Monday, October 20, 2008

Rumor: Circuit City Possibly Closing 150 Stores, Massive Job Cuts

Rumors has it Circuit City is considering closing at least 150 locations and slashing thousands of jobs to avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Wall Street Journal is citing sources close to the company that say drastic measures may be taken to put the electronics retailer back on course. Circuit City is reportedly considering closing 150 stores and cutting thousands of employees. The move would allow Circuit City to liquidate $350M USD in assets and possibly avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Circuit City is currently the nations second largest electronics retailer behind Best Buy. However so far this year, shares have lost 90.7 percent of their value. With the looming financial crisis one can only guess that they'll be hit even more in the months to come.

Earlier this year Blockbuster made a takeover bid for just over a billion dollars. That bid was later withdrawn, with Blockbuster citing market changes.

One thing is for sure, with the recent closing of CompUSA should Circuit City close it doors Best Buy will be sitting even higher atop the food chain. They'd almost have a monopoly as one of the only remaining nationwide brick-and-mortar electronics stores. Personally I never shop either place. Stores like Fry's and Newegg file my needs at a cheaper price.

Radeon HD 4830 Spotted

ati logoSome early reviews of Radeon's new HD 4830 are coming across the web and so far the numbers look impressive.

The Radeon HD 4830 features are listed below:
  • ATI RV770 LE graphics processor, made on 55nm silicon process(by TSMC)
  • 256-bit GDDR3 memory bus
  • 575 MHz GPU core, 1800 MHz (900 MHz actual) memory
  • 512 MB memory
  • 640 Stream Processors, DirectX 10.1
  • Supports ATI Crossfire X
  • Supports UVD 2.0 hardware video acceleration

The early numbers from VR-Zone show the HD 4830 uutperforms the GeForce 9800 GT and at what is expected to be a very reasonable price tag of less than $150. More information and benchmarks are expected later this week when we hit the official release date for the new GPU but for now here are a few of the early reviews to check out;

NVIDIA Responds To Chip Failures, Well Sort Of

nvidia vs ati
A good old fashion playground pissing match has begun over Nvidia's chip failures and "chip packaging".

The finger pointing began last week when Neil McLellan, AMD's director of packaging and interconnect technologies, offered The Tech Report his insight and opinions about Nvidia's chip failures.

McLellan claims AMD has a superior chip package design because it uses a specific set of materials, including eutectic solder bumps. In his view, Nvidia chips have failed because they use (supposedly) more fatigue-prone high-lead bumps and because, he asserted, Nvidia cares less about packaging technologies.

Chip packaging is the electronic component assembly, from solder bumps to chip insertion. The solder bumps connect the silicon GPU die to the rest of the package. It is these bumps that AMD claims "could be the cause" of Nvidia's chip failures. High-lead bumps can handle more current, but AMD thinks they're more prone to fatigue and need "comprehensive reliability engineering to be used successfully."

So far Nvidia has yet to explain its recent issues with chip failures, but late last week they did respond to AMD assertions. In a letter to The Tech Report Nvidia writes:

NVIDIA has a world class chip operations team, and has delivered over 1 Billion devices (and over 1 trillion bumps) over 14 years, in the most advanced processes, to the most demanding customers. NVIDIA is the leader in the graphics industry in innovation and has delivered technology over the years that companies like ATI and Intel have benefited from.

In his recent commentary on chip packaging, Mr. McLellan makes a number of speculative assertions about NVIDIA's people, products and philosophy. In his interview McLellan asserts that High lead bumps are more prone to fatigue. What he fails to note is that AMD currently uses High lead bumps on their CPU line -- a device well known to undergo high thermal stress, and also go through lots of power cycling.

The choice between High Lead and Eutectic is complex. There are trade-offs in using one vs. the other, as even Mr. McLellan points out. The electromigration issues associated with printed eutectic bumps can affect long term reliability of a high current device. Electromigration is when a high current causes metal to separate over time, and creates an open circuit. This is one of the main reasons why so many devices are still manufactured with High lead bumps today.

In fact, 10s of billions of semiconductor devices have been shipped with High Lead bumps by world class companies including AMD, Intel, IBM, Motorola and TI.

While McLellan implies that AMD is unique in its use of a "power redistribution layer," this isn't true. In fact use of a power redistribution layer is industry practice, and has been used in every flip chip GPU NVIDIA has shipped.

NVIDIA is committed to delivering lead free devices by the 2010 requirement. Our engineering team has been working on this important initiative for the past 18 months, and is fully engaged in this effort with our manufacturing partners.

NVIDIA uses industry standard packaging material and we have passed all industry standard (JEDEC) component package qualifications. We stand behind our products and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure the best visual experience.


While Nvidia took a defensive stance and fired back a few jabs at AMD, not once in the letter did the company explain why its GPUs are failing. The letter talked about High lead bumps and how Nvidia passes the JEDEC component package qualifications, but nowhere in Nvidia’s statement was there any kind of hint about current GPU problems. The omission of a clear response prompted, The Tech Report to contact Nvidia’s General Manager Ujesh Desai and GeForce Senior VP Jeff Fisher to get a better clarification.

"There is no evidence that this issue exists in desktops as we know them. And in fact, Mr. McLellan has no evidence to even imply that. The fact is that lead bumps—he’s saying that lead bumps will fail, and therefore you should expect to see failures on everything, and that’s completely out of balance from an educated operations guy like he is. . . . I think most industry people would say lead bumps are not a cause of failure and are in fact very reliable. And his soda-can analogy and attempt to drag in desktops is irresponsible from our view and a huge reach."

GeForce General Manager Ujesh Desai didn’t provide an extensive answer, only pointed out that the current GPU failures effect a small percentage of notebooks. As for upcoming products such as the new GeForce 9400M chipset in Apple's new MacBooks. Fisher stated plainly, "You can rest assured that Apple has been aware of all of the science that we've developed around this issue and would not be launching the most important product in their history with a product they felt was at risk." Desai later added that Nvidia is "taking the necessary steps to ensure that all the Nvidia chips currently in production don't exhibit this problem."

Californians Sue Microsoft Over Xbox 360 Flaw

Here in California we will sue at the drop of a hat. So it comes at no surprise that a group of disgruntled consumers have filed a class action suit against Microsoft over what is being called an abnormally large number of "General Hardware Failures" (also known as the Red Ring of Death due to the three flashing red lights around the power button) in the Xbox 360.

The lawsuit filed on September 19 by Reshelle Cable of Folsom, Calif., alleges that an abnormally large number of the consoles have suffered from the flaw, and that Microsoft new about the issue but concealed it, in order to better compete with the rival gaming consoles such as the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.

As evidence, the lawsuit presents articles from a variety of gaming publications, including dailygamesnews.com, VentureBeat, Digital Media and Yahoo! Each of these articles states that Microsoft knew as far back as November 2005 that over 50% of Xbox 360 consoles were defective (emphasis added because that's an insane number in an industry where 3% or so is the accepted norm).

The objective of the lawsuit is to obtain an order forcing Microsoft to pay the affected Xbox 360 owners with all profits made from the console by publicly announcing and implementing a refund program in the state of California.

FBI Undercover Sting Nets 56 Arrests From "Dark Market" Forum

Last week the FBI announced the conclusion of a two-year undercover operation targeting members of the online “carding” forum known as Dark Market.

In their press release the FBI says their joint two-Year undercover operation resulted in 56 arrests and $70 million in economic loss prevention.

"Carding" forums trade stolen credit card information and other personal information often obtained through phishing or other online schemes; the term can also be used to refer to the process of verifying the validity of stolen credit card accounts by making discreet purchases.

Cyber criminals using this forum (Dark Market) represented a virtual transnational criminal network spanning numerous countries who were involved with the buying and selling of stolen financial information including credit card data, login credentials (user names and passwords), as well as equipment used in carrying out certain financial crimes. At its peak the Dark Market website had over 2,500 registered members.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Shawn Henry said, “In today’s world of rapidly expanding technology, where cyber crimes are perpetrated instantly from anywhere in the world, law enforcement needs to be flexible and creative in our efforts to target these criminals. Leads in many of these investigations take us to the online world of Internet forums, where criminals go to engage in the business of selling and trading innocent person’s credit card numbers and other personal information. By joining forces with our international law enforcement counterparts, we have been, and will continue to be, successful in arresting those individuals and dismantling these forums. The arrests this week in the U.K. are a good demonstration of the coordination taking place today between the FBI, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and other law enforcement agencies around the globe.”

The FBI conducted this operation with the assistance of multiple domestic and international law enforcement partners, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, Turkish National Police – KOM Department, Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police in Wiesbaden), and the Landeskriminalamt Baden – Wuerrtemberg (State Police of Baden Wuerrtemberg).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playboy Dumps DVDs For Online Content

In order to cut costs by nearly $12million Playboy Inc announced they will cut their DVD production in favor of distributing content online.

Despite the fact that Playboy is the world's most widely read adult entertainment magazine it has been showing some losses in the recent tough economic crisis. In August, Playboy posted a second-quarter loss of $2.1 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with net income of $1.9 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 14 percent to $73.4 million.

Last month, tycoon Hugh Hefner was advised to cut back on staff as his empire struggled to cope during the deepening economic gloom. The move will cost the company 80 jobs and $2million in restructuring charges. However Playboy has said that it expects to see some benefits from the cuts in the fourth quarter of 2008, and the full effects next year.

Christie Hefner said the company will continue to deliver more content digitally as it exits the DVD business in phases over a few months to concentrate on selling that content online. Hefner said of the 80 jobs being eliminated, 25 were already open.

Google Adds New Features To iGoogle

Google has released its latest upgrade of iGoogle with new gadgets and features that promise to make your Google personalized homepage a little more friendly.

"We've rolled out an updated design for iGoogle to all U.S. users, which includes full canvas views for gadget and support for full feed reading," said iGoogle engineer Matt Gundersen in a statement on the Official Google blog.

Full canvas views is the new feature that when clicked on will expand your widgets across the entire page, making it much easier to use each individual widget. Google has said not all of their widgets support full canvas views yet but they are working on updating the ones that don't. Here is a full list of the gadgets that currently do.

Along with the new canvas view users will notice that the old tabs at the top of iGoogle have been replaced with a lefthand navigation bar. There is also a new Gmail gadget that lets users read full emails and perform simple actions like send or reply to emails without leaving iGoogle.

Currently the upgrade is only for U.S. users, but Google has promised that the iGoogle upgrade will be available in other countries shortly. The are also promising more canvas gadgets created by developers and more new features on iGoogle soon.

Update - Oct 18th, today Google posted a tour of all the new iGoogle features

Vista SP2 Due Out Before Windows 7

Microsoft has created a place holder Knowledge Base Article related to the forthcoming SP2 releases. The article has sparked rumors and peaked interested that Microsoft may have already shipped beta versions of SP2 to select hardware and software partners along with early builds of Windows 7.

History suggests that the service pack will arrive before the next release of Windows, meaning that we could see Vista SP2 sometime soon, given that Microsoft wants Windows 7 out the door as soon as possible.

In a blog post Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet blogs claims sources have provided the following information:

  • Microsoft’s goal is to deliver both SP2 releases before it delivers Windows 7 in order to lessen confusion among users as to whether to deploy Vista and Windows Server 2008 — or to wait for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 (a k a Windows 7 Server). Currently, Microsoft is believed to be attempting to RTM Windows 7 in the second half of 2009. The Softies have said Windows Server 2008 R2 is on track for 2010.

  • Because Microsoft is trying to keep Windows client and server code in lock-step, Windows Server 2008 was built around the Vista SP1 codebase. That’s why the first standalone service pack for Server 2008 is being called SP2. As many customers still are reticent to deploy a new OS until the first standalone SP goes out, Microsoft also is pushing to get SP2 for server out there to convince these users to consider upgrading.

  • The biggest deliverable in SP2 for Windows Server 2008 will be the integration of the Hyper-V bits with the server OS.

According to a spokesperson for the Vista team: “Microsoft is working on a second Windows Vista server pack (Windows Vista SP2) and will share more details in the coming months.” A spokesperson for the Server team says “The comment (above) serves for Windows Server as well; Microsoft is not commenting further on the timing/release plans for WS08 SP2 at this time, but will share more details in the coming months.”

Vista user might be looking forward to the release of SP2, but it sounds like most of people have a "wait to see" attitude and are going to hold off until Windows “7” makes its debut. According to Gartner survey data 61 percent of consumers are skipping Windows Vista all together – a lot of these people are comparing the release of Vista to the release of Windows ME. Technology aside, it’s the timing, and no need for it right now – seems to be a general consensus among those wanting to skip.

The timing of the release of Vista's second service pack and the upcoming release of Windows 7 has left some speculation that Windows 7 might just be a supercharged version of Vista SP2. Microsoft has already confirmed that Windows 7 will be based on the current Vista OS shell and Steve Ballmer'ss recent comments, "Windows Vista is good; Windows 7 is Windows Vista with cleanup in user interface [and] improvements in performance," can leave you wondering.

When asked if Windows 7 will be a major release or just a minor polishing of Vista Ballmer took exception to the idea, stating "It's a real release, because it's a lot more work than a minor release. It turns out you can [do] more than just a minor release in what is essentially a two-and-a-half-year period of time. There's no reason to do just 'a minor release' in two and a half years."

I guess we'll just have to wait and see how big these supposed changes are, or if Windows 7 is indeed just a refined version of Windows Vista. I for one will be holding onto my XP as long as I can.

Google Webmaster Tools Helps Website Owners Fix Broken Links

Google Webmaster Tools features tons of great items to help webmasters. Today Google announced the addition of another great tool to help website owners find and fix broken links.

The new tool, the "Webmaster Tools Crawl" shows a list of URLs that when selected by a visitor show up as a 404 error or ‘file not found’. Webmasters can fix these broken links through Webmaster Tools Crawl error sources. Crawl error sources displays the source URL containing the broken link to their site -- no matter where it exists on the web.

Along with the addition of the "Webmaster Tools Crawl" Google a introduced a new "file not found" widget, (aka the 404 widget) which allows users to add a small piece of code to their sites that will change your typical 404 message to a page with a URL suggestion, search box, and links to existing sitemap and parent directory

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Read Write Web Shows Glimpse Of How Much People Make In Blogs & Social Media

Read Write Web conducted a survey amongst 20 "top tier" bloggers and social media consultants (that they claim to know and trust) to find out what kind of money they make with their blogging gigs. The agreement was for RRW not to disclose their names, or companies they work for in exchange for the bloggers themselves to be honest about their earnings.

Unfortunately only 10 of the so called "top tier" bloggers responded, giving us a very small cross section of the blogging community.

"We hope that no one will be too angry with us if these numbers lead their employees to feel newly shortchanged and protest," says RWW's Kirkpatrick. "These folks are at the top of their field."

So, How Much Do Top Tier Bloggers and Social Media Consultants Get Paid? According to RRW's survey the low end of the scale was $10 per post for what respondents considered very short posts, with $25 per post being the going rate. One person said they were paid $80 per post! One respondent said they were paid $200 per item of long-form writing; bloggers often do other kinds of writing as well.

In-house/Full-Time bloggers reported annual pay rates ranging from $45k and $55k with benefits (!) up to $70k, $80k and $90k with bonuses. While Social media consultants reported hourly consulting rates from $150/hr to $300/hr or monthly rates of $2k to $4k per engagement.

The survey was limited to bloggers who write for other blogs and not blog owners which was a little disappointing. I'd like to have seen a larger cross section of the blogging world, as well as seeing a little insight into what some of the "top tier" blog owners make. But it is interesting to see some of the numbers that came out.

John Chow, created a similar post to this one on his blog. As always John is nice enough to share with his readers his monthly earnings and noted that he averaged $543 per blog post last month.

Nvidia GPUs Used To Crack WiFi

According to SCMagazine a team of Russian Hackers reportedly broke through WPA and WPA2 encryption using a brute force attack coupled with Nvidia’s GPUs.

Global Secure Systems has said that a Russian's firm's use of the latest NVidia graphics cards to accelerate WiFi ‘password recovery' times by up to an astonishing 10,000 per cent proves that WiFi's WPA and WPA2 encryption systems are no longer enough to protect wireless data.

David Hobson, managing director of GSS, claimed that companies can no longer view standards-based WiFi transmission as sufficiently secure against eavesdropping to be used with impunity. He also said that the use of VPNs is arguably now mandatory for companies wanting to comply with the Data Protection Act.

He said: “This breakthrough in brute force decryption of WiFi signals by Elcomsoft confirms our observations that firms can no longer rely on standards-based security to protect their data. As a result, we now advise clients using WiFi in their offices to move on up to a VPN encryption system as well.

“Brute force decryption of the WPA and WPA2 systems using parallel processing has been on the theoretical possibilities horizon for some time - and presumably employed by relevant government agencies in extreme situations - but the use of the latest NVidia cards to speedup decryption on a standard PC is extremely worrying.

Friday, October 10, 2008

MacBook Pro Hit By Faulty NVidia Chips

Apple confirmed yesterday that some of their MacBook Pros have been hit by faulty chips from NVidia.

Apple has said users facing issues with their MacBook Pro having distorted video or no video issues is likely due to faulty 8600M GT graphics chips. The specific models affected were all made between May 2007 and September 2008, and include all 15- and 17-inch models equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors.

Apple will repair any of these computers free of charge up to two years from the date of manufacture, or refund your repair cost if you've already had the problem fixed paid for a repair.

Symptoms:

In July 2008, NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, NVIDIA assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within two years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

What to look for:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

Specific products affected:

  • MacBook Pro 15-inch and 17-inch models with NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors
    • MacBook Pro (17-Inch, 2.4GHz)
    • MacBook Pro (15-Inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
    • MacBook Pro (Early 2008)
  • These computers were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008
Products Affected

MacBook Pro, models with NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors

Resolution

If your MacBook Pro is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, please take it to an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) for evaluation, or call your local Apple Contact Center. Before visiting the Genius Bar at the Apple Retail Store, please make a reservation.

Apple is issuing refunds to customers who may have paid for repairs related to this issue. Please contact Apple for details on the refund process.

Note: If your MacBook Pro is not experiencing any of these symptoms, you do not need to contact Apple.

Fallout 3 Already On Torrent Sites

According to reports at Ars Technica and Gamasutra the Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3 is already available for illegal download on torrent sites, a whole three weeks before the game’s scheduled release.

According to a report from GamesIndustry.Biz, the game has already been downloaded at least 2,000 times. This coming in spite of the fact users would need a modified 360 would be needed to even play the game.

Bethesda Softworks just announced earlier this week that Fallout 3 had gone gold, which may mean a leak of the game’s code took place at a manufacturing plant. Either way it looks as though the cat is out of the bag. There have even been reports of live streaming videos of users and their first experiences with the game.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

ASUS Launches the G71- World's First Quad Core Gaming Notebook

Earlier this week ASUS announced the world's first Intel Quad Core Gaming notebook — the ASUS G71. From the specs the G71 looks like its going to be quit the gamer! However early price puts the ASUS G71V-A1 core 2 duo equipped laptop at around $2k, so be prepared to hand over some cash for all the performance as the quad core will likely be considerably higher.

asus g71

Thew G71 is packed with a rather impressive array of high performance components, such as a 17” Crystal Shine high brightness display with a response time of 8 ms, powered by a NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GT GDDR3 512 MB graphics card. The G71 also features up to 4 GB of DDR3 1066MHz system memory coupled with dual hard disk drives of up to 1 TB (500 GB x 2)—enabling users to enjoy multimedia entertainment and games while on the move.

ASUS G71 Specifications:
  • CPU Options
  • Mobile Intel® PM45 Express Chipset +ICH9M-E
  • Intel® WiMAX/ WiFi Link 5100
  • Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate
  • Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium
  • DDR3 1066MHz SDRAM, up to 4GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GT with 512MB GDDR3 VRAM
  • Intel® Turbo Memory Technology with 2GB NANDFlash(optional)
  • 17" WUXGA, High Brightness, Color Shine
  • Dual hard disk drives and single hard disk drive (optional);
      1 terabyte (500 GB x 2) 5,400 rpm
      640 GB (320 GB x 2) 5,400 rpm
      500 GB (250 GB x 2) 5,400 rpm
      400 GB (200 GB x 2) 7,200 rpm
      200 GB, 7,200 rpm
  • DVD Super Multi Double Layer/ Light Scribe/ DVD combo / Blu-ray DVD writer
  • 2-megapixel swivel web camera
  • Built-in Bluetooth™ V2.1+EDR(optional feature)


Direct Console 2.0
Direct Console 2.0 is an all-in-one gaming control interface that allows users to select from three processor speed settings depending on their mode of usage. The same interface also includes controls for Direct Messenger, enabling communication utilities such as Instant Messaging (MSN™), Meeting and E-mail notification. The gaming hotkeys enable users to launch their favorite games with a single touch and execute in-game commands on-the-fly. The chassis of the G71 also features a programmable lighting system, which lights up and blinks during in-game events. These lights can be configured through the Direct Console 2.0, providing the user with a pyrotechnic-like ambience while in the game.

Direct Messenger
Users can now read their emails and communicate via Instant Messaging (MSN™) through the Direct Messenger. Acting as a secondary display, it displays email notifications, instant messages, battery reserves and system loadings in real-time even during a game in progress. This allows users to keep in touch with their friends and family while multitasking between various applications.

Entertainment and Style on the Move
The G71 incorporates several entertainment features that promise to give users a gaming experience like none other. Altec Lansing speakers equipped with a subwoofer deliver excellent sound reproduction, further complimented by Dolby™ Home Theater. A 2.0 megapixel webcam allows users to communicate visually through Skype™ or MSN™; while a dedicated game keyboard layout provides them with strategically placed movement keys on a full-sized keyboard—granting them quick access to their in-game inventories and allowing them to issue commands in the shortest time possible. These features combine to provide an entire host of gamer-centric features for users to immerse themselves in a world of audio and visual entertainment with style.

Fun for Everyone
The G71 may have the sheer power to sate the needs the most serious of gamers, but it is also very suitable for those who prefer to play games on a more casual basis. Attaching ASUS' innovative Eee Stick—a simple plug and play gaming solution that allows users to interact with the game by translating their hand motions into corresponding movements onscreen—for example, will instantly transform the G71 into a mobile gaming console. The easy-to-use and family-friendly Eee Stick—which works with all of ASUS' notebooks—consists of an Activation stick, a Navigation stick and a 2.4GHz RF dongle. It has a broadcast range of up to 10 meters, allowing users more leeway for physical movement. Boasting three modes of operation, the Eee Stick can be used with a myriad of game genres, ranging from sports and shooting, to action and beat 'em up games.


Source: ASUS

Rumor: Apple Shipping $800 MacBook

The we is a buzz about the possibility of a new $800 Macbook. The rumor is fueled by reports at the Inquisitr sitting a source that has already received the new pricing list.

The Inquisitr claims that their source, an Apple retailer, has already been given the new price lists for Apple's upcoming laptops and that there are 12 price points ranging from $800 to $3100. Current laptops are said to have only 8 retail price points: 3 Macbooks (starting at $1099), 3 Macbook Pros and 2 Macbook Airs.

Duncan Riley, the author of the post, said he exclusively got the dirt from "a source we would categorize as reliable, would have access to such information, and who has been accurate in the past."

The folks at MacRumors seem a bit skeptical. Arnold Kim writes, "While The Inquisitr has no prior track record with Apple rumors, the owner of the site and author of the report is a relatively established blogger. One potential cause for doubt is that their source claims that "retail outlets usually get the price lists 10 days before products hit the market" which is not typical. Historically, price lists have appeared as early as a few days ahead of launch. The longest lead time in recent memory was about four days prior to a Monday iMac launch."

Apple has been cutting prices on some of their products so it isn't out of the realm of possibility. If anything I'm leaning towards a lower end product, I doubt the specs would blow us out of the water. But I guess we'll just have to wait until Oct. 14th to see if the rumor is true or not.

Comcast Offers Free Basic Cable For A Year

In an attempt at snatching up new subscribers ahead of a government-mandated digital TV switch-over on Feb. 17, Comcast will be offering new customers free basic cable programming with another paid Comcast service, such as Internet or phone.

Comcast said new customers who choose not to subscribe to additional Comcast services can get basic cable for just $10 a month for a full year.

Basic cable is pretty much just that, the basics, in most areas you'll receive 20 to 30 channels, including free-to-air local broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX as well as shopping and local public TV channels.

Cable companies are looking to cash in on some of the confusion over the government-mandated switch-off of analog TV signals next year. Studies have shown there is still a great deal of confusion over the switch and cables companies figure they'll offer a "cheap and easy" solution to get new customers. Basic cable does not require any new equipment, which will be a plus for many customers, however you'll still need to have cable installed.

After the digital changeover on Feb. 17, households currently watching TV for free over-the-air will no longer receive analog signals. The majority of these households will need to purchase a new digital converter box. The U.S. government is subsidizing a digital-to-analog converter box that plugs into an existing TV for those that do not have digital televisions, that have digital television without a digital tuner. Consumers can buy the box through a government coupon program, which goes toward buying the box at retail prices of around $40 to $70.

For more information on the digital TV transition and the DTV coupon program please visit out previous posts: Digital TV Converter Box Program - Upgraded Guide To Buying Digital Converter Boxes

YouTube Adds "Click-To-Buy" Feature

YouTube has partnered with Amazon and iTunes to to incorporate an e-commerce element into its video pages. "Click-To-Buy", places links on pages allowing users to, at the click of a mouse, buy and download anything from music, books, games and other products related to the content they are viewing within the YouTube video directly from the YouTube platform.

"Today, we're taking our first steps to providing YouTube users with this kind of instant gratification, by adding 'click-to-buy' links to the watch pages of thousands of YouTube partner videos," YouTube said on its Web site. "Click-to-buy links are non-obtrusive retail links, placed on the watch page beneath the video with the other community features."

So along with rating, sharing, and commenting on videos, YouTube users can now click on links to buy songs, books, and movies featured in online videos. For example, EMI's official video for Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" now includes "Download this song" links to Amazon's MP3 Store and Apple's iTunes Store.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Firefox "NoScript" Extension Blocks Clickjacking

According to Giorgio Maone, an Italian security researcher who wrote and maintains the Firefox extension "NoScript", the latest release of NoScript, version 1.8.2.1, will stop so-called "clickjacking."

NoScript is a small application that integrates into Firefox. It blocks scripts in programming languages such as JavaScript and Java from executing on untrusted Web pages. These are the scripts that security researches have warned could be used to launch an attack on a PC.

Clickjacking is largely made possible due to a fundamental design feature in HTML that allows Web sites to embed content from other Web pages, Maone said. Nearly all Web browsers are vulnerable to a Clickjacking attack. However adding the NoScript extension will allow users to block the majority of scripts running on a page, thus lowering their chances of being "Clickjacked".

The new improvement to NoScript, called ClearClick, can detect if there is a hidden, embedded element within the Web page. It then displays a warning message asking the user if they still want to click on it. Maone said ClearClick will likely stop all Clickjacking attempts. NoScript is only for the Firefox browser.

Security researchers Robert Hansen and Jeremiah Grossman, issued the warning about clickjacking late last month. Earlier this week Adobe released an advisory to users about a "Clickjacking" workaround for Flash Player. Following that warning Hansen received the ok to release some of the details about possible Clickjacking scenarios.

Michael R. Farnum, of ComputerWorld, reports on his first NoScript clickjacking warning.

I upgraded to 1.8.2 (I think it was yesterday), and I have already received a clickjacking warning. The picture is below. The URL is obfuscated purposefully by me since I didn't want anyone jacking around with the site (it is a secure site that requires a password - hmmm).

noscript clickjacking

So my question is this: Is this a coding error of some kind on the site, or is it a false positive? Is this something that is going to be happening to a lot of people using FF and NoScript, or did I just get lucky? Of course, one might ask if it was actually an attack. I doubt it because (like I said above) the website is a secured site that is password protected, but you never know. I am not a developer, so I don't want to go any further than that, but I am looking into contacting the developer of the site to see if they can find anything (or if they even care). If I hear anything, I will post an update.


From the information and image posted above it would appear as though the NoScript extension does work, however as Farnum said it might show a few false positives. Unless of course the site he was visiting was indeed being "Clickjacked".

Sonim "World's Toughest Phone" Coming To America

Sonim's ultra-rugged GSM cellphones have been touted as the "world's toughest phones". They've survived being dropped from a 13-story building and shot at with guns, and still keep on ringing. Now, the California-based company finally plans to bring their phones home to the US with the upcoming XP3, which will be available next March from several rural U.S. carriers.

Designed for blue-collar workers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Sonim XP3 is as close to indestructible as a phone gets. It's waterproof, can withstand a 6-foot drop onto concrete, operates in extreme cold down to -4 degrees and heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sonim's chief executive, Bob Plaschke, said it can actually run at temperatures down to -40 degrees and survive a 9-foot drop (not to mention that one, 13-story fall.) It's impervious to almost anything, including "micro-particles." It has 2.5 days of talk time and an astounding 2 months of standby on its huge 2200 mAh battery.

The U.S. version will be a quad-band EDGE, GSM phone with GPS, Bluetooth, and flashlight mode. It has a glare-resistant 128x160, 65k-color screen. It isn't going to be a true smart phone, but it can run Opera Mini so you can surf the web while you are out on that hick in the wilderness. It will have a 3-megapixel camera with geotagging for still photos, but no video capability. It doesn't play music, but the speakerphone that is relatively distortion free.

The phone is protected by a 3-year, no-questions-asked guarantee. Meaning if you find a way to break it, you get a new one. From what I've seen these things are tougher than nails so good luck on that one!

The videos below are of the Sonim XP1, as you can see they are extremely tough phones.





Is Ad-Sponsored Gaming Here To Stay?

Admittedly I'm not a huge gamer, yeah I know how can I be a geek and not be into gaming? Don't get me wrong I enjoy gaming but I don't enjoy the price tag that comes with trying to build a great gaming rig, or having to shell out tons of cash to purchase the latest games. So for me the new trend of ad-supported gaming is perfect and I personally hope the trend continues.

Last year Ubisoft became one of the first publishers to offer its games for free including Far Cry, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Rayman Raving Rabbids and Ghost Recon.

The trend has continued to build momentum with more and more publishers releasing some of their older games, along with a few newer ones, as freebies with in game ads. Just last week a few new ad-sponsored games appeared online including; Full Spectrum Warrior, Area 51, The Suffering and Beyond Good & Evil.

According to Massive Inc., developers of the advertising network embedded in many games bought today, the system of in game ads does actually does work. In a test conducted by Nielson entertainment, the average purchase considerations - based on ad campaigns that ran on the Massive network - increased by 41 percent. Additionally, the average ad recall increased by 41 percent whereas average brand familiarity increased by 64 percent. The study included over 600 gamers playing Need for Speed: Carbon on the Xbox 360 and PC.

So it would seem as though this is a win win situation for publishers. The advertising is working and more people like myself are willing to try out new games, thus furthering their reach. This being the case we might actually see more free ad-supported games down the road.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Clickjacking Details Emerge

SecTheory CEO Robert Hansen has finally go the ok from Adobe to release more information about the new threat that he and fellow security researcher Jeremiah Grossman of WhiteHat Security found.

"First of all let me start by saying there are multiple variants of clickjacking," "Some of it requires cross domain access, some doesn't. Some overlays entire pages over a page, some uses iframes to get you to click on one spot. Some requires JavaScript, some doesn't. Some variants use CSRF (cross-site request forgery) to preload data in forms, some don't. Clickjacking does not cover any one of these use cases, but rather all of them."


Hansen breaks down several scenarios and ways in which clickjacking can be used, so I strongly suggest reading his full post on his blog, as I really wouldn't do his explanation justice.

Adobe has posted an advisory to address concerns about clickjacking and they have stated they are preparing a critical a patch for Flash Player. In the meantime, Adobe advises IT administrators to change the AVHardware Disable value in client mms.cfg files from 0 to 1 to disable client Flash Player camera and microphone interactions. It also recommended users go to the Global Privacy Settings panel of Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager and select the "Always deny" button.

For a video demonstration of a clickjacking attack against Flash checkout researcher Guy Aharonovsky's blog post "Malicious camera spying using ClickJacking". He does note that Adobe has fixed this issue but it is still interesting to watch and gives you a good idea of how clickjacking works.

Judge Continues Restraining Oder in MPAA, RealNetworks Case

A federal judge on Tuesday upheld an earlier decision and banned RealNetworks from selling RealDVD, its DVD-copying software.

Federal court judge Judge Marilyn Patel issued a tentative decision in the case on Friday requiring that sales be halted pending a hearing Tuesday. Today she renewed that decision blocking all sales of RealNetworks' RealDVD software.

After a three-hour hearing she kept her decision intact so she could have additional time to learn for sure whether RealDVD circumvents encryption software in violation of the DMCA.

Judge Patel suggested there was enough evidence, at least for now, of a DMCA violation. "I'm not satisfied that in fact this technology is not in violation of the DMCA," Patel ruled from the bench.

In their argument against a temporary restraining order, Real claims that it is complying with the terms of its DVD-CSS (Content Scrambling System) license and that the studios have no claim under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

RealNetworks attorney James DiBoise countered: "This is literally a bit for bit copy of the dvd and continued by saying consumers had a "fair use right" to copy DVDs for personal use.

More information on the lawsuits: MPAA, RealNetworks Sue Each Other Over DVD Copying

GMail Now Offers "Mail Goggles"

According to the GMail Blog Google Labs has come up with a feature called Mail Goggles which may help prevent you from sending those late night emails that you might later regret.

The new feature which is of course a play on the term "Beer Goggles" (I'm sure we all know what that means), was created by Jon Perlow. John's goals was to help you curb those crazy drunken emails that sometimes go out late at night and on weekends.

Mail Goggles
by Jon P

Google strives to make the world's information useful. Mail you send late night on the weekends may be useful but you may regret it the next morning. Solve some simple math problems and you're good to go. Otherwise, get a good night's sleep and try again in the morning. After enabling this feature, you can adjust the schedule in the "General" settings page.


By default, weekends and late nights is the only time Mail Goggles is active, that should be the time you're most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it's active in the General settings, just in case you feel the need for better protection.



When enabled Gmail will ask to you to complete a few rather "simple" math problems in a limited period of time before you can send out your email. Get the answers wrong and you simply can't send the email. You'll be given the advice of "water and bed" and an option to try again with new questions. Thew difficulty can be changed from 1-5, 5 being the hardest. (I didn't see much difference)



No folks this is not a joke, the new feature is live and can be added to your GMail right now by going into your GMail settings. Look under Labs and about mid way down the page you'll see an option to enable it. Was you have it enabled you can go back to the general settings and adjust the time and days you want Mail Goggles to be active.

In my opinion this is pure genius! In fact I wish they had this option built into other sites, Myspace, Facebook ect. I know I for one have been guilty of posting a few messages that probably shouldn't have been after a night out on the town. While I really doubt it will prevent anyone from sending out their drunken messages the idea is still a good one. If nothing else it at least makes you think a little before you can actually send those drunken emails.

iPhone 2.2 Possibly Receiving Google's Street View And More

According to Mac Rumors a couple of new features have been buried within the iPhone 2.2 beta. Among them are support for Google Street View for the Google Maps application and support for Japanese emoji icons, a popular feature for Japanese phones.

According to MacRumors the most recent firmware beta provided to developers listed "compatibility testing" as the only change. The new version is labeled iPhone OS 2.2 beta 1 and is accompanied by a new beta of the iPhone SDK (build 9M2611). It would seem as though Apple is trying to sneak a few apps in under the radar.

Hey Steve it looks like the cat is out of the bag!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Apple Hits 10 Million iPhone Mark

Mac Observer has found that Apple has sold an estimated 10 million iPhones, reaching and potentially surpassing Steve Jobs' original stated goal.

By collecting iPhone IMEI numbers and recording them on a big Google speadsheet, AFB and Investor Village’s AAPL Sanity were able to determine that that Apple has made just about 9.2 million iPhone 3Gs thus far.

Estimates show that Apple has likely sold something close to 7.6 million 3G iPhones since its launch in June. That, when added to the 2.42 million first generation iPhones sold this year before the 3G’s release, means Apple is past the 10 million mark, as Apple 2.0 points out.
Its not likely that Apple will be releasing a press release just yet. These numbers are a bit skewed. They represent iPhone manufacturing numbers, not actual sales numbers. These calculations don’t take into account Apple and AT&T store inventory, display/demo and replacement units. However it looks like Apple has come pretty close to reaching the 10 Million mark, if not by now they certainly will by the end of the year.

iPhone users can contribute to the project by entering the first five characters of your iPhone’s serial number and your IMEI number (minus the last two digits) at AFB and on the Google speadsheet.

RealDVD Temporarily Shut Down

Chris Albrecht at NewTeeVee is reporting that the RealDVD site has been temporarily taken down until at least Tuesday when a judge will review the matter. This comes following lawsuits filled by both RealNetworks and the MPAA last week. (see previous story)

RealNetworks gained a minor legal victory by having the case moved from a Central District Court of California in Los Angeles (the studios’ home turf) to a Northern District court.

RealNetworks is asking for a
declaratory judgment against DVD Copy Control Association, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., NBC Universal, Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., and Viacom, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that the RealDVD software fully complies with the DVD Copy Control Association’s license agreement.

eBay Selling Stumbleupon For $75million

stumbleupon logoAccording to TechCrunch eBay has enlisted the services of Deutsche Bank to unload Stumbleupon, asking price a cool $75 million.

eBay acquired Stumbleupon a little over a year ago at the price tag of $75 million so it looks as though the are just trying to get their money back. However recent reports have showed that Stumbleupon's traffic has stagnated. StumbleUpon says usage is growing at a fast clip, despite website traffic, because most users never visit the site after downloading the toolbar.

In an attempt at driving more traffic Stumbleupon has moved away from their traditional toolbar that users must download to "Stumble" onto user-recommended content. Instead opting for a web-based browser toolbar which allows users to use Stumbleupon without registering or installing a toolbar in your browser. Just visit StumbleUpon's new homepage stumble a page and the toolbar will show as a small frame above pages.

stumbleupon toolbar

Additionally StumbleUpon is introducing a partner program for sites that will take advantage of the web toolbar. Partner sites like National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and The Huffington Post can integrate a StumbleUpon toolbar into their site that "stumbles" content from within the site. The new program will increase page views on partner sites by introducing users to new content, while helping StumbleUpon reach a broader audience increasing the amount of people looking at their ad content.

StumbleUpon’s 2008 revenues are estimated to be $6 million or so with an incredibly high advertising satisfaction rates. For every 20 or 30 Web pages users see when they click the "stumble" button they are served one paid result. Approximately 75 percent of its paid results have a positive rating, compared to an overall favorability rating of 85 percent for its non-paid content.

T-Mobile Launches G1 Emulator

Can't wait to get your hands on the T-Mobile G1, maybe you missed your chance to pre-order, or just want to check it out and see what the hype is about T-Mobile has released a pretty full-featured emulator just for you to play around with. It doesn't have everything, and a few features just give an error message, but it'll give you a good taste of what's to come when the phones are finally released on October 22nd.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Figure Your Gas Expenses With Cost To Drive

cost 2 drive logo
Planning a road trip in the near future or just want to know how much its costing you to drive to and from work? Cost To Drive is a web application that can help you figure out how much cash to take out of the ATM before you hit the road.

Cost To Drive lets you select from a long list of automobile makes and models dating back to 1999. Just select your car from the list, plug in the locations for the start and end of your trip. You can use a rough estimate, like city to city or you can use exact addresses.




The web site will then show an estimate of total distance, drive time, amount of gas needed (in gals,) the average cost of a gallon of gas and the estimated total cost. The figure is obtained by looking at the mpg for your car and the average price of gas in various spots along your route.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

SEC Gets Involved In Fake Steve Jobs Heart Attack Story

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating a fake story that appeared on CNN’s iReport site last week which claimed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack.

The SEC's enforcement unit is trying to determine whether or not the iReport.com posting was intended to push down the company’s stock price. CNN is cooperating with the SEC’s probe, network spokeswoman Jennifer Martin said. The report is “not true,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said in an interview.

Apple shares fell as much as 5.4 percent immediately following the rumors of Jobs's heart attack. Leading the SEC to believe there might have been some price manipulation going on. This isn't the first time rumors over Jobs's health affected the price of shares this year. Rumors and speculation over Jobs's health and a possibility of cancer contributed to a 51 percent drop.

The news story was originally posted onto CNN’s iReport by someone under the nickname of johntw. The story has since been removed. iReport is described by CNN as "Unedited. Unfiltered. News" and the parent company makes "no guarantee about the content or coverage" on the site. Content is "entirely user-generated," said CNN spokeswoman Jennifer Martin.

This was the text posted:

Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.

According to CNet News what hasn't been widely reported yet is that iReport was not the first place those behind the false report tried to spread it. Arnold Kim, who operates the blog, MacRumors.com, reported late Friday that someone submitted the same rumor to his site using an anonymous IP address. In his case, Kim did the thing any good journalist would do and did some research on the report and decided the rumor was a fake. Later, he tracked the report and found that it was being circulated by members of online message board, 4chan. Kim also found the rumor circulating on Digg, but he said Digg users voted the story down, meaning they also were skeptical.

The stock swing caused by today's erroneous report drew renewed calls for Apple, which has said only that Jobs's health is a "private matter," to be more forthcoming, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at Yale University's School of Management.

"Leaving it to rumor and speculation is reckless," said Sonnenfeld, who has personally owned Apple shares since 1997, the year Jobs returned as CEO. "If he is healthy, they should say so. If he's not, we should know that too."

So who is to blame for the story going mainstream? And why didn't mainstream news services discredit the report before any damage was done?

Silicon Alley Insider has a big blame in the story catching credibility. SAI published this headline: "Apple's Steve Jobs Rushed To ER After Heart Attack, Says CNN Citizen Journalist." SAI was sure to shield itself by saying "the report hadn't been substantiated but reporters were checking it out."

According to Henry Blodget, SAI's founder and a former well-known tech analyst to that point, no other mainstream media outlets had published anything about Jobs' health. Blodget said SAI tried to contact Apple and CNN representatives to confirm the story prior to publishing but were unable to reach them. SAI decided to post the item--with all the disclosures about it being unconfirmed--anyway.

Blodget stands behind his decision to run the unconfirmed rumor saying "By the time we found it, the story had more than 100 Diggs and 50 comments and was all over Twitter. We didn't know whether the story was true, and we had no immediate way to confirm or debunk it. We viewed it as significant, however, both for those who care about Apple and Steve and as a first meaningful test of "citizen journalism."

Blodget himself says his desicion to run the story was based purely on the reactions he saw on Digg and Twitter. To call this poor journalism is an understatment. Obviously there was no evaluation of the information since the information rellied upon a single post from an annoymous uuser at iReport.com, which is hardly a reputable source. In iReport's "About" section is written this statement: "CNN makes no guarantees about the content or the coverage on iReport.com."


Friday, October 03, 2008

Play Crysis Wars Free Oct 10-12

Publisher Electronic Arts and developer Crytek have announced that gamers will be able to play Crysis Wars, the multiplayer version of Crysis Warhead for free during Columbus Day Weekend.

Those interested in checking the game out can register at www.mycrysis.com come this Monday (October 6th) and download a copy of Crysis Wars. A key will be automatically saved to their profiles and will allow you to play the game online from October 10th at 11:00 AM til October 12th at 11:59 PM.

In order to prep for this "Weekend Wars" event, anyone who downloads the free copy of Crysis Wars will be able to play LAN games with their friends during the week.

Crysis Wars includes:
  • Three diverse multiplayer modes including InstantAction, TeamInstantAction and PowerStruggle
  • 21 maps ranging from large battlefields to smaller, more intimate battlegrounds with a diverse array of settings ranging from beaches to graveyards
  • All weapons and vehicles released within the Crysis Universe

Windows XP Receives Another Reprieve

According to the Register OEMs have been given an additional six months to sell PCs running Windows Vista with the ability to downgrade to Windows XP using an accompanying recovery disc. OEM partners originally had up until January 31 2009 to provide the Windows XP Professional recovery media with machines running Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate. Now they have until July 31, 2009.

Although the largest PC makers can't officially sell XP anymore (except for ultra-low-cost machines), they can sell Vista Ultimate and Vista Business machines with XP discs in the box, or even Vista machines that are "factory downgraded" to Windows XP.

Microsoft officially stopped selling Windows XP on June 30, though it continues to be available as retail supplies last. XP has continued to be a top seller on Amazon and other etailers for some time, and several versions of XP are still among Amazon's top 25 best-selling software titles.

WriteSomething - Endless Senseless Collaborative Book

It just so happens I Stumbledupon this site one night on accident. I meant to click a bookmark on my toolbar instead hitting the Stumbleupon button. I was dropped onto a page of tangled sentences, words and phrases that I thought had no relative meaning, I mean after all a black and white page with a bunch of random sentences doesn't and all to often misspelled words doesn't mean much.

While its true taken at face value they really have little meaning once you look at the whole you you gain a greater understanding of what you are viewing. Randoms thoughts of random people from around the world. If this doesn't offer an interesting insight nothing can.

About the site:

The authors (creators to be more exact) created WriteSomething the "Endless senseless interactive book", as a project with a plan to create the longest web page in the world. Then take those pages created entirely of random mussing of passeries and create a printed book

"This is an experiment. Our aim is to make a book that will be created by spontaneous and unlimited creativity of our visitors. The book will have thousands of authors..."

The site was created January 2007 by founders Tamara Razov and Anton Petrovic, also founding members of a well-known online museum of discarded photographs, Skarabej.com.

The web page allows visitors to enter text which is immediately published without validation. Visitors do not have to think about meaning, correctness or quantity of written text. Simply type whatever comes to mind and publish it.

The project follows the automatic writing technique, where the process of writing is meant to happen very fast, without thought, so the writers themselves aren't sure what will be put on paper (or in this case, web page). The final result is a long string of sentences which are, one by one, creating the finished work. In this case the work is done by the visitor, all at random all anonymous.

Currently the page boasts some pretty impressive statistics. These statistics are updated every hour so they won't be exact. Here is a link to view the realtime stats.
  • Total number of posts: 414,126
    • Posts in Croatian language: 343,081> (82.8 %)
    • Posts in English and other languages: 71,045 (17.2 %)
  • Total number of deleted (SPAM and inappropriate) posts: 47,795
  • An average post has 64 characters
  • Overall text size: 55.8MB
  • Most posts, 6463 were published on Dec 19, 2007
  • On Mar 1, 2008 there was a recorded maximum of 4609 users online
  • Average posts per day: 651
  • Top 10 countries by posts count
    1. Croatia; 338,604 posts
    2. United States; 44,267 posts
    3. Bosnia and Herzegovina; 27,337 posts
    4. Unknown country; 7,657 posts
    5. United Kingdom; 6,962 posts
    6. India; 4,474 posts
    7. Canada; 4,193 posts
    8. Germany; 3,448 posts
    9. Serbia; 3,006 posts
    10. Slovenia; 2,000 posts


Personally I think its an interesting project. An old English teacher of mine use to make us site and do automatic witting projects and I always thought it was interesting to actually see where my own thoughts headed. This brings it to a larger scale and opens then door to show you what others are thinking.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Steve Fossett Wreckage Found, But No Body

Yesterday we reported that items possibly belonging to millionaire adventurist Steve Fossett were found in a remote area of California near Mammoth Lakes.

The items which were found by hiker Preston Morrow, were discovered approximately 1/4 mile away from were searchers found the wrecked plane.

"They're definitely authentic belongings, it was his pilot license, his drivers license, it was also a membership card to the national aeronautic association which gave Stephen an award a couple of years ago," said Sir Richard Branson, Fossett's friend and fellow adventurer.

Today Madera County Sheriff John Anderson confirms that the shattered remains of Fossett's single-engine Bellanca had been spotted during an aerial search of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains in California late Wednesday.

Rescuers later reached the plane on foot and confirmed it was Fossett's aircraft but found no human remains at the crash site. The crash site was described as "indicative of a high-impact crash, which appears to be consistent with a non-survivable accident."

Most of the plane's fuselage disintegrated on impact, and the engine was found several hundred feet away. The craft appears to have hit the mountainside head-on at a high rate of speed.

The fact that no human remains were found and that his personal items where located so far away have led many to wonder if its possible Fossett faked his death. Sheriff John Anderson said "It's quite often if you don't find remains within a few days, because of animals, you'll find nothing at all."

We may never know for sure what happened, but I guess the lack of remains will leave the door open to conspiracy theorist. The NTSB has said it could be weeks, perhaps months (if ever) before the cause of the accident was determined.

Source: Associated Press

GIMP 2.60 Released

The GIMP developers released the latest version of their free open-source graphics editor GIMP 2.6.0 today.

The new release comes with significant changes in the editor's interface and back-end operations as well as support for 32 bits per color channel and a new GEGL-based backend (turned on and off in the preferences). Other new features include polygonal and sectional selection with the Free Select Tool, better handling of windows, toolbars, docked tools, and menus, and a "brush dynamics" sub-menu that gives creators serious control over their pixel-pushing tools.

There are new things for a plug-in developer to enjoy as well. For example, procedures can now give a detailed error description in case of an error, and the error can be propagated to the user. GIMP 2.6 also further enhances its scripting abilities. In particular there is now a much richer API for the creation and manipulation of text layers.

For a full list of changes checkout the GIMP 2.60 release notes.

GIMP 2.6 is of course a free download for Windows, Mac, or Linux platforms, though it's only (officially) available as source code at the moment. The source can be downloaded from ftp.gimp.org. The GIMP team doesn't officially provide any Windows binaries however contributors often create them and they can be found in the Downloads section.

I haven't used the new release yet but from looking at the screenshots the new UI looks amazing! I strongly suggest anyone looking for a very powerful graphics tool grab a copy and try it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Rent Anything, Anywhere, Anytime With Zilok


While reading my daily dose of news I ran across the PC World article "100 Incredibly Useful and Interesting Web Sites". Browsing the list I saw very few sites I had never heard of, that is until I reached the very bottom. That is where I found Zilok.

Zilok, the "to rent anything online" site, allows users to offer for rent basically anything they own to anyone at anytime, and by anything I do mean anything.

Here is the break down on how it works:

Once registered on the website you can add any object you own, that is not covered in the prohibited items list, for rental purposes. You define the price, the area you can cover, and the rental conditions (time period, deposit amount ect). Zilok will issue for you a rental agreement that you will then use directly with the renter. There is a small listing fee for listing your items for rent, $0.10 per month per Listing Item plus a minor commission isn't bad.

A user (the renter) can use several tools to find what they are searching to rent including a search engine, a category directory or google map mashup. Once the renter identifies what they are searching for (an example with a Ducati 848), the renter will contact the owner and the closing of the rental will happen off site in real life.

Zilok currently does not provide a payment system or a third party deposit service. But like on standard marketplaces they have created a reputation system to filter through some of the mediocre and show power-owners or power-renters.

The service is open to both private individuals and professionals. So there is a good chance you'll find several of the high ticket items you might be looking to rent, like say a Bentley Continental GT or a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. At the same time you can rent small ticket items like this $9/day Push Mower. The list of items available is endless.

The idea is really not a new one and the name sounds a little funky, I'm not even sure how to pronounce it. But the site has built a pretty strong user base. They do have a pretty limited coverage area right now which of course will go up as more users find their way to the site.

I was actually a little surprised when I didn't see the Sacramento area covered. Even if your area isn't on the list do a search, as a search yielded one hit in my area.

For more details here is a full tour of Zilok explained as well as their blog with even more information.

MPAA, RealNetworks Sue Each Other Over DVD Copying

On Tuesday the MPAA and RealNetworks filed lawsuits against each other over a dispute about whether RealNetworks' DVD-copying software violates movie studios' copyrights.

The Motion Picture Association of America filed its suit in Los Angeles federal court, accusing RealNetworks of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by making it possible for people to bypass copyright protection and make copies of movies on a PC. The studio organization also asks the court to stop RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software. (MPAA Press Release - PDF)

The plaintiffs in the suit against RealNetworks include Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, General Electric Co.'s Universal, The Walt Disney Co.'s Disney studio, and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.

RealNetworks, on the other hand, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Northern California, asking the court to rule that the company's software fully complies with the DVD Copy Control Association's license agreement. The DVD-CCA develops the studio-sanctioned data-scrambling technology in DVDs that makes it difficult to copy the content. RealNetworks is a licensee. (RealNetworks Press Release)


The Nuts and Bolts of it:

The MPAA is alleging that the RealDVD software enables users to engage in an illegal practice known as “rent, rip and return,” where a person rents a DVD from a legitimate business like Blockbuster or Netflix, uses the RealDVD software to make multiple permanent illegal copies of the movie (they are illegal since you don't own the movie), and returns the DVD to repeat the process over and over again. The same scenario could occur when borrowing a friends' DVD collections, simply borrow the DVD, rip it to your PC and return it.
"The incentive for the consumer is obvious and all but overwhelming," the studios said in a request for a temporary restraining order. "'Why,' he or she may ask, 'should I pay $18.50 to purchase a DVD when I can rent it for $3.25 and make a permanent copy?'"


The problem is that RealNetworks has said the software only enables DVDs to be copied onto up to five computers. The one holding the main RealDVD license and up to four extra PCs holding program licenses and does not alter the discs' encryption technology meant to prevent wide-scale piracy. The cost involved includes $50 for the first retail copy as well as $20 for each additional license, who in their right mind is going to pay that just to rip and return DVDs?

RealNetworks claims that RealDVD does not remove or alter the CSS encryption and even adds additional DRM to the file saved on the hard drive. A ripped file supposedly cannot be played on another computer unless that computer runs another license of RealDVD (at the extra cost) as well. So in order to share these copies with anyone outside your licensed circle of PCs they'd also need to be RealDVD license owners.

The MPAA of course isn't agreeing with RealNetworks' argument. In its suit, the organization said RealDVD should be called "StealDVD." The group said the purpose of the copyright protection on DVDs is to prevent any copying of the content without the permission of movie studios. "The RealDVD software illegally circumvents this copyright protection system," the group said in a statement.

The movie studios have always claimed that illegal mass distribution of ripped movies across the Internet is their main concern. This scenario of illegally copying and sharing DVDs simply is not supported by RealDVD in any way. File sharers aren't going to shell out $50 for a program that relies on such a heavy use of DRM.

With the amount of freely available software available that will perform the same functions with extremely less limitation, it is hard to imagine a scenario where someone wanting to perform any of the acts that the MPAA are concerned would purchase RealDVD. Personally I really don't see why someone would purchase RealDVD to begin with.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Possible Steve Fossett Items Found

Items possibly belonging to missing aviator Steve Fossett have been found by hikers in a remote area of California more than one year after his mysterious disappearance.

Hiker Preston Morrow found a pilots license and a gliders license, both issued by the FAA, plus the membership card for the NAA along with a weathered Nautica brand sweatshirt and $1005 cash. The items were found two miles east of the Minarets near Mammoth Lakes.

Fossett mysteriously disappeared on a solo flight more than a year ago and has since been legally declared dead at the request of his wife. Since his disappearance a host of federal, state and local agencies, as well as several private groups have launched one of the most intensive hunts in national history.

A handful of searchers made a flyover of the Mammoth Lakes region over the past year, based on an unconfirmed reported sighting of his plane in the area, but found nothing. Today's hunt is the first extensive search of that area.

The fact that no trace of Fossett or his plane was found after his disappearance have given rise to numerous conspiracy theories, with British newspapers in July speculating he could have faked his death. (read the story here)

More on the found items:
SF Gate - Fossett items found near Mammoth Lakes
AFP - 'Steve Fossett items' possibly found in California: police

Microsoft SearchPerks Launches

Microsoft has announced the launch of its latest scheme to get users to stick with Internet Explorer and use Live Search a new program called SearchPerks.

The new program, which is limited to 1 million people and only runs on IE6 and above, rewards users for everyday searches. Users accumulate "tickets" instead of "points", for every search on Live.com, MSN.com, Windows Live Hotmail, or Windows Live Messenger, with a maximum of 25 "tickets" allowed per user per day.

The accumulated tickets can then bee redeemed for prizes such as an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller costs, for 5,500 tickets or 200 days of max Live Search usage. No that's not a joke, you'd need to use Live Search for 200 days before getting a new Xbox 360 controller.

For now, the rules of the SearchPerks program restrict it to U.S. residents with a Windows Live ID and a piece of software downloaded from the SearchPerks site. As previously mentioned only users of Internet Explorer 6.0 or later can use the program. As an incentive Microsoft is including a 500-ticket sign-up bonus, it will take them over three weeks to win a T-shirt and almost four months to win a cookery book through the program.

Registration is open through Dec. 31 and is available to the first million users to sign up. The game ends on April 15th, so anyone looking to score that Xbox game controller will have to hurry.

Sorry Microsoft, I could get behind the Live Search Cashback Program, but I'm not going to waste my time using IE and Live Search for a chance at a few crappy prizes. You'll need to come up with a better scheme or payout to get me to give up my Firefox and Google search.

Source: TechCrunch

Hyper-V Now Available For Free

Microsoft has released a free, low-footprint version of its Hyper-V virtualization software as it continues to chase the virtualization leader VMware. Hyper-V Server 2008, which includes only the Windows Hypervisor, Windows Server driver model and virtualization components, is now available for free download online.

Microsoft said on Sept. 8 that it would be give away its Hyper-V hypervisor. The annoucment came about a month after VMware released a free version of ESXi, its own hypervisor technology. VMware is feeling pressure from Microsoft and other vendors that are bundling virtualization with server operating systems however they still remain on top of the virtualization world.

ATI Launches Sub-$60 Radeon HD 4550 And HD 4350

AMD/ATI announced the launch of their new Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 graphics cards, both targeted to low-end graphics card segment.

Each card packs DirectX 10.1 support, an HDMI port with support for 7.1 channel audio, upscaling "beyond 1080p," and even support for ATI's CrossFireX technology in case you want to pair two of them up.

At the heart of the HD 4550 is the 2nd generation 55nm core, the RV710 GPU with an optional 256 MB GDDR2 or 512MB GDDR3. The new card will cost you $45 to $55 respectively. With 80 stream processors a core clock of 600MHz and a memory clock of 800MHz you get 96 GFLOPS of compute power, which isn't bad considering the MSRP on these cards.


HD 4550 Reviews:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Few Crazy Sites You Might Not Otherwise See

Here are a few sites that I've found while using Stumbleupon. I Stumbledupon a posting at Listropolis and thought I'd expand on what they already had. They range from wildly amazing to completely bizarre. Just a warning most all of these sites require flash and some require Adobe Shockwave.

  1. ZoomQuilt 2004, a collaborative art project that seemlessly integrates several scenes. You zoom through some random bizzare art works. This is not the original site, but it is the original file. There is also the ZoomQuilt II 2007, it showcase new art work that is a bit on the darker side.
  2. Treasure Box, this flash based game makes you work at moving the little red object ball down through the maze. You'll need to figure out what items to click on and where. A tip, timing and positioning are key in some areas.
  3. Superbad, a collection of random images and writing, click different object on each page takes you to a different part of what I'd say is the story line.
  4. Samorost 1 and Samorost 2, this is another zanny site where as you must click the proper progression of links in order to proceed.
  5. Medijate, the site was supposedly designed to help with meditation however some of the music is a bit creepy. It does offer some cool mouseover effects and unique imagery.
  6. Nobodyhere, this site is really inexplicable, it has random musing and random thoughts that really led nowhere. But its interesting to see where it might take you.
  7. Sugar Free Ink, a progression of links takes you through some odd mainly black and white art work. The background music is pretty cool. As a suggestion instead of randomly clicking the image use the tab key to highlight links., otherwise you might be going back and forth forever.
  8. Hoogerbrugge.com, there are several odd animations featuring the character, Hoogerbrugge, performing different acts.
  9. Neave.com, featuring work from interactive designer Paul Neave. Everything on this site is absolutely amazing!
  10. ertdfgcvb.ch, this shockwave based site features some really cool effects and a few games that are pretty interesting.
  11. SpecialDeFects, is another site that is pretty indescribable. It features several things in one amazingly well designed site. Click the little white ball to change from feature to feature.
  12. DontClick.it, this site was designed to study how we interacte with web pages and the habitual use of mouse clicks. Once past the first page you should be able to navigate the entire site without a click of the mouse.
  13. dhteumeuleu.com this is great site composed of visual effects using dynamic html animation only, complete with source code. All these scripts can be used freely under under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

These are just a few of my favorites. I know there are several more great sites out there and I'd love to see some of them. So if anyone has any that aren't listed please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll check tthem out.

AC/DC Gets Their Own Version Of Rock Band

The first band to get to get its very own version of MTV's video game "Rock Band" will be AC/DC. The hard-rock icons will be featured in "AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack," an expansion to the popular music game that will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii.

The 18-song Track Pack will contain songs from AC/DC's "Live at Donington" DVD (recorded in 1991) and is scheduled to ship in November for $40; it will be released in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in December. Despite the game's designation as a Track Pack, the Wal-Mart Web site indicates that it is a "stand-alone" effort, not requiring ownership of either "Rock Band" or "Rock Band 2" (it requires instruments, of course).

Full track list for "AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack," according to Wal-Mart.com; all songs are from the "Live at Donington" DVD:

"Thunderstruck"
"Shoot to Thrill"
"Back in Black"
"Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"
"Heatseeker"
"Fire Your Guns"
"Jailbreak"
"The Jack"
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
"Moneytalks"
"Hells Bells"
"High Voltage"
"Whole Lotta Rosie"
"You Shook Me All Night Long"
"T.N.T."
"Let There Be Rock"
"Highway to Hell"
"For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)"

Source: MTV.com