Monday, December 15, 2008

Google Weighs In On Net Neutrality And Caching Plan

Google’s Washington Telecom and Media Counsel Richard Whitt quickly responded to reports in the ">Wall Street Journal today that Google is no longer in favor of net neutrality and that the search giant seeks preferential treatment from ISPs.

Whitt's response was posted on both the Official Google Blog and the Google Public Policy Blog. According to Whitt's post Google stands by its net neutrality promise, but admitted that Google in fact works with ISPs to lower bandwidth cost through a concept called edge caching.

According to Whitt, "Google has offered to "colocate" caching servers within broadband providers' own facilities; this reduces the provider's bandwidth costs." Adding, "We've always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis."

So the question would be, if you help an ISP to save cost are you then gaining preferential treatment and as the WSJ put it "Fast Tracking" your content to users? Edge caching is nothing new companies have been using it for years. If companies didn't use it we wouldn't see some of the high-bandwidth services we have today. So long as content isn't prioritized by destination or source and is delivered at a uniform speed then there really shouldn't be an issue of neutrality

Mahalo Launches New Money Making Scheme "Mahalo Answers"

Calacanis and crew have launched yet another Mahalo born project called Mahalo Answers. Mahalo's vesion of Yahoo! Answers, Google Answers or ChaCha, lets you offer a tip to ask specific questions of other Mahalo users. Upon receiving a satisfactory answer (assuming you get one) users can give their promised tip, choose to give nothing at all, or give a little extra — depending on how happy you are with the answers.

For answer seekers, that either choose not to look on their own or absolutely can't find an answer themselves you can purchase "Mahalo Dollars" at a cost of $1 regular dollar per 1 Mahalo Dollar. Those that wish to provide answers, and some how see this as money making opportunity can answer as many questions as they want, however they will need to be considered the best answer as only one person receives the "tip". Upon reaching $30 you can then redeem your Mahalo bucks for real money, but watch out because Mahalo will skim 25% off the top. That's right you are hit with a 25% withdrawal surcharge to cash in your Mahalo Dollars.

As CNET News points out economically, [for Mahalo at least] this will be seen as a brilliant move--if it works. That's because, as Calacanis says, "Everyone is working on spec." When you ask a question, you put money into the system, and Mahalo is the bank. When you answer a question, you put knowledge into the system (which has value), and you might not get paid. Only one answer gets the bounty, and then Mahalo keeps 25 percent of it.

That is one hell of a money making scheme, Mahalo cuts a quarter out of every dollar for being the middle man. Sadly there are probably folks out there that will be duped into using the service. The funny thing is most of the answers probably won't be searched within Mahalo, but searched on Google and I'm sure more than a few will be asked and answered for free over at Yahoo! Answers, and then re-answered for pay at Mahalo.

As our friends over at ValleyWag pointed out the pay-to-search business is a lousy one. Google tried and failed, ChaCha had limited success, Yahoo! and Answers.com are a couple of the only ones that has really made a go of it, but they are both free services.

Apple Security Update 2008-008 Patches 21 Holes

Security Update 2008-008, which was released today, patches a total of 21 vulnerabilities in Mac OS X, including seven flaws in the Adobe Flash player.

At least half a dozen of the patches were tagged by Apple with its usual "arbitrary code execution" phrasing, a sign that the vulnerabilities are serious and, if exploited, could result in a hacker hijacking a machine. Security Update 2008-008 can be downloaded from the Apple site or installed using Mac OS X's integrated update service. Leopard users, however, won't see the security update separately on the latter; those patches were rolled into the Mac OS X 10.5.6 upgrade also released today.

On a related note, the aforementioned Mac OS X 10.5.6 upgrade released today fixes as many as 36 issues ranging from print reliability to archiving problems. The update also offers "general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac," according to Apple.

A full list of the issues addressed with 10.5.6 can be found here, while a list of the security improvements are likely to appear here within the next day or so. If you want to download the update from Apple's Web site, go here, but the Software Update function is the easiest way to get updated.

Google Makes Friends With Twitter

Google announced today it has made nice with Twitter and integrated it with Google Friend Connect, Twitter only seemed mildly enthusiastic about the integration in their blog posting.

Friend Connect lets you log in using an existing account from Google, Yahoo, AOL, or OpenID. Once logged in you can choose to either establish a new profile or use profiles and friend sources from other social networks that have opened up their services, like Plaxo and orkut. With the addition of Twitter users can now choose to use their Twitter profile to connect with friends via the Friend Connect interface. Users can discover people the follow on Twitter who are also members of the site, and easily tweet back and forth.

AMD Rolls Out The New Athlon X2 7000 Series

amd logoAMD has introduced a new set of "Kuma" based 65nm dual-core Athlon CPU's, the Athlon X2 7000 series. These new chips are basically 65nm Phenom (K10) processors with two of the four cores disabled.

The two CPUs in this budget series are the 2.7GHz Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition which will sell for about $79 and come with an unlocked multiplier and the 2.5GHz Athlon X2 7550, which will be OEM only. Both of the processors include a 256 Kbyte Level 1 data cache per processor, with a 512 Kbytes of L2 cache per core (for a total of 1 MB) and a shared L3 cache of 2 MB. The chips will also feature a new memory controller providing support for PC2-8500 (DDR2 1066 MHz). The chips will also sport a HyperTransport 3.0 3600 MT/s system interface.

Early reviews of the chips have shown a 10-15% overall gain over the previous generation Brisbane chip running at the same frequency. They've shown a little overclocking potential reaching as high as 3.3 ghz in a few cases. Overall the chips exhibit a fairly good price to performance ration making them a nice choice for the budget minded builder.

Early Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition Reviews

iPhone's Come Unlocked In Taiwain

iphoneiPhone users here in the states typically have to hack an iPhone to gain the ability to use a SIM card from another carrier. But that's not the case for our Taiwanese counter parts. According to reports from DigiTimes "Taiwan iPhone 3Gs are SIM unlocked out-of-the-box".

Prior to the launch last weekend, representatives from CHT and its retailers had said that iPhones bought in Taiwan would only work on its own network. However, when early adopters actually tried switching SIM cards they discovered that the phones operated fine on the other carriers' networks, with the only limitation being they could not access CHT's Hami value added web services.

DigiTimes believes Taiwan could become a popular source of "gray market" iPhones in other countries. I for one don't really see that happening, at least not here in the states. The price listed for the 8GB iPhone 3G in Taiwan without a contract is NT$26,600 (US$800). That would be a fairly hefty premium considering there are hacks and modified SIM cards out there that work. I will concede that there could be a market for the "none tech" crowd that either can't or won't attempt unlocking the traditional (hacking) way.

Futuremark Holding "Life of a Benchmarker" Video Contest

To celebrate 3dMark's 10th anniversary Futuremark has announced it will be holding a "Life of a Benchmarker" video contest sponsored by MSI and Enermax.

Fans of 3DMark are invited to show the "Life of a Benchmarker" in an original video with great prizes awarded to the best entries. Contestants are asked to create a video illustrating what benchmarking means to them. For example, they could record 3DMark running on their systems, or show what happens when benchmarking is taken to the extreme.

"We’re launching this contest as a thank you to all our fans who have helped 3DMark become the number one PC gaming benchmark," said Dr. Jukka Mäkinen, VP and General Manager at Futuremark.

Top prizes will be awarded to contestants who impress the judges with their originality; prizes include an HDTV, MSI Eclipse motherboards, MSI R4870 graphics cards, Enermax Revolution 85+ power supplies and special 3DMark 10 Year Anniversary Collectors’ Edition bundles.

More information on the contest can be found on the Futuremark website: http://www.futuremark.com/community/competitions/10yearanniversary/introduction/

FireFox, iTunes, Skype Amongst Top Apps With Most Security Holes

Bit9, Inc., the pioneer and leader in Enterprise Application Whitelisting, unveiled its annual ranking of popular consumer applications with known security vulnerabilities. This year's list, know as "the dirty dozen", is comprised of 12 widely used applications with known vulnerabilities.

Five of the top 12 applications include: Mozilla Firefox, versions 2.x and 3.x, Adobe Acrobat, versions 8.1.2 and 8.1.1, Microsoft Windows Live (MSN) Messenger, versions 4.7 and 5.1, Apple iTunes, versions 3.2 and 3.1.2 and Skype, version 3.5.0.248. The remander of the list includes products from Yahoo, Symantec, Sun, Trend Micro, Citrix, Aurigma and Lycos.

Each of the 12 applications on the list have the following characteristics:

  • Each application must run on Microsoft Windows.

  • Is well-known in the consumer space and frequently downloaded by individuals

  • Is not classified as malicious by enterprise IT organizations or security vendors

  • Contains at least one critical vulnerability that was:
    • first reported in January 2008 or after,
      registered in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) official vulnerability database at http://nvd.nist.gov, and given a severity rating of high (between 7.0-10.0) on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).
    • Relies on the end user, rather than a central IT administrator, to manually patch or upgrade the software to eliminate the vulnerability, if such a patch exists.

  • The application cannot be automatically and centrally updated via free Enterprise tools such as Microsoft SMS & WSUS.

While Bit9 says most all of the vulnerabilities listed have been patched they point out the fact that these patches aren't easily deployed by IT administrators, who many not even know what programs employees are running.

"The nature of these applications is such that the user is responsible for implementing the patch. Enterprise IT organizations can not reliably ensure these patches have been properly applied—if at all—representing an inherent exposure in protecting the enterprise network."

As we all know workers enjoy downloading software to their workstations that they feel either makes their life easier or the work day a little funner. This list outlines how much of a security risk that practice could be to companies.

The complete Bit9 report can be downloaded here, registration is required.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Microsoft Releases iPhone App

Looking to cash in on some of the success of the iPhone and Apple's App Store, Microsoft launched it's first iPhone App. Seadragon Mobile, which was added to Apple's App Store on Saturday, is a free image-browsing app that allows users to "get super-close in on a map or photo, with just a few pinches or taps of your finger."

Other features include the ability to browse an entire collection of photos from a single screen as well as the ability to browse Deep Zoom Images that you can create from your own pictures or your Photosynth collection (or anybody else's).

Seadragon Mobile is available for free for all you iPhone users at the iTunes App Store.

Microsoft is reportedly working on other iPhone apps, however there is little news on what those might be or when they might be released. Cnet.com reported earlier this year that Microsoft's Tellme unit is actively developing a voice-activated search for the iPhone, to be launched by June of '09. As of yet there has been little to no update regarding progress on that app.

Tech Going Green, IBM, Intel & Dell Rank Amongst The Top In Climate Change Strategies

With millions of customers and massive operations and supply chains, consumer and technology companies face broad impacts from climate change, whether from higher energy costs due to emerging climate regulations or growing global demand for products that use less energy and contribute fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to the recently released Ceres Report, which uses a "Climate Change Governance Framework" to evaluate how 48 US companies and 15 non-US companies are addressing climate change, Inel, IBM and Dell all ranked in the top 5 companies with the best climate change strategies. IBM ranked 1st overall add first in the technology category with Dell ranking 3rd overall and 2nd in the tech category. Intel ranked 4th overall, and 1st for the semiconductor sector.



The report took six months to complete and uses data from securities filings, company reports, company websites, third-party questionnaires and direct company communications. Information collected includes: board of director oversight, management execution, public disclosure, GHG emissions accounting and strategic planning and performance. A 100-point scoring system based on this framework is setup. IBM scored 79pts, Dell 77pts and Intel 72pts. More than half of the 63 companies scored under 50 points, with a median score of 38 points.

A few notable companies that scored poorly on the report: Best Buy only scored 36pts, Apple 28pts, Costco 14pts and with by far the lowest score Abercrombie and Fitch scored a zero.

For more details you can download the report (pdf) or download the full report with Co. profiles (PDF 316 pages, 3.4 MB)

Download Company Profiles by Industry Sector:

Apparel
Beverages
Big Box Retailers
Grocery & Drug Retailers

Household & Personal Goods
Pharmaceuticals
Real Estate

Restaurants

Semiconductors
Technology
Travel & Leisure


In related news in a recent press release, Seagate has announced plans to run its massive Springtown manufacturing plant on 100% renewable energy. The company says it has switched from a traditional electricity supply to environmentally friendly wind power, supplied by Airtricity, Ireland’s leading renewable energy company.

“Going green was a significant factor for us when we were reviewing our energy supply contract,” said John Spangler, vice president at Seagate’s high-tech Springtown facility. “We are not a heavy or conventionally ‘dirty’ industry and we have no smokestacks to shut down, but we do not view that as a warrant for complacency. Internationally the company is making a positive difference through an aggressive programme of energy use reduction and we wanted to reflect those priorities here at Springtown.

“The Springtown manufacturing facility, by its very nature, is a heavy consumer of energy and we are constantly seeking ways to reduce energy consumption. Internally we have already implemented many excellent projects to decrease our carbon footprint, but switching to a renewable power source allowed us to go still further. This is an important demonstration of our commitment to doing business in a way that respects the environment.”

Seagate says the electricity required to run the massive Springtown plant will be 100 per cent renewable, reducing the site’s carbon footprint by 41,800 tons of carbon dioxide, which equates to 95 percent of the total carbon emitted each year by Springtown. The reduction is the equivalent to the carbon dioxide emitted by 4,500 households per year

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Free Wireless Broadband On Hold

The Federal Communications Commission has canceled a December 18th meeting scheduled to vote on a free wireless Internet plan using part of AWS-3 spectrum. That means that free nation wide wireless broadband service is on hold, for now at least.

The FCC has been considering whether it should auction off 25 megahertz of wireless spectrum in the 2155MHz to 2180MHz band (AWS-3 spectrum). In exchange for using the spectrum, the FCC would require license holders to offer some form of free wireless broadband service. This service would be used as a way to provide free Internet access to millions of Americans who either can't afford or don't want to pay for high-speed Internet access.

In addition to requiring that license holders set aside a portion of the spectrum for free wi-fi the FCC was also going to require that the Web service be filtered for pornography and material deemed not suitable for children.

The plan and its stipulations have been met with opposition from several top officials, wireless providers, and even civil rights groups. With the latest opposition coming from U.S. Representative Henry Waxman of California and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. The two senators will chair the committees overseeing the FCC in the next Congress both wrote letters the week urging FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to hold off on the vote.

"We received the letter from Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Waxman today and spoke with other offices. In light of the letter, it does not appear that there is consensus to move forward and the agenda meeting has been canceled. The items will remain on circulation and the Commissioners can still vote on them," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said in a statement.

Earlier this week the Bush administration also spoke out in opposition to the proposed auction. According to a report published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez sent a letter to the agency's Republican chairman Wednesday afternoon expressing the administration's displeasure with the idea.

"The administration believes that the (airwaves) should be auctioned without price or product mandate," Gutierrez wrote, according to the Journal's report. "The history of FCC spectrum auctions has shown that the potential for problems increases in instances where licensing is overly prescriptive or designed around unproven business models."

The FCC might have better luck pushing along the auctions when President elect Obama takes control of the White House next year. In his tech agenda Obama outlines support for an open internet as well as a need for wider reaching broadband access. Obama hasn’t said if he agrees with the AWS-3 auction rules, but Obama has previously pledged 100% broadband availability across the country.

More GeForce GTX 295 Details Emerge


Expected to be unveiled at CES '09, the GTX 295 is made up of two print-circuit boards with each one holding a 55nm GTX 200 GPU. Each of those GPU's have 240 stream processors, 448-bit memory bus and 896MB DDR3 memory. In short these monstrous cards are totally outrageous.

Thanks to the guys over at Vr-Zone we have a few pre-release photos:

geforce gtx 295

geforce gtx 295

geforce gtx 295


As you can see from the photos the card is powered by both an 8pin and 6pin power connection, early details suggest the card will require lots of power taking about 289watts of juice. The dual board construction resembles that of the GeForce 9800 GX2 with the cooler sandwiched between the two PCBs. You can also see the card has a single SLI bridge finger, indicating that it supports Quad-SLI in the same way the GeForce 9800 GX2 did (a maximum of two cards can be used in tandem). As far as connections goes you can see, there are 2 DVI and 1 Display Port.

The only things missing now are clock speeds, performance and pricing which still remains a mystery.

*Update*

Thanks to Guru3d we know have a few more of the specifics. Reportedly the GTX 295 will feature 1792 MB of memory (896 MB per GPU) 480 total shaders processor (240 per GPU). It will have a core frequency of 576 MHz (Texture and ROP units) and the shader processor will run at 1242 MHz. Guru3d has more details including some fairly impressive benchmarks in their article "GeForce GTX 295 preview".

PlayStation Home Beta Hits A Snag, Faces Connection Issues

Earlier this week Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced that its PlayStation Home Beta service will become available for all PS3 users around the world. The much anticipated announcement came with a great deal of excitement and fan fare for PS3 users, however it appears the new service is off to a rocky start.

Just hours after going live on Thursday users began complaining of various connection issues. Users complaints varied from no connection at all to being kicked from the service after only a few minutes. Several other posts on the PlayStation Forums suggest users are experience lag and over all slow downs in the service.

Sony communications director Patrick Seybold has acknowledged the problems in a blog post, and says that Sony is working on solutions:
We are aware that some people may be experiencing difficulty in accessing the PlayStation Home beta at present. This is due to overwhelming demand for the service as people access Home for the very first time since it became Open Beta and appeared on the XMB.

While we prepare solutions to ease the problem, you may continue to experience difficulties accessing Home. We kindly ask for your patience as we work to meet the incredible demand for this revolutionary service.



For now at least it would appear as though users will just have to wait it out. The heavy bandwidth usage that is plaguing the PlayStation Home servers will likely subside over the next few days and hopefully be then Sony will have a fix.

Friday, December 12, 2008

$99 Acer Netbook Confirmed But What Does It Really Cost

Late Thursday RadioShack confirmed earlier rumors that it will be offering a subsidized Acer Aspire One netbook for $99. Radio Shack teamed with AT&T's Mobile Broadband Service to become the first major US retailer to offer such a deal.

"RadioShack is offering this innovative technology solution at a very attractive price through our collaboration with Acer and AT&T," Peter Whitsett, RadioShack's executive vice president of merchandising said in their press release. "Helping people stay connected during these challenging economic times illustrates our continued commitment to meeting their personal technology needs affordably."

The Acer Aspire one netbook is priced at $99.99 for customers who sign up for a qualifying two-year AT&T DataConnect mobile broadband service agreement with plans starting at $60 a month. Once activated, this netbook allows people to easily access the Internet anywhere within AT&T's wireless network. The offer is available in 4,400 RadioShack company-operated stores through Dec. 24. Prices may vary outside the continental U.S. See stores or visit www.RadioShack.com for complete offer details.


The Acer Aspire one being offered seems to be exclusive to Radio Shack for now and the 3G netbook comes equipped with the following features:
  • Weighs 2.44 pounds
  • Ultra-compact size measuring 9.8" x 6.7" x 1.1" (W x D x H)
  • Stylish piano-black finish
  • Built-in 3G capability
  • 802.11b/g wireless (Wi-Fi)
  • 8.9-inch LCD screen
  • Built-in Web cam
  • Intel® Atom™ processor
  • Windows XP® Home
  • 1GB memory
  • 160GB hard drive
  • Built-in memory card readers (dedicated SD and 5-in-1)


While the initial cost of $99 seems like a great deal the major drawback is that over the course of two years with service, this system will cost the user a total of $1,540. So in reality you are paying over $1,500 for a $350 netbook.

Now consider your options, assuming you have a home phone for $14.99/mo you can sign up for AT&T's basic DSL service. The basic service comes with complimentary Wi-Fi access at thousands of AT&T hot spots nationwide, including U.S. company-operated Starbucks locations. Or for $9.95/mo you can sign up for a service like Boingo, which supposedly allows users to use one account at more than 100,000+ hot spots around the world.

With the savings from either option you would have covered the original cost of the netbook plus the cost of an additional netbook for a loved one, friend or even your favorite blog writer (hint hint).

Comcast Continues To Expand Its 50Mbps Service

On Thursday Comcast announced the expansion of its DOCSIS 3.0 service to four more markets: Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The company now offers wideband 50Mbps services in 10 cities. Overall Comcast claims it now reaches 20 percent of its customer base with the addition of those four markets and by the end of December, 10 million homes and businesses in each of the cities will be able to sign up for the service.

"This means we also reached Brian Roberts’ stated goal of reaching 20% of our footprint this year." a Comcast representative said in an email.

As previously reported Comcast's New Residential Tiers will be as follows:

  • Extreme 50, offering up to 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed at $139.95/month.
  • Ultra, offering up to 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed at $62.95/month.
Services for current customers will also receive an upgrade, Performance tier customers will get double their downstream and upstream speeds, to 12 Mbps and 2 Mbps, respectively, Performance Plus customers, meanwhile, will be upgraded to Comcast's Blast tier, which provides a 16 Mbps download speed and 2 Mbps of upload speed.

Popular ISP and Broadband forums DSL Reports has been reporting users are taking advantage of the performance upgrades to downgrading to a cheaper service.

One recurring theme we've seen in our forums is that the new speeds have many users downgrading. In both forum threads and polls, many customers on Comcast's 16Mbps/2Mbps tier say they're downgrading to their 12Mbps/2Mbps tier -- apparently because they don't think an additional 4Mbps downstream is worth $10. Customers used to be willing to pay the additional $10 for double the upstream speed, but there's no longer an upstream difference between the tiers.

Typically a user will see little difference between a 16Mbps service and a 12Mbps service as download speeds are dependent on too many other factors. The upload differences from 1Mbps to 2Mbps however is more substantial and noticeable. The new service is also creating ruffles with many users complaining that the newly imposed 250gb monthly cap is far to low. With these new speeds and Comcast seemingly advertising the use of its service for downloading videos and high-def movies passing that cap seems much more likely.

Intel Completes Next Generation, 32nm Process Development Phase

intel logoIntel might have just introduced out their new 45nm Nehalem processors but that isn't stopping them from looking further down the road and shrinking their CPU dies even further. Intel said Wednesday that it has taken its 32-nm manufacturing technology out of the development stage and is prepping it for full production. (view full press release)

If Intel's timeline is correct and completed on schedule, we could see a shift to Intel's 32-nm chips in the fourth quarter 2009. The first processors introduced would reportedly be part of the "Westmere" line of microprocessors.

Finishing the development phase for the company's 32nm process technology and production readiness in this timeframe means that Intel remains on pace with its ambitious product and manufacturing cadence referred to as the company's "tick-tock" strategy.

That plan revolves around introducing an entirely new processor microarchitecture alternating with a cutting edge manufacturing process about every 12 months, an effort unmatched in the industry. Producing 32nm chips next year would mark the fourth consecutive year Intel has met its goal.



According to Intel's "tick tock" strategy they plan to release two 32nm cpu lines, "Westmere" in 2009 and later "Sandy Bridge" in 2010. With yet another die shrink in 2011. For more on Intel's 32nm line and all the latest updates directly from Intel check out the Intel 32nm Logic Technology page.

LimeWire 5 Adds Private Sharing

The LimeWire 5 Alpha was released earlier this week, improvements include a simpler interface and powerful private sharing feature. The new private sharing feature allows users to set up friends lists and can import contacts from sources like GMail, Jabber or LiveJournal. Once you and your group of friends have Limewire installed, users can decide which files they would like to share and with which friends. User can then access files between their collective group of friends privately.

Of course you can still use it just like the old traditional version as a bittorrent client, to share and download from strangers via the Gnutella P2P network, but the socially networked sharing feature adds another level which could become the main way many people use the program.

By restricting friends lists to people whom you know and trust rather than permitting the addition of large groups of strangers, the new LimeWire private sharing feature could make life harder for the RIAA and MPAA. Friends and family sharing files privately within a group of known individuals should be safe from prying eyes. Making the new feature a great way to share things like family photos, videos documents or just about any other types of files.

As mentioned LimeWire 5 is still in the Alpha stages but it was made public for Windows, Mac and Linux on Wednesday. LimeWire does make it very clear this is an Alpha and it might be buggy:

"This is the Alpha version of LimeWire 5. We encourage you to give it a try. However, because there are still a number of bugs, we do not recommend that you use the Alpha as your primary file-sharing program, to download the current stable version of LimeWire click here."

The program installs fairly easily so just about anyone in the family can use it. Grandma might need a little coaxing but its really not that bad. Once the installation unpacks and gets under way you get the standard LimeWire warning about copyrighted content and there are a few extra clicks here an there. Importing files from your library can be done either automatically or manually, most users would want to use the automatic feature, but oddly enough that feature didn't list any files for me so I had to manually add folders and files.

Sharing with friends is only a few clicks away. Clicking the "share with friends link" gives you the option of logging into GMail, Jabber or LiveJournal. Facebook contacts is apparently also in the works. Your friends show up in a list to the left and is sorted just like any other buddies list. Friends who are online appear in a chat window so you can ask them to download and install the LimeWire application. Once they do, you'll be able to decide which files to share with them and view the files they're sharing with you.

Personally I wanted the ability to add more friends that aren't using any of the above mentioned services. But it looks like the company intentionally left out that option. Correction Wired's Eliot Buskirk writes: "That way people really have to know those they're sharing with. Not only does this discourage RIAA snoops, but it should also result in a more personal experience when using the software, because people will actually have to know their friends."

For a more in depth view as well as a great setup guide head over to Wired.com.

Savage 2: A Tortured Soul Now Free

S2 Games the developers of Savage 2: A Tortured Soul have released the game as freeware, yes you heard me its free, no not ad supported, not a demo simply free. Why you may ask would a game that is only a year old be released as freeware so early, well Tom's Hardware asked that exact question and they got their answer.

"Savage 2 is nearing the end of it’s one year support," said S2 Games’ Shawn Tooley. "We felt that giving away the game for free and selling Prime accounts that would allow access to stats, game replays, clans, extra inventory slots, etc would be a great way to continue to monetize the product. "

Gamers looking to download the game will need to create either a free account or you can opt for a Prime account which includes the additional inventory slots, access to player statistics, the ability to download captured replays of all matches and more. The Prime account will cost a one-time fee of $9.99.

I have yet to download the game but the reviews and screen shots at IGN.com - Savage 2: A Tortured Soul and GameSpot.com - Savage 2: A Tortured Soul look promising. Gamerankings.com gives Savage 2 an average ratio score of 77%, whereas Metacritic.com gives the game an overall score of 75 out of 100.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watch The '08/09 NBA All-Star Game In 3-D

Earlier this week it was announced that Turner Broadcast and the NBA had teamed up with Cinedigm Digital Cinema to broadcast TNT's "NBA All-Star Saturday Night" live in 3-D.

In all 80 digitally equipped theaters in 35 states across the United States will broadcast the game. Participating theater chains include Carmike Cinemas, Celebration Cinemas, Cinema West, Emagine, Galaxy Theatres, Marquee Cinemas, MJR, NCG, Rave Motion Pictures, Showcase and UltraStar Cinema.

The event will employ Cinedigm's CineLive technology, which enables live 2-D and 3-D streaming currently to more than 80 theater complexes with more than 160 3-D screens in the U.S. Cinedigm expects to further expand its CineLive network throughout 2009 to at least 150 locations.

The 24th annual NBA All-Star Saturday Night broadcast, expected to be one of the year's most watched sporting events, is scheduled to air on Saturday, February 14th, 2009 at 8 pm ET on TNT. NBA All-Star Saturday Night on TNT last year was the most watched in the event's 23 year history.

Readers may recall that earlier this year Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks broadcast their March 25th games against the L.A. Clippers in 3-D.

For fans looking to experience the live 3-D action you can find the closest theater near you by visiting the Cinedigm Digital Cinema homepage. And for even more details checkout the NBA's official press release.

Google Chrome Officially Out Of Beta

The Google team officially pulled the beta tag off of Google Chrome today. The announcement came in the form of a blog post over at the official Google Blog Google Chrome (BETA), "We're excited to announce that with today's fifteenth release we are taking off the "beta" label!"

Since the initial release of Chrome three months ago Google has been hard at work releasing 14 updates to the browser to this point. Google maintains this 15th release has reached their goals for stability and performance thus the need to drop the beta label. The Google team does add however that the "work is far from done. We are working to add some common browser features such as form autofill and RSS support in the near future. We are also developing an extensions platform along with support for Mac and Linux."

If you are already using Google Chrome, the update system will push out all the newest bug fixes and security patches, so you will get the newest version automatically in the next few days. If you haven't used Google Chrome for a while, now might be a good time to give it another spin, you can click here to download the latest version.

Cooler Master Launches Black Label Limited Edition Line


Cooler Master's new Black Label Limited Edition line features a worldwide production run of 500 individually numbered component sets. Each chassis setup includes a Cosmos Black Label case, a Hyper Z600 Black Label cooler and either a Cooler Master UCP 700 80 Plus Silver Certified PSU or a Real Power M850 80 Plus Certified PSU. The MSRP for the limited edition sets is $599USD or $499EUR.





Along with the new limited edition designs Cooler Master has launched the 500 Club, and the Black Label Lounge. The Black Label Lounge is an exclusive member area for individuals that own 1 of 500 sets of Black Label Limited Edition.

Within this lounge, members will be able to interact with other black Label limited Edition owners and have private access to:
  • Black Label Newsletter
  • Black Label Forum
  • Black Label Downloads
  • Early notice of news and products
  • VIP invites to events
  • And more…


Cooler Master's Official Announcement
Taipei, Taiwan – December 11th, 2008 – Cooler Master introduces the Black Label Limited Edition with worldwide availability of 500 individually numbered sets. This luxurious collection brings together the company’s award-winning computing chassis, cooler and power supply, with an added touch of sophistcated black appearance plus feature enhancements: Cosmos Black Label, Hyper Z600 Black Label and a powerful PSU unit. MSRP 599USD or 499EUR. Official site: blacklabel.coolermaster.com

The 500 Club
Black Label Limited Edition customers will receive private membership, giving them access to our Black Label Lounge. Members will enjoy exclusive benefits such as: priority purchase privileges, VIP event invitations, interaction with fellow club members and more.

Pure Black Design
Designers at Cooler Master have ensured that pure black means every detail is taken into account, with a full black exterior and interior. This stunning pure black is a first for Cooler Master which shows the excellence in craftsmanship the company has built its reputation on.

Striving for Perfection
Subtle improvements have made this an elite collection. Cosmos Black Label has a unique tinted side panel and its upgraded cooling capability further improves on reliability and performance. Hyper Z600 Black Label with the all new black appearance is equipped with improved PWM fan and airflow cover for unsurpassed cooling.

Major California DVD-CD Counterfeiting Ring Busted

Three people accused of selling pirated DVDs and CDs at San Jose, Ca. area flea markets have been arrested and hundreds of thousand of DVDs and CDs that have an estimated value of more than $1 million have been confiscated.





Police arrested 21-year-old Julio Cesar Flores-Diaz, 21 year-old Ricardo Martin Domingo and 24-year-old Brayna Colorado Garcia for the manufacture or sale of a counterfeit mark and failure to disclose origin of recording. Garcia was also charged with giving false identification to authorities.

A warrant was issued after authorities received information that counterfeit movies and music being sold at flea markets in Ceres, Modesto and Turlock. Upon serving that warrant authorities found over 200,000 DVDs and CDs that have an estimated value of more than $1.5 million, as well as the equipment needed to produce the counterfeits.

Source: CBS 13 News

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NVIDIA's Twelve Days Of Deals Christmas Promotion

Popular graphics card manufacture NVIDIA has announced their 12 Days Of Deals Christmas promotion.
Each day starting December 11TH and continuing all the way through December 22ND, NVIDIA will feature 12 fantastic offers that you cannot afford to miss! Check back each day to discover what new holiday bargains are in store for you. Each offer is good from the day is revealed through December 23RD. Some offers require a promo code to be entered upon checkout.

Since the deals start tomorrow nothing has been revealed yet but ohiohockeyguy over at slickdeals.net posted some spoilers



These aren't verified or confirmed but it looks like it might be the real deal.

Koobface Worm Reaches Out To More Sites

Researchers at security vendor F-Secure said yesterday in a blog about the Koobface worm that the new infection is designed to spread to other popular social networking sites, including MySpace.com, MyYearbook.com, BlackPlanet.com, and Friendster.com.

The Koobface worm has been spreading like wildfire through Facebook since it was first reported last week by McAfee Avert Labs. The virus uses Facebook's private messaging system to spread itself across the social networking site. Facebook users receive a message from an infected profile that offers them a video link paired with the message, "You look just awesome in this new movie." The link takes users to a separate Website that recommends installing an update to watch the video. But the download is actually the virus itself, and installing it leads to another infected computer.

"Facebook is already aware of this [new] threat and is purging the spammed links from their system. But with dozens of Koobface variants known to exist, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better," Craig Schmugar of McAfee Avert Labs wrote on the company's blog. "It's important to note that spammed links leading to Koobface are likely to come from infected friends, reminiscent of early mass-mailing worms."

The newest version of Koobface (W32/Koobface.CZ) is actually a resurgence of an older version of the same virus which was reported by Kaspersky Labs in July. Kaspersky warned users then that the two variants the new worm, Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.a. and Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.b, where capable of attacks on both MySpace and Facebook.

If the virus is not properly removed it will turn affected computers into "zombies" or bots, allowing hackers to control those infected computers to either spread more malicious code or ro carry out attacks on other systems.

Facebook has posted generic instructions for it's users to follow on how to remove the infection. Essentially they tell users to change their passwords and immediately run a virus scan using one of these sites:
Even if you haven't been hit with the virus I'd suggest you take a proactive approach and download one of the several free antivirus programs such as AVG, Avira or Avast. And as I always point out a little common sense browsing goes a long way. If you reach a site that tells you you need to update your software its always best to leave and go directly to the software vendor's site.

Google Zeitgesit 2008 Highlights Top Searchs Of The Year

Today Google released the 2008 Year-End Google Zeitgeist, a list comprised of Google's fastest-rising searches of the year. Since 2001 Google has been creating the list, that compile data bu studying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box.


Google’s Fastest Rising Search Terms for 2008(Global)
  1. sarah palin
  2. beijing 2008
  3. facebook login
  4. tuenti (a Spanish site similar to FaceBook)
  5. heath ledger
  6. obama
  7. nasza klasa (a Polish social networking site)
  8. wer kennt wen (a German social networking site)
  9. euro 2008
  10. jonas brothers

Google's Fastest Rising Terms For The U.S.
  1. obama
  2. facebook
  3. att
  4. iphone
  5. youtube
  6. fox news
  7. palin
  8. beijing 2008
  9. david cook
  10. surf the channel


Social Networks*
  1. facebook
  2. myspace
  3. hi5
  4. orkut
  5. linkedin
  6. nasza klasa
  7. netlog
  8. mixi (Japaneses social networking site)
  9. meetup
  10. odnoklassniki (Russian social networking site)

*Networking around the world: nearly half the list is comprised of sites based outside of the U.S.

There are several more lists that comprise varies aspects of search, such as the top "who is", top "how to", top "diy" and many many more. You can check out the complete list as well as results from other countries at the Zeitgesit 2008 homepage, you can also find more information and some great links at the Official Google Blog Post: The global Zeitgeist.

Office Depot Closing Stores Cutting 2,200 jobs

Office Depot has announced it will close 112 stores and cut nearly 2,200 jobs over the next three months in what it is calling an "Update of Strategic Review".

The stores to be closed are located all across the country, including 45 in the Central U.S., 40 in the Northeast and Canada, 19 in the West and eight in the South. Additionally, 14 stores will be closed through 2009 as their leases expire or other lease arrangements are finalized. The company also plans to close six of its 33 distribution facilities in North America.

The Company anticipates taking charges in the fourth quarter 2008 and in 2009 for these actions totaling in a range from $270 million to $300 million. The cash component of these charges is projected to be approximately $40 million over the next twelve months and is comprised of continuing lease payments on closed stores; and severance for store, headquarters and field sales staffing; partially offset by cash received for liquidated inventory and assets. The remaining non-cash and future cash charges of approximately $230 million to $260 million are comprised principally of fixed asset write-offs and lease reserves on closed stores.

Office Depot says these actions should benefit 2009 EBIT and cash flow by approximately $90 million and $70 million respectively. The benefit to cash flow is primarily a result of lower 2009 capital spending, payroll savings and operational improvements from store closures. Further actions are being contemplated and are expected to result in additional charges to be recognized in the fourth quarter of 2008 and into 2009. These actions include the assessment of tangible and intangible assets, including the annual goodwill evaluation, and potentially restructuring businesses."

OpenSolaris 2008.11 Released

Sun's open-source version of the Solaris operating system has received a fairly good sized update packed with new features and updated versions of older software.

"This release adds some new functionality for our users that are deploying in production or in the data center," said Charlie Boyle, Sun's director of OpenSolaris marketing.



New Toys For Users
Some of the new features added to OpenSolaris 2008.11 include, GNOME 2.24, OpenOffice.org 3, FireFox 3, an an easy-to-use BitTorrent client, music support with Songbird and suspend and resume to RAM support. Here is a full list of what's new in OpenSolaris 2008.11.

Tools For Developers
The new release also features Distro Constructor for customizing Solaris deployments. The distribution constructor is a command-line tool for building pre-configured, bootable OpenSolaris images. The tool takes an install manifest file as input, and outputs an ISO image that is based on the parameters specified in the manifest. Developers can modify the content of the ISO image, selecting and adding additional packages to the image, and changing the default system settings in order to create a custom, redistributable ISO or USB image. Check out the Getting Started with the Distribution Constructor guide for more details.

"This allows people to take their own custom set of packages for OpenSolaris and basically build the stack that they want. Distro Constructor takes that stack with all their software and settings and builds a new bootable [image]," Boyle said. The tool saves users from unnecessary overhead and is beneficial for update management.

To simplify your OpenSolaris development the team new disto comes with NetBeans IDE 6.5! Featuring support for C/C++, Java, and numerous dynamic language, Sun's award-winning open source IDE enables developers to rapidly create web, enterprise, and desktop applications on or for OpenSolaris.

Alternatively developers will have the option of installing and using Eclipse IDE, The open development platform comprised of extensible frameworks, tools and runtimes for building, deploying and managing software.

For more details on OpenSolaris 2008.11 checkout the links below:

Open Handset Alliance Gains 14 Members

Google's Android mobile operating system gained a little more muscle when it was announced that the Open Handset Alliance added 14 new members this week.

The Open Handset Alliance, which promotes the use of Google's Android mobile operating system is backed by a total of 47 technology and mobile companies. Adding AKM Semiconductor Inc., ARM, ASUSTek Computer Inc., Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International Inc., Huawei Technologies, Omron Software Co. Ltd, Softbank Mobile Corporation, Sony Ericsson, Teleca AB, Toshiba Corporation and Vodafone to that list this week.

New members will either deploy compatible Android devices, contribute significant code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the ecosystem through products and services that will accelerate the availability of Android-based devices. With these commitments, the Open Handset Alliance will continue to drive greater and faster innovation for the benefit of mobile users and everyone in the industry.

Several companies including ASUS and Sony Ericsson are already promising Android based projects.

"ASUS is a leading handset manufacturer that will soon deliver high quality, innovative Android devices and technology for world class carriers and consumers," HC Hung, General Manager of Personal Mobile Device, BU, ASUSTek Computer Inc.

"Sony Ericsson is excited to announce its membership of the Open Handset Alliance and confirm its intention to develop a handset based on the Android platform We believe Sony Ericsson can bring a wealth of experience in making consumer focused multimedia handsets with new user experience to the Alliance drawing on the successes of the Walkman and Cyber-shot sub-brands. Sony Ericsson is a strong supporter of open operating systems and we believe the Open Handset Alliance offers an exciting opportunity for a new and unique user experience only Sony Ericsson can deliver." Rikko Sakaguchi, CVP and head of Creation and Development, Sony Ericsson

Google Desktop Adds YouTube Gadget

YouTube and the Google Desktop team have announced the release of a YouTube gadget for Google Desktop. Once installed the gadget provides user with a built in search for videos (hint: pressing the shift key twice brings up all your hidden Desktop gadgets). The videos will play directly inside the gadget, which also shows a feed of the day's most popular clips.

The gadget currently only works on Linux and Windows, sorry Mac fans you get the cold shoulder.

In related YouTube news according to comScore Video Metrix YouTube had almost 100 million viewers in October 2008, easily making it the no. 1 online video property by unique viewers (99.5 million) and total videos streamed (5.3 billion).

Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 520 million videos (3.8 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 363 million (2.7 percent), and Viacom Digital with 305 million (2.3 percent). Hulu, a joint venture of NBC and Fox featuring full-length broadcast TV programs, ranked sixth with 235 million videos viewed (1.7 percent).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Force FireFox Extesion Compatibility

If like me you love checking out the newest offerings from FireFox but you hate living without your extensions you can always try to "force compatibility" of your older extension.

Now I must warn that trying to force FireFox to use extensions meant for an older version of the browser can and often times will cause stability issues and might cause FireFox to not work at all. So be warned and be prepared for the worst.

If your extensions wreak havoc with your browser you'll need to start FireFox in Safe Mode to disable and possibly remove them. To do so from the start button click run and type firefox -safe-mode. From there you'll have a few options one of which is Disable all add-ons: If you select this box and then click Make Changes and Restart, Firefox will start back up in its normal mode, except all your extensions and themes (but not plugins) will be disabled. You'll then need to either temporarily disable or uninstall the suspected offender. (more on FireFox Safe Mode)

Now that we've got that out of the way here are the steps needed to remove the compatibility check.
  1. Type about:config in the URL bar in Firefox, you'll get a little warning box telling you that you might break FireFox. Click accept, or whatever the option is.
  2. Right click anywhere on the page, when the menu box appears select new - Boolean
  3. For preference name type extensions.checkCompatibility then choose the value of False.
  4. Restart Firefox and you should be able to install any Firefox extension.

This in no way means every extension will work, in my experience many of them do. Sometimes however there are just to many differences between FireFox builds and the old extensions just won't work right.

Dell Holiday Deals

Looking for the hottest deal from Dell? Look no further. Dell is featuring several great promotions this holiday season. One of which is Dell's 12 Days of Deals. Every day Dell will list up to four new deals.

You can also browse the Dell Home Gift Guide. The holiday gift guide is broken down into four categories, 1: Under $100, 2: Under $200, 3: Under $300 and the fourth "ultimate Gifts", which includes high end geek gadgets over $300.

More deals just in time for the holidays. Get free 2nd day shipping from Dell Home from the following categories: *For approved credit card or Dell Account orders placed on or before 12/19/2008 at 3pm CT. Order and shipment must be on a business day.
You'll also receive free 2nd day shipping on these great deals:


Recent Dell coupon codes to help sweeten those deals (Coupons exp 12/18):

Electronics:

Desktops and Laptops:

Search Magazines With Google Book Search

Google announced a partnership with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from magazines such as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony to be included in Google's Book Search results.

Google hopes through their partnership they'll be able to bring more magazine archives and current magazines online. Google says, "Over time, as we scan more articles, you'll see more and more magazines appear in Google Book Search results. Eventually, we'll also begin blending magazine results into our main Google.com search results, so you may begin finding magazines you didn't even know you were looking for. For now you can restrict your search to magazines we've scanned by trying an advanced search."

You can search for magazines through Google Book Search. Try queries like [obama keynote convention], [hollywood brat pack] or [world's most challenging crossword] and you'll find magazine articles alongside books results. Magazine articles are tagged with the keyword "Magazine" on the search snippet.

More details are available on today's Official Google Blog posting Search and find magazines on Google Book Search

Dell Responds To XP Downgrade Pricing

In an article posted today on Computerworld.com Dell has responded to reports that they are charging customers $150 to "downgrade" to Windows XP.

"We have not increased the pricing, nor are we charging $150 for Windows XP," said Dell spokesman David Frink, reacting to a similar Computerworld story published yesterday. "For customers who order a system with Windows XP Professional via the downgrade rights program, Dell charges $20 to ... pre-install Windows XP Pro with all drivers on the system, include a reinstall CD and include a Vista Business install DVD, plus a CD with Vista drivers."

"The $130 difference between the $20 that Dell charges for the downgrade and the $150 price the company advertises on its Web site is what it costs buyers to upgrade Vista from the standard Home Premium edition and the Business edition," said Frink. "Microsoft mandates that customers who want to downgrade to XP must purchase the license to Vista Business or Vista Ultimate," Frink said. "[That's] typically about a $130 premium, though some retail outlets charge more."

Frink is correct, according to the Windows Vista Downgrade Rights reference sheet (PDF), Windows Vista downgrade rights are only extended to Vista Business and Vista Ultimate. As I previously mentioned you do receive licenses for both Operating systems which gives you the option of running XP now and transitioning to Vista when and if you are ready.

The problem here appears to be the $130 premium, which I now see is the standard upgrade price for any Dell system. Newegg offers OEM versions of Vista Home Basic at $89.99 and Vista Business at $139.99, that would be a $50 difference not the $130 difference that Dell would have you pay. The second problem is that Dell offers the Windows Vista Business bonus for $99 on the small business site.

It would appear that small business users get the package for $50 less and as advertised "Get Genuine Windows Vista Business Bonus with Windows XP Professional INSTALLED: FREE".

Dell might not be "charging $150 for Windows XP" but they are charging home users a hefty premium for the right to downgrade. Still even I can admit $150 for two licenses isn't bad at all, especially considering XP Professional and Vista Business are both $139.99. I'd take $280 worth of software for half price any day!

SIIA Files Piracy Lawsuits Against Amazon.com, iOffer Sellers

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) extended their online software Anti-Piracy Campaign today with what they are saying are the first-ever lawsuits against sellers on Amazon.com and iOffer.com.

In a press release released today (PDF), the SIAA announced the filing of eight new lawsuits against illegal software sellers. The new round includes SIIA’s first-ever lawsuits against illegal software sellers on Amazon.com and iOffer.com. These latest actions bring the total number of online auction site lawsuits the SIIA has filed this year on behalf of its member companies to 40.

“In the current economic climate, when consumer confidence is already low, it is essential that consumers are able to purchase software online knowing that it is legal and will function properly. Illegal sellers tempt consumers with low prices, but the software often doesn’t work and, of course, comes without the full range of customer support offered by manufacturers,” said Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA SVP of Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement.

“The new lawsuits are part of SIIA’s continued aggressive pursuit of online software pirates through both the civil and criminal processes,” Kupferschmid said. “We are sending a clear message about the lengths to which we will go to protect our member companies, unsuspecting consumers and legitimate software vendors.”

Earlier this year we reported that the SIAA had filed a total of 32 lawsuits against eBay sellers accused of selling counterfeit or pirated software. Scott Bain, SIIA's litigation counsel, has said several of those defendants have settled the cases, with many paying as much as five figure penalties.

Today's lawsuits charged all of the following with knowingly selling software, including Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Acrobat 8.0, illegally on auction sites eBay, Amazon.com, and iOffer:
Darwin Mieles, Miami, FL (Seller ID: “dm42017”); Aiden O’Connors, Santa Cruz, CA
(Seller ID: “blackwolfblooks”); La’Kieta Prosper, Orlando, FL (Seller ID: “lakieta”);
Adrian Garibaldi, Carrollton, TX (Seller ID: “abtechnology”); Manual Marmoletos, New
York, NY (Seller ID: “marmomn”); Randy Peek, Toledo, OH (Seller ID: “randy4112”);
Tony Kornrumpf, Lookout Mountain, TN (Seller ID: “cyberpcs”); and an unnamed seller
from Los Angeles, CA (Seller ID: “topsoftware1”).

In some cases, the software is counterfeit, and in other cases, sellers are selling software packaged for educational or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) use to other buyers.

Google Street View Doubles US Coverage

According to the Google Lat Long Blog Google has doubled the coverage of Street View imagery in the United Sates. Street View will now feature coverage in some new cities like Memphis, Birmingham, and Charleston (SC), and a few new states like Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

From the images posted on today's post at the Official Google Blog it looks like they've filled in lots of gaps across the country.

(before)

(after)


The Google Street View team has had a busy year. Earlier this year they launched Street View internationally with the imagery of the Tour de France route. Street View now features seven countries including France, Japan, Australia, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and of course the U.S. With Street View's international sites you can get a birds eye view of some of the world's most famous attractions and landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to Shibuya, Tokyo to the Pantheon.

Google says between today's launch and all the other launches this year, 2008 saw a 22-fold increase in the amount of Street View imagery available around the world.

Home Routers At Risk Of CSRF Attack

Security researchers warn that several home DSL routers used by AT&T's DSL service are vulnerable to cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks.

Nathan Hamiel, a consultant and founder of security think-tank Hexagon Security Group, discovered a CSRF vulnerability in the Motorola/Netopia 2210 DSL modem that, among other things, could let an attacker insert malware onto the victim's computer or recruit it as a bot for a botnet. "CSRF is one of the only vulnerabilities that can be either completely innocuous or completely devastating," Hamiel says.

The vulnerability isn't isolated to Motorola/Netopia DSL modems. It affects most DSL modems because they don't require authentication to access their configuration menu, he says. "I can take over Motorola/Netopia DSL modems with one request, and I can do it from MySpace and other social networks," Hamiel says. The attack uses HTTP POST and GET commands on the modems, he says.

CSRF vulnerabilities are nothing new; they are pervasive on many Websites and in many devices. "CSRF, in general, is a very old issue," says Hamiel, who blogged about the hack this week. "Most of the vulns found today are old. That's the point: Nobody seems to learn lessons anymore."

CSRF flaws in home routers have been exposed before, such as the Router Hacking Challenge by hacker PDP, notes Robert ("Rsnake") Hansen, principal with SecTheory. "Using CSRF to exploit routers, while not new, is an ever-present attack that few vendors appear to be protecting against sufficiently," he says.

A CSRF attack on a DSL router could be launched from a social networking site, Hamiel says, using an image tag on a MySpace page, for example. "Everyone who viewed my MySpace page with AT&T DSL and the Motorola/Netopia DSL modem would be owned," he says.

What can users do? The cure is as simple as logging in to your DSL modem/router and setting a password. For users of the Motorola/Netopia 2210 DSL modem (and most other netopia devices) enter http://192.168.1.254 in the URL Address text box. You'll be prompted to create a password for your modem. Enter a new password, repeat it, and click the Next button. For further assistance it's best to read your user manual or contact netopia support.

Source: Dark Reading

PC Magazine's "Best Of" 2008

The crew over at PC Magazine have come up with their Best Products of 2008, featuring everything from the best in HDTV's to the best in notebooks.

Needless to say there are plenty of gadgets for us Geeks to drool over. Here is the list broke down into categories:


There are a few surprises there, software gurus will be surprised to see there are only two selections with Norton Internet Security 2009 getting a nod. The networking section is also surprisingly sparse. I was surprised to see a $4k+ Alienware laptop on the list but not the Toshiba Qosmio which features the same price tag but superior specs to the Alienware listed.

Rumor: $99 Acer Aspire One At Radio Shack

Last month we reported the possibility of $99 subsidized netbooks, after rumors had surfaced that cell phone carriers might begin subsidizing the cost of netbooks in exchange for signing up for a monthly data plan. Today it looks like those rumors might be true, well that is if the leaked RadioShack flyer that has popped up on Engadget is legit, and it certainly does look it.

The flyer pretty much speaks for itself, stating that beginning December 14 RadioShack customers can get an originally $499 priced Acer Aspire One equipped with Intel Atom processor, a 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP for $99 after signing up for a 2-Year $60/month (or more) data plan through AT&T.



The product code list "AOA150-1987" doesn't match anything currently listed on RadioShack.com nor does it appear in any Google results, however the ad looks pretty convincing to me. I'd be the first to say the AT&T contract price of $60 a month for connectivity to only one device seems pretty steep.

If your netbook is going to be your primary mobile device then the fee might make a little more sense, but if you have another laptop you wouldn't be able to share the 3G connectivity with it. In that case it would probably make more sense to wait for a deal on the Aspire One and just grab a mobile broadband card.

Monday, December 08, 2008

FriendFeed Adds Additional Language Support

Popular social media tool FriendFeed announced today that they have added additional language support for their site. As of today, you can now select from English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and simplified Chinese from a dropdown at the bottom of every page or from your Account settings page.

FriendFeed is a feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking sites such as Titter, YouTube and Linkedin. It also supports, social bookmarking websites like Delicious and Stumbleupon, as well as any other type of RSS/ Atom feed. Users can use this stream of information to create customized feeds to share (and comment) with friends.

SpyWare Program RemoteSpy "Legally" Goes Back On Sale

A U.S. federal court has ruled that CyberSpy Software can legally sale their RemoteSpy spyware program as long as they change their advertising tactics.

The FTC blocked the sale of RemoteSpy when they were granted a request for an injunction. The injunction claimed CyberSpy marketed RemoteSpy by giving detailed instructions on how to install the program on computers and secretively collect data. The judge in the case lifted the original injunction and granted a new one with new terms. The new injunction bars CyberSpy from suggesting the program can be secretly installed or that keyloggers can be passed on as innocuous programs.

U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell wrote in the latest injunction that "the ability of RemoteSpy to invade the privacy of an unsuspecting victim is, indeed, alarming. And it is to this use that defendants direct their promotional and instructional material."

CyberSpy contends it warns users that monitoring computers without a person's consent is illegal, terms that are also in the software's license agreement. The company also contends RemoteSpy has legal uses, such as monitoring children's or workers Internet browsing.

A trial is scheduled for June 15 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dell Now Charging $150 For XP "Downgrade"

Dell customers wanting to "downgrade" their laptops or PCs from Windows Vista to Windows XP will now be hit with as much as a $150 surcharge, a fee which according to Computerworld.com is three times the maximum amount Dell charged last summer.

After XPs life cycle came to a close last summer Dell began offering XP downgrades to customers that were not ready to upgrade to Vista or were not fully satisfied with the new operating system. At that time the surcharge was $20 to $50 for XP. Today on the Dell site the option to downgrade from Windows Vista Business to Windows XP Professional will cost you anywhere from $120 to $150, depending on the system. For small business users wanting to avoid Vista Dell offers the Windows Vista Business bonus for $99. It should be noted that you do receive licenses for both Operating systems which gives customers the option of running XP now and transitioning to Vista when and if they’re ready.

Back in October we reported that Microsoft gave XP another reprieve allowing OEMs to offer an XP downgrade option for an additional 6 months. Those rights let OEM builders like Dell install Windows XP Professional instead of Vista, or along Vista giving the users the right to use either OS.

According to studies done last summer by market research firm Devil Mountain Software, nearly one third of all PCs purchased over the summer had been downgraded from Vista.