Sunday, August 24, 2008

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Misleading iPhone Advertising

Lawyers for Jessica Alena Smith filed suit in U.S. District Court in Alabama and seeking damages in excess of $5 million against Apple Inc. for misleading her with their commercials which said the newly-released handset is “twice as fast.”

In a 10-page complaint filed in court, Smith said that her iPhone 3G was not at all what Apple ads said it would be. While Apple made profit by selling its famed handsets, she, and other customers as well, had been misled into buying the new version of the iPhone, but did not get for their money what the producer said they would.

"Defendant intended for customers to believe its statements and representations about the Defective iPhone 3Gs, and to trust that the device was 'twice as fast at half the price'," the unsatisfied customer wrote in the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks "actual, general, special, incidental, statutory, and consequential damages," plus interest and attorneys fees.

Apple customers have been complaining about 3G network problems since the iPhone's July 11 debut. Since then, several thousand messages have been posted to Apple's support forum, detailing difficulties making calls from areas supposedly covered by a 3G network and griping about weak signals, dropped calls and slower-than-promised data download speeds.

On Monday, Apple issued an iPhone software update that a company spokeswoman said "improves communication with 3G networks." Complaints have continued to surface on Apple's support forum, reporting that the iPhone 2.0.2 update did nothing to solve their 3G reception and connection problems.

Smith's lawsuit touched on Apple's promises stating, "The defendant (Apple Inc.) expressly warranted that the defective iPhone 3G would be "twice as fast" and would otherwise perform adequately on the 3G standard or protocol," it says.

"The defective iPhone 3Gs do not conform to these express representations because they fail to connect and/or adequately maintain a connection to the 3G standard and/or protocol."

The lawsuit asked that a federal judge grant the case class-action status, claiming that "the proposed Class contains thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of members." Smith also asked the court to force Apple to repair or replace the iPhone 3G, and award her, and if the case is given class-action status, other iPhone owners, an unspecified amount of money in damages.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sony Announces New 160 GB PS3

Today at the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced it would release a new 160GB PlayStation 3 in Europe for €449 ($660) shortly after that announcement Sony Computer Entertainment America announced a similar model for the American market with a $499 price tag.

The new limited edition Drake: Uncharted Fortune PS3 bundle using the new 160GB hard drive will include a DualShock 3 wireless controller and a free download of the game PAIN. The limited edition bundle will go on sale in November, just time for the holidays.

President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Jack Tretton said in a statement, "As PLAYSTATION Network continues to evolve with our recently launched video delivery service and more exclusive games, PS3 owners are demanding more storage capacity. Consumers also are utilizing PS3 as an entertainment hub for their digital media, placing content such as their entire music collection on the hard drive. The 160GB PS3 system addresses this growing consumer demand in a compelling bundle that delivers significant value."

In addition to the new PS3 Sony also introduced a new Wireless Keypad accessory that attaches to the top of standard PS3 controllers. Sony says that the Wireless Keypad is paired to the PS3 by connecting it with the USB cable to the PS3 system. Once paired with the PS3 the keyboard connects to the PS3 with built-in Bluetooth.

eBay Cuts Fixed Price Auction Fees

ebay logo

eBay announced on Wednesday that it will be lowering fees on fixed-price "Buy It Now" listings in most categories. The highlight of the new fee structure is a flat rate of $0.35 for "Buy It Now" auctions and an extension of the listings' time length from seven to 30 days. eBay has also said they will let merchants list multiple quantities of the same item for a single $0.35 fee.

The most impacted category is the one for books, music, DVDs, movies and video games, which will see an even lower flat-fee listing fee of $0.15, but higher commission charges. A full run-down of the new fee structure has been posted in this page.

The move which becomes effective September 16, is a bid to reduce the clutter of similar items on eBay -- 100 pairs of white socks will now be sold as a group, for example. The change comes just in time to boost business heading into the crucial holiday season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Study Shows 35% Of Vista PCs Downgraded To XP

According to market research firm Devil Mountain Software, which runs a global community-based network to collect “real-world” metrics from windows computers, almost 35% of users who purchased a PC within the past six months downgraded from Windows Vista to Windows XP. Apparently, this trend continues, despite the fact that Microsoft officially retired Windows XP from retail and OEM channels back in June.

The survey covered more than 3000 users who voluntarily provided data to Devil Mountain's Devil Mountain came up with final results by matching vendor and system ID data from the database and comparing it with system vendor offerings, which enables the firm to estimate the number of systems most likely shipped within the past six months.

"Either these machines were downgraded by Dell or HP, or they were downgraded by the user after they got the machine," said Devil Mountain's chief technology officer Craig Barth. "In any case, these machines are no longer running Vista." The EULAs for Vista Business (including Vista Enterprise) and Vista allows end users to downgrade to Windows XP Professional. Barth noted that 35% is an estimate rather than an exact figure. However, he considers the result an indication that "people are taking advantage of Vista's downgrade rights."

The study does not mention the reasons customer give for using the downgrade option so frequent it just gives an estimate on the total numbers that have been downgraded. However, the news about the survey’s findings contradicts Microsoft’s expectations of stronger Vista sales in the short term. The downgrade option will bed phased out in a few months and then customers won’t have the alternative anymore.

There may be a glimmer of hope coming from Microsoft as soon as next year with Microsoft set to reveal Windows Seven features as early as next month. Until then I suggest anyone wanting to avoid Vista to check out and try some of my favorite Linux distributions, which include Open Suse, Slackware and Ubuntu.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Microsoft Set To Reveal Windows 7 Features Next Month

Microsoft said that it will publicly reveal details and "in-depth technical information" about Windows 7 to developers attending its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) set to take place from October 26-29 and at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) scheduled for November 5-7.

On Thursday Microsoft launched the new Windows 7 blog headed by Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan, senior engineering team leaders.

"With this blog we’re opening up a two-way discussion about how we are making Windows 7. Windows has all the challenges of every large scale software project—picking features, designing them, developing them, and delivering them with high quality. Windows has an added challenge of doing so for an extraordinarily diverse set of customers. As a team and as individuals on the team we continue to be humbled by this responsibility."

Microsoft has said it is aiming for the launch of Windows 7 for late 2009 or early 2010. The company first demonstrated Windows Seven and its new multi-touch technology, among other features, at the WSJ's D: All Things Digital conference in May.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AMD Launches ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, World’s Fastest Graphics Card

AMD today announced what is being labeled as the world’s fastest graphics card, the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Also announced today is the ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 graphics card.

Based on an advanced 55nm design and leading DirectX® 10.1 support, the ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series delivers engineering elegance and the industry’s most compelling feature set. The ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 is immediately available from e-tailers worldwide priced at USD $549 SRP, while the ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 is scheduled to be available in September at an estimated price of USD $399.

“The ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series is proof that our graphics strategy is working. The response from OEMs, system integrators, game developers, press, and most importantly, from gamers regarding the ATI Radeon HD 4800 series products has been incredibly positive. Now, only a few short weeks after the launch of those products, AMD reclaims the ultimate performance crown and continues to deliver winning products to market in the ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “The ATI Radeon HD 4800 X2 series continues AMD technology leadership with support for DirectX 10.1, tessellation, and now 2GB of frame buffer. The new products join a line-up of stellar offerings, all of which are designed to give gamers experiences that approach eye-definition computing.”

The graphics chips used on the 4870 X2 run at clock speeds of 750MHz, while the chips used on the 4850 X2 run at 625MHz. Another difference lies in the graphics memory used on the two cards. The 4870 X2 has 2G-bytes of GDDR5 (graphics double data rate 5) memory, while the 4850 X2 has 2G bytes of GDDR3 memory.

AMD ATI Radeon 4870 X2 reviews:

Source: AMD

Once You Know, You Newegg

Monday, August 11, 2008

Steve Jobs Confirms iPhone Kill Switch

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confirmed the existence of the so-called "kill switch" capability, some form of application blacklist built into the new 3G iPhone. Jobs came forward with the information following last week's ruckus over early reports of just such a function.

The admission came from Jobs at the bottom of a story in today's Wall Street Journal about Apple's first month of sales at its App Store.

Apple needs it in case it inadvertently allows a malicious program -- one that stole users' personal data, for example -- to be distributed to iPhones through the App Store. "Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull," he says.

Hacker Jonathan Zdziarski was the first to discover the mechanism that periodically checks in with an Apple Web page for applications that should be removed. Until Jobs' comments, Apple had refused to discuss the matter.

Zdziarski, author of the books iPhone Forensics and iPhone Open Application Development, offered up information on his blog on how disable the functionality using the iPhone Dev Team's Pwnage Tool.

So far there are no confirmed cases of Apple deactivating any iPhone applications remotely, however the company has been criticized for removing applications from the App Store without explanation. One such application was Nullriver's NetShare, which makes it possible for iPhone customers to use their high-speed Internet connections to provide Web access to a PC.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mozilla Labs Introduces "Aurora", The FireFox Of The Future

Mozilla Labs and Adaptive Path have unveiled their spectacular new Web 3.0 concept browser, codenamed Aurora.

Aurora has been designed with the intent of creating what Mozilla feels will be the Web of the future, featuring an integrated Web and desktop environment. "With Aurora, we set out to define a plausible vision of how technology, the browser, and the Web might evolve in the future by depicting that experience in a variety of real-world contexts."

Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

The Aurora browser demonstration shows a highly advanced way of collaborating data between two users from information gathered on the web. The information gathered and collated as "objects" can then be seamlessly dragged and dropped on to the desktop and dynamically manipulated.

The video shows two people (Alan and Jill) working in different offices comparing rain reports. In the demonstration Alan invites Jill to join him on a weather report page, where they each highlight important bits of information on the page for each other.

The video follows Jill as she enters a 3D visual bookmarking system in which related pages are grouped by cells, modeled after cells in the human body. Recently opened pages appear closer to the screen, and gradually fall back the longer they're ignored.

Aurora shows what could be a potential integration of all your desktop, web, networking and communication needs.

The guys at Mozilla Labs and Adaptive Path are quick to point out a few notes and points of clarification about Part 1 of Aurora:

  • This is not a demonstration of a real product. What you see in the video is a visualization of our ideas created by animators. Technologically, much of Aurora would be difficult or impossible to implement today. However, we expect everything you see to be possible in some form in the future.
  • We don’t expect this kind of change to happen all at once. There are many intermediate steps we’d expect interfaces to take between the present day and Aurora.
  • There’s a difference between “lots of stuff” and “clutter”, and the difference is relevance. In the spatial view, distance communicates time, but opacity communicates contextual relevance. If something isn’t relevant to what you’re doing right now in Aurora, it literally becomes invisible. When you change contexts — like moving from a music feed to a news site — the relevance of objects changes, and their opacity shifts accordingly.
  • The device Jill uses in Part 1 is real: It’s called the Novint Falcon, and it’s a 3D haptic controller. It not only allows movement in three dimensions, but it also simulates forces and textures. It’s currently being sold as a gaming peripheral, but we think it has the potential for broader applications. We didn’t work out exactly what the haptics of Aurora would be, but from the presence of the Falcon you can assume that it has some.
  • Yes, there are easter eggs.

For more information and videos on the Aurora project visit Adaptive Path.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

FCC Rules Against Comcast In BitTorrent Blocking Case

In a precedent-setting decision the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled against Comcast, finding the cable operator in violation of net neutrality rules by a margin of 3-2, but it will not issue fines.

The FCC asserted a new authority and ordered the cable giant to stop certain practices that interfere with online traffic. At a meeting in Washington, the agency called Comcast's actions inconsistent with "an open and accessible Internet."

The ruling came following a complaint by Free Press and Public Knowledge as well as a petition for declaratory ruling, the Commission concluded that Comcast has unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice. Specifically, the Commission found that Comcast had deployed equipment throughout its network to monitor the content of its customers’ Internet connections and selectively block specific types of connections known as peer-to-peer connections.

The Commission’s determination that Comcast was not engaging in reasonable network management is supported by the overwhelming weight of expert testimony in the record. For example, Professor David Reed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, widely respected as one of the architects of the Internet, said that “[n]either Deep Packet Inspection nor RST Injection” — Comcast uses both to manage its network — “are acceptable behavior.”

The Commission announced its intention to exercise its authority to oversee federal Internet policy in adjudicating this and other disputes regarding discriminatory network management practices with dispatch, and its commitment in retaining jurisdiction over this matter to ensure compliance with a proscribed plan to bring Comcast’s discriminatory conduct to an end.
Under the plan, within 30 days of release of the Order Comcast must:
  • Disclose the details of its discriminatory network management practices to the Commission
  • Submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these discriminatory management practices by the end of the year
  • Disclose to customers and the Commission the network management practices that will replace current practices
Source: (word doc/PDF)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

VMware Offers ESXi Hypervisor For Free

VMware, Inc., the global leader in virtualization solutions from the desktop to the datacenter, earlier this week announced they will be providing for free their stand-alone OS-independent virtualization software ESXi hypervisor.

In December 2007, VMware announced significant improvements with ESXi – its third-generation stand-alone hypervisor. With the industry’s smallest footprint and OS-independence, ESXi sets a new bar for security and reliability. ESXi 3.5 update 2, available today, meets the criteria for mass distribution: (1) ease of use and (2) maturity and stability now having been ‘battle tested’ for six months with customers. The leading server manufacturers have all embedded VMware ESXi, including Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, and NEC. ESXi can be downloaded now from

According to Gartner Vice President Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman, “Virtualization is one of the most impactful trends in computing. The availability of free hypervisors will undoubtedly grow the market and provide a compelling reason for companies that have not virtualized their environment to begin doing so. This is especially true for small to medium business customers and customers in emerging markets. The hypervisor itself is really just a foundation. The business model and real value in virtualization is evolving toward a virtualized infrastructure and the management and automation tools leveraging the hypervisor.”

“VMware has always believed that virtualization needs to be ubiquitous. We want to accelerate the day that x86 servers and desktops are fully virtualized,” said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions, VMware. “With the explosive growth of multi-core capacity, improvements in virtualization-aware hardware, and performance improvements in our virtualization software, we believe that no technical hurdles remain for 100% virtualization. Now we are removing financial hurdles as well. ESXi is mature enough and easy enough to use that it can be the entry point into virtualization for those companies just taking their first steps with the technology.”

Source: VMWare

Connecting to Green: D-Link’s Environmentally Conscious Wireless Router

The following is a guest post from Erin Laing from CXTEC

The introduction of D-Link’s Xtreme NT line of wireless routers has created a new green initiative for Wi-Fi computer networking. This new technology adds eco-friendly features that have the potential of reducing the devices’ power consumption by 40% without sacrificing the performance of PC gaming, or more popular game consoles such as Microsoft XBOX and Sony Playstation families. A packet-processing engine integrates into the router, providing bandwidth priority over other applications. It also supports the latest wireless networking security standards, which package Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA-2), and advanced firewall features.

In order to reduce power emissions, the new features automatically detect link statuses and network cable length and then adjust the power accordingly. The new routers, which connect through network cables, will also feature Wi-Fi scheduling which allows customers to program Wi-Fi radio signals that can be turned on and off to further save energy consumption. Although this aspect may not be original, D-Link has allowed this feature to be easier than competitive models and also provides a user-selectable radio shutdown option that is adjustable by day and start/end times.

These products are RoHS and WEEE-compliant. This means they are officially certified and safe from hazardous materials and made of recycled materials to be disposed of properly. Furthermore, the routers support IPv6. Prices range from $150-$350.

AT&T Wireless Bans P2P Users

AT&T told an FCC official on Friday that it plans to ban wireless phone subscribers from using file-sharing applications and threatens to terminate service of anyone caught doing so.

"AT&T's terms of service for mobile wireless broadband customers prohibit all uses that may cause extreme network capacity issues, and explicitly identify P2P file sharing applications as such a use," said Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs.

AT&T made the statement last week in response to a question posed by FCC Republican Robert McDowell. McDowell asked AT&T about its policy on P2P traffic over its wireless network at an FCC forum in July.

AT&T tries to justify its actions of banning P2P applications stating "A small number of users of P2P file sharing applications served by a particular cell site could severely degrade the service quality enjoyed by all customers ... " Quinn said.

Quinn noted that AT&T has not terminated anyone because "the vast majority of our customers abide by their contractual commitments."

Source: Multichannel News

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Whats So Cool About Cuil?

On Monday the much-hyped new search engine Cuil (actually pronounced "cool") was touted as the next Google killer, fast forward a few hours and the bandwagon began to lose its stem as several issues plague the promising new site.

Founded by husband-and-wife team Tom Costello and Anna Patterson, a search-engine researcher from Stanford University and a Google technical lead, and Russell Power, another former Google executive, Cuil aims to rank the relevance of search results by content analysis rather than by popularity.

In terms of looks and performance, Cuil seemed to be very responsive and the start page looks good, at least when the service is up. It took me several hours to actually get a chance to try the service out as it seemed they where plagued by interruptions. "Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now," was the only message I got when trying to perform a search. "The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity."

Upon its release Cuil was hyped up by many bloggers and respected reports that seemingly had never even tried the service. However once the smoke and mirrors cleared and users began to actually test out the functionality many of the very same supports turned their backs and quickly jumped ship.

Among the many complaints from first time users was the lack of relevant search results. "I tried it for an hour," wrote a commentator on the TG Daily Website. "Any multi-word search generated completely useless results, which seemed completely random. By contrast, Google comes up with quality, relevant results. Cuil works about as well as if I typed random URLs into the browser. Absolutely useless!"

Not only are users experiencing unrelated search terms but they appear to also be getting hit with unrelated images. Because of quirks in Cuil's search algorithm, search results of some brands are popping up with pictures of competing or even irrelevant brands.

Cuil Vice President of Communications Vince Sollitto just told that Cuil's engineers are working on the problem. Sollitto indicated that the bug was a bump in the road of the company's challenge in trying to provide an image next to every search result.

So whats so cool about Cuil, so far as I see it not much. Cuil is boasting an index of 120 billion Web pages, "three times more than any other search engine." However Google supposedly has an index of over a trillion unique URLs.

The one area that Cuil actually succeeds in the cool factor is that according to their privacy policy they actually promises privacy: "When you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours."

Given time Cuil may be a great search engine, but its apparent that they have many issues and many challenges ahead before they can be the next best thing. Are they a Google killer? I highly doubt that. Google is to strong a force in the market and simply works too well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Microsoft Tricks Vista Haters With "Mojave", But Does It Really Mean Anything

Microsoft's "Mojave Experiment" was a marketing idea that Microsoft put into action about two weeks ago. The experiment has recently received a huge amount of coverage, mostly due to the fact that Microsoft duped people into believing they were using a new OS rather than just using Vista.

Over the course of three days, Microsoft showed 120 Mac, Linux, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 users in San Francisco an HP Pavilion DV 2000 with 2GB of RAM that had on it a "new" version of Windows, codenamed "Mojave."

When asked about their experience with Mojave, over 90 percent said they were impressed with what they saw. That's when Microsoft told them they had actually been using Windows Vista all along.

Currently very little is know about the projects participants, their previous experiences with Vista, amount of computer knowledge or why they had a negative perception of Vista. But the question remains, does duping people into liking the "flash" that Vista has to offer really mean anything?

If you hand select a PC install only a limited amount of programs on it and sit an average user in front of it they probably would be "wowed" by Vista. After all how many home users really look under the hood of the systems they are running. We don't know what types of tasks the participants were asked to do nor do we know how much control over the PC they actually had. But I'm guessing they were limited to basic tasks.

Now the argument can easily be made that despite early technical challenges, of which there were many, Vista's biggest problems today are primarily ones of perception. Users that tried out Vista in its early stages saw numerous issues many of which most likely have been fixed.

This however doesn't mean that these perceptions are wrong it simply means Microsoft should have worked hard to put their best foot forward and put together a better OS to begin with. I'd never completely write off using Vista simply because I had issues with it in the beginning if I did I wouldn't be using XP or any PC for that matter, once I build a system that I know will be completely Vista compatible and capable I'll probably try it again. The fact that I have 2 free copies sitting in my desk and XP is going to be getting harder to buy helps that decision a little!

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.