that a distribution has actually occurred." She also noted that " merely exposing music files to the Internet is not copyright infringement."

More on this story:
DailyTech - RIAA Suddenly Walks Away from Longstanding P2P Case
ARS Technica - RIAA suddenly walks away from old, contested P2P case

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

eBay Fined Over Counterfeit Goods

eBay was convicted by a French court last week of selling counterfeit goods and ordered to pay the equivalence of $30,000 dollars in damages to French luxury group Hermes.

The court ruling, which was the first of its type in France, found eBay directly responsible for the sale on its website of three Hermes bags including two fakes, for a total of 3,000 euros.

"By selling Hermes bags and branded accessories on the eBay.fr site, and by failing to act within their powers to prevent reprehensible use of the site," the user and eBay "committed acts of counterfeiting and imitation of French brand names ... to the detriment of Hermes international," said the ruling.

eBay, along with the woman who put the bags up for sale, were ordered to pay the damages of 20,000 euros (roughly $30,000 dollars) as well as post the ruling on its French homepage for three months.

This lawsuit defeat could open the door for more suits against eBay which has already come under fire from several major companies. Luxury fashion houses Louis Vuitton and Dior Couture have also taken legal action against eBay respectively seeking 20 million and 17 million euros in damages. Last September L'Oreal launched legal action against eBay in five European countries including France, over the sale of bottles of counterfeit perfume.

Here in the states the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) as been keeping close tabs on eBay and the selling of counterfeit software. In February the SIAA filed its biggest round of lawsuits to date against several eBay sellers for selling counterfeit goods including fake copies of Photoshop, PcAnywhere and Norton Utilities.

"Roadrunner" Smashes Petaflop Barrier

IBM and the Los Alamos National Laboratory have reportedly built the world's first petaflop supercomputer named Roadrunner. Roadrunner was specifically designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.

A petaflop is a measure of a computer s processing speed and can be expressed as a thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

Scheduled for installation at Los Alamos in August, IBM says Roadrunner represents a breakthrough in hybrid computing, combining AMD microprocessors found in standard laptops and servers with the IBM Cell Broadband Engine chips that power Sony's PS3 gaming console. Roadrunner, consists of 6,948 dual-core AMD Opteron processors, 12,960 Cell processors and 80 terabytes of memory, talk about a screaming gaming machine!

Roadrunner "will produce the largest supercomputer ever at 1.5 petaflops, three times faster than the current largest system," IBM chief engineer Donald Grice says in a video on Big Blue's Web site. "It's a hybrid architecture that will allow science at a scale that's never been allowed before."

CNN via the AP did a great job of putting the speed of the new machine in to layman's terms. "To put the computer's speed in perspective, if every one of the 6 billion people on earth used a hand-held computer and worked 24 hours a day it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner computer can do in a single day."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Virus.Win32.Gpcode.ak Ransomware On The Loose

Kaspersky Lab has issued a security alert following the detection of a particularly malicious piece of "ransomware." Kaspersky researchers were the first to detect and issue warnings that a new, stronger version of the Gpcode virus was on the loose.

The new new malware variant employs RSA 1,024-bit encryption to encrypt nearly every type of file on a victim's hard drive, including .doc, .txt, .pdf, .xls, .png and .jpg. The "ransomeware" contains a ransom note offering a decryption key to the user for a price.

Kaspersky is urging Net users to take extra precautions, make sure they are running the latest versions of anti-malware solutions and back up their data regularly, making sure to disconnect storage devices as soon as the back-up process is completed to avoid infection. If infected, do not power down or restart your PC, the company advises.

Kaspersky also urges victims not to succumb to the ransom threat and instead report details of infection to their security providers, Kaspersky and law enforcement authorities.

Detection to Prevention

So far Kaspersky researchers have not been able to crack the viruses encryption, making it nearly impossible to remove. Therefore the only known solution is to complete erase an infected drive. Users can and should take steps to avoid infection, don't download any suspicious files, update all you anti-virus/anti-malware programs ect.

Fortunately the virus can be detected providing users at least a little protection.

"We can detect it, and we have shared this internationally so that [system administrators and e-mail service providers] can also protect their users, but the most reliable method is creating back-ups of external media, which of course should be disconnected after the back-up procedure. If you leave the external hard drive running, Gpcode will infect the external hard drive and equipment. It's just good back-up practice in any case," Schouwenberg advised.

What to Do If Infected
Kaspersky explains, "After Gpcode.ak encrypts files on the victim machine, it adds '._CRYPT' to the extension of the encrypted files and places a text file named '!_READ_ME_!.txt' in the same folder. In the text file the criminal tells the victims that the file has been encrypted and offers to sell them a 'decryptor.'"

Kaspersky is offering to help victims trying to recover their data. If infected, Kaspersky urges victims to e-mail the labs at stopgpcode@kaspersky.com and include the following information in the e-mail:

  • Date and time of infection,
  • Everything done on the computer in the five minutes before the machine was infected, including programs executed and Web sites visited.

T-Mobile Sues Starbucks Over ATT Wi-Fi Deal

T-Mobile is upset over the fact that Starbucks and ATT are using their equipment to offer free Wi-Fi service to their customers. So T-Mobile is suing Starbucks Corp., accusing the coffee house operator of breaching a contract by allowing AT&T to provide customers with free Wi-Fi access using T-Mobile equipment.

T-Mobile USA alleges AT&T and Starbucks are not living up to an original agreement over how Starbucks should transfer from its T-Mobile USA relationship to a new partnership with AT&T. T-Mobile USA is seeking unspecified damages because of what it called Starbucks' willful breach of contract and unfair competition.

T-Mobile claims to have exclusive rights to market, offer and sell Wi-Fi services in Starbucks locations until all the stores in the given market are fully converted to AT&T. T-Mobile said Bakersfield, Calif. and San Antonio, Texas., are the only markets that have fully been fully converted, while the vast majority of cafes are still using T-Mobile networking equipment meaning they remain subject to T-Mobile's exclusivity rights, according to the lawsuit.

"If AT&T or Starbucks wanted to offer 'free' Wi-Fi in non-transitioned stores for Starbucks customers, as they are now doing, they should have - and, indeed, were contractually required to - negotiate such an arrangement with T-Mobile," the lawsuit said.

In the 13-page lawsuit filed late last Thursday in New York state court T- Mobile alleged that Starbucks used its equipment and technology while secretly developing a plan with AT&T to provide free Wi-Fi service.

"Since T-Mobile provides resources and equipment to support Wi-Fi service in non-transitioned stores, it is T-Mobile alone that is bearing the cost and burden associated with this 'free' Wi-Fi offer," the lawsuit said.

Last February Geek-News.Net reported that Starbucks was ending its partnership with T-Mobile in favor of an agreement with AT&T. Starbucks previously teamed with T-Mobile to provide Wi-Fi access to its customers at a rate of $6 for the first hour and then 10 cents per minute.

Recently AT&T and Starbucks announced they'd be offering two hours of free Wi-Fi Internet service to customers who have at least $5 on their Starbucks cards. For a short time they also offered free Wi-Fi to iPhone customers , a deal that might still be in the works.

Dealighted Monthly Giveaways

The good folks over at Dealighted.com are running a great promotion opportunity for any deal hunters out there and as a member of the moderation staff, and a forum leader I'd love to pass along the information to any of our readers.

Announcing Dealighted Monthly Giveaways:
If you are a bargain hunter Dealighted will reward you for your hot deal finds. Post deals to their hot deals forum and earn entries into a monthly drawing to win cool stuff like plasma TV's, GPS's, and digital cameras. The more you post, the greater your odds of winning.

Every new hot deal thread that you post to the Dealighted forum gives you one entry into the monthly Dealighted forum random giveaway (maximum 10 entries per day per household, only your first 10 threads posted each day will earn giveaway entries). New threads posted throughout each month will count towards the current month's giveaway. The more entries you have, the greater your odds of winning.

For June 2008, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes are:
  • -Panasonic TH-42PX75U 42" Plasma HDTV($900 value)
  • -Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS ($200 value)
  • -Canon Powershot SD870 IS 8MP Digital Camera ($230 value)

Along with the monthly giveaway, Dealighted is recruiting for "Forum Leaders". Forum leaders are Dealighted members who have been handselected by the dealighted staff(apply to be a forum leader!) for their mad bargain hunting skills as well as their commitment to lead the Dealighted community. Not only do these individuals qualify for the standard Dealighted monthly giveaway, but they also receive a $100/month deal hunting reward and the top 3 most active Forum Leaders for each month win additional prizes during that month.

Forum leaders are chosen by the staff of Dealighted.com and may added or dropped at Dealighted's discretion.

Forum Leaders must:
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Post a minimum of 50 forum posts (new threads or replies to existing threads) each month.
  • Help the Dealighted staff identify spam posts and other posts that violate the Forum Posting Rules.
  • Seek out, draft, and submit creative and popular deals to the Dealighted hot deals forum.
  • Be helpful and welcoming to new members and respond to member questions.

The top 3 forum leaders (by most deals posted) will also receive an additional gift, this month it will be an Apple iPod Touch 8GB ($285 value).

For more information and complete rules please visit the Dealighted Forums.

iPhone 2.0 Release Date And Pricing Announced

As expected, during his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote presentation, Steve Jobs announced Apple plans to introduce a new version of the iPhone.

3g iphone

The new 3G version of the iPhone, will sell for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. That's a $200 discount from the current version which sells for $399 and $499 prices for the 8GB and 16GB iPhones, respectively. Apple plans on shipping Iphones by July 11 in 22 countries.

The new 3G iPhone will enable faster data downloads over AT&T's 3G network and will include built-in GPS. Physical changes to the new iPhone include a curvier design, full plastic back, solid metal buttons, and a flush headphone jack. As well as the addition of white as a color option for the 16GB iPhone.

iPhone users can also expect to see improved battery life of 300 hours of standby time. Users will also be able to switch between 3G and 2G in case they wish to save battery life. On the new iPhone, 2G talk time has improved to 10 hours (from 8 hours); for 3G talk time, the phone will have a battery life of 5 hours.

Firmware improvements will include plenty of new features as well as several new software packages. The iPhone will add a contact search that allows users to enter a name and instantly find who they’re looking for. Full iWork document support lets users view Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents. Apple also will offer full support for Microsoft Office documents, including PowerPoint presentations.

iPhone 2.0 adds much sought-after bulk delete and move capabilities to its Mail application. Mail users will be able to save images from e-mails into their Photo Library.

Apple has also add parental control features, allowing parents to turn off explicit content as well as controls over viewable sites such as YouTube. There will also be controls for download sites including the iTunes Store, and the forthcoming App Store.

During the keynote presentation Apple executives also profiled the iPhone software development kit that allows developers to build native apps for the phone. Developers showed off the games and apps that will be available via the App Store later this summer. Companies demonstrating their wares included Sega, Loopt, Pangea Software, TypePad, Cow Music, and Modality.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Crysis "Sequel" Announced, Crysis: Warhead

Thursday, video game developer Crytek officially revealed Crysis: Warhead, a semi-sequel (not an add-on but an entirely new game) to the very popular and very graphically stunning game Crysis. Crytek claims that the new title will follow in its predecessor's PC-exclusive footsteps as a flexible, open-ended, and visually beautiful shooter wrapped up and presented via an "enhanced and optimized" version of the CryENGINE 2 technology.

Crysis Warhead runs parallel to the original Crysis, but players will play as Delta Force Sergeant "Psycho" Skyes, rather than Nomad, the hero of the original. The new game takes place on the other side of the island and will feature new weapons, vehicles, and additional multiplayer content not available in the first game.

Crysis: Warhead is expected to be ready for a release date for the 2008 holiday shopping season.

Friday, June 06, 2008

PS3 A Power Hog?

According to a report by the Australian Consumers' Association's Choice publication, it is. The report shows leaving your PS3 on when you're not gaming can cost you A$250 ($239) a year in electricity bills.

Choice tested several common consumer electronics devices such as LCD TV's, CRT TV's, laptops and desktops. They also tested many gaming consoles including the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii.

Surprisingly their tests show that the when left on constantly, the PS3 consumes about the same amount of electricity as five refrigerators! For energy conscious consumers out there or anyone looking to lower the bills this should serves as an important reminder to turn off video game systems after use.

The PS3, while on and running a game, consumes some 33.34kWh weekly--equivalent to around A$5 ($4.79). When on but idle, it uses almost as much, sapping 31.74kWh, or A$4.76 ($4.56). When the machine was off (with the back switch on), power usage plummeted to 0.30kWh, or A$0.04 ($0.04) a week.

In comparison, the Xbox 360 used up 26kWh per week in power when on and running a game--about A$3.90 ($3.73) in real money. When on but idle, the figure was slightly reduced to 23.47kWh or around A$3.53 ($3.37), and when off used up only 0.40kWh or A$0.06 ($0.06) a week.

Unsurprisingly, the Nintendo Wii used the least power--under 10 percent of that needed for the PS3. Playing a game, it uses 3.14kWh costing A$0.47 ($0.45) a week, and on but idle it drained 2.97kWh or A$0.45 ($0.43). When the console was switched off, but WiiConnect24 remained on, this dropped to 1.78kWh, costing A$0.27 ($0.26) a week. When WiiConnect24 was also turned off, this figure became 0.32kWh or A$0.05 ($0.05) a week.

The report also found that the Plasma TV set tested was a "power hungry device" and required over four times as much power as a traditional CRT analogue TV set. The reverse can be said of LCD monitors verses older CRTs. The LCD monitor consumed less than half the power of the CRT.

Not to surprising was the fact that the laptop consumed roughly 20% of the power that the desktop did, in fact the logitech x-530 speakers that were tested almost used up as much power as the MAC book pro that was tested.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Verizon Buys Alltel For $28.1 billion

Verizon announced today that it has reached an agreement to purchase the nation's fifth-largest wireless carrier, Alltel Wireless, for a total of $28.1 billion. After adding Alltel's 13 million customers to its ranks, Verizon will have the most subscribers in the United States, with around 80 million.A T&T, which has mostly held the lead for total wireless subscribers since merging with Cingular back in 2004, currently has an estimated 71 million subscribers.

"This move will create an enhanced platform of network coverage, spectrum and customer care to better serve the growing needs of both Alltel and Verizon Wireless customers for reliable basic and advanced broadband wireless services," says Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

Firefox 3 RC2 Ready for Download

Late yesterday Mozilla corp release the second and possible final test candidate for FireFox 3.

Firefox 3.0 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) fixed about 40 bugs identified after Mozilla issued the first release candidate three weeks ago. Although all the bugs uncovered during RC1 testing have been fixed, several outstanding issues remain, according to Bugzilla, Mozilla's bug-tracking database and management system.

But none are in the browser itself, confirmed Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's lead developer. "[They're] all server side and Web site related," said Beltzner in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon. "And I should note that 'bug' in our parlance really means 'to-do.' It's our way of tracking issues." The remaining bugs will be handled before the browser ships, he promised.

For more information on the second release please see the release notes. Firefox 3 RC2 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in 43 languages from Mozilla's site.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

AMD Puma Platform Notebooks Now On The Prowl

amd puma logoToday at Computex 2008, AMD announced the availability of its next-generation, "Puma" notebook platform, delivering the ultimate HD visual performance and increased energy efficiency on the go. This next-generation AMD notebook platform will also serve as the foundation for new AMD Business Class, AMD GAME! and AMD LIVE!™ notebook solutions.

The "Puma Series" will feature the new AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile Processors with ATI Radeon HD 3000 Series Graphics for superior 3D performance and HD image quality, with industry-leading wireless for greater throughput and range. AMD customers overwhelmingly embrace the new platform, as evidenced by more than double the number of design wins compared to the last major AMD Turion processor introduction.

Along with the release of the new Puma line AMD announced the launch of ATI XGP (External Graphics Platform) Technology, a new external PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 graphics platform, designed to deliver enthusiast-class desktop graphic performance and true multimedia upgradeability to notebooks. ATI XGP is an exclusive technology that capitalizes on PCIe 2.0 to deliver enthusiast-class graphics via a connected cable to an externally powered and cooled device.

ati xgp

ATI says that the device is externally powered and externally cooled so it won’t place demands on the notebook. Bandwidth in both directions is reported to be 4 Gbytes/s; ATI says that other external graphics solutions were limited in bandwidth.

The XGP platform is optimized to work with the new AMD Turion X2 Ultra notebook platforms. ATI XGP Technology is being first launched with the newly announced ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3800 series. As an industry first for notebooks, ATI XGP Technology delivers multi-GPU capabilities of scalable performance with ATI CrossFireX™ technology. The additional high bandwidth of the included USB 2.0 connectivity allows users to connect to a wide variety of USB-based devices, including external TV tuners, external Blu-ray players, and much more.

Hong Kong's ".hk" Labeled Most Dangerous Domain By McAfee

According to McAfee's annual assessment of the riskiest and safest places in cyberspace Hong Kong and China are the "most dangerous" places to surf the Web based on country domain.

The report, based on the Web-crawling and analysis technologies that power McAfee's SiteAdvisor tool for safe Web surfing, looked at 9.9 million heavily trafficked Web sites in 265 countries ending in country domain codes, such as .br for Brazil.

"We looked at the major categories, including exploits by drive-by downloads, spam, and downloads that come with malware such as viruses," says McAfee analyst Shane Keats about the security company's new report, titled "Mapping the Mal Web Revisited." He describes the report as a bit like a "Lonely Planet" travel guide for the Web, adding, "Danger on the Web is very fluid."

The world’s most dangerous overall country web domains:
  1. Hong Kong (.hk)
  2. PR of China (.cn)
  3. Philippines (.ph)
  4. Romania (.ro)
  5. Russia (.ru)

The world's safest overall country web domains:
  1. Finland (.fi)
  2. Japan (.jp)
  3. Norway (.no)
  4. Slovenia (.si)
  5. Colombia (.co)

The most risky generic domain from 2007's report became more dangerous with 11.8% of all sites ending in .info posing a security threat and is the third most dangerous domain overall while government websites (.gov) remained the safest generic domain. The most popular domain, .com, is the ninth riskiest overall. The full McAfee "Mapping the Mal Web Revisited" report is available for download at http://www.mcafee.com/advice.

Other key findings from McAfee "Mapping the Mal Web Revisited" report 2008 include:
  • The chance of downloading spyware, adware, viruses or other unwanted software from surfing the Web increased 41.5% over 2007
  • Sites which offer downloads such as ringtones and screen savers that are also loaded with viruses, spyware and adware increased over the last year from 3.3% to 4.7%
  • The Philippines (.ph) experienced a 270% increase in overall riskiness
  • Tokelau (.tk) and Samoa (.ws) were notably safer in 2008 dropping to 28th and 12th
  • In Europe, Spain (.es) experienced a 91% increase in overall risk

AMD Foundation Launches “AMD Changing the Game”

Earlier this week AMD announced the launch of "AMD Changing the Game", the first initiative of the newly formed AMD Foundation.

The AMD Changing the Game program is intended to improve critical technical and life skills by teaching kids to develop digital games with social content. The program is rooted in AMD’s commitment and experience in supporting education with the company’s passion and expertise in the gaming industry. The program’s launch accompanies AMD’s sponsorship and participation at the Fifth Annual Games for Change Festival to be held June 3 - 4 at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

AMD Changing the Game is a natural fit for AMD, which features products powering the visual experience of the two most popular gaming consoles in the world today1 and which recently launched AMD GAME!, a program designed to help consumers select perfectly suited PCs for high-definition gaming.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to harness the passion that kids have for gaming while teaching the skills they need to be successful in our 21st Century digital economy,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and chief operating officer.

In addition to technical skills such as science, technology, engineering and math, digital games can be used to help teach youth how to be more engaged citizens, to see conflict from another’s viewpoint and find positive ways to respond to challenging social issues such as poverty, hunger, disease, energy conservation, water use and global warming.

“Today’s youth are highly concerned about social issues and the current generation of youth gamers is among the most socially conscious in history,” said Suzanne Seggerman, co-founder and president of Games for Change. “The movement toward educating and engaging youth through digital games for change not only raises awareness of the importance of social issues, but gives youth an opportunity to make a difference. As this movement continues to build momentum, we believe that partnerships and grant support from leading technology companies like AMD will be critical to its success.”

Through AMD Changing the Game, AMD Foundation grants will go to nonprofit organizations that inspire young people learn while creating games with social content. Employees will also support the initiative through volunteer opportunities. In its pilot year, the following organizations will be funded:

  • Girlstart, is an Austin, TX-based nonprofit organization created to empower middle and high school girls to excel in math, science, and technology. In the summer of 2008, the AMD Foundation’s grant will enable 60 Girlstart participants to attend a program focused on games with social content. As a capstone project, girls will be creating a social awareness event in Teen Second Life, a virtual gathering place for teens 13-17 all over the world to make friends, play, learn and create. The Girlstart team will identify a social issue of importance to them and create an event in Teen Second Life that will help raise awareness and inspire action around the issue.
  • Global Kids, is a Brooklyn, NY-based nonprofit organization that seeks to transform urban youth into successful students and global and community leaders. Through its grant to Global Kids’ Playing for Keeps program, AMD has joined The Microsoft Corporation in enabling 20 young people from underserved communities to work with game developers to develop, create and distribute a game about the heroic role of residents following Hurricane Katrina. Last year, young people worked with developers in the Playing for Keeps program to create the game Ayiti: The Cost of Life which allows players to assume the role of impoverished people living in rural Haiti with the goal of meeting some key health, education and quality of life challenges.
  • Institute for Urban Game Design, is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through the hands-on creation of digital games. Beginning in the summer of 2008, the AMD Foundation’s grant will enable IUGD participants to apply their learning in 3-D modeling, animation and computer programming to the development of a game focused on the issue of energy usage. Students will learn about and explore the social issues associated with different types of energy.
  • Science Buddies is a national, non-profit organization based in California's Silicon Valley offering a variety of web-based tools that help K-12 students explore science through research-based projects often done at Science Fairs and other school and community events. AMD Foundation’s grant will enable Science Buddies to launch a Video and Computer Games Interest Area on its site aimed at helping students understand and practice what is required to design digital games. AMD volunteers will work with Science Buddies staff scientists to develop project ideas to spark student interest in exploring topics such as human behavior in games, ergonomics, game design and programming and the incorporation of social or educational content in games.

As part of launching the Games for Change Festival, the AMD Foundation, in partnership with the John G. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is sponsoring “Let the Games Begin,” a day-long workshop for nonprofit organizations focusing on how to create social issue games. The workshop will feature interactive lectures by some of the nation’s leading authorities on social issue game development and cover fundamentals such as game design, fundraising, evaluation, youth participation, distribution and press strategies.

Following the Festival, the AMD Foundation and Games for Change plan to co-produce a how-to digital toolkit for nonprofits that includes examples of games with social content, interviews with key experts and additional guidance for nonprofits creating social issue games for the first time.

AMD is also working with PETLab, a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The News School, to create a social issue game development curriculum for youth. The curriculum is expected to be piloted in the fall of 2008.

For more information about AMD Changing the Game, including a video and other materials, visit www.amd.com/changingthegame. Also visit AMD Unprocessed on Facebook for additional information and regular updates.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NVIDIA Launches GeForce 9M Series Notebook GPUs

NVIDIA claims that the new GeForce 9M GPUs are up to 40% faster than the previous generation GeForce 8M parts and as much as ten times faster than a certain chip giant's "generic" integrated GPUs, namely, Intel.

"Beginning this summer, GeForce 9M GPUs and Hybrid SLI, paired with AMD and Intel CPUs, will enable a new breed of notebooks," said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president of the GPU business at NVIDIA. "These new notebooks will be optimized to deliver a visual experience and raw computing performance that traditional cookie-cutter notebooks with integrated graphics simply can’t touch."

With the launch of the GeForce 9M Series of notebook GPUs, NVIDIA has once again engineered the world’s fastest notebook GPUs, designed for running today’s graphically intensive games, 3D applications and HD movies at extreme resolutions. In addition, this new GPU features a multi-core architecture which will not only speed up entertainment applications, but will also speed up today’s lifestyle applications, like video encoding from a PC to a small personal media device, where the speed up in the video conversion is up to 5x faster with the GeForce 9M family GPUs."

In addition, the new GeForce 9M notebook GPUs enable the world’s first notebooks with Hybrid SLI technology. The new technology enables two NVIDIA GPUs, one low-power and one high-performance, to work cooperatively in the same PC to deliver two features—GeForce Boost and HybridPower™. These features deliver more performance from both GPUs for visual computing when needed, or save power by switching to the low-power GPU when not. Hybrid SLI gives users the quality and performance benefits of a high-performance GPU without sacrificing battery life.

The NVIDIA GeForce 9M family of GPUs also feature:

  • A new graphics engine that delivers up to 40% faster performance than the previous generation GeForce notebook GPUs and 10x the performance of integrated graphics solutions
  • New PureVideo® HD video processing features for improved color and contrast
  • Full support for the latest Blu-ray advancements including BD-Live and dual-stream video playback
  • Extensive multi-display connectivity with support for all the latest display standards including DVI, HDMI 1.3, Display Port 1.1, and VGA
  • Support for the new MXM version 3.0 graphics module specification

"With the recent addition of advanced features to Blu-ray and the complexity of DirectX 10 games like Crysis, PC users need more graphics processing performance than today’s generic integrated graphics can deliver," said Rene Haas, general manager of the notebook business at NVIDIA. "The new GeForce 9M series meets this need while also delivering processing muscle for applications beyond gaming and graphics."

The new GeForce 9M GPUs will power the visual computing experience in over a hundred notebook models beginning this summer. For more information, please visit www.nvidia.com.

Source: Nvidia.com

Time Warner Test Metered Internet Usage

On Thursday, Time Warner Cable will begin testing metered billing, which is a major throwback to the early days of the Internet when you paid for the amount of data you sent or received rather than the simple flat rate virtually all internet users currently enjoy.

Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they send and receive. Those who go over their allotted amounts will be charged $1 per gigabyte, a Time Warner Cable executive told the Associated Press.

Time Warner see's metered billing is an attempt to deal fairly with Internet usage, which is very uneven among Time Warner Cable's subscribers, said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president of advanced technology. Just 5 percent of the company's subscribers take up half of the capacity on local cable lines, Leddy said. Other cable Internet service providers report a similar distribution.

Time Warner Cable had said in January that it was planning to conduct the trial in Beaumont, but did not give any details. On Monday, Leddy said its tiers will range from $29.95 a month for is slowest service at 768 kilobits per second, which most of us know is almost unbearable, with a a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap.

One of the biggest hurdles faced by Time Warner Cable and it's subscribers will be that most users today don't track their current internet usage and won't know how much traffic makes up a gigabyte. Even as an advanced user I couldn't tell you how much actually bandwidth I use per month! However users will be able to check out their data consumption on a "gas gauge" (bandwidth meter) on the company's Web page.

The best analogy would be comparing it to your cell phone, you'll be stuck checking your mins and watching the clock to make sure you don't get overage charges!

The company said they won't apply the overage fees for the first two months. Giving users a chance to watch their consumption and get use to the new program. They have 90,000 customers in the trial area, however the program won't affect the majority of those users. Instead it will be limited to new subscribers only.

If Time Warner is successful in slipping this plan past its subscribers and other cable providers follow suit, this could be a serious blow to many online services. Streaming video rentals, MP3 providers and just about any type of large file transfer would be hit hard. Users would find themselves gobbling up those MB's quickly if they wanted to watch a few movies or download a few MP3's!

Lets hope we don't return to this archaic form of billing. Metered service has been tried, test and rejected. Its not going to be good for anyone except possibly the Cable companies.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Metallica Joins Guitar Hero

GameSpot reports, Guitar Hero: Metallica due by Q1 '09.

Earlier this year, Activision the producers of Guitar Hero, unveiled Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the first of several games to be published based entirely on a band. No sooner had the publisher announced the deal than speculation began to spread about what the second band-based Guitar Hero game would be. Along with Van Halen, the most mentioned group was legendary metal artists Metallica.

Now, talk of Guitar Hero: Metallica is no longer a case of wishful thinking or idle speculation--it's fact. When sifting through an SEC filing of Activision's over the weekend, Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Edward Woo--associate of the highly visible Michael Pachter--uncovered a gem in the section where the Santa Monica, California-based publisher discussed its upcoming game slate.

"In fiscal 2009, we plan to publish Guitar Hero: On Tour for the NDS; Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: Metallica, and Guitar Hero IV across multiple platforms," the company said in its report.

Guitar Hero: Metallica will be the first time a game based on the multiplatinum-selling band--which has become only slightly less famous for its antipiracy efforts as its musical achievements--has made it to retail. However, it is the second such game to be announced. In 2003, Vivendi Games--which will soon merge with Activision--struck a deal to create a vehicular combat game inspired by Metallica's music. Unconfirmed reports stated that the project had been quietly canceled in 2005.

Source: GameSpot.com

Nvidia Launches Tegra All-In-One Chips

nvidia tegra logo
Today, NVIDIA Corporation introduced the Tegra family of processors, the world’s first single-chip computer capable of the rich high definition and internet experiences we’ve come to expect from our PCs, but on small pocket type devices. NVIDIA Tegra is a tiny computer-on-a-chip, smaller than a US dime (10-cent piece), designed from the ground up to enable the “visual PC experience” on a new generation of mobile computing devices while consuming the smallest amount of power.

nvidia tegra chip

NVIDIA plans two Tegra 600-series chips and another Tegra APX chip. Tegra 650 revolves around a ARM11 MPCore @ 800 MHz, while Tegra 600 features a less powerful ARM11 MPCore @ 700 MHz. The 650 can decode 1080p HD video, while the 600 decodes 720p video. The price of MIDs based on NVIDIA's stuff will allegedly range between $200 and $250.

“As more consumers begin to access the mobile Internet with devices like smartphones and MIDs, device manufacturers will be challenged to create the same high-quality user experience on mobile devices that consumers currently enjoy on their desktop PCs,” said Warren East, CEO, ARM. “Using advanced ARM technology and providing a ground-breaking mix of performance, power consumption and form factor, the NVIDIA Tegra mobile computer-on-a-chip addresses this challenge more effectively than any other solution yet on the market, thereby taking a major step toward the oncoming mobile Internet revolution.”
NVIDIA Tegra 650 also features:
  • All-day media processing, for 130 hours audio, 30 hours HD video playback
  • HD image processing for advanced digital still camera and HD camcorder functions
  • Optimized hardware support for Web 2.0 applications for a true desktop-class internet experience
  • Display support for 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD and CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV-Out
  • Direct support for WiFi, disk drives, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals
  • A complete Board Support Package (BSP) to enable fast times to market for Windows Mobile-based designs
Source: Nvidia

AMD/ATI Begins Shipping 4800 Series Cards To OEM's

According to TG Daily AMD has begun shipping ATI Radeon HD 4850 series cards to its OEM partners. AMD/ATI is aiming for a sizable June 18th launch of the new product generation, with the Radeon 4850 512MB boards leading the charge.

Final pricing has not been set yet, but speculation is that the card will debut in a range between $179 and $219. The folks at TG Daily believe that the board will be priced exactly at $199. AMD/ATI said they will decide on final pricing during the Computex tradeshow which opens today.

The Radeon 4870 512 MB is expected to ship later this summer and will be the first graphics card in the market to integrate GDDR5 memory. However, the 4870 X2, will face stiff competition from the GeForce GTX 260: Radeon 4870 X2 cards will sell for $499, while the GeForce GTX 260 is likely to debut at $449.

While specification for the new 4800 series are still uncertain we did get a sneak peak at them late last month.

  • 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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Walmart Teams With Oodle For Classified Ads

Walmart has began adding classified ads listing to their site thanks to services provided by Silicon Valley startup Oodle.

For now the listings are free, which means Walmart is likely doing the deal to generate page views and advertising impressions. The classifieds listing’s went up quietly last week on Walmart’s site. By adding the new service Walmart and Oodle are putting themselves in direct competition with widely popular Craigslist and the not so well known eBay-owned classified service Kijiji.

Another Bank Loses Customer Data, 4.5 Million Affected

Computerworld reports that officials at the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. are confirming the loss of a box of unencrypted data storage tapes holding personal information of more than 4.5 million individuals.

The bank informed the Connecticut State Attorney General's Office that the tapes belonging to its BNY Mellon Shareowner Services division were lost in transport by off-site storage firm Archive America on Feb. 27. The missing backup tapes include names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and other personal information from customers of BNY Mellon and the People's United Bank in Bridgeport, Conn., according to a statement by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"We'd like to provide people with a more current characterization [of what happened], but we are not yet in a position to make that available," said BNY Mellon spokesman Ron Sommer. "Our intention is to make it available as soon as we can."

Attorney General Blumenthal said that the bank's offer of a year of free credit monitoring to those affected by the breach is "grossly inadequate." He also slammed the bank for not promptly notifying customers of the security breach.

Source: Computerworld.com

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Robo-Monkey Brings Hope To Amputees

Researchers have created a brain implant that allows monkeys to feed themselves using a robotic arm just by thinking about it. The device could one day be used to help paralyzed people to operate prosthetic limbs that might enable them to eat, drink or use other utensils for themselves.

The research recently published in the scientific journal Nature, is the first to show that an interface that converts brain signals directly into actions is sophisticated enough to perform a practical function: eating.

Researchers who led the work have just begun human tests of a related technology.

"It's the first time a monkey--or a human--is directly, with their brain, controlling a real prosthetic arm," says Krishna Shenoy, a neuroscientist at Stanford University who was not involved in the research.

The arm is controlled by a network of tiny electrodes called a brain–machine interface, implanted into the motor cortex of the monkeys' brains — the region that controls movement. It picks up the signals of brain cells as they generate commands to move, and converts those into directional signals for the robotic arm.

Source: Nature.com

More info

Mozilla Shooting For World Record With Firefox 3

Mozilla has started a campaign asking users to pledge to download the next full release of Firefox 3 on the day it is available so the release can set a Guinness world record for the largest number of software downloads in 24 hours.

While Mozilla has not yet revealed exactly when Firefox 3 will be available, it has said that it could be as early as mid-June. Firefox 3 will be the first major upgrade to the browser since October 2006. Just last week Mozilla developers confirmed they would be releasing FireFox RC 2 close to June 6 for a new round of tests by Firefox users. Depending on whether a new critical bug is found or not, a third RC could be necessary or RC2 will become Firefox 3 final.

In the mean time anyone wanting to checkout Firefox 3 can download RC1 on the Firefox website

MySpace Message Center To Use Google Gears

MySpace announced they are offering new functionality in their MySpace Message Center by adding in the use of Google Gears.

MySpace has been lacking the ability for users to actually search their MySpace messages. To go through mail, users have to page through all of their messages until their find the right one. Now when users download and install Gears, they'll be able to quickly search their in-boxes for specific terms or sort messages.

Google's Gears project is an open-source plug-in, which endows browsers with a number of useful features to make them a better foundation for running elaborate software. Gears hasn't caught on widely, but MySpace gives the project more clout. And Google thinks some of Gears' success is actually measured in its influence over the new HTML 5 standard for describing Web pages.

More on Gears:

Caught In The Act Dell Releases "Mini Inspiron" Photos

dell logo

Gizmodo’s Brian Lam caught Michael Dell hauling around a mini laptop at the All Things D conference, the notebook just happened to be the new "Mini Inspiron".

Lam snapped a few photos which were immediately placed on Gizmodo leaving Dell no choice but to come clean. Shortly after Gizmodo spilled the beans on the tiny notebook, the Direct2Dell blog site went ahead and released two more images of the sub-$500 Mini Inspiron in all of its Candy Red glory.

It's hard to get an idea of how large the screen is, but everyone is guessing that it's likely 9" running at a resolution of 1024x600. The keyboard also looks to be a bit on the small side and lacks function keys on the top row. And although official specifications for the device haven't been announced, it's almost a given that the Mini Inspiron will feature a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and a 945G chipset. The Mini Inspiron will be available with Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux.

For the real world shots Brian Lam took of the Mini Inspiron, head over to Gizmodo.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Inaugural Kavli Prizes Awarded

Seven pioneering scientists who have transformed human knowledge in the fields of nanoscience, neuroscience and astrophysics have become the first recipients of the million-dollar Kavli prizes. The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Ole Didrik Lærum, announced the names of the prize-winners at the Academy in Oslo today, 28 May.

The astrophysics prize was awarded jointly to Maarten Schmidt, of the California Institute of Technology, US, and Donald Lynden-Bell, of Cambridge University.

Louis E. Brus, of Columbia University, US, and Sumio Iijima, of Meijo University in Japan, share the nanoscience prize.

The neuroscience prize goes to three scientists: Pasko Rakic, of the Yale University School of Medicine, US, Thomas Jessell, of Columbia University, US, and Sten Grillner, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The webcast of the 2008 Kavli Price announcement is produced i cooperation with Smartcom. Watch the transmission on Smartcom's webcast page.

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Windows 7 Debuts To The Press At D6

Microsoft has been keeping a tight lid on details about its successor to Windows Vista, that is until they decided to give the press a little sneak peek at the D Conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

Microsoft's VP for Windows Experience Program Management, Julie Larson-Green , briefly demoed Windows 7, which showed off Microsoft's attempt at bringing multitouch capabilities to the masses. Using a current generation Dell Latitude XT Julie demonstrated the multitouch capabilities which accepts multiple finger inputs, hence the "multi" part of the "multi-touch" technology title.

The new multi-touch technology will deploy on "all sizes and shapes of computers" according to Julie, but you would need the appropriate digitizer hardware. Touching is "not complete replacement of the mouse", rather it’s a way to further your experience, she says.

While details about the rest of the new operating system are still scarce Microsoft officials have already confirmed that they will not be using a new OS kernel for Windows 7. They've also been confirming that they will have Windows 7 ready in time to ship in 2009.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Microsoft Wants To Pay You To Use Their Search

Microsoft Corp. today announced it will offer ad-funded cash rebates to customers who find and purchase their favorite products through a new program called Microsoft Live Search cashback. Key partners including eBay, Barnes & Noble.com, Overstock.com, Sears, Zappos.com, and WPP joined Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at advance08, Microsoft’s annual advertising customer event, to announce their participation in the new program.

The complete Live Search cashback product portfolio includes more than 10 million product offers from more than 700 merchants, including more than 13 of the top 40 U.S. retailers. The company also announced it has delivered a new Live Search travel destination, Live Search Farecast, making it easy for searchers to find the best travel deals on the Web.

“We believe search can offer much more value to consumers and advertisers than it does today, and we see Live Search cashback as an important opportunity to deliver additional value,” Gates said. “Our goal is to make Live Search the most rewarding commercial search destination on the Web. Live Search cashback will help advertisers drive more online sales while giving consumers a new way to stretch their dollars.”

Read the full press release at Microsoft.com

Guitar Hero World Tour Details Emerge

Activision finally confirms several rumors fliying around about the upcoming forth version of Guitar Hero. The new game officially titled Guitar Hero World Tour will feature multiple wireless peripherals and music-composing program.

Earlier this week Activision confirmed the game will feature a microphone and a "genuine" electronic drum kit, along with a redesigned guitar peripheral.

Of the three new instruments, Activision is particularly touting its drum kit, which will have three drum pads, two raised cymbals, and a bass kick pedal. Apparently, it will have "velocity-sensitive drum heads with soft rubber construction to deliver authentic bounce back."

Activision also boasts that Guitar Hero World Tour will have "the biggest on-disc selection" of music, and that all of the tunes available to take on will be master tracks. So far, no particular songs have been named, but the company has promised that offerings from artists Van Halen, Linkin Park, Sublime, and the Eagles will be included.

Along with the new peripherals the game will see a few software changes adding in Battle of the Bands player mode. Battle of the Bands allows up to eight players, two teams of four, to compete online to see which band rocks the hardest. Guitar Hero World Tour also adds a Music Studio music creator tool that lets you compose, record and edit your own songs, using all of the instruments if desired, and then importing these tunes into the game. You can also share your masterpieces with others through an online service called GHTunes.

Guitar Hero World Tour should hit shelves sometime this fall.

LifeLock CEO Still Defends Service

Apparently running hundreds of ads showing off your Social Security Number isn't as bright and idea as originally thought. Todd Davis, CEO of the identity-theft protection service LifeLock, had to learn his lesson the hard way when someone successfully stole his ID.

Davis who has ran several ads appearing on TV, radio, billboards and the internet, featuring his actual Social Security Number was daring somebody to take it, so it shouldn't have been a big surprise when someone did just that.

Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number.

But Davis says it just proves that his LifeLock identity protection service works. Stating, "My Social Security number has been out there for two years, and there’s only been one instance where someone was successful in trying to turn my identity into money."

LifeLock's customers seem to disagree with Mr. Davis, filling several lawsuits. Attorney Davis Paris has filed a class action lawsuit in Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey saying that Davis and LifeLock engage in false advertising by seeming to offer absolute protection against identity theft in their ubiquitous ads.

Another lawsuit in Arizona alleges that his $1 million “service guarantee” is misleading and covers only defects in LifeLock services and not actual identity theft. The credit-reporting agency Experian has also filled a suit, alleging that Davis’ company deceives customers about the depth of its service. Experian claims LifeLock doesn’t give consumers any more protection for its $10 monthly fee than they can get for free on their own.

It would appear Davis' advertising gimmick might land him in hotter water than just a minor incident with ID theft.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Next Gen iPhone May Launch June 9th

According to Gizmodo inside sources are confirming the June 9 date for the release of the next generation 3G iPhone, which is also when Steve Jobs' keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is scheduled.

Eric Zeman at InformationWeek however seems skeptical, "I am going to caution that everyone take this news with a small grain of salt. True, all indicators over the last four weeks have pointed to a launch on or near June 9, but Gizmodo did not reveal exactly who the sources are. Also, remember that the 3G iPhone hasn't been cleared by the FCC yet. With only three weeks to go before the keynote, that's cutting it awfully close."

Without FCC approval legally, the iPhone cannot be sold in the United States. If the FCC doesn't get around to its approval by June 9 then Apple and Steve Job's might be stuck holding the bag.

Supplies of the first-generation iPhone have been dwindling, which has led to lots of speculation about the release of the second generation phone. Its clear Apple needs to get something onto store shelves soon, but will it be the 3G iPhone?

AT&T Gives Free Wi-Fi To LaptopConnect Customers

AT&T announced today that its LaptopConnect customers, who pay $60 or more a month for wide area wireless data connections, will also be able to access more than 17,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots in the U.S. for free.

Back in Feburary we announced AT&T's plans to give free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hot spots some AT&T broadband customers with wired connections. The carrier has since said it plans to expand free Wi-Fi access to additional wireless customers. AT&T's Wi-Fi connection policies have also been important to Apple iPhone users whom for a limited time were also granted free Wi-Fi.

Napster Offers DRM Free Music At Their New All MP3 Download Store

Napster looks to take on iTunes as it opens up its new DRM-free music store.

Napster claims to have the largest selection of music among online music services, with over 6 million tracks, today they announced they will be making them all them available for purchase in standard MP3 format, playable on any device, including iPods.

The DRM-free tracks cost $0.99 and albums cost $9.95, which is comparable with Apple's iTunes Plus DRM-free songs. The Apple DRM-free tracks are also in the less-compatible AAC format, which Windows Media Player can't play. Both companies' DRM-free files are encoded at a high-quality, 256Kbps bitrate.

"It's great that we have finally gotten here," said Chris Gorog, Napster's chairman and chief executive. "It is really the beginning of a level playing field, which I think is essential for Napster, but also for the health of the digital music business in general."

Unlike their regular services Napster's new DRM-free service does not require any monthly membership fee. They will still be offering their $12.95 per month on-demand streaming service as well as their $14.95 Napster-to-Go portable syncing service.

The new service will not require the use of any new software, it will be a Web based interface that works on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux running Firefox 2.x or Internet Explorer 7.x (which is recommended).

Napster faces tough competition as Amazon is already offering better-than-iTunes quality for less-than-iTunes prices without the proprietary DRM (Digital Rights Management) software. Amazons music service has been up and running for some time now and reaches millions of existing Amazon users whom can buy downloads using their current account details. This would make Amazon the obvious first choice however Napster's pure volume of music available should create a better draw.

Intel Price Cuts Expected In The Third Quarter

DigiTimes has reported that Intel is planning to cut the prices of its desktop processors in the 3Q08. Along with the price cuts will come the launch of more quad-core and dual-core models, according to sources.

The performance-level Core 2 Quad Q9650 with a core frequency of 3GHz will launch priced at $530, while the Core 2 Quad Q9550 will drop around 40% from its original price of $530 to $316.

The Core 2 Quad 9450, currently priced at US$316, will be phased out and replaced by the Core 2 Quad 9400 at 2.66GHz priced at $266. The Core 2 Quad Q9300 and Q6700 will both be phased out at the same time too, leaving the Q6600 as the only 65nm quad-core CPU left in Intel's lineup, and which will drop from US$224 to US$203. (The Q6600 can currently be found sub $200 at microcenter)

For dual-core CPUs, Intel will launch the Core 2 Duo E8600 at 3.33GHz and US$266, and will phase out the Core 2 Duo E8300. The company will also drop pricing for the Core 2 Duo E8500 and E8400 from US$266 and US$183 to US$183 and US$163, respectively.

Intel will also add the Core 2 Duo E7300 at 2.66GHz and US$133 to its entry-level line and to drop the price of its Core 2 Duo E7200 from US$133 to US$113.

Source: DigiTimes

Monday, May 19, 2008

Google Announces Android Developers Top 50 Applications

Android Developers Blog: The Top 50 Applications
As you may have heard, the results from Android Developer Challenge Part 1, Round 1 were announced to all the participants late last week. We're still working on pulling together a more extensive listing for each application that made it into the top 50, but in the spirit of releasing early and often, here's a list containing the name of the application and its author(s):
  • AndroidScan - Jeffrey Sharkey
  • Beetaun - Sergey Gritsyuk and Dmitri Shipilov
  • BioWallet - Jose Luis Huertas Fernandez
  • BreadCrumbz - Amos Yoffe
  • CallACab - Konrad Huebner and Henning Boeger
  • City Slikkers - PoroCity Media and Virtual Logic Systems
  • Commandro - Alex Pisarev, Andrey Tapekha
  • Cooking Capsules - Mary Ann Cotter and Muthuselvam Ramadoss
  • Diggin - Daniel Johansson, Aramis Waernbaum, Andreas Hedin
  • Dyno - Virachat Boondharigaputra
  • e-ventr - Michael Zitzelsberger
  • Eco2go - Taneem Talukdar, Gary Pong, Jeff Kao and Robert Lam
  • Em-Radar - Jack Kwok
  • fingerprint - Robert Mickle
  • FreeFamilyWatch - Navee Technologies LLC
  • goCart - Rylan Barnes
  • GolfPlay - Inizziativa Networks
  • gWalk - Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus ten Hagen, Christian Klinger, Marko Modsching, Rene Scholze
  • HandWx - Weathertop Consulting LLC
  • IMEasy - Yan Shi
  • Jigsaw - Mikhail Ksenzov
  • JOYity - Zelfi AG
  • LifeAware - Gregory Moore, Aaron L. Obrien, Jawad Akhtar
  • Locale - Clare Bayley, Christina Wright, Jasper Lin, Carter Jernigan
  • LReady Emergency Manager - Chris Hulls, Dilpreet Singh, Luis Carvalho, Phuong Nguyen
  • Marvin - Pontier Laurent
  • Mobeedo - Sengaro GmbH
  • Multiple Facets Instant Messenger - Virgil Dobjanschi
  • MyCloset - Mamoru Tokashiki
  • PedNav - RouteMe2 Technologies Inc.
  • Phonebook 2.0 - Voxmobili
  • PicSay - Eric Wijngaard
  • PiggyBack - Christophe Petit and Sebastien Petit
  • Pocket Journey - Anthony Stevens and Rosie Pongracz
  • Rayfarla - Stephen Oldmeadow
  • Safety Net - Michael DeJadon
  • SocialMonster - Ben Siu-Lung Hui and Tommy Ng
  • SplashPlay
  • Sustain- Keeping Your Social Network Alive - Niraj Swami
  • SynchroSpot - Shaun Terry
  • Talkplay - Sung Suh Park
  • Teradesk - José Augusto Athayde Ferrarini
  • The Weather Channel for Android - The Weather Channel Interactive Inc.
  • TuneWiki - TuneWiki Inc.
  • Wikitude-the Mobile Travel Guide - Philipp Breuss
  • Writing Pad - ShapeWriter Inc
Those of you following along carefully at home (or who bothered to read this far) will notice that there's only 46 in this list. 4 winners opted to continue their efforts in secret and so while we congratulate them too, we can't list them here.

Wii Fit Launches In U.S.

Nintendo launches its Wii Fit today, the popular expansion to its Wii gaming system that has already sold more than 2 million Wii Fit units in Japan.

Its American launch came today at the Nintendo World store in New York. The system will be available through U.S. retailers beginning Wednesday May 21. Online resellers are already taking pre-sale orders with many sites already showing as out of stock.

Users use a balance board similar to the platform used for step aerobics. You can ride a virtual snowboard, do yoga, twirl virtual hula hoops, or do other exercises on the Wii Balance Board. The board connects with the Wii console through wireless signals. Mii caricatures reflect players' changing fitness levels as they improve.

"Wii Fit will get you moving whether you've been playing video games for years or this is your first time," Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive VP of sales and marketing, said in an announcement. "Wii Fit is easy for anyone to try and is yet another example of how Nintendo continues to expand the world of video games to new audiences."

The wireless accessory basically is a sophisticated, floor-based game controller. It senses your weight and movement as you step on it and uses that data to control onscreen games and exercises designed to improve your balance, posture and fitness. The system will offer more than 40 activities and stores users' records. Virtual trainers guide users and make suggestions for improvement.

The suggested retail price for Wii Fit is $89.99 and online pre-orders can be made at Circuit City, Best Buy, K-Mart and Walmart/

FireFox 3.0 Reaches Release Candidate Status

According to Mozilla developers Firefox 3.0 RC1 edges closer to final code. This milestone is focused on testing the core functionality provided by many new features and changes to the platform scheduled for Firefox 3.

Firefox 3.0 is built on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform and includes better memory management, improved performance, enhanced security features, and improved usability. Other new features include built-in antivirus protection, easier password management, a new download manager and improved integration with Windows and OS X.

According to Mozilla, changes specifically attributable to the latest release of Firefox 3.0 include:
  • Improvements to the user interface based on user feedback, including changes to the look and feel on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Changes and fixes for new features such as the location bar autocomplete, bookmark backup and restore, full page zoom, and others, based on feedback from our community.
  • Fixes and improvements to platform features to improve security, web compatibility and stability.
  • Continued performance improvements: changes to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimization continues to improve performance over previous releases as measured by the popular SunSpider test from Apple, and in the speed of web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office.

Firefox 3.0 RC1 is currently available for download in multiple languages for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms.

My thoughts:
I've been trying it out over the weekend and so far I'm not highly impressed. Some of my plug-ins aren't functional, I can't find a theme I like that will actually work, and the overall feel just doesn't fit for me. The first two are more an issue for the developers of the plug-ins and themes but its still an annoyance.

While page load times do seem to be faster, I see little to no change in memory usage. In fact if anything it almost looks like I'm using more memory now than with the latest version of FireFox 2. The new looks and feel of the address bar is great, you don't just get the url but a quick title for the page. Bookmark handling has also been upgraded nicely.

I can say I don't see anything majorly wrong, I've had no crashes and little to no issues. I just really don't see anything that is all that impressive. Maybe I'll need more than a day or two of surfing to spot a few extras that I haven't found yet.

AMD Announces "Game"

Today AMD has announced AMD GAME!, their new branding program designed to help consumers select PCs or components for high-definition gaming.

The minimum requirements for GAME! are an AMD Athlon X2 5600+ processor, ATI Radeon HD 3650 graphics card, and AMD 770 or NVIDIA nForce 500 chipset, making for a system that is capable, but not extraordinary. To qualify for GAME! Ultra a system will need a Phenom X4 9650 processor, ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card, and an AMD 770 chipset.

AMD’s 780G integrated graphics platform will not qualify for the Game! program, as it is was only meant to handle entry-level gaming.

AMD GAME! Enables Console-like Simplicity for Mainstream PCs
AMD GAME! platforms combine the powerful balance of multi-core processors, exceptional HD digital media2, and next-generation graphics processing power. Industry leaders including Acer, Alienware, Logitech and Microsoft are joining AMD to ensure consumers can easily identify PCs that deliver HD gaming and entertainment experiences out of the box.

“With the support of industry leaders in PC gaming, AMD GAME! ensures consumers don’t need an enthusiast-level knowledge of PC hardware for an optimal gaming system,” said Nigel Dessau, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, AMD. “We in the PC industry owe consumers the same predictability, simplicity and affordability in finding a PC for gaming that the console industry currently provides.”

According to Jon Peddie Research, of all desktop and notebook PCs sold last year, two-thirds had only the most basic of capabilities, lacking the technology needed to drive a great gaming experience. AMD recognizes this and is working to provide a consistent source of reliable and accurate information before and at the point of purchase for gaming consumers.

“AMD GAME! is a new initiative focused on delivering a novel experience for consumers, addressing a problem that has long existed in the PC industry until now,” said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research in Tiburon, California. “Our research has shown that PC gaming is on the rise and this effort from AMD not only rallies industry support for PC gaming but also acknowledges that computer gaming needs balanced systems for the best consumer experience.”

Gaming and HD Entertainment Support
AMD believes consumers should have a balanced platform with matched and tested components that meet their needs – not compromise their overall computing experience by choosing which components and software are more valuable. Computers should have the power to surge through the demanding moments of gaming action or HD entertainment without stutter or lag. The AMD GAME! initiative helps ensure that the computer system has been optimized for gaming with the right graphics and processor components. Hardware and PC components that carry the AMD GAME! logo let PC buyers and do-it-yourself gamers know they will have a customized and exceptional gaming experience.

“AMD and Microsoft share the vision of delivering better gaming experiences on PCs running Microsoft® Windows® operating systems,” said Kevin Unangst, Microsoft’s senior global director of Games for Windows. “Microsoft’s Games for Windows program and AMD are both working to expand gaming accessibility and ease of use to consumers. Games for Windows titles and Microsoft’s gaming hardware, along with the AMD GAME! initiative, are great examples of how we can bring more value to PC gamers across the industry.” 

As part of the AMD GAME! initiative, AMD is dedicated to working closely with industry leaders to help create personal computer configurations that are optimized for all types of users.

“AMD GAME! is a great initiative that will help Acer drive consumers toward the best solution for their gaming needs,” said Brian Bogaard, product business manager – EMEA desktop PC, Acer. “PC gaming is an important area for Acer and with AMD’s help, we can meet the expectations of consumers with a solid gaming experience.” 

“We are happy to see the growing interest in PC gaming and now AMD is adding a much needed program to help continue that trend,” Patrick Cooper, director of product group, Alienware. “The AMD GAME! Experience enables Alienware to quickly and easily help consumers identify the experience that is right for them and the high performance Alienware solution that delivers it.”

“AMD GAME! is a great program to help consumers easily identify a solution that addresses their gaming needs,” said David Reid, vice president of marketing at NCsoft North America. “With this partnership, we hope to ensure consumers will enjoy our titles at the highest levels of quality possible.”

AMD GAME! Availability
AMD GAME! systems combine proven AMD technology including AMD Phenom™ processors, the upcoming AMD Turion™ Ultra processors, AMD Athlon™ processors, ATI Radeon™ HD 3000 series graphics, and AMD chipsets to deliver an enhanced and simplified mainstream PC gaming experience.

AMD GAME! platforms are available immediately on-line from system builders such as Alienware, Cyberpower, iBuypower, Maingear and Velocity Micro; retail availability is expected in the second half of 2008.

Information about AMD GAME! can be found at http://game.amd.com, the central source for PC gaming information. Supporting more than three million visitors per month, this website provides product information, contests, spotlights on industry partners, informative articles and purchasing information.

The AMD GAME! press kit offers additional information and collateral material for this launch and can be found at http://www.amd.com/GAME/presskit/.