Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Google Is Now Accepting Student Applications For 2009 OpenUsability Season Of Usability

Students interested in working on an open source projects are now invited to apply for Google's 2009 OpenUsability Season of Usability.

The OpenUsability Season of Usability which was inspired by Google Summer of Code, where Google offers offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects, will be supporting 10 students to work on 10 open source projects during the June 1 - August 31 2009 season. The 10 students selected to work on one of the following projects will be given a $1000 USD internship stipend for their work at the end of the project

The projects available are:
OpenUsability is an initiative that promotes usability in Free/Libre/Open-Source Software (FLOSS) development. Today, OpenUsability is a group of people who share the same mindset of an "Open Usability": Make usability transparent, share methods and best practices, and support open source software.

If interested applications are due May 20 2009. See for more information on the projects, student requirements, and how to apply. Questions about the projects or application process may be directed to

Palm Wants "Real Reviewers"

If you are into social networking then Palm might have an opportunity for you. Palm has announced a “Real Reviewer” program , where real geeks (like us) will be selected to share their opinions about Palm phones across the blogosphere, Twitter, FaceBook or other social networks.

If selected Real Reviewers will be provide with a current-model phone and data-plan service for six months. All you'll be asked to do is share your thoughts about your experiences with your new Palm phone on whatever blogs and social networks you frequent. Lucky participants might even be invited to guest blog about their experiences on Palm's Official Blog or host a discussion board on their Facebook page.

If you want to check it out you can apply here, its a short survey asking about your social networking habits as well as a few questions about yourself. There are a couple of restrictions, you must be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years old. Anyone luck enough to be selected will be on May 8.

And yes the Palm Pre has been confirmed to be one of the phones that "select" Real Reviewers will receive.

Cooler Master Introduces The Killer New HAF 922 Mid Tower

Cooler Master Introduces HAF 922 Mid Tower Chassis
Transforming Machine into Beast

Following the overwhelming success of the full tower HAF 932, Cooler Master extends the HAF (High Airflow Flow) line to a mid tower in the HAF 922. This beastly machine comes with rugged looks, massive air flow cooling and the Cooler Master trademark interior. Building the dream machine is now well within reach.

cooler master haf 922

Killer Looks
HAF 922 makes no secret for potentially transforming all your high-end hardware components into a raging machine. It possesses a muscular and beast-like design that signifies performance without even opening up the system. Intimidating style and the performance makes it a killer combination.

Unrestrained Airflow & Thermal
HAF 922 supports up to seven fans in total, including three of those that support 200 mm fan (which are swappable for smaller 120mm or 140mm fans) for maximum airflow while maintaining a quiet environment. An independent air intake has been designed for a bottom-mounted PSU for easy installation and improved heat management. For overclockers, this chassis even supports liquid cooling set-ups with retaining holes in the back and room for an internally installed radiator.

Easy Installation & Upgradeability
A well thought-out interior has become a trademark for Cooler Master chassis. Starting with a CPU cooler retaining hole that was first introduced in the ATCS 840, it allows for quick installation of CPU cooler without removing the motherboard. Unbeatable cable management makes for less clutter and system maintenance. Tool-free 5.25” and 3.5” drive bays for easy in-and-out. A 7+1 PCI slot for added expandability and a spacious interior to house all types of high-performance hardware.

  • Dimension: 285 x 550 x 605 mm
  • Weight (N/G): 8.7 / 10.9 kg
  • ATX / Micro-ATX
  • 5x 5.25" drive bay exposed (one could convert to 3.5" drive bay)
  • 5x 3.5" drive bay hidden, 1 exposed (converted from one 5.25" drive bay)
  • I/O Panel: USB 2.0 x 2, MIC x 1, SPK x 1, eSATA x 1, Audio x 1 (support HD / AC97 Audio)
  • 7 + 1 expansion slot
  • Cooling System: Front: 200 mm fan x 1 Red LED on / off fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA (can be swap for 120 / 140 mm fan x 1)
    • Top: 200 mm fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA (can be swap to 120 mm fan x 2 )
    • Rear: 120 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 17 dBA
    • Bottom: 120 / 140 mm fan x 1 (optional)
    • Side: 200 mm fan x 1 (optional) (can be swap for 120 mm fan x 2)
  • PSU: ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GE Demos 500GB Holographic Disks

Researchers at GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Company, have developed a new technology that utilizes a micro-holographic storage material that can support 500GB of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc - equal to the capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, or 100 DVDs.

GE’s micro-holographic discs will be able to be read and recorded on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player. Holographic storage is different from today’s optical storage formats like DVDs and Blu-ray discs. DVDs and Blu-ray discs store information only on the surface of the disc; holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material. Holograms, or three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc and can then be read out. Although GE’s holographic storage technology represents a breakthrough in capacity, the hardware and formats are so similar to current optical storage technology that the micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.

The GE team successfully recorded micro-holographic marks approaching one percent reflectivity with a diameter of approximately one micron. When using standard DVD or Blu-ray disc optics, the scaled down marks will have sufficient reflectivity to enable over 500 GB of total capacity in a CD-size disc.

“GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer,” said Brian Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage program. “Because GE’s micro-holographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home. The day when you can store your entire high definition movie collection on one disc and support high resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think.”

GE has been working on holographic storage technology for over six years. The demonstration of materials that can support 500 gigabytes of capacity represents a major milestone in making micro-holographic discs that ultimately can store more than one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes of data. In addition to pushing the limits of storage capacity, GE researchers also have been very focused on making the technology easily adaptable to existing optical storage formats and manufacturing techniques.

“GE’s holographic storage program has turned the corner, and with this milestone we can now intensify our efforts in commercialization opportunities,” said Bill Kernick, who leads GE’s Technology Ventures team. “We’ll continue to engage with a variety of strategic partners to create the best route from product development to introduction into the marketplace.”

GE initially will be focusing on the commercial archival industry followed by the consumer market for its micro-holographic storage technology.

Source: GE Global Research

Sega Licenses NVIDIA PhysX And Apex Technologies For Global Studios

nvidia physx logoNVIDIA Corporation today announced that Sega Corporation has licensed both NVIDIA PhysX and APEX technologies to serve as the development platform for all Sega studios. NVIDIA PhysX and APEX technologies form the world’s most pervasive development platform for physics acceleration in interactive entertainment, and make authoring high definition, scalable PhysX content intuitive and artist-friendly.

“Sega has been using PhysX technology for several years, but this new agreement enables our studios to take advantage of the full portfolio of cross-platform PhysX engines,” said Takashi Shoji, Department Manager, Consumer Software R & D Support Dept., Consumer R&D Division, SEGA Corporation. “APEX was an important factor in our decision because it enables us to create high quality physics content in an easier and more productive manner.”

While the NVIDIA PhysX development environment gives developers unprecedented control over the look of their final in-game interactivity, NVIDIA APEX technology takes PhysX technology content creation to the next level. APEX elevates PhysX technology content authoring from physics programmers to artists without sacrificing any of the highly desired control within the PhysX engine. With APEX, artists can create intricate physics enabled environments: they can expand the quantity and visual quality of destructible objects; make trees and other vegetation integral to game play; and create life-like clothing that interacts with other objects to achieve more realism in their games.

NVIDIA PhysX technology works across all major gaming platforms, including PC, Xbox360, PLAYSTATION3, Nintendo Wii, and the iPhone, and can be accelerated by both the CPU and any CUDA-enabled NVIDIA GPU.

“We are excited to see what the creative minds at Sega will do with the power of our PhysX and APEX technology,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “Sega has a long standing history of developing some of the best games in the industry, and with PhysX they should be able to deliver even more exciting and interactive content.”

For more information on NVIDIA PhysX technology, please visit:

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

Pirate Pay Seeking Retrial Says Judge Was Bias

The Pirate Bay four may have wrongly been tried and convicted of copyright infringement, that is according to defense lawyers who have filed a motion for retail citing bias on behalf of Judge Tomas Norstrom.

Shortly after the conviction of Pirate Bay founders Carl Lundstrom, Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Fredrik Neij it was discovered that Judge Tomas Norstrom was a member of two Swedish copyright protection groups. He later confirmed his affiliation this week, which first surfaced in Swedish Radio reports.

Norstrom is a member of The Swedish Association for Copyright, an organization whose board includes Peter Danowsky, who represented the music and film industry in the trial. Norstrom is also a board member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.

"Tomas Norstrom was biased during the trial ... Secondly, he neglected to inform the defendants and their lawyers of the facts that constituted the bias," defense lawyer Per Samuelson said in the document obtained by Reuters from the court.

lawyers where in court yesterday arguing that Norstrom involvement with The Swedish Association for Copyright, as well as a the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property constituted a conflict of interests. The court of appeal now has the option to decide on whether to send the case back to the district court for a retail.

Intel Cuts SSD Prices, But Still Not Cheap Enough

intel x-25mSSD drives might be faster, cooler and quieter than standard hard drives but with a price of $4/GB they simply can't compete in the mainstream market. The average cost of a 160GB SSD drive is over $600, for that price the average geek could get six to either times the storage using regular old SATA hard drives.

With such a wide price gap its not wonder SSD manufactures like OCZ and Intel are slashing prices. Intel has steadily been lowering prices on several of their more popular SSDs in a response to increased competition and a lack of early adoption. Lets face it not many in the mainstream can afford to add on a $600 storage device.

Over the past four months the company has rapidly been dropping prices on its X25-M series of mainstream 2.5-inch SSDs, which use Multi-Level Cell flash. This week the company announced its latest round of cuts which places the drive at almost two thirds the original cost. The 160GB version of the X25-M is down from $945 in December to the target price of $630 dollars today. This weeks cut to the 160GB model is nearly a $100 price cut off the MSRP, while the 80GB model will drop $50 in price.

While it looks like the prices of SSDs are slowly beginning to creep downwards they have a long way to go before they reach the affordable. The 80GB X25-M is still well over $300, which is still no where near the real of reasonable. I think Intel, OCZ, Kingston and the other SSD manufactures would have to get the prices down to the neighborhood of $1-2/GB before we could see real mainstream adoption.

Monday, April 27, 2009

AMD's New 40nm ATI Radeon HD 4770

ati logoAMD today launched the ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics processor, a groundbreaking product that harnesses the state-of-the-art 40 nanometer manufacturing process for the desktop PC market, delivering best-in-class performance and energy efficiency at anticipated launch prices as low as $99. The ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics card is the newest addition to the award-winning ATI Radeon HD 4000 series.

  • The new card features third-generation hardware support for the latest DirectX 10.1 games like Battleforge, HAWX, S.T.A.L.K.E.R Clear Sky and Stormrise, delivering higher game performance and improved visual quality when compared to DirectX 10.
  • The ATI Radeon HD 4770 continues the AMD tradition of bringing industry-leading technology to market that drives a superior user experience. The ATI Radeon HD 4770 makes use of the latest GDDR5memory technology, providing incredibly high data rates for fast game performance.
  • Gamers looking to get the most value out of their graphics hardware investment can scale their performance using ATI CrossFireX technology, allowing a second ATI Radeon HD 4770 card to be added for a near-linear increase in performance.
  • The ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics card allows users to enjoy HD digital content with incredible visual fidelity. The new card helps enhance the definition and clarity of lower resolution media, and through the second generation AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD 2.0) technology, users can be assured of smooth video playback, crisp images, and vibrant colors on all HD content including Blu-ray discs. With support for HDMI, picture-in-picture (PiP) and the latest HD audio technologies like 7.1 surround sound, the new graphics card enables an impressive cinema-quality home entertainment experience.
  • Celebrating the company’s 40th Anniversary, AMD continues its heritage of focusing on the design and development of new products and platforms that deliver compelling user experiences at an exceptional value. By combining new AMD Athlon X2 7850 processors, AMD 7-Series chipsets and ATI Radeon HD 4770 series graphics cards, AMD enables a PC platform that can bring HD video to life while delivering massive performance headroom and video processing acceleration.

“Consumer pressure in this economic downturn is shifting demand to lower prices and the price band around $100 has the highest demand and highest volume,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “AMD has responded with the launch of the ATI Radeon HD 4770, targeting this market with cutting-edge technologies like 40 nm processors, support for DirectX 10.1 gaming and GDDR5 memory. This strategy stands in stark contrast to the old 'trickle down' technology approach some still use to address this important segment.”

“As a leading source of cutting-edge game development tools, Emergent has a passion for delivering realistic, visually stunning game play as well as improved performance,” said Doug Kubel, vice president, Product Development, Emergent. “By supporting DirectX 10.1 in the Gamebryo LightSpeed development system, we are able to deliver improvements in both image quality and frame rates. DirectX 10.1 graphics hardware like the ATI Radeon HD 4770 makes it possible to fully unlock the experience delivered by the combined power of DirectX 10.1 and Gamebryo LightSpeed.”

Benchmarks and reviews:

AMD Joins Microsoft System Center Alliance

amd logo Development continues on DASH plug-in for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to enable secure, remote out-of-band management for business PCs —

Microsoft Management Summit, LAS VEGAS -- April 28, 2009 --Today AMD announced its membership in the Microsoft System Center Alliance and its ongoing commitment to support the Microsoft ecosystem of partners by jointly developing and sharing technologies to advance the development of Microsoft System Center. AMD also continues to develop and support a software plug-in to enable Desktop and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH) support for desktop and notebook PCs running Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Microsoft’s premiere management tool for software deployment and configuration management of business PCs and servers.

DASH is a robust and secure open industry standard that defines a common solution to manage and support remote, multi-vendor commercial desktop and notebook PCs, even when powered off (out-of-band) or out-of-service. With the AMD plug-in, IT professionals will be able to take advantage of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 for out-of-band management of systems that conform to the DASH standard, developed by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

“Our participation in the Microsoft System Center Alliance demonstrates AMD’s commitment to supporting our partners with efficient system management tools,” said Earl Stahl, vice president of Software Development, AMD. “Our promise to deliver a DASH plug-in builds on the value of AMD Business Class technology to deliver the essential manageability, security, energy efficiency and stability that IT professionals require to accomplish tasks quickly, easily and cost-effectively.”

“As part of the Microsoft System Center suite, Configuration Manager 2007 delivers a more efficient IT infrastructure with comprehensive tools for deploying, managing and updating servers and client PCs, across both physical and virtual networks,” said Larry Orecklin, general manager, System Center and Virtualization Marketing, Microsoft. “The DASH plug-in from AMD will extend our Configuration Manager 2007 capabilities, helping to provide IT pros the power to enhance the remote management of their DASH-enabled and non-DASH client PCs for a more stable, secure and manageable computing environment.”

AMD, along with its development partner GNHSoft, will be showing the DASH plug-in for Microsoft System Center Manager 2007 on the show floor (Booth # 517) at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas April 27 – May 1, 2009, demonstrating its key benefits including a remote wake on DASH secure power on, capability to diagnose and troubleshoot system problems even when the Operating System is unavailable and capability to remotely apply critical patches even to system that are powered off.

Source: AMD Press Release

Friday, April 24, 2009

OCZ Introduces New Pricey PCIe-Based SSD Card

ocz logoEarlier this week OCZ announced the new Z-Drive, a PCI-Express based SSD solution designed to utilize the PCI-Express x4 interface. The new card which looks more like a GPU than a hard drive or standard SSD will initially be offered in three capacities 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB. Current prices start at $1,300 and heading north to well over $3,000 make these SSD cards among the most expensive Solid State Drives on the market.

“It is our goal to deliver tailored SSD solutions for the complete spectrum of high performance applications,” said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management at the OCZ Technology Group. “Designed for ultra high performance consumers, the Z-Drive takes the SATA bottleneck out of the equation by employing the ultra fast PCI-Express architecture with a RAID controller and four Vertex controllers configured in four-way RAID 0 within an all-in-one product, making this solution ideal for applications that put a premium on both storage performance and maximum capacity.”

The Z-Drive is based on cutting-edge PCI Express architecture that breaks through the performance barriers previously found with SATA interface. Offering a truly enthusiast grade storage upgrade from traditional hard disc drives, OCZ’s Z-Drive utilizes a combined 256MB of local cache and an onboard RAID controller, to provide a complete solution in a compact form factor. The OCZ Z-Drives offer space and cost-savings that uses significantly less power thanks to the benefits of high-quality flash-based storage in an integrated total-solution.

According to OCZ the drives feature speeds up to 510MB/s read and 480MB/s write, all while delivering lowered power consumption, ultra-fast data access and superior durability

For more information on the OCZ Z-Drive, please visit our product page here.

Source: OCZ Press Release

AMD's New Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition CPU

amd phenom ii logoAMD this week announced their new flagship CPU and to date the fastest Phenom II quad core chip the company has produced, the new AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor. As AMD’s fastest ever quad-core processor, it brings all the capabilities gamers, enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers have come to expect from AMD, including world record setting performance, high-speed DDR3 memory support and AMD OverDrive 3.0 technology, giving users more control over their computing experience.

The Dragon technology refresh consists of the new AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor, AMD 7-Series chipsets and award winning ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics. With this platform refresh, AMD is combining its fastest processor with the massive graphics processing muscle of its most powerful GPU to deliver high definition video entertainment and “beyond HD” resolutions that allow gamers to take the latest games to the extreme.

WHY: AMD is committed to bringing high-performance desktop PCs to the enthusiast, gaming and DIY communities. To best meet the needs of these communities, AMD is taking a balanced platform approach, providing optimal CPU, graphics and chipset performance all at an affordable price.

BENEFITS: Running at a frequency of 3.2 GHz, the new AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor joins Dragon platform technology to give users speed with plenty of headroom. With speed, you need control, and the new AMD OverDrive 3.0 software delivers with a few new features:

  • AMD Black Edition Memory Profile lets users create custom profiles that can easily overclock known DDR3 memory to quickly and easily achieve optimum high speed DDR3 performance.4
  • AMD Smart Profiles can automatically tune performance for specific applications, whether for max performance or quiet operation. Choose from pre-defined application profiles or create your own to personalize the experience.

With AMD, consumers have the option to upgrade when the time is right for their budget and overall experience. Socket AM3 processors, such as the latest AMD Phenom II CPUs, are backwards compatible with existing AM2+ platforms running DDR2 memory, and can also transition to AM3 motherboards that support DDR3 memory when the time is right. Unlike the competition, AMD users can upgrade without having to purchase multiple new components.

For more information on the latest Dragon platform technology and where you can get it – Check it out!

Source: AMD Press Release

Benchmarks and reviews:

Windows 7 Release Candidate Leaked

windows seven logoAccording to several reports, and searches of several torrent sites, copies of the official Windows 7 RC have been leaked.

A search of our favorite BitTorrent tracking sites have found several Windows 7 Ultimate x86 RC Build 7100 listings, available in both 32- and 64-bit versions. Comments from several commenters as well as a few other blogs that have tested the torrent have identified it as the official Release Candidate (RC) Microsoft Corp. will deliver early next month.

Last week Microsoft erroneously posted a page to their Partner Program website that said Windows 7 RC would be available May 5, and be available for downloading by MSDN and TechNet subscribers sometime before then.

It is unclear where the illegally leaked release candidate came from, as neither the partner program website or Technet download link have the RC listed yet. But it does seem to be the real deal.

Apple’s One Billionth App Winner Announced

Connor Mulcahey, age 13, of Weston, CT has been announced as the winner of Apple’s one billion app countdown contest, Connor will receive a $10,000 iTunes gift card, an iPod touch, a Time Capsule and a MacBook Pro for downloading the 1 Billionth App from the App Store.

The winning one billionth app downloaded by Mulcahey was Bump created by Bump Technologies, fittingly a free application.

Bump is simple but useful application for sharing contact information. Enter your phone number, address, e-mail address, and photo, and you'll be able to beam any or all of that information to another iPhone or iPod Touch user who also has the app installed with a simple fist-bump greeting gesture. Contact information gets swapped over an encrypted internet connection, not Bluetooth or an ad-hoc WiFi connection.

Source: Apple Press Release:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Samsung Introduces New "Rugged" High-capacity 500-Gigabyte 2.5-inch Hard Disk Drive for Mobile Computing - MarketWatch

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in digital consumer electronics and information technology, today introduced their new 500-Gigabyte (GB) 2.5-inch hard disk drive with a shock operation tolerance of 400G/2ms. The Spinpoint M7 500GB 2.5-inch hard drive with 250GB per platter features a rugged base and cover design, offering better data protection for road warriors and other mobile laptop users.

"Our customers have been requesting hard drives with higher density, lower power and greater reliability for their mobile applications," said C.H. Lee, vice president, Storage sales & marketing, Samsung Electronics. "The Spinpoint M7 answers these needs with a high-speed operating shock specification and extraordinary drive capacity for storing large data files, music, photos and videos."

The Spinpoint M7 is available in 250-, 320-, 400-, 500-GB capacities. A new controller has been adopted to reduce power consumption in seek mode to up to 25 percent over conventional 2.5" drives. In particular, internal test results on PC Mark show an 18 percent improvement in overall performance over 2.5" hard drives.

"Samsung's M7 will appeal to notebook PC customers who want to have a hard drive operating shock tolerance for mobile applications in tough environments," commented John Chen, senior director, TRENDFOCUS.

The Spinpoint M7 utilizes Samsung's proprietary SilentSeek and NoiseGuard technologies to minimize the noise-level of the mechanical drive operation. The halogen-free drive complies with the European Union's Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) regulations.

The Spinpoint M7 500GB hard drive is lightweight and durable, featuring a 5400rpm spindle speed, 8MB cache, native command queuing and a 3.0Gbps SATA interface. The perpendicular magnetic recording technology enables the 500GB drive to store 160,000 digital images, 125 hours of DVD movies, or 60 hours of high definition video images.
Qualification samples of the Spinpoint M7 are currently shipping to major OEMs. Global shipments in the United States and Europe began in April with shipments to other regions to follow accordingly.

Source: Samsung Press Release - MarketWatch

QuickPWN 3.0 Beta Jailbreaks The IPhone's New OS 3

Two short days after the release of the new iPhone OS 3.0 beta 3 build 7A280f to developers the guys over at QuickPWN had a new jailbreak.

QuickPWN 3.0 Beta 3 is an “unofficial release” (use that term lightly) as it is not created by the iPhone Dev Team.

As of right now you can only jailbreak on the iPhone 3.0 Beta 3, iPhone 3G 3.0 beta 3, and iPod Touch 1st Gen 3.0 beta 3 firmware. And bad news for those of you using the yellowsn0w unlock the new jailbreak will permanently block yellowsn0w, but of course upgrading to the iPhone OS 3.0 would do that anyways.

You can click here to Download QuickPWN 3.0 Beta 3, but keep in mind this is BETA software, and many jailbroken apps don’t work with it yet. For help or questions checkout the iPhone OS 3.0 forum or follow @QuickPWN on Twitter to catch the latest info.

Monday, April 20, 2009

AVG Introduces New Stand Alone Link Scanner

AVGAVG Antivirus has been a part of my tool box for years, in my opinion their free software ranks among the best in the business however on some of my PCs I prefer not to run a full fledged AV suite. But I still want to be sure I have the added protection I need for malware, spyware and generally nasty sites.

This is were AVG LinkScanner comes in. The software, that was originally packaged as part of AVG's Free Edition suite, now comes as a stand alone for anyone that wants protection from malicious sites while surfing or doing Web searches.

AVG LinkScanner incorporates itself into your browser (Internet Explorer (6.0+) and Firefox (2.0+)) and offers safety rankings for all search results from Google, Yahoo or MSN. Pages marked as safe will appear with a green check marks next to them and unsafe ones will have red "X"es. Handy little Javascript popouts will offer users more details and information on pages and results.

AVG LinkScanner will also scan existing bookmarks as well as links in e-mails and instant messages before they are opened. A feature I think is lacking is the ability to scan links on other sites. Scanning links on Twitter or MySpace would be great. The email scanner didn't seem work well, at least in my testing. I opened a phishing email received via AOL's webmail and it didn't report anything malicious, nor did it report the link as bad. FireFox phishing took care of that.

Is this something you need?

Both FireFox and IE incorporate anti-phishing filters and Google serves up its own warnings in its search results, but for users that use Yahoo or MSN this might be a useful tool. As mentioned I found it a bit lacking when used with webmail and of course it only works with web searches so it has its limits.

It only uses minimal system resources so it won’t slow down your computer and it does run seemlessly with both IE and FireFox so you hardly know its there. So there really is no draw back to adding it to your machine.

If you are using Windows 7 and want to test it out I'll warn you that I had issues uninstalling it. It might have been my machine but it never wanted to complete the uninstall.

Free Mobile DTV Goes To Washington

Washington D.C. resident will get the first crack at checking out a new service that will allow free DTV broadcast to be viewed on mobile devices like cell phones, laptops and in-car entertainment systems.

As part of the new DTV transition slated for June some broadcasters will begin broadcasting over-the-air TV signals on a new digital sub-channel designed exclusively for mobile devices. This new broadcasting standard called ATSC Mobile DTV will allow national broadcast station like CBS, NBC, PBS, ABC and FOX to beam over the air single to any portable device. Allowing consumers to watch free TV in the palm of their hand.

According to an announcement made at the National Association of Broadcasters convention today Washington D.C. affiliate stations for CBS, NBC, PBS, Ion, and Fox will begin testing and broadcasting shows via the Mobile DTV signal later this summer. This initial trial is expected to help prepare new broadcasters for what the the NAB and Open Mobile Video Coalition will be a full deployment later this year.

According to Open Mobile Video Coalition, an organization that represents major broadcasters, there are 28 television markets, broadcasting to 39 percent of U.S. households, which have agreed to launch the free mobile digital television programming. Among the cities expected to launch the new service are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta.

It is yet unclear what devices will be available to consumers during the trial period as there are only a few products with the special receivers needed for the new signals. Dell, LG Electronics, Samsung and Kenwood are all reportedly working on new devices. However Dell's prototype laptop was only introduced this week and while other consumer electronics products have been shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show and CTIA none have materialized.

Oracle Announces Plans To Buy Sun

Oracle Corporation and Sun Microsystems announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt. “We expect this acquisition to be accretive to Oracle’s earnings by at least 15 cents on a non-GAAP basis in the first full year after closing. We estimate that the acquired business will contribute over $1.5 billion to Oracle’s non-GAAP operating profit in the first year, increasing to over $2 billion in the second year. This would make the Sun acquisition more profitable in per share contribution in the first year than we had planned for the acquisitions of BEA, PeopleSoft and Siebel combined,” said Oracle President Safra Catz.

“The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system – applications to disk – where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up.”

There are substantial long-term strategic customer advantages to Oracle owning two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris. Java is one of the computer industry’s best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired. Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle’s fastest growing business, is built on top of Sun’s Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community.

The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database, Oracle’s largest business, and has been for a long time. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.

“Oracle and Sun have been industry pioneers and close partners for more than 20 years,” said Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. “This combination is a natural evolution of our relationship and will be an industry-defining event.”

“This is a fantastic day for Sun’s customers, developers, partners and employees across the globe, joining forces with the global leader in enterprise software to drive innovation and value across every aspect of the technology marketplace,” said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s CEO, “From the Java platform touching nearly every business system on earth, powering billions of consumers on mobile handsets and consumer electronics, to the convergence of storage, networking and computing driven by the Solaris operating system and Sun’s SPARC and x64 systems. Together with Oracle, we’ll drive the innovation pipeline to create compelling value to our customer base and the marketplace.”

“Sun is a pioneer in enterprise computing, and this combination recognizes the innovation and customer success the company has achieved. Our largest customers have been asking us to step up to a broader role to reduce complexity, risk and cost by delivering a highly optimized stack based on standards,” said Oracle President Charles Phillips. “This transaction will preserve and enhance investments made by our customers, while we continue to work with our partners to provide customers with choice.”

The Board of Directors of Sun Microsystems has unanimously approved the transaction. It is anticipated to close this summer, subject to Sun stockholder approval, certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

For more on the acquisition checkout the stories below:

Western Digital Introduces New 2TB Next Gen GreenPower Drives

WD Ships 2 Terabyte Enterprise-Class Hard Drives With Next-Generation GreenPower Technology

WD RE4-GP Hard Drives Further Reduce Power Consumption For Data Centers and Digital Video Production Facilities

Western Digital Corp. today expanded its enterprise family of hard drives to include the next-generation 2 TB capacity, the largest and only 2 TB enterprise-class hard drive shipping today. Combining industry-leading 64 MB cache, dual processors, and increased areal density, WD RE4-GP hard drives yield twice the processing power resulting in as much as 25 percent performance improvement over the previous generation.

WD's GreenPower technology platform is the first 3.5-inch hard drive platform designed with power savings as the primary attribute. These drives reduce average drive power consumption by up to 50 percent over currently available competitors' drives and are ultra-cool and quiet, all while delivering solid performance.

The new WD RE4-GP 2 TB hard drive provides enterprise-class reliability for storage-hungry applications, such as cloud-computing infrastructure, large-scale data centers, data archive and tape replacement systems, commercial video surveillance and digital video editing houses, with an energy- and money-saving solution that combats the challenges facing the enterprise IT sector -- limited available drive slots, maximum capacity required, and limited power and budget. Addressing the growing high-capacity enterprise market, WD RE4-GP 2 TB drives are reliability-rated at 1.2 million hours MTBF (mean time before failure) in high duty cycle environments.

Mission-critical video and audio content producers typically require greater system performance and capacity needs than most other applications. Reliable video servers, in particular, are crucial for time-critical data retrieval, distribution, repurposing, and archiving. Like thousands of other professionals and consumers storing photos, files and music, video professionals must manage and maintain raw video files (or any files).

"Every data center in operation worldwide contributes to CO2 emissions, and storage systems are at the core of these data centers," said John Rydning, IDC's research director for hard disk drives. "Many storage applications are a great fit for high-capacity, low power-consuming disk drives like the WD RE4-GP 2 TB that help to reduce power consumption and positively impact the environment."

WD(R) is making it possible for energy-conscious enterprise customers to build servers and storage subsystems with higher capacities, consistent performance, and assured reliability, all while promoting energy conservation.

"Energy efficiency is a primary concern for our customers who continue to look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising reliability or performance," said Tom McDorman, vice president and general manager of WD's enterprise storage solutions business unit. "WD's RE-GP drives enable them to meet their customer's system requirements for storage capacity, reliability, performance and cost by integrating an enterprise-class drive that simply consumes less power than traditional hard drives."

Exclusive Intelligent Drive Technology

WD RE4-GP hard drives with GreenPower technology deliver exceptional power conservation, run ultra-cool and quiet, while providing solid performance. Following are several technologies responsible for the performance enhancements:

Faster - 64 MB cache, dual processors, and increased areal density yield twice the processing power resulting in as much as a 25 percent performance improvement over the previous generation.

Greener - Improvements in our power-conserving technologies -- IntelliSeek, IntelliPark, and IntelliPower -- deliver up to an average 25 percent reduction in power consumption over our previous generation of WD RE-GP drive.

Improved Rotary Vibration Tolerance - Advanced mechanical and servo control optimization along with system characterization and validation enable rock solid performance under extreme vibration conditions, with negligible impact to performance, substantially more robust than the previous generation, making this drive ideal for the most industrial IT applications

Active Power Management - WD drives with GreenPower technology monitor work load and automatically invoke idle mode whenever possible to further reduce unnecessary power consumption by up to an additional 40 percent. Drive recovery time from idle mode is less than one second, providing seamless power management between the drive and the host controller.

StableTrac - Secures the motor shaft at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations.

RAID-specific Time-limited Error Recovery (TLER) - Pioneered by WD, this feature prevents drive fallout caused by the extended hard drive error-recovery processes common to desktop drives.

Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) - This second generation WD RE-GP model increased rotational frequencies up to 1500 Hz, therefore optimizing operation and performance when the drives are used in vibration-prone multi-drive systems such as rack mounted servers or in systems deployed at industrial type locations.

Availability and Pricing

The WD RE4-GP 2 TB hard drive (model WD2002FYPS) is available from select e-tailers and distributors. MSRP is $329.00 (U.S.). The WD RE4-GP 2 TB will also be shown by WD partners AMCC (booth number SL13007) and Promise (booth number SL12008) at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV. More information about WD RE4-GP enterprise drives may be found on the company's Web site at

Source: Western Digital Press Release

NVIDIA Releases Quadro FX 4800 For MAC Pro

nvidia logoNVIDIA Brings Highly Acclaimed Quadro FX 4800 To MAC Market

NVIDIA today brings to Mac Pro users its award-winning NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800, the market’s most advanced professional graphics card.

With its sophisticated GPU architecture and industry leading features, the Quadro FX 4800 delivers a substantial boost in graphics performance and capabilities, allowing users to continue to push the boundaries of realism and performance in markets such as: architecture, content creation, science and medicine.

The new Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac is on display at the NVIDIA NAB 2009 booth: SL 7906, lower South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, April 20-23, 2009.

“Some of the world’s most challenging visual computing problems are solved on the Mac platform,” said Jeff Brown, general manager, Professional Solutions, NVIDIA. “The Quadro FX 4800 provides the power and speed to meet these demanding requirements.”

NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800

To address the direct needs of the Mac user, the new Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac features a standard 3-pin stereo connector for true 3D stereoscopic imaging; critical to many core professional Mac applications. Designed, tested and built by NVIDIA to meet the ultra-high standards of the Mac community, the Quadro FX 4800 GPU dynamically allocates compute, geometry, shading and pixel processing power.

Other key features in the Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac include:

  • Interactive Visualization of Large Models – Offers a massive 1.5GB frame buffer and memory bandwidth up to 76.8 GB/sec. to deliver high throughput for interactive visualization of large models; high-performance for real time processing of large textures and frames; and the highest quality and resolution with full-scene antialiasing (FSAA)
  • High-performance Visualization – NVIDIA’s CUDA parallel computing architecture for NVIDIA Quadro GPUs enables breakthrough application performance to enhance creative expression in areas such as video, animation, photography and production
  • Dual Dual Link DVI and Stereo Connectors – Outfitted with a dedicated 3 pin min-din connector for stereo glasses support and up to two dual-link DVI digital connectors to drive the highest resolution digital displays available on the market
  • Boot Camp Support – Access to native Quadro GPU accelerated professional Windows 3D graphics performance and features when using Apple Boot Camp

Pricing and Availability
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 GPU for Mac has a MSRP of $1,799 USD, and will be available starting May 2009 through and select Apple resellers and workstation integrators. The Quadro FX 4800 for Mac will also be available through NVIDIA channel partners PNY Technologies (US and EMEA), Leadteck (APAC) and Elsa (Japan). For more information on NVIDIA professional technologies and products, please visit:

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Windows 7 RC1 Makes A Debut, Will Go Public May 5th

windows seven logoAccording to information posted on the Microsoft Partner Website, TechNet and MSDN subscribers may now be able to download the first release candidate of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. And according to that same page the Windows 7 RC will be going public starting May 5, 2009.

Its entirely possible this might just be another slip up like last month's early posting that gave away details of Microsoft's plans to give out the RC in May, however the download link for MSDN and TechNet subscribers does hit a live page. I should note that there isn't a link yet for the RC all I see listed are updates and the Windows 7 Beta.

Update - The Windows Partner page has now been changed to mention the Windows 7 beta and all information regarding Windows 7 RC reomved. So it now appears as though this was yet another slip by MS, most likely an intentional slip attempting to add a little more buzz about the upcoming release.

Also featured on the page are the updated Windows 7 SKU editions and feature set information which includes; Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. As we already know Windows 7 Home Basic emerging markets only and Windows 7 Starter will be a limited distribution which we expect to see in netbooks and low powered machines only.

The new features include:

Windows 7 Home Premium

  • Broad application and device compatibility with unlimited concurrent applications.
  • Safe, reliable, and supported.
  • Home Group makes it easy to share media, documents and printers across multiple PCs in offices without a domain.
  • Improved taskbar and JumpLists.
  • Live thumbnail previews and enhanced visual experience.
  • Advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and Internet connection sharing).
  • Mobility Center is included.
  • Aero Glass and advanced Windows navigation.
  • Easy networking and sharing across all your PCs and devices.
  • Improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To.
  • Multitouch and improved handwriting recognition.

Windows 7 Professional
  • Broad application and device compatibility with unlimited concurrent applications.
  • Safe, reliable, and supported.
  • Home Group makes it easy to share media, documents and printers across multiple PCs in offices without a domain.
  • Improved taskbar and JumpLists.
  • Live thumbnail previews and enhanced visual experience.
  • Advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and Internet connection sharing).
  • Mobility Center is included.
  • Aero Glass and advanced Windows navigation.
  • Easy networking and sharing across all your PCs and devices.
  • Improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To.
  • Multitouch and improved handwriting recognition.
  • Domain Join enables simple and secure server networking.
  • Encrypting File System protects data with advanced network backup.
  • Location Aware Printing helps find the right printer when moving between the office and home.

Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Broad application and device compatibility with unlimited concurrent applications.
  • Safe, reliable, and supported.
  • Home Group makes it easy to share media, documents and printers across multiple PCs in offices without a domain.
  • Improved taskbar and JumpLists.
  • Live thumbnail previews and enhanced visual experience.
  • Advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and Internet connection sharing).
  • Mobility Center is included.
  • Aero Glass and advanced Windows navigation.
  • Easy networking and sharing across all your PCs and devices.
  • Improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To.
  • Multitouch and improved handwriting recognition.
  • Domain Join enables simple and secure server networking.
  • Encrypting File System protects data with advanced network backup.
  • Location Aware Printing helps find the right printer when moving between the office and home.
  • BitLocker protects data on removable devices.
  • DirectAccess links users to corporate resources from the road without a virtual private network (VPN).
  • BranchCache makes if faster to open files and Web pages from a branch office.
  • AppLocker easily restricts unauthorized software and enables greater security.

**Note: Windows 7 Ultimate includes all Windows 7 Enterprise features, plus multiple-language packs.

The Optimized Desktop and Software Assurance
Windows 7 Enterprise is part of the Microsoft Optimized Desktop, which also includes the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) suite of management, deployment, and virtualization tools.

If your PCs are covered by Software Assurance when Windows 7 is released, then you automatically get the rights to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise to those PCs without an additional license fee (media fulfillment fees may apply).

Microsoft is committed to delivering continual innovation to enterprise customers through Software Assurance with more regular releases of Windows, additional value in Windows 7 Enterprise, and regular updates of the Desktop Optimization Pack.

Twitter Worm Writer Gets A New Gig

Michael Mooney the teen that has come forth to take credit for the StalkDaily worm that has plagued Twitter over the past week has found himself a new job building of all things applications for businesses.

Mikeyy told BNO News last week that he created the XSS worm StalkDaily out of boredom and to promote himself and his website. Well Mikeyy it looks like your plan has worked. Travis Rowland the CEO of exqSoft Solutions LLC reportedly spotted Mikeyy's work in Twitter and contacted the teenager. He has offered him a new gig as a programmer doing custom Web application development, primarily geared toward businesses.

Rowland has also confirmed that they'd be putting Mooney to work checking security of their current and future applications as "security analysis for us". He'll be making sure exqSoft's applications are as secure as they can be.

Shortly after hiring new of the hiring Rowland Tweeted Biz Stone asking him not to take legal action against the new employee. Its unclear were Stone stands on that issue but recent actions might have sway him away from any sort of lenience as the newest variant of Mikeyy has been spamming Twitter with links to the exqSoft Solutions website.

Rowland has denied claims that the new worm is acting on their behalf. Tweeting two post:

Was just informed new Mikeyy is spamming my website all over Twitter, I did not ask him to do that and can't get a hold of him right now. (link)

We did hire him, but we have nothing to do with the current Mikeyy variant. (link)

While Rowland doesn't see Mooney's actions as "malicous" and goes so far as to blame Twitter for not adequately protecting its site at least one security researcher has spoken out against the recent hiring.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with security firm Sophos told that he feels Mooney should not be rewarded for behaving irresponsibly. "The teen not only wasted the time of thousands of Twitter users and company engineers," Cluley said, "but put Twitterers at risk of having their identities stolen or malware installed on their machines by financially-motivated hackers who could have used the cross-site scripting flaw that Mooney used."

Cluley's remarks in his Dark Reading blog echo many of my sentiments on the issue. There he writes, "In my opinion, ExqSoft Solutions were utterly irresponsible in offering Mooney the job and publicizing his acceptance, less than a week after the first wave of attacks. The last thing we want is a a legion of other kids exploiting software and websites, in the hope that they might be rewarded with a job offer."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pirate Bay Founders Found Guilty

The high profile copyright infringement case against the four founders of the popular torrent site were found guilty in Swedish court on Friday. The group has been sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay $3.6 million in damages to copyright holders.

The group will be holding a press conference later today at 13.00 CEST (aka Swedish time) or 4am PST. We'll be updating this posting later today as more news rolls in.

The pirate's rejoice and throw a party! During his press conference Peter Sunde aka brokep said they are going to throw a huge party and rejoice. While the initial trial may be over this is just the first step for The Pirate Bay.

TPB responded to the conviction earlier today on the Spectrial page:
On friday we will get the verdict in the trial. We will not make a big deal out of it but we will give everyone a chance to talk to us and get our opinions on whatever the outcome is.

We have to remember that this will not be the final decision, only the first before the losing party will appeal. It will have no real effect on anything besides setting the tone for the debate, so we hope we win of course.

I've embedded the press conference below its a bit long but Peter brings up a few interesting points.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time Warner Dumps Caps For Now

Following a flood of public outrage and pressure from Congressman Eric Massa and New York Senator Charles Schumer Time Warner Cable Inc announced that they will delay the transition from flat fee internet usage to their new metered system.
“It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement. “As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met. While we continue to believe that consumption based billing may be the best pricing plan for consumers, we want to do everything we can to inform our customers of our plans and have the benefit of their views as part of our testing process.”
While this might come as a victory to some we shouldn't over look the fact that they aren't saying they are going to shelve the change over nor are they eliminating the possibility that the trials will be re-instated. The company will be distributing a new set of internet usage tracking tools. Following the release of the new tools they hope for more discussion and feedback from customers at which time they may try to reinstate the caps and metered service.

Is Twitter Growing Too Fast For It's Own Good?

twitter logoTwitter has seen exponential growth over the past several months but is all that growth too much and too fast? According to recent reports from ComScore Media Metrix Twitter is surging in popularity with the number of visitors to Twitter in March jumping by more than 5 million visitors, or 131%, from February.

It's not news that Twitter is popular and if you are a user like me (@Geek_News) you know why. Twitter provides a great platform to reach out to others. Whether it be tweeting business, sharing blog posts or just tweeting your day to day activities. But all this popularity and growth has come at a price.

Discover CardJust last weekend the site was hit by a round of computer worms that spread more than 10,000 spam tweets while compromising at least 190 accounts. And other such incidents have disrupted Twitter in recent months as well. Back in January the site was hit by phishers that gained control of several high profile accounts. While both incidents were handled quickly they did show that the site had gained increasing attention by hackers and cyber thieves.

Then of course there is the slew of "over capacity" pages, that have been cropping up more and more as Twitter's servers strain under the burden of volumes of traffic. When I first joined the site it was a rarity to see an over capacity page and rarely did you see the outages or issue we seem to see on a daily basis now days.

So while the growth might be a good thing for Twitter it might not be so for their users. Undoubtedly these things are just part of the growing pains any site feels and they'll be hammered out. But you have to wonder if they can keep up with the fast pace they seem to be off to.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Spotted

amd phenom ii logoAMD's newest 45 nm Phenom II desktop processor has been spotted at several eTailers. The new AMD Phenom II X4 955 which is slated to be officially released next week has made its way to a few online stores and into the hands of a few craft AMD fanboys.

The new chip, which is AMD's fastest 45 nm quad core processor to date. The X4 955 supports the newest AM3 socket motherboards and DDR3 memory. It features a core clock speed of 3.20 GHz (16.0 x 200 MHz), 512 KB of L2 cache per core, and 6 MB of L3 cache. The chip is said to be very overclocker-friendly thanks to its unlocked bus multiplier, and the "massive headroom" AMD has been brandishing lately.

According to several reports the new chip easily reaches 4ghz (screen shots at Extreme Systems) with good air cooling and the proper components.

TechPowerUp sources based in Hong Kong have been able to get their hands on an early-purchase of the new chip in its retail "processor in a box" (PIB) package (marked with the OPN HDZ955FBGIBOX). Hong Kong pricing put the chip at HKD 2170 or $280 US. The pricing is pretty much inline with some of the early pricing numbers seen on a Google Product search.

At that price point the chip would fall in between the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 and the Intel Core i7 920.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zer01 Mobile Takes Laptop Magazine Top Honors At CITA, Prepares For July 1st Launch

zer01_logoZer01 Mobile Awarded Laptop Magazine's "Best Overall Product" Award At The Recent CTIA Wireless 2009 Show In Las Vegas, NV

New "True" Unlimited Voice & Data National Mobile Service From Zer01 Mobile Prepares For July 1, 2009 Launch & Priced At $69.95 Per Month Without Any Contracts

Zer01 Communications, a Las Vegas, NV based mobile communications company, announced today that it has won Laptop Magazine's "Best Overall Product" Award for its new Zer01 Mobile wireless service that premiered at the recent CTIA Wireless 2009 convention in Las Vegas, NV. The new "true" unlimited voice and data national mobile service is scheduled to be launched on July 1, 2009.

"This is a prestigious industry award that our whole Zer01 Mobile team has earned. The annual Laptop Magazine ‘Best of CTIA Wireless Awards' sets the tone for industry professionals and consumers about the hottest products and services for the upcoming year. I am extremely honored that Zer01 Mobile has been chosen as the winner for the ‘Best Overall Product' and I look forward to our national launch on July 1st," said Ben Piilani, CEO, Zer01 Mobile.

"Scouring the show floor at the wireless industry's largest annual event, Laptop's editors went hands-on with the newest mobile devices, services, and applications. Of the products announced or shown at CTIA Wireless 2009, we've selected the top 11 for our annual Best of CTIA Wireless Awards. The winners are the groundbreaking products that enhance the end user's mobile experience through innovative design and functionality," according to the Laptop Magazine Web site. "How does $69.95 per month for unlimited voice and data sound without a contract? That's the appeal of Zer01, which uses highly efficient VoIP technology to let users make phone calls over existing cellular networks. This new breed of carrier will sell a variety of Windows Mobile devices starting on July 1 that can tap into its service, but it will also enable users to bring their unlocked BlackBerrys, Android phones and other handsets. An extra $10 per month will allow subscribers to add international calling to 40 destinations. Zer01 Mobile promises that it will take as little as five minutes for the company to update your phone's SIM card to make it compatible with its network."

Norton 360: Comprehensive, automated protection"We are the first mobile service to offer consumers a true national unlimited voice, data and Internet plan without any contracts or commitments that is priced affordably at only $69.95 per month with taxes and fees included. We have licensed patent pending proprietary Veritable Mobile Convergence (VMC) Technology that allows each smart phone user to make voice calls or transmit data by sending voice communications through a VoIP system," explained Piilani, CEO, Zer01 Mobile. "Zer01 Mobile is not a new mobile virtual network operator (MNVO). We are a new hybrid-communications carrier."

The new mobile national carrier has created its own interconnect agreements throughout North America and the globe. Zer01 Mobile customers will be able to use their own smartphones or buy a new phone from the online store. "We are saving consumers hours of time and hundreds of dollars. Since we are setup as a pre-paid service, no longer will consumers spend hours and hours reviewing contracts and being subject to high-pressure sales tactics," said Piilani.

"I believe that wireless industry professionals and the consumer market are starting to realize that Zer01 Mobile is a carrier that has the potential to redefine the industry. The technical platform that Zer01 Mobile has developed for the Windows Mobile, Google Android, Blackberry and iPhone platforms is visionary in its architectural design," said Mark Richard, CIO, Pervasip Corporation, White Plains, NY. "I would like to congratulation Ben Piilani and his Zer01 Mobile team on winning the Laptop Magazine award."

A variety of other news sites have taken interest in Zer01 Mobile. The U.S. News & World Report Web site has described the new service as the MagicJack of mobile phones. According to the InfoSyc Web site, "Offering truly unlimited data and voice cheaper than the major carriers, Zer01 is not just a cheap way to make calls, its a good idea, too. The appeal of Zer01 is simple. The cellular 'network,' which is in beta testing mode from April through June and will open for business in July, offers unlimited voice and data for $70 per. When Zer01 means unlimited data, they really mean it, unlike the major carriers who claim unlimited data but cap usage at well under 10GB per month. What's even more interesting than these key selling points is how Zer01 actually works, and how it might change the way networks and customers think about each other."

Based in Las Vegas, NV, Zer01 Communications is owned and operated by the Unified Technologies Group, Inc., a global technology services and consulting company that is headquartered in Wilmington, DE. For more information about Zer01 Communications, visit

More on Zer01Mobile:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

eBay Plans To Spin Off Skype, IPO Planned For 2010

skype logoIn an interesting twist to a story we were covering earlier about the potential sale of Skype to the original founders eBay has now announced plans to spin Skype off as an independent company.

eBay Inc. Announces Plan for 2010 Initial Public Offering of Skype

SAN JOSE - April 14, 2009 - eBay Inc. today announced that it plans to separate Skype from the company, beginning with an initial public offering that is intended to be completed in the first half of 2010. Specific timing of the IPO will be based on market conditions.

"Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum," said eBay Inc.'s President and CEO, John Donahoe. "But it's clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal. We believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly traded company is the best path for maximizing its potential. This will give Skype the focus and resources required to continue its growth and effectively compete in online voice and video communications. In addition, separating Skype will allow eBay to focus entirely on our two core growth engine - e-commerce and online payments - and deliver long-term value to our stockholders."

The decision to separate Skype is based on a timeline outlined by Donahoe when he became eBay's CEO in April 2008. At the time, the company said it would spend a year evaluating Skype and its potential synergies within the eBay Inc. portfolio before making any decisions about Skype's future. Donahoe also installed a new management team at Skype led by Josh Silverman, which has driven stronger momentum and improved performance. In 2008, Skype generated revenues of $551 million, up 44 percent from 2007, and segment margins of approximately 21 percent. Registered users reached 405 million by the end of 2008, up 47 percent from 2007, and user metrics improved significantly throughout the year. The company recently announced that it expects Skype to top $1 billion in revenue in 2011, nearly doubling 2008 revenues.

"Under the leadership of Josh Silverman and his management team, Skype has become a stronger business in the past year, and I expect it will be even stronger a year from now," Donahoe said. "Skype has accelerating global user growth and strong fundamentals, diversified revenue streams and is competitively positioned in a large market. We expect Josh and his team to continue delivering results as we prepare Skype for an IPO."

Most recently, the release of the Skype for iPhone application has generated a great response. More than one million people downloaded Skype for iPhone in the first 36 hours after it became available--and Skype immediately became the No. 1 downloaded free iPhone application in more than 40 markets, including the U.S., UK and Japan. In just over a week, downloads passed the two million mark, putting Skype on more than 6 percent of all iPhones and iPod Touch - and adding almost half a million new Skype users.

Source: Skype Press Release

eBay Sales Off StumbleUpon Is Skype Next?

theFlip MINOeBay has sold StumbleUpon back to the original co-founders Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith along with several investors making the company independent again after nearly two years. The details of the purchase weren't disclosed so we don't know how much of original $75 million that eBay paid for the purchase of the site in 2007 the company got back.

Since taking over StunbleUpon eBay has watched the site grow from 2.3 million to more than 7.4 million members, and from about 150 million recommendations per month to 425 million. In the same period, the number of advertisers grew from a few hundred to about 20,000. But eBay never really assimilated StumbleUpon into its overall business model.

"It was a pretty lucrative offer, because nothing really changed," co-founder Garrett Camp said. "The startup remained at its offices in downtown San Francisco, where it still operates, and got a valuable infusion of capital. But ultimately, eBay couldn't find a way to integrate StumbleUpon into the larger business", he said.

"As eBay Inc. expands its leadership in online payments and e-commerce, it has become apparent that there are few long-term, strategic synergies between StumbleUpon and the eBay Inc. portfolio," eBay said on its official eBay INK blog.

It appears as though eBay might be cutting some of the fat and some of their more questionable acquisitions. Rumors have surfaced over the past few weeks that Skype's founders have been looking to travel down the same path the StumbleUpon founders did.

According to reports from both Reuters and the New York Times Skype's Co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have contacted several private equity firms in order to make a bid for the company. eBay bought Skype back in 2005 for $2.6 billion however sources from the Times estimated the new deal to be worth slightly less at just over $2 billion.

Yesterday the WSJ Blog Deal Journal reported eBay was encouraging them to make an offer, however it appears their original offer fell short. According to the post the proposal involved private-equity firms contributing some $1 billion to the deal and eBay providing financing for the rest of the capital.

The founders’ offer fell on deaf ears, as it was well below the price at which Ebay was willing to sell the business. The two sides are far apart and at this stage a deal involving the private-equity firms is unlikely to be completed, said people familiar with the matter.

Skype has largely been a disappointment since it was acquired by eBay. The company took a $1.4 billion write down against the company last year. However this year the company has turned things around. Becoming the world's largest provider of long distance communications while posting $550 million in revenue.

Neither eBay or Skype's co-founders have come forth with comments regarding the deal and most sources have said at this time it seems unlikely a deal will happen. eBay is reportedly looking for more than they pair are willing to offer at this time.

Update 4/14 - 2:00PM
In a strange twist to the story eBay today announced plans for a 2010 IPO of Skype, spinning the company off on its own. For more details see our latest post "eBay Plans To Spin Off Skype, IPO Planned For 2010"