Friday, January 30, 2009

iZ3d Announces Demo Day Sat Jan 31 At Fry's & MicroCenter Stores

Not Playing in 3D Yet? iZ3D Announces a Demo Day at Fry's Electronics and MicroCenter Stores Nationwide

Get Into Your Favorite Game With an iZ3D Monitor This Saturday!

iZ3D, Inc., designer, developer and pioneer of advanced stereoscopic 3D visualization systems, is pleased to announce that a hands on demonstration of it’s popular 22-inch switchable 3D/2D monitor display system will be featured at all Fry’s Electronics and MicroCenter stores this Saturday, January 31, 2009.

crucial memory selectorThe iZ3D display is the only true full resolution 3D display with a 170-degree 3D viewing angle so the whole family can play together. The only thing you need is a pair of iZ3D passive polarized glasses that virtually eliminate headaches, fatigue, or eye-strain common with other 3D displays. Three pairs of glasses are included with each monitor and additional pairs are available for $9.99. The company’s industry-leading 3D software display drivers are also included and offer users more software control over the 3D effect and the ability to toggle between 2D and 3D on the iZ3D monitor making it the ideal overall display solution for the home.

Most popular games were created in 3D; players just couldn’t see the effect with a flat 2D monitor. Hundreds of off the shelf games are playable today in 3D with more games and movies arriving in 2009. As an industry leader, iZ3D offers the best 3D technical support and new driver releases of any 3D display maker. Plus it’s just more fun to play games and watch movies in 3D than in ordinary flat 2D!

The live demos will be given at Fry’s Electronics and MicroCenter stores nationwide beginning this weekend. Fry’s Electronics stores are located in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Nevada. Micro Center stores are located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. Consumers can easily find a listing of store locations and obtain information on iZ3D’s products and special offers at

The Plug n Play iZ3D 3D monitor package includes:
  • 22-inch wide screen 3D/2D keyboard switchable LCD monitor
  • 3 pairs of passive polarized 3D glasses (5 other models are
  • available online)
  • iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D and Anaglyph 3D software drivers (other drivers are available online)
  • Power and video cables
  • Quick-start guide
  • Free membership into iZ3D’s upcoming 3D gaming network
  • 1 year warranty
  • Technical support and customer service
Monitor specifications are:
  • 22-inch wide screen LCD
  • 1680 x 1050 resolution
  • Up to 170-degree 3D viewing angle
  • 5ms response time
  • 700:1 contrast ratio
  • 16.7-million colors
  • 300 nits
iZ3D’s approach to stereoscopic 3D puts the 3D enabling technology in the display as opposed to other solutions that require users to wear the technology on their face. The iZ3D approach has the advantage of inexpensive multi-user social 3D experiences and headache-free viewing.

The solution is compatible with 32- and 64-bit Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Vista operating systems, games written for DirectX 8, 9, (and soon 10), and requires a graphics card with 2 video outputs (VGA, DVI, or HDMI). Most games written in the last six years are already designed for 3D, but have until now lacked a way of displaying them properly. Games that have been tested by iZ3D, MTBS, and customer testers can be found at

Availability and Pricing

The iZ3D 22-inch monitor has a new manufacturers suggested resale price of $399.00 and is currently available at Fry’s Electronics and Micro Centers as well as online stores including,,,,,,, and other online shopping sites.

iZ3D Version 1.09 Driver is available at The standard iZ3D S-3D output and anaglyph output are included with an iZ3D monitor purchase. All other drivers can be purchased at $49.99 per output.

In cooperation with AMD and ATI, iZ3D is also exclusively offering an ATI 3D DLP output free to AMD customers. Additionally, for a limited time, iZ3D is also offering a $50.00 rebate to ATI Radeon customers that purchase an iZ3D monitor. For more information visit

Source: iZ3d Press Release

EVGA Announces the EVGA GTX 285 FTW

EVGA Corporation, the leading-edge 3D processor graphics cards and motherboard manufacturer, announces the fastest single GPU graphics card on the market today, the EVGA GeForce GTX 285 FTW. The powerful 3D processor features the NVIDIA GeForce 285 GPU and 1GB of the fastest 0.8ns DDR 3 memory. Running at an impressive 720MHz core clock, 2,772MHz memory clock and 1620MHz shader clock, the EVGA GeForce GTX 285 FTW outperforms all other competitive products in all the three clock setting resulting in impressive performance advantages. The EVGA GeForce GTX 285 FTW will be immediately available in e-tail and retail at a recommended end user price of $449.99.

evga gtx 285 ftw

"We are excited that our engineering team succeeded in tweaking the GTX 285 beyond competitor's abilities," said Wolfram Tismer, Managing Director of EVGA in Europe. "EVGA always strives to give significant performance advantages to our enthusiast end user community."

"I am very proud, that my R&D team developed all the efforts to succeed in pushing the core clock significantly beyond 700 MHz," commented Ken Huang, EVGA's Vice President of R&D for 3D processor graphics cards. "EVGA will always develop something special, to give our user community more powerful options."

evga gtx 285 ftw

Products will be available starting January 28, 2009 through EVGA's network of leading E-tailers, Retailers, Systems Integrators, OEM System Manufacturers and Distributors.

Click here for more information on the EVGA GTX 285 FTW

The EVGA Difference

Known for offering value and performance, as well as top notch customer service, EVGA is recognized through customer loyalty and the highest levels in customer satisfaction. In addition to the expanded product lines, consumers and channel partners will also benefit from increased sales and technical support programs:

  • The EVGA Limited Lifetime Warranty - available for all retail EVGA Graphics Cards.
  • EVGA proprietary Advanced RMA (EAR) service - for allowing customers get a replacement card before sending the defective product back to EVGA.
  • 24/7 Phone Technical Support - to assure users that courteous and friendly assistance will always be available at anytime of the day or night.
  • Step-Up™ Program - for the ability to trade up existing EVGA products for newer technology.
  • Community Message Boards -full of thousands of knowledgeable, friendly and satisfied EVGA customers.
  • EVGA MODS RIGS - show off your rig, win cash prizes.
  • EVGA Gaming - EVGA game servers open 24/7 featuring the latest games.

Source: EVGA Press Release

Is Dell Going Into The Smartphone Business?

Dell, the world's number two computer manufacturer might be jumping into the smartphone arena, at least according to the Wall Street Journal. The report, which cites "people familiar with the matter", suggest Dell might begin selling cellphones as early as next month.

The company has reportedly been designing prototypes for more than a year and will focusing on smartphones. Presumably creating a new competitor for the iPhone and RIM's Blackberry. If Dell sticks to the current plan as reported and the phones are launched, we can expect phones based on Google's Android operating system and Microsoft's Windows Mobile software. One model will even feature a touchscreen, not unlike the iPhone's, the Journal reported.

Dell isn't a stranger to the smartphone business. Just two years ago they were selling the Axim line of handhelds and they currently feature a few offerings from Nokia. So this move isn't all the unprecedented. With PC sales slumping, the economy dropping and the rising popularity in phones its not all that unlikely that we could see this materialize however there has been no official word from Dell. We'll just have to wait and see if the rumors ever materialize.

Symantec GoEverywhere Beta Launched

symantecSecurity vendor Symantec has launched a new cloud-based service called GoEverywhere. The new service which is now in beta allows users to gain access to a number of applications for free including e-mail, instant messaging, and office applications.

Below is the full press release from Symantec:

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Jan. 26, 2009 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the availability of the Symantec GoEverywhere beta, a secure online workspace that allows users to access their Web applications anytime, anywhere, using most any device enabled with a Web browser. GoEverywhere is an innovation from the new business incubator, a Symantec organization that invests and develops emerging business opportunities.

The GoEverywhere beta provides small businesses and individuals a secure, scalable and worry-free computing environment that reduces costs relating to hardware, software, storage and IT management. The beta service allows customers to reach their online Web applications from a centralized location and choose from a selection of third-party Web-based applications for word processing, slide making, spreadsheet work and Web-based email. GoEverywhere removes the need to switch between multiple websites to access preferred Web-based applications and eases online file management by providing a single aggregated view of multiple third-party online storage accounts. Other benefits include:

  • Anytime, anywhere availability – workspace accessed 24x7 on almost any browser enabled device,
  • Hardware and operating system independent – only an Internet browser is required,
  • Maintenance free – no need for ongoing IT management to backup, install or update,
  • Low cost – access free software and rich media content.

GoEverywhere’s approach to secure computing uses multi-level password encryption and two-factor authentication to access the GoEverywhere workspace from any computer location. GoEverywhere’s ‘Single Sign-On’ functionality provides simplified password management making access to online services convenient and easy to manage. Single Sign-On allows customers to securely log onto their workspace and immediately access most of their Web applications and accounts without additional log-ins or passwords.

“As the use of Web-based applications increase, there is a need for our desktop or computing environment to also adjust and become web-based. We believe this will lead to a paradigm shift in desktop computing,” said Don Kleinschnitz, vice president and general manager Symantec GoEverywhere. “The GoEverywhere beta is incorporating next-generation cloud computing and Web 2.0 concepts in innovative ways to enhance customers’ choice of how and when they want to access information.”

In the same spirit of innovation that launched Symantec’s first Software-as-a-Service offerings in 2008, Symantec continues to foster innovation with the beta release of GoEverywhere. Allowing for the organic growth and development of embryonic businesses, Symantec continues to invest in new technologies and businesses that will secure and manage an information-driven-world.

Beta Availability

The Symantec GoEverywhere beta is available for free trial in the United States at: Beta testers are encouraged to provide feedback to assist in the ongoing development and advancement of GoEverywhere.

You can learn more about the GoEverywhere by checking out the Getting Started videos. To sign up for the beta you just have to provide a name and e-mail address. To sign up visit the create account now page.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fellow Tech Blogger Michael Arrington Calls It Quits

Personal security issues cause fellow tech blogger Michael Arrington to take a leave of absence from TechCrunch.The move follows a recent incident in which an unidentified individual at the DLD Conference in Munich, Germany walked up spat Arrington's face.

"In the past I’ve been grabbed, pulled, shoved and otherwise abused at events, but never spat on. I think this is where I’m going to draw a line," said Arrington in his post.

Personally I give Michael my respects for putting up with even that. With the level of success TechCrunch has reached I probably would have backed away a little sooner. I've dealt with personal attacks in the past and can tell you first hand that personal security is a major concern and will really take a toll on you.

Fortunately I haven't reached the "limelight" status as a blogger yet so I don't have to face these issues yet. I'd like to wish Michael all the best in his future endeavors, hopefully he gets to enjoy that beach somewhere far away from his iPhone and laptop.

Use Your iPhone To Play Videos On Your TV With showTIME

Have you ever wanted to use your iPhone to show videos to your friends but wanted a larger format for better viewing, or maybe you'd like to download that recent episode of Lost and watch it from your TV. Scosche Industries, a leading innovator of mobile electronic products and accessories for the aftermarket, has a product that might be right for you.

showTIME is an AV cable with a doc connector on one end to connect to your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod nano and the other end is RCA barrels that connect into an RCA audio / video input.

The $40 cable supports ipod touch (Gen 2), ipod nano (Gen 4), iPhone 3G, iPod touch, iPod nano (Gen3), iPod classic, iPhone, and iPod with video and according to Scosche works without signal loss. Providing a clear clean video directly on any TV

You can order directly from Scosche or I found the cables at Wal-mart for $30. Reviews are a little mixed, so far there aren't many but the few I found suggest that video quality is less than stellar. Using both HD videos and an HD TV might help improve quality.

Yet Another Company Guilty Of "Fixing" Reviews

According to a recent post at the Faith, Fairness, Family, Freedom blog Carbonite, the online backup company, has been posting their own positive reviews to Bruce Goldsteinberg, owner/writer of the F4 blog says he's uncovered several positive reviews that appear to have been written by Carbonite's vice president, senior software engineer and other members of the Carbonite staff.

Those reviews have now been removed from Amazon after the New York Times’ David Pogue posted about them. The added publicity apparently brought them to the attention of Carbonite CEO David Friend who e-mailed Mr Pogue stating:

These ‘reviews’ on Amazon from 2006 should have sourced the authors as Carbonite employees … I will personally see that the reviews are updated to disclose their employment affiliation. Had they been brought to my attention, they would have been removed long ago. We do have a policy about such things. I apologise to anyone who was misled by these postings.

This response raises more questions as Mr. Friend was made aware of the fake reviews as far back as September last year, on a Bits blog post in which Mr. Friend clearly replied to. In an attempt to bait a response Mr. Goldsteinberg used the pseudonym “joe”, to indicated issue he had with the company and that Carbonite employees were posting excellent reviews of their product on Amazon, while not disclosing their positions with the company.

Since Mr. Friend didn't respond to "Joe" and his allegations we can't say for sure that he actually read that single posting. It could be a case of him, or someone from his office, posting a canned response without actually reading the comments. One thing is for sure much like Belkin they've been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

As I stated when Belkin admited to paying for reviews, this happens more often than people think. Don't kid yourself and think it doesn't, or that companies you are using and trust right now don't do the same thing. These few reported instances are meerly cases in which the companies got sloppy and got caught.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

House Passes $819 Billion Stimulus Plan

Despite unanimous Republican opposition the House of Representatives passed an $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday night. The vote was 244-188, with all Republicans voting in opposition while all but 11 Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

The White House-backed legislation includes an estimated $544 billion in federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses. The totals remained in flux nearly until the final vote, due to official re-estimates and a last-minute addition of $3 billion for mass transit.

The House passage is just the first step of several for the legislation, which Democratic leaders have pledged to deliver to the White House for Obama's signature by mid-February.

Source: Associated Press

Suggested reading:

Use Foxit Reader To Quickly And Easily Fill In Mail-In-Rebates

All you bargain hunters out there know how much of a pain filling out mail in rebates can be, especially if like me you've got sloppy handwriting. Well there is a great free tool called Foxit Reader that is is just what you need.

Foxit Reader is a small and fast PDF viewer similar to Adobe Acrobat Reader. The one major option that Foxit adds is a Typewriter tool that allows you to add text to any PDF file, taking some of the pain out of filling out those PDF forms.

Now here is the catch, the Typewriter tool is actually part of the Pro version that you must pay for. So what you are using is a preview feature, if you try to save the PDF it adds an overlay comment saying created with Foxit. This really doesn't affect us since we are only looking to print out our copies of the PDFs so we aren't actually going to save anything.

Getting started:
  1. Click here and download the free version of Foxit Reader
  2. Run the setup and install the program. You can either choose to make Foxit your default PDF viewer or stick with Acrobat Reader. Make sure to un-check the boxes for any additional items since we won't need them
  3. If you don't want to use Foxit as your default viewer make sure you don't install the Firefox plugin and don't bother with the toolbar (like me need more of those)
The installation should have been rather painless. If you choose not to make Foxit your default PDF viewer then opening PDFs with the program will take a few extra steps. If you did decide to set it up as default then you are ready to fill in those rebates.

Filling in rebates and other PDF forms:
  1. Open the PDF file in Foxit
  2. If you saved the PDF click Tools, then Typewriter Tools and select the Typewriter Tool. If you are opening the PDF from within your browser scroll over the icons toward the end of the tool bar until you find the Typewriter Tool (it should be the fourth from the end)
  3. Once you are using the Typewriter Tool scroll down the rebate to whatever section you need to fill in. Click just above the line you need to fill out and begin typing, if you are filling in boxes it will take some practice to get the text aligned correctly.
  4. Once you have the form filled out click on the hand tool. There is no real reason for this other than if you leave the Typewriter tool active on a line it won't print. Once you are ready click to print. On the bottom of the preview page you'll see a sroll box that says "Print What". Make sure that is set to print document and annotations. Double check the preview to make sure all of the sections show before printing.
  5. If everything looks good print your copies, if not go back and redo whatever needs to be done.

I usually print one test page first just to make sure everything comes out ok. Once I've verified everything looks good I print my second copy, remember you should always make copies of everything you send when sending in MIRs.

A couple of tips for getting things right:

  • I usually save the PDFs to my desktop and fill them in later. From within Firefox you won't be able to change the Typewriter font size or color, something that will need to be done for some rebates.
  • If you are filling in rebates or forms with boxes for each letter it takes a little practice to get your text aligned right. I didn't have any problems with straight lines but those little boxes are a pain in the butt.
  • Always double check the details. I've never had any issues with my Mail-In-Rebates but there are people that do. Make sure you don't have any typos on your name address or anything else.
I just recently found out about Foxit but I've got to say this thing is a life saver. I can't tell you how many rebates I've filled in by hand over the years and this little tool saves me some time and effort. Not only is it quick and easy it is free!

The House Blocks DTV Delay

The House of Representatives blocked the delay of the DTV transition this afternoon when the bill, dubbed the DTV Delay Act, failed by a narrow margin to receive a two-thirds majority, as required by bills placed on the suspension calendar.

Members voted 258 to 168 to pass the bill, leaving it some 13 votes shy of the majority needed. Only 22 Republicans voted for the bill, while 155 voted against it. Among House Democrats, 236 voted for the bill and just 13 voted against it.

This more than likely doesn't signal the end of the debate over the DTV delay as Democrats may try again next week, but this time in a way that would possibly permit amendments and require a simple majority to pass. Given the numbers shown today it is likely it would pass if brought up under a majority vote.

As I mentioned previously I don't feel there is a need for a delay. Consumers have had years to prepare for the switch. Delaying by a few months is going to do little to motivate those that have been dragging their feet. Hosting & Servers

AMD Releases New Toolkit For Social Issue Games

amd logoAMD this week announced the availability of Let the Games Begin: A Toolkit 4 Making Social Issue Games, which helps nonprofit organizations to create social issue games on such topics as the environment, energy consumption, poverty and health. Produced by Games for Change with support from the AMD Foundation's AMD Changing the Game initiative, the toolkit includes examples of successful games with social content as well as in-depth presentations by key game-design experts. The toolkit is free of charge and available at

The mission of AMD Changing the Game is to take gaming beyond entertainment and inspire youth to learn critical education and life skills by equipping them to create digital games with social content. The program focuses on 13 to 18-year-olds and emphasizes enriching the educational experience of disadvantaged youth.

AMD Changing the Game has created excellent opportunities for students to express their views on the world while learning important life skills through the experience of creating digital games,” said Allyson Peerman, president of the AMD Foundation. “The Let The Games Begin toolkit is an important resource to inform and educate organizations that are interested in using games as a medium for communicating about important social issues.”

The AMD Foundation launched AMD Changing the Game in June 2008. The initiative is designed to apply AMD’s microprocessor and graphics processing power to digital game development, helping to educate young people and effect positive social change in an increasingly technology-driven society. The program was launched as part of AMD’s sponsorship and participation at the Fifth Annual Games for Change Festival in New York City. Also as part of that festival, the AMD Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation co-funded “Let the Games Begin,” a day-long workshop for nonprofit organizations that featured presentations and brainstorming sessions by some of the nation’s leading authorities on social issue game development and covered fundamentals such as game design, fundraising, evaluation, youth participation, distribution and press strategies.

AMD Changing the Game capitalizes on the dynamic entertainment and educational potential of digital gaming. By working with nonprofit organizations, foundations and other companies, AMD Changing the Game uses digital game design to teach disadvantaged youth essential STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and life skills. The Let the Games Begin toolkit will help broaden the scope of this program and bring social issue gaming to youth across the country.

“Digital games are powerful tools used to engage youth and adults in some of the most pressing social issues we face today. We are excited to unveil the Let the Games Begin toolkit with AMD to help more organizations incorporate digital games in their efforts to make the world a better place,” said Alex Quinn, executive director of Games for Change.

AMD Changing the Game Milestones to Date
The AMD Foundation’s AMD Changing the Game initiative has already seen great success with several nonprofit groups across the U.S.:
  • Girlstart is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit organization created to empower middle- and high-school girls to excel in math, science, and technology. AMD funded a summer camp that enabled 40 high school juniors to examine gender issues in gaming and explore the power of video games to effect social change.
  • Global Kids is a New York City-based nonprofit organization that seeks to transform urban youth into successful students and community leaders. Through its grant to Global Kids’ Playing for Keeps program, AMD joined The Microsoft Corporation in enabling 20 youth from underserved communities to work with game developers to develop, create and distribute a socially conscious game, Tempest in Crescent City ( ). The game focuses on how citizens responded to disaster situations during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Institute for Urban Game Design is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization teaching science, technology, engineering and math skills through the hands-on creation of digital games. AMD’s grant enabled 40 McKinley high school students to apply their learning in 3-D modeling, animation and computer programming to develop games focused on the issue of energy usage
  • Science Buddies is a national, non-profit organization based in California's Silicon Valley offering a variety of web-based tools that help K-12 students explore science through research-based projects often done at science fairs and other school and community events. The AMD Changing the Game grant has enabled Science Buddies to launch a video and computer games interest area on its site aimed at helping students understand and practice what is required to design digital games.

AMD is also working with PETLab, a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The New School, to create a Game Design and Animation Curriculum for youth. The curriculum is expected to be available to educators in 2009.

For more information, including a video and other materials, see AMD Changing the Game.

Source: AMD Press Release

WD World's First 2TB Eco-friendly Hard Drive

Earlier this week Western Digital announced the first 2 terabyte (TB) hard drive - the world's highest capacity drive and the latest addition to WD's popular, environmentally friendly, cool and quiet, WD Caviar Green hard drive family. This new 3.5-inch platform is based on WD's industry-leading 500 GB/platter technology (with 400 Gb/in2 areal density) with 32 MB cache, producing drives with capacities of up to 2 TB.

WD Caviar Green

"While some in the industry wondered if the end consumer would buy a 1 TB drive, already some 10 percent of 3.5-inch hard drive sales are at the 1 TB level or higher, serving demand from video applications and expanding consumer media libraries," said Mark Geenen, President of Trend Focus. "The 2 TB hard drives will continue to satisfy end user's insatiable desire to store more data on ever larger hard drives."

WD Caviar Green is one of the most successful product lines in the company's recent history with its third-generation GreenPower technology, now providing 2 TB of proven reliable storage for today's high-resolution files and graphics. WD Caviar Green drives are designed for use in USB/FireWire/eSATA external hard drives, desktop computers, workstations, and desktop RAID environments.

"Saving power without sacrificing storage capacity is what consumers want, and what many businesses are requiring today. With the launch of the new WD Caviar Green 2 TB hard drive, customers receive the additional capacities needed to operate today's highly advanced programs and high-resolution digital files while using less power than typical drives with similar performance and capacities," said Jim Morris, WD senior vice president and general manager of client systems.

Rock Solid Mechanical Architecture, Cool, Quiet Hard Drives
A number of advanced technologies enable the speed, capacity and performance of WD's Caviar Green 1.5 TB and 2 TB hard drives. Those include: StableTrac, which secures the motor shaft at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations; IntelliPower, which fine-tunes the balance of spin speed, transfer rate and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance; IntelliSeek, which calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration; and NoTouch ramp load technology, which is designed to ensure the recording head never touches the disk media resulting in significantly less wear to the recording head and media, as well as better drive protection while in transit.

Availability and Pricing
The WD Caviar Green 2 TB is available at select resellers and distributors. MSRP for the WD Caviar Green 2 TB hard drives (model WD20EADS) is $299.00 USD. More information about WD Caviar Green desktop drives may be found on the company's Web site at

Newegg Pricing: Western Digital WD20EADS 2TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $299 with free shipping

Source: Western Digital Press Release

New Experimental Feature Takes GMail Offline

Google's GMail team has announced an experimental feature in Gmail Labs that will allow users to view their GMail offline. The new feature uses Google Gears to download a local cache of your mail to whichever computer you are currently running with the service. As long as that device, be it computer, cell phone or something else, is connected to the internet Gear will synchronize with Gmail's servers.

When you lose your connection, Gmail automatically switches to offline mode, and uses the data stored on your computer's hard drive instead of the information sent across the network. You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you're used to doing while reading your webmail online. Any messages you send while offline will be placed in your outbox and automatically sent the next time Gmail detects a connection. And if you're on an unreliable or slow connection (like when you're "borrowing" your neighbor's wireless), you can choose to use "flaky connection mode," which is somewhere in between: it uses the local cache as if you were disconnected, but still synchronizes your mail with the server in the background. Our goal is to provide nearly the same browser-based Gmail experience whether you're using the data cached on your computer or talking directly to the server.

Google warns that the new offline GMail feature is still an early experimental feature, so don't be surprised if you run into a few bugs. According to been using offline GMail internally for quite a while and they feel comfortable that is is ready to have a larger set of people try it out.

Google will be making offline GMail available to everyone who uses the service in US or UK English over the next couple of days, so if you don't see it under the Labs tab yet, it should be there soon. Once you see it, just follow these steps to get started:
  1. Click Settings and click the Labs tab.
  2. Select Enable next to Offline Gmail.
  3. Click Save Changes.
  4. After your browser reloads, you'll see a new "Offline" link in the upper righthand corner of your account, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline set up process and download Gears if you don't already have it.

Unfortunately they haven't made it available to my account as of yet so I haven't actually had the chance to test it out. It should be noted that the directions above came from Google and they left out the important detail that you must have Gears installed for this to work. That should be an obvious statement but one that shouldn't be overlooked.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beware Of The Mythical Plasma TV Recharge

The Consumerist is reporting Sears employees actually tried to sell a customer a service plan which featured of all things a "plasma TV recharge."

According to the post a Sears representative contacted "Anthony" regarding the decision to purchase a Plasma TV instead of an LCD. The representative the proceeded to tell Anthony, "Plasma TV's needed to be recharged every 5 years for a cost of $500 or so," trying to sell him a 3 year $300 protection plan that the representative said would cover this service.

Now obviously there is no such thing as a plasma recharge, plasma TVs are sealed units that do not need to be recharged. Even if there was such a thing the 3 year plan would expire long before the 5 year recharging date anyway.

In writing this I did a quick Google Search and found this is not an isolated incident. Looking through some of the hits I found several people referring to sales people at both Sears and Best Buy and attempts at up selling either to higher priced LCD TVs or up selling protection plans for this mythical plasma recharge.

Conficker Worm Infects Nearly 10 Million PC Worldwide

According to security researchers at F-Secure the Downadup virus, also called the "Conficker Worm" has infected nearly 10 million PCs worldwide.

F-Secure researchers have said, "As time passes, the number of estimated Downadup infections becomes more problematic to calculate as we are monitoring a varying number of domains. Re-infections may also be inflating the count." Late last week the companies prediction of an estimated 2.4 million infected machines jumped to over 8.9 million during a four day span.

The company however remained optimistic in Friday's blog post stating, "In any case, today seems better than the day before and we think that growth of Downadup has been curbed. Disinfection of the worm remains a challenge."

Downandup exploits a bug in the Windows Server service used by Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008. Although Microsoft fixed the flaw with one of its rare "out of cycle" updates in late October, it is estimated that about a third of all PCs have not yet been patched.

The worm spreads by exploiting the Windows vulnerability, by brute-force password attacks, through networked devices and by hitchhiking on USB devices like flash drives.

For more details on detection and removal of Downandup checkout F-Secure's Downandup page as well as Microsoft's Conficker Worm Virus alert page. Microsoft has recommended that Windows users install the emergency update, then run the January edition of the MSRT to scrub the worm from compromised computers.

While detection and removal of the worm has been a priority researchers have warned that the worm has yet to be fully implemented. Alfred Huger, vice president of development at Symantec Corp.'s security response group notes, Downadup has yet to trigger it's second stage of attacks.

Typically worms of this nature are used to infect PCs so that hackers can then use those machines for further attacks. Either to send spam, launch attacks against other Web sites or compromise more computers. To do that, the original virus or worm directs the infected PC, a "bot" or a "zombie", to download additional software.

"Why is it taking so long? That's what we're all asking." Huger tells ComputerWorld. Stating he couldn't recall an attack of this size with such a long lag time between the initial attacks and follow-on downloads of more malware to the hijacked systems.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Congress Delays DTV Transition Until June 12th

The Senate passed a bill on Monday to delay the nationwide switch to digital TV signals. The transition date would move to June 12 from February 17 under the bill that was fueled by worries that viewers are not technically ready for the congressionally-mandated switch-over.

The delay comes as an estimated 6.5 million U.S. households have yet to make the digital TV transition.

The Senate is expected to vote on the DTV Delay Act next week, the bill will still have to get through the House before a delay becomes official. Under the bill consumers with expired coupons for converter boxes may apply for new coupons. Those coupons originally had an expiration date of 90 days. The bill also extends the deadline to apply for a coupon from March 31 to July 31.

My thoughts:
This delay really misses the bus and fails to solve the fundamental issue at hand. Many of these so called "left behind" aren't uninformed, how could they be, every single channel in my area has hounded viewers for months about the transition. They either don't want or feel the don't need to buy a converter box.

The second issue the delay fails to address is the reported 2.6 million additional coupon requests the NTIA has said they have on a waiting list as of last Wednesday. The $1.3 billion in funding for coupons was depleted earlier this month. As of yet there is no word that they are going to release additional funds. Aside from the current waiting list there are no actual numbers, just estimates, as to how much additional funding might be needed.

I can say from first hand experience, viewing sites like freecycle craigslist and others, that much of the misinformed public has received coupons that they didn't actually need. Almost daily for several weeks I've seen people offering their coupons that they errornously applied for and recieved. So the question remains how many of the more than 11 million outstanding coupons are in the hands of people that don't really need them or aren't actually going to use them. How many of those coupons cover the supposed 6.5 million homes we are delaying the program for.

The goverment can delay the transition all they want, however what is going to make viewers that have put off the transition suddenly act. Short of going door to door there isn't much else the governemt can do to get the word out. No matter how long you postpone it, there are still going to be people who are not ready.

My final though is this:

The NTIA and Nielsen numbers just don't add up. The Jan. 5th NTIA report says, "Nielsen Company reported recently that in January 2008, 14.3 million households rely on TV with an antenna." That same report also says, "More than 24 million households have requested more than 46 million coupons and more than 18 million coupons have been redeemed." Yet the report says "52.5 percent of coupons requested have been redeemed."

52.5% of 42 million is roughly 24 million, so somewhere we are loosing 6 million coupons that according the NTIA's report had been redeemed. According to the stats approximately 21million coupons had actually been redeemed so we can use that number.

According to both Nielsen and Centris Research there are only 14.5 million homes in America that, from my understanding, needed the DTV coupons. That number is estimated as high as 19.6 million. We'll given them the benefit of the doubt and say 20 million homes needed coupons.

Comparing the data we can see that obviously some of these numbers are being misrepresented. That or there is a gross amount of converter boxes that are sitting around in household that really don't need them.

More Pirated Mac Software Infected

Security and privacy software vendor Intego has reported that pirated copies of Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Apple may contain a variant of the same virus found in pirated copies of Apple iWorks '09 last week.

Intego warned last week that copies of Apple iWorks '09 found on several popular torrent sites contain a virus dubbed, OSX.Trojan.iServices.A. According to Intego's report released today, a new variant dubbed OSX.Trojan.iServices.B, is now being found in torrent downloads of Adobe Photoshop CS4.

"The actual Photoshop installer is clean, but the Trojan horse is found in a crack application that serializes the program," warns Intego.

After downloading this version of Photoshop, users will run the crack application to be able to use it. The crack application extracts an executable from its data, than installs a backdoor in /var/tmp/, a directory which is not deleted when the computer is restarted. (If the user runs the crack application again, the Trojan horse creates a new executable with a different name; these random names make it harder to ensure safe removal of the malware.)

The crack application then requests an administrator password, launching the backdoor with root privileges. This copies the executable to /usr/bin/DivX, then creates a startup item in /System/Library/StartupItems/DivX. The program checks to see if it has been launched with root privileges, then saves the root hash password in the file /var/root/.DivX. It listens on a random TCP port, and answers requests such as GET / HTTP/1.0 by sending a 209-byte packet, and makes repeated connections to two IP addresses.

Next, the crack application opens a disk image which is hidden in its resource folder, in a folder named .data, and proceeds to crack the Photoshop program, allowing it to be used.

Since the malicious software connects to a remote server over the Internet, the creator of this malware will be alerted that this Trojan horse is installed on different Macs, and will have the ability to connect to them and perform various actions remotely. The Trojan horse may also download additional components to an infected Mac. Spreading Ransomware

A once popular site for Pre-Election Barack Obama supporters,, is being used by hackers to spread malicious ransomware. A trojan downloaded from the site installs a pieces of software which poses as fake security program creating phony warnings that a users computer is infected with spyware. The persistent pop-ups will continue to plague users until the victim pays for the worthless program usually priced between $40 and $50.

According to, the criminals have set up bogus accounts on the site and used them to create blogs. When a user reaches one of the fake blogs, a YouTube-like video window is displayed; clicking on that video frame takes the user to a malicious Web site packed with pornography.

If the user clicks to view the porn, a message pops up claiming a video codec must be downloaded and installed. The executable file is not a real codec, but rather a Trojan horse that hijacks the PC and installs the ransomware.

Websense first uncovered the phony blogs a week ago, it has had no luck reaching someone responsible for the site. "We've been constantly trying to reach them, and tried every possible angle, from e-mail to the site itself to the phone, but we haven't heard back," said Dan Hubbard vice president of security research at Websense. "Obviously, they've been fairly busy."

Visitors to the site that have already been infected should download and run actual spyware removers. There are several free alternatives such as Ad-Aware, Spy-Bot Search & Destroy or Avira. In past dealings with these tricky pieces of malware I've had success removing them using the Smitfraudfix as well as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

More Companies Hit With Layoffs

Despite having a new President in the White House that is looking to act quickly to bolster our failing economy several top companies have continued to layoff employees. It may only be Monday but so far this week we've lost nearly 50,000 jobs.

Amongst the companies announcing cuts today were Home Depot, Sprint Nextel, GM, Pfizer/Wyeth, Philips and Caterpillar.

Sprint Nextel, the nation's third largest wireless carrier will cut 8,000 jobs by the end of March or about 13 percent of its overall work force. (Press Release)

Home Depot, the nations No. 1 home improvement retailer, announced that it is shuttering its high-end EXPO business and shrinking its support staff, with both moves resulting in a reduction of 7,000 jobs. (Press Release)

In by far the largest of today's layoff Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, said it plans about 20,000 job cuts. Including positions held by Caterpillar employees, contract and agency workers. (Source:

General Motors Corp. said Monday it will cut 2,000 jobs at plants in Michigan and Ohio, and it will halt production for several weeks at nine U.S. plants over the next six months due to slow sales. (Source: Associated Press)

Philips Electronics, Europe's largest consumer-electronics firm, on Monday reported fourth quarter losses of $1.9 billion as it took hefty write-downs on the value of its stakes in LG Displays and NXP and as demand for its televisions and multimedia equipment continued to weaken. Following those losses the company has said it plans to cut about 6,000 jobs in 2009. (Source: Associated Press)

Pfizer Inc. is buying rival drugmaker Wyeth in a $68 billion deal that will increase its revenue by 50 percent, solidfy its No. 1 rank in the troubled industry and transform it from a pure pharmaceutical company into a diversified health care giant.

Pfizer also plans to cut about 8,000 jobs, 10 percent of its workforce, as part of what it expects will be a staff reduction totaling 15 percent of the combined companies' workers — implying a total job loss of almost 20,000. (Source: Associated Press)

Worldwide a total of 85,000 jobs have been cut today, piling more pressure on President Obama as he pushes his $825 billion stimulus plan.

Internet Explorer 8 Achieves Release Candidate Status

ie8 logoMicrosoft took the "beta" tag off Internet Explorer 8 today with the announcement of Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1. IE8 RC1 is the next best thing to a full release of the software. Stocked with all the features, functions and most of the bug fixes you'll see in the final version.

IE8 for the most part appears nearly ready for widespread release, so don't be surprised if the final version arrives relatively soon.

The release candidate software comes in bot 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Vista as well as a 32-bit Windows XP edition. There is no installer for the Windows 7 Beta and RC1 will not work properly on the new OS. Microsoft has said the version of IE8 currently running on the Windows 7 Beta and the current IE8 revision are two seperate builds and should remain so.

If you aren't running Windows 7 and would like to get the latest version of IE8 the Windows Internet Explorer blog has a great post for upgrading to IE8 RC1.

As previous mentioned for Windows XP users if you are not running service pack 3 it is recommend that you install it before upgrading to IE8 or you will not be able to roll back to a previous version.

New Malware Steals Money From Your Cell Phone

Kaspersky Labs has discovered a new piece of malware that targets Symbian based cell phones provided by an Indonesian mobile phone operator. The virus know as Trojan-SMS.Python.Flocker, sends SMS messages with instructions to transfer part of the money in the user’s account to another account, which belongs to the cybercriminals.

So far the amounts transferred has remained small ranging from $0.45 to $0.90. It is likely the attackers are using the small amounts to fly under the radar. However as Kaspersky Labs notes if the cybercriminals behind the Trojan manage to infect a large number of phones, the amount transferred to their mobile phone account as a result could be quite substantial.

"Obviously, the authors of the Trojan want to make money,” said Denis Maslennikov, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “It seems that the focus on financial fraud in the mobile malware industry will only get more pronounced over time. Until recently, many people thought that malicious programs that send SMS messages without the user’s knowledge were a purely Russian phenomenon. Now we can see that the problem no longer affects only Russian users - it’s becoming an international issue."

According to PC World the software is a variant of the Trojan-SMS.Python.Flocker malware, originally written by Russian fraudsters. This software had originally been used to dupe victims into singing up for expensive mobile services such as ringtones, downloadeable games and other high priced services, presumably with the program's authors getting a healthy kickback. "It seems like some Indonesian guys had a look at this stuff and thought, 'Hey, we could do this in Indonesia,'" said Roel Schouwenberg, an antivirus researcher with Kaspersky.

So far the Trojan is limited to a specific Indonesian cell phone provider which allows transfer of funds through SMS, the exact provider was not disclosed. The affected Symbian operating system is used in phones made by Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, among others.

Thermaltake Launches New Products For Enthusiasts

Thermaltake Technology has announced two new products lines geared towards hard core enthusiasts the new Thermaltake Element S chassis series and new high-performance Toughpower XT power supplies.

Thermaltake Unveils the New Generation of PSU – Toughpower XT
Thermaltake Technology, the leading brand of computer components, today announced the next generation of its high-performance Toughpower family – Toughpower XT. Toughpower XT features a number of cutting-edge innovations that set it above the competition. New features such as FanDelayCool for thorough cooling, S.P.T. Indicator for real-time monitoring, and 12Vin1 for the best compatibility have never been offered in most of the current PSUs. Toughpower XT is currently available in three models: 850W, 750W, 650W.

thermaltake toughpower xt 850

Since its successful launch in 2006, Thermaltake’s top of the line PSU-Toughpower Series- has gained a great reputation for its high-performance and excellent quality in the past years. To maintain and even surpass its own leading position in the industry, Thermaltake’s R&D engineers have redesigned the inner structure to upgrade the current Toughpower PSU.

To provide users with the highest performance and the best user experience, Toughpower XT is equipped with a three-position FanDelayCool switch that controls how long the fan should continue to operate after system shutdown. FanDelayCool is a brand new feature that ensures the PSU is completely and thoroughly cooled after you shut down your PC. Toughpower XT also utilizes S.P.T. Indicator LEDs to indicate the standby mode, the power good signal, and the temperature of your PSU, bringing you the real-time monitoring over the power supply. Besides, Toughpower XT is also equipped with S.F.C. Quiet for the quietest operation, 12Vin1 for the best compatibility, and High Quality Japanese Capacitors for superb performance and reliability.

thermaltake toughpower xt 850

All Toughpower XT models are built to the highest standards of quality, delivering stable continuous output at 50℃ operating environment. It also comes with built-in two 6pin & two 8pin PCI-E connectors for Multi-GPU graphic cards, support for Dual Core CPU / Quad Core CPU / NVIDIA SLI and all Multi-Core GPU technologies, and strict voltage regulation (±3%) & high efficiency (qualified for 80Plus Bronze standard). Thermaltake believes the Toughpower XT will bring the highest performance and best quality to all the enthusiasts again!

Thermaltake Toughpower XT: Exclusive Website / Video Introduction / Official Web Page

Element S, New Classic from Thermaltake – Create for Pros!
Thermaltake is a well-known brand for producing high performance, premium quality and superior design product and widely recognizable by media around the world. In the beginning of a new 2009, Thermaltake presenting a whole new line of chassis “Element S” as the year featured chassis. The profound appearance and structure design, “Element S” will the most stylist and unique of the year. Element S will first release exclusively in North America, and absolutely fulfills PC professionals demands.

thermaltake element s

Element S is entirely different from the chassis Thermaltake made especially for gamers and enthusiasts in the past. It is masterpiece focus on upper level of consumers' satisfaction by satisfy the creative professionals like 3D modeler, music composer, graphic designer, video editor and gamer themselves. The “S” for Element S represents Silence, Sophisticated, Specious, Stream, Speedy and Substantial. With the six core design concepts, every surface, curve, line and crease has a function, expressing its potency and performance. With a seductive flow that incorporates profound detailing and powerful stance, the Element S delivers breathtaking beauty with performance.

    Silence - With the silence environment that Element S created, Audio/Music composer can concentrate on their work without distraction of the noise come from the computer.

    Sophisticated - With it's not so flashy appearance and very carefully painted black interior, Element S is a perfect companion for graphic designers.

    Spacious - With tremendous HDD space Element S can offer, it can helps them to finish their masterpiece with ease.

    Stream - With the superior airflow that Element S can provide, the heat energy that the system produce will be effectively take away.

    Speedy - With Element S's advance mechanism like plug & play fan and direction-free HDD cage, gamers can minimize installation time when changing new key components. Their system can get online faster than ever!

The materials and traditional skills are essential elements of the Thermaltake’s experience. In the Element S, the beauty and performance is without equal.

thermaltake element s

Thermaltake Element S: Exclusive Website / Video Introduction / Official Web Page

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Enter Google's Knol For Contest

Google's Knol and have teamed up to announce the Knol for contest. The contest will be open to residence of the US age 13 or older and any subject matter within the Knol TOS is acceptable.

Simply go to the official contest page, create your own "how to" knol about a subject you know well, and the contest judges will select five finalists who will be eligible to have their knols featured on the site. In addition, the best entry overall will be awarded a $1,000 grand prize.

Submissions are open through March 23rd, 2009, click here for the full contest rules Hit By Security Breach

Popular job search engine is reporting their databases have been illegally accessed and user information has been stolen.

Monster posted the following warning about the breach:

We recently learned our database was illegally accessed and certain contact and account data were taken, including Monster user IDs and passwords, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and some basic demographic data. The information accessed does not include resumes. Monster does not generally collect – and the accessed information does not include - sensitive data such as social security numbers or personal financial data.

In order to help assure the security of your information, you may soon be required to change your password upon logging onto the site. Please follow the instructions on the site. We would also recommend you proactively change your password yourself as an added precaution. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, but feel it is important that you take these preventative measures.

As a further precaution, we want to remind you that an email address could be used to target “phishing” emails. Monster will never send an unsolicited email asking you to confirm your username and password, nor will Monster ask you to download any software, “tool” or “access agreement” in order to use your Monster account. Monster’s security page,, provides users with a substantial amount of information about different types of Internet fraud. We encourage you to review the information to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself on the Internet.

Users of both and's government client should change their passwords as soon as possible. You should also be on the lookout for very real looking phishing attempts made by fraudsters that could be using your personal details from this breach.

Windows 7 Beta Download Deadline Extended

windows seven logoMicrosoft has decide to extend the Windows 7 beta download deadline which originally ended today to Feb 10th.

"Because enthusiasm continues to be so high for the Windows 7 Beta and we don’t want anyone to miss out we will keep the Beta downloads open through February 10th. Customers who have started but not completed the download process will be able to do so through February 12th," said Windows Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc in a post to the Windows 7 blog.

Microsoft originally planned to limit the number of downloads and licenses to 2.5 million copies. Due to an overwhelming initial response the company's servers were overloaded resulting in Microsoft lifting the original limit and offering an unlimited amount of downloads through today, Jan. 24.

Despite the fact they "are at a point where we have more than enough beta testers and feedback coming in to meet our engineering needs" Microsoft decided late Friday to extend their deadline two and a half more weeks.

The shutdown of general availability for the Windows 7 Beta will occur in 3 phases over the course of the next few weeks:

  • Starting January 27th, the Windows 7 page will be updated with a warning that time is running out on downloading the Windows 7 Beta and that we will be limiting downloads shortly. People will be encouraged to register and start the download of the Windows 7 Beta sooner rather than later.
  • February 10th, new downloads of the Windows 7 Beta will no longer be available. People who have already started their Windows 7 Beta download and have not yet finished will still be able to finish their download and are encouraged to do so.
  • February 12th, people will no longer be able to complete their download of the Windows 7 Beta. Anyone who hasn’t finished downloading the Windows 7 Beta will be unable to do so.

Product keys for the Windows 7 Beta will continue to be available. So if you have the Windows 7 Beta but didn’t get a product key you will be able to do so even after February 12th.

If you have yet to download the beta you can head over to the Official Windows 7 page for download details and instructions on installation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Microsoft Reports Lower Earnings, Cuts 5,000 Jobs

microsoft logoAmidst lower than expected 4th quarter earnings Microsoft has announced it will slash 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months.

Prior to Microsoft's release of their 4th quarter earnings the company reported they would cut up to 5,000 jobs in research and development, marketing, sales, finance, legal, human resources and IT. With the first 1,400 job cuts coming as early as this afternoon.

In today's earnings report Microsoft announced revenue of $16.63 billion for the second quarter ending Dec. 31, 2008, a 2% increase over the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $5.94 billion, $4.17 billion and $0.47, declines of 8%, 11% and 6%, respectively, compared with the prior year.

“Economic activity and IT spend slowed beyond our expectations in the quarter, and we acted quickly to reduce our cost structure and mitigate its impact,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “We are planning for economic uncertainty to continue through the remainder of the fiscal year, almost certainly leading to lower revenue and earnings for the second half relative to the previous year. In this environment, we will focus on outperforming our competitors and addressing our cost structure.”Once You Know, You Newegg

Microsoft says revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks. But one has to wonder how much the failure of Vista and the lower than expected adoption rates has really hurt the company.

According to at least one report Vista might have a great role in the drop in revenues than expected. Tom Sullivan at InfoWorld writes: "Windows Vista has been trouble for Microsoft perhaps since the operating system's beginning. And this last quarter was certainly no exception."

"Windows Vista didn't do well. Based on our data, a lot of clients are skipping Windows Vista," said Neil McDonald, an analyst at Gartner. Indeed, nearly every other major analyst firm found a similar lack of Vista adoption, with Forrester Research likening the (operating system) to the failed New Coke.

Vista clearly isn't to blame for all of Microsoft's woes but you've got to admit that they have suffered some set backs because of it.

Seagate Releases New Firmware Fix For Bricked Drives

seagate logoSeagate has released a new firmware update that, this time , should fix the issues faced my many users. The company has published detailed instructions for how you can identify which model of hard drive a user has and whether it needs a firmware upgrade. Models affected are the Barracuda 7200.11, ES.2 SATA and DiamondMax 22.

I highly recommend anyone looking to flash their drive back them up before hand. While so far there have been no reported issues with the new firmware that is no guarantee. The last firmware released by Seagate was faulty and bricked several previously working drives.

Seagate will be offering data recovery services through their i365 subsidiary to any customer that was affected by this issue. Since this is a bios issue the data on the drives that are not inoperable is unaffected and should still be on the drives and can be recovered.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Red Herring Global 2008 Awards Announced

The Red Herring Global 100 awards are given to the top 100 tech startups from around the world. This years event was held January 16th in San Diego and featured more than 1,800 of the top Tech companies worldwide.

The Red Herring editorial team reviews thousands of privately held companies meticulously narrowing their list down to 1200 of the top companies from Europe, North America, and Asia. Deploying a detailed process Red Herring then drills-down that list to of the best companies, first to 200 finalists, then to the top 100 winners.

Past award winners include prestigious names such as Google, Yahoo!, Skype, Netscape,, and YouTube. This years Red Herring Global 2008 Winners list features several great up and coming companies you might or might not have heard of. Here are a few of the companies I've had a chance to look at and suggest checking out:

There are undoubtedly more great companies on the list, and even more still on the finalists list. I've only had the time to check through a few at random. Please feel free to share your feedback on any companies or services you find.

Cell Phone Manufacturers Cutting Prices

Weak demand and an overstock of inventory has led to price cuts by many popular cell phone makers.

Sales of consumers electronics were down sharply over the holiday season leading to grim sales figures and an overstock of product. In an attempt to cut inventories and boost sales numbers in the first quarter of '09 several manufactures including Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola have cut prices by as much as 10%.

Reports in Reuters suggest that while vendors often cut prices in January, some actions this year have been more aggressive than usual.

"Our researchers have seen significant price cuts in Europe by the major handset vendors as 2009 begins," said Tom Byrd, who leads device-pricing research at CCS Insight. "This reflects the highly competitive pricing environment we have been predicting for this year."

Insight and other analysts have predicted slow cell phone sales in 2009. Suggesting the economic downturn will affect the entire cell phone market, from handset manufacturers and network operators to component suppliers, developers, distributors and retailers.

According to new data from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, cell phone spending has increased steadily, out pacing residential spending in both 2006 and 2007. Expenditures increased rapidly, from $210 "per consumer unit" to $608 in 2007, an increase of almost 200 percent. It is expected that the 2008/2009 numbers will show an even greater increase as the number of U.S. households move away from residential service and towards cell phones.

ASUS Adding Phoenix Technologies' HyperSpace

Phoenix Technologies, the leader in PC 3.0 products, services and embedded technologies, has announced a partnership with ASUS to accelerate the adoption of its award-winning HyperSpace product by consumers worldwide. HyperSpace is a revolutionary new instant-on and always-connected application environment that makes operating a mobile PC as easy and efficient as operating a cell phone.

Based on the partnership agreement, ASUS will incorporate HyperSpace into its next generation notebooks. With HyperSpace-installed notebooks, users can instantly launch important web-based applications (before Windows ever boots), automatically connect to the best available network, dramatically extend battery life and achieve new levels of uptime and security protection. HyperSpace is available for download at

"Phoenix is pleased to be working with ASUS to offer a broad choice of affordable products that are revolutionizing the mobile PC user experience," said Woody Hobbs, president and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. "With HyperSpace, we ensure users will enjoy a dynamic online experience seconds after turning on their PCs. And once Windows has fully booted, users will be able to quickly and easily toggle back and forth between their Windows applications and the instant-on, always-available HyperSpace environment. An added benefit is that HyperSpace extends the battery life on an average notebook by more than 25%."

Mr. Hobbs added, "All-day mobile computing is a cornerstone of our PC 3.0(TM) promise to simplify the PC end user experience and transform PCs into more user-friendly, fun, versatile and effective systems."

"As the fastest growing notebook brand, we are committed to bringing to market innovative technology solutions that simplify consumers' lives; we are glad to see Phoenix's PC 3.0 vision is in line with our commitment to our customers. HyperSpace's easy-to-use, smart, instant-on and longer battery life features will allow ASUS to deliver richer, more dynamic products and satisfy our customers' desire to make mobility a far more elegant and intuitive experience," said Henry Yeh, General Manager, ASUS Notebook Business Unit.

Phoenix HyperSpace was named "Best Software" by Laptop Magazine at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). HyperSpace is also the winner of Laptop Magazine's 2009 CES Readers' Choice Award. For more information about HyperSpace, please visit

Source: Phoenix Technologies Press Release

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gaming: Sony Provides "Sneak Peek" Of The Upcoming PS3 Firmware (v2.60) Update

Eric Lempel the Director of PlayStation Network Operations provides PS3 users with a sneak peek into the software updates for PS3. The newest Firmware v2.60 is said to be coming soon and is designed primarily to enhance the system’s media capabilities.

According to Lempel's blog post the key feature is a new Photo Gallery application, which delivers a suite of tools for sorting through and displaying your digital photo collection. Digital pictures can be organized in groups according to various criteria, including the camera used to take the photos, the event date and time, colors in the photos, as well as the number, ages, or facial expressions of the people pictured. You can also create slideshows set to music and build photo playlists with an easy-to-use interface. The Photo Gallery application will need to be installed separately from the XMB after you update your PS3’s firmware. To install the Photo Gallery application, go to the Photo section on the XMB, select Photo Gallery and press the X button.

While there is no official word on the release date some sites are speculating it will be available for download tomorrow January 21. Until then here’s a video walk-through of the firmware showing off the Photo Gallery.

Amazing GeoEye Pictures Of President Obama’s Inauguration

The GeoEye gallery feature some great 1/2 meter resolution images of the Washington D.C. area during the President's Inauguration. The images were taken from space, some 423 miles up in, by the GeoEye-1 or as many know it the “Google Satellite”.

This half-meter resolution image of the United States Capitol, Washington D.C. was collected by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Jan. 20, 2009 to commemorate the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, whispy white clouds, shows the masses of people attending the Inaugural Celebration.

This half-meter resolution image of Washington D.C.’s National Mall was collected by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Jan. 20, 2009 to commemorate the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, whispy white clouds, shows portions of the monuments along the National Mall and the masses of people between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

The images definitely offer a different perspective. The little blobs of people looks so minuscule, yet each blob represents 10's of thousand off people, if not more.

Payment Processor Heartland Hit With Security Breach, 100 million Accounts Vulnerable

Information is now being disclosed about a massive data breach that hit payment processor, Heartland Payment Systems, late last year. The breach may have may have led to the theft of more than 100 million credit and debit card accounts.

Robert Baldwin, Heartland's president and chief financial officer, said the company had receiving several fraudulent activity reports late last year from MasterCard and Visa on cards that had all been used at merchants which rely on Heartland to process payments.

"We found evidence of an intrusion last week and immediately notified federal law enforcement officials as well as the card brands," said Baldwin. "We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyber fraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the United States Secret Service and Department of Justice."

Upon investigating suspicious activity surrounding processed card transactions, Heartland uncovered malicious software that compromised data that crossed Heartland's network. The company reportedly took immediately steps to further secure its systems. In addition, Heartland will implement a next-generation program designed to flag network anomalies in real-time and enable law enforcement to expeditiously apprehend cyber criminals.

Heartland has created a website,, to provide information about this incident. It is advised that you check your credit reports for any suspicious activity and scan your credit card statements closely. Even the smallest of charges should be considered suspicious as credit card thieves often create a test charge for something small to see if the card works. Then they'll go in for the kill and buy those high ticket items.

Obama Officially Takes Office

I'm not one for politics so instead of being glued to the TV like many of you I was sleeping during today's historical inauguration. Being the geek I am I knew there would be much missed as everyone, everywhere would be streaming the video. So I headed over to YouTube and watched the Associated Press video.

Being a "Semi-Republican", I'm a nonpartisan voter that votes Republican more often than not, I'm not a big supporter of our new President. I'd like to be optimistic and think he'll turn things around. That he can walk the walk and back up some of what he has been talking. I'm just not getting my hopes up. Politicians all to often make big promises, get into office and then don't deliver.

Today's historical significance aside I don't see the event as being worthy of the attention it is receiving. More than a million people crowded the National Mall and the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue for the inauguration of President Obama. That's great that all those people wanted to be a part of the inauguration of our first black president, but at the end of the day that really doesn't mean much.

If President Obama can't, or doesn't deliver on his promises and the economy doesn't make a miraculous turn around then he goes down in history as what he is, just another President. In my opinion for this to truly be a noteworthy even President Obama has to make a significant impact on the world. If two years down the road things are as bad or worse then today's historic moment losses all of its shine.