Tuesday, January 06, 2009

DTV Converter Program Officially Out Of Cash

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that the $1.3 billion in funding it had received from Congress for the TV Converter Box Coupon Program has been used up. Starting last Sunday, U.S. residents applying for a digital TV converter box voucher were put on a waiting list, the agency said.

Because of the high demand for coupons, the program reached its $1.34 billion ceiling, which consists of ordered and redeemed coupons.

“Households need to consider all of their options and act now to be prepared for the February 17 transition to digital television,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Attwell Baker. “We are working with Congress, the incoming Administration and other stakeholders to ensure everyone is prepared for the transition and no one is left in the dark.”

When consumers contact the Coupon Program to request coupons, they will receive a message they have been placed on a waiting list and will receive coupons on a first-come, first-served basis, as coupons become available and funds are returned to the U.S. Treasury from expired coupons. Consumers will receive a reference number that they should write down and use to check the status of their order at the Coupon Program’s Web site, www.DTV2009.gov.

According to the NTIA press release more than 24 million households have requested more than 46 million coupons and more than 18 million coupons have been redeemed. The NTIA also stated that only 52.5 percent of the requested coupons have been redeemed and more than 13 million coupons have expired. The DTV coupons expire within 90 days from the date it is mailed.

Customers of cable or satellite TV service will not be affected because they already have digital converter boxes as part of their service. Those households are still eligible for the DTV coupon program, however the converter boxes only work for over the air transmissions. So unless you are planning on dropping your cable service, or if you are just looking for aback-up in case your cable goes out there is no need to apply.

For more details on the DTV program please checkout our previous posts:

GPS Tracking, Phone Snooping And Sex Tests?

Has it really come this far, has a parents trust in their own kids fallen to the point that we need these types of products? Apparently so and those are only some of the products I've seen that made me scratch my head in wonder.

According to a recent article published by the Seattle Children's Research Institute, 54% of teens frequently discuss high-risk activities including sexual behavior, substance abuse or violence using MySpace. The study found that 54 percent of the MySpace profiles contained high-risk behavior information, with 41 percent referencing substance abuse, 24 percent referencing sexual behavior and 14 percent referencing violence.

So its no wonder that sites like Brickhouse Security exist. The site specializes in GPS tracking, teen tracking and other security/safety surveillance gear that could be used to spy on your kids, spouse or employees. But should they? My mom wasn't an idiot, she knew we were kids and kids will get into trouble. But she also knew she raised us well enough that we knew better than to get into anything too serious. So its hard for me to imagine using some of these devices to spy on my children (if I had them).

I was pretty shocked to see some of the devices Brickhouse Security featured and wondered if parents are really using these things against their kids. Some of these devices, while invasive aren't that bad, like the Cell Phone Spy, which allows you to recover deleted text message and data, or the PS/2 Mini Key Logger, which is used to record key strokes. But I have to say the, Drug Tests and Sex Tests and the Semen Spy CSI Edition are just a little over the top for me.

So my question stands, do you parents out there actually use these things? How about married people, would you use something like a GPS tracking device on your spouse? Obviously GPS tracking can be used for not so devious purposes such as tracking a vehicle in case its stolen or tracking your toddlers. But its the shady side I'm curious about. Should you really put a Covert GPS Tracking Pen in your kids backpack, or your husband's briefcase?

To me I think if you are already at the point of not trusting someone then its too late.

AMD Launches New Low Power Yukon Platform

amd neo logoAMD today announced the availability of the AMD platform for ultrathin notebooks, enabling exceedingly thin and light OEM designs with rich entertainment capabilities at an affordable price. Previously codenamed "Yukon," the platform is based on the new AMD Athlon Neo processor, ATI Radeon X1250 integrated graphics and optional ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 discrete graphics and brings true HD entertainment1 to a new category of stylish notebook PCs.

The Athlon Neo is AMD's equivalent of the Intel Atom processor, only it's larger with a 27x27 mm footprint compared to the Atom's 22x22 mm footprint. The Neo also comsumes more power with a higher thermal envelope, 15 watts versus the Atom at 2.5W. That contributes to the reason the company is targeting laptops that are bigger but are still considered ultraportables.

Since the Neo is a slightly larger package than the Atom, we can expect performance scores to be better than those of Atom based netbooks. Early reports suggest the Yukon platform is 2.5 times faster than a 1.6-GHz Atom and GMA 950 platform, although 30 percent slower than a 1.6-GHz Core 2 Duo, which would be considerably more expensive.

The new AMD platform debuts within the HP Pavilion dv2 Entertainment Notebook PC ultrathin notebook, which measures less than one-inch thick and weighs less than four pounds. The HP Pavilion dv2 also comes equipped with a 12.1-inch diagonal LED BrightView display, nearly full-size keyboard, and optional external optical disc drive with Blu-ray capability.

"Before today, there was a compromise associated with selecting a highly portable notebook, forcing consumers to choose either the full PC experience of an ultraportable at a high price or the limited PC experience of a mininotebook at a low price," said Chris Cloran, corporate vice president, client division, AMD. "In introducing the AMD ultrathin notebook platform, AMD enables balanced PC performance, including the option of advanced graphics and video for true HD entertainment, all in an affordable, ultrathin notebook, bringing consumers uncompromised mobility."

Meeting Consumers' Needs and Pioneering New Markets
With the dominance and rapid growth of notebooks in the PC market, many consumers have grown accustomed to being productive on the go, but now desire ever-increasingly lighter, sleeker and more stylish designs that suit their mobile lifestyle. Additionally, consumers want a notebook that provides entertainment options, such as enjoying and manipulating photos, watching videos and listening to music. Designed with consumers in mind, the AMD ultrathin notebook platform presents consumers with a new choice in a highly portable notebook with rich media features.

"We believe there is a significant market opportunity that lies between the less-capable mininotebook and higher-priced ultraportable notebook segments," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays, IDC. "Integrating the right kind of technologies will enable companies to pioneer a new category of ultrathin notebook PCs, offering consumers the value they seek in a challenging global economy."

The AMD platform for ultrathin notebooks allows consumers to enjoy true HD entertainment with available smooth 1080p HD playback, sharp images and vibrant colors. The platform also delivers a robust casual gaming experience with realistic 3D graphics, enabled by the optional ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 Premium graphics.2 Likewise, with advanced digital outputs including HDMI and DVI, consumers can connect to their favorite devices such as an HDTV for an immersive home theater experience.

A Stylishly Entertaining Notebook
Notebooks have moved from being a PC shared by the family, to each member of the family having their own individual notebook. As a result, consumers want their notebook to be a reflection of their personality and style.

"Together HP and AMD identified an opportunity and designed a platform to bring consumers an affordable notebook that is a perfect balance of performance and style," said Kevin Frost, vice president, Notebook Global Business Unit, Personal Systems Group, HP. "With an exceptional visual experience, rich features, and robust graphics and processing capabilities, consumers will be thrilled by the sleek design and reasonable price of the HP Pavilion dv2 Entertainment Notebook PC based upon the AMD ultrathin notebook platform."

Source: AMD Press Release

iTunes Finally Goes DRM Free

Many Apple fans out there have said this years MacWorld has been less than stellar. Apple hasn't come through with anything that has much "wow factor". However there is one piece of good new coming from MacWorld today, Apple announced three new pricing tiers for its iTunes digital music store. Tracks will sell for 69¢, 99¢, and $1.29 based on a demand-based pricing system.

In all Apple promises that by the end of this quarter, all 10 million iTunes songs will be DRM-free, and released at the higher-quality 256 kbps iTunes Plus bitrate. This new policy change applies to all four major music labels (Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI) as well as thousands of independent labels currently represented on iTunes.

Removal of the DRM copy protection is great news for consumers, you are no longer stuck with only making a couple copies of songs you have bought. You'll be able to copy the songs to as many different PCs or media devices of your choice.

MacMall iPod Accessories

XFX Releases Their First Radeon HD-Powered 4000 Series Graphics Cards

XFX, following its recently announced collaboration with AMD, today introduced its first Radeon HD-powered 4000 series cards, the XFX Radeon HD 4870, XFX Radeon HD 4850, XFX Radeon HD 4830, XFX Radeon HD 4650 and XFX Radeon HD 4350.

All five models feature exceptional memory bandwidth, board power and compute power as well as a number of industry-firsts. For example, the XFX Radeon HD 4870 is the first graphics card with GDDR5 memory.

The XFX Radeon HD 4870 (HD-487A-ZDFC) features 1.0 GB of DDR5 memory operating at 3600 Mhz, a 750 Mhz GPU clock and 800 stream processing units. Other key features are: TeraScale Graphics Engine, Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture, Accelerated Video Transcoding (AVT), ATI PowerPlay Technology, ATI CrossFireX support and DirectX 10.1 support.

xfx 4870

The XFX Radeon HD 4850 (HD-485X-YDFC) features 512 MB of DDR3 memory operating at 1990 Mhz, a 625 Mhz GPU clock and 800 stream processing units.

To introduce the new GPU line, XFX selected these five models for their highly desirable gaming features, including superior scalability, state-of-the-art DirectX 10.1 graphics capabilities, optimal power performance and HDMI support. Designed for serious HD gaming, these graphics cards offer exceptional performance at a variety of price points.

Details on pricing are net yet available, however the cards should hit retailers soon. I'd expect the XFX 4870's to be in the $250-275 range and the XFX 4850 will most likely be in the $175-200 range.

Future collaborations will include over-clocked versions of these and other popular Radeon HD-powered cards. To learn more about XFX or its new lineup of Radeon HD-powered 4000 Series graphics cards, please visit www.xfxforce.com.

Expect reviews to be posted in the next day or two but for now you the previous 4850 benchmarks and reviews post will give you some idea of where these card should stand in terms of performance.

Current Newegg Pricing

Source: XFX Press Release

Monday, January 05, 2009

Google Intros Picasa For Mac

Google is officially releasing their popular photo editing suite Picasa for Mac. Picasa for Mac looks and works much like Picasa on any other OS, and offers all the traditional Picasa features — such as non-destructive editing, and the ability to keep track of photos anywhere on your hard drive, then automatically account for new images as you add them.

Google says right now, Picasa for Mac is still in Google Labs (beta), but they are sending out an early version for MacWorld attendees. You can learn more about this beta release at the Google Photos blog, there are also similar postings on the Official Google blog and the Official Google Mac blog

To run Picasa, you'll need an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 and above. For those of you attending MacWorld you can get hands on testing as well as some demonstations by members of the Picasa engineering team at Google's Macworld booth all week.

GPU-Z v0.3.1 Now Available

TechPowerUp has announced the availability of GPU-Z version 0.3.1 for download. GPU-Z is an easy to use graphics sub-system information and monitoring utility that provides information on installed graphics hardware.

GPU-Z provides detailed specifications, clock-speeds, temperatures, fan-speeds, etc., as well as an overclock validation system and an extensive video card BIOS database. The package is neatly wrapped into a tabbed UI. Version 0.3.1 brings in a few important updates to the table, notably:

    - Crash fix on systems without NVAPI (Win 2K, old NV drivers)
    - Optimized AMD RV770 BIOS reading code (faster application startup)
    - Added preliminary support for NVIDIA GT212, GT214, GT215, GT216, GT218
    - Added support for NVIDIA Quadro FX 4700 X2, GTX 295, GTX 285
    - Support for fan speed monitoring on ForceWare 180.xx and up
    - Voltage monitoring for NVIDIA GT200

For a complete changelog and download, please visit the TechPowerUp GPU-Z v0.3.1 page

33 High Profile Twitter Accounts Hacked

twitter logoTwitters growing pains continue as the site is now confirming that 33 accounts linked to celebrities and prominent Twitter-ers like Rick Sanchez, Barack Obama, Britney Spears, Bill O’Reilly and others were indeed hacked this morning.

Here is Twitter’s official explanation:

Monday Morning Madness
This morning we discovered 33 Twitter accounts had been "hacked" including prominent Twitter-ers like Rick Sanchez and Barack Obama (who has not been Twittering since becoming the president elect due to transition issues). We immediately locked down the accounts and investigated the issue. Rick, Barack, and others are now back in control of their accounts.

What Happened?
The issue with these 33 accounts is different from the Phishing scam aimed at Twitter users this weekend. These accounts were compromised by an individual who hacked into some of the tools our support team uses to help people do things like edit the email address associated with their Twitter account when they can't remember or get stuck. We considered this a very serious breach of security and immediately took the support tools offline. We'll put them back only when they're safe and secure.

Twitter has been working on restoring accounts that have been phished and those that have been hacked. This is likely to be the first of many such attacks on the site so I strongly suggest reading our Tips to avoid Twitter phishing post.

Steve Jobs Blames "Hormone Imbalance"

Apple and Steve Jobs have come forth to address growing concerns over the CEO's health, his withdrawal from MacWorld and rumors he might need to be replaced. The statement posted earlier this morning blames a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” Jobs of the proteins his body needs to be healthy.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause—a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

Apple has faced serious pressure to answer the mounting rumors over Jobs' health. Investors have seen stocks fall on sheer speculation that the popular CEO might be sick. Back in October shares were hit particularly hard, falling over 10% when a teen posted a fake story about Jobs having a heart attack. More recently shares fell as much as 6.5% when it was announced Jobs wouldn't be giving his usual MacWorld keynote speech.

Following today's announcement shares of Apple were up as much as 5%, and closed out the day up 4.22% at $94.58/share.

Intel And Adobe Extend Flash To TVs

intel logoAdobe Systems Incorporated and Intel Corporation today announced plans to collaborate on the development to port and optimize Adobe Flash technology for the Intel Media Processor CE 3100. This effort is expected to provide consumers with richer and more seamless Web-based and video viewing experiences through advanced Intel-based cable set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, digital TVs and retail connected AV devices. The high-definition capabilities of the Adobe Flash Platform, together with the Intel Media Processor CE 3100 (PDF), the first in a new family of purpose-built Intel System on Chips (SoCs) for CE devices, creates a powerful entertainment hub capable of delivering rich Web content and Adobe Flash based applications to an array of Internet-connected CE devices. Intel and Adobe are working together to optimize both the Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Flash Lite for the CE3100. Intel plans to ship the first CE3100 with support for an optimized implementation of Adobe Flash Lite before mid-2009.

The two companies are uniquely positioned to support consistent Internet content across PCs, laptops, netbooks, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and now the TV, extending the shared business objectives of accelerating rich video and Internet content across the full breadth of consumer devices.

AVG Internet Security"The Intel Media Processor CE 3100 is a highly integrated solution that provides a powerful, yet flexible technology foundation that will bring to life the high-definition capabilities of Adobe Flash," said William O. Leszinske Jr., general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group. "Our effort with Adobe is poised to accelerate a rich, yet relevant Internet experience on the TV that will provide consumers with access to a growing number of Flash based applications that will ultimately be enjoyed across a number of screens seamlessly, from the laptop to a MID and now the TV."

Intel and Adobe have a long history of technical collaboration, including, most recently, being founding members of the Open Screen Project. Announced in May 2008, the Open Screen Project is designed to enable a consistent runtime environment across screens. The initiative has 20 major industry partners and is dedicated to enable Web content, standalone applications and full Web browsing across televisions, set-top boxes, mobile devices and other consumer electronics that take advantage of Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash capabilities.

"The Open Screen Project is striving to remove barriers for developers and designers as they look to publish content and applications across desktops and devices" said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president, Platform Business Unit at Adobe. "The Intel Media Processor CE 3100 provides a powerful platform capable of delivering outstanding Flash experiences to millions of homes as a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes makes its way into the living room."

Adobe and Intel are also working together to bring an optimized implementation of Adobe AIR technology to Intel's digital home platform in the future.

Source: Intel Press Release

Iomega Delivers New Home Media Network Hard Drives

Iomega, an EMC company and a global leader in data protection, today announced the debut of the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive, a new standard in easy-to-use network storage for the digital home. With EMC’s acclaimed LifeLine software, in three simple steps users can configure up to one terabyte of network storage for backing up all of their files as well as streaming music, photos, video and other multimedia files between computers, networked televisions, popular game consoles and other under-utilized digital home entertainment devices.

Iomega will be showing the new Home Media Network Hard Drive at the MacWorld tradeshow in San Francisco, January 6-9, 2009, and at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 8-11, 2009.

Starting at just $159.99, the Home Media Network Hard Drive is available as a 500GB or a 1TB single-drive device. Consumers with multiple computers can use the Home Media Network Hard Drive to centralize their computer storage as well as access files on everything from a laptop to a big screen TV to a Microsoft Xbox 360 or a Sony PlayStation 3. Sharing and streaming multimedia files to a home entertainment system creates lots of enjoyment for the whole family, and the 1TB Home Media Network Hard Drive can store plenty of entertainment – more than 4 million photos, 18,500 hours of music, or 1500 hours of video.**

“Iomega’s new Home Media Network Hard Drive is a powerful network storage device that’s so straightforward that even a novice can be backing up multiple computers and streaming media around their home in less than five minutes,” said Jonathan Huberman, president of Iomega and the Consumer and Small Business Products Division of EMC. “The Home Media Network Drive does the serious work of backing up and protecting digital files, but it also does the fun things like streaming photos and videos to game consoles, digital picture frames and networked TVs, as well as automatically feeding music into iTunes for easy playback – all for little more than the cost of a USB direct-attached desktop hard drive with comparable storage capacity.”

Key Features of the Home Media Network Hard Drive

The new Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive operates EMC’s LifeLine Home software, a custom Linux operating system and application suite that can be set up in three easy steps: simply plug the Home Network Hard Drive into a router, power on, and install the software CD. A friendly user interface screen makes it easy to access files on all networked computers, as well as control which family members have access to certain folders.

The Home Media Network Hard Drive supports iTunes and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certified devices, which makes the Home Media Network Drive a robust media server that can save, store and stream digital content not only to laptops and desktop computers but popular game consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, as well as digital picture frames, networked TVs and any other compatible device on a home network.

Fast network performance is achieved through a Gigabit Ethernet connection that plugs directly into a router. The Home Media Network Hard Drive also boasts a fast processor so users can save and access large media files quickly, as well as a USB port to add a shared network printer for multiple computers, or an external USB drive for incremental storage capacity.

The Home Media Network Hard Drive is specifically designed to operate cool, thanks to an efficient fan that also adjusts its rotational speed automatically for quiet operation. The drive has a burnished gun metal exterior and a small footprint, making it aesthetically pleasing out in the open, yet small enough to be easily stowed away. Because the Home Media Network Drive is always turned on to serve up content, the product’s power supply is Energy Star® compliant for power conservation and a better environment.

Backup Software and Online Storage, Too

The Home Media Network Hard Drive is a total network storage solution that provides data backup and protection with integrated award-winning EMC Retrospect Express backup software. During the set-up process, users choose files and folders for scheduled automatic backups from all the PCs and Macs on the network. After that, any changes or additions are updated and saved automatically.

For added protection, home networks utilizing the Home Media Network Hard Drive also get the benefits of online backup with EMC’s MozyHome online backup service, a secure way to store, protect and access important files. MozyHome online backup service provides 2GB of free online storage for backing up selected folders to world-class EMC data centers. Users can also upgrade to unlimited online storage for just $4.95 per month.


The Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux PCs. The user-friendly interface is localized in 11 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Traditional and Simple Chinese, German, and Russian). Other supported devices include uPnP AV devices, digital media adapters, iTunes, and digital picture frames.

Price and Availability

The Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive 500GB will be available worldwide in early January for $159.99; the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive 1TB will also be available in early January for $229.99. (All prices are U.S. suggested retail.)

Source: EMC Press Release

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tips To Avoid Twitter Phishing

Unless you've been under a rock over the weekend, or maybe you were just unplugged, you've probably hear that Twitter has been hit by a round of serious phishing attacks. The Twitter-verse has been a-buzz all weekend long with numerous reports of DMs being sent out with links to phony Twitter pages.

The nuts and bolts of it:
The attackers are sending out Direct messages (DMs) with a link that send users off site to a fake log-in page. Unsuspecting users then log-in to that page in turn handing over the log-in credentials to the phishers. They then use those log-ins and accounts to send more DMs creating a vicious cycle.

Avoiding phishing scams is just a matter of a little common sense.
Phishing is nothing new, people have been scamming users for years with these techniques and they are almost always the same. It usually involves a very well copied log-in page, a poorly copied URL and a few unsuspecting users to get it all started. Once one user sends out a message to a trusting friend then it begins to spread like wildfire.

Here are a few tips that are very helpful in avoiding these scams.

    Don't log-in to any page without looking at the URL first
    This seems simple enough, but how many times do you really look at the page you are logging into? If you look at the screenshot taken by Twitter you can clearly see its not the correct page. This info applies to any page, not just Twitter. Phishing has been around long enough that users should know to double check their URLs first. In this case the URL is not masked very well and easily spotted!

    Use your bookmarks, back button or go directly to the main site
    If you click an off site link and somehow end up on a log-in page it is always best to get the hell out of there. Use your back button, click your own bookmark or type the URL in directly. You are always better safe than sorry

    Change your passwords often
    Yes this can be a pain in the rear, however you should be changing your passwords a few times a year just to be on the safe side.

    If it is too good to be true it usually is **Read update below**
    The latest round of phishing DMs involved getting a free iPhone, do you really think they are handing these things out like they are candy? The old adage has always rang true, if it sounds too good it usually is. So avoid it like the plague.

    Don't be a blind Re-Tweeter
    Don't blindly Re-Tweet those messages sent to you by people you follow. Sending out links you aren't taking the time to check-out yourself puts your followers at risk. If you don't checkout the link first then you might just be sending out a link to a phishing site or even worse something with malware or viruses!

    Trim the fat
    Pro-Blogger Chris Brogan was scoffing at the idea of having to unfollow 25k Tweeters. While most of us are no where near that level I'm sure we all have Tweeters on our page we don't know and probably don't need. Now would be a good time to click through some of those followers and check them out. Contact and or remove anyone that looks suspicious.

For those of you unlucky enough to have already been hit by the phishing scam don't fret there is hope for getting your account back. Follow the steps outlined in the Twitter blog post for having your password reset. Once that is done I'd suggest doing some serious makeup with everyone on your follow list!

You can follow updates on the attack by subscribing to the Twitter topic #phishingalert as well as the Titter topic #phishing.

Update - Information regarding the iPhone DM scam is now available.
Twitter users are reporting that they are receiving direct messages with links for a chance to win an Apple iPhone. The links in the DMs are sending Twitter users to two different sites suggesting that visitor sign up for a chance to win a free iPhone.

You’re asked for your gender, your mobile carrier and eventually your mobile number. Reading the fine print however shows you that by signing up for this promotion, you’re also signing up for a third party text messaging service which starts at $5.99 a week. For more details checkout Venture Beat's post "You don’t want that free iPhone — another Twitter scam breaks out".

Microsoft Made $1.5 Billion From Vista Capable Marketing Campaign

According to recently unsealed court documents Microsoft may have earned more than $1.5 billion from the sale of PCs marked as "Vista Capable".

From the declaration of expert Keith Leffler:
I have been asked by Plaintiffs' counsel to estimate the amount of revenue earned by Microsoft from the licensing of Windows XP on Vista Capable but not Vista Premium Ready PCs sold to Plaintiffs. In Microsoft's Supplemental Responses it estimates that it received revenue of [redacted] from Windows XP licenses on upgradeable PCs sold in the U.S. during the April 2006 through January 2007 period. From the estimates of Windows Capable but not Vista Premium Ready PCs compared to all upgradeable PCs as in Table 1, I estimate that [redacted] of the [redacted] from Windows XP licenses on upgradable PCs were for XP licenses on Vista Capable but not Vista Premium Ready PCs -- those PCs purchased by the Plaintiff class. From these figures, I have, therefore reached the opinion that Microsoft revenue from the Windows XP licensing on Vista Capable but not Vista Premium Ready PCs sold to Plaintiffs was $1.505 billion.

Dr. Keith Leffler is an economics professor at the University of Washington, his statement above was taken from part of his testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs in the ongoing class-action lawsuit that accuses Microsoft of deceiving consumers during its Vista Capable marketing program.

Source: Seattle PI - The Microsoft Blog

Internet Explorer Losses More Market Share

Internet Explorer's market share has dropped for the fifth straight month to reach a new record low. The browser lost 1.6 percentage points ending December with a 68.2% share, down from November's previous record low of 69.8%

According to Web analytics company Net Applications IE ended the year down 7.9% points, a 10.4% decline from December 2007. This marks the second straight month of record lows for IE and record highs for FireFox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.

Chrome ended the year above 1% for the first time, while Safari neared an 8% marker share. FireFox is steadily gaining ground staying above the 20% level at its new record high of 21.34%.

Net applications notes that the December holiday season strongly favored residential over business usage. Meaning the results might be skewed, as Net Applications says usage of non-Microsoft browsers climbs after work hours, on weekends and during holidays, as users surf from home computers rather than from work machines, which are far more likely to run Microsoft's IE. This in turn increases the relative usage share of Mac, Firefox, Safari and other products that have relatively high residential usage.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Time Warner, Viacom Settle Disputes

Time Warner and Viacom have reached a settlement over disputes over a proposed increase in fees the cable company pays to carry the channels.

Just before new years Viacom had threatened to pull 19 of its channels , including Nickelodeon, MTV, VH-1 and Comedy Central, off Time Warner Cable if the companies do not reach a deal by Jan. 1. According to the Los Angles Times, at midnight in New York Viacom granted an extension that allowed the two sides to keep talking. The New Year's Day talks avoided a blackout of Viacom's programming in 13.3 million homes in the U.S. served by Time Warner Cable Inc..

The companies have not yes provide the details of the agreement however it looks like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and South Park are safe and sound.

"We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks," Glenn Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable, said in a statement released about 2 a.m. New York time. "We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation."

Power Twitter, A Must Have FireFox Add-on For Twitter Users

Power Twitter, an add-on for Firefox created by Narendra Rocherolle at 83 Degrees, was released earlier this week. Power Twitter adds features direct to the Twitter Web interface including:
    -search scoped to a specific user
    -status history peeking on mouseover
    -Facebook status updates
    -inline YouTube, Flickr, and TwitPic
    -url expansion
    -url translation to page titles, for those tinyurls
    -open web update (news feed) mapping

One of the Power Twitter features I liked most was the added functionality to the @replies feature. Currently you can only see Twitter messages directed to you that begin with @[yourusername]. With Power Twitter you see all messages that contain your user name, fixing something I see as a big hole on Twitter.

Inline viewing of photos as well as url translation was also a major plus. There is no longer a need to click off site to view photos, and you don't have to blinfly click those TinyURLs to see where they go.

I did experience a few issues with testing, but nothing that would make me want to uninstall it. For one the mouseover peeking wasn't working right. The pop-up was there but it an errors message about Twitter RSS feeds showed. There was also a few issues with slower load times. This was a bit annoying as I experienced a little lag here and there but nothing serious.

Rumor: Microsoft Layoffs Coming, Maybe Not

Fudzilla has reported that Microsoft is getting ready to lay off 17% of it's staff, or nearly 15,000 employees by January 15th.

So far Fudzilla has not cited any sources, nor has there been any confirmation from any other sites around the web. Which leads to some speculation over whether or not Microsoft is actually laying anyone off.

Seattle Times technology reporter Benjamin J. Romano, says that he is skeptical of the story. In his Microsoft Pri0 blog post he states, "The author does not mention a single source for the information, anonymous or otherwise; I've not seen the site break news of this magnitude before (doesn't mean it hasn't happened); the name Fudzilla makes me think of fear, uncertainty and doubt."

According to Fudzilla MSN is expected to carrying the brunt of the layoffs. Romano says his sources have confirmed that that part of the rumor may indeed be true. According to e-mails he recieved by sources which wanted to remain anonymous, " Managers at the MSN Homepages Team were informed that all of their contract personnel were being terminated."

The decision is "due to budget cuts," the e-mail reads. The cut would impact about 180 contractors and vendors.

The Mini-Microsoft blog, which is usually a reliable source on inside-Microsoft topics, originally posted a note that substantial layoffs are coming on January 15. They have since retracted those statements now adamantly denying there are going to be any layoffs. Mini-Microsoft points to several comments from its last post which deny the rumors:

NO LAYOFFS: first, I think it's fair to give some time to comments in the last post that wanted to absolutely dismiss any sort of Microsoft layoff rumor..

For the last time folks -- THERE ARE NO LAYOFFS HAPPENINGS IN JANUARY..[...] beyond Jan...well we dont have a crystal ball -- but if the economy doesnt improve and the company misses targets -- it would get uglier for everyone -- from no raises/no bonuses to {maybe}cutbacks/layoffs... but then, those are the rules of the game in corporate America.. so for now -- enjoy your holidays, have a new year blast and then get back and work your ass off in the coming months --- for the overwhleming majority of you there -- things would be just fine!!!! PLEASE DONT PANIC!

Mini-Microsoft wraps things up taking the position that while there may have been cuts coming and the timing is right they feel those cuts may have been taken off the table. "do I think anything is going to happen January 15th? Well, it is after CES (we certainly don't want any bad news before that - though look carefully at the groups there and not there) and before quarterly results (no bad surprises delivered with results - check). But after the rather alarming attention the previous rumor-driven post got, even if something was going to happen January 15th I'd completely expect that's off the table now. Sorry, Oppenheimer & Co."

Wikipedia Raises $6Million Plus

Wikimedia, with the support of over 125,000 donors from around the world, raised over $6 million to sustain Wikipedia. A personal appeal from Jimmy Wales, published on the Wikimedia Foundation's website on December 23, 2008, resulted in a surge of more than 50,000 contributions in eight days, totaling $2 million and closing the gap towards the revenue goal.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation, wrote in a thank you letter posted on Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation's website: "This campaign has proven that Wikipedia matters to its users, and that our users strongly support our mission: to bring free knowledge to the planet, free of charge and free of advertising. We deeply appreciate the generosity of our supporters."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sparkling Wine Suggestion: Dolce Vita Prosecco

dolce vita prosseco
I've never been much of a Champagne drinker and when I have its usually just whatever is at the store and easy to grab. Well this year for NYE I was in the mood to try something new. Not wanting to settle for what was at the store I headed over to bevmo to checkout their selection.

I looked online and saw a few varieties I hadn't tried yet, and had a couple ideas in mind. But it was last min. and when I got there they were sold out.

As I was standing there starring blankly at all the bottles on the shelves one of the employees came over with another customer. They had been looking for the same sparkling wine I was, however obviously they were out of luck. The customer then asked about recommendations for possibly a spumante or something else similar.

The first recommendation was the Dolce Vita Prosecco. After listening to a few other suggestions I decided that I'd settle for trying it out. I had never heard of a Prosecco, but figured I couldn't really go wrong.

About 10mins to Midnight we popped the cork. None of our group had ever tried a Prosecco so it was new for all of us. The wine was very pleasant with good aromas and a slightly sweet taste, not overly dry.

Prosecco is comparable to a Brut, however we found this particular wine to be a little sweeter than most bruts. There was a light finish with little to no after taste.

Everyone in the group was agreeable that this was a good selection. We all agreed that we'd definitely buy it again and add it as a recommendation to other friends.

To find out more on the Prosecco variety checkout the Prosseco Wikipedia entry.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

iPhone Dev-Team Releases New iPhone 3G unlock

The iPhone Dev-Team has released the 0.9.1 beta version of their yellowsn0w iPhone 3G unlock application. The Dev-Team originally announced "yellowsnow" back in December, but they hadn't completed the application until today.

The unlock works exclusively with baseband 02.28.00. This baseband is provided by the latest firmware update (2.2) from Apple. You’ll need to upgrade to this release using iTunes and then use QuickPwn to activate etc. There are plenty of tutorials about this on iclarified, bigboss, and other established tutorial sites.

Yellowsnow is very easy to use and install, here is a pretty easy to follow guide:
  1. Once your phone is Jail Borken, re-check your firmware versions to verify you are on Version 2.2 and Modem Firmware 2.28.00. If everything checks out start Cydia and add the dev teams source:

    CYDIA: http://apt9.yellowsn0w.com
    installer: http://i.yellowsn0w.com

  2. Install Yellowsn0w and reboot with your SIM card installed, wait about 90 seconds for carrier lock. If you can not connect pull the SIM and try again.
Since this is a beta I suggest checking the iPhone Dev-Team blog frequently for updates. Here is a list of current know issues as reported:

  1. If you are in the U.S. and are trying this with T-Mobile, you must turn off the 3G switch in Settings. Also if you are good with the command line, you can make it much easier by adding the line -q right after the /usr/bin/yellowsn0w line in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.iphone-dev.yellowsn0w.plist (that’s and advanced tip, hopefully someone will make a boosprefs type of tool for it)
  2. No PIN support yet. Remember how we said this was beta? Well we’re still working out the flow for SIMs with PINs enabled. Please disable any PIN you may have on that SIM before trying yellowsn0w, for now.
  3. The unlock will silently quit on anything other than baseband 02.28.00. It detects the wrong version and just quits to avoid any damage. Please double check your Modem Firmware setting in Settings->General->About.
  4. For ankle-biters that are pointlessly reversing the application the source is here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bigger Might Be Better For Apple iPod Touch

According to Tech Crunch, three independent sources "close to Apple" have confirmed that a large screen iPod Touch will be released in the fall of 2009.

Sources say the new prototypes, which have been "handled", will be over twice the size of the current iPod touch, with a 7-9 inch screen. Other details remain pretty sketchy and as always with Apple rumors you should hold your breath on any solid details coming from Cupertino.

30 GB Microsoft Zune's Hit With "Zune 2K9 Bug"

Owners of 30 GB versions of Microsoft's Zune media player have been reporting serious issues, in what is being called by many the "Zune 2K9 Bug" or "Z2K9".

Update: Microsoft has posted the following information to the Zune support site.We have identified an issue with the Zune 30 gig not starting and have a full explanation and guidance located here.

Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of which are still actively being used). The technical team jumped on the problem immediately and isolated the issue: a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year. The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009. We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on. If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.

According to Gizmodo and reports on various Zune support and fan forums, about 2 a.m. 30GB Zune's that were reset or were turned off failed when they were started back up. The failure is described by those affected as a freeze at the load screen.

Microsoft has confirmed that its 30-GB Zunes are crashing but there is no word yet on any specifics or potential workarounds. The Zune service status says, "Customers with 30-GB Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware," Microsoft said on its Zune support site. "We're aware of the problem and are working to correct it. The Zune Social might be slow or inaccessible. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!"

Gizmodo has posted a potential DIY work around "How to Revive Dead Zunes 30s" which requires some slight disassembly.

Follow Rapid Repair's guide to taking your Zune apart to step 4, so you have access to the hard drive and the battery. Disconnect BOTH the battery and hard drive, and then plug 'em back in. This apparently resets the Zune's internal clock, which brings it back to life. Put it back together, and it should be 100 percent again. (Assuming you don't screw it up.)

Disclaimer: Opening the case of your Zune will void your warranty, there is also the potential of bricking your already dead Zune and making matter worse. I strongly recommend waiting for an official fix. Proceed at your own risk!

Time Warner And Bright House Cable Dropping 18 Viacom Channels

Disputes between Time Warner, Bright House cable and Viacom over carriage fee hikes could mean that Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and about 15 other channels will go dark on Time Warner Cable Inc. at 12:01 a.m. Thursday if a new carriage fee deal is not agreed upon by then.

Viacom has asked for fee increases of between 22 percent and 36 percent per channel, an amount that could increase customers' cable bills, Dudley said. Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew said the requested increase was in the very low double-digit percentage range.

"The issue is that they have asked for an exorbitant increase in their carriage fees and their network ratings are sagging," he said. "Basically we're trying to hold the line for our customer."

Viacom said the increases would cost an extra 23 cents a month per subscriber — which works out to $35.9 million more in total. It said that Americans spend a fifth of their TV time watching Viacom shows but its fees make up less than 2.5 percent of the Time Warner cable bill.

A scroll was placed on many of the Channel last night by Viacom asking viewers for their support by calling their cable operators and requesting they keep those channels alive. For those interested in contacting the involved companies:

Bright House corporate offices: regional numbers
Time Warner corporate headquarters: 212-484-8000
Viacom corporate headquarters: 212-258-6000

The channels that would be affected are: Comedy Central, CMT: Pure Country, Logo, Palladia, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV Tr3s, Nickelodeon, Noggin, Nick 2, Nicktoons, Spike, The N, TV Land, VH1, VH1 Classic, and VH1 Soul.

Source: Associated Press

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Windows 7 Torrent Growing In Popularity

windows 7 logoIf the popularity of the leaked Windows 7 Beta 1 torrent means anything then Microsoft's newest OS promises to be a big hit. Since the OS hit torrents sites on Monday the number of seeders has grown from 2,000 to nearly 4,000, while the number of leechers has been steady ranging anywhere from 7,500 to 10,000.

Since torrent sites don't track the total number of downloads its impossible to tell just how many people have downloaded the Windows 7 Beta 1 torrent. So it would really be anyone's guess, however you can pretty much conclude that the number has to be relatively high.

Several top blogs and bloggers out there have downloaded the torrent, I for one still stand by my position of waiting for the official release. But for those of you that do wish to download it here are a few details of the EULA thanks to Ars Technica.

You may not:

  • disclose the results of any benchmark tests of the software to any third party without Microsoft’s prior written approval;
  • work around any technical limitations in the software;
  • reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software, except and only to the extent that applicable law expressly permits, despite this limitation;
  • use components of the software to run applications not running on the software;
  • make more copies of the software than specified in this agreement or allowed by applicable law, despite this limitation;
  • publish the software for others to copy;
  • rent, lease or lend the software;
  • transfer the software or this agreement to any third party;
  • use the Potentially Unwanted Software definitions separately from the software; or
  • use the software for commercial software hosting services.
The liscense will expire on August 1, 2009, so we can assume Microsoft plans to have the full retail release ready by then. Ars also notes that there are options for Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate, of which you can only choose Ultimate. These are likely option that are leftover from Vista. I don't expect to see as many different version with Windows 7 as we saw with Vista.

For a great in-depth preview checkout Paul Thurrott's Windows 7 Beta Review.

24-inch LCD Monitor Prices Expected To Fall

According to DigiTimes several LCD monitor vendors in Taiwan are expected to lower the prices for 24-inch models in order to boost sales and make them a mainstream segment in the local market in 2009, according to market sources.

The report suggests vendors are going to reduce the prices of 24-inch LCD monitors to about NT$6,000 or $180.00 US in the first quarter of 2009, down from the current NT$8,000 ($240 US), and closer to the price level of NT$5,000 ($150 US) for 22-inch models.

That means with some luck and some good mail in rebate deals we might see a few 24" monitors priced at or around $130-$140. That would be nearly half price of current offerings from Newegg and Buy.com

LCD Monitors at Buy.com

NVIDIA Renaming The GeForce 9 Series

NVIDIA's naming schemes can be confusing to even the most seasoned geek. Rebranding of GPU's like the 8800 GT to create a new 9800 GT often times make it difficult to understand where a GPU's performance will fall into line with the rest of the series. Often times consumers mistakenly buy a card from a new series that is actually lower in terms of overall power to their current card, thinking that the new line should mean a superior product.

Unfortunately it looks like NVIDIA is at it again. The company has decided that the current GeForce 9 series will be taking on a new name and new designation. All 55 nm 9000-series GPUs will carry a new G-series name.

The 8800/9800 GT will now be branded GeForce GTS 240 while the 8800 GTS 512, 9800 GTX/GTX+ will take on the GeForce GTS 250 brand. Details on the naming and numbering of the mainstream cards such as the 9500 GT and 9600 GT are a bit speculative, as are the naming schemes for the value line of 9300 and 9400 GT.

The naming should be easy enough to follow with the cards being rebranded according to the market segment they are intended for. To be more specific, the GTX cards will be high-end/performance solutions, GT goes for mainstream, while G would mean the card is an entry-level. The number designation remains identical with, lower typically meaning slower.

LG Plans To Demonstrate Blazingly Fast 480Hz LCD TV AT CES

LG Display has announced plans to wow Vegas with its Trumotion 480Hz LCD TV. Not only does the display refresh more than 4 times faster than most of the current offerings on the market it boasts a response time of 4ms. Needless to say those are some unprecedented specs.

Seoul, Korea (December 30, 2008) - LG Display, a leading innovator of TFT-LCD technology, announced today that it has developed the world’s first “Trumotion 480Hz” LCD TV panel, which has an impressive 480 refresh rate per second, accelerating the advent of ultra high-speed images, without sacrificing picture quality.

LG Display’s ‘scanning backlight’ is the technology that enables a backlight to be repeatedly turned on and off to reduce motion blur. When combined with the company’s 240 Hz technology, the display can refresh 480 images per second.

In addition, LG Display’s “Trumotion 480Hz” display boasts an lower motion picture response time (MPRT)of 4ms, eliminating motion blurring for fast moving images and enabling a realistic, crystal clear picture. The display also makes dark images even darker and bright images far brighter — providing unparalleled, vivid picture quality. Moreover, it can reduce energy consumption by adjusting the backlight brightness.

“The world’s first Trumotion 480Hz LCD TV panel is planned to hit the market in the second half of 2009. LG Display will provide its customers with unique, high-end products while delivering crisp picture quality for fast moving images.” noted Mr. Eddie Yeo, Executive Vice President and Head of LG Display TV Business Unit.

LG Display will showcase its newest cutting-edge display technologies featuring improved motion picture response time (MPRT), eco-friendly displays and more in a private room at the Bellagio Hotel during the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009.

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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/