Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Microsoft Confirms 6 Version Of Windows 7 As Well As XP Upgrades

Windows 7 has been moving at a hurried pace with Microsoft stating earlier this month they will not be issuing any further beta testing. The company expects the operating system to head directly to a release candidate sometime over the next several months, with a release to manufacture following later this year.

While no official release date has been set today Microsoft has confirmed they will be following Vista product lines and offering a total of six different version of Windows 7. The company says even though they are releasing 6 editions they will mainly be marketing two primary editions: Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Professional. From the looks of it they apparently didn't learn anything from the Vista fiasco and related lawsuits. Here is the full Windows 7 SKU line-up:
  • Windows 7 Starter Edition (for emerging market and netbook users)
  • Windows 7 Home Basic (for emerging market customers only)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (the main “Media Center” equivalent)
  • Windows 7 Professional (the business SKU for home users and non-enterprise licensees)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise (for volume licensees)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (for consumers who want/need business features)

Microsoft has also confirmed that it will sell what they are calling "upgrades" for Windows 7 to users running Windows XP. Since there is no direct upgrade path users will have to do a "clean" installation of Windows 7.

The company has not included details on pricing or speculation on a release date yet. For more details checkout the Q&A session with Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra.

ASUS Introduces New VENTO TA-U Series PC Case

ASUS, leading producer of PC chassis, has released the new ASUS VENTO TA-U Series chassis. Targeting users who require a chassis that provides excellent functionality as well as trendy aesthetics, the VENTO TA-U Series utilizes an exquisitely handcrafted aluminum body and features exceptional ventilation for both performance and stability. It also allows users to enjoy hassle-free installation and optimized scalability—making it the best choice for gamers and power users alike.

Exquisitely Handcrafted Quality Design
The VENTO TA-U Series utilizes a unique frame welding technique to provide lightweight yet mechanically strong reinforcement for the whole frame. The sturdy design incorporates an aluminum body with brushed aluminum finishing on the faceplate as well as the top panel; while the optical drive bay is exquisitely framed with a diamond-cut technique. The faceplate is also overlaid with an anode treated bezel and the delicate VENTO logo name plate that exudes a premium and luxurious feel. The side panel also supports two transparent 12cm LED fans to radiate a cool blue lighting during operation—further enhancing the overall look and feel.

asus VENTO TA-U2
Maximized Thermal Efficiency for Continuous Operation
The VENTO TA-U Series provides support for four 12cm LED fans: a front intake fan, a rear exhaust fan, and two side fans—allowing fresh, cool air to be drawn into the casing for exceptional cooling capabilities (VENTO TA-U2 cooling fin edition supports an additional three LED fans on the top of the chassis). Heat generated from the system is expelled immediately via the rear fan, while side venting holes deliver even more cool air to circulate into the chassis—lowering CPU and video card temperatures. The VENTO TA-U Series even features pre-drilled liquid cooling pipe holes that allow users to prepare for future liquid cooling options. This maximized thermal efficiency enables long and continuous operations for the most powerful processing platforms and increases overall system performance and stability.

asus VENTO TA-U2

User-centric Design for Easy, Hassle-free Installation
Incorporating several convenient design features, the VENTO TA-U Series is user-friendly and easy to assemble. These features include trimmed and folded metal edges that protect fingers from scrapes and cuts. The ASUS screwless design allows users to easily and quickly install the ODD, HDD and PCI cards tool-free, without requiring screws or extra tools. The added space in the chassis also accommodates either a single graphics card of up to 315mm or SLI / Crossfire cards of up to 300mm. One of the four 5.25” racks can even be converted into 3.5” via a supplied bracket for more flexibility in the users’ setup. Furthermore, rubber shock absorbers in the side cover and foot stands eliminate vibrations that cause excessive noise for quiet and comfortable operation.

  • Model: TA-U1 / TA-U2
  • Form Factor: ATX / Micro-ATX Aluminum 0.8-2.3mm thickness
  • Dimensions: 202mm x 456mm x 530mm / 202mm x 484mm x 530mm
  • Drive bays 4 x External 5.25" (one is convertible to 3.5”) / 4 x Internal 3.5"
  • Front I/O Ports: USB 2.0 X 2 / Audio x 2 / e-SATA X 1 (optional)
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Front Ventilation: 120mm blue LED fan x 1 / 120mm blue LED fan x 1
  • Rear Ventilation: 120mm fan x 1 / 120mm fan x 1
  • Side Ventilation: 120mm blue LED fan x 2(optional) / 120mm blue LED fan x 2(optional)
  • Top Ventilation: N/A / 120mm blue LED fan x 3(optional)
Source: ASUSTeK Press Release

Laptops at Buy.com

Dell Offers Exclusive Deals On Twitter

dell logoDell has jumped into Twitter marketing with both feet, as of today the company will start offering Twitter only exclusive deals for their followers. Bob Pearson, VP—Communities & Conversations explained the new marketing approach in a Direct2Dell blog post this afternoon.

Beginning today, Dell will offer deals from the Dell Outlet exclusive to Twitter in the U.S. With over 11,000 followers, our team wanted to show their thanks to the Twitter world through these new deals which will continue each week.Our team at Dell, by the way, now has over 80 twitter properties, including new Dell Outlet-focused ones in the UK and Ireland. For those interested in offers on new systems, we support regional sites in Australia and New Zealand, and for US customers and looking for new system offers can check out Dell Home Offers and Dell Small Business. For a list of where Dell is on Twitter, and to see the individuals behind them, take a look at www.dell.com/twitter.

@DellOutlet has come a long way since the first follower joined shortly after SXSW Interactive in March 2007. We want to thank the Twitterers of the world for their support.

To illustrate our thinking, we have our first interview with Stefanie Nelson, who leads our Twitter efforts for Dell Outlet. Enjoy! www.twitter.com/bobpdell

So far today the Dell Outlet has posted an exclusive deal for 30% on Outlet XPS M1210 laptop. There has also been a collection of tips and updates on deals. Here is a full list of Dell Offers, News, Blogs, & Community Sites on Twitter Dell on Twitter : Follow Us

Monday, February 02, 2009

Put Your Computer Or PS3 To Work For A Good Cause With Folding@Home

techimo team 111 f@h logoFolding@home is a world wide distributed computing project. The software which has been downloaded from people from throughout the world links together computers and Play Station 3s to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. These computers are then put to use using advanced computing methods, to share the workload amongst millions of PC's running this piece of software.

The goal is to try to figure out how proteins fold, or "misfold". When they misfold, it can lead to some well known and world wide diseases. (Examples being Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers.) This program tries to solve and cure these misfolding proteins.

What is Folding@Home (the Wikipedia definition)
Folding@home (sometimes abbreviated as FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing (DC) project designed to perform computationally intensive simulations of protein folding and other molecular dynamics (MD). It was launched on >October 1, 2000, and is currently managed by the Pande Group, within Stanford University's chemistry department, under the supervision of Professor Vijay Pande.

The none geek break down
Folding@Home links together millions of PCs to run simulation programs for calculation. The average computer user only uses a fraction of the computers actual power. This program uses that left over power, what we call "idle" clock cycles, to run these tests. F@H uses the left over power from your CPU or graphics card that you're not using.

It sounds interesting how do I help?
To get started visit the download page and download the client that corresponds with your system. You should see a list of recommended software (based on information furnished by your browser). There are many different clients for the many different systems out there so be sure to check to make sure you get the right one. Any/Every contribution helps so it doesn't matter if you are running the program some of the time, or all of the time will help. Just so long as you keep it running.

Still not sure about what to do
Don't worry there is plenty of help out there. First off check the Folding@Home main site, there you'll find the installation guides, you'll also fine a great FAQs. If you are still stumped then head over to the very useful user forums. If after all that you can't figure it out then drop me a message and I'll try to walk you through it.

Now the fun part!
As many of my readers know I've been a member of the TechIMO community for several years, a little more than 6 years actually. As part of TechIMO we've got a great Distributed Computing community, within that community is Folding@Home Team 111.This a great group of guys and gals dedicated to helping everyone get the most out of their F@H experience. They've even setup monthly giveaways to help fellow members create better F@H rigs.

Last month I was the winner of a new NVIDIA 9600 GSO (January Folding@Home Team 111 Giveaway) Once a month the core members (yes this is sponsored by the members themselves and not the site) of Team 111 will be giving away a prize to a certain member for folding for Team 111. Prizes may range from points per day, to system upgrades and, possibly even a complete system. In order to be eligible for this giveaway you must be a member of TechIMO as well as a member of Folding@Home Team 111 and have have folded for the team for at least 1 month.

If you are willing to give it a try and put that computer to work doing some good head over to the Folding@Home main page and download then software. Once you get it installed be sure to enter team 111 in the team field then head over to TechIMO and sign up. Drop by the distributed folding forum and say hi.

The Army's New Age Warrior: Cyborg Beetles

Scientists at the University of California have created cyborg giant flower beetles with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver attached to the bugs back. Using those electrodes researches can send electrical impulses wirelessly controlling the beetles flight and movements.

The beetle's implants consists of an off-the-shelf microprocessor, a radio receiver, and a micro battery attached to a custom-printed circuit board, along with six electrodes implanted into the animals' optic lobes and flight muscles. Flight commands are wirelessly sent to the beetle via a radio-frequency transmitter that's controlled by a nearby laptop. Oscillating electrical pulses delivered to the beetle's optic lobes trigger takeoff, while a single short pulse ceases flight. Signals sent to the left or right basilar flight muscles make the animal turn right or left, respectively.

Michel Maharbiz and his colleagues have developed a tiny rig for research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Their research could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for search-and-rescue missions.

Source: Technology Review

Hitachi StarBoards Expand Curriculum Tools and Educational Content Through RM Easiteach Partnership

Hitachi integrates its FXDUO interactive whiteboard with RM Easiteach’s educational content and curriculum toolbars. Hitachi Software Engineering America, Ltd. today announced a partnership with RM Education in an effort to offer more curriculum tools and educational content for its StarBoard FXDUO interactive whiteboards.

RM Easiteach software is now being included free of charge with the purchase of any Hitachi FXDUO whiteboard. The purpose of this combination is to expand Hitachi’s existing library of educator resources with RM Easiteach’s signature toolbars for math, language arts, science, and social studies. The toolbars are designed by education experts to present familiar teaching concepts through the touch interaction provided by the StarBoard FXDUO interactive whiteboards.

“I am delighted to announce a partnership between RM Education and Hitachi Software. With the introduction of the Starboard FXDUO, Hitachi is driving enhancements in whiteboards that reflect the way our digital natives learn. The inclusion of RM Easiteach with these StarBoards means that schools will see the value of the technology much sooner through curriculum driven toolbars that maximize interactivity,” stated Kevin Pawsey, International Managing Director for RM Education

RM Easiteach is rapidly becoming the most popular interactive whiteboard curriculum solution with a 150,000 plus user base, and an online resource community that also allows non-RM Easiteach users to download and share lessons on the RM Education website, a similar value and vision that Hitachi Software supports with their StarBoard resource center. The company’s wide teacher acceptance and long participation in the education community are the key drivers for Hitachi Software’s decision to partner with RM Education.

“This partnership is the result of listening to feedback from our customers, and our commitment to enhance the learning experience with Hitachi interactive whiteboards,” stated Ray Soltys, Director of Sales for Hitachi Home Electronics (America), Inc. Business Group.

The official kick-off for the FXDUO and RM Easiteach combination will occur at the TCEA show in Austin, TX. For more information on this partnership and live demonstrations please visit the Troxell Communications booth.

StarBoard FXDUO Multi-touch Interactive Whiteboard
The StarBoard FXDUO offers 21st century classrooms the next generation of interactive whiteboards by allowing up to two points of contact and multi-touch gestures for a new and exciting way to interact with your classroom computer and lessons. Now two students can collaborate on the board together, or a teacher can explore a map by zooming into specific areas by simply spreading their two fingers apart. All electronics on the FXDUO are contained in a replaceable component covered under a five-year warranty. This provides an electronic-free surface for more durable use, as the board remains fully operational even with minor scratches or dents.

Features & Benefits

  • Control using multi-touch hand gestures for a natural interface
  • No special pens required: Use your finger, electronic pen (optional) , or any object
  • Have two students working at the same time
  • Electronic-free surface can work with damage
  • No hot spot, keeps the eyes of students and teachers safe
  • 14 customizable side buttons for quick and easy use without navigating software
  • Place magnets on the surface to display student work or paper charts when board is off.
  • All electronics are contained in a replaceable component covered under a 5 year warranty

Multi-touch: Designed with Teachers and Students in Mind

The ability to use two hands naturally creates a whole new interface for whiteboards and computers in the classroom. For example, a teacher can bring a static diagram of a plant cell to life by zooming into detailed areas -- just by spreading his or her two fingers apart, marking it up with vibrant inks, and then linking it to a free flash simulation on the internet.

The complete interactive StarBoard Software is included with every FX Series whiteboard with access to the following free resources for all StarBoard users.

Benefits of RM Easiteach
  • Works on all Interactive Technologies such as Interactive Whiteboards, Wireless Bluetooth and RF Slates/Pads, Twain Document Cameras, Pupils Voting/Response/Clicker Systems and Projectors.
  • Pulls together all the technology in your school/district reducing training time required on existing and when new technologies are introduced. Less training time, increases usage of technology and districts see a higher return on their hardware investment.
  • Curriculum Focused Interactive Toolbars provide classroom teachers with a focused set of interactive tools that are dynamic, flexible, customizable and relevant for Math, ELA, Science and Social Sciences. Interactive Resources and Tools designed by teachers for teachers to encourage everyday usage of interactive technologies.
  • K-12 State Aligned Content available that has been designed to utilize the technology to teach difficult concepts and skills. Content that is truly interactive and is not just 'flat' powerpoint style slides. High Quality Flash based lessons provide engaging and motivating lessons for both teacher and student alike
  • Leading Interactive Technology companies such as Compu-trac, Dukane, eInstruction, Julong, Mimio, Numonics, Polyvision, Panasonic and Teamboard include RM Easiteach as Standard to provide teachers with leading interactive tools and resources. If you have any of the above devices, please CLICK HERE for details on how to increase the flexibility of RM Easiteach and expand your interactive Content.
  • Purchase RM Easiteach for your Smart board, Promethean or Interwrite Board for $50 (MSRP $199) to provide a common platform for your school district. Just send in your existing driver CD to receive this competitive upgrade.
  • Join over 100,000 RM Easiteach users in the US to help increase motivation and attaintment in your school district.
Source: Hitachi Press Release

Personalize You Flip For Valentines Day

Just in time for Valentine's day, Pure Digital Technologies, maker of the wildly popular #1 selling Flip line of camcorders – including the world's smallest HD cam -- offers a gift idea that not only captures memories of the heart - but can be personalized with a special message from the heart. Consumers can now personalize the outside of their Flip Mino and MinoHD camcorders at no extra cost to reflect what they may be feeling inside. Choose from Valentines-related designs in the online Flip design gallery— or upload your images and create your own.

You can buy your customized Flip online at Theflip.com or through Cafepress.com. Additionally gift certificates can be purchased at Theflip.com allowing you to send a gift certificate to a loved one so they can customize their own Flip Ultra, Flip Mino or Flip MinoHD as a gift.

Weighing just over 3 oz., the slim Mino, $179.99, and MinoHD, $229, are a great alternative to a pricey bulky camcorder. The Mino HD features 720p resolution, and 4GB of memory. Mino carries 2 GB of memory. Both offer 60 minutes of recording time and all-new built-in FlipShare software for easy saving, organizing and sharing of video from your computer. Mino and Mino HD are the first and only "designable” camcorders.

As with other Flips, the powerful built-in software allows consumers to plug the camcorder's signature flip-out USB arm into any computer for saving, organizing, editing and uploading of video to YouTube, MySpace, AOL Video and other sharing sites. All Flip camcorders are fully compatible with Windows software as well as Apple's Mac video applications including QuickTime, iMovie, and iDVD.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

This Years Superbowl Ads, Hit Or Miss?

In past years I've found myself watching the Superbowl more for the ads that the game. Not because I'm not a fan, frankly more because the games have been boring and the ads are more entertaining. This year however I found myself a bit disappointed. I felt most of the ads were not "Superbowl quality". Meaning they were the highly entertaining ads I'm use to seeing during the game.

Don't get me wrong there were some great ads. The highlight by far being the ad for the new Transformers movie, Transfomers : Revenge of the Fallen. The movie is due out 6/26/09 and looks like a must see!

The other highlight of course would be Denny's Free Grand Slam offer. Everyone likes free food, the Denny's site is being hit hard by traffic so I'd say that ad was a hit. For those that missed it Denny's is giving away free Grand Slams Feb 3 from 6am to 2pm at participating restaurants.

The monster.com commercial with one office have a moose head and the other having the moose's rump was pretty funny. GoDaddy and their sexed up ads were ok, you really had to visit the site to get the best of that deal. But that was about it.

The big guys like Budweiser and Pepsi had less than impressive ads. The aforementioned Denny's ads weren't impressive on their own, the free food really saved them. In my opinion the worst ad by far had to be Career Builder and their It's Time ad. The repetitive scenes killed what could have been a decent ad.

Overall I think the entire game was a hit. In my opinion the ads this year were a big miss but luckily the game this year was good so you balance it all out. With the exception of that last play you couldn't ask for a better ending. The halftime show was decent, with an aging singer like Bruce Springsteen and E street band doing a good job. The pregame in my opinion was just ok. I think Faith Hill's singing of America the Beautiful was better than Jennifer Hudson's singing of the National Anthem. But I'll still give the experience an overall rating of "hit".

Google's M-Lab Lets You See What Your ISP Is Doing

With more ISPs promising to crack down on Torrent users and potentially throttling bandwidth as they see fit users need a way to fight back. Google has recent;y announced the creation of Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open system that researchers and consumers can use to access its new Internet performance measurement tools.

M-Labs features several tools that allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connection, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular application. These tools send and receive small pieces of data from servers across the web. That data is then used as a comparison against other results, showing you a snapshot of your results and where your connection compares.acronis true image 11

According to Google there is a lack of widely-distributed servers with ample connectivity for researchers and users to use. This poses a barrier to the accuracy and scalability of these tools. M-Lab aims to address these problems. Over the course of early 2009, Google will provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe. All data collected via M-Lab will be made publicly available for other researchers to build on. M-Lab is intended to be a truly community-based effort, and we welcome the support of other companies, institutions, researchers, and users that want to provide servers, tools, or other resources that can help the platform flourish.

Currently M-Labs offers three tools, with two more listed. These tools help users attempt to diagnose common problems limiting their broadband speed, as well as determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their ISPs.

These tools were created by the individual researchers who helped found M-Lab. By running these tools, users will get information about their connection and provide researchers with valuable aggregate data. Like M-Lab itself these tools are still in development, and they will only support a limited number of simultaneous users at this initial stage.

With the number of users connected limited expect to wait if you want to try out these tools. I've stopped by the site a few times, every time there has been a significant wait time.

You can read more about M-Lab on the Google Blog and get more details about the project at M-Lab's website. If you're a researcher who'd like to deploy a tool, or a company or institution that is interested in providing technical resources, Google wants to invite you to get involved.

Human Error At Google Marks The Entire Wed As Spam

Saturday morning Google users might have noticed something odd, every single search results was flagged with the message "This site may harm your computer". According to Google it was minor case of human error and not the web going to the spam lords.

Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience explains the error in a Google blog post. Apparently the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value and saved to the malicious site database. Assigning the value '/' expands to all URLs.

Google works with StopBadware.org to maintain their malicious site database. Periodically that list is updated and released one such update was released Saturday morning with the afflicting error. Luckily the error was spotted quickly and all systems were normal within an hour. Here's Stopbadware's explanation as well as some details of how the database is maintained.

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 3Drulez.com.

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 3Drulez.com.

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 Staples.com, Frys.com, Newegg.com, Amazon.com, PCMall.com, CriticalBuy.com, iz3d.com, and other online shopping sites.

iZ3D Version 1.09 Driver is available at www.iz3d.com. 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 www.3Drulez.com.

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: http://www.goeverywhere.com. 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 Amazon.com. 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.

GoDaddy.com 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 www.gamesforchange.org/toolkit.

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 http://www.girlstart.org/itgirl/summer08/index.html 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 (http://tempestincrescentcity.ning.com/ ). 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 http://www.youenergygame.com/.
  • 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 http://wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=576

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 DTV2009.gov 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.

My.BarackObama.com Spreading Ransomware

A once popular site for Pre-Election Barack Obama supporters, My.BarackObama.com, 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 ComputerWorld.com, 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 My.BarackObama.com 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: Bloomberg.com)

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.