Monday, December 29, 2008

Rumor: New Android Based Smart Phone From OpenMoko

iMAndroid is reporting that OpenMoko will be releasing and Android based OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner. iMAnrdoid writes, "We’ve already seen many leaks on OpenMoko and the tipper reveals that OpenMoko mobile powered by Android will be on sale before the end of the year."

The site posted a follow up with some new screenshots featuring the Neo FreeRunner supposedly running Android. The images are a bit fuzzy, however the OS seen clearly looks to be Android based.



The phones reported specifications:
    Connectivity: GSM Bluetooth 2.0 GPRS AGPS WiFi, USB 1.1 slave and host, 2.5-mm audio jack Media: microSD, SDHC capable,Wolfson WM8753 Codec Operating system: Andrroid, OpenMoko, Qtopia, Debian Input: touchscreen, buttons Power: 1200-mAh battery CPU: Samsung 2442 SoC @ 400 MHz Memory: 128 MB SDRAM, 256 MB NAND flash, Flash expandable upto 16 GB Display: 2.8 in. VGA (480×640) TFT, 282 pixels/in. Dimensions: 120.7 × 62 × 18.5 (mm)

Holiday Sales Decline

MasterCard Advisors' report confirm what has been expected for months, retail sales for this holiday season are down considerably, with declines as much as 27% in some areas.

Based on retail sales for November and December 1-24th, the total retail sales are down between 5.5% and 8%, respectively, though there were a few signs of relative strength, according to Michael McNamara, Vice President of Research and Analysis for SpendingPulse. Sectors that sell food, such as grocery and general merchandise stores and some sectors of the restaurant sector helped keep total declines in the single digit range; eCommerce sales remain comparatively healthy; moreover the 40% drop in the price of gasoline compared to December 2007 accounts for almost half of the decline. Excluding gasoline, total sales were down 2% to 4% this holiday season compared to the same period in 2007. Still, Mr. McNamara noted, “A difficult economic environment combined with unfavorable weather during the last week of shopping made 2008 one of the most challenging holiday shopping seasons in decades.”

SpendingPulse analyzed the Electronics, Specialty (Apparel), eCommerce and Luxury sectors. Here are the season highlights

eCommerce
eCommerce continues to be an area of relative strength. Mr. McNamara pointed to the poor weather in the final two weeks before Christmas as possibly shifting sales volume to the on-line channel, as customers had difficulty traveling to brick and mortar locations. Overall eCommerce sales declined only 2.3% compared to the 2007 holiday season

Apparel
Total apparel sales declines stabilized in the 19% to 21% range over the same period last year, only slightly higher than the 19.5% year-to-year decline through the first week in December, and the 19% decline in the first half of November.

Women’s apparel sales have been fairly consistent, with year-to-year declines of 22% to 23% for most of the season.

Men’s apparel showed some improvement toward the end of the season, with a total decline of 14.3% for the season compared to the same period in 2007, up slightly from the 16.1% decline through the midseason and a 19.1% drop for the week after Black Friday.

Footwear sales also showed relative resilience, declining 13.5% compared to the 2007 holiday season.

Electronics
The electronics and appliance category continued to have an especially difficult season, with declines of over 26% against 2007. “Sales above $1,000 have been a consistent drag on this sector throughout the season,” observed Mr. McNamara.

Luxury
Another high-ticket sector, luxury sales showed the largest year-over-year declines, with sales down by more than 34% over last year. When jewelry is excluded, luxury sales are down slightly over 21% compared with 2007.

Versizon Nets Record Setting $33 Million Lawsuit Against OnlineNIC

Verizon last week was awarded a $33.15 million default judgment in a cybersquatting case against San Francisco-based OnlineNIC.

The default judgment of $50,000 for each of 663 addresses registered by the Internet company, OnlineNIC, was issued last Friday by United States District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel in San Jose, Calif. Judge Fogel froze OnlineNic’s assets and ordered the transfer of all the domains in question to Verizon. Verizon v. OnlineNIC, No 5:2008cv02832 (N.D. Calif.)

OnlineNIC registered at least 663 domain names that were identical or very similar to Verizon trademarks, such as myverizonwireless.com, iphoneverizonplans.com, 123verizonphones.com and verizononline.com. The court concluded that OnlineNIC registered these names in bad faith in an effort to lure Verizon customers to the sites.

"This case should send a clear message and serve to deter cybersquatters who continue to run businesses for the primary purpose of misleading consumers," Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel, said in a statement. "Verizon intends to continue to take all steps necessary to protect our brand and consumers from Internet frauds and abuses."

A default judgment was handed down as no lawyers or representatives from OnlineNIC appeared in court to defend themselves.

According to Verizon's lawsuit, OnlineNIC's employees have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities. OnlineNIC's employees have used "numerous shell-entities, fictitious business, and personal names," in addition to covering basic tracks such as withholding accurate information from the company's public WHOIS database. Verizon believes that one or more of OnlineNIC's employees conduct business with various aliases and contact information.

OnlineNIC might face a lot more trouble. The company currently holds nearly 900,000 domains that resemble popular companies such as Yahoo, Google, Adidas and MySpace, and each one has the right to take OnlineNIC to court just like Verizon did.

While the Verizon lawsuit is amongst the largest of its kind its relatively unlikely that Verizon will every receive any of its money. Winning the case is one thing and collecting another.

Dell's Macbook Air Killer

 dell adamo logoRumors have hit the web following a short lived post on luxury products website Uptownlife.net that Dell will be creating a new ultra-light, ultra-thin, Macbook Air killer called the “Adamo Thirteen”.

The rumors all began with a NY Times BITS blog post which showed an extract from UptownLife.net which read: “Rumor has it that Dell is coming out with a computer called Adamo that will rival the MacBook Air.” Uptownlife.net has since removed its reference to Dell’s Adamo product and marketing material.

Dell spokesperson Bob Kaufman latter made a confusing confirmation that the Adamo image used in the Uptown Life article was a genuine Dell advertisement. "We did this to wake up the personal computing category and create some buzz," Kaufman said of Adamo ad. Kaufman later indicated that Dell was only confirming the “Adamo by Dell” image and not the text confirming that Dell was working on a “rival to the MacBook Air” which is quoted in this post.

Dell has recently registered the trademarks of "Adamo" and "Adamo by Dell." The company has also set up the Adamo by dell website, which currently only bears a landing page. The trademarks cover computer hardware, including possibly desktops and notebooks, which may encompass the rumored Adamo Thirteen.

Over the weekend TG Daily dug through Googles Cached pages to gather an information on what they speculate might be the specs of the new notebook.

TG Daily suggests the Adamo Thirteen will feature an ultra-thin 3.5 mm (0.14”) 13” screen anIntel 45 nm Core 2 Duo processor. Optical drive options are likely to include a 8x slot-load DVD burner or an optional 2x Blu-ray/DVD-RW drive (with SATA interface). The option list includes Displayport-to-VGA, Displayport-to-HDMI and Displayport-to-DVI converters.

It is suggested that Dell will be offering solid state disk drives (SSDs) throughout the product line. The capacity is said to be (well beyond 100 GB), which suggests that Dell will be offering either 128 GB, Intel’s 160 GB or possibly Samsung’s 256 GB drive, which went into mass-production recently. Strangely enough, Dell has not listed SSDs for the Adamo, but included (external) 2.5” 5400 rpm hard drives with 250 GB and 500 GB capacity, as well as an 8 GB USB memory key.

At this point everything is pure speculation, however TG Daily cited sources saying that the new Adamo line is expected to be unveiled at CES. Reports on DigiTimes suggest the new Adamo could be priced upwards of $3,000.

Fry's VP Allegedly Embezzles $65M

Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, vice president of merchandising and operations at Fry's Electronics Inc., was arrested last week on charges he embezzled more than $65 million to fund a "lavish lifestyle and pay of gambling debits."

According to Business Week, Siddiqui who oversees merchandise acquisitions for Fry's is accused by the IRS of creating an incredibly profitable scheme. He cut side deals with some of Fry's suppliers, buying their goods at higher prices than they would normally get, and buying more of them than he normally would, in exchange for kickbacks of up to 31 percent of the total sales price.

The IRS claims Siddiqui started striking side deals with some of the suppliers, in which he would guarantee he'd keep their products stocked on Fry's shelves, in exchange for kickbacks in the form of steep commissions paid to a company he set up called PC International.

According to the Mercury News Siddiqui used the funds to live a lavish lifestyle which included fast cars and high dollar styakes. Siddiqui was a regular in Vegas often times tapping into the casinos' private credit lines for millions of dollars. The former executive earned $225,000 a year with an additional undisclosed compensation as an "equity holder" in a company, however it is reported he has spent more than $120 million in just three years at the MGM Grand and the Venetian on the Vegas Strip.

Siddiqui is being held on a $300,000 bond and is due in San Jose federal court next month to be formally charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

Related articles:

Crunchies 2008 Voting Is Open

Voting for the the finalist in the 2008 Crunchie Awards opened over the weekend. This marks the second year of the tech-start-up awards ceremony co-hosted by GigaOm, VentureBeat, Silicon Alley Insider, and TechCrunch..

Voting ends on January 5, 2009 at Midnight PST. You may vote up to once per day. The Awards Ceremony will take place at 7:30 pm, Friday, January 9 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Windows 7 Beta 1 Leaked

windows 7 logoReports have been confirmed that the Windows 7 Beta 1 build 7000 that has leaked to Torrent sites is the real deal. Build 7000 is what Microsoft will issue next month as Windows 7 Beta 1, according to reports by Windows bloggers who have copies.

Neowin users began posting screenshots of the new build on Friday, shortly after reports had surfaced on various Chinese and Russian forums. The files quickly hit Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent sites, including Mininova, and now have almost 2,000 seeders and nearly 10,000 leechers.

Microsoft has promised to open the beta to all users in early 2009. There has been no direct comment from Microsoft as to when we can expect the official beta to be released, however speculation suggests the first half of January.

I for one plan to hold off until the official beta release from Microsoft has been made public. The popularity of the file and sheer number of downloads would indicate that its more than likely clean, as always you should still check any torrent for viruses, I just see no reason to jump the gun.

$99 iPhone Confirmed

While previous rumors of Wal-Mart selling a $99 iPhone might have missed the mark they weren't entirely off. Wal-Mart has begun selling iPhone, just not at the discount we had originally hoped for. Currently Wal-Mart has the iPhone listed at $197, just $2 less than the AT&T store.

Thanks to AT&T the $99 iPhone does exist however. AT&T has lowered the price of its refurbished iPhones until the end of the year (December 31, for those keeping track) or until stock runs out, whichever comes first. The price has dropped by another $50, making the 8GB model a mere $99 and the 16GB models $199 (black and white).



To get your $99 iPhone 3G you'll still need to sign the typical qualifying plan which includes a 2 yr AT&T contract. The refurbished phones are previously owned devices that have been unused or lightly used and returned during the 30-day trial period. Each refurbished phone is independently quality tested and loaded with the latest software to meet current factory standards. Some refurbished iPhone 3G devices will have minor scratches.

Refurbished iPhone 3G devices carry a warranty of 90 days or more. For details about the warranty on your refurbished iPhone 3G go to www.apple.com/support/oss/.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

HubSpot Reports 70% Off All Twitter Users Joined in '08

twitter logoAccording to Hubspot's State of the Twittersphere report (PDF), 70 percent of all Twitter users joined during 2008 and approximately 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts are opened each day. The site also shows traffic growth of over 600% in the past 12 months.

According to Hubspot the report is based on real data pulled from hundreds of thousands of Twitter profiles accessed through the reports generated by Twitter Grader. The report is inspired by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, which tries to quantify trends across all the blogs it tracks. For more details checkout Hubspot's State of the Twittersphere blog post.

Phenom II CPUs Begin Showing At US Retailers

phenom II logoRetailers are getting an early jump on orders of the, yet to be announced, Phenom II line. Leaked chip details as well as pricing are already making their way to the web a few weeks ahead of the company's processor announcement plans for early January.

Computers4Sure, an Office Depot subsidiary, has listed both the Phenom II 920 at $271 and the Phenom II 940 at $303, with a number of other sites turning up in our Google Shopping results.

AMD reportedly plans to announce the chips next month at the International Consumer Electronics Show to be held in Las Vegas between January 8 and 11. Information on the new Phenom II line-up has slowly been trickling out since Novemeber when AMD released a sneak peek of the CPUs overclocking abilities.

Presumably, we will see immediate availability following their official launch in January. The Phenom II 920 and 940 are said to be compatible with several of AMD’s older AM2+ motherboards, a move meant to help easy their adoption on the market. Chips supporting DDR3 memory and AM3 motherboards will arrive roughly a month after the initial launch and are expected to maintain compatibility with AM2+ boards as well.

ShoeMoney Scores Big With Early Christmas Present From Intel

Pro-Blogger Jeremy Schoemaker scored big time after writing a recent posting stating what a huge fan he is of Intel. When a company representative contacted him asking for his address he said, "I thought maybe they would send me a sticker for my laptop or something." So imagine his surprise when he got home and found not one but three boxes arrived from Intel, packing a new Core i7 dream machine!

Here are the specs of his new holiday toy:

Tower:
Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition 965 Nehalem 3.2GHz Quad Core CPU
6GB RAM
300GB system drive, 2 TB on-board RAID 0 storage array
Firewire, USB, eSata & Gigabit Ethernet ports
Blu-Ray RW Drive + BD ROM-DVD/CD R/W Drive
Nvidia 9800GX2 graphics card.

Monitors:
2 X Samsung SyncMaster T245 - 24″

Software:
Adobe CS3.3 Production Premium Suite
Microsoft Windows Vista 64bit OS


He's got some great photos on his blog, with a typical ear to ear geeky grin! Way to go Jeremy, I'm definitely green with envy on this one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Microsoft Answers Beta Seeks To Answer Windows Vista Questions

Microsoft has launched a new web site geared towards answering common questions from Windows Vista users, Answers.Microsoft.com. The free Q&A site is an official forum for Windows tech support that is run by actual Microsoft employees willing to help out users.

Answer seekers are given three options to help you find the most relevant answer to your question. A search bar to search previously answered questions, browsing with Find Answers or Ask the community, where you can get answers from fellow members or Microsoft staff.



During my testing the search bar wasn't functional so I had to opt for testing the other two options. I consider myself a "power user" so I rarely have questions that need answered. But there has been one thing nagging me about Vista and that was the large icon size. So I began with that.

Clicking on the find answers tab (or browse) brings you to a straightforward page that will remind you of the Vista control panel. On this page you get answers to the most common Windows Vista questions.

vista answers

Clicking the Appearance and Personalization category I immediately saw the answer to my question. From there you are taken to the Microsoft Answers Forum, where you'll see your answer was asked and answered. In this case Keith, a Support Engineer, posted the answer with follow up from another user. Both answers were very helpful, the answer from the user was actually a little more helpful.

Ask The Community, varies from the find answers tab on slightly. Clicking the tab takes you to the same landing page, which gives you the same category options. The difference is clicking those categories takes you directly to the forums rather than showing some of the popular questions.

The forums looked very user friendly, with nothing too over done or over complicated. To use the forums you will need a Live ID (Hotmail or Live emails work). Each forum was well categorized with a standard format. There are stickies at the top with answers to some of the more common questions. You are provided with easy to follow visual ques as the threads that are unresolved feature a question mark, resolved threads featured a check mark and threads with a proposed answer have a check mark over a question mark.

Posts can be voted on for usefulness with more helpful users gaining reputation points. Any post can be nominated as a proposed answer, however I'm not certain who has final say on whether or not that actually was the answer, I'd assume it was the original poster.

The site is still in beta so I did run into a few issues. As mentioned the search bar wasn't working at all. A couple times I reached site errors telling me the site was too busy. I also experienced slow load times. All of which is pretty normal for a new site. I was surprised that Microsoft is limiting the website to just Vista-related questions and answers. XP might be on its last leg but what about Windows 7 ? What happens when it hits the streets, will the site be divided into two, or will Microsoft convert the site to only cover Windows 7 questions?

Warner Music And YouTube Part Ways

Over the weekend Warner Music Group and YouTube failed to reach a new deal. Based on a statements reported by Reuters, it appears that the music label was demanding a larger chunk of revenue from video streams than YouTube was willing to accept.

Both companies are publicly claiming responsibility for the parting, with YouTube firing first with a statement posted to their blog on Friday. In their statement they claim users may "notice videos that contain music owned by Warner Music Group being blocked from the site."

Warner responded on Saturday stating they ordered YouTube to remove all music videos by its artists after contract negotiations broke down. "We simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide," Warner said in a statement

The full details are a bit speculative at this point with at least a few reports saying it was indeed YouTube that made the decision to pull Warner's content. A CNet news article citing, "high-level sources with knowledge of the negotiations" seem to back YouTube's position. CNet's sources claim, "YouTube began removing videos from its site after Warner came to YouTube with an "11th-hour demand" for better financial terms."

For now at least is appears that we will no longer see videos from popular Warner artists such as Led Zeppelin, Madonna, TI, Eric Clapton, REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Grateful Dead, on YouTube.

Intel Ships 160 GB SSD, Hefty Price Tag Included

Intel began shipping their 160GB solid-state drives on Monday with a very hefty price tag attached. According to Intel, "Introductory" pricing for the SSDs is $945 for less than 1,000 units, a price tag that might be a little hard for most of us to swallow.

The Intel X25-M and X18-M SSDs are based on Intel's Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash Memory with an effective bandwidth of up to 250MB/s Read Speeds and upto 70MB/s Write Speeds, which holds the promise of faster read/write performance than conventional hard disk drives.

The drives will be 2.5-inches and feature full SATA support for use in most newer PCs and laptops. The 1.8-inch Intel X18-M which is geared more toward ultraportable laptops will be released in January '09.

Solid State Drives promise faster boot times, lower power consumption and less heat over traditional hard drives. All equating to what

Eltima Software Releases SyncMate V1.4

Eltima Software has released SyncMate version 1.4. SyncMate is an easy-to-use synchronizer for Mac and Pocket PC, that will help you keep all your documents, text messages, contacts, calendar entries, events and other stuff well organized. You simply establish a connection between your Mac and Pocket PC via USB or Wi-Fi and synchronize applications like Address Book, iCal, etc.

The application comes in two version, a free edition and a paid expert edition. Both versions feature the basic synch capabilities listed below with the expert addition adding a few more features including synchronization with iTunes and iPhoto, Internet sharing between your Mac and your mobile device and additional SMS/text message functionality.

Full features list:
  • Synchronize Favorites, Contacts, Calendar, Notes in mobile device accordingly with their analogues Bookmarks, Address Book, iCal, Stickies on Mac OS
  • Ability to work with iTunes and iPhoto
  • Simple installation of applications to your mobile device
  • Synchronize separate folders
  • Resize images while copying
  • Ability to synchronize time in mobile device with TimeSync plugin
  • Easily get device info (type of device, OS, owner's name, memory status (internal memory and flash card), battery state, time, alarms, etc.)
  • Examine memory status diagram and its legend
  • Track all operations which SyncMate handles by actions log
  • Ability to manage Drafts, Sent and Deleted items, Inbox and Outbox SMS
  • Build-in converter, which compresses video to MPEG4
  • Synchronization via USB cable and WiFi
  • Compatibility with Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2005/2006, Windows Mobile Smartphone 2005/2006

SyncMate is compatible with Mac OS X platform (Mac OS X 10.4 and higher, Mac OS X 10.5). Device compatibility: Windows Mobile Pocket 5, Windows Mobile Smartphone 5; Windows Mobile 6 Standard, Windows Mobile 6 Classic and Windows Mobile 6 Professional; Windows Mobile 6.1.

Additional information about SyncMate, along with detailed technical documentation, online help, changelog, upgrade to PRO policy as well as free installation package can be found at: http://www.eltima.com/products/syncmate/

Monday, December 22, 2008

Missouri Authorities Charge 7 People With Cyberbullying

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Missouri prosecutors have filled charges against seven people under a new anti-cyberharassment statute. The law went into effect in late August and was passed after 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself in Missouri in 2006 following online harassment through a MySpace account.

Missouri lawmakers drafted the new legislation to outlaw future threats or harassing communication that causes emotional distress, including electronic messaging on computers, text messaging and e-mail. Charges can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies.

The reported charges are as follows:
  • A 21-year-old woman named Nicole Williams was charged for allegedly sending harassing text messages to a 16-year-old girl and allowing others to use her cellphone to leave vulgar voicemail messages for the victim threatening her with rape, among other things. Williams allegedly targeted the teen over a jealous dispute involving a boy, according to the Post-Dispatch.
  • Two St. Louis men were charged separately with sending harassing text messages to their ex-girlfriends.
  • A man protesting the development of a proposed resort was charged with sending a threatening e-mail to city hall staff.
  • A 28-year-old woman was accused of sending harassing text messages to her ex-husband's girlfriend.
  • A 19-year-old man was charged with sending some 17 text messages to his mother's husband.
  • A 17-year-old involved with a classmate in a dispute over a girl is accused of sending the classmate death threats via text messages.

The majority of these charges look fairly ridiculous. I mean who hasn't sent or received a nasty message from an ex? It would appear as though this is just another knee-jerk reaction. Which resulted in the creation and implementation of a poorly written law. Unfortunatly the government is forced to respond in some manner or they risk facing more public backlash.

G2 Rumors Seen As Unlikely

Rumors posted on Cell Phone Signal about a new T-Mobile G2 being released in January are starting to seem more and more unlikely. T-Mobile officially launched the G1 a mere 3 months ago amidst a mediocre reception and less than stellar reviews. So it would seem very unlikely that they'd rush out the new model potentially creating friction with supporters.

Cell Phone Signal created a lot of buzz when the story first appeared, but it looks like this is nothing more than a case of slightly overzealous reporting. Several sites including the Android Community and The Boy Genius Report refute the report claiming some of the details might be correct but the speculated release date is all wrong.

Cell Phone Signal claims that most if not all of the features from the Android "cupcake" development branch will be included in the new phone. The cupcake branch was a private development working on their own Android projects, they have since been incorporated into the master project. So that part of the rumor may in fact be true.

The reported device feature list includes:
    The new Android OS
    3G capability
    Full Touch Screen support
    Enterprise Capable
    WiFi capability ( no word about UMA)
    5 Megapixel camera with aoutofocus and flash
    Address Book
    Calculator
    Calendar
    EDGE and GPRS
    New Games
    Instant Messaging
    Megatones, HI-Fi tones and wallpapers
    Memory card Slot ( up to 16GB)
    Mobile Backup
    Music and Video Player
    Phone Book
    Photo Caller ID
    Picture Messaging
    Real web browsing
    Speakerphone
    Speed dial
    Stereo Bluetooth connectivity
    Sync with PC ( better than air sync)
    Task list
    USB interface
    Video capture and playback
    Video Messaging
    Voice Dialing
    myFaves capable and T-Zones


BGR says that their sources confirm many of these features will be added. Adding that the device is a full touch device and there is no physical QWERTY keyboard and there is still a trackball at the bottom. BGR speculates the G2 won't be available until April, which would seem to be a much more likely scenario.

Rumor: Windows 7 Beta 1 Download Coming Jan 5th

According to reports at Ars Technica the first official Windows 7 Beta might be available for download as soon as Jan 5th. Details provided for members of the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription show the Windows 7 Beta being available as part of the Jan 2009 kit.

The kit will start shipping on "January 5, 2009, depending on region," however according to the footnote for Windows 7 Beta, it's only available via download, so waiting for shipping won't be an issue.

Microsoft Breathes More Life Into Windows XP

Microsoft has once again extended the Windows XP lifecycle extending the date by which PC makers can obtain Windows XP Professional licenses from January 31, 2009 to May 30, 2009.

"Microsoft is making accommodation through a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders by January 31, 2009; and take delivery against those orders through May 30, 2009," according to a Microsoft spokesman. "This is not an extension of sales."

Originally Microsoft said it would stop shipments of Windows XP on January 31st. Which meant distributors would have to stockpile licenses. Under the new program they will have until the end of May to actually take delivery of, and pay for, the licenses.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mahalo Answers Success Story User Pulls Support

Mahalo Answers user budgallant, who was used by TechCrunch and Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis to publicize the success of Mahalo Answers, has backed off his support of the site.

In response to my article "Mahalo Launches New Money Making Scheme" Gallant originally came forth with glowing support of the site, going as far as saying he didn't mind the 25% surcharge stating he didn't mind pay for supporting the site. That support quickly faded as Gallant now writes, "it would seem my glowing reviews were colored very much by the lottery winnings I received...I'm afraid, it turns out many of your criticisms are valid, and there's a lot more."

Shortly after the launch of Mahalo Answers, TechCrunch and Calacanis essentially made Gallant their poster boy for the success of the new service when they ran the article "Mahalo Answers User Gets $100 Payday For Giving PR Tips To Strippers". With several sites reposting the success story, and almost 350 diggs, the article undoubtedly added a little fuel to the Mahalo fire.

That fire seems to be flaming out quickly as Gallant now tell us. "Over the last few days, I've grown disillusioned... both with the site and it's operation, and with the CEO. This is a guy who after I asked him two simple yes or no questions, refused to reply. Sure, I realize he owes me no reply, but one would like to think when TechCrunch, in association with Mahalo, uses your name in an article, you'd at the very least get a question answered without being ignored. Apparently not...It's a personal slight, and frankly, I don't appreciate it."

It really wouldn't be fair to judge Mahalo or Mahalo Answers simply on the distaste Jason leaves in ones mouth and anyone that has talked to him or seen any of his interviews knows he's a hard pill to swallow. My negative views of the service were based more on the extremely high surcharge incurred by Mahalo Answers users wishing to cash out. Taking 25% off the top of payments seemed to be a bit extreme to me.

Once Gallant posted his original response I looked at Mahalo Answers a little closer. I had noticed a few things that really didn't sit right with me.

For one, there seemed to be several questions posted by website owners. Most the them were questions that would basically drive traffic to their specific site. So it looked to me like some of the users found a way to "game" the system and get some cheap/free advertising. Secondly, was the volume of questions posted by the Mahalo staff. That wasn't unusual as obviously you want to support your own site and what better way than using in house dollars to drive more support? However according to Gallant it would appear as though they were doing a bit more than that.

In comments posted to our previous post Gallant writes:
These things, and things like these [referring to his disillusionment] , put me off Jason... completely, but it wouldn't be fair to let my growing dislike for his personality and profiteering, affect my view of Mahalo Answers. I'm sure I'm not completely objective, but this brings me to the most important reason I no longer support the platform.

Mahalo Answers is gameable. Completely gameable. I suspect it is so, because Jason himself and his staff are the primary ones gaming it. Where do the M$ come from? Well, if you are a user, you need to buy them at a 1-1 ratio with real money. If you are Mahalo, you simply create them out of thin air, and then "put them into the system". I read a claim that Jason had put hundreds of thousands into that system, on an msnbc news article, to promote tips. Is there a paper trail for all those M$, or are they just being created by the site? Good luck getting an answer on that. I strongly suspect it is the latter.

Regardless, the system is being gamed. Once M$ are in the system, the only way for them to cost Mahalo a penny is if they are converted to real money via paypal. The majority of this time, this does not occur. Instead what happens is this: Someone affiliated with Mahalo Answers who was given the M$ by the site (by their admission), posts a question offering a large tip $20-$100. Users believing they have a shot at it put in an amount of work, and that is what it is, based on the amount. MA gets around 20 good answers, for free, and then selects another MA-related user as the winner. The M$ go round and round, transfered through the Mahalo Answers affiliate botnet, and never reach an actual user who cashes them out (or do so only after multiple transfers, at best). It costs Mahalo nothing, to transfer the same M$100 from one affiliate to another, and each time they do this, they have essentially gamed the system, and saved the entire cost of that tip.

I have witnessed this occurring on the site, and the evidence of it remains. I first suspected this when I noticed users who are direct employees of MA, not disclosing it on their profiles. One of them Is Mary. I have an e-mail from her MA account with a link to her profile, to demonstrate it. Even after I raised this issue, her profile was not changed. Instead Jason claimed all employees disclose. That is a lie, and I suspect he knows it. Why Mary is notable is because she has been funneling hundreds of dollars through the system, and selecting "best answers" that indicate the system is rigged.

This would be no different than a business owner paying the $100 for M$100 and then asking a question that can be used to profit his business. After receiving all the answers, he selects a "best answer", and transfers that money to an employee or to an affiliate of his business. And the scam gets repeated ad infinitum. Mahalo Answers seems to be running the same scam, with the difference that the M$ do not even need to be purchased. They can simply be created.

Due to the above, I officially withdraw all support for Jason Calacanis and Mahalo Answers. While it is possible to believe these are simply "accidents" or "coincidences", it would be naive to think so.

Users have a right to know who the Mahalo employees are, and that they primarily select other employees to receive the tips. Users also have a right to know where the M$ used by these employees came from, and whether or not Mahalo actually payed for them, or just created them. In addition, and most importantly, users should know that the system in use can be gamed, and gamed easily, and nothing effective is being done to guard against this. I doubt that is negligence, but rather more profiteering, something which JC is a master at.


At this time I can not confirm the fact that Mahalo is "gaming" the system in any way. I'm not familiar with the current staff so its hard to say who is and who isn't on the payroll. I can say that I see numerous questions and answer posted by Mahalo staff members that I did know. I don't know if they still work their nor did I take the time to look through all the questions and answers to see which staff members received tips for their answers.

Mahalo's response to this so far:
Mahalo for the feedback. Couple of quick points:

1. If you click on the profiles of our staff you'll see they all disclose they work at Mahalo. If someone hasn't it's an oversight.

2. 25% is very reasonable since it costs a lot of money to build an maintain a system like this. Google AdSense takes 35-45%, so we're a much better deal than all the ad networks.

3. We have no interest in gaming the system to ask a question and answer it ourselves. That would be very short sighted. In fact, we don't have the TIME to answer questions nor do we need to since thre are so many folks answering them.

4. Also, since we're making 25% it's better for us to
sit back and collect that fee rather than waste time trying to answer our own questions!

5. If you have specific examples where you think something is fishy just ask me jason at mahalo.com or ask a question about it on Mahalo Answers. We'll look into it immediately.

Is Jason now comparing Mahalo Answers to AdSense? Answers is supposedly a Q&A site not an advertising network. Mahalo acting as the middle man would be more akin to comparing PayPal to eBay. All Mahalo does is provide the platform and transfer (via paypal btw) the payments. eBay and PayPal fees combined rarely top 10%, so my point is still valid. Taking 25% off the top is ludicrous!

As to the rest of the questions being raised, I'll let you come to your own conclusions and leave you with a few related links.

**Update**
Jason has posted a "semi-official statement", which ironically confirms the statements made by both Bud Gallant and myself. In another twist of irony, Jason feels as though my sentiment that Mahalo takes too big a cut is somehow motivated by my past dealings with Mahalo.

Jason you might want to read my post before making such claims. I have nothing against the Q&A process. My issue has always been the fact that Mahalo is engaged in profiteering. If you are making money off of your advertising then why is there a need to make even more money off your users by charging a surcharge.

I've said it before and will say it again, Mahalo Answers is nothing more than a money making scheme for Mahalo. It is a fairly clear statement one that Jason even admits, "For the record, our business model is to make money off of a) the 25% fee and b) advertising on the site (the Google ads you see)."

One thing I found interesting was that Jason and Mahalo Q&A users wanted to address this posting, however there was no reference to Mr. Gallant or his postings. As mentioned I'm not a Mahalo member therefore I can't respond on site. But I'd think you would want to address the concerns of your disillusioned members before address your critics.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Japanese Group Asks Google To Shut Down Street View

According to a Reuters report, a group of Japanese lawyers and college professors have asked Google to shut down Street View and and delete all saved images of Japanese cities.

Citing concerns over privacy and stating that Google might have violated privacy rights the Campaign Against Surveillance Society, a Japanese civilian group headed by Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of constitutional law at Sophia University in Tokyo as reportedly asked Google to stop providing detailed street-level images of Japanese cities on the Internet.

"We strongly suspect that what Google has been doing deeply violates a basic right that humans have," said Yasuhiko Tajima, in an interview with Reuters. "It is necessary to warn society that an IT (information technology) giant is openly violating privacy rights, which are important rights that the citizens have, through this service," he said.

According to Reuters Google had no direct comments choosing to instead reiterate the Street View privacy policy stating it was blurring the faces of people seen in Street View scenes by special technology and that it would delete the pictures of people and buildings upon request.

This isn't the first time Google and Street View have come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, in stupid news of the week, we reported that a Pennsylvania couple sued Google alleging Street View violated their privacy by posting street level photos of a private drive way. While the US doesn't currently place restrictions on street level photographs Japan has stricter protections on privacy in public than we do. Given these restrictions its possible that the Japanese might be able to stop their pictures from being used against their will.

Guardian's 100 Top Sites For 2009

British news site Guardian.co.uk has released a great compilation of their picks for the 100 top sites for the year ahead. The sites are broken down into several categories including, music, news recommendation (digg, reddit ect), gaming, maps, offbeat, browsers, social networking and blogging.

For you Twitter fans there is even a Twitter specific category featuring, monitter.com which allows you to watch keywords on Twitter, twitter.grader.com, the popular Twitter ranking site and twitterfeed.com, a very useful tool for us bloggers that allows you to send blog posts to your Twitter account.

The list mainly features well know sites that you more than likely have bookmarked already. I think there are one or two sites that I haven't heard of or at least tried once or twice. Like me you might be a bit surprised by some of the selections, or should I say lack of selections. I was surprised Twitter warranted it's own category, but agree with most of the selections. I was also a little surprised by their "rough ranking" of a few sites or services.

There are 8 video sites listed, YouTube, Vimeo and Joost all make the grade there. Many of you might notice Hulu will oddly be absent, but Hulu is a US only site and since this is a UK site they didn't list it. I'm a little surprised there are only 2 blogging sites listed - bloglines.com and wordpress.com. For browsers they seemingly list every popular option, not deciding on just a couple, and oddly list Chrome at the top. I can't say I agree with that recommendation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Apple Confirms Mac OS X 10.5.6 Update Issues

Maximize the capabilities of your Mac!Apple has confirmed there is a glitch in the update system "when attempting to update software using Software Update in Mac OS X 10.5." The company says," The update process may stop responding while "Configuring installation" is visible in the update window. This can occur if Software Update attempts to install an update that was only partially downloaded."

Apple has posted a resolution, telling users to delete the partial download from the "/Library/Updates" folder. To find the folder click the Finder icon in the Dock, from the Go menu choose "Go to Folder" and type: /Library/Updates. Click Go. The /Library/Updates folder should open, allowing you to select all the contents of this folder and move them to the Trash. Use Software Update to install the update again or you can download the standalone installer or the full combo installer

As far as we know the new work around should fix many of the issues that we reported earlier this week. If the standalone update work doesn't work then I'd suggest trying the larger combo installation.

David Pogue's iPhone: The Missing Manual App

New York Times columnist David Pogue's bestselling book iPhone: The Missing Manual, Second Edition is now available as a download via the App Store.

Missing Manuals, a publishing division of O'Reilly Media, today announced the release of its first iPhone App, iPhone: The Missing Manual. This new App makes it possible to read and browse David Pogue's--iPhone: The Missing Manual: Second Edition which covers the iPhone 3G, directly from your iPhone.

Full of humor, tips, tricks, and surprises, iPhone: The Missing Manual App, just like Pogue's book, helps you accomplish specific tasks with complete step-by-step instructions for everything from scheduling to web browsing to watching videos.

You'll learn how to:

  • Use the iPhone as a phone -- get a guided tour of 3G's phone features and learn how much time you can save with things like Visual Voicemail, contact searching, and more.
  • Figure out what 3G means and how it affects battery life, internet speed, and even phone call audio quality.
  • Treat the iPhone as an iPod -- listen to music, upload and view photos, and fill the iPhone with TV shows and movies.
  • Take the iPhone online -- learn how to get online, use email, browse the Web, and use the GPS.
  • Go beyond the iPhone -- discover how to use iPhone with iTunes, sync it with your calendar, and learn about The App Store where you can pick from hundreds of iPhone-friendly programs.

Missing Manuals is currently offering the app at an introductory price of $4.99 (which will increase to $9.99). For more information about iPhone: The Missing Manual App, see: http://missingmanuals.com/iphone_app. To purchase iPhone: The Missing Manual App from iTunes, please check: http://missingmanuals.com/iphone_app/get.

About the Author
David Pogue, Yale '85, is the weekly personal-technology columnist for the New York Times and an Emmy award-winning tech correspondent for CBS News. With 3 million books in print, he is also one of the world's bestselling how-to authors. He wrote or co-wrote seven books in the "for Dummies" series (including Macs, Magic, Opera, and Classical Music); in 1999, he launched his own series of complete, funny computer books called Missing Manuals, which now includes 30 titles.

Give Your Intel Atom-based PC Or Netbook A Boast With NVIDIA's Ion

When it comes to gaming or HD videos a netbook or low cost notebook is going to be just about useless. That is where NVIDIA steps in with their recently announced Ion platform.

This box that literally fits in the small of your hand, features an integrated Atom CPU and GeForce 9400M GPU. That together should significantly boost the performance of netbooks, small form factor PCs, and all-in-one PCs.

nvidia ion

The new Ion features:
  • Full support for Windows Vista Premium as well as Windows 7, Premium DirectX 10 graphics with advanced digital display connectivity,
  • CUDA technology unlocks the processing power of the GPU to accelerate video transcoding and run the most compute-intensive applications
  • Premium 1080p HD video with true-fidelity 7.1 audio
Connections include VGA, HDMI-out, dual-link DVI, SATA connections, 12x USB 2.0 ports, an ethernet port as well as 7.1 surround sound support.

nvidia ionnvidia ion

In their demonstration videos NVIDIA claims a boost of 10x the speed for graphics and video transcoding in netbook and All-in-one PCs with Atom CPUs and integrated video. They also claim Ion will run Call of Duty 4 on lowered setting. As for the rest of the specs you get a max resolution of 2560x1600, gigabyte ethernet support, 128 bits of DDR3 1333mhz memory and a total power consumption of 18Ws.

Pricing and availability are not set yet, however speculation sets the price in the $50range and we shouldn't expect to see it before mid year.

LCD TV Revenues And Sales Expected To Fall

DisplaySearch has revised its TV market forecast for 2009, now estimating that worldwide LCD TV revenues are expected to fall year-on-year for the first time since LCD TV was launched in 2000.

Blaming ongoing economic turmoil which is unlikely to improve in 2009 DisplaySearch estimated revenues could fall as much as 16% on year to $64 billion in 2009, and total TV revenues will fall 18% on year to $88 billion. DisplaySearch expects that 2009 will be the most difficult year yet for the TV industry and supply chain.

The LCD TV market is expected to reach 102.2M units in 2008, which would be 29% Y/Y growth; this is a reduction of 3.6M from the Q3’08 forecast for 2008. In 2009, the LCD TV market is forecast to reach 119.9M units, for 17% Y/Y growth; this has been reduced by 11.5M units from the Q3’08 forecast for 2009. Unit growth in developed regions such as Japan, North America and Western Europe will be just 2% Y/Y, largely due to the impact of the economic crisis.

DisplaySearch forecasts that LCD TV growth in emerging regions will be 45% Y/Y in 2009, lower than the 68% Y/Y growth in 2008. As CRT TV penetration in these emerging regions is 60-70%, the shift to FPD TV continues to be driven by price reductions.

DisplaySearch’s total global TV forecast is 206.4M units in 2008, up 3% Y/Y; 2009 shipments are forecast to be 205.3M units, down 1% Y/Y—the first time in recent memory that there has been a drop in unit shipments.

In addition to a reduction of units, the revenue decline in 2009 will affect the TV supply chain in 2009. Without revenue growth, top brands may aim to increase their market share to maintain revenue, causing challenges for lower-tier players. TV brands, as well as panel manufacturers and material suppliers, will need to aggressively increase 1080p penetration (even for 32"/37" sizes), and accelerate penetration of 120 Hz and differentiated products such as Ultra Slim FPD TVs in order to maintain ASPs.


Don't miss Dell's TV Days of Deals!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Microsoft Give Away Free Versions Of Windows 7 & Office 14

A few years ago Microsoft ran a great promotion though a site called powertogether.com. The site offered a free chance to receive Windows Vista Business Edition as well as Office Professional 2007 for viewing webcasts and participating in virtual labs.

The promotion was, at least in my mind, a big hit. The site was flooded with people trying to get in to get their chance at free versions of the new software. Last year Microsoft held another similar promotions through the Windows Feedback Program. Users this time had to download a piece of software that monitored your computer usage as well as participate in a few surveys from time to time.

So I'm wondering if Microsoft will be nice enough to hold a similar promotion once they've released Windows 7 and Office 14. Both programs were great for me, I probably wouldn't be running Vista today if I hadn't received my free copy. And I know for a fact I wouldn't use Office 2007 if it wasn't free, that new UI is not to my liking.

So how about it Microsoft, are you guys going to give us a chance to earn some more freebies?

Google Adds Android and iPhone Optimized Search Results

iPhone and Android users searching through the search widget on the Android home screen, the built-in search box of the iPhone's Safari browser, or google.com on either device, will now see optimized search results.

According to the details posted on the Google Mobile Blog, the new results will show pages that are faster and are formatted to fit the screen so you don't have to zoom or scroll side-to-side. Searchers will also see touchscreen-friendly buttons and expandable maps for local business results. The optimized search results pages are currently available in U.S. English for Android and for iPhone and iPod touch devices with firmware 2.x. If you prefer, you can always view desktop search result pages by selecting the "Classic" link at the bottom of any page.

Mozilla Responds To Claims That FireFox Is The "Most Vulnerable App"

As we reported earlier this week FireFox topped Bit9 Inc.'s list of 2008’s Most Popular Applications with Critical Security Vulnerabilities, shortly following the release of the article Mozilla fired back refuting Bit9’s vulnerability claims.

On the Mozilla Security Blog Johnathan Nightingale writes, "There has been some interest in the last few days about a recent report from a company called Bit9 about application vulnerabilities. While we’re always happy to see stories that focus on educating our users about security, there are some problems with Bit9’s methodology that hinder its ability to draw any meaningful conclusions."

Mr. Nightingale says comparing companies that publicly report vulnerabilities against those that don't is an unfair and unreasonable assessment. Simply put a company that doesn't disclose vulnerabilities isn't necessarily less vulnerable than one that does, you just don't get to hear about those issues.
"Bit9 says it drew up this list by identifying popular applications that have had a critical vulnerability reported in 2008. This is an ineffective test, as it rewards software companies that conceal their security vulnerabilities.

Mozilla security process involves regularly identifying, fixing, testing, and releasing security updates to keep our users safe, and we do that in a public way so that others can scrutinize our processes and help make them better. To suggest that this openness is a weakness because it means that we have “reported vulnerabilities” is to miss the reality: that software has bugs. A product’s responsiveness to those bugs and its ability to contain them quickly and effectively is a much more meaningful metric than counting them."


Nightingale concludes stating, "Firefox vulnerabilities Bit9 discusses are long-since fixed, with the majority of these fixes coming within days of it being announced." This was a fact Bit9 was clear on conceding, in their full report they added that most all of the vulnerabilities from almost all of the companies had been fixed.

The clear problem is not with FireFox, nor is it with FireFox's security. While being very secure, and probably not the most vulnerable app on the list, FireFox is still a vulnerability when it is un-patched just like any other applications. In his response Nightingale appears to have overlooked one of the main criteria which is the application "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."

In the enterprise world, a lot of the time your patching is done through manual roll outs and not done by the actual user. Third party apps can, and often do, go un-patched for days, weeks even months. I'm sure we all know how reliable people are on keeping all their software up to date. So while FireFox might be secure and those bugs are fixed those fixes may or may not be applied.

I'm a big FireFox supporter, have been for years and will continue to be. I personally believe the software to be amongst the most secure out there. But to fully understand the context of the article you need to look at this from the enterprise stand point and not the end user side. If you take into account the reliability of the users using the software you can see Bit9 may have a point.

Mac Tops Rescuecom's Reliability List

According to Rescuecom Corp.'s third annual reliability report, Apple doubled its 2007 score on its way to once again taking the top spot for best overall reliability. The company beat out Panasonic, Lenovo, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard, eclipsing its nearest competitor by more than 200 points.

The Report calculates the "Reliability Score" for each computer vendor based on the calculated difference between overall U.S. market share, from January 2008 to October 2008, and the percentage of calls requesting service received by RESCUECOM's call center. Higher scores indicate that fewer calls for service were received for the specific computer vendor versus expected levels based upon market share estimates (scores are in parentheses).
  1. Apple (700)
  2. Panasonic (489)
  3. Lenovo (393)
  4. Toshiba (299)
  5. HP (184)


Reliability Scores are based on a comparison of RESCUECOM's call center data with IDC's third quarter U.S. PC Shipments report: November 2008. Other notable findings from the data include:
  • Apple ran away with the number-one spot in the reliability survey once again, beating its closest competitor by more than 200 points.
  • In a climate in which notebook sales overtook desktop sales, Panasonic made huge market share gains while keeping reliability high - thereby rocketing the company to the number-two spot in the ranking.
  • Toshiba, not even a performer last year, took the number-four spot, beating the next closest vendor by more than 100 points.
  • HP, also not a performer last year, took fifth place, removing DELL from the top 5 reliability report.
  • Lesser-known brands and generic PC's performed notably lower than better-known brands.
Notably absent from the list was Dell. This year the company fell off Rescuecom's list for the first time, even though it improved its score, from 2007's 94 to this year's 129. Rescuecom CEO David Milman said, "It's not that Dell dropped, but that some very strong players -- like Panasonic and Toshiba -- came in, Dell's problem was that it didn't improve as much as [its] competitors." Dell has been slowly slipping down Rescuecom's list, two years ago they were placed fourth, while last year the claimed the fifth spot.

Apple MacBook Air 1.6GHz 2GB RAM 80GB Hard D

Joost Re-Invents Itself

Flash back a year or so and you might remember that getting your hands on a Joost invite was all the rage. The web a buzz over the new video streaming video site, and people would do almost anything to get in the door to check it out. Now over a year and half later Joost has all but been forgotten.

In an attempt to remedy that the company has decided to stop broadcasting videos through its standalone application, and will instead join the ranks of many other video Web sites broadcasting video via a flash based interface directly from it's site.

Originally launched back in October Joost's new Flash-based, download-free service at www.joost.com, has a social design element meant
to help people navigate through their favorite videos. To help reinforce their social side Joost implemented Facebook Connect, which allows people to enjoy Joost within the context of their real identity and friendships on Facebook, as well as adding a Joost application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Additionally the company says it is working with a number of third-party platforms, including Boxee, chumby, Delicious, Digg, FriendFeed, Lifestream, Meebo, Mister Wong, Netlog, Netvibes, reddit and VideoSurf, to make it easier for people to use and access Joost across the web.

In it's October announcement Joost claimed to have more than 46,000 professionally-produced videos for a total of more than 8,000 hours of video entertainment. Some of Joost’s partners include CBS (Entertainment, News and Sports, and classic library content), Showtime, Last.fm, Wallstrip, Moblogic; Viacom, including Atom, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, LOGO, MTV, The N, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1 programming; television series and full-length feature films from Sony Pictures Television; and the Warner Bros. Television Group, which is partnering with Joost on three branded channels in the U.S.: The WB (featuring complete episodes of hit series, including “Friends,” and original digital productions from TheWB.com), Classic WB TV (boasting full-length episodes of classic favorites from the Warner Bros. collection of series) and WB Sci Fi Fix (featuring complete episodes of the Studio’s most popular science fiction titles).

Earlier this month Joost added 11 new content providers and more recently Joost bolstered their Indie music catalog with the addition of nine independent music labels and aggregators. Boosting the total to more than 18,000 music assets – including music videos, interviews and live performances – available in the Music section of Joost.com.

AMD Teams Up With XFX And iZ3D

amd logoLooking to boost it's position in the graphics market AMD/ATI announced it will be teaming with two new technology partners, popular graphics card manufacturer XFX and iZ3D manufactures of state of the art 3-d gaming monitors.

In Monday's press release AMD said, "XFX plans to provide new products based on the award-winning ATI Radeon™ HD 4000 series GPUs to consumers, beginning in early 2009."

“In the world of PC gaming, XFX is synonymous with the extreme performance that enthusiasts crave,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “Their decision to partner with AMD and launch AMD GPU-based XFX graphics cards, including the ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 X2, widely regarded as the world’s fastest graphics card1 by technology enthusiasts around the world, speaks to the level of excellence achieved by the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series.”

In a second separate press release (PDF) iZ3D Inc.,announced it has teamed with AMD on its recently released 3D monitor driver Version 1.09 to include support for AMD/ATI with an ATI 3D DLP output. This special feature, integrated exclusively for AMD customers – provides a customized 3D DLP output and is free for ATI Radeon graphics card users.

The iZ3D Version 1.09 S-3D driver is compatible with DirectX PC games running on 32-bit or 64-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. Most PC games released in the last five years, including many of the most popular multiplayer online, first person shooter, and role-playing games, have already been designed for 3D displays. iZ3D’s optimized driver unlocks the third (depth) dimension of these 3D-ready games to allow gamers to finally play them as they were written – in 3D. (list of supported games)

To encourage 3D game play using ATI Radeon graphics cards, iZ3D is offering all ATI Radeon graphics card users a $50.00 rebate on the purchase of an iZ3D monitor. The iZ3D 22-inch monitor has a manufacturers suggested resale price of $399.00 is currently available at online stores including Newegg.com. (note: I couldn't find the rebate listed on iZ3D)


“We appreciate the visual experience and excitement that is driving the trend towards 3D graphics,” said Godfrey Cheng, director of technical marketing, graphics products group, AMD. “3D gamers, designers and home theater enthusiasts will appreciate the sophistication that the ATI Radeon series of graphics cards will bring to the world of 3D. Our cards enable a feature-rich, 3D gaming and home theatre experience, especially when used in conjunction with an iZ3D 22-inch widescreen 3D display solution.”

Nintendo Reveals '09 Game Releases

Nintendo was nice enough provide 1UP.com with a nicely packaged list of all their upcoming titles for the beginning of the 2009 gaming season. Below are over 100 titles Nintendo plans to release on either the Wii or Nintendo DS in the first quarter of '09.

Wii

  • Monsters vs. Aliens -- March 24
  • Monster Pals -- March
  • Solitaire & Mahjong -- February
  • Puzzle Challenges and More! -- February
  • Crayola Colorful World -- March
  • Onechanbara Bikini Zombie Slayers -- February
  • Coraline -- January
  • WordJong Party -- January
  • Battle Rage -- February
  • Cradle of Rome -- February
  • Cate West: The Vanishing Files -- March
  • Burger Island -- March
  • Disney Sing It: High School Musical 3: Senior Year -- Winter
  • DreamCatcher Play the World -- March
  • NASCAR Kart Racing -- Feb. 10
  • SimAnimals -- Jan. 27
  • TRIVIAL PURSUIT -- Early spring
  • FISHING MASTER WORLD TOUR -- Jan. 6
  • Marble Saga Kororinpa -- Spring
  • DanceDanceRevolution Disney Grooves -- March
  • Escape the Museum -- January
  • Major Minor's Majestic March -- March
  • Little Kings Story -- Feb. 17
  • Rune Factory: Frontier -- March
  • Mastiff Deer Drive -- Jan. 20
  • We Ski and Snowboard -- March
  • New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis -- March
  • New Play Control! Pikmin -- March
  • The House of The Dead: Overkill -- February
  • SONIC and the Black Knight -- March
  • MADWORLD -- March
  • Roogoo Twisted Towers -- Feb. 17
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball -- March 17
  • Brave: A Warrior's Tale -- Feb. 17
  • Paws & Claws Pet Resort -- Jan. 5
  • Neighborhood Games -- Jan. 5
  • Tenchu: Shadow Assassins -- February
  • Broken Swor: Shadows of the Templars (Directors Cut) -- March
  • Super PickUps -- Q1

Nintendo DS

  • Monsters vs. Aliens -- March 24
  • Pimp My Ride 2 -- March 24
  • Animal Planet -- March 10
  • My World, My Way -- Feb. 3
  • Legacy of Ys: Books I & II -- Feb. 10
  • Trackmania DS -- March 17
  • Monster Pals -- March
  • Puzzle Quest: Galactrix -- Q1
  • Coraline -- January
  • USA TODAY Puzzle Craze -- January
  • DinoPets -- March
  • Phineas and Ferb -- Winter
  • Inkheart -- January
  • Learn Math -- January
  • Drivers' Ed Portable -- January
  • Monster Band -- January
  • Zoo Quest -- February
  • My Personal Diary -- February
  • Music Star: Pop Star -- February
  • Paint by DS -- March
  • Matchstick -- March
  • Dreamer: Top Model -- March
  • Sarah - Keeper of the Unicorn -- March
  • Learn Chess -- March
  • Dragon Master -- April
  • Zubo -- March
  • Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure -- Q1
  • SimAnimals -- Jan. 27
  • Jagged Alliance -- Feb. 17
  • American Popstar - Road to Celebrity -- March 9
  • Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero -- Q1
  • Suikoden Tierkreis -- Q1
  • Little Magician's Magic Adventure -- Q1
  • WonderWorld Amusement Park -- January
  • Powerbike -- January
  • Our House -- Q1
  • Hot 'n' Cold -- March
  • Avalon Code -- February
  • Flower, Sun, and Rain -- March
  • Mastiff Moon -- Jan. 13
  • MumboJumbo Chicken Hunter Star Karts -- March 10
  • Nintendo Personal Trainer: Math -- Jan. 12
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon -- Feb. 16
  • Pok√©mon Platinum version -- March 22
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars -- Winter
  • Big Bang Mini -- Jan. 6
  • Roogoo Attack -- Feb. 17
  • Brave: Shaman's Challenge -- Feb. 17
  • FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: Echoes of Time -- Spring
  • THE GAME FACTORY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES -- Jan. 19
  • Paws & Claws Pampered Pets -- Jan. 5
  • My DoItAll -- February
  • Jake Power Fireman -- January
  • Jake Power Policeman -- January
  • Imagine Cheerleader -- February
  • JoJo's Fashion Show -- February
  • Petz Horseshoe Ranch -- February
  • Imagine Family Doctor -- February
  • Imagine Ice Champions -- March
  • Jake Power Handyman -- March
  • My Fashion Studio Paris Collection -- Feb. 17
  • American Popstar - Road to Celebrity -- March 24
  • Broken Sword: Shadows of the Templars (Director's Cut) -- March
  • Games Retro Game Challenge -- Jan. 6
It looks like Nintendo plans on keeping gamers pretty busy over the next three months. Most of the titles probably aren't games you'll rush out to get, but there are a few names on there that might draw a little extra attention.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Google Introduces New File System For MacFUSE

Google announced the addition of a new file system for MacFUSE 2.0 today. MacFUSE is an Open Source mechanism that allows you to extend Mac OS X's native file system capabilities. It aims to be API-compliant with the FUSE (Filesystem in USErspace) mechanism that originated on Linux. Therefore, many existing FUSE file systems become readily usable on Mac OS X. The core of MacFUSE is in a dynamically loadable kernel extension.




The source code for the new file systems discussed and demonstrated during the talk is also available. Please head over to the MacFUSE source repository for the following:
  • AncientFS - a file system that lets you mount ancient, and in some cases current-day Unix data containers as regular volumes on Mac OS X.

  • UnixFS - a general-purpose abstraction layer for implementing Unix-style file systems in user space.

  • ufs - a user-space implementation (read-only) of the UFS file system family.

  • sysvfs -a user-space implementation (read-only) of the System V file system family.

  • minixfs -a user-space implementation (read-only) of the Minix file system family.
For more details checkout the original posting at the Google Open Source Blog and Google's MacFUSE Discussion Group.

Mac OS X 10.5.6 Update Crashing Systems

Since the release of the new update on Monday several reports have surfaced claiming installation of the update "completely kills" users systems.

Two separate articles released by PC Magazine, " Mac OS X 10.5.6 Update Crashing Users' Systems" and "More Users Report Apple's Update Kills Their Macs" outline many of the complaints. The most common of which seem to be broken Bluetooth connections, devices no longer being recognize, no sound or even worse large popping noises during boot-up and dead USB ports. In a few rare cases it looks as though the updated was to blame for completely dead machines.

Several threads have popped up on the Apple Support Forums with a growing amount of users asking for assistance. Apple tech support has been able to get a few of those users back up and running, but it would appear as though the majority of people haven't been helped.

In the short term it would appear as though it might be best to hold off on installing the update. At least until Apple has had the chance to address these reports.

IE8 Release Candidate Almost Ready

ie8 logo
Good news for the Internet Explorer fans out there, Microsoft has said they are almost ready to make public their first release candidate of IE8.

In their exclusive first look of IE8 RC1 TgDaily writes
Microsoft quietly released the first update to its IE8 beta 2 to its closest partners last week. This new version is marked as “Release Candidate 1” and is expected to be the final IE8 pre-release update Microsoft intends to make available to the public sometime in the first quarter of 2009

In an interview with eWEEK, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer for Microsoft, said, "If I had a bumper sticker in mind for this it would say: 'Developers, start your engines.'" Hachamovitch declined to provide details about what kinds of new functionality and fixes will be in the RC, only stating the RC is just around the corner.

Internet Explorer 8 has been in public beta testing since back in March. As reported at that time, Microsoft was adding several new features to the browsers. Private browsing, search suggestions, automatic crash recovery and a new favorites bar are listed amongst the new user features.

Users wanting to try out the current IE 8 beta can get it via the IE 8 download page.According to TgDaily a final public and feature-complete pre-release won't become available until some time in the first part of 2009.

Apple Will Hold Their Final Macworld Keynote Without Jobs

On Tuesday Apple announced their final Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address would be delivered by Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, and not CEO Steve Jobs. In typical Apple fashion there was no direct explanation of why Jobs has opted not to appear this year, which as always led to rampant rumors and speculation over Jobs' health.

Now that the wildfire has subsided a bit and some of the speculation has calmed we are getting a more level headed view of things. Needham & Co said, "Our reliable sources, which we spoke with this fall, indicated that [Steve] Jobs is cancer free." Wolf speculated that Apple wants to introduce new products on their own schedule, and not feel the need to meet demand to have something new at every Macworld.

Several other analysts and websites have speculated that Apple's decision may be related to a lack of new products to announce. It may simply be that Apple doesn't have a blockbuster up it's sleeve this year and they have decided to pull back on the reigns a little. Apple's Steve Dowling says that since “this will be our last year, it doesn’t make sense for us to make a major investment in a trade show that will we no longer be attending.” The announcement of the Macworld withdraw seems to back that sentiment:
Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.

Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.

Either way the speculation over Jobs' health hit Apple's stock pretty hard today with a 6.5% drop. The stock was downgraded by Oppenheimer & Co. from "outperform" to "perform". Off course this isn't new to investors, any time Jobs' health comes into question we see a major drop in Apple shares. MacDailyNews asks, "Has Steve Jobs become too much of a liability for Apple shareholders?" Even going so far as calling for a return of the UpTick rule.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Microsoft Will Release Emergency IE Patch

Microsoft announced today that they will issue an emergency patch on Wednesday to deal with a critical bug in Internet Explorer (IE) that attackers have been exploiting for more than a week.

The patch will fix the much publicized zero-day exploit that was confirmed by Microsoft late last week. The exploit which originally was down played by Microsoft could potentially allow hackers to take over victims' machines simply by steering them to infected Web sites; users don't have to download anything for their computers to get infected, which makes the flaw even more hazardous.

The Associated Press reports that thousands of web sites have already been compromised by criminals looking to exploit the flaw. The bad guys have loaded malicious code onto those sites that automatically infect visitors' machines if they're using Internet Explorer and haven't employed a complicated series of workarounds that Microsoft has suggested.

According to today's advance notification, Microsoft will deliver the out-of-cycle patch Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST via its normal update mechanisms, including Windows Update, Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

iPhone Dev-Team Does It Again, New iPhone 3G Unlock Coming Soon

iPhone Dev-Team members have been hard at work coming up with a software based solution for unlocking youe iPhone 3G. According to today's post on the Dev-Team blog, they have come up with a working solution.

We have been working hard on a few other things. The main one being the 3G unlock codenamed “yellowsn0w”. This is now completed and is currently being packaged into a user-friendly application with the simplicity that you see in QuickPwn or BootNeuter.

  • The target release date for the unlock is New Year’s Eve 2008.
  • This unlock method is available to iPhone 3Gs that have 2.11.07 baseband or earlier, we did warn you.
  • The unlock requires a jailbroken 3G iPhone. It’ll be installable via Cydia and so it doesn’t matter if you have a Mac or PC.
  • Please refrain from updating your baseband, regardless of what version you’re at. We’ll have complete directions on New Year’s Eve.
  • We’ll stream a live demo of the unlock before Christmas (see the update at the end of this post)

Yahoo Goes Social

On Monday Yahoo took the lid off Yahoo Open Strategy (or Y!OS for short) with a major retooling of Yahoo Mail, My Yahoo start page, and new a Yahoo Toolbar.

Originally introduced in April, Yahoo! Open Strategy is the companies plan turn itself into an open social platform. The goal behind Y!OS is to "deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers."

Yahoo's updates for Y!OS, included:
  • Yahoo! Mail - Announced separately today,Yahoo! Mail's smarter inbox focuses on streamlining access to a user's most relevant and useful information. The new Welcome Page surfaces email messages, information and activity from people users care about most, and the integration of relevant third party applications will allow users to be more productive, all from within their inbox. The Yahoo! Mail smarter inbox is the company's largest-scale implementation of the Y!OS initiative to-date.
  • My Yahoo! - Beginning today, My Yahoo! users can enhance their personal start pages by adding applications created by third-party developers. Built using the Yahoo! Application Platform, these interactive "apps" will range from productivity tools to games, and will infuse My Yahoo! with new social relevance. Also being launched today, a new My Yahoo! Theme API lets third-party designers create and share their own look and feel for My Yahoo! pages, giving users access to an even wider range of creative backgrounds and styles.
  • Yahoo! Toolbar - Available for a sneak preview later this week at toolbar.yahoo.com, the new Yahoo! Toolbar will provide constant access to essential online tasks and up-to-the-minute news from the sources that matter most. Features of the new Toolbar that will rollout to users next year include:
    • Apps for checking new emails from Yahoo! and other popular Web-based email providers, monitoring or searching for items on eBay, and finding local movie showtimes.
    • Alerts that notify a user about Updates from their personal connections - including their friends' recent activity across the Yahoo! network and eventually, elsewhere on the Web.
    • Personal search suggestions that surface the sites a user has visited and provide vertical search results directly from the Toolbar.
  • Yahoo! Updates - In addition to surfacing friend updates in the new Yahoo! Toolbar and Mail, Yahoo! will begin sharing relevant updates within Yahoo! Music and Yahoo! TV. Yahoo! Updates enable Yahoo! users to have visibility into the online activities of their connections across the Yahoo! network, such as a recently Buzzed article, a hotel review in Yahoo! Travel, adding a new app to My Yahoo!, or a rating on Yahoo! TV. Earlier this fall, Yahoo! began displaying activity updates in Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Buzz, and will include activity updates from other social sites across the Web in the coming months. The Yahoo! Updates platform is also available as an open API, allowing any site on the Web to submit activities into it.
James Kittock, My Yahoo! product lead, answered several questions about the new changes as well as the way Yahoo is opening up My Yahoo! and how developers can create applications for My Yahoo! using the Yahoo! Application Platform.

"Yahoo Mail is what we consider a key starting point on the Web. It’s got 275 million monthly global users," said John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail. "We really believe opening up Yahoo Mail will have a game-changing influence on the industry," Kremer said. Developers with Monday's rollout gain access to documentation and guidelines for building applications that run on the new mail canvas, according to Yahoo.

A limited beta testing program has started for bringing in third-party applications into Yahoo Mail. Users will be able to access these applications from within the Yahoo Mail interface. Initial applications include Family Journal, for building a family tree; Flickr, for photo-sharing; Flixster, for sharing movie show times; WordPress, for posting photos and links to a WordPress blog; Xoopit, for sharing photos stored in e-mail, and Yahoo Greetings, to send e-cards.