Monday, July 28, 2008

Software Piracy May Be eBay's Next Legal Hurdle


The Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) has been keeping a close eye on eBay and the voluminous amount of counterfeit software that is being listed on the popular auction site. The shear volume of counterfeit software has raised red flags for the SIAA, so much so that they are now contemplating a law suit that would be representing hundreds of software vendors.

The SIAA has made several attempts at helping eBay reduce sales of illegal software. Despite a few years of discussions, eBay refuses to do more than just take down auctions of software that the SIIA has identified as pirated.

"Once notified, they will do something," Keith Kuperschmid, senior VP of intellectual property policy and enforcement for SIIA, told InformationWeek. "What they won't do is what we consider pre-emptory, proactive measures."

Those measures include placing a notification in the buyer feedback section that the seller has had pirated items removed from the site; penalize sellers of illegal software, even if it's their first offense; and develop technology to try to find repeat offenders who use multiple identities on eBay.

The reason the SIIA wants eBay to do more is because so much pirated software is sold on the site that the group can't identify all the offenders, Kuperschmid said. The SIIA estimates that 75% of the software sold on eBay is illegal.

EBay's refusal to take these steps has led to SIIA discussions of taking eBay to court. The latest talks among members were in May. SIIA members include many big names in software, such as IBM and Oracle.

Over the last several months eBay has faced many challenges in courts over counterfeit goods. Should the SIAA proceed with a lawsuit it would likely be one of the first and largest such suits focus on copyright infringement instead of trademark infringement, as in previous cases.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 and other copyright law sets out strong standards for secondary copyright infringement, said Kupferschmid. U.S. copyright law allows lawsuits for vicarious infringement, when the defendant has the ability to stop infringing activity and has a direct financial interest in the infringement.

This year, the SIIA has filed 32 lawsuits against eBay sellers accused of marketing counterfeit software. This week, an Oregon man was sentenced to four years in prison for identity theft and for selling counterfeit software on eBay, after the SIIA complained about him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Google Snatching Up Digg For $200million?

The rumor mill has been running wild with speculation the Google will soon be buying Digg for a reported $200 million. The rumors began about a week ago when images on Web sites suggested Google was testing voting methods.

According to VentureBeat, Digg has been on the selling blocks since late last year, with an initial asking price of $300 mill. Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch reported yesterday that Google was in final negotiations to acquire Digg for “Around $200 Million”.

Feedback on the buyout rumors have been varied. Many long time diggers are concerned to say the least. Digg commenter Hiji writes, "This is the beginning of the end. In a few years all the major blogs and social-media sites will be owned by large corporations, putting us right back where we started."

For more interest remarks on the possible buyout check out the following Digg posts:

Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Dealt Another Death Blow

A federal appeals court Tuesday agreed with a lower court ruling that struck down as unconstitutional a 1998 law intended to protect children from sexual material and other objectionable content on the Internet.

The decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is the latest twist in a decade-long legal battle over the Child Online Protection Act. The fight has already reached the Supreme Court and could be headed back there.

The Child Online Protection Act or COPA, which has not taken effect and at this rate won't ever take effect, would bar Web sites from making harmful content available to minors over the Internet. The act was passed the year after the Supreme Court ruled that another law intended to protect children from explicit material online — the Communications Decency Act — was unconstitutional in the landmark case Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union.

Source: The Associated Press: Court affirms online content law unconstitutional

DirectX 11 Details Revealed

At a recent GameFest 2008 event Microsoft revealed a few of the details concerning DirectX 11, the latest edition of its PC gaming graphics API.

Similar to DirectX 10, the software will be only be available on Windows Vista and future versions of Microsoft's operating system (Sorry XP users). DirectX 11 will add new "compute shader" technology that Microsoft says will allow GPUs to be used "for more than just 3D graphics," allowing developers to utilize video cards as parallel processors.

DirectX 11 will support tessellation, a feature which can potentially assist developers in making models appear smoother when seen up close. Multi-threaded resource handling is also incorporated, making it easier for games to utilize multi-core processors in a user's machine.

Microsoft also disclosed that DirectX 11 will add features to existing DirectX 10-compatible hardware, though it was not immediately clear what those features may be.

A launch date for the new software was not provided, though Microsoft is expected to release more information in the near future. The bullet points, as provided by Microsoft, are listed below.

  • Full support (including all DX11 hardware features) on Windows Vista as well as future versions of Windows
  • Compatibility with DirectX 10 and 10.1 hardware, as well as support for new DirectX 11 hardware
  • New compute shader technology that lays the groundwork for the GPU to be used for more than just 3D graphics, so that developers can take advantage of the graphics card as a parallel processor
  • Multi-threaded resource handling that will allow games to better take advantage of multi-core machines
  • Support for tessellation, which blurs the line between super high quality pre-rendered scenes and scenes rendered in real-time, allowing game developers to refine models to be smoother and more attractive when seen up close
Source: Shacknews

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Intel Announces New Price Cuts

intel logo
As previously reported here on Geek-News.Net Intel has announced the latest round of prices drops, slashing the price of seven processors by up to 31%.

The largest of the cuts was on the 3.16-GHz Core 2 Duo E8500 which was reduced 31% in price from $266 to $183 as of July 20. The price of the Core 2 Duo 2.53-GHz E2700 chip was cut by 15% to $113, and the 3-GHz E8400 by 11% to $163. In addition, the price tag for the company's Core 2 Q6600 2.4-GHz quad processor was reduced from $224 to $193, a 14% drop.

There was also three different price cuts in the Xeon server processor family, with prices of both the X3220 and the X3210 reduced by 12%. The price of the E3110 dropped by 11%.


Source: Intel CPU Price List

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nvidia GeForce 9700M, 9800M Specs Emerge


Specifications on Nvidias newest line of mobile GPU's have been leaked and things look fairly impressive.

The cards line up with specs as follows:

9700M GT
Core G96
32 shaders
625MHz core clock
1,550MHz shader clock
128-bit Memory interface
800MHz memory clock

9700M GTS
Core G94
48shaders
530MHz core clock
1,325MHz shader clock
256-bit Memory interface
800MHz memory clock

9800M GTS
Core G94
64 shaders
600MHz core clock
1,500MHz shader clock
256-bit Memory interface
800MHz memory clock

9800M GT
Core G94
96 shaders
500MHz core clock
1,250MHz shader clock
256-bit Memory interface
800MHz memory clock

9800M GTX
Core G92
112 shaders
500MHz core clock
1,250MHz shader clock
256-bit Memory interface
800MHz memory clock

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

1 Million iPhones Sold? Maybe Not

Earlier this week Apples press release boasted that they had reached 1 million sales for the new 3G iPhone, a number some analysts were quick to criticize. Gene Munster, a financial analyst at Piper Jaffray, had originally stated that he determined the actual amount of 3G iPhones sold as of Monday to measure less than 500,000.

Munster later revised his own analysis of the sales figures, according to Fortune he now acknowledges that "First weekend estimates exceeded our 425k estimate based on strength in international and improvement in activation process throughout the weekend."

Munster now estimates that 400,000 iPhones were sold in the United States, 250,000 in the United Kingdom and an average of 18,000 each in the other 19 countries. He now speculates that sales must have accelerated over the weekend as Apple cleared up its iTunes activation problems:
“We underestimated the number of phones sold per hour throughout the weekend and Apple’s recovery from activation issues. While we believe Friday’s 24 phones per hour is probably a close guess for Friday, the number likely increased significantly on Saturday and Sunday, well above our previous estimate of 28 phones per hour.”

So did Apple truly sale 1 million 3G iPhones? We can't be certain of that. Apple counts "sales" as any device it has sold to wireless network operators such as AT&T. The network operators then re-sell the devices to actual end users. Some of those 1 million phones that were shipped to Apple's partners might still be sitting unsold, we may never know.

As Steve Jobs said “iPhone 3G had a stunning opening weekend, It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world.”

Add in the second press release, where Apple announced that iPhone and iPod touch owners have downloaded more than 10 million applications from the App Store since it launched last week and Apple has had on hell of a week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nvidia Cuts GTX 260/280 Prices, XFX Offers Cash-back

In response to competition from AMD/ATI unit Nvidia has slashed the price of its new GeForce GTX 260 and 280 graphics processors. The new pricing comes only a few short weeks after it launched the chips, a move that has left many Nvidia loyalist displeased.

Nvidia said Sunday night that the GeForce GTX 280, which was originally $649, will now be available for $499 and the GTX 260 previously priced at $399 will be available for $299.

The sudden price drops have angered many consumers, with bulletin boards and forums being hit with tons of complaints. Price drops are to be expected however not this large and this quickly.

In a very classy move, graphics card manufacturer XFX has decided to refund some of the purchase price. XFX announced their GTX Cash Back program

Being the First Has Its Rewards
If You’re an XFX GeForce® GTX 280 or GeForce® GTX 260 Owner
Being the first to do anything is a rewarding experience. And now, if you were one of the first to purchase one of our XFX GeForce GTX 280 or GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards, there’s another potential reward in your future—cold hard cash*.

Sudden changes in the market have caused the price for the XFX GeForce GTX 280 and the XFX GeForce GTX 260 to drop. As a result, we want to thank you for your continued loyalty and for believing in the XFX brand. And, to show our commitment to you, we are issuing up to $120 CASH BACK to customers who purchased one of these cards between June 16, 2008 and July 11, 2008. The actual amount of cash back will be determined based on the model purchased, as well as the date and price of the purchase.


All I can say is kuddos to XFX for backing your customers! And bravo to ATI/AMD to taking it to Nvidia and putting a great deal of pricing pressure on them.

iPhone Dev Team Jailbreaks 3G iPhone

The iPhone Dev Team has posted a video of what it claims is “the world’s first jailbroken iPhone 3G running our own software.” The video was posted to their blog earlier this morning, while its not an official release announcement it shows some promise.

Jailbreaking, allows users wanting to use the latest iPhone the option to run non-Apple-sanctioned applications on the device.

The iPhone Dev Team are updating "Pwnage" to jailbreak and/or unlock iPhones running firmware 2.0. However, the big caveat, according to Geohot, is that there is currently no way to unlock the 3G iPhone — only first-gen iPhones running 2.0. The new baseband on the iPhone 3G — the part that was exploited to allow the unlock on first-gen devices, and which has not been updated on those first-year phones — currently has no known exploits, and while there are known exploits to jailbreak it, unlocking is an entirely different matter.

eBay Cleared In Tiffany Counterfeiting Lawsuit

ebay logo
According to U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan’s 66-page ruling (PDF), eBay’s current efforts at enforcement – which primarily involves responding to takedown requests from copyright and trademark holders – are more than sufficient to keep the site out of liability for inadvertently brokering counterfeit goods.

“It is the trademark owner's burden to police its mark and companies like eBay cannot be held liable for trademark infringement based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their websites,” wrote Sullivan.

This is a much-needed legal win for eBay who has not fared well as of late in other legal arenas. A French judge recently sided with LVHM - maker of Louis Vuitton handbags - in a similar suit, ordering eBay for fork over $60m in damages. Just prior to that suit eBay was forced to pay French luxury group Hermes for damages resulting from the sale of counterfeit handbags.

Should the victory stand it would set a legal precedence here in the states that could save sites like eBay millions of dollars. However it will do little to save them from on-going legal battles elsewhere in the world.

The lawsuit also has important implications for nearly every industry affected by piracy and copyright or trademark infringement. A victory for Tiffany would have set precedent that named content and platform providers – a description that fits a wide variety of names, including eBay and video-sharing site YouTube – as primary enforcers in other companies’ trademarks.

This would have potentially opened the door to hundreds of thousands of lawsuits. By ruling in favor of eBay judge Sullivan has effectively cleared many sites of wrong doing. This ruling may even inadvertently have a major impact on file sharing and torrent sites.

**Update**

Aug 11, as expected Tiffany's has appealed the previous decision of Judge Richard Sullivan that absolved eBay of any responsibility for counterfeit Tiffany items that appeared on the online auction site.

"The effect of this is that eBay can continue to profit at the expense of consumers and trademark holders," Patrick Dorsey, general counsel for Tiffany & Co., said in a statement. "In our view, this approach makes no sense as a matter of law or policy."

Tiffany maintains that eBay should "be compelled to investigate and take action to protect its customers and stop the illegal conduct" once it becomes aware that a specific brand like Tiffany is being counterfeited and sold on its site.

eBay has been battling Tiffany and other luxury retailers over counterfeiting for years. Monday's filing from Tiffany requests that the court overturn the July decision.

"We do not believe the law allows auction sites like eBay to continue to turn a blind eye to this problem while reaping profits from the listing and sale of counterfeit merchandise," Tiffany lawyer James B. Swire, a partner with Arnold & Porter, said in a statement. "Stated trademark law does not impose a duty on Tiffany to police eBay's site: eBay designed the site and has the responsibility to police it."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rock Band 2 Track List Revealed

The gang over at Joystiq are reporting that Harmonix and MTV Games have unveiled the full song list for the upcoming release of Rock Band 2. There will be a total of 84 songs on the disc, and an additional 20 songs available as free DLC after the game's release. The set list is comprised entirely of master recordings, and features AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Bob Dylan, Metallica, Pearl Jam and more.


Rock Band 2 On-Disc Track List:


1. AC/DC "Let There Be Rock"
2. AFI "Girl's Gone Grey"
3. Alanis Morissette "You Oughta Know"
4. Alice in Chains "Man in the Box"
5. Allman Brothers "Ramblin' Man"
6. Avenged Sevenfold "Almost Easy"
7. Bad Company "Shooting Star"
8. Beastie Boys "So Whatcha Want"
9. Beck "E-Pro"
10. Bikini Kill "Rebel Girl"
11. Billy Idol "White Wedding Pt. I"
12. Blondie " One Way or Another"
13. Bob Dylan "Tangled Up in Blue"
14. Bon Jovi "Livin' on a Prayer"
15. Cheap Trick "Hello There"
16. Devo "Uncontrollable Urge"
17. Dinosaur Jr. "Feel the Pain"
18. Disturbed "Down with the Sickness"
19. Dream Theater "Panic Attack"
20. Duran Duran "Hungry Like the Wolf"
21. Elvis Costello "Pump It Up"
22. Fleetwood Mac "Go Your Own Way"
23. Foo Fighters "Everlong"
24. Guns N' Roses "Shackler's Revenge"
25. Interpol "PDA"
26. Jane's Addiction "Mountain Song"
27. Jethro Tull "Aqualung"
28. Jimmy Eat World "The Middle"
29. Joan Jett "Bad Reputation"
30. Journey "Anyway You Want It"
31. Judas Priest "Painkiller"
32. Kansas "Carry On Wayward Son"
33. L7 "Pretend We're Dead"
34. Lacuna Coil "Our Truth"
35. Linkin Park "One Step Closer"
36. Lit "My Own Worst Enemy"
37. Lush "De-Luxe"
38. Mastodon "Colony of Birchmen"
39. Megadeth "Peace Sells"
40. Metallica " Battery"
41. Mighty Mighty Bosstones "Where'd You Go"
42. Modest Mouse "Float On"
43. Motorhead "Ace of Spades"
44. Nirvana "Drain You"
45. Norman Greenbaum "Spirit in the Sky"
46. Panic at the Disco "Nine in the Afternoon"
47. Paramore "That's What You Get"
48. Pearl Jam "Alive"
49. Presidents of the USA "Lump"
50. Rage Against the Machine "Testify"
51. Ratt "Round & Round"
52. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give it Away"
53. Rise Against "Give it All"
54. Rush "The Trees"
55. Silversun Pickups "Lazy Eye"
56. Smashing Pumpkins "Today"
57. Social Distortion "I Was Wrong"
58. Sonic Youth "Teenage Riot"
59. Soundgarden "Spoonman"
60. Squeeze "Cool for Cats"
61. Steely Dan "Bodhitsattva"
62. Steve Miller Band "Rock'n Me"
63. Survivor "Eye of the Tiger"
64. System of a Down "Chop Suey"
65. Talking Heads "Psycho Killer"
66. Tenacious D "Master Exploder"
67. Testament "Souls of Black"
68. The Donnas "New Kid in School"
69. The Go-Go's "We Got the Beat"
70. The Grateful Dead " Alabama Getaway"
71. The Guess Who "American Woman"
72. The Muffs "Kids in America"
73. The Offspring "Come Out & Play (Keep 'em Separated)"
74. The Replacements "Alex Chilton"
75. The Who "Pinball Wizard"

Bonus Songs
76. Abnormality "Visions"
77. Anarchy Club "Get Clean"
78. Bang Camaro "Night Lies"
79. Breaking Wheel "Shoulder to the Plow"
80. The Libyans "Neighborhood"
81. The Main Drag "A Jagged Gorgeous Winter"
82. Speck "Conventional Lover"
83. The Sterns "Supreme Girl"
84. That Handsome Devil "Rob the Prez-O-Dent"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Radeon R700 Details Leaked

The guys over at the Taiwanese team of Tom's Hardware got their hands on some of the details of the new ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, codenamed R700 or "Spartan", and revealed several confidential slides exposing details.

It's now confirmed that the R700 (ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2) will be two Radeon HD 4870 GPU's married to the same PCB board. The card will comes with a total of 2 GB of GDDR5 including 1600 Group Stream processing units (800 × 2), 80 group Texture Units (40 × 2), 32 group Render Back-Ends Unit (16 × 2).

Fore more details and images visit the translated article, [First Look] AMD ATI next-generation 3D-card - ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 scheduled to come on August 12

3G iPhone Debuts, Activation Problems Arise

Today marked the launch of Apples new 3G iPhone, a launch that was plagued with issues. AT&T reported that in-store iPhone 3G activations were suspended at about 9:30 EDT nationwide today because of problems users were having connecting with the iTunes 7.7 software needed to configure the device.

Customers were being sent home with their shiny new iPhones not activated therefore not working.

When customers attempt the iTunes download, they get an error message saying, "Page not found," the spokeswoman said. The problem relates to iTunes specifically and not the AT&T network, she said.

While I personally have yet to buy into the iPhone hype (and won't unless someone wants to buy me one), there have been reports of 100's even 1000's of people waiting in line for the chance to sign their new contracts and dish out $199-$299 to get theirs.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Australia Bans Fallout 3

The Australian government hits Fallout 3 with the dreaded RC-rating "Refused Classification", meaning the game will not be allowed to be sold anywhere within Australia.

The Australia Classification Board is an independent statutory body which makes classification decisions about films, computer games and publications. They are the Australia counterpart of the ESRB and MPAA.

Fallout 3 has been refused classification. Unlike films or DVDs, the highest rating allowable for a game in Australia is MA 15+, computer games that have been Refused Classification (RC) cannot be sold, hired or demonstrated in Australia.

While the Classification Review Board website has no details on why Fallout 3 was banned, it has been suggested by users in GameSpot's PC forum that it could be due to the use of the drug morphine within the game.

Australia's game classification rules state that titles that an RC rating may apply to films and games that:

- Depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.

- Depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or who looks like, a child under 16 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).

- Promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence.

Fallout 3 is the third game in 2008 to be banned in Australia. Dark Sector was originally refused classification, although an edited version has recently been resubmitted and passed with an MA 15+ rating. Last week, Shellshock 2 was banned due to graphic violent content.

California Will Get All Electric BMW Minis

Automotive News reports BMW will export an electric version of its Mini to California. The state's zero-emissions vehicle program will require nearly 60,000 plug-in cars to be sold in the state between 2012 and 2014.



The electric Minis will arrive in California from the Mini plant in Oxford, England, by way of Munich, Germany, where BMW will give the cars electric powertrains. Automotive News Europe reports 490 of the e-Minis—identified by a silver and yellow paint scheme—will be offered through a lease program to selected customers in California and 10 will be used as show cars. The program is part of a BMW initiative dubbed Project i, set up to develop low-emission city cars. A BMW spokesman said BMW will make an announcement later in the year.

Pricing and other details are rather scarce at the moment. BMW officials failed to confirm or deny the report and simply stated, "BMW will announce whether it will build electric vehicles or not later this year."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sony Releases New PS3 Firmware v2.41

Today Sony released its second attempt at a Playstation 3 firmware upgrade, version 2.41. The 2.41 update does everything that the 2.40 update was supposed to do, without the annoyance of making your system completely useless.

Last week we reported that Sony pulled the PlayStation 3's latest firmware download (v2.40) due to reports of inoperable consoles after the update process.

PS3 owners were reporting problems ranging from small things like microphone's cutting out, to the more serious issue of consoles being bricked with no boot at all or remaining frozen at the initial wave screen.

Sony, to date, has remained silent on the technical issues surrounding the 2.40 firmware upgrade since it was released and subsequently pulled from PSN last week. The 2.40 update was a substantial update, meant to provide trophy support for PS3 games, a la Xbox 360's Achievements, as well as an in-game XMB interface upgrade.

Pioneer Boast 400 GB 16 Layer Blu-ray Disks

Pioneer Corporation has reportedly succeeded in developing a 16-layer read-only optical disc with a capacity of 400 gigabytes Its per-layer capacity is 25 gigabytes, which is the same as that of a Blu-ray Disc (BD). This multilayer technology will also be applicable to multilayer recordable discs. This development has bolstered Pioneer's confidence in the feasibility of a large-capacity optical disc, which is expected to become necessary in the near future.

For more information read the full Pioneer Press Release

Monday, July 07, 2008

French Ruling On Counterfeit Goods Could Hit eBay Pretty Hard


Last week eBay was hit with its second fine from a French court a ruling which could have much great impacts on eBay and their marketplace than previously considered.

The Tribunal de Commerce in Paris fined eBay $61 million for allowing the sale of Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture counterfeit goods on its Web site. The court also ordered eBay to stop allowing the sale of perfume manufactured by Christian Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo, which can be sold only through an agreed-upon network of distributors.

eBay was previously fined $30,000 over the sale of counterfeit Hermes handbags. The two rulings combine set a major precedence, and opened the door for several more lawsuits.

Robert Alpert, a litigation partner with Ladas & Parry, the intellectual property law firm in New York, said: “I expect this ruling to encourage a number of other designers to sue eBay as well.” EBay has already been sued by companies such as Rolex, the watchmaker, Tiffany, the jeweller, and L’OrĂ©al, the cosmetics and perfume house, for selling counterfeit goods.

Jorge Espinosa, an intellectual property attorney at Miami-based Espinosa Trueba PL, said that if the decision stands, it would make it harder for Internet companies such as eBay to allow the sale, or resale, of brand-name products.

"As a result, brand owners will ... be able to extend their control over products beyond the first sale, effectively making themselves gatekeepers for litigation-shy online auction houses," Espinosa said in his blog. In addition, the ruling will either cause eBay to shut down its French Web site or spend millions of dollars to implement methods to take down auctions for counterfeit goods that appear on its sites worldwide, legal experts said.

eBay has agreed that it would most likely have to change its business model.

"If we have to change our business in relation to this ruling, it will be a massive undertaking," said eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe. "We don't view it as just affecting eBay France, but affecting all eBay sites globally."

A hot issue in copyright law right now is an Internet site's responsibility for what users post and whether it is responsible for the misuse of the intellectual property of others. The RIAA has been testing the courts on these issues for years, however that deals strictly with intellectual property. The eBay cases or the largest major tests of a sites responsibility to police its users.

Carole Handler, an intellectual property lawyer at Chicago-based Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon LLP, told Computerworld.com that the underlying issue is whether the online retailer is liable and what steps it must take to prevent the sale of counterfeit merchandise.

eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said the company has taken step to stop the sale of counterfeit goods with its Verified Rights Owners (VeRO) Program, which provides tools to help companies look for fake goods on the site. If a company determines that a user is selling counterfeit merchandise, it notifies eBay, which immediately takes down the auction, she said.

Sharpe said the company spends $20 million annually on technology and manpower and has 2,000 employees worldwide who work on identifying and removing counterfeit property from its site.

"There are over 18,000 rights owners, like Nike and Coach, involved in the program, and in 2007 alone, we removed 2.2 million potentially counterfeit listings," she said.

Sharpe said eBay has also suspended 50,000 sellers who were selling fake goods and has made it harder for other sellers to offer counterfeit goods for sale.

However, in its complaint, Tiffany, which is a member of the VeRO program, said that eBay is forcing manufacturers to bear much of the cost of policing the auction site to look for counterfeit goods being sold via eBay. A one-week trial was held in federal court in Manhattan late last year, and a decision on which company has to bear those expenses is still pending.

My Conclusion:

eBay is currently appealing the ruling from the French courts, however if the ruling is upheld it has the potential of costing eBay billions of dollars. Not just in loses from lawsuits but revenue generated from the auction of goods. Anyone holding a copyright could potentially ask that their goods be pulled from eBay, or could potentially sue if counterfeiting is occurring.

eBay will have to make up the costs associated with fighting counterfeiting, as well as fighting lawsuits which means they will undoubtedly raise their fees. Even if they don't raise their fees they will, with out a doubt, implement new policies that will make it harder for users to sell their goods. What type of policy they would implement would be beyond me, how do you police millions of auction listings daily?

Will sellers now have to show proof of original purchase before selling goods? Are we going to be asked for some type of identifiable evidence that the good we are selling are real? And if so how is the determination going to be made? Hopefully eBay will have the answers to these questions soon!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

World of Warcraft Sequel Coming Soon?

Blizzard's vice president Rob Pardo couldn't resist kicking the Internet rumor mill into high gear by confirming the unannounced W.O.W. project.

In an interview with German site OnlineWelten during the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, Pardo discussed Blizzard's continued success as a developer as well as the measured steps it has taken toward building its development teams. When he was asked about a recent job posting on Blizzard's site for a next generation MMO, Pardo smiled and said, "Yes, there is one more unknown project still in development."

Unfortunately Pardo didn't elaborate much beyond that and Pardo reminded the interviewers of Blizzard's well-known penchant for only releasing games that are finished, a policy that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.

"We ship the games when they're ready," Pardo said. "And while it would be great to go on a piece of paper saying one game this year, one game next year, I would love if that happened. But we're going to make the right decision for the game."

Looks like WoW fans will have to content themselves with epic raids on the Icecrown glacier in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack

For more from Rob Pardo, be sure to check out 1UP's interview with the executive vice president from last weekend's events.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fry's Fourth Of July Sale

For all you Independence day deal seekers Fry's will be having some great savings this fourth of July. I don't see anything mind blowing listed yet but they might have a few better deals listed tomorrow morning!

Info:
Stores open at 9AM check for your local store via the online Store Locator. Fry's typically has the same deals online or for slightly more if you don't have a store near you, however you'll be hit with shipping charges on most deals. Also, different regions have different sales, but historically Fry's holiday sales have been pretty close to the same nationwide.
Newspaper Ads:
A few of the Deals:

$250 - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 + ECS GF7050VT-M Motherboard (Frys #5647491)
$170 - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 + ECS G31T-M Motherboard (Frys #582070)
$0 - 3D Fuzion FX 5500 PCI Video Card ($50 Rebate)
$50 - Antec Sonata III Mid Tower Case + EarthWatts 500W Power Supply ($30 Rebate)

$20 - Airlink AR670W 150N Wireless Router

$20 - Crucial 1x1GB DDR-400 PC-3200 Desktop Memory ($15 Rebate)
$20 - Crucial 1x1GB DDR-333 PC-2700 Desktop Memory ($15 Rebate)
$20 - Crucial 1x2GB DDR2-800 PC2-6400 Desktop Memory ($22 Rebate)
$18 - Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB DDR2-800 PC2-6400 Desktop Memory ($20 Rebate)
$40 - OCZ 2x2GB DDR2-667 PC2-5400 Notebook Memory ($25 Rebate) Thurs | Fri

$15 - Lexar 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo ($17 Rebate)
$10 - A-DATA 4GB Micro SDHC Class 6 ($7 Rebate)

$8 - Emprex 4GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive ($15 Rebate)
$18 - Emprex 20X Internal PATA DVD -/+ RW Burner ($20 Rebate)
$18 - Emprex 20X Internal SATA DVD -/+ RW Burner ($20 Rebate)
$110 - Lite On Blu-Ray DVD Rom Drive

$20 - Orange Box (PC)
$20 - World of Warcraft (PC)
$20 - Warcraft III

$100 - Infinity Primus P362 Floor Standing Speaker

$50 - Samsung ML2510 Monochrome Laser Printer

$190 - Dyson DC07 Vacuum Cleaner (Refurbished)


There are tons more great deals and again I'm sure they'll post some even hotter deals tomorrow so make sure to check the local circular early. For more deals be sure to check Dealighted.com and the Dealighted Forums.

Sony Pulls PS3 Update After Several Issues Arise

Just hours after making it publicly available, Sony has pulled the PlayStation 3's latest firmware download (v2.40) due to reports of inoperable consoles after the update process.

Owners of every model of PS3 are reporting problems ranging from the small things like microphone's cutting out, to the more serious issue of consoles being bricked with no boot at all or remaining frozen at the initial wave screen.

In response, Sony has taken down the update for the time being and made an update to their knowledge center post for the 2.40 boss with the following text:

"UPDATE: 7/2/2008, the PlayStation 3 system software version 2.40 has been temporarily taken offline and will not be available for download as our engineers examine any possible issues with this update. The Knowledge Center will be updated with information as it becomes available; please check back here for further details."

Before they took action, Sony PR director Patrick Seybold reportedly told Joystiq they are "looking into it right now and will work with those customers [to] directly address any issues they may be experiencing."

The firmware update added several notable features, most prominent of which is the ability to access the XMB operating system screen while playing PS3 software. It also added an Internet search command that does not first require an open browser, and a new "trophy collection," which lists all the user's objective-based trophies collected from games which support that feature.

The Science Behind The Fireworks

While we sit and watch the fireworks this fourth of July we often over look the amount of science involved in getting those brilliant colors and perfect effects. Fireworks have been around for thousands of years, and while little has changed in the basic formula we have added some modern ingenuity to those time tested recipes.

A basic firework is comprised of two things, a fuel source and an oxidizer. The fuel’s job is to provide the heat. The oxidizer's job is to provide more oxygen to accelerate the reaction - to speed up the burning. However good visual effects come from a slower reaction. Pyrotechnic chemists, who are trying to create bedazzle instead of bang, don’t want their work to explode an explosion provides little visual effect.

Think of it this was, a firecracker only gives of a boom, you might see a small flash but no actual show. Pyrotechnics, such as fountains, or the larger mortars that are shot into the sky, are designed to slow down that reaction providing a controlled burn of sorts. Controlling the burn rate creates the dazzling effects you see in the sky.

To slow down the burning, chemists use big grains of chemicals, in the range of 250 to 300 microns (the size of a small grain of sand), and they don’t blend the ingredients together very well. That makes it harder for the fuel and oxidizer to combine and burn, and produces a longer and brighter effect.

For the really sparkly parts of fireworks, they use even bigger grains, roughly 1,000 microns in size, which are ignited by the black powder fire around them and combine with the air to burn with a spark effect.

A perfect example of the fuel/oxidizer/sparkle combination would be the sparkler. Sparklers are made of medium-sized grains of fuel and oxidizer to get the fire going, mixed with even bigger grains of aluminum (the aluminum is what gives the great spark).

When ignited, those grains burn in combination with the oxygen in the air, giving off the sparks. Aluminum burning at 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius) produces golden sparklers. At hotter temperatures, up to 5,400 degrees F (3,000 degrees C), the aluminum produces white sparks.

Producing the right effect

Its the signature chemicals in fireworks that create the difference in colors. Without these specialized chemicals we'd be looking at gold or white fireworks every time. Different chemicals emit light at a specific wavelength, producing a specific color: strontium equals red ... copper equals blue ... barium equals green ... sodium equals yellow/orange. Mixing those basic chemicals, much like mixing paint can give you additional colors. Strontium (red) plus copper (blue) equals purple.

The chemists produce little pellets of colorant chemicals, the size of sugar cubes, with a mixture of colorant and basic fuel blended to the right degree, and with the right-size particles so the pellet will burn at the desired rate.

When producing mortars design artists have to figure out how to get the fireworks to explode in shapes, and with sounds. Those screaming, whistling (annoying fireworks) are easily produced. They pack some basic fuel into a cardboard tube, open on one end. As the fuel burns down inside the tube, the carbon dioxide it gives off rushes out the open end, making a whistling sound. Essentially its the same effect as blowing through a whistle.

The shapes of the exploding lights depend on how the basic fuel and colorant pellets have been packed. If the explosive charge in the shell is in the middle, surrounded by a ring of pellets of sodium, when the timer fuse sets off the explosion, it ignites the sodium pellets and shoots them out into that familiar nice round yellow/orange circle. Two rows of colorant pellets around a central “bomb” gives you a double ring.

If the inside of the shell is a mix of basic fuel and colorant all interspersed, the explosion ignites the colorant pellets that then spread out and fall down in a shower, producing a glowing willow tree pattern.

To get the really tricky shapes, like stars or hearts, the colorant pellets are pasted on a piece of paper in the desired pattern. That paper is put in the middle of the shell with explosive charges above it, and below. When those charges go off, they burn up the paper, and send the ignited colorant pellets out in the same pattern they were in on the sheet of paper, spreading wider apart as they fly.


Source: MSNBC.com - The scientific flash behind the fireworks

Its Official Mozilla Gets New World Record

Mozilla announced Wednesday that their world record campaign for Firefox achieved a record setting 8,002,530 downloads in its first 24 hours of release, which is now officially the new Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in that period of time.

"As the arbiter and recorder of the world's amazing facts, Guinness World Records is pleased to add Mozilla's achievement to our archives," Gareth Deaves, records manager at Guinness Worlds Records, said in a statement. "Mobilising over eight million internet users within 24 hours is an extremely impressive accomplishment, and we would like to congratulate the Mozilla community for their hard work and dedication."

Mozilla's Vice President of Marketing Paul Kim thanked Firefox fans in a statement, calling them "instrumental in achieving this record."

"Our community members came together and not only spread the word, but also took the initiative to help mobilize millions of people to demonstrate their belief that Firefox gives people the best possible online experience," he said.

It is probably important to note that Mozilla created the software download category. Guinness World Records had never had an attempt nor have they kept records on downloads in a single day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Adobe, Google and Yahoo Team Up For Easier Flash Search

Adobe has agreed to work with Google and Yahoo to make it easier for search engines to index more content built with its Flash software. Previously, Google and Yahoo could only index text and links in Flash animations and applications. Now, with some "optimized Adobe Flash Player technology," they'll be able to "uncover information" in Flash files "that is currently undiscoverable by search engines."

“Until now it has been extremely challenging to search the millions of RIAs and dynamic content on the Web, so we are leading the charge in improving search of content that runs in Adobe Flash Player,” said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe. “We are initially working with Google and Yahoo! to significantly improve search of this rich content on the Web, and we intend to broaden the availability of this capability to benefit all content publishers, developers and end users.”

Design Premium CS4The project will enable searches on Flash content to return text and links, which can then be indexed, and hence available in search results for the users. Content from a Flash application or even a game or advertisement will be available to search engines, reports InfoWorld. Pages containing a Flash .SWF file will be returned in a search.

As for images and videos we are still out of luck. From Google's own description: "If your Flash files only include images, we will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. Similarly, we do not generate any anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text. Also note that we do not index FLV files, such as the videos that play on YouTube, because these files contain no text elements."

So far Adobe has decided to provide the optimized Adobe Flash Player technology only for Google and Yahoo, which means that other organizations that are providing search services such as Microsoft’s Live Search or Ask.com won’t be able to index the dynamic Web content and rich Internet applications (RIAs).

Speculation around the web is that Microsoft, the number three search engine in the world, was snubbed due to their Silverlight technology. Silverlight has been viewed as a competitor to Adobe's flash.


Source: Adobe Press Room

AT&T Dumps DISH Network

Satellite TV provider Dish Network reported that AT&T will end their agreement to bundle its TV service with AT&T's broadband and phone service by the end of the year.

AT&T indicated that the termination was procedural in nature, and a six-month notice of termination was required under the contract in order to reopen negotiations in the future, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a research note Tuesday.

"Nevertheless, today's announcement is not good news for Dish and dramatically increases the risk that the AT&T relationship now shifts to DirecTV," Mr. Moffett wrote.

AT&T and DISH have had a joint marketing agreement since July 2003 to sell satellite TV, phone and Internet packages to customers in the AT&T regions. The move to dissolve any previous arrangements means AT&T appears ready to set up a bidding war between DISH and DIRECTV to offer video services with its lucrative "triple play" joint marketing contract.

Antec Launches Two High-End 80+ Power Supplies

Earlier this week Antec debuted their newest and most advanced family of power supply units, the Signature Series. The new line is available in 650W and 850W models. The new Signature line is 80 Plus Bronze certified and feature several innovations that distinguish them from the competition.

One of them is that they use active DC-to-DC voltage regulation, as opposed to the standard passive magnetic amplifier method, providing for shorter transient response times and greater system stability. In addition, the Signature Series boasts an advanced cooling system with a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controlled fan, that ensures quiet and efficient operation in any condition.

Other features of the Signature Series include a dual power circuit board (PCB) layout and a hybrid advanced cable management system that uses modularized cables only for connectors that are of second importance. Main connectors such as the 24-pin ATX one, and the PCI-E power connectors are fixed.

The Signature 650 and Signature 850 are available now and will retail for (a rather steep) estimated street price of $249.00 and $299.00, respectively. The PSUs are backed by Antec's Quality 5-Year Warranty for parts and labor.

AMD Launches Three New Phenom X4's



Earlier this week AMD announced the launch of three new Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition, the fastest Phenom part ever, as well as the new budget minded Phenom X4 9350e and Phenom X4 9150e.

The high-end Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition is to date the fastest quad-core Phenom processor AMD has introduced. It features an unlocked multiplier running stock at 2.6GHz, L1 cache size of 64K per core, L2 cache size of 512KB per core and L3 cache of 2MB shared. The 9950 Black Edition carries a retail price of $235 and consumes no more than 140 watts.

The AMD Phenom X4 9350e runs at 2.0GHz and will retail for $195 while the new AMD X4 9150e processor runs at 1.8 GHz and will retail for $175. Both of these CPUs have L1 cache size of 64K per core, L2 cache size is 512KB per core and L3 cache is 2MB shared. All three of the processors are AM2+ compatible like the other Phenom parts and all three new processors are built on 65nm process.

Monday, June 30, 2008

California Cell Phone Law Takes Effect Tomorrow

California's new ban on driving while on your cell phone is set to take effect beginning tomorrow July 1st. The new law bars all drivers from using hand-held wireless phones while operating motor vehicles but lets drivers over 18 use hands-free devices. The law says drivers under 18 may not use hand-held or hands-free phones while operating a vehicle.

Here is an overview of the two cell phone laws that take effect Tuesday in California:
— Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile service device while driving. They cannot talk on a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, nor can they text-message. They will be allowed to make calls in an emergency.
— Drivers 18 and over must use a hands-free device when using their cell phone while driving. Text-messaging is not specifically banned for adults, but the California Highway Patrol said they can be cited for negligence under existing laws.

There is no grace period for violators. Beginning Tuesday, anyone seen driving while holding a cell phone to their ear will be subject to base fines of $20 for the first ticket and $50 for subsequent tickets, plus additional fees that will more than triple the fine.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will not assign a violation point to motorists' driving records.

Drivers of all ages—with or without a hands-free device—can use their cell phones in an emergency.

The California law will apply not only to Californian drivers, but also to those coming from other states, even if in those states similar laws don’t apply.

California Department of Motor Vehicles Wireless Telephone Laws FAQs

Blizzard's Diablo III Officially Confirmed

Last week Blizzard Entertainment officially confirmed the third entry in their highly successful Diablo series during the company's Worldwide Invitational.

Blizzard has also launched an official website for the game which not only includes the announcement, but also shows off 60 pieces of artwork as well as a teaser trailer and nearly 20 minutes of gameplay footage. They've also got the fan forums up and running, which is already a buzz with new questions and speculation.

So far details are limited and there is no set release date, the company is sticking to a "it'll be done when it's done" mantra and refuses to even speculate on a release. The new game will jump us 20yrs into the future following along a similar story line from Diablo II, when Mephisto, Diablo and Baal have been defeated.

The Worldstore, which once shielded the world of Sanctuary from the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hell, has been destroyed, and evil thrives once more.

When Deckard Cain returns to the ruins of Tristram's Cathedral, a comet carrying a dark omen calls upon the heroes of Sanctuary to defend their world against the horrors that have arisen.

Fears That The Large Hadron Collider Could Doom Earth Purely Fiction

The most powerful atom-smasher ever built is expected to be switched on some time in August however several critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures potentially putting Earth in danger.

The European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), that has been working to finish the $5.8 billion collider, or LHC, says that its perfectly safe. The LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG) has issued a report (summary here), which addresses the key concerns surrounding the doomsday particle accelerator, due to fire up later this summer.

The findings back a similar 2003 probe into the possibility of the LHC provoking an apocalyptic event and concludes the device's collisions "present no danger and that there are no reasons for concern".

Specifically, the report addresses the key theoretical menaces posed by the LHC, including the formation of microscopic black holes, vacuum bubbles and strangelets.

Of black holes, the LSAG declares: "According to the well-established properties of gravity, described by Einstein’s relativity, it is impossible for microscopic black holes to be produced at the LHC. There are, however, some speculative theories that predict the production of such particles at the LHC. All these theories predict that these particles would disintegrate immediately. Black holes, therefore, would have no time to start accreting matter and to cause macroscopic effects."

Moving swiftly on to vaccum bubbles - described as the universe in "a more stable state...in which we could not exist" - the report gives the theory short shrift: "Since such vacuum bubbles have not been produced anywhere in the visible Universe, they will not be made by the LHC."

Regarding your strangelet - a "hypothetical microscopic lump of ‘strange matter’ containing almost equal numbers of particles called up, down and strange quarks" which might "coalesce with ordinary matter and change it to strange matter" - the LSAG notes that the US's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider hasn't to date produced any and "experience there has already validated the arguments that strangelets cannot be produced".

The LHC, near Geneva, Switzerland, is expected to begin operations this summer. It will collide proton beams at levels of energy never before produced in a particle accelerator. Those results will then be studied for clues to new forces of nature, and possibly even extra dimensions of space. The first collision of beams is likely to be in September. The $8 billion project has taken 14 years.

Two men have filed a federal lawsuit in Hawaii in an attempt to halt the LHC due to their concerns about the safety of black holes. One of the plaintiffs, Walter L. Wagner, a physicist and lawyer, said CERN's safety report, "has several major flaws," and his views on the risks of using the particle accelerator had not changed.

More about the LHC:
CERN: LHC Homepage | LHC Machine Outreach
AOL News: Critics Fear Collider Could Doom Earth
Science Daily: If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter
Science News: Safe From Black Holes

NVIDIA GTX 260 GPUs Hit The Market

Nvidia recently launched their new GTX 200 family of GPUs that included the GTX 280 and the GTX 260. The GTX 280 has been available for purchase since the June 16 launch however the GTX 260 was delayed for a a couple weeks.

Today the GTX 260 cards have been made available to purchase through Newegg.com and several other online retailers. Newegg features a slew of both stock cards carrying the $399.99 MSRP and overclocked cards with higher performance and higher price tags available.

For those shopping for stock cards at $399.99 Newegg has BFG, PNY and a XFX cards available. The three cards are identical save the XFX card ships with a full copy of Assassin’s Creed and have a double lifetime warranty.

The most expensive GTX 260 listed on the site is the EVGA GTX 260 FTW edition retailing for $459.99. The card is overclocked to a devilish 666 MHz on the core and 2,214 MHz on the memory clock. A less overclocked SSC edition from EVGA is available for $424.99 with a 626 MHz core and 2,106 MHz memory clock. An EVGA Superclocked edition GTX 260 is also offered at $409.99, a mere $10 more than the stock clocked cards.

The EVGA Superclocked version has a core clock of 602 MHz (stock is 576 MHz) and the memory clock is 2,052 MHz (stock is 2,000 MHz). Both BFG and XFX have overclocked versions of the GTX 260 coming as well.