Friday, March 20, 2009

Would You Buy A $600 'No Commitment' iPhone?

According to recent reports by the Associated Press and popular cell phone blogging site The Boy Genius Report AT&T has announced plans to start selling iPhones without requiring a two-year contract.

Beginning on March 26th AT&T will offer no-commitment purchases of 8GB and 16GB iPhones for $599 and $699, respectively. Currently those same models cost $199 or $299 with the typically 2 yr AT&T contract. So it begs to question who exactly would want to buy an iPhone for $600?

Now it should be noted, the "no-commit" phones are still locked to AT&T, thats right you don't get an unlocked phone. You must also be an existing AT&T wireless customer and you are still required to have a qualify iPhone plan to activate the phone. So again I'm wondering who would actually jump in on this deal.

PC World's Dave Coursey makes an interesting point:

Let's say you buy an 8GB iPhone at the subsidized price of $199 with the required two-year service plan. If you cancel service on day 31 of the contract, the early termination fee is "up to $175" according to AT&T's Web site.
The $199 phone plus $175 for early termination adds up to $374, which is $225 less than the $599 "a la carte" price for the same iPhone.


It would appear to me as though AT&T might be trying to slip something by consumers with this deal. Personally I think they are hoping people won't catch the fact that they still have to use the AT&T service, or get the phone unlocked. The only gain then would be for people that can't currently receive upgrade pricing.

It might be possible that AT&T will offer some other incentives, such as a lower priced calling plan, or cheaper data plan. If that were the case then the overall costs associated with the deal might come more inline. But that doesn't seem likely and doesn't sound like something the company would offer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MacBook And Safari Fall First Yet Again

Charlie Miller made headlines last year at Pwn2Own when he hacked his way into the winners circle by hacking a MacBook in just under 2mins. Last years feet seemed nothing short of amazing, so imagine the surprise when he backed his results with an even more impressive time. This year hacking a full updated MacBook in mere seconds, yes seconds.

Utilizing an exploit in Apple's Safari web browser Miller was able to trick officials into visiting a link which allowed him to gain control of the MacBook.

“It took a couple of seconds. They clicked on the link and I took control of the machine,” Miller said moments after his accomplishment.

As usual with the contest the technical details of the vulnerability will not be released until a patch is ready and all contestants are required to sign NDA's so its uncertain exactly what and how he did it. But it was likely a know vulnerability that he had been working on.

The second machine to fall this year was a Sony Vaio machine equipped with Windows 7 and the recently released IE 8 browser. By the end of day one FireFox, IE8 and Safari had all three been breached with Google's Chrome being the only browser still standing.

For more detils checkout the TrippingPoint Blog

Cisco To Buy Pure Digital Technologies

Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire Pure Digital Technologies, Makers of Flip Video
Networking Leader Adds Popular Flip Video Solutions to Consumer Portfolio

SAN JOSE, Calif. - March. 19, 2009 - Cisco today announced its intent to acquire privately held Pure Digital Technologies Inc. San Francisco-based Pure Digital, creator of the best-selling Flip Video brand, is a pioneer in developing consumer-friendly video solutions with mass-market appeal.

"The acquisition of Pure Digital is key to Cisco's strategy to expand our momentum in the media-enabled home and to capture the consumer market transition to visual networking," said Ned Hooper, senior vice president of Cisco's Corporate Development and Consumer Groups. "Pure Digital has revolutionized the way people capture and share video with Flip Video. This acquisition will take Cisco's consumer business to the next level as the company develops new video capabilities and drives the next generation of entertainment and communication experiences."

Pure Digital's Flip Video has sold more than 2 million units and quickly demonstrated market appeal in the United States by making video simple, accessible and fun. All Flip Video products come equipped with FlipShare, a best-in-class software that allows users to easily organize and edit videos and then share them instantly on YouTube, MySpace and other popular sharing Web sites.

"Flip Video puts the power to instantly capture, edit and share video into the hands of everyday consumers," said Jonathan Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Pure Digital. "By combining forces with Cisco, we join a company that shares our passion for video and whose global scale and tremendous technology expertise we expect will enable us to quickly expand and enrich the Flip Video experience."

Upon the close of the acquisition, the Pure Digital team will become part of Cisco's Consumer Business Group, which includes Linksys by Cisco home networking, audio and media-storage products. Kaplan will become general manager of the combined organization, reporting to Hooper.

The Pure Digital acquisition exemplifies Cisco's "build, buy and partner" innovation strategy to move quickly into new markets and capture key market transitions. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay approximately $590 million in stock in exchange for all shares of Pure Digital. In addition, Cisco will provide up to $15 million in retention-based equity incentives for continuing employees. The acquisition is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2009. The acquisition will be accounted for in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.



Source: Cisco Press Release

Internet Explorer 8 Officially Released

Microsoft Announces Availability of Internet Explorer 8

New browser focuses on top customer needs, including security, ease of use and performance.

REDMOND, Wash. — March 18, 2009 — Today Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Windows Internet Explorer 8, the new Web browser that offers the best solution for how people use the Web today. It can be downloaded in 25 languages at http://www.microsoft.com/ie8 starting at noon EDT on March 19. Internet Explorer 8 is easier to use, faster and offers leading-edge security features in direct response to people’s increasing concerns about online safety. A new study commissioned by Microsoft and the National Cyber Security Alliance and conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. shows that 91 percent of adults in the U.S. are concerned about online threats in the current economic climate, and 78 percent are more likely to choose a Web browser with built-in security than they were two years ago.

Dell Small Business“Customers have made clear what they want in a Web browser — safety, speed and greater ease of use,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. “With Internet Explorer 8, we are delivering a browser that gets people to the information they need, fast, and provides protection that no other browser can match.”

In response to extensive customer research and input from tens of millions of customer sessions, Microsoft developed Internet Explorer 8 to focus on what matters most to people. The security enhancements offer protection against existing and emerging security threats online. It blocks two to four times more malware attacks than other browsers; cuts down on the time it takes to complete common tasks on the Web such as searching, mapping and sharing, including navigating 15 of the 20 top worldwide sites; and blurs the lines between the services they use daily and the browser used to access the Internet.

Helps Protect People From Online Threats

The new study released today reinforces the importance of safety in browsing, indicating that 78 percent of people are more likely than they were two years ago to choose a browser that includes built-in protection against security threats without them having to go online to download additional programs or browser add-ons. It also showed that 91 percent of adults in the U.S. are concerned about online fraud and identity theft in today’s economic climate, and 37 percent are less likely to shop online because they would have to give their personal information.

Internet Explorer 8 offers the best security protections among leading browsers: a study released today by NSS Labs indicates that Internet Explorer 8 blocks two to four times as many malicious sites as other browsers on the market today.

Makes Common Online Tasks Faster and Easier

In addition to offering improved security and privacy protections, Internet Explorer 8 is one of the fastest browsers on the market today, beating other top browsers in page load time on almost 50 percent of the 25 top comScore Inc. Web sites.* It also helps people save time while using the Web with easy-to-use new features, including the following:

  • Accelerators. Accelerators make it faster and easier to perform common tasks online by making Web-based services such as ESPN.com, Live Search and Sina available for use directly from the page people are viewing. Users can simply right-click a word or phrase and instantly map, e-mail, or share it.
  • Web Slices. Web Slices in Internet Explorer 8 makes favorite information from sites such as Digg, Yahoo! Mail, OneRiot, and eBay instantly available wherever someone goes on the Web.
  • Visual search suggestions. The Instant Search Box in Internet Explorer 8 enables rich, real-time search from sites such as The New York Times, Amazon.com and Wikipedia, as well as sites from people’s own Favorites and History, complete with visuals and detailed information that saves time.

“We are excited about Internet Explorer 8 for several reasons, including its ability to provide our customers with updates to eBay products using Web Slices so they can keep track of their buying activity while surfing the web,” said Matt Ackley, vice president of Internet Marketing and Advertising at eBay.

“The new ESPN Web Slices on Internet Explorer 8 make it easy for sports fans to check on the latest news and sports videos in a new and exciting way,” said Jason Guenther, vice president of technology and product development at ESPN Digital Media. “We have a heritage of leveraging technology to deliver the best sports content to fans, and this is another example of our dedication to that.”

Available for Download

Internet Explorer 8 will be available for download at noon EDT in 25 languages, including Arabic, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified and Hong Kong), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. More information and a download of Internet Explorer 8 (as of noon EDT on March 19) can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/ie8.

Microsoft will showcase the final browser and outline benefits and opportunities for a variety of audiences on March 19 at Microsoft’s MIX09 conference for web designers and developers in Las Vegas.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

*comScore data based on December 2008

For more information about the research studies:

National Cyber Security Alliance and conducted by Harris Interactive study: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/windows/factsheets/BrowserSecurityFS.mspx

NSS Labs study: http://nsslabs.com

For more information about Internet Explorer 8 performance:

See the Internet Explorer 8 white paper

Source: Microsoft Press Release

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NVIDIA Provides Physics Technology For PS3

nvidia physx logoSANTA CLARA, CA—MARCH 17, 2009—NVIDIA Corporation today announced that it has signed a tools and middleware license agreement for PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) with Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCEI). As a result, the binary version of the NVIDIA PhysX technology software development kit (SDK) is now available to registered PS3 developers for free download and use on the SCEI Developer Network.

AVG Internet SecurityThe NVIDIA PhysX technology software development kit SDK consists of a full-featured API and robust physics engine, designed to give developers, animators, level designers, and artists unprecedented creative control over character and object physical interactions by allowing them to author and preview physics effects in real time. The continued adoption of NVIDIA PhysX technology by the world’s leading content developers is resulting in games that not only look as realistic as possible, but also provides gaming experiences where the world’s literally come to life: environments become highly interactive with effects such as persistent debris, including shattered glass and weapons ammunition, trees that bend in the wind, and water that flows with body and force.

“NVIDIA is proud to support PLAYSTATION 3 as an approved middleware provider,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “Games developed for the PLAYSTATION 3 using PhysX technology offer a more realistic and lifelike interaction between the games characters and other objects within the game. We look forward to the new games that will redefine reality for a new generation of gamers.”

The PhysX technology source code SDK for PS3 and all major gaming platforms are available for license directly from NVIDIA. For more information on licensing PhysX SDKs or NVIDIA PhysX technology, please visit: www.nvidia.com/physx.

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

After Much Talk And Anticipation Dell Finally Unveils Adamo Laptop

Dell Introduces Adamo Brand with Launch of the World’s Thinnest Laptop


Style-minded people who place a premium on precision craftsmanship and design can now add Adamo to their list of must-have items for 2009. Dell today unveiled the world’s thinnest laptop as a kick off to the new Adamo by Dell brand.


Adamo, derived from the Latin word meaning “to fall in love,” will serve as a flagship in a line of products created to disrupt the personal computing space with the combination of new design aesthetics, personalization choices and sought-after technologies.

The News:

  • Adamo is the pinnacle of craftsmanship and design and features:
  • A chassis milled from a single piece of aluminum featuring precision detailing and a scalloped backlit keyboard
  • Striking high definition edge-to-edge glass display
  • Fully connected with WiFi, Bluetooth™ and optional integrated mobile broadband** and full complement of connectivity ports with no compromises
  • Cool, quiet and robust solid state drives
  • Available in Onyx and Pearl colors with a broad range of complementary accessories
  • Price starting at $1999

Quotes:

  • “Great design needs to be timeless and evoke emotion in people”, said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president of Dell’s consumer products. ”While a premium computing experience was assumed for Adamo, the intent was for people to see, touch and explore Adamo and be rewarded by the select materials and craftsmanship you would expect in a fine watch.”
  • “Dell continues to signal a commitment to design and personalization across its entire product line and has made significant strides forward in the past year,” said Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group. “The Adamo laptop is a showcase for this commitment and a flagship product that will draw buyers to the brand.”

People who choose Adamo will be offered a unique color matched collection of Adamo by Dell branded peripherals and accessories including, in the U.S. an exclusive line of bags from TUMI. Choices will include:

  • External storage option with 250GB or 500GB external hard drive.
  • External DVD+/-RW or Blu-ray disc™ drive.
  • 8GB*** USB drive.
  • Connectors and cables including DisplayPort to HDMI, DVI, and VGA.
  • Adamo Premium Service (US Only):
  • 24/7 access to Dell’s best trained technicians
  • Consistent communication with a dedicated personal team

The Adamo by Dell brand is being supported by innovative and new approaches to marketing and promotion for Dell. Designed to challenge people’s perceptions of what a computer is, the Adamo by Dell brand was inspired by fashion, luxury brands and timeless design.

Dell has looked beyond traditional approaches to reaching computer shoppers and launched a provocative campaign featuring:

  • A stylish worldwide print campaign shot by acclaimed British-based photographer Nadav Kander and featuring high-fashion models that reinforces the “fall in love” positioning. Kander, whose work is celebrated in galleries worldwide, also shot the moving portfolio, “Obama’s People,” which appeared in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year.
  • AdamoByDell.com, the centerpiece of the campaign and a highly stylized site where viewers can learn about Adamo, register for updates and, beginning today, place orders. Since its launch last month, AdamoByDell.com has attracted nearly 800,000 unique visitors from around the world and more than 1 million page views.
  • Artful packaging in which the product arrives “floating” in a clear box with minimal clutter - a beautiful experience for a sophisticated product.

Product Specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo processors with Intel® Centrino® technology
  • DDR3 system memory
  • 13.4-inch 16:9 HD display
  • Draft-Wireless N
  • High-performance solid state drives standard
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Mobile Broadband option
  • Up to 5+ hours of battery life (preliminary)
  • 2 USB ports, 1 USB/eSATA combo port, Display Port, RJ-45 port
  • Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 64-bit




Available for pre-order today at www.adamobydell.com and shipping worldwide starting March 26, 2009, Adamo will be available online for purchase in 24 countries including U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U.K. France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, ANZ, China, Honk Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia/Singapore, Japan, and Indonesia.

Links:
www.AdamoByDell.com
www.dell.com
www.dell.com/designstudio
www.flickr.com/photos/dellphotos

Source: Dell Press Release

1Cast Adds New Global Media Partners

1CAST Says CNBC, Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, CNBC are among first to distribute news content on new online platform

Up to the Minute Video News and Headlines From Global News Leaders Will Be Pushed to Viewers’ Screen of Choice – Smartphone or Desktop

Crucial memory selectorKIRKLAND, Wash., March, 17 20091Cast, the revolutionary broadcast platform that delivers up-to-the-minute news video to subscribers’ smartphones and the web, today announced that CNBC, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Reuters, AFP and others are among the premiere news partners who are distributing their daily news content to consumers via the 1Cast service.

With this initial slate of partners -- Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg, CBC, CNBC, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which includes WSJ.com, MarketWatch.com, Barrons.com and AllThingsD.com -- 1Cast becomes the largest video news service of its kind, ensuring that consumers have access to the very latest video news coverage of their favorite topics on the desktop and their smartphone devices.

“Consumers are clearly interested in easily accessing and viewing a broad spectrum of news programming and consuming it on their terms, whenever they want and wherever they are," said Anthony Bontrager, President of 1Cast, Inc. "As the leading single source of free, near real-time video news programming from some of the world’s most respected news organizations, 1Cast helps consumers quickly and easily find and enjoy the news that matters to them most.”

1Cast’s personalized news service gathers content from top news sources and enables consumers to create personalized video playlists or “Micro-Casts” on specific topics that they select. Updated continually throughout the day, consumers can visit 1Cast on the web or on their iPhone or Android smartphone to get current news on their own schedule. Users can also share these Micro-Casts with friends through email or on common web publishing platforms such as blogs, social networking sites and other web portals via the 1Cast embeddable video player.

What content owners say about 1Cast

“AFP covers news from all corners of the world and now consumers can choose personalized news on their laptop and share across platforms to their iPhone and soon other devices,”said Gilles Tarot, Sales and Marketing Manager for North America at Agence France-Presse (AFP). “Through 1Cast’s compelling service, AFP will bring users breadth and scope to the news of the day.”

"We are thrilled to be delivering our news content to 1Cast’s customers, and to be a part of this exciting new market," said Bob Kerr, Director of Business Development, CBC. "This is an important milestone in our continued expansion into new vertical markets."

“We are delighted to make our programming available through 1Cast’s innovative service, which enables the delivery of up to the minute news content to a wider audience and enhances the consumer experience,” said Sebastian Laver at Reuters.


About 1Cast

1cast is the world’s first desktop and mobile broadcast news and information service to put users in control of what, when and how they consume video news content. 1Cast’s unique video search and newscast platform delivers near real-time video clips of the latest headlines in business, politics, sports, technology and entertainment. Viewers can also create personalized newscasts around the topics and people they are most interested in and access these personal channels across any broadband enabled or wireless device. News networks worldwide use 1Cast to reach new audiences, ensure their current audience can engage with their content in a uniquely relevant manner and to further monetize their daily news programming. Advertisers partner with 1Cast because the company is a trusted source of professional, high-quality news programming that can be delivered in a highly targeted manner across multiple platforms. 1Cast is backed by Eagle River Holdings, LLC. For more information, visit http://www.1cast.com.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Intel, AMD Exchange Words Over Cross-License Breach

Intel Corporation has reportedly put AMD on notice that they believe AMD has breached a 2001 patent cross-license agreement with the company. According to the disclosure notification posted today on the Intel site Intel believes that AMD's recent spin off it's chip manufacturing process, which led to the creation of the new company GlobalFoundries violated the terms of the cross-license agreement.

Intel Corporation today disclosed that the company has notified Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) that it believes AMD has breached a 2001 patent cross-license agreement with Intel. Intel believes that Global Foundries is not a subsidiary under terms of the agreement and is therefore not licensed under the 2001 patent cross-license agreement. Intel also said the structure of the deal between AMD and ATIC breaches a confidential portion of that agreement. Intel has asked AMD to make the relevant portion of the agreement public, but so far AMD has declined to do so. AMD's breach could result in the loss of licenses and rights granted to AMD by Intel under the agreement.

"Intellectual property is a cornerstone of Intel's technology leadership and for more than 30 years, the company has believed in the strategic importance of licensing intellectual property in exchange for fair value. However AMD cannot unilaterally extend Intel's licensing rights to a third party without Intel's consent," said Bruce Sewell, senior vice president and general counsel for Intel. We have attempted to address our concerns with AMD without success since October. We are willing to find a resolution but at the same time we have an obligation to our stockholders to protect the billions of dollars we've invested in intellectual property."

Under terms of the license agreement the notification to AMD means the parties will attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation. In response to the notification AMD claimed Intel breached the agreement by notifying AMD of its breach. Intel believes that position is inconsistent with the dispute resolution process outlined in the original agreement.


AMD has refuted these claims claiming that GlobalFoundies is a subsidiary of the parent company and is in complete compliance with the original agreement. AMD has backed its position by filing with the SEC, claiming that it did not violate the original terms, and that if Intel did terminate, it would be the one breaching the original contract.

"AMD remains in full compliance with the cross-license agreement. And as we’ve stated all along, the structure of GLOBALFOUNDRIES takes into account all our cross-license agreements. We will continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours," commented AMD's Michael Silverman in a Tom's Hardware interview.

AMD's filing with the SEC, on March 11th:

The Company [AMD] strongly believes that (i) the Company has not breached the terms of the Cross-License and (ii) Intel has no right to terminate the Company's rights and licenses under the Cross License. Under the terms of the Cross License, there is an escalating procedure for resolving disputes, and the Company has commenced the application of that procedure with respect to Intel's purported attempt to terminate the Company's rights and licenses under the Cross License. In addition, the Company has informed Intel that the Company maintains that Intel's purported attempt to terminate the Company's rights and licenses under the Cross License itself constitutes a material breach of the Cross License by Intel which gives the Company the right to terminate Intel's and licenses under the Cross License Agreement while retaining the Company's rights and licenses under the Cross License Agreement.


When asked about the termination of the agreement an Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told Tom's Hardware, "We've given [AMD] 60 days to fix the issue or AMD's rights under the agreement are terminated. Not the agreement [itself]. Subtle but important differences." Mulloy continues stating that "the next step is mediation as outlined in the 2001 agreement. We hope to find a way to resolve this matter."

Related articles:

ID Theft Causes Serious Issues In Tough Economy

A recent Nationwide Insurance survey finds more Americans unable to recover from ID theft in tough economy

Some respondents missing payments resulting in serious repercussions

Columbus, Ohio – In another sign of the tough economy, a new Nationwide Insurance survey found that nearly half of respondents said that if their identity were stolen today, they did not know if they had enough money in reserve to weather the recovery process.

The new survey also found that 10 percent of identity theft victims polled missed payments due to the crime. Of those victims, four out of five say the theft caused serious repercussions – including lower credit scores, utilities shut off, bankruptcy, vehicle repossession, home foreclosure or even jail time.

“If the identity theft involves your credit cards you can often resolve the problems quickly. However, if the fraud involves a debit card, a loan or your health insurance, the impact can be costly and time consuming,” said Kirk Herath, Chief Privacy Officer for Nationwide Insurance. “With so many Americans losing their savings and investments, people have less money to fall back on during the time it takes to stop the bleeding.”

With an estimated 9 million victims each year, identity theft has been the number one complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission for eight years in a row.

According to Nationwide’s survey, identity theft victims tend to be Caucasian, female, ages 35-54, college-educated, married, and employed full time. Additionally, people who are separated or divorced, and those making $75,000 or more a year are more likely to fall prey to identity theft than the general population.

The survey also found that 52 percent of respondents said they would tackle the recovery process from identity theft on their own.

“Nationwide’s previous polls found that identity theft victims spent an average of 81 hours trying to resolve their case and one in four cases were unresolved after a year of trying,” Herath said. “Identity theft not only takes a financial toll on victims, but an emotional one as well. Identity theft is the only crime where the victim is generally presumed guilty until he or she can prove their innocence.”

Victims surveyed said that the theft of their identity caused other serious problems, including family problems and missed time at work.
This is the third in a continuing series of surveys conducted to better understand identify theft and the impact on its victims. A 2005 Nationwide survey showed the average amount of total charges made using a victim’s identity was $3,968. While most victims were not held responsible for fraudulent charges, 16 percent reported paying an average of $6,440 to cover some or all of the thief’s purchases.

The good news is that the poll also shows most people are taking greater measures towards identity theft protection. In fact, nine out of 10 people surveyed have taken at least one of the following measures to protect themselves: regularly checking their bank and other financial statements, shredding important documents, limiting the number of credit cards they use and monitoring their credit report.

For piece of mind and protection from identity thieves, Nationwide policyholders can add the ID Theft Assist coverage to their homeowner insurance policy for only $45 per year. In some states, consumers without a Nationwide policy can purchase a stand-alone policy for $99. Nationwide’s identity theft protection coverage includes immediate fraud assessment, notification to major credit bureaus, assistance replacing important documents, free credit monitoring and free identity tracking. To learn more about identity theft insurance or to find an agent, visit www.nationwide.com.

Methodology:
The telephone survey of 400 adults, including 200 identity theft victims, was conducted December 12-17, 2008 by MRSI and is representative of the U.S. population in total and across age, ethnic and geographic segments. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed, +/- 7% identity theft victims surveyed and +/- 5.5% non-identity theft victims

Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. Nationwide ranks #108 on the Fortune 500 list. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

Source: Nationwide Insurance

Sunday, March 15, 2009

WeFollow, The New Twitter Directory From Digg Founder Kevin Rose

The premise is a simple one, the interface easy to use and very user friendly, what is it you might ask? WeFollow - a new user powered Twitter directory from Digg founder Kevin Rose.

For inclusion into the WeFollow directory simply tweet @wefollow with up to 3 hashtags that represent the categories you would like to be listed under. WeFollow utilizes your @replies to organize users into categories represented by each set of hashtags.

Common hashtags include #tech, #blogs, #blogger, #entrepreneur, and #socialmedia. Each user submitted is then listed under the respective category in order according to the most followers.


It would appear as though the site has quickly gained a following. Just 22 hrs after launch and they already have nearly 4,200 followers. It would appear, and rightfully so, that several of the categories were self-populated. With several celebrities and top bloggers/blogs already showing inclusion.

Taking a page from Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land, I've been playing around with our WeFollow hashstags. As noted above you will only be included in three categories so make sure you choose the best three. If you try to use more than three tags, only the last three will be used by WeFollow.

I selected #blogs, #blogger and #tech however you can use any of the top categories or create your own. The top categories are based on the total number of followers that everyone in a particular category has, so these will change over time as more people use the service. Obviously so will your ranking within each category. We were listed at 56 in bloggs and too far down the list in both blogger and tech for me to keep searching so I tried #blogs, #tech and #geek.

Inclusion into the directory seems almost instantanious as does your re-classification. We were moved to #geeks almost instantly, where we are now listed at 28th.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Court Case Not Likely To Be Overturned Because Of Tweeting

Juror Johnathan Powell recently made headlines when his use of Twitter before, during and after a case led to motion being filled for the dismissal and possible retrial in a $12.6million case against Russell Wright and Stoam Industries.

According to the reports the defendants who had lost the lawsuit filed a motion for a new trial Thursday claiming that "juror Johnathan" was not a fair and impartial juror because he communicated online about the trial using Twitter and conducted research about being a juror. However it now appears unlikely that the case will be overturned.

Powell said all of the comments that he made on his Twitter account about the case were sent after the trial. He made other comments about getting picked for the jury, lunch and other things during breaks but nothing relevant to the case, he said.

All of Johnathan's Tweets about the case can be found on his Twitter page, specifically page 8.

According to the dismissal motion several of the Tweets coming during the trial period, however as any good Tweeter knows Twitter time stamps change according to the time zone preference of the person who is checking it.

Greg Brown, one of the attorney's for the plaintiffs told the Northwest Arkansas Times that he believes the time shown in the affidavit is two hours early because the juror's Twitter post about lunch could not have been made at 10:24 a.m. because lunch was not served until noon. Furthermore a second more compelling Tweet "I just gave away $12 million of someone else's money" time stamped at 2:09 p.m. could not have been correct as alleged, because the jury did not even retire to deliberate until 3:09 p.m., therefore Powell would not have know the outcome.

So it seems unlikely that a dismissal would be granted, it also seems unlikely that Mr. Powell would face any potential charges for juror misconduct.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

EVGA Launches New Loaner Program

Popular computer component maker EVGA has recently launched an exciting new program, the EVGA Loaner Program or ELP for short. ELP will give several lucky registered users the chance to try out various EVGA products for free in their home for up to two weeks.

Here's how it works:

  1. You must register on the ELP page, you currently have two program options
  2. You will automatically be placed into a waiting list to have a chance to partake in the EVGA Loaner Program. EVGA will randomly choose Participants who will receive the loaner product
  3. If selected you will be notified by EVGA and your status will change and update on your My ELP Page
  4. You will then have 14 Calendar days, starting from the time the product is received to test and provide feedback for the loaner product.
  5. Participants who receive the loaner product are required to post feedback comments on My ELP Page within 7 days from shipping out product to next participant.
Now here is the down side - you'll be responsible for shipping costs to ship the tester product out to the next tester. You will also be responsible for EVGA property while you have it in your possession and you will be billed and obligated to pay for the product should it be kept longer than the 14 day review, or if product is damaged while in your possession.

While the responsibility might not be the biggest of issues the shipping terms might be a deal killer for some. Click here or a full list of details as well as FAQ and requirements. For now the only two products available in the Loaner Program are the EVGA X58 Classified motherboard, and a 22" Samsung monitor with 3D Vision Glasses.

The Woz Is Down But Not Out

Earlier this week Apple co-founder Steve "The Woz" Wozniak made is debut as one of the 13 celebrity contestants on Dancing with the Stars. His less than stellar dancing debut garnered harsh criticism, only scoring a 13 out of 30 potential points from the panel of judges.

Returning to his roots The Woz has taken the fight to remain on the show to the tech level. Utilizing support from sites like VoteWoz.com and Woz.org, even setting up a Facebook and Twitter pages Vote for Woz and VoteWoz on Twitter.

Yesterday Geeks everywhere recieved a bit of bad new however. In an e-mail posted to his Facebook page, Wozniak said that he went to the doctor on Tuesday, shortly after the season's debut. The trip revealed that the Woz has fractured his foot. Not to fret however in true manly fashion the Woz plans to Geek-it-up and dance through the pain!

Wozniak said the doctor told him he could continue dancing, with a few caveats.

"He said that in a case like mine, similar to a pro sports athlete, where it was very important to continue for a livelihood, that it might be possible, with risk, to continue," Wozniak said. "We reached a compromise. I would wear a removable cast except during practice and I would halt everything if I got acute pain."





The Woz tells ComputerWorld we will see more of the kind of dancing that drew applause from the in-studio audience, but the scorn of judge Bruno Tonioli, who said Wozniak's dancing was "like a Teletubby going mad in a Gay Pride parade."

"I promise to make the next dance wild and fast and all-over and crazy and fun, just like the first one," said Wozniak. "If the judges are out of sync with what the viewers like to see, so be it. The show can always get new judges."

I for one don't watch the show Dancing With the Stars, it airs opposite of my Geek favorite Chuck which is in the middle of it's second season. I did however download the show just to see what the buzz was about. I've gotta say I hope Steve sticks around for a few more shows, if not for his dancing prowess then for the pure entertainment value.

Office Depot Comes Under Fire Over Sales Policies

In January Laptop Magazine posted a story outlining an Office Depot's reluctance to sell them a GateWay LT1004U Netbook, apparently that story sparked some interesting comments, comments that have put Office Depot and their sales practices and policies under fire.

It all began when Laptop Magazine's Joanna Stern paid a visit to a local Office Depot store looking for a Gateway LT1004U Netbook. Having flagged down a salesman and telling them that she wanted to purchase the LT1004U, Joanna says the salesperson, "did everything in his power to try to convince us not to buy it."

According to the report the salesperson went so far as to ask “Are you sure you really want this,” before talking down the Netbook saying “it has no CD drive” and it has “only 512MB of RAM” (this was inaccurate as it actually has 1GB).

Upon finally convincing the salesperson that they actually wanted the Netbook Laptop Magazine says he returned only to tell them they didn’t have any in-stock, this despite the fact that there were no less than 10 merchandise slips behind the price tag. He then suggested they purchase and Acer Aspire One as “it’s the same thing,” only with a $30 difference in price.

Flash forward a few months and you reach this weeks article and some follow up the original story. Citing readers comments, supposed salespeople and Office Depot managers Laptop Magazine now says "Office Depot Associates Routinely Lie about Notebook Stock."

According to several LAPTOP readers, including a current Office Depot employee we interviewed, the retailer’s sales staff are under such intense pressure to sell such “attachments” as Product Protection Plans and Tech Depot Services, that many will tell customers who turn down these services that the computer they asked for is not in stock, even when it’s sitting right in the stock room.
Following up on comments from the original report Laptop contacted several of the comments. One of those contacted is "Rich" a verified current Office Depot employee. Rich tells Laptop it is common practice for commission/incentive based employees to not sell computers if they can't upsell the customer additional services.

According to Rich a district manager once visited his store and told all the associates to lie.

“We did get told by the district manager one time to talk to the customer, figure out what they want, do your normal sales routine, and figure out what they’re going to get,” he said. “Offer them the PPP. Offer them the TDS and then, if they’re going to get it, go check to see if we have it in stock and, if we do, bring it out to them. If they’re not going to get anything with it, just go check to see if we have it and then come back and say ‘oh, we’re out of stock on it.'"

The reason the salespeople are asked to lie is a simple one up-selling as much as possible. Rich said that a typical Office Depot has at most one or two of each regular-priced notebook in stock at any given time, with a maximum of 5 units for sale circular items. Each store each has its own daily sales goal for things like PPP and total overall sales. Anyone in the commission sales business has been through those pressures.

“Ideally, they want every single laptop to go out with a warranty, so if you sell one, that’s one opportunity that’s gone,” Rich said. “They figure if they don’t sell it, someone else will come in and get it, especially if it’s a laptop that’s in the ad that a lot of people are going to come in . . . They figure they’re going to sell it eventually. You might as well do it to someone that’s going to get something with it.”

In response to the articles Office Depot has issued the following statement:
First, as part of our commitment to providing office supply solutions to our customers, we offer numerous products and services, including service warranties and other complementary products and services for many technology products. These offerings are similar to other sellers of consumer electronics. Office Depot’s objective is to offer such products and services to our customers, without regard to whether a customer purchases or does not purchase service warranties or other complimentary products and services. Although we offer a variety of sales promotions, like most retailers, we sell customers only what they wish to purchase. We do not have, nor have we ever had, policies or strategies contrary to this objective, and we do not condone sales practices to the contrary.

Accordingly, we do not have any policies or sales objectives to limit the sales of laptop computers to only those customers who agree to purchase service warranties. Office Depot has been recognized with numerous awards for our commitment to customer service, so please know that we take this issue very seriously and will take the necessary steps to ensure that we continue to enhance the customer experience and promote quality in our customer-related processes. We are currently in the process of reviewing this situation, and if any associates have deviated from our sales objectives and policies, then they may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

My Thoughts:

Like it or hate it this is a commonly practiced sales approach, specially with hot ticket items, I can't think of anyone in a commission based sales position that can't or won't agree with me on that one. How often do you see a hot item selling slightly higher than its actual price for the first couple of weeks. Yes its unscrupulous but it happens. There is a lot of pressure all the way down the line to increase sales numbers and ROI.

I hardly see this as being in the same ballpark as the Sears Plasma Recharge debacle. At least here they are simply refusing to sell you something and not utterly lying to get you to buy something entirely unneeded. I can honestly say the two aren't even close to the same ballpark. And while I've never heard of a "not making a sale" approach based on the potential of getting a higher sales rate on it later I can see the potential. But most sales people will tell you moving merchandise is key.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not All Suspicious Emails Are Bad

Everyone gets them, those too good to be true emails, or those realistic looking phishing emails from banks, PayPal or some other source. If like me most the time you just trash them without even bothering to read them, after all we all know they are scams! But occasionally you do get one of those emails that might be worth reading.

This past weekend I received two rather suspicious looking emails from Newegg. The first email was titled "Newegg.com - invoice" the other a "Newegg.com -UPS tracking", nothing too suspicious if you had ordered something, I hadn't! In the back of my head I was thinking if some got into my account I might have to close accounts, cancel credit cards ect ect.

I'm a big fan of Newegg and have done my fair share of shopping there so seeing a Newegg email pop-up isn't all that suspicious. But when you haven't ordered anything seeing an invoice is a little odd. Thinking it was probably just a phishing scam I was going to trash it. Instead I decided I had better check them out just in case someone had hacked into my account or somehow gotten my password and actually made a couple of orders. As remote as it might seem it is possible so after consideration I figured I better check it out.

I opened the UPS tracking letter first and see an order confirmation for a Newegg Black Baseball Cap with "Canon" Logo. I was a little bit shocked at first as the item shows a price of $9.95, I know I hadn't ordered anything so I could help to wonder what was going on. Then of course I open the second email which shows they sent me the item as a free gift. Wow what a relief what was!

Wow was I relieved, I really didn't want to have to cancel credit cards or track down the source of a possible leak.



Big kudos to Newegg for the free hat, even if I don't wear hats it was a nice thought. In the future a little heads up might be nice, you know instead of just sending out an invoice.

Google Launches "Interest-Based" Advertising But Is It Too Interested In You

Google has laid out plans for what they are calling "interest-based" advertising. A more user targeted approach to advertising which will associate categories of interest — say sports, gardening, cars, pets — with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit frequently and the pages you view.

The new system which was announced today on Google's official blog and its public policy blog, will begin testing as a beta program within several of Google's partner sites and on YouTube soon. But one has to wonder if targeted advertising and tracking of the sites we visit might go to far.

The system does allow people using Google's AdSense network and YouTube to change their advertising preferences and to opt out of being targeted.And Google does note they've built in three features that they hope eleviate some concerns over privacy:

  • Transparency - We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google's ad serving.
  • Choice - We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
  • Control - You can always opt out of the advertising cookie for the AdSense partner network here. To make sure that your opt-out decision is respected (and isn't deleted if you clear the cookies from your browser), we have designed a plug-in for your browser that maintains your opt-out choice.
But these features doesn't gop far enough, at least not in the eyes of many consumer protection groups. According to PCworld several privacy advocacy groups including the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), are asking Google to allow users to opt in to behavioral tracking instead of requiring that they opt out.

Christine Chen, a Google spokeswoman, told PCWorld an opt-in model doesn't make business sense and of course how could it. Most consumers wouldn't want to opt into advertising or being tracked online.

Chen says, "We [Google] believe that most users prefer to see more relevant advertising over less relevant advertising," she said. "Offering advertising on an opt-in basis goes against the economic model of the Internet. Consumers prefer to see more relevant advertising, which in turn better fuels many of the free services offered on the Internet. If certain users prefer not to receive interest-based ads, we believe that we give them clear information and tools to make that choice."

The issue as I see it is not whether or not Google is tacking users, we know they are. And its not the issue of relevancy in advertising, we all know how well that has worked in the past. The issue is how much invasion and how much targeting is too much.

As a consumer I wouldn't want someone tracking my every move and then at the end of the day stopping at my house with a bunch of pamplets based on a daily routine, or for that fact my weekly, monthly ect.

Yes there is an opt-out otpion, one that is cookie based. So what good does that do me when I clear cookies on a frequent basis? Google still retains the data and over time and should I forget or just get to lazy to opt out I'll still find myslef a "target" of ads.

As an advertiser and someone that relies on advertising to make a few bucks I can see some benefits. Better ad placement by the AdSense ads on our site might mean a little more revenue for us. Better placement of our ads might mean a little more traffic or traffic that will likely find our site more helpful.

Until I see a few weeks of testing I'm not going to condem it completely. But I will be keeping a close eye on the new system to see how interesting these targeted ads really are!

Apple Releases New Talking iPod Shuffle

Apple has released their third generation iPod shuffle now featuring speech capabilities designed to tell users which songs or playlists they are listening to. The shuffle, which has always been Apple's smallest iPod, has also shrunk in size to nearly half the size of the previous model or as Apple claims, "significantly smaller than a AA battery."




The new 4-gigabyte MP3 player will cost you about $79 and carries up to 1,000 songs. It comes in two colors, silver and black. For those of you not needing speech capabilities or the extra song capacity Apple will continue to sell the second-generation version of the 1-gigabyte, 240-song Shuffle for $49. But they will be phasing out the 2-gigabyte Shuffle, which currently sells for $69.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NVIDIA Launches GPU Ventures Program

nvidia logoPopular video card manufacturer NVIDIA is looking for the next great GPU computing company. The company today announced the launch of a new global investment program with the sole intention of seeking out, funding and supporting new GPU computing businesses.

SANTA CLARA, CA—MARCH 10, 2009— NVIDIA Corporation, inventor of the GPU, today announced the launch of the GPU Ventures Program, a new global initiative whose aim is to identify, support and invest in early stage companies leveraging the GPU for visual and other computing applications. NVIDIA is also launching the GPU Venture Zone website, a portal to publicly showcase the innovative GPU applications being developed by its ecosystem partners.

“The GPU Ventures Program represents a huge opportunity for young ambitious companies basing their businesses around the GPU. These companies are the innovators that will fuel the continued growth of the GPU platform,” said Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at NVIDIA. “Through this program we will provide financial, marketing and other support to help start-up companies realize their full potential and we strongly encourage interested entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and others to reach out to us with their ideas.”

Through the GPU Ventures Program, NVIDIA intends to evaluate companies that leverage the GPU for both consumer and professional applications in all areas such as video and image enhancement, scientific discovery, financial analysis and 3D interfaces. Investments are expected to range from $500K to $5Million, and strategic partnerships are expected to span joint marketing, joint development, product distribution and beyond.

“NVIDIA’s support, through investment, strategic partnership and joint marketing, has helped us to raise additional capital and gain customer visibility much more quickly,” said Sam Blackman, CEO of Elemental Technologies. “We share NVIDIA’s passion for using the GPU as a parallel processor, for more than just graphics, and we actively encourage other companies interested in this exciting market to join the visual computing ecosystem.”

In addition to Elemental Technologies, NVIDIA has also invested in successful start ups including Acceleware, Keyhole Corporation (acquired by Google for Google Earth), Mental Images (acquired by NVIDIA), MotionDSP and Right Hemisphere. These companies were among 60 other start-ups that met with key figures in the investment and technical community at NVIDIA’s 2008 Emerging Companies Summit, due to take place again in the Fall of 2009.

“NVIDIA’s first annual Emerging Companies Summit was a world class event , perhaps the best and most informative private company showcase in 2008” said Drew Lanza, general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures. “We view parallel computing on the GPU as an exciting and disruptive growth opportunity for our existing and future portfolio companies, and we applaud NVIDIA’s efforts to support this ecosystem through its new GPU Ventures Program and other related initiatives.”

If you would like to submit a business plan or attend the Emerging Companies Summit, interested parties are asked to email gpuventures@nvidia.com for more information and please visit the GPU Venture Zone website at www.nvidia.com/gpuventures.

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

Monday, March 09, 2009

Foxit PDF Viewer Shares Adobe Reader Flaw

Foxit Software Co. the creators of Foxit PDF Viewer, a great alternative to Adobe Reader, have released three critical bug patches today. One of which is related to the same JBIG2 image compression format vulnerability found to affect Adobe System Inc.'s popular Reader and Acrobat applications.

Following Adobe's announcement of the flaw late last month several experts began urging users to move away from Adobe Reader for Foxit or other free PDF-viewing applications. Foxit was seen as being a slight more secure option however security researchers have now found a few new flaws in the software.

Thomas Kristensen, chief technology officer at Secunia, told ComputerWorld that the new flaw "is a completely different vulnerability related to JBIG2." Kristensen failed to ellaborate any further only stating that they had begun testing Foxit for vulnerability following the flaws found in Adobe's software.

The other two patches cover two bugs found by Core Security Technologies, a developer of penetration testing software. One of the vulnerabilities can trigger a buffer overflow, while the other could be used by attackers to circumvent security warnings.

New Conficker Variants Add A Few New Tricks

Several top security sites have been warning of thew variants of the Conificker worm also know as the downandup virus. The latest version of the worm has been dubbed W32.Downadup.C or Conficker.c and has been redesigned to circumvent many of the latest techniques used to stop the spread of the virus.

Symantec Corp. has warned that this latest variant uses a new set of tools which is targeting antivirus software and security analysis tools with the aim of disabling them. Any processes found on an infected machine that contain an antivirus or security analysis tool string from the list below are killed:

  • wireshark
  • unlocker
  • tcpview
  • sysclean
  • scct_
  • regmon
  • procmon
  • procexp
  • ms08-06
  • mrtstub
  • mrt.
  • mbsa.
  • klwk
  • kido
  • kb958
  • kb890
  • hotfix
  • gmer
  • filemon
  • downad
  • confick
  • avenger
  • autoruns
Symantec has also warned that version "C" has bypassed a previous attempt at blocking W32.Downadup.B domain-generation algorithm for communicating. Users can no longer expect protection by simply blocking the sites the worm was allowed to update from. The Downadup authors have now moved from a 250-a-day domain-generation algorithm to a new 50,000-a-day domain generation algorithm.

The Conificker worm at one time was estimated to have infected nearly 10million PCs worldwide leading to the formation of a $250k reward for information leading to the viruses creators.

*Update*

Read the latest on the Conficker.C worm:


Norton AntiVirus 2009 Coupon Exp. 2/28

Seagate And AMD Unveil 6GB/Sec SATA 3

Seagate and AMD Unveil World's First Demonstration of Serial ATA 6Gigabit/Second Technology for High-Speed PC Applications

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif., March 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Seagate (Nasdaq: STX), teaming with microprocessor manufacturing leader Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) at the Everything Channel Xchange Conference in New Orleans this week, today unveiled the world's first public demonstration of next-generation high-speed data transfer - Serial ATA 6Gigabit/second - for bandwidth-hungry desktop and laptop PC applications including gaming, streaming video and graphics multimedia.

The Serial ATA (SATA) 6Gb/second storage interface will deliver the highest performance - burst speeds of up to 6Gigabits per second - for all PC applications, maintain backward compatibility with the SATA 3Gb/second and SATA 1.5Gb/second interfaces, and use the same cables and connectors as previous SATA generations to ease integration. The third generation of the mainstream storage interface for desktop and notebook computers also enhances power efficiency and improves Native Command Queuing, a SATA feature, to increase overall system performance and data transfer speeds of mainstream PC applications but especially applications with heavily transactional workloads such as scientific modeling and forecasting, and engineering design and simulation.

"The increasing reliance of consumers and businesses worldwide on digital information is giving rise to gaming, digital video and audio, streaming video, graphics and other applications that require even more bandwidth, driving demand for PC interfaces that can carry even more digital content," said Joan Motsinger, Seagate vice president of Personal Systems Marketing and Strategy. "The SATA 6Gb/second storage interface will meet this demand for higher-bandwidth PCs. Seagate has a long history of being first to market with new technologies such as Serial ATA, perpendicular recording and self-encrypting drives, and is pleased to be teaming with AMD to stage the world's first public demonstration of SATA 6Gb/second storage."

"AMD strives to deliver platform technology that our technology partners can use to create high- performance desktop and laptop PCs," said Leslie Sobon, vice president of Product Marketing, AMD. "The new SATA 6Gb/second technology not only incorporates the best features of previous SATA generations but also includes new enhancements. This innovation enables AMD to continue to evolve its technology platforms and to develop low-cost designs that our technology partners can use to improve their own PC and laptop products."

The Seagate and AMD demonstration features two Seagate SATA disk drives - one a shipping Barracuda(R) 7200.12 3Gb/second hard drive and the other a prototype Barracuda 6Gb/second drive - in a desktop PC to show the performance difference between the two generations. The PC is powered by an AMD prototype SATA 6Gb/second chipset. The Seagate SATA 3Gb/second drive runs at more than 2.5Gigabits per second and the SATA 6Gb/second drive at 5.5Gigabits per second, with the performance of each storage interface displayed on the PC monitor.

Serial ATA 6Gb/second - Blazing speed for next-generation personal computing

Serial ATA (SATA), the mainstream storage interface for desktop and notebook disk drives, is currently available in two speeds - 3Gb/second and 1.5Gb/second. SATA 6Gb/second was developed by the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) under the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 specification.

In keeping with SATA-IO objectives for designing a low-cost interface for desktop and notebook PCs, SATA 6Gb/second maintains the low cost and low-power design requirements of previous SATA generations, and is designed to be backward compatible with SATA 3Gb/second connectors, cables and other hardware.


Source: PR NewsWire

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Microsoft Confirms Major Features Can Be Removed From Windows 7

According to recent posts on the Engineering Windows 7 blog users will be allowed to disable almost every major feature that is included in the new OS, including an option to remove IE8.

The new feature was originally reveled on Chris' Repository of Knowledge and AeroXperience, both of whom had been playing around with build 7048, the latest leaked version of Windows 7. Both blogs posted similar screenshots of the new Windows 7's "Windows Features" dialog box, which includes an option to turn off IE8.



This weekend MS confirmed they have expanded the number of features user will have control over, giving customers more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available their Windows 7 installs. In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, Microsoft has added the following features to the list in Windows 7:
  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows Media Center
  • Windows DVD Maker
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Windows Search
  • Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
  • Windows Gadget Platform
  • Fax and Scan
  • XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)
Unfortunately there still won't be an option to exclude the programs entirely, they will still be installed just not accessible. So they are still a part of the original install which means re-enabling them will not require the original installation disc. Personally I'd prefer the option to leave them out entirely.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cisco Adds Three New Linksys Wireless-N Routers

Cisco Adds to Media-Enabled Home with New Linksys by Cisco Dual-Band Wireless-N Products Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge with Dual-Band, Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router, and Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router Enhance the Award-Winning Product Portfolio

Irvine, Calif. – March 5, 2009 -- Cisco today announced the Linksys by Cisco Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge with Dual-Band (WET610N), Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router (WRT400N), and the Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router (WRT320N). These new offerings extend the Award-Winning Linksys by Cisco Wireless-N family of products to further advance the Media-Enabled home. The WET610N Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge can add high-speed Wireless-N connectivity to Ethernet-enabled devices such as Set-Top Boxes, game consoles, and Televisions for On-Demand broadcast, online gaming, or media streaming throughout the home. Both the WRT400N and WRT320N Dual-Band routers help consumers realize the benefits of using the 5GHz wireless spectrum to connect their devices to the network with a lower price of entry. The WRT400N offers connectivity in both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz spectrums at the same time, while the more value-priced WRT320N allows the user to select which band they prefer to use.

WET610N Facts/Highlights:

  • Connect Ethernet-Enabled Devices Wirelessly
    Consumers can get better range and speed for streaming video and gaming applications by using the WET610N to connect Ethernet-enabled devices to their high-speed Wireless-N home network without running new cables.
  • Dual-Band Wireless Capabilities
    The WET610N is ideal for home theater and gaming applications because entertainment content can be sent over the less crowded 5GHz spectrum, separating it from other network traffic that transmits in the 2.4GHz spectrum.
  • Optimized for streaming video, home theater and gaming applications
    By using enhanced Quality of Service functionality, the WET610N helps reduce video glitches to provide faster and more reliable video streaming and network performance.

WRT400N Facts/Highlights:

  • Simultaneous Wireless-N Bands
    As a simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N router, the WRT400N can operate in both the 2.4GHz wireless band and the wider 5GHz band, essentially providing two full wireless networks for the price of one.
  • WiFi Protected Setup
    To simplify the process of adding to the home network, the WRT320N includes WiFi Protected Setup--a push button feature that simplifies the process of setting up and configuring security for new network devices.

WRT320N Facts/Highlights:

  • Selectable Wireless-N Bands
    Configurable to operate in either the 2.4GHz wireless band or the wider 5GHz band, the WRT320N offers consumers more options for configuring their home network.
  • Gigabit Connectivity
    The WRT320N includes four Gigabit ports for quicker transmission of data when using a wired connection to a device within the home.

Products:

  • Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge with Dual-Band WET610N
    Provides consumers higher performance by bridging Ethernet-enabled devices, such as televisions, digital media adapters, digital video recorders, digital set-top boxes, networked attached storage devices or game consoles to the home network via Dual-Band Wireless-N.
  • Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router WRT400N
    Provides Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N network capabilities at a price point suitable to mainstream consumers.
  • Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT320N
    Provides Dual-Band Wireless-N and Gigabit wired network capabilities at additional savings

Supporting Quotes:

Greg Memo, vice president and general manager, products, Cisco Consumer Business Group.
“As a number of top consumer electronics and game console manufacturers continue to bring to market Ethernet-enabled products, there is a clear need for a high-performance wireless solution that enables these devices to access the most demanding content and applications, such as HD video streaming and on-line gaming. The WET610N Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge provides for an easy and reliable way for consumers get the most out of these entertainment device purchases and further demonstrates the evolution to media enabled home, where a number of consumer devices our accessing rich media and internet services beyond just PCs.”

“The WRT400N and WRT320N bring Dual-Band capabilities to a more mainstream audience and empower the consumer to choose the Wireless-N solution that best serves their needs. They round out our Wireless-N product family and provide router options for everyone from the novice network user to the savviest of technology experts.”

Worldwide Market Trends:

  • According to Parks Associates, eight million households in the U.S. have entertainment devices connected to the network in the home. This is expected to grow to more than 30 million households by year-end 2013.
  • Approximately 5.92M entertainment devices are wirelessly connected in the home (U.S. Statistics).

Pricing and availability:

The WET610N is available now in the United States from authorized Linksys by Cisco retailers, authorized resellers, and VAR partners at an Estimated Street Price of $99.99. Availability in other regions is anticipated later in 2009.

Also available now from authorized Linksys by Cisco retailers, authorized resellers, and VAR partners in the United States, the WRT400N and WRT320N have Estimated Street Prices of $149.99 and $129.99 respectively. Availability in other regions is anticipated later in 2009.

Supporting Resources:

GIGABYTE Launches "Ultra Durable"

GIGABYTE Technology Co. LTD., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, last week launched the latest GIGABYTE unique technology: Ultra Durable VGA. GIGABYTE latest innovative technology-Ultra Durable VGA features 2 oz copper PCB board, Samsung/Hynix memory, Japanese solid capacitor, Ferrite Core Chokes, and Low RDS (on) MOSFET to deliver incredibly low GPU temperature, unrivaled overclocking capability, low power switching loss, and guaranteed longer life. Compared with traditional graphics accelerators, Ultra Durable VGA graphics accelerators can lower GPU temperature by 5%~10%, lower power switching loss by 10%~30%, and increase overclocking capability by 10%~30%. GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA graphics accelerators can provide truly both “high-performanced” and “green” graphic card resolutions.


GIGABYTE Unique Technology: Ultra Durable VGA with 5 High Quality Components
GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA adopts 5 high quality components to make best graphics accelerators.

  1. 2 oz Copper PCB Board
    2 oz copper PCB board doubles the copper inner layer of PCB board and provides unrivaled performance compared with traditional 1 oz PCB board.
  2. Tier 1 Samsung and Hynix Memory
    Ultra Durable VGA promises 1st tier Samsung/Hynix memory built with 100% fully testing.
  3. Japanese Solid Capacitor
    Solid capacitors contain a solid organic polymer, while electrolytic capacitors use a common liquid electrolyte. Our cards use Japanese solid capacitors made by leading Japanese manufactures and offer better electronic conductivity for unrivaled performance.
  4. Ferrite Core Chokes
    Ferrite core chokes are comprised of a compound of iron-oxide whose properties hold energy much longer than common iron-core chokes at high frequency. They are able to store energy longer and prevent rapid energy loss at high frequency.
  5. Low RDS (on) MOSFET
    Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs are specially designed to produce lower switching resistance for faster electric current charging and discharging.

Ultra Durable VGA Unique Features
  • GPU Temperature 5%-10% Down
    2 oz copper PCB board provides dramatic cooling effect on lowering both GPU and memory temperature by doubling the copper inner layer of PCB. In addition, Japanese Solid Capacitor, Ferrite Core Chokes, and Low RDS (on) MOSFET can reduce heat production and the whole GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA design can lower GPU temperature by 5% to 10%.

  • Overclocking Capability 10%-30% Up
    Ultra Durable VGA reduces voltage ripples in normal and transient state, thus effectively lowers power noises and ensures higher overclocking capability. GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA graphic accelerators improve overclocking capability by 10% to 30%.

  • Power Switching Loss 10%-30% Down
    Ultra Durable VGA allows more bandwidth for electron passage and reduces circuit impedance. The reduction of circuit impedance will provide stable current flow and thus improving power efficiency. GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA can lower power switching loss by 10% to 30%


  • For more details of GIGABYTE Ultra Durable VGA, please visit the GIGABYTE VGA website:
    http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/VGA/Default.aspx


    Source: GIGABYTE Press Release

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Pirate Bay Trial Ends, Verdict Due April 17th

    The spectacle that was the Pirate Bay trial came to an uneventful ending yesterday afternoon with the defendants giving their closing statements. We can expect a little closure on the case when the verdict comes in which is currently scheduled for April 17th.

    For a trial that has seen everything from a pirate bus, to supporters in costumes shouting support from megaphones, to the constant attention via Twitter it has ended with little flair. Founder and co-defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi said, "I think we're going to go party," and presumably wait for what they hope is a not guilty verdict.

    Sunde expressed confidence that The Pirate Bay would win the case. A guilty verdict would "be a huge mistake for the future of the Internet," he said. "It's quite obvious which side is the good side."

    The defendants face up to two years in prison each and $180,000 in fines plus millions in damages.

    FTC Warns Of Stimulus Scams

    Looking to cash in on the recent stimulus bill signed by president Obama scammers have begun setting up shop with phony sites and fake email scams.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have recently posted advisories warning consumers about advertisements from companies and websites that promise easy access to government money. The ads promise big money, as much as $12,000 in some case, or offer to sell consumers information that is readily available for free. The scammers use the collected information to commit identity theft often times draining the consumer's bank account.

    Shop Dell Small Business"The bottom line on this is, these are scams," says Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The stimulus is not passing out checks to individual consumers."

    In several phishing attacks consumers have reported e-mail messages asking for bank account information so that stimulus check deposits can be made directly to the consumers bank account. Instead, the scammers drain consumers' accounts of money and disappear. Or the bogus e-mails may appear to be from government agencies and ask for information to "verify" that you qualify for a payment. The scammers use that information to commit identity theft.

    The FTC warns that some of the e-mail scams don't ask for information, but provide links to find out how to qualify for funds. By clicking on the links, consumers have downloaded malicious software or spyware that can be used to steal more information from the unsuspecting victims.

    "Web sites may advertise that they can help you get money from the stimulus fund. Many use deceptive names or images of President Obama and Vice President Biden to suggest they are legitimate. They're not," says Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Don't fall for it. If you do, you'll get scammed."

    Some sites suggest that for a small sum of money - as little as $1.99 in some cases - consumers can get a list of economic stimulus grants they can apply for. But two things can happen: the number of the credit card the consumer uses to pay the fee can fall into the hands of scam artists, or the $1.99 can be the down payment on a "negative option" agreement that may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars if the consumer does not cancel.

    Dell Small BusinessPCWorld found two such sites, PresidentObamaGrants.com and OfficialStimulusGrants.com, both of which have been removed at this time. The two sites promised to provide consumers with information on how to get thousands of dollars in free stimulus money if they paid about $2 to sign up. Users that failed to cancel the service were then hit with hefty monthly fees, as much as $99 a month if consumers didn't cancel within seven days. Both sites, and others like them, buried the terms in long user agreements, and the sites required consumers to go through a "detailed and complex" cancellation process

    "Consumers who may already have fallen for these scams should carefully check their credit card bills for unauthorized charges and report the scam to the FTC," Harrington said.