Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Google Adds Analytics To Google Apps

Google Apps users can now use Google's Web Analytics tools to track how users are working with Google Docs and Google Sites.

According to a Google Enterprise blog post Monday Google has added the functionality of Google Analytics for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition administrators. Admins can link their Google Analytics accounts to Google Apps through the Google Apps administrative control panel. Just go to the 'Advanced Tools' tab, click 'Setup Google Analytics' and enter the profile ID number from your Google Analytics account to begin collecting usage data.

By linking Google Docs and Google Apps to Analytics employers can track how many employees are logging in to view documents such as policy changes or announcements. It also allows for tracking of which employees are and aren't logging in.

Twitter Squatting?

twitter logoYes you heard me Twitter Squatting! We are all familiar with the, not so popular, act of CyberSquatting or Domain Squatting, where a user registers a celebrity or company name or trademark in the hopes to sell that name at an inflated price. That trend has now hit popular social media cites like Twittter (and presumably others)

PC World reports the latest trend is "Twitter Squatting". As evidence PC World notes that every single-letter TwitID is taken, some (very few it seems) are legitimate, but X, Y, and Z are place holders. They also checked out common words and companies. For instance Coke, Pepsi, Nike, and Chevrolet are all taken by place holders. It woulds seem they are more than likely looking to cash in by selling them to their respective companies.

Twitter user darrenkopp pointed out over at Slashdot that he already discovered evidence of Twitter squatting. Check out this Twitter account. The only update is:
Hiya. Please contact me if you'd like this Twitter account. glennbecktwitter@gmail.com
It would seem users wanting to protect their own brand, or name had better hurry and register them with as many social media sites as possible. Most companies grab all their domains associated with their names. Ex: I own several of the top-level domains for this site including .org, and .biz. Why not add to that and register all the social media names you can. It might save you some time and money down the road.

AT&T Sets Monthly Caps On Internet Usage

AT&T will use a limited market in the Reno, Nevada area to test the idea of monthly caps for internet subscribers.

Starting sometime this month, AT&T will limit downloads to 20 gigabytes per month for users of their slowest DSL service, at 768 kilobits per second. The limits increases incrementally with the speed of the plan, up to 150 gigabytes per month at the 10 megabits-per-second level.

AT&T joins Comcast and other ISPs around the country that have already started adding caps to monthly usage. ISPs see the added caps as a way to curb a small number of "bandwidth hogs" who use a lot of the network capacity. For instance, 5 percent of AT&T's subscribers take up 50 percent of the capacity, spokesman Michael Coe said Tuesday.

"This is a preliminary step to find the right model to address this trend," Coe said. He also stated, "The company may add another market to the test before the end of the year."

Customers will be able to track their usage on an AT&T Web site. The company will also contact people who reach 80 percent of their limit. After a grace period to get subscribers acquainted with the system, those who exceed their allotment will pay $1 per gigabyte, Coe said.

AT&T's limits are far lower than those set by Comcast earlier this year. Comcast announced back in September that they'd be imposing a 250 GB monthly cap for all users. Two other ISPs, Time Warner Cable Inc. and FairPoint Communications Inc., are planning or testing traffic limits as low as 5 gigabytes per month.

AT&T calculated that a user with a 150 GB cap could download approximately 88 online movies, at 1.7 gigabytes each, or 32 DVD-quality movies, assuming the size of each is 4.7 gigabytes. Personally I think those numbers are a bit of wishful thinking. Either way you tack on other usage, music downloads, YouTube videos ect. and that 150 GB cap might be easily reached.

ASUS Planning 12-inch ZX Series Notebook & $200 Eee PC in 2009

According to reports at DigiTimes ASUS is planning to introduce a 12-inch ultra-thin notebook that has a similar design to the recently launched high-end Eee PC 10.2-inch S101 model.

The new product will be part of the company's notebook line-up and although the difference between notebooks and netbooks is blury, Jerry Shen, president of Asustek emphasized that any device with a display larger than 10.x-inches is not a netbook.

According to earlier reports by DigiTimes Shen has also promised that ASUS will launch an Eee PC priced at $200 in 2009. At the same time they will be phasing out 7- and 8.9-inch Eee PCs to be replaced by 10-inch models. That way, the president believes, ASUS will be able to take a full 30-percent of the netbook market next year, estimated at between 6 and 7.5 million units.

It sounds like a $200 10-inch Eee PC might be in the works, but we won't be holding our breath.

Monday, November 03, 2008

DNA Testing Confirms Steve Fossett's Remains Found

According to reports from the Associated Press DNA testing has confirmed that bones found at the crash site are those of Fossett.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson today said DNA tests on two large bones by the state Department of Justice positively identified them as the remains of the millionaire aviator who disappeared last year.

As we had reported last week, two large bones along with several more personal effects had been discovered near the crash site of Fossett's Bellanca 8KCAB.

The news finally gives closure to the story which began over a year ago in September 2007 when Fossett was reported missing after the plane he was flying over the Nevada desert failed to return.

AMD 'Shanghai' Seen At Retailers

AMD's first 45-nanometer chip, the "Shanghai" quad-core Opteron, has made its unofficial debut at resellers. Online resellers PC Connection and Buy.com are both listing the Opteron Quad-Core 8384. Neither store actually says they are available, in fact Buy.com says they are out of stock, but it gives us a good view at the price point.

Here is a listing of the current prices:

AMD Opteron 83xx series:
  • Opteron 8380 (2.50 GHz) - $1,600-1,770
  • Opteron 8382 (2.60 GHz) - $2000-2,180
  • Opteron 8384 (2.7GHz) $2,285-2,500
  • Opteron 8378 (2.40 GHz) - $1,240-1,360
AMD Opteron 23xx series:
  • Opteron 2380 (2.50 GHz) - $775-815
  • Opteron 2382 (2.60 GHz) - $930-1,020

Roll out of the chip is expected officially on November 13, according to industry sources. Its expected that a total of nine CPUs with core frequencies between 2.3-2.7GHz will be offered initially. With 7 more chips being rolled out sometime in 2009, five 55W low-voltage server CPUs – three dual cores and two quad cores – along with two 105W high-performance models – one dual core and one quad core.

The new "Shanghai" chips feature support for DDR2 800MHz memory, a 6MB L3 cache, support for Hyper Transport 3.0, improved virtualization technology, and a die shrink from 65nm to 45nm.

Windows 7 Hits Torrent Sites

It didn't take long for Microsoft's newest OS to show up on Torrent sites, in fact leaked copies of Windows 7 hit the Internet only hours after Microsoft handed out a preview copies to attendees at the Professional Developers Conference.

Sites like Pirate Bay and Mininova show as many as 1,400 seeders of the 32-bit version of Windows 7 and 200-300 seeders of the 64 bit version. Unlike the bogus torrents listed earlier this year, these versions should be "legitimate" copies of the pre-beta Windows 7 build.

Personally I'm staying away from it. I'd like to get a first hand look at the new OS but I'm not big on torrents, nor am I big on trying out an OS that isn't even in beta. Once it actually hits beta maybe I'll be able to get a copy to try out until then I'll have to rely on reports from others that have tried it out.

Subsidized Netbooks For $99?

Manufactures of subnotebooks like the Asus Eee PC, the Dell Mini 9 and the HP 2133 Mini-Note maybe soon be teaming up with mobile carries to offer subsidized netbooks. To get your $99-199 (likely pricing) netbook you'll need to commit to a two-year mobile broadband contract. Think of it much like the contract of your cell phone, you pay a cheaper price for a phone and sign and extended contract.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that HP is already talking to carriers about such an arrangement but didn't say which carriers. Reports suggest that HP is likely talking to AT&T, which has already confirmed a deal with Lenovo and Ericsson to sell full-size ThinkPads at a $150 discount if customers sign up for a two-year contract on a qualifying $60 AT&T DataConnect.

You can bet that if HP is talking to carriers, so are other companies like Dell and Asus.

Obviously the Lenovo thinkpads are full size notebooks, in fact the deal is for all three of the ThinkPad SL notebooks and all notebooks in Lenovo's T and X series. So none of them are ultra portable. However the deal shows the level of commitment that the companies are willing to make. So you can assume they'd carry the $150 subsidy over. At current pricing you could figure anywhere from $99 to the more likely price of $149-199.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Intel Core i7 Nehalem Reviews

intel core i7 logo
We've been waiting not so patiently for the last several months for Intel's newest CPU to hit the market. Well now Intel's Core i7 Nehalem has arrived and so have the early reviews. Listed below are reviews featuring the first three offering the Intel Core i7 940, 920 and 965 Extreme Edition. Pricing for the processors is not set yet but the estimates look fairly steep.

The 965 is an Extreme Edition processor which is said to cost an estimated $1410, while the 940 is roughly half as expensive at $720, and the 920 costs just $370.


The Core i7 940 and 920 chips are clocked at 2.93GHz and 2.66GHz respectively, while they both boast a 256KB L2 cache along with an 8MB shared L3 cache. The on-die memory controller for these two chips supports triple-channel DDR3-800/1066 memory, while the QuickPath Interconnect supports a throughput of 4.8 GT/s.

The much more expensive Core i7 965 Extreme Edition processor features the same amount of L2/L3 cache, along with the same memory support. The key difference is in its clock frequency of 3.20GHz, while the QuickPath Interconnect throughput has been boosted to 6.4 GT/s.

Legion hardware's final thoughts probably sum it up best;
Wow … this is really all I could say when testing the new Core i7 processors, what an amazing piece of hardware. Despite having known the exact specifications for quite some time now, and already having had high hopes for the Core i7 series, it is fair to say they exceeded all of our expectations. After all, when you consider just how impressive the existing Core 2 processors are, who really thought that a little more than 2 years later we would see their demise to a greatly superior processor.

Rumor Update: Circuit City Closing 155 Stores

Last month we reported on the rumor that Circuit City might be closing 150 stores, it appears as though those rumors may indeed be true. The Consumerist, citing " anonymous insider tips", reported today that Circuit City indeed plans to close 155 of its 711 stores nationwide.

According to their sources, employees of the affected stores were told this morning about the closings, which will be officially announced tomorrow at 8am. The store closings will be effective 12/31/2008 and according to at least one of the reported tips, Firedog and car installation employees will likely be fired within 48 hours.

As for what will happen to the closing stores, The Consumerist provided this commentary from an insider:

A team of liquidators will be coming in and taking control of the store. They will set prices as they see fit, and price match guarantee, employee discounts, CC circulars, and the new one price guarantee are all out the window. The price you see is the price you will pay, although it ought to be at a bit of a discount. Firedog services as well as car audio installation are gone immediately. Returns and warranties have to be taken to a CC that's not closing. No new stock will be delivered, we just gotta crank away and sell off everything, and when it's sold, we hit the road.

For more information as well as a scanned copy of a letter CC'd to The Consumerist by a tipster head over to The Consumerist.

To compound the issue, Gizmodo has reported that Sony merchandise headed for delivery to Circuit City stores has been halted in mid transport.

Circuit City took a major blow today, according to a reliable inside source, when Sony's merchandise that was being delivered to nationwide Circuit City distribution centers was stopped in transit and ordered to return to Sony "among worries that Circuit City couldn't pay for the shipments." This development means that Circuit City is not getting any Sony products replenished until they are able to convince Sony that their credit line is reliable. And with as bad as things are looking for Circuit City at the moment, that day may never come.


It has now been confirmed by Circuit City that they are indeed closing several stores and liquidating those assets. In a press release released today the company sites many factors that have contributed to the company's liquidity position. These factors include the following:

-- Waning consumer confidence and a significantly weakened retail environment have impacted negatively the company's sales and gross profit margin rate to a greater degree than management had anticipated previously.

-- Following the company's second quarter results announcement, the company's liquidity position and the sharply worsened overall economic environment led some of Circuit City's vendors to take restrictive actions with respect to payment terms and the credit they make available to the company. Additionally, the recent disruption in the financial markets has contributed to certain of the company's vendors experiencing insurmountable challenges with obtaining credit insurance for the company's purchases. As a result of this and other considerations, certain of the company's vendors have set more restrictive payment terms than in previous quarters, including in some cases requiring payment before shipment. Vendors also have limited the credit available to the company for purchases, including in some cases not providing customary increases in credit lines for holiday purchases. While management is working diligently to secure the support of its vendors and believes it has maintained good relationships with these important partners, the current mix of terms and credit availability is becoming unmanageable for the company.

-- To date, the company has been unable to collect an income tax refund of approximately $80 million that the company believes it is owed from the federal government.

-- Due primarily to the weakened economic environment and its potential impact on the timing of sales of the company's inventory and costs and expenses associated with such sales, a recent third-party appraisal conducted for the company's asset-based credit facility resulted in a reduction of the estimated net orderly liquidation value of the company's inventory. This valuation adjustment was made despite the mix of merchandise remaining consistent with the previous appraisal in November 2007. This reduction has led to a lower borrowing base and reduced availability for the current period compared with what the company had expected previously.

James A. Marcum, vice chairman and acting president and chief executive officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc. said, "Since late September, unprecedented events have occurred in the financial and consumer markets causing macroeconomic trends to worsen sharply. The weakened environment has resulted in a slowdown of consumer spending, further impacting our business as well as the business of our vendors. The combination of these trends has strained severely our working capital and liquidity, and so we are making a number of difficult, but necessary, decisions to address the company's financial situation as quickly as possible."

Here is a list of stores that are closing: CC Closure List PDF

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sony Recalls 100k Notebook Batteries

For the second time in as many years Sony has announced that it will recall roughly 100,000 notebook batteries worldwide in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission, after several reports that the batteries could overheat.

Specifically, the recall covers 32,000 batteries sold by Hewlett-Packard, from Dec. 2004 through June 2006. The models affected include the HP Pavilion, the dv1000, dv8000 and zd8000; the Compaq Presario, models v2000 and v2400; and HP Compaq notebooks including thenc6110, nc6120, nc6140, nc6220, nc6230, nx4800, nx4820, nx6110, nx6120, and nx9600. Affected customers can visit HP's battery-replacement Web site or call (800) 889-2031 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

For Toshiba owners the recall covers laptops or batteries sold between April 2005 and October 2005. Models affected include the Satellite, models A70/A75, P30/P5, M30X/M35X, and M50/M55; as well as the Tecra, including the A3, A5, and S2. Customers can contact Toshiba at its battery-replacement site or call (800) 457-7777 anytime.

The Dell laptops covered by the recall were sold between Nov. 2004 and Nov. 2005. They include the Latitude 110L and the Inspiron 1100, 1150, 5100, 5150, and 5160. Dell customers can contact Dell via the company's dedicated battery-recall site or call toll-free (866) 342-0011 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

For more information checkout the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Google Announces Geo Challenge Grants

Google has announced the introduction of Google.org Geo Challenge Grants, a small grants program setup to provide nonprofits with the resources they need to take advantage of powerful and exciting online mapping tools.

Posted today on the Official Google.org Blog the program looks to help organizations use Google Earth and Google Maps to advance their work in the areas of global development, climate change and global public health.

David Bercovich, Project Manager Google.org writes "Together with the Google Earth Outreach team, we piloted the program with a small number of organizations, asking "what kind of online mapping work could you do with a small grant?" Every organization suggested a project that shares unique and useful information and tells a powerful story."

Here is an example of a project:

The Dreaming New Mexico initiative seeks to encourage adoption of clean electricity and to move New Mexico away from dirty, polluting power plants. Using the Google Earth API(browser plug-in), Dreaming New Mexico shows some of the choices available to New Mexico as it considers a move to sustainable clean energy. Click here to view the site.

Through Google.org, the Geo Challenge Grants program will be offering grants valued between $5,000 and $100,000, either directly from Google.org, or through grant recommendations from the Google.org Fund of Tides Foundation. These grants will be issued through an open application process - legally qualified, public charitable organizations with a compelling idea about how maps can help them work more effectively are eligible.

Smaller mapping applications requiring only static data might receive $5,000 in funding, while development of tools that enable many organizations to create maps might receive $100,000. Google.org is partnering with Google Earth Outreach on this program to help evaluate proposals from a technical standpoint and to help ensure the grants are successful.

How it works
  1. Think of ways in which mapping tools can help you be even more effective in your work.
  2. Apply and submit your proposal online here by December 22nd, 2008. We intend to do future submission rounds in the coming year, so if you miss this deadline, stay tuned for details on our next round.
  3. Our panel will make preliminary decisions and contact applicants within approximately 4-6 weeks of the submission deadline. A final grant determination will not be made until a due diligence review is completed and approved, and a formal grant agreement or award letter is executed. All grants are subject to compliance with all applicable laws.
  4. Grant recipients will receive funding and, as appropriate, information on technical resources.
  5. After grant funds are awarded, we'll review progress in 3 months and expect grant recipients to complete their map within 6 months.
  6. When maps are completed, we'll ask for an initial report on what what has been accomplished, and how grant recipients anticipate it will help them with their work. We'll also require grant recipients to post their maps online for anyone to see/access for free, unless there is a compelling reason why the grant recipient cannot do so.
  7. Then, 6 months later (1 year from receipt of funds,) we'll ask for a final report with feedback and metrics to understand the overall effectiveness of the map(s).
Who is eligible

Public, charitable organizations with a good idea and non-profit status in their country of incorporation are eligible to apply. You'll be asked to provide proof of your status as a non-profit, public charity as part of the application process. Please note that applicable laws may not allow us to make grants in certain countries or to certain entities.

Grant evaluation criteria
  • Potential impact toward your organization's goals.
  • Assessment of organization/team (organization's background, their work in the areas of Google.org's core initiatives).
  • Preference will be given to layers that directly complement at least one of Google.org's core initiatives.
  • Emphasis on the geo-spatial aspect of the organization's work.
  • Precise articulation of data sources and/or realistic plans to acquire data is critical. Preference will be given to proposals where either data already exists or the data collection plan is realistic and practical, given resources.
  • Quality of planning (the plan should include concrete, measurable and realistic goals given time, people, and money constraints).
  • Meets all applicable legal requirements.
  • Passes the necessary due diligence review.
Google.org is a hybrid philanthropy project created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004. They pledge to use Google massive resources, including 1% of Google's equity and profits in some form, as well as employee time, to address some of the world's most urgent problems.

Cybercrime Group Use Trojan To Steal 500k Bank & Credit Card Logins

Researchers at RSA FraudAction Research Lab have recently discovered that, dating back as early as February 2006, the Sinowal Trojan, also known as Torpig and Mebroot, has compromised and stolen login credentials from approximately 300,000 online bank accounts as well as a similar number of credit and debit cards. Other information such as email, and FTP accounts from numerous websites, have also been compromised and stolen.

A posting today on the RSA FraudAction Research Lab Blog shares details of a three year investigation following the the Sinowal Trojan and its possible ties to a Russion organzied cybercrime group knows as the RBN.

"Sinowal has been the subject of rumor and speculation in the industry, and little is known about its source. Some have alleged that it was owned and operated by a Russian online gang with past ties to the infamous Russian Business Network (RBN). Our data confirms the Sinowal Trojan has had strong ties to the RBN in the past, but our research indicates that the current hosting facilities of Sinowal may have changed and are no longer connected to the RBN."

RSA's findings on how Sinowal operates

Like other Trojans, Sinowal uses an HTML injection feature that effectively injects new Web pages or information fields into the affected victim’s Internet browser – and these injections seem like legitimate pages to the victim. Just as an example, Sinowal can falsely prompt an unsuspecting victim for personal information such as a social security number and other details which their bank previously pledged to never request be provided online. Even though a prompt like this is not a novel approach to stealing credentials and other information – what struck us the most was the amount of URL "triggers" that cause Sinowal to actually launch this prompt and other functions: Sinowal is triggered by more than 2,700 specific URLs, which means that this Trojan quickly moves into action when users access the websites of what are now hundreds of financial institutions worldwide.

Sean Brady, the product marketing manager for RSA's ID and access assurance group provided a few comments and a few more details in a PC World article.

"The sheer enormity of this makes this unique," said Brady. "And the scale is very unusual." All told, the gang behind Sinowal managed to obtain access to nearly half a million bank accounts and credit cards, a volume RSA dubbed "ruthless" and "extraordinary."

"And the fact that the Trojan was managed by one group through its history, and maintained for nearly three years is also very unusual," Brady said. RSA uncovered records that showed the Trojan had been in active operation since at least February 2006. "In malware life cycles, that's ancient, and to keep it up required a high degree of resources and effort."

The compromised data belongs to customers of hundreds of financial institutions within many regions of the world. RSA found affected financial institutions within North America (both the United States and Canada), Europe (United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and others), Asia Pacific (Australia, China, Malaysia, and others) as well as some countries in Latin America. However, they note that they found that no Russian accounts were compromised by Sinowal.

More Bones, Personal Effects Found At Fossett Crash Site

Madera County officials announced Thursday that searchers found two large human bones, a pair of tennis shoes, credit cards and Steve Fossett's Illinois state driver's license about half a mile east of a rugged spot where the millionaire's plane was discovered earlier this month.

The bones appear to be human, and DNA testing will determine whether they belong to the adventurer, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said at a news conference. (view video) This is the second reported discovery of bones near the crash site. DNA tests on those bone fragments showed that the fragments weren't human remains.

Animal chew marks were found on the driver's license and the shoes, Anderson said. He said the marks indicate that "animals possibly [moved] the body."

These latest items were discovered a little more than a half-mile from where Fossett's plane wreckage was found on October 1 and about a quarter-mile from where hiker Preston Morrow reported to have discovered the aviation identification cards with Fossett's name and $1,000 in cash in late September.

Its still uncertain whether or not Fossett died in the crash. But the discovery of more bones makes it more and more likely. Before this week's discovery, Anderson said, officials could not be certain that Fossett was dead.

"We could not categorically state that Steve Fossett perished in that crash because the only conclusive evidence our department had were those two aviation identification cards and $1,000 in cash," the sheriff said in a written statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been investigating the wreck, which was originally described as an "unsurvivable crash".

HDTV Prices As Low As They Can Go?

According to a display industry report from DisplaySearch TV OEMs are paying just about the cheapest possible price for their LCD panels, which in turn make up about 70 percent of the cost of a typical LCD TV. This means there is almost no wiggle room to lower costs, an indication that LCD TVs will be discounted as much as they possibly can this holiday season.

The report from DisplaySearch says that the price being paid for a 32-inch panel used inside an HDTV is just $223. However, the estimated cost to manufacture it is either $256 or $248, depending on whether the glass is being manufactured in an older "Gen 6" fab or a newer "Gen 8" facility.

Factor in the cost of depreciation and remove an accounting provision, the actual cash cost to manufacture that same 32-inch panel is either $221 or $218, just a few dollars lower than the sale price. A 42-inch full HD panel is just slightly better: a $425 sales price undercuts the $435 cost, including depreciation, and is above the $390 cash cost. This means that display manufactures are offering displays at or near cost. Great news for consumers, not so good news for manufacturers.

"TFT LCD panel makers face negative operating profits when panel prices are lower than the total cost," said Yoshio Tamura, senior vice president of DisplaySearch in a statement. "When the price approaches the cash cost, panel makers will suffer from cash out difficulties and take necessary steps to cut production and reduce capacity utilization. Despite this, our research shows that as long as panel prices approach the cash cost, we believe further panel price erosion will be limited."

To help panel makers recoup some profits, DispaySearch said that panel makers are expected to aggressively push their own suppliers to reduce costs, effectively cutting costs to move more merchandise.

Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch’s director of North American TV market research, predicts the following prices in the coming weeks:

  • 19-inch high-definition LCD: $199
  • 32-inch HD LCD: $399-$499
  • 40-inch 1080p LCD: $799-$999
  • 42-inch HD plasma: $599-$699
  • 50-inch HD plasma: $899-$999

If the pricing is accurate we'll see a significant savings over today's current pricing. Currently the least-expensive 32-inch LCD's hover around $499 with most prices over $599, if the predicted pricing is correct we could see those displays priced anywhere from $100-200 cheaper. DisplaySearch predicts even greater savings for larger screens, with nearly $200-300 in savings for screens 42" and above.

Source: PC Mag - NY Times Bits Blog

Special Beatles Video Game Planned

Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks, made it official today that Harmonix/MTV Games and Apple Corp will “create a brand new video game featuring the music of the iconic Beatles.” Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos also said that it’s not just a “Rock Band” song expansion pack; it will be “a new, full-grown, custom game built from the ground up.”

I repeat, this is not a "Rock Band" game, there are several erroneous reports floating around the web that this will be based on Rock Band. Both MTV and Harmonix are strongly stating that this game is a stand alone game, it will be compatible with Rock Bands instruments but that's it.

"It's not a 'Rock Band' game," Rigopulos said during a conference call, speaking for the MTV-owned studio behind the original "Guitar Hero" and the "Rock Band" series. "It's a new creative exploration of their music and a celebration of their legacy in a way that hasn't been done before." The developer added that it will be a "music-making game. ... There will be interactive performance of the music ... and stuff you haven't seen from us before."

Published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts, the game will be an unprecedented, experiential progression through and celebration of the music and artistry of The Beatles. It will cover the entire Beatles catalog, from their first album, Please Please Me (1963), to their last album, Let It Be (1970). The game will also incorporate elements of their career, but neither MTV nor Apple Corps. would comment on whether or not Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, or John Lennon would be playable.

According to the press release on the MTV Mulitplayer Blog the game was creatively conceived with input from Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, and enjoys their full blessing.

“The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out,” Sir Paul McCartney said.

“It gives me great pleasure to be part of The Beatles / Apple and Harmonix / Rock Band partnership,” said Ringo Starr. “The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that The Beatles’ legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerized world we live in. Let the games commence.”

Further details on the game itself were kept to a minimum, but the parties revealed that it is already in development and will be compatible with "Rock Band" instruments.

More details can be found at MTV News

Google To Use OCR To Index Scanned Docs

Google has announced that it will now begin including scanned documents in its search results.

Unlike standard text documents, scanned files don't contain any text data that Google's spiders can index. In a move to correct this issue Google has began to employ Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, converting photos (which includes scanned images or documents) into digital text files. These text files can then be searched and indexed by Google.

In the past Google would attempt to index these image files as well as possible, but could typically search only file titles and nearby metadata - not the contents of the documents. From now on Google searches will include the text within these scanned images in normal search results. When you encounter a scanned document you’ll be able to view it in its original form as a PDF, or as a converted text file (click “View As HTML”).

Google has provided a few searches for users to checkout the new system at work. Just click on these search queries. Note the document excerpt in the search results, along with the full text presented after the 'View as HTML' link:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Google Chrome Beta 3 Released

For those of you still interested in Google Chrome, Google has announced the release of Google Chrome version The information was posted yesterday on Google's Official Chrome Release Blog.

Mark Larson, Google Chrome Program Manager, says this release fixes some of the top issues people using the Beta release have faced, especially with plugins. Along with a fix for some plugins there are also a number of security patches as well as a few minor changes.

Security Update
  • This release fixes an issue with address spoofing in pop-ups. A site could convince a user to click a link to open a pop-up window. The window's address bar could be manipulated to show a different address than the actual origin of the content.
    Security rating: Medium. This flaw could be used to mislead people about the origin of a web site in order to get them to divulge sensitive information.
    Disclosed by: Liu Die Yu of the TopsecTianRongXin research lab.

Top Issues Fixed
  • Scrolling with laptop touchpads now works.
  • Improved performance and reliability for plugins (like Flash, Silverlight, QuickTime, and Windows Media). We fixed issues with video not loading, stopping after a second, and slowing down or freezing Google Chrome (100% CPU usage).
  • Fixed the 'chrome has crashed' message when you close a tab that was showing PDF using Adobe Reader 9.
  • We no longer store data from secure sites (they use https: and show a lock in the address bar) in your history. You can still search your history for the site's address, but not the contents on the page.
  • Improved performance and reliability for people who use web proxies (thanks to griffinz for the fixes).
Changes to how things look and work
  • The New tab, New window, and New incognito window options moved from the 'Control the current page' menu to the 'Customize and control Google Chrome' (wrench) menu. Thanks to Szymon Piechowicz for the patch.
  • 'New incognito window' always opens a new window. 'New window' always opens a new normal window. Both options are always visible on the wrench menu.>
  • The spell checker works on text input fields and underlines misspelled words. You can now add words to the spell check dictionary so they are not shown as misspelled (right click on a misspelled word and choose 'Add to dictionary...').
  • The download behavior for files that could run programs (exe, dll, bat, etc.) has changed. These files are now downloaded to unconfirmed_*.download files. Google Chrome asks you if you want to accept the download. Only after you click Save is the unconfirmed_*.download file converted to the real file name. Downloads that you never confirm are deleted when Google Chrome exits.

Users should automatically get updated in the next few days or you can open About Google Chrome (from the wrench menu) to get the update at any time. If you haven't tried out Chome yet, or like me tried it in its early stages and haven't been back but want to try it again, you can download it here.

Comodo Envisions "Trusted Internet"

The Comodo companies, makers of many great freeware application such as Comodo Firewall Pro, has announced their vision of a "Trusted Internet", a state that provides everyone increased online safety by introducing trust into every online interaction.

"We contend daily with the challenge of figuring out who and what to trust online," said CEO and Chief Security Architect of Comodo CA, Melih Abdulhayoglu. "The Internet has yet to achieve its full potential because we cannot tell the fraudsters from our friends. In 2008, Comodo has worked hard to combat this problem."

In Comodo's Trusted Internet, a users PC will automatically be able to find products or information from "reputable", "authenticated" merchants and "subject matter experts". Using Comodo's Trusted Internet tools our PCs will be able to vigorously and proactively defend our identities ensuring, in real time, that our information is safe and has not been compromised. Providing the ability to connect with websites, people and businesses with confidence. Creating a new level of online trust.

Comodo's goal is to deliver these tools to everyone, free of charge, as a what they see is a right not a privilege. "To reach this state, we intend to change behavior and help people move from not using PC security because they can't afford to using PC security because we are giving it away for free."

"In an environment of increasing threats, we must empower all stakeholders within the Internet with tools to deliver the right authentication information quickly at the point of need to protect users and critical assets," said Abdulhayoglu. "The Trusted Internet initiative addresses the industry's and public's most pressing needs for trusted online interactions. It introduces new security and authentication technologies to increase the power of the Internet to improve the lives of millions of people."

The Trusted Internet vision incorporates a variety of authentication and security technologies needed to provide mutual authentication between sites and visitors. Within a Trusted Internet, Comodo empowers users to verify site content, verify site identity, and verify business practices of a site, all while staying safe using a holistic security system that incorporates malware detection, prevention, and removal services.

The architecture of a Trusted Internet includes:
  • Authentication layer
  • Multi-layered security solutions
A) The Authentication Layer
The core technology model for the Trusted Internet is the Comodo Authentication Layer. This architecture incorporates patent-pending technologies with both centralized and distributed authentication processes. This capability harnesses Comodo CA's core competency in PKI for centralized authentication and innovations in creating platforms for harnessing user generated verification intelligence within a distributed authentication structure. Together, this provides for a balanced authentication infrastructure that addresses a diverse set of needs.
Comodo Centralized Authentication Solutions:
Comodo Distributed Authentication Solutions:
  • UserTrust, a free feedback platform for eMerchants
  • TestmyPC, a free resource to assess the efficacy of a PC's security system
B) Multi-layered prevention, detection and remediation security solutions
Comodo Security Solutions has developed efficient security technologies for businesses and end users to address evolving multi-layered threats. The security architecture integrates prevention, detection and remediation technologies critical for effective security. The solutions within this area include:

Over the years Comodo's free utilities and applications have built a great reputation, Comodo Firewall Pro for one is always amongst the top in its class. Over the last year they've extended those applications to include more free tools to insure online safety and protection.
Comodo companies' 2008 releases:

August - Free Secure Email for Consumers
July - Two-factor authentication for Microsoft SharePoint and Outlook Web Access applications
July - Painless PCI Compliance Program
July - Trustix Enterprise Firewall (V4.81)
June - Unified Communications Certificates (UCC)
May - TrustConnect
April - Automated Provisioning Tools for SSL Deployment
March - TestmyPCSecurity.com
March - Trustix Enterprise Firewall
February - AVSmart™ Warranty
February - Firewall Pro (V3.
January - UserTrust

Comodo believes it is through these tools that the Internet and the power of communications will intersect, unleashing new ways for us to communicate, collaborate and exchange ideas.

For more on Comodo’s Trusted Internet checkout their Trusted Internet Manifesto as well as their press release

Puget Systems DIY Mineral Oil PC Mod

Puget Systems, developers of the mineral oil cooled PC have announced plans for a DIY Aquarium Cooling mod.

With over 1 million views online the Puget Systems video for the "Mineral Oil Submerged Computer" or Aquarium PC has sparked a lot of interest over the years. So much so that Puget Systems has developed two do it yourself kits so the home modder can have their own oil cooled Aquarium PC.

As part of the development, testing and quality assurance process for the new Aquarium PC kit, Puget Systems has been running their own Aquarium PC -- a plexiglass enclosed, mineral-oil submerged PC -- for well over a year and with no ill-effect on the hardware.

Having created two revisions of the aquarium computer, and observing their operation for over a year, we have gained extensive experience in building aquarium computers. We know first-hand how it takes endless hours to determine what parts you need, find a source, and wait for them to get in. What's worse, with something this customized, it often takes multiple attempts to find the parts that fit properly and work just right. After building our second revision of aquarium computer, we realized that we've done all of this work, and that we should share it with everyone!

By offering these DIY kits, we are saving you very large amounts of time spent on research, ordering, and mistakes. The end cost of the project is much lower, because you can get in the right parts, the first time. Since we are ordering in the parts in bulk, we are able to get the parts cheaper, which allows us to make the margin we need to fund the project, while continuing to offer them at a lower price than you'd get if ordering them one at a time from various sources. It's a win for everyone! We are offering the kit in two separate modules: the main aquarium module, and a cooling module. We also offer all the components for sale individually on our parts store.
The basic aquarium module which is meant for low end systems comes equipped with all the parts necessary to mount your computer hardware will set you back $312.50 . [View Details]

The cooling module which features the addition of an external radiator, is described as having been have verified to provide adequate cooling with the most extreme hardware on the market today (Intel QX9770 CPU, 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM, NVIDIA GTX280 video card). It will cost $375 [View Details]

Puget Systems is nice enough to add the following warning to their site for anyone wanting to order their products:

WARNING: Submerging your hardware in mineral oil will void your warranty. Do this project only at your own risk. Puget Systems is not liable for any hardware problems, or damage to your personal property. Mineral oil is very difficult, if not impossible to clean from your components once they are submerged.

While the setup looks pretty cool, $300 seems pretty steep to me. As you can see from the video and images the setup is fairly bulky. Your hard drives are not contained within the tank itself so you'll be dealing with an external mounting solution which likely means eSATA. Another concern would be making upgrades or changes to your system. Imagine the mess created when you want to add or remove hardware.

AT&T Finally Offers Free Wi-Fi For iPhone Users

It looks like they day is here, free Wi-Fi for Apple's iPhone users is finally available from AT&T.

After two failed attempts at getting it right it looks like this time the notice posted on AT&T's Web site is accurate. The company is indeed allowing all iPhone users to access its 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots around the country for free.

Earlier this year AT&T had mistakenly published information announcing that they'd be offering free Wi-Fi to iPhone users. But this time it looks like its true. CNet News, allong with several other sites, double-checked with AT&T's public relations team just to make sure.

The free Wi-Fi will be available wherever AT&T offers a Wi-Fi hot spot, which includes several restaurant chains, airports, and Starbucks coffee shops.

T-Mobile G1 Unlocked

Only a week after the release of the Google Android based T-Mobile G1 the guys over at Unlock-TMobileG1.com have come up with a way to unlock the phone for use on any mobile network.

For $23 Unlock-TMobileG1.com will provide you with the unlock codes. You'll need to provide them with your IMEI number which can be found by pressing *#06# in the dialer, or by going into your settings, selecting “About phone” and then selecting “Status”. The IMEI number then can be found about half way down, it is 15 digits long.

After that its as easy as inserting a non-T-Mobile SIM card and the G1 will prompt for an unlock code, enter the unlock code provided to you and hit unlock. You will then know the device is unlocked with a notification that reads “Network Unlock Successful.”

For more on unlocking your G1 checkout the video below from AndroidCommunity.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Italian Police Get New Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 "Polizia"

Speeders will have a hard time out running cops in Lazio, Italy after Italian super car maker Lamborghini handed Antonio Manganelli, head of the Italian State Police, the keys to a Gallardo LP560 "Polizia" model.

Gallardo LP560

Here in California its not unusual to see the occasion Mustang or Camaro Highway patrol. But I have to say the Gallrado LP560 puts them to shame. This has to be one of the coolest cop cars I've seen!

The all-wheel-drive Gallardo LP560-4 boasts a 5.2-liter V10 that makes 552 horsepower and 398 foot pounds of tourque. The car has a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 203 mph.

Before adding all the special equipment, the standard LP560-4 retails for just over $200,000. For the Italian police, Lamborghini has thoughtfully provided all kinds of high-tech goodies, including an onboard video system and GPS unit with a camera that can transmit real-time images to a central control room for automatic recognition of number plates. There is also a refrigerated cooler for transporting donor organs and the heart defibrillator behind the passenger seat

For more images checkout Serious Wheels

Lamborghini Press Release:
Lamborghini donates the new “Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia” to the Italian State Police

Sant’Agata Bolognese, October 24, 2008 – a private ceremony was held today at the Viminale Palace where Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. donated a police version of the company’s newest super sports car, Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, to the head of the Italian State Police, Prefect Antonio Manganelli.

The new Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, which replaces the previous Gallardo in use by the Italian police force since 2004, has a 560 horsepower engine that can reach speeds of up to 203 mph. The car will begin service with the Lazio Highway Police Department in order to continue accident and crime prevention to sustain security on the Italian roads.

Proof of outstanding reliability

Its predecessor is proof of Lamborghini’s outstanding product quality. Since 2004, Rome’s police force has had the first-generation Gallardo in regular police service. The sports car has clocked nearly 87,000 miles of patrol duty on the motorways of central and southern Italy, as well as on emergency medical transport detail.

A second Gallardo, painted in blue and white police colors, has been in service around Bologna, Italy since 2005. Its odometer already shows more than 62,000 miles. Aside from regular servicing, neither of the super sports cars has required major repairs.

In addition to the clearly effective deterrent offered by the presence and visibility of a Lamborghini on the highway, the technological equipment on board these vehicles makes them highly effective in the control of hazardous behaviour on the roads (high speeds, driving in the emergency lane, dangerous over-taking); the automatic recognition of number plate tracking and real-time transmission of images to the control rooms.

High-tech video system with real-time retrieval

The cabin of the super sports car is fitted with the latest advancements in police technology to immediately document the evidence of any transgression. The video system is positioned in the center of the cabin with a camera fitted next to the rear view mirror and a computer and recording equipment behind the seats. As soon as police officers discover a suspicious driver, they activate the “Proof Video Data System.” With the help of GPS data, the device can calculate the location, direction of movement and speed of the Lamborghini. This combined with the distance and time before intercept, accurately determines the speed of the vehicle being pursued.

Using radio data transmission, the video system in the Gallardo Polizia transfers its images in real time to the relevant police station. There, the videos are stored and used for automatic number plate retrieval. This information can be used for immediate identification of stolen vehicles.

The “classic” array of police equipment on board too

In addition to its high tech equipment, the Gallardo is also fitted with the “classic” array of police equipment, such as a gun holster, police radio equipment and the “Paletta,” the traditional hand-held stop sign used to advise motorists and traffic offenders to pull over. Officers can then use a removable screen to show offenders their misdeeds immediately, complete with an overlay of all the associated data.

Rapid response in medical emergencies

The Lamborghini is used regularly for urgent medical transportation too. The luggage compartment in the front of the vehicle is equipped with a specialized refrigeration system for safe transportation of donor organs. For extreme emergencies, there is also a defibrillator used to restore a normal heart rhythm to patients by delivering an electrical shock to the heart to stop massive cardiac arrhythmia or ventricular fibrillation, and thus save lives.

Officer training

The 30 police officers permitted to drive the Gallardo Polizia receive special training in the use of the Gallardo’s medical equipment. Each person on the special operations team – which includes three women – has undertaken several days of driver training with Lamborghini, under the leadership of the Lamborghini test drivers. The basis of trouble-free everyday operation is the exceptional safety of the Gallardo LP560-4 with its permanent all-wheel drive and its refined chassis, which maintains stability even at the highest speeds. Lamborghini’s extremely high standards for product quality and reliability ensure that the Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia is always ready for duty.

Even the blue light is designed for speed

Now the successor is ready – a new generation Gallardo LP560-4 with the very latest in special equipment. The Lamborghini wears its uniform with pride, painted in accordance with requirements in “blu Polizia” – whereby the white stripes and lettering follow the Gallardo’s dynamic design angles. Its main patrol beat will once again be central and southern Italy, primarily on the motorway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria.

The police beacon on the roof of the Gallardo had to be aerodynamically optimized being that the new police car reaches a considerably higher top speed than regular service vehicles.. Despite the extremely flat construction of the signal lighting, blue LEDs are fitted round the base to ensure the visual signal cannot be missed. The roof-mounted lighting is supported by further blue LED signals on the front, sides and rear of the light’s aluminium shell. A total of four sirens integrated into the front and rear of the Gallardo generate unmistakable audible warning signals.

On duty even in New York

Just like its predecessor, the new Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia is destined to be not only the fastest, but also the most famous police car – even beyond Italian borders.

The Italian State Police uniform, and the unquestionable attraction of the Lamborghini brand, continue to arouse curiosity and interest. Thousands of citizens have the possibility to see the car for themselves during the many events organized to promote the vehicles in use.

Alongside its daily operational duties, the Gallardo also has regular public appearance obligations, such as its role as parade leader every year in Rome’s traditional “Festa di Polizia,” or its escort responsibilities at events with historical vehicles, like the Targa Florio and the Milan – San Remo Rally. Its predecessor even represented the Italian police in New York City at the 2005 “Columbus Day” parade.

Microsoft Launches DevLabs Site For Developers

Microsoft has launched a new product-research developer-oriented site called DevLabs.

Developer Division Senior Vice President Soma Somasegar

Somasegar blogged about the formation of DevLabs on October 23. From Somasegar’s post:
Today we are launching DevLabs - a site dedicated to these software innovations for the developer community. This is a portal where we can share not just some early thinking, but early bits, and let you play with them and help us determine the direction that these projects should eventually head. While many of these projects will come from teams within Developer Division, this is an outlet for all innovations coming from Microsoft focused on you, the developer.

The purpose of this site is not to get your feedback on the next release that we are working on – we already have opportunities to do that today through our CTP and Beta programs (and thank you for that feedback!). Most of these are projects that aren’t as solid in exact deliverables yet. Some of these projects will turn into features in our existing shipping products, some we will open-source for the community, others we will decide to not pursue. You are the ones that can help us determine what best suits your needs.

For those of you that are interested there are currently 4 projects that are available on the DevLabs site:
  • Small Basic: Small Basic is a simple and easy programming language with a friendly environment that provides a cool and fun way of learning programming. From making turtles animations to running a slide show on the desktop, Small Basic makes programming natural and effortless.
  • PEX: Pex (Program EXploration) is an intelligent assistant to the programmer. From a parameterized unit test, it automatically produces a traditional unit test suite with high code coverage. In addition, it suggests to the programmer how to fix the bugs.
  • PopFly: Microsoft Popfly is the fun, easy way to build and share mashups, gadgets, games, Web pages, and applications.
  • CHESS: CHESS is a concurrency testing tool for finding and reproducing concurrency Heisenbugs in your code. CHESS can find assertion violations, deadlocks, livelocks, data-races, and memory-model errors. CHESS works both for managed and for unmanaged code.
The newly formed DevLabs joins Microsoft’s growing list of incubators which includes Live Labs, Office Labs, adCenter Labs and Startup Labs.

Walmart Selling Discounted Android Powered T-Mobile G1 Cell Phones

Starting today 550 Walmart stores will begin selling T-Mobile's Android-powered G1 cell phone for the discounted price of $148.88 to new customers who sign up for a two-year contract. HTC, and T-Mobile launched the G1 last week, and customers paid $179.99 for the handset, so Walmart customers are get a savings of just under $32.

Walmart has more than 2,000 stores in the United States, and the company did not say which stores would be selling the G1, so you'll need to check for local availability. It's possible that the stores that sell the G1 will be in or near the 21 markets where T-Mobile has already rolled out its 3G service.

"They will launch in top markets where consumer interest is expected to be very high and where the T-Mobile 3G coverage area is available," says Walmart spokesperson Melissa O'Brien.

Those markets could include: Austin, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York (including northern New Jersey and Long Island), Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MySpace Launches Profile 2.0

MySpace continues to add new function and features to its site and now comes the launch of a new profile and editor, Profile 2.0. MySpace doesn't seem to feel it’s ready for mainstream U.S. use yet, so they’ve launched it for trial to Canadian users however anyone can try it out with the steps listed below.

The process to activate the update is fairly simple. Begin by logging out of your account, then visit MySpace Canada and log in. You’ll notice a thin message in the top center column of your user profile, just above the status and mood box. Click the corresponding link, and another link, followed by yet one more link, and you’re in.

The new editor seems easy enough to use and it cuts out the need to know any coding. You have the option of choosing a theme or using the advanced edit which will allow you to change your backgrounds, borders and fonts as you'd like.

The layout editor will allow you to move your modules around and arrange them however you want. You can select to stick with the traditional two columns, use a single column or use three columns. Then you can move things around like your about me, blog or music player. Withing each module there is also the option to remove that module entirely, edit its visibility to allow friends only or for modules with multiple sections (ie interests) you can add/remove visible sections.

I've been tinkering with my personal profile for a few days, and so far I like the new options. Its nice to be able to move modules around to anywhere I want them, and its great leaving some of the css behind. But I see a few things I don't like and I'm not sure if they are bugs or complete changes.

For one no matter what I do I can't apply a full size background image. I've tried with both the editor and direct css, neither work with large image sizes. You can use the editor to add smaller images that will be tilled but that appears to be it. I haven't tested the size limitation but the image I was using was 1024x768.

With the recent release I found the work around. In the CSS editor you apply the appropriate CSS for your background and it works fine. You do not need to add style tags, just add in your CSS:

    background-repeat: no-repeat;
    background-attachment: fixed

Also I don't see an option to change border styles. I've tried a few different methods using the CSS editor but so far no joy. There doesn't seem to be any option for directly adding divs, or any other html for that matter, to individual modules. For instance adding in scroll boxes or extra headings. So it looks like some of the things people like to add in might be forcefully removed.

If you do give it a try and decide you don't like the new options or the editor and want to revert to Profile 1.0, you can open the editor by searching for the ‘Customize Profile’ button within the ‘Profile’ drop-down menu. (Don’t click ‘Edit Profile’ or ‘Themes & Layouts.’) Once the editor is opened click ‘Undo.’ This will trigger a pop-up that requests you to choose from three options: “Undo current changes,” “Start from scratch,” and “Switch to Profile 1.0.” Take your pick.

Tom has officially announced the roll out of Profile 2.0 to users in the U.S.

Nov 10, 12:00am PT

Today we launched Profile 2.0. The new profile is optional and you can go back to your old profile if you don't like 2.0. Profile 2.0 lets you hide specific profile modules (like comments or friends), lets you drag and drop modules wherever you want, and you can even choose to show parts of your profile to specific friend categories. For those who prefer the simplicity of one-click themes over advanced customization, we've created over 25 profile styles to choose from including Transporter 3, Punisher War Zone, and The Spirit.

Check it out here or click on the "Edit Profile" link above this message to find out how to convert. After converting your profile, the Profile drop down menu will have a new link "Customize Profile" which returns you to the editor with one click.

Check out my blog for more info.

Dell Launches Mini 12 Netbook In Japan

Dell launched their latest netbook offering the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 in Japan earlier this week. The new Mini 12 is approximately 0.92-inches thick, weighs just 2.7lbs and features a 12" screen, meaning its only slightly thicker than the Air.

dell mini 12

The Mini 12 has a 12.1-inch 1280 x 800 WXGA display promising wider viewing angles and good brightness. Other features of the system include 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a built-in webcam, 1GB of RAM, 60GB or 80GB HDD (on the Japanese model) and Windows Vista for the OS. Dell says battery life is up to 3 hours and 32 minutes. Dell's Japanese site lists the CPU in the machine as the Intel Atom Z520

According to Dell the Inspiron 12 will be around $600 and won't be available in the U.S. until mid- November.

APC Magazine has what the are calling the "WORLD FIRST review of Inspiron Mini 12: Dell’s super-slim netbook!" In their reports they are putting the price tag at $999. Personally I don't see Dell setting the price that high. But the review is worth reading and it features some pretty good photos.

Google Earth Now Available For iPhone

Google has announced the release of Google Earth for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. According to a post by the Google Earth & Maps Team "With a free download from the iTunes App Store, you can fly through the same 3D immersive world of Google Earth you've come to love, without having to fire up your desktop computer."

With Google Earth for iPhone, you can:
    • Tilt your iPhone to adjust your view to see mountainous terrain
    • View the Panoramio layer and browse the millions of geo-located photos from around the world
    • View geo-located Wikipedia articles
    • Use the 'Location' feature to fly to your current location
    • Search for cities, places and business around the globe with Google Local Search
Google Earth is available in 18 languages and 22 countries in the iTunes App Store.

Monday, October 27, 2008

iBangle Concept An iPod For Your Wrist

When you look at the evolution of iPods and other MP3 players, you can see that not much has changed about them in the past few years. Sure, they've added screens, added color to those screens and the amount of memory has grown exponentially over the years. But the design is the same: they clip on the belt, slip in a pocket or dangle of your arm from an armband. Then of course there is the obligatory use of wired earplugs.

Designer Gopinath Prasana looks to change that with his iPod Concept the iBangle.

ibangle concept

Prasana's iBangle, which is meant to worn around the wrist like a bracelet, looks more like jewelry than and MP3 device, but the concept would be a fully functional MP3 player.


The iBangle uses air and a small cushion inside the ring to achieve the perfect fit no matter who is wearing it. Push a tiny button on the side and it fills with air, expanding to fit snugly around your wrist.

There's a multi-touch track pad for easy navigation, and forget about he wires as the audio finds its way to your ears via a couple of wireless earbuds.


There's no screen, but Prasana figures you should be able to navigate just fine with an audio-oriented navigation system. Personally I'd prefer a small screen at least then the device could double as a watch.

Source: Yanko Design

Microsoft to Releases Vista SP2 Beta To Testers This Week

Microsoft Corp. said last Friday that they would deliver the beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) this coming week to a limited number of testers. Vista SP2 beta is expected to be seeded for download for a small number of testers in the Technology Adoption Program, a limited group of company partners and customers, on Oct. 29.

Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management, released on the Windows Vista Team Blog on Friday, Celine Allee, a director in the Windows client IT team, followed with more information, including a tentative ship date.

"We anticipate broad availability for Windows Vista SP2 in the first half of 2009," Allee said.

Earlier this month we reported that Microsoft might be close to a Vista SP2 beta and that they had created a place holder for a Knowledge base article for the forthcoming release. At that time Neowin.net broke the news about the new SP2 beta testing release when they reported that testers had received invitations to join the beta program.

Microsoft has confirmed that SP2 will include Windows Search 4, Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support and support for Via Technologies Inc.'s 64-bit processor. There will also be added Blu-Ray support with the ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista and the Windows Connect Now (WCN) utility to simplify Wi-Fi Configuration.

Windows Search 4.0 is the newest version of Microsoft's desktop search engine and was issued to current Vista users via Windows Update last July; Microsoft released Bluetooth 2.1 support for Vista last April as part of the Vista Feature Pack.

Other improvements slated for Vista SP2, said Allee, include faster resume from sleep when a wireless connection has been broken; enabling of the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps; and support for Blu-ray.

Microsoft also said that Vista SP2 will require SP1 as a prerequisite.

Almost 20k Tech Layoffs And Counting

According to a recent blog post over at TechCrunch, "19,683 Tech Layoffs And Counting" there have been over 20k Tech layoff since the economy has began its downward spiral.

TechCrunch's Layoff Tracker, shows there have been 20,494 job eliminations at tech companies announced since mid-September. TechCrunch's list is long and seems to be getting longer, with no end in sight. Currently the list shows 47 companies with 5 big companies make up more than 90 percent of the layoffs: Xerox (3,000), Dell (8,900), Yahoo (1,500), eBay (1,500), and German chipmaker Qimonda (3,000).

The other 42 companies are mostly startups, and collectively account for 2,594 layoffs. Although three more major companies (Sony Ericsson, Nvidia, and TicketMaster) account for an additional 1,110 job losses. The list also fails to include 24,600 people at Hewlett-Packard who are being eliminated as a result of its merger with EDS.

We can't know for sure that all these layoffs are due to the worsening economy, many of them could simply be the cutting of dead weight or just preemptive measures. But we can't dismiss the facts that the weak economy is hitting the Tech industry pretty hard

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Security Hole Found In Google Android

A team of security researchers found a security hole in the T-Mobile G1 phone that allows for redirecting of the G1’s web browser to a malicious web site.

Charlie Miller of Independent Security Evaluators in Baltimore told the New York Times that he notified Google of the flaw earlier this week and said he was publicizing it now because he believed that cellphone users were not generally aware that increasingly sophisticated smartphones faced the same threats that plague Internet-connected personal computers.

According to New York times Google executives have acknowledged the issue but said that the security features of the phone would limit the extent of damage that could be done by an intruder. Google says, "the Google phone creates a series of software compartments [boxes] that limit the access of an intruder to a single application."

Essentially each application runs independently of the others, if one is compromised it would have no effect on any of the others.

“We wanted to sandbox every single application because you can’t trust any of them,” said Rich Cannings, a Google security engineer. He said that the company had already fixed an open-source version of the software and was working with its partners, T-Mobile and HTC, to offer fixes for its current customers.

Typically, today’s computer operating systems try to limit access by creating a partition between a single user’s control of the machine and complete access to programs and data, which is referred to as superuser, root or administrative access.

According to Miller's findings the danger comes from within the Web browser partition in the phone. It would be possible, for example, for an intruder to install keylogger software that would capture keystrokes entered by the user when surfing to other Web sites. That would make it possible to steal identity information or passwords. The basic description of what the ISE team did is posted here.

A user of an Android phone who uses the web browser to surf the internet may be exploited if they visit a malicious page. Upon visiting the malicious site, the attacker can run any code they wish with the privileges of the web browser application. We have a very reliable exploit for this issue for demonstration purposes. This exploit will not be released until a fix is available.
The Android security architecture is very well constructed and the impact of this attack is somewhat limited by it. A successful attacker will have access to any information the browser may use, such as cookies used for accessing sites, information put into web application form fields, saved passwords, etc. They may also change the way the browser works, tricking the user into entering sensitive information. However, they can not control other, unrelated aspects of the phone, such as dialing the phone directly. This is in contrast, for example, with Apple's iPhone which does not have this application sandboxing feature and allows access to all features available to the user when compromised. For more information on the security of the iPhone, visit ISE's site describing the first exploit of an iPhone security vulnerability here.

Even though they have already been working on a fix Google complained that Miller didn’t give them enough time to come up with a solution before going public with the flaw.

If the names Independent Security Evaluators and Charlie Miller sound familiar that would be because Mr. Miller and ISE are noted with hacking the MacBook Air in under two mins at this years CanSecWest security conference.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Google Adds Gmail Emoticons, Picasa 3 Video Editing And More

Google has been hard at work adding new features and making changes to several of their products. Most of the news focus this week has been around the release of the new G1 Android based phone, as well as Android market, however Google has been busy making some lesser know changes.

For isntance, Gmail will now feature emoticons. Long gone are the days of simple black and white mail that has dulled down Gmail for years. You'll now have the option to add in all the smilies, winks, waves (and a wide variety of other things) that you want.

Picasa 3, is another Google product that hasn't seen much of the limelight lately, however earlier this week the Official Google Photos Blog announced Picasa isn't just for photos anymore. Picasa 3 has added video support so users can easily manage all that newly shot video footage, just like it you would your Picasa photos.

Videos appear right alongside photos in your Library. But when you double-click any video, you'll enter the "Edit Room", which gives you playback controls and some straightforward editing features:
  • Zoom the video size with slider, play your video in full screen or rotate a video -- just like you do with photos.
  • Find a particular frame interesting? Go ahead and click the "Take Snapshot" button, and Picasa will capture the frame in its native size, saving it in a "Captured Videos" album for you.
  • Want to trim your video? The "In" and "Out" buttons allow you to set start and end points for your clip, or you can simply drag the two triangle markers under a video. Don't worry about making a mistake -- just like with its photo editing features, Picasa provides full Undo and Redo. If you're happy with your edits, and want to save the polished results, just click "Export Clip". Picasa will save a new copy in your "Exported Videos" album.
  • Did your digital camera generate a massive file for a short video? Many cameras don't do a great job compressing videos for easy sharing, but Picasa can help. When you click "Export Clip", Picasa will compress your movie into a smaller file, which saves disk space and makes uploading much faster.
If you'd like to get a little more creative with your video -- or turn a photo album into an entertaining slideshow movie with music, captions, and more -- be sure to check out the new Movie Maker tool in Picasa 3. The Movie Maker tool shines at creating fast, simple videos and helping you share them without a lot of fuss. To get started, simply select a few photos or video clips, then click the "Movie" button. There's lots of customized touches you can add:
  • Use different transitions like Pan or Zoom to create cool effects when going from one slide to the next.
  • Got MP3s? Add your own music soundtrack to your slideshows.
  • Select your video quality: create a YouTube-friendly videos at 320x240, or render High-Definition videos at 720p or 1080p.
  • Mix and match photo and video clips in your movies -- don't forget you can use the built-in webcam tool to create video, too.
  • Movie Maker lets you easily add title slides and end credits, but you can also use the text and collage tools in Picasa to get creative, and make the perfect photo slide to introduce your movie.
  • Like collages, you can always revisit a movie to make changes, add new pictures, or swap out the soundtrack. To do this, click the "Edit Movie" button at the top of the edit room when playing or viewing movie.

For you trick-or-treaters out there the Google Maps team has a nifty suggestion for anyone who is planning on heading out trick-or-treating next Friday, or who has kids that are: make a My Map of the route! Trace lines for which paths to take, and put icons to mark the important stops along the way, and share it with others so they can contribute too. And while you're plotting out your route, you can turn on Street View to make sure there are sidewalks, or get a feel for distances distance using walking directions.

Interested in WiFi-based geolocation? The Google Gears team has announced improvements in the Gears Geolocation API . They have just released a new version of Gears,, which contains an enhanced implementation of the Geolocation API. This new version uses WiFi access point signals to return significantly more accurate results, making it a lot more useful on laptop computers.