Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wikia Search Closes Shop

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikia has announced that Wikia is closing the doors on Wikia Search, deciding to instead re-direct and refocusing resources on other Wikia.com properties, especially on Wikianswers.

Wales says the main reason for the refocus is based on the strong showing of the Wikianswers Q&A site. That portion of Wikia in particular has seen tremendous growth since it was re-launched in February. Wikianswers along with other Wikia communities have continued to see strong growth while Wikia Search has not seen the growth that Wales has hoped to see.

"On the other hand, while I personally believe in the opportunity for free software to make serious inroads into the search space, our project, Wikia Search, has not been enjoying the kind of success that we had hoped," Wales said in his blog post.

"In a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search indefinitely. It’s something I care about deeply. I will return to again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor, or a cheerleader. But for now, we will be closing the doors on the Wikia Search project (as of March 31, 2009)."

OCZ Wants You To Do-It-Yourself With New 10.1" Neutrino Netbook

Add on your own hard drive, ram and operating system and you'll be set with OCZ's newest offering, the DIY 10.1" Neutrino Netbook.

OCZ Technology Introduces the Neutrino Netbook, the Latest Solution in their Award-Winning DIY Initiative

ocz neutrino netbook

San Jose, Calif.—March 30, 2008—OCZ Technology Group, Inc., a worldwide leader in innovative, ultra-high performance and high reliability memory, components, and systems, today unveiled the Neutrino netbook, their latest Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solution. Building on OCZ’s award-winning DIY line, users ranging from hardware enthusiasts to mainstream professionals can partake in configuring and building their own personalized ultra-mobile solution, complete with everything they need in a portable companion.

“There are many consumers that desire the blend of essential functionalities and an ultra compact form factor, and our new Neutrino Do-It-Yourself netbooks based on Intel Atom technology allows users to design and configure their very own solution tailored to their unique needs,” commented Alex Mei, CMO of the OCZ Technology Group. “The Neutrino DIY netbook puts the control back in the hands of consumers by allowing them to configure a feature rich netbook with their own memory, storage, and preferred OS into a reasonably priced go-anywhere computing solution.”

Based on the Intel Atom processor, the 10.1” Neutrino was developed to push the envelope in the growing area of netbooks as the first DIY offering. Proving that good things come in small packages, the Neutrino provides all the day-to-day necessities for on-the-go traveling, education, office or home use. Equipped with a built-in camera and microphone, Neutrino will expand your horizons through communications between family, friends, and colleagues.

OCZ’s visionary DIY initiative was inspired by enthusiasts, but created for everyone. The Neutrino allows users to have complete control of the cost/performance ratio of their netbook and makes the entire procedure simple and easy to follow. Unlike previous OCZ DIY solutions, the Neutrino comes equipped with the CPU, but enables users to maximize netbook-computing efficiency by supporting up to 2GB of memory and hard drive or SSD capacities up to 250GB.

For support unlike any other DIY mobile solution, OCZ’s program makes it easy and convenient to build your own notebook by detailing validated components, the assembling process, and offering direct online and toll-free support for true peace of mind from beginning to end.

For more information regarding the OCZ Neutrino 10" DIY Notebook, please visit the OCZ product page here

Source: OCZ Press Release

My thoughts:

I've always been big on DYI computer building, desktops however are a completely different animal than laptops or netbooks. The small form factor and cramped work space make working on these things a serious PITA. Adding in RAM and a HDD really isn't that difficult but why would I want to bother.

Traditionally DIY projects are meant for customization. Since all you are adding in is a couple sticks of ram, storage and your choice of operating systems you really aren't customizing much. Most of us geeks change out RAM anyways so all you are really customizing is your OS and storage capacity.

In most cases its going to be cheaper and a lot easier buying a pre-assembled netbook and then dumping the OS if you don't like your current options. Since OCZ has not released pricing or availability information at this I can't comment on the value of the machine. But I'd have to say it would have to be priced very well for me to want to hassle with it.

Greenpeace Knocks Top Computer Manufacturers Over Broken Toxic Phase-Out Promises

In New Ranking Guide, Greenpeace knocks HP, Lenovo and Dell for broken toxic phase-out promises

San Francisco – Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Dell see their scores drop in the latest edition of Greenpeace’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” ranking, released today. All three PC makers have been given a penalty point for backtracking on their commitment to eliminate vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from their products by the end of 2009.

Of the five PC market leaders, Apple and Acer are the only ones sticking to commitments to phase out these toxic substances. With the exception of one technical hurdle - achieving certified PVC-free power cords - Apple has already met its commitment to have all of its products free of PVC and BFRs by the end of 2008.

“If Apple can find the solutions, there should be no reason why the other leading PC companies can not,” said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. “All of them should have at least one toxic-free line of products on the market by the end of this year.”

Dell produces a desktop, a notebook and several models of monitors that have a reduced use of PVC and BFRs, and a few monitor models that are free of these substances. Lenovo has two models available that are PVC and BFR-free. HP is trailing behind and has yet to bring out models with even a reduced use of PVC and BFRs. While HP and Dell have yet to set a new timeline for completely eliminating these substances from all their products, Lenovo has delayed its deadline to the end of 2010.

The biggest change in the rankings is the big jump from 15th to 4th place made by Philips. Following pressure from Greenpeace, the company has significantly improved its position on taking financial responsibility for the recycling of its own e-waste, although it still needs to implement a system to affect this.

“When they are paying for the collection and recycling of their own products, companies like Philips will now have the added incentive to develop cleaner, more recyclable products because recycling costs are influenced by the amount of toxic chemicals present and how easy products are to recycle,” explained Harrell. “Individual producer responsibility is crucial to the greener development of the electronics industry.”

Despite an overall slump in scores in the toxics categories, companies are starting to improve their scores on energy criteria. ICT is a key sector in the fight against climate change and could enable emissions reductions of 15 percent of business-as-usual. Samsung joins Philips in publically demonstrating support for global steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to tackle climate change. Dell and Nokia join HP and Philips in making commitments to substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations. Several companies are now increasing their use of renewable energy, with Nokia already sourcing a quarter of its electricity use from renewable energy sources.

Source: GreenPeace

Skype For iPhone Officially Launches Today

skype logoSkype Available on Apple App Store
Free application enables millions of iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide to take their Skype conversations with them

LAS VEGAS, March 31, 2009 - Skype announced that its highly anticipated application, Skype for iPhone, will be available on the Apple App Store beginning today. The app also adds Skype calling and instant messaging to any second generation iPod touch with a compatible headset and microphone.

"Skype software for the iPhone has been the number one request among our users. We are delighted to deliver on this request and put Skype into the pockets of millions of people around the world who are carrying iPhone and iPod touch devices," said Scott Durchslag, Skype's Chief Operating Officer. "Skype for iPhone will open up new ways for more than 400 million Skype users to stay connected and take their Skype conversations with them. Skype for iPhone is an experience that offers the same simplicity, ease-of-use and quality our users have come to expect from Skype, combined with an elegance of design and richness so loved by Apple's many customers worldwide."

The application delivers core Skype capabilities including:

  • Free Skype-to-Skype calls from any Wi-Fi zone to other Skype users worldwide
  • Call landline or mobile phones at Skype's great low rates from any Wi-Fi zone
  • Send/receive instant messages to/from individuals or groups via 3G, Wi-Fi, GPRS or EDGE (whichever is available)
  • Receive calls to a personal online number on Skype
  • See when Skype contacts are online/available to IM or talk

Skype for iPhone requires a Wi-Fi connection to make free Skype-to-Skype calls or low-cost Skype calls to mobiles and landlines. Users will not be charged by Skype for making and receiving Skype-to-Skype calls using an iPhone or iPod touch. Skype's normal low rates apply if using Skype to call landlines or mobiles.

The app uses Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS or EDGE (whichever is available) to sign into Skype, update a contact list, maintain and update presence and send/receive instant messages. Skype recommends an unlimited data usage plan for using Skype over a mobile data connection to avoid being charged by a wireless service provider for 3G, GPRS and EDGE mobile data usage.

Profile pictures of other users in a Skype Contacts list are also visible, making it easy to identify them. In addition, users can update their own Skype profile picture from within the Skype for iPhone app, either by choosing an existing image from a photo album on the device, or by using the camera on the iPhone to take a new photo.

The Skype application for the iPhone or iPod touch will be available for free from Apple's App Store on both devices, or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

Source: Skype Press Release

Google Launches New Venture Capital Fund

With our faltering economy venture capital funds have all but dried up. So it might comes a surprise that Google has decided to buck the trend and form a $100million VC fund.

Announced via the Official Google Blog earlier today, Google Ventures will be headed by Rich Miner, a co-founder of Android smart phone software that Google acquired in 2005, and Bill Maris founder of Web hosting pioneer Burlee.com. (Read their bios)
At its core, Google Ventures is charged with finding and helping to develop exceptional start-ups. We'll be focusing on early stage investments across a diverse range of industries, including consumer Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech, health care and, no doubt, other areas we haven't thought of yet. Central to our effort will be our fellow Googlers, whom we view as a critically important resource to help educate us about potential investments areas and evaluate specific companies.

Google Ventures, will be wholly owned by Google, but will operate as a separate entity from the companies normal search/web based operations. The new and will look to invest in early-stage start-up firms seeking investment opportunities to maximize returns rather than looking for investments that strictly fit with Google's strategic vision.

Read more:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Should We Save The Failing Newspaper Industry?

A new bill introduced on Tuesday seeks to extend nonprofit status to the failing newspaper industry providing newspaper companies with a variety of tax breaks.

The new bill entitled the Newspaper Revitalization Act which was introduced by Democratic senator Senator Benjamin Cardin yesterday. The bill would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

The senator cited the recent closures of two newspapers Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News,and announcements from the Baltimore Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, that they may have to stop publishing in introducing the bill.

Dell small business

"Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns," he said. "Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible."

The measure is targeted to preserve local newspapers serving communities and not large newspaper conglomerates. Because newspaper profits have been falling in recent years, no substantial loss of federal revenue is expected.

“We are losing our newspaper industry,” said Senator Cardin. “The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy. While we have lots of news sources, we rely on newspapers for in-depth reporting that follows important issues, records events and exposes misdeeds. In fact, most if not all sources of journalistic information – from radio to television to the Internet – gathers their news from newspaper reporters who cover the news on a daily basis and know their communities. It is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we ensure they survive.”

But is it really in the interest of the community or the interest of the people to save a failing medium. Newspapers have seen steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online for years so why would things suddenly be any different. The instant reporting capabilities of the internet and TV have pretty much killed the need for a print based media. Who wants to read yesterdays printed news when we are reading it happen as its happening?

Great Savings on Dell Laptops!

On the face of it this bill would equate to nothing more than government charity, bailing out yet another business that has failed to keep up with the times. Why only save the news, why not save magazines as well? We see no such handout heading towards the magazine industry that is by the way heading down the same road.

Of course this bailout really doesn't mean much in terms of actual cash value to the tax payer. The companies can hardly stay afloat now as it is. Sp assuming they continue to run at "business as usual" and don't turn things around tax payers wouldn't loose out on incoming taxes. After all you don't make much in tax from a company that isn't making money.

I appreciate the way things used to be done and of course the history behind the newspaper. But I have to wonder why we seek to hold on to the past when we should be embracing the future. Let the industry die, it has been dying a slow painful death for several years. Lets move forward into the new age of e-news, when its happeing, where its happening.

Twitter Updates The @Replies Feature

twitter logoOriginally used as a landing page to track Tweets that began with @Yourusername the @replies function left a little to be desired. Without the addition of a third party app Tweeters couldn't see all Tweets that feature their username. Today Twitter announced an update to the @Replies page.

The new update, which Twitter is now referring to it as Mentions, will show in as your own @username in the sidebar. When you click that tab, you'll see a list of all tweets referencing your account with the @username convention anywhere in the tweet—instead of only at the beginning which is how it used to work. So for me it would be all mentions of @Geek_News.

Of course this functionality was already available when using the Twitter search, or through a third party client like TweetDeck or Power Twitter. But with this update user can now keep track of conversation involving their username through the Twitter web interface.

FareWell To FileFront

FileFront, the popular file download repository will shut down indefinitely today.

“We regret to inform you that due to the current economic conditions we are forced to indefinitely suspend the FileFront site operations on March 30, 2009,” reads the site’s farewell letter. “If you have uploaded files, images or posted blogs, or if you would like to download some of your favorite files, please take this opportunity to download them before March 30th when the site will be suspended.”

“We would like to give a warm thank you to all of you who have been part of the FileFront communities we have built together. Your support has had a meaningful impact for all of us here at FileFront,” continued the message before signing off, “Keeping gaming alive.”

There has been no word from FileFront's owners, Ziff Davis, as to why they are shuttering the site. Earlier this year the company sold most of its gaming property which included the 1UP division to Hearst’s UGO Entertainment network and closed down print magazine EGM. The sale of 1UP included websites Mycheats.com, Gametab.com and GameVideos.com, but not FileFront. At the time the company indicated it would shift its focus to the PC Mag Digital Network, including PC Magazine and ExtremeTech.

WD Enters SSD Market, Acquires SiliconSystems

Western Digital Corp., a world leader in hard drive storage for computing and consumer electronics applications, today announced that it has completed a $65 million cash acquisition of SiliconSystems, Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif., a leading supplier of solid-state drives for the embedded systems market.

Since its inception in 2002, SiliconSystems has sold millions of SiliconDrive products to meet the high performance, high reliability and multi-year product lifecycle demands of the network-communications, industrial, embedded-computing, medical, military and aerospace markets. These markets accounted for approximately one third of worldwide solid-state drive revenues in 2008. SiliconSystems' product portfolio includes solid-state drives with SATA, EIDE, PC Card, USB and CF interfaces in 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch, CF and other form factors. SiliconSystems has developed extensive intellectual property to address the stringent embedded systems market requirements to ensure data integrity, eliminate unscheduled downtime, protect application data and software and provide for data security and protection through its patented and patent-pending PowerArmor, SiSMART, SolidStor and SiSecure technologies.

WD's storage industry leadership, worldwide infrastructure, and technical and financial resources will enable further growth in SiliconSystems' existing markets and customer relationships. SiliconSystems' intellectual property and technical expertise will provide additional building blocks for future products to address emerging opportunities in WD's existing markets.

"We are delighted to have the SiliconSystems team join WD," said John Coyne, president and CEO of WD. "The combination will be modestly accretive to revenue and margins as a result of SiliconSystems' existing position as a trusted supplier to the well-established $400 million market for embedded solid-state drives. SiliconSystems' intellectual property and technical expertise will significantly accelerate WD's solid-state drive development programs for the netbook, client and enterprise markets, providing greater choice for our customers to satisfy all their storage requirements."

Integration into WD begins immediately, with SiliconSystems now becoming known as the WD Solid-State Storage business unit, complementing WD's existing Branded Products, Client Storage, Consumer Storage and Enterprise Storage business units.

"WD's strong balance sheet, sales reach, and operations and logistics capabilities will allow us to greatly accelerate our penetration of our existing markets, while combining our engineering expertise with WD will enable us to develop new solid-state drives to broaden our overall product portfolio and address the emerging applications for solid-state storage in WD's existing customer base," said Michael Hajeck, a founder and CEO of SiliconSystems, now senior vice president and general manager of WD's Solid-State Storage business unit. "We are extremely excited to be joining WD and enabling an even stronger future for our talented team."

A set of questions and answers related to today's announcement can be found on WD's website at http://www.wdc.com/en/company/investor/QandA.asp.

Source: Western Digital Press Release

NVIDIA Introduces New Quadro GPU's

NVIDIA Introduces Industry’s Most Powerful Professional Graphics LineUp

Most Advanced Visualization Product Line Ever; Highlights Decade of Quadro Graphics Innovation

Whether designing the next aircraft or delivering seven-day weather forecasts, today’s professionals seek a reliable, robust visualization platform designed to address their unique challenges and needs. Highlighting a decade of innovation, driven by the needs of the most demanding professionals, NVIDIA today introduced its most powerful and advanced top-to-bottom line of Quadro professional GPU solutions in the Company’s history.

“Our mission with Quadro is to help customers solve the world’s most challenging visual computing problems,” stated Dan Vivoli, executive vice president of marketing at NVIDIA. “We learn every day from them and are humbled by their brilliance. The new lineup, with the flagship Quadro FX 5800, sets the stage for the next ten years of innovation.”

Spanning from sub-$100 entry-level to standalone visual computing systems, this new series includes:

  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 5800 the industry’s first and only 4GB, ultra high-end solution delivers the highest visualization performance and capabilities, enabling professionals to work with large-scale models and datasets.
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 ultra high-end solution provides professionals with the most complete toolset to dramatically push the boundaries of realism, performance, and quality.
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800 single slot solution with a robust feature set and added capabilities such as SLI Multi-OS and SDI support to enable a no-compromise, high-performance, interactive visualization experience.
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800 mid-range solution offers the best price performance for workstation graphics and provides the optimal blend of quality, precision, performance, and programmability.
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 best-in-class entry-level solution boosts productivity for a variety of industry-leading volume CAD and digital content applications.
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 380 an affordable professional-class graphics solution extends energy efficiency while delivering 50-percent faster performance.
  • The Quadro NVS 295 capable of supporting up to two 30-inch digital displays at maximum resolutions, taking business graphics to a new level visual perfection.

“Once again, NVIDIA has set new graphics performance standards for professionals in the product design and development community,” said Laurent Laloy, director, 3DVIA User Experience, Dassault Systèmes. “This latest generation of Quadro professional solutions will allow our customers to drive innovation and design with unprecedented 3D visual quality.”

This new line-up also brings the introduction of NVIDIA SLI Multi-OS, a ground-breaking technology that enables, for the first time, 3D workstation virtualization on the Quadro GPU. With SLI Multi-OS, applications and users are able to optimize productivity and costs through the use of multiple Quadro GPU technologies from a single workstation in a virtualized environment. Users can also enable native SLI technology support on key partner platforms to accelerate application performance, scaling and higher image quality.

NVIDIA Quadro solutions are widely available through leading system manufacturers such as Dell, Fujistu-Siemens, HP and Lenovo; leading workstation system integrators; and NVIDIA channel partners PNY Technologies (US and EMEA), Leadtek (APAC) and Elsa (Japan). For additional information about the complete lineup of NVIDIA Quadro professional solutions, please visit: www.nvidia.com/quadro.

“The new family of powerful NVIDIA GPU solutions are an ideal match for the new HP Z Workstations, which have been totally reinvented from the core outward for breakthrough performance, value and serviceability,” said Jim Zafarana, Vice President and General Manager, HP Workstations. “This powerful combination can tackle the most challenging visual computing problems that exist for today’s demanding professionals.”

“As the worldwide leader in workstations, Dell looks to partner with only the best companies to deliver the solutions that workstation professionals demand,” said Greg Weir, senior manager, product group. “The power of Dell Precision and NVIDIA graphics represents a step-change in what customers can expect from a reliable, powerful and ISV-certified workstation with performance gains at levels beyond what customers could have imagined.”

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

Dell Adding Some Color To Their Inspiron Towers

Dell Adds More Colors to its Inspiron Desktop Family

Style-minded families, students and teens want to personalize their PCs to meet their performance and lifestyle needs - blogging, chatting, sending photos or running a media center. Highly-stylized products, like Dell's new Inspiron slim and mini-tower desktops, deliver on design and customization, transforming the brand from the "built-for-me" model, into "made-for-me."

Dell's new Inspiron slim and mini-towers expand the design and personalization possibilities for consumers. Available in eight vibrant colors, Piano Black, Pure White, True Blue, Formula Red, Tangerine Orange, Spring Green, Plum Purple and Promise Pink. Dell is the only major consumer desktop manufacturer to offer such extensive personalization options to reflect individuals' personal style or to complement their bedroom or study.

Inspiron slim and mini-tower desktops debut today in China and are available for purchase through Dell.com, distributor Digital China or retailers Suning and Gome. Starting at $299 US, the systems will be available worldwide later this spring.

Click on the image below to see a larger version or check out the additional pictures available on Dell's Flickr page.

The News:
  • Dell's new Inspiron desktop lets people express themselves through choices of color (eight options), size (slim or mini-tower) and configuration.
  • Vivid color palette to express your personal style: Piano Black, Pure White, True Blue, Formula Red, Tangerine Orange, Spring Green, Plum Purple and Promise Pink.
  • Dell becomes the only major consumer desktop manufacturer to offer color options for the entire front of the machine.
  • Customizable options to meet individual's budget, lifestyle and usage needs.
  • Ideal for common tasks including email, Internet, blogging, entertainment (movies, music and casual gaming) and productivity.
  • Features available on the new Inspiron desktops include:
  • - Intel Celeron, Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core 2 Quad options or AMD Sempron, Athlon X2 and Phenom X4 processor options Integrated Intel or ATI Radeon graphics on select systems with discrete graphics options available - Up to 8 GB memory on select systems - Up to 750 GB storage (slim tower) or up to 1TB storage (mini-tower) - Optional 19-in-1 media card reader and optional HDMI connectivity - 6 USB ports (2 front, 4 back) - Dual optical options (mini-tower only) including Blu-ray Disc drive - Small form factor with its versatile horizontal or vertical placement is designed to easily fit into your home media center (slim tower only)

Source: Direct2Dell Blog

Friday, March 27, 2009

Conficker April Fool's Joke Or Real Threat?

There has been much debate over what the latest version of the Conficker worm might do come April 1st. Several security researchers have warned that he latest variant labeled Conficker.C, is programmed to do something on April 1. But what exactly will happen no one seems to know.

One thing they do know for sure is that the two original variants "Conficker.A" and especially "Conficker.B" (also known as Downadup) have built a botnet that has reached estimates of over 10 million PCs. Such a widespread botnet has the potential of wreaking havoc, however up till now Conficker has done little more than spread around to un-protected PCs. Leaving room for much speculation and a ton of hype.

While some security experts such as Eset are warning users that they should take precautions and back up in advance of April 1 others like Joe Stewart, a security researcher at believe there is really not much more to worry about. Stating "there will be no April 1st outbreak." Clean PCs won't suddenly melt down from a new Conficker infection. All that will happen, Stewart writes, is that the worm will begin to use a new trick that gives it a better chance of getting around existing defenses that attempt to prevent it from updating.

The truth is, there will be no April 1st outbreak, despite what some of the press stories have said so far. The only thing that will happen with Conficker on April 1st is that already-infected systems will begin to use a new algorithm to locate potential update servers. There, that’s not so scary, is it?

Th is isn't really a new trick for Conficker. Variant C added the ability to circumvent some of the previous work arounds used to block its access to update sites. Stewart and several other researchers believe there is no reason to worry about the overly hyped April 1st date line for Conficker.C.
And here’s why:
  1. Conficker.C is already able to receive updates via its P2P protocol today, so focusing on the April 1st date is misguided.
  2. Don’t underestimate the reach of the Conficker Working Group. These are the security industry’s heavy-hitters, and you can be sure they are working diligently to mitigate the domain issue.
  3. Even though there are 50,000 domains to look at, they are being closely monitored, and if any malicious servers do appear, they will likely be taken down or null-routed very quickly.
  4. If the author(s) of Conficker planned some massive update of malicious code, they certainly wouldn’t do it on the one day everyone is watching for it.

I share Stewart's personal opinion that the April 1st activation of the new algorithm may simply be a distraction, a kind of practical joke on the part of the worm author(s). Conficker may not be something to laugh about, but it’s also not quite as serious as one might believe from reading about it in many of the articles written so far.

For those of you that are truly worried about it then the best bet is having a good offense. You need to make sure both your operating system and your security are updated. The worm originally was spread through exploitation of the MS08-067 vulnerability in Windows. You need to make sure you have installed the latest patch.

If you believe you might be infected then try one of these tools.

McAfee just released this Stinger build today, and says it will update it on a daily basis to include new Conficker variants.

On a further related note Symantec researcher John Parks today warned users that searching for Conficker might actually led to infectious sites. By using Google and simply searching for "Conficker C," Parks found result that included a link to an infected site being used to spread a fake antivirus program. Following the malicious link eventually lead to a rogue application installation website which tried to install a maliciuos piece of software.

Nonprofit Uses YouTube To Raise $10k In One Day

youtube logoAccording to a recent YouTube blog post non profit organization Charity: Water utilized a new feature on YouTube called "Call to Action" to raise more than $10,000 in a single day. The new feature allows non profit and charity organizations to use InVideo overlays to drive traffic to an off-YouTube web site, where they can collect signatures, email addresses, or even donations.

On Sunday, to commemorate World Water Day, YouTube featured a video from charity:water on the YouTube homepage. The video included a Call to Action overlay that encouraged YouTube users to donate money to help build wells and provide clean, safe drinking water for those who don't have it.

Charity:Water asked for a $20 per person donation to fund clean water solutions like shallow wells, deep wells, rainwater harvesting systems, and spring protections to provide people in need with clean and safe drinking water. Thanks to viewers, charity:water was able to raise over $10,000 in one day from the video. That's enough to build two brand-new wells in the Central African Republic and give over 150 people clean drinking water for 20 years!

DTV Transition Delay Is An Epic Fail

Two months ago the US government decided to delay the DTV transition, stating that they didn't want to leave behind the 6.5 million households that still weren't entirely ready for the change over. Despite those delays and the addition of $650 million in funding Nielsen is reporting that more than 4.2 million homes are still unready for the transition. Making the DTV delay utterly pointless and a complete failure.

Congress passed legislation in February to delay the transition from Feb. 17 to June 12 and give the NTIA an additional $650 million for converter box coupons and consumer education. The hope was that the delay would clear a backlog of coupon requests after the NTIA's $1.3 billion budget for coupons was used up. Despite the fact that the waiting list for coupons has been cleared it is estimated that only a third of the original 6.5 million households have acted and taken steps to ready themselves for the transition.

Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), reiterated that he never supported the delay to June 12. "I remain convinced that the nation would have survived sticking with the original transition date," Shapiro said. "More importantly, our most recent survey data leaves me more optimistic that the nation is fully prepared for a successful and consumer-friendly transition on June 12.

Several Republican lawmakers share the view that the DTV delay wasn't needed. Already, about a third of U.S. TV stations have converted to digital broadcasts, and most have received few complaints, said Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican. "The sky did not fall," he added.

Yet more lawmakers questioned the need for the additional funding when about 95 percent of U.S. households were ready for the original transition date in February. "There's always going to be a certain percentage of people who are not ready," said Representative Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican.

It appears as though delay has had little to no impact.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

AMD Demonstrates Optimized Executions of Havok Middleware on AMD platforms

amd logoAMD Demonstrates Optimized Executions of Havok Middleware on AMD platforms

Balanced Platform of CPU + GPU Processing Delivers Optimal Game Experience

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- March 26, 2009 --Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. and Havok, the premier provider of interactive software for physics simulation and content development, are presenting new, optimized executions of Havok’s physics middleware on AMD platforms at the 2009 Game Developers Conference. The demonstrations include the first OpenCL supported execution of Havok Cloth™.

Havok offers a complete modular suite of products that help visual and interactive content developers create more realistic games and cinematic special effects. As the latest software developer to take advantage of ATI Stream technology to leverage multi-core architectures and accelerate execution of highly parallel functions, like real-time cloth simulation, Havok will enable game developers to offer improved performance and interactivity across a broad range of OpenCL capable PCs. AMD has recently introduced optimized platform technologies, such as “Dragon” desktop platform technology, which balance performance between the CPU and GPU with ATI Stream technology to deliver outstanding value.

“Havok is committed to delivering highly optimized cross-platform solutions to our game customers and we are pleased to be working with AMD to ensure that gamers enjoy a great user experience when running Havok-powered games on AMD platforms,” said David Coghlan, vice president of development for Havok. “Unlocking the parallel processing capability of AMD’s hardware provides real advantages to our customers, and the greater the total computing resources available, the better the gaming experience developers can deliver.”

"Havok’s awesome toolset has allowed us to deliver astonishing physics interactions in our games, including detailed real-time destruction and complex ragdoll models, and we are excited about using ATI Stream technology to pursue more astounding in-game accomplishments,” said Andrey Iones, chief operating officer of Saber Interactive. “We are excited that AMD and Havok are working together and leveraging an open standard like OpenCL.”

Additional detail on ATI Stream technology can be found at www.amd.com/stream.

Source: AMD Press Release

NVIDIA Files Countersuit Against Intel

nvidia logoNVIDIA Files Countersuit Against Intel
Seeks Termination of Intel's License to NVIDIA Technology

SANTA CLARA, CA. — MARCH 26, 2009 — NVIDIA Corporation today announced that it has filed a countersuit in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware against Intel Corporation for breach of contract. The action also seeks to terminate Intel's license to NVIDIA's valuable patent portfolio.

NVIDIA's countersuit was brought in response to a filing by Intel last month in the Delaware court, alleging that the four-year-old chipset license agreement does not extend to Intel's future generation CPUs with "integrated" memory controllers, such as its Nehalem processor.

"NVIDIA did not initiate this legal dispute," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "But we must defend ourselves and the rights we negotiated for when we provided Intel access to our valuable patents. Intel's actions are intended to block us from making use of the very license rights that they agreed to provide."

NVIDIA entered into the disputed agreement in 2004 to bring platform innovations to Intel CPU- based systems. In return, Intel took a license to NVIDIA's rich portfolio of 3D, GPU, and other computing patents. NVIDIA had been attempting for more than a year to resolve the disagreement with Intel in a fair and reasonable manner.

To read Intel's initial filing, go to:

To read NVIDIA's response and counterclaim, go to:

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

New Ransomware "FileFix Pro 2009" Holds PCs Hostage

A nasty new piece of "ransomware" has been circulating the web taking PCs hostage with demands of a $50 payment for the restoration of corrupted files.

AVG Internet SecurityRansomeware (aka "scareware") is nothing new, in fact variants have been cruising the web in the form of fake antivirus programs for years. The phony AV programs which include several variants of "AntiVirus 2009" aka know as AV 2009 (the name changes yearly) have been very lucrative for hackers with some hackers reportedly making as much as $5 million a year.

With the old scams gaining attention and many sites trying to get the word out that these fake programs are actually the real culprit. The scammers had to upgrade their tactics. And it now looks like they've done just that. The newest version of "ransomware" are now posing as a "file repair application".

It all begins when a user is dupped into installing a malicous piece of software, typically from a fake active X script, a fake software update or a pop-up box. The file contains a Trojan which can then download and install other pieces of software, or carry out some malicious tasks on its own. The malicious software starts by encrypting several different document types on the infected PC. These files range from Microsoft Word .doc files to Adobe Reader .pdf documents. It also scrambles all the files in Windows' "My Documents" folder.

When an unsuspecting user tries to open one of the encrypted files the virus comes to life and an alert pops up saying that a utility called FileFix Pro 2009 will unscramble the data. The message appears to be a legitimate "semi-official" looking notice from the operating system: "Windows detected that some of your MS Office and media files are corrupted. Click here to download and install recommended file repair application," the message reads.

Clicking on the alert downloads and installs FileFix Pro, but the utility is anything but legit. It will decrypt only one of the corrupted files for free, then demands the user purchase the software at a price of $50.

Users who have fallen for the FileFix Pro 2009 con do not have to fork over cash to restore their files, according to other researchers, who have figured out how to decrypt the data. The Bleeping Computer site, for instance, has a free program called "Anti FileFix" available for download that unscrambles files corrupted by the Trojan. And security company FireEye Inc. has created a free online decrypter that also returns files to their original condition.

Dell Smartphone Rumors Confirmed

Following many rumors and speculation Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computer, has confirmed that Dell has been working on a smartphone or MID. According to reports from EWeek Dell confirmed these rumors during a presentation in Japan. This is reportedly the first official confirmation to come from either Michael Dell or Dell corporate confirming the company was in fact working on a smaller form factor device.

"It is true that we are exploring smaller-screen devices," said Michael Dell, during a presentation in Japan. “We don't have any announcements to share today, but stay tuned as when we have new news we will share that with you."

While exact details of a possible new device have not yet been released there have been reports that Dell is working on prototypes with both Microsoft Windows and Google Android operations systems.

Michael Dell said, "For the last three years, we have integrated 3G radios into our notebooks. We already have agreements with many mobile carriers around netbook devices, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that we would have smaller mobile Internet devices or smartphones in the future.”

Windows 7 RC1 Might Be Ready By May

According to reports by ComputerWorld Microsoft is prepping for a May release of Windows 7 RC1. The report cites information posted on the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) download page on Microsoft's TechNet site, which at this time no longer appears to be there.

According to ComputerWorld the site originally showed a date of "May 2009," and spelled out several details about the upcoming public preview.

"You don't need to rush to get Windows 7 RC," the download page reads. "The RC release will be available at least through June 2009 and we're not limiting the number of product keys, so you have plenty of time."

ComputerWorld is not alone in reporting the possible release date. Neowin.net was lucky enough to grab a screenshot of the site before it was reverted back to where it is now. Neowin believed the RC will actually be ready in April for testers and should be available publicly in May if the screenshot is correct.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Skype Holds 8% Market Share, Becomes World's Largest Provider Of Long Distance Communications

skype logoAccording to telecommunications market researcher TeleGeography VoIP provider Skype now holds an impressive 8% market share of the world's long distance calling making the company the world's largest provider of long distance communications.

Skype showed an increase of 41 percent over a year earlier overall accounting for around 33 billion minutes of international voice calls.

"Skype's traffic growth has been remarkable," TeleGeography analyst Stephan Becket said in a statement. "Only five years after its launch, Skype has emerged as the largest provider of cross-border voice communications in the world."

Of the 33 billion minutes used roughly 25 billion are free "Skype-to-Skype" traffic with roughly 8 billion minutes coming as part of the paid "Skype Out" service. This has resulted in a lack of revenue growth for the company that is currently owned by eBay. eBay bought the company back in 2005 amidst skepticism over the meshing of the two companies.

Skype's president, Josh Silverman, said Skype had posted a 20 percent net income last year, on $550 million in sales in 2008. Silverman predicted that the calling service's sales would more than double to more than $1 billion in 2011.

The company, which has largerly target home users, is now seeking to expand into the business market with the recent announcement of the SkypeSIP Beta. SIP, short for Session Initiation Protocol, is an open standard and the leading voice over Internet protocol used in businesses telephony networks at millions of locations globally. Skype For SIP allows SIP PBX owners to benefit from Skype's low cost calls to fixed phones and mobiles around the world, and to receive calls from Skype users directly into their PBX system.

Sun Offers Up Cash Prizes In JavaFX Coding Challenge

Looking to promote its JavaFX rich Internet application development library Sun has launched a new contest, the JavaFX Coding Challenge. Sun is willing to put out some serious cash hoping to draw the attention of top Java developers with first prize being $25,000, $10,000 for second place and even $5,000 if you come third. There is also a separate Students category with three prizes of $1,500 each.

How to Enter
  1. Register for the contest to receive updates and reminders via email (contest related communications only).
  2. Download JavaFX 1.1
  3. Develop an innovative rich internet application using JavaFX 1.1 and NetBeans 6.5.
  4. Complete the submission form.


  • 1st Place: $25,000
  • 2nd Place: $10,000
  • 3rd Place: $5,000

Student category: We will award three prizes at $1,500 each to the top three applications submitted by students. Student submissions will compete for the larger prize amounts as well, but only one prize per entry will be awarded.

Up to 100 honorable mention prizes of a $25 Amazon Gift certificate will be rewarded. (Restrictions apply for international users.)

Contest Guidelines and Rules

  • All entries must be submitted as a Netbeans project containing the JavaFX 1.1 application.
  • Entry must be supported on at least one of the following: (i) Windows XP SP3, FireFox 3.0, JRE 1.6u12 (or above); (ii) Windows Vista, Firefox 3.0, JRE 1.6u12 (or above); (iii) MacOS 10.5.4, Safari 3, Java SE 1.6.0_07 (or above); (iv) JavaFX 1.1 Mobile Emulator (or above).
  • Each entrant will be required to provide their full name, email address, physical address, and country of residency, and whether the entrant is a Student or Developer (for all team members).
  • Each entrant will be required to provide a short description of the Entry, including a description of the Entry, the key points about the Entry's functionality, an explanation of how to run the Entry's code, and the specific supported platforms.
  • Each entrant will be required to submit all applicable source materials required to re-create the "usable" form and run the application or utility. NOTE: Any Entries with "source materials" that fail to create a "usable form" will be disqualified.
  • Participants using third party open source libraries and/or code in their application, are required to identify the applicable third party open source license(s) and certify that they have complied with the terms of license(s).
  • Applications must be developed as a JavaFX desktop application that works both within a browser as an applet and on the desktop as a standalone application, and/or a JavaFX mobile application.
  • All developed applications, written materials, and reviews must be of your own original creation, created solely by the Entrant(s) in English and must not infringe the copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other intellectual rights of any person or entity.
  • All applications, written materials and reviews must remain accessible through June 30th, 2009.
  • All Entrants must be of majority legal age in their country and a legal resident of one of the following countries; Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, a European Union member state, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela.

For a complete list of The Contest Guidelines, please review The Contest Rules.

  • Contest starts: March 23rd, 2009
  • Contest deadline: May 29th, 2009
  • Judging period: June 1st – June 29th, 2009
  • Winners announced: Week of June 29th, 2009


If you are a student at an accredited college or university, you can participate in the JavaFX Coding Contest and qualify to win one of the top prizes. There is a special category for students with additional prizes. We will award three prizes at $1,500 each to the top three applications submitted by students. Student submissions will compete for the larger prize amounts as well, but only one prize per entry will be awarded.

If you participate as a student, you must be able to prove enrollment in an educational institution.

For more information checkout the JavaFX Coding Challenege website and FAQs

Woz Lives To Dance Another Day

In spite of the fact they received the lowest scores ever following their debut on ABC's hit show Dancing With The Stars, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and his partner last survived last night's elimination and will dance another week.

The Woz posted a message to his Facebook page this morning credited, and thanking, fans for saving him from his second sudden-death "dance-off" in two weeks. Last week Wozniak and his partner were forced into a dance off against Belinda Carlisle, former lead singer for the Go-Go's, because they were the celebrities who received the lowest combined scores after the first two weeks of the program.

"It's obvious that with the lowest judges' score, friends and fans who voted over and over and over for us did save us, and prove their existence to the producers of Dancing with the Stars," Wozniak said. "I am eternally grateful to so many of you who gathered groups of friends and got them to vote on all their phones as many times as allowed."

Actress Denise Richards was the celebrity dancer sent home Tuesday night.

Wozniak and the remaining celebrities can be seen dancing it up next Monday, March 30, when the show airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC. If the events of the last few weeks are any indication supporters will need to be at the ready to vote to keep The Woz safe.

New NVIDIA APEX Technology Accelerates Physics Creation Pipeline For Content Developers

GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE (GDC)—SAN FRANCISCO, CA—MARCH 25, 2009—NVIDIA Corporation today announced NVIDIA APEX, a dramatic new capability to its PhysX technology development software development kit (SDK), that provides artists, level designers, and game developers with a set of easy-to-use tools that streamline the process of implementing scalable physics across multiple platforms for next-generation titles.

With NVIDIA PhysX technology, game developers can design worlds that literally come to life: walls can be torn down, glass can be shattered, trees bend in the wind, and water flows with body and force. Designed as a modular framework that works in concert with existing PhysX SDKs, NVIDIA APEX makes it easy for developers to add detailed physics effects to their games and helps them optimize the gaming experience across multiple platforms with a simple “author once” cross platform content creation feature. This enables APEX to not only help developers accelerate the time it takes to author new games, but will also help them reduce overall development costs in the process. The APEX toolset will be available free of charge for licensed NVIDIA PhysX developers and is already being integrated into some of the world’s most popular development libraries and game engines, including Emergent Game Technologies’ Gamebryo LightSpeed.

Once you know you Newegg

“APEX is a powerful addition to NVIDIA PhysX technology,” said Geoffrey Selzer, CEO of Emergent Game Technologies. “World-class technology, however, is only one piece of the solution. We chose to partner with NVIDIA for APEX/LightSpeed integrations due to their combination of best-of-breed technology and their culture of being of service to the industry which parallels our own. NVIDIA’s commitment to partners, technology, and developers has been demonstrated not only through collaborative relationships like ours, but through their holistic point-of-view about what the industry needs to thrive. PhysX, APEX, and LightSpeed will provide a breakthrough for designers, artists and engineers reenergizing creativity in the game industry.”

Another key component of APEX is the support for new plug-in modules, each of which provide a “high level” interface enabling artists and level designers to facilitate turnkey physics content creation with little or no programmer involvement. At GDC, NVIDIA is showcasing three new modules— destruction, clothing, and vegetation—each adding specific game dynamics functionality for fully-featured content authoring. Available for use on all major gaming platforms including the PC; Xbox360, PLAYSTATION 3 and Nintendo Wii, additional APEX modules are in development by NVIDIA and APEX developer partners.

“We are adding PhysX support to SpeedTree 5.0, the latest version of our award-winning foliage software,” said IDV CEO Chris King. “By integrating support for the new NVIDIA PhysX APEX vegetation module, SpeedTree 5.0 is providing developers a simplified approach for adding amazingly interactive, natural trees and plants to their game environments. The next round of games is going to achieve an incredible new degree of realism, and we are very proud to be involved.”

“Physics has become a significant element of game play experience and NVIDIA is committed to enabling as many developers as possible to deliver the most realistic game experiences,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “With the growing importance of physics, we believe that all games and every developer should have the best tools to be creative in this realm. With NVIDIA PhysX technology and APEX, physics-based game design just moved from the programmer to artist, which we believe will result in a new level of truly compelling and realistic games in the future.”

Once You Know, You Newegg

Attendees at GDC are invited to see a live demonstration of NVIDIA APEX at the NVIDIA booth (#656 in the West Hall), and to attend the APEX: The Quickest Path to High Definition Dynamics Content presentation being held in room 3016 in the West Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

For more information on NVIDIA PhysX and APEX technologies, please visit: developer.nvidia.com.

Source: NVIDIA Press Release

Seagate Introduces BlackArmor NAS 420 And NAS 440

seagate logoSeagate Introduces BlackArmor Family Of Storage Solutions For Small Business New products include BlackArmor NAS 440 and BlackArmor NAS 420 storage servers with up to 8TB of capacity

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. - March 24, 2009 - Demonstrating its ongoing commitment to provide small businesses with solutions that meet both current and future storage needs, Seagate, the world’s leading provider of storage solutions, today announced a complete portfolio of products designed to protect data for sustained business continuity and optimum uptime. First introduced in 2008 as a portable Full Disk Encryption drive, the new Seagate BlackArmor product line is the family name for a suite of network-attached, workstation and portable storage solutions designed to meet the digital asset management needs of small business professionals.

Designed as a simple, easy-to-install and easy-to-manage solution for businesses with little or no IT support, BlackArmor storage solutions are perfect for small office environments with up to 50 employees as well as self-employed professionals. Additionally, the BlackArmor line of solutions provides software management tools that are compatible across the family, providing a consistent user experience and future growth path with minimal training or the need for additional support.

“With increasing economic pressures, small businesses and home offices may become even more likely to have limited or no on-site IT support and many will be reassessing their IT environments,” said Ryan Brock, AMI Partners’ vice president of Channels. “Cost-effective, easy-to-use solutions that offer data security and reliability along with a strategic growth path and single-vendor support will be very attractive to this customer base.”

The first two products to be announced for this new family of small business storage solutions are the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 and BlackArmor NAS 420 servers, which are designed to provide organizations with a centralized, secure way to manage their business-critical information. Each is a four-bay NAS device, populated with Seagate disk drives. In the case of the BlackArmor NAS 420, it comes with two drives in a four drive chassis. The BlackArmor NAS 440 comes fully populated with four drives. Capacities vary from 2TB in the BlackArmor NAS 420, to a maximum capacity of 8TB in the BlackArmor NAS 440.

Unparalleled Security, Accessibility and Peace of Mind
For companies of any size, keeping business data accessible and secure is vital to maintaining the confidence of their customers, partners and employees. Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 and Seagate BlackArmor NAS 420 network storage servers help companies ensure they operate efficiently, while keeping their business data secure, available, accessible and protected. Seagate’s years of experience developing robust, secure storage solutions offers customers the right blend of features to meet immediate and future business needs:

  • Ease of Use: Self-contained, out-of-the box solutions with on-board LCD Screen, displaying settings and status information – including event alerts – and intuitive management utility for easy configuration and data access;
  • Protection: Delivers continuous and automatic backup of business-critical data on up to 50 networked computers(1) with full-system backup and RAID options to help provide data protection and redundancy;
  • Security: Individual file to entire volume encryption with intuitive software management for access control at file and folder level with password protection and encryption; included bare metal restore and recovery CD to protect against hardware failure.
  • Flexibility: Offers the ability to scale from two to four drive configuration with two, four, six and eight terabytes of storage so companies can pick the right solution to meet their business requirements;
  • Accessibility: When away from the office, customers can access and share business content securely from the road with an Internet browser without any extra installs or software. Companies can invite colleagues and clients to access select files and folders without needing an FTP site, while keeping their firewall intact and maintaining the security of their network;
  • Continuity: Designed with hot swappable, user-serviceable drives and RAID options to enhance performance and scalability, the BlackArmor 440 and 420 network storage servers help ensure business continuity. The four USB ports can be can be used to attach external USB drives for offsite rotation in order to guard against the consequences of natural disasters; BlackArmor network storage servers also ship with an external power supply and user-serviceable fan to cover foreseeable failure points and thus minimize downtime.
  • Investment Protection: Part of an all-inclusive small business storage portfolio, which offers interoperability amongst all products and strategic storage growth path. Each customer’s purchase has a three-year limited warranty and the peace of mind of knowing their business is backed by a storage industry leader.

Technical Specifications and Pricing
Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 and BlackArmor NAS 420 network servers support Windows® XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later. Both network servers can be purchased through channel partners and select retailers at the following manufacturers’ suggested retail prices (MSRP):

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 420 network servers – four-bay, two drive configuration
$799.99 USD for 2TB
Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 network servers – four-bay, four drive configuration
$1,199.99 USD for 4TB, $1,699.99 USD for 6TB and $1,999.99 USD for 8TB scheduled available for May.

For Additional Product Information and Related Multimedia Content:
http://media.seagate.com/ seagate-blackarmor-media-kit

To Subscribe to Seagate Technology’s RSS Feeds:

More detailed information about the Seagate BlackArmor family of solutions can be found at www.seagate.com/blackarmor.

Source: Seagate Press Release

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AMD Announces Next-Generation, Platform-Agnostic Tools for Increased Game Development Efficiency

amd logoGPU PerfStudio 2.0 offers developers new features and flexibility to help cut development time and improve game performance -

SUNNYVALE, CALIF. -- March 25, 2009 --AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced the availability of GPU PerfStudio 2.0, a free, platform-agnostic, next-generation AMD graphics application development tool for game developers, obtainable through a closed beta program. GPU PerfStudio 2.0 has been designed from the ground up to easily integrate with existing projects, and help to identify and resolve performance issues early in the development cycle. With these tools, AMD is bringing its unparalleled understanding of 3D graphics technology and the leadership of its line of ATI Radeon™ graphics cards to bear on the development process.

"The GPU PerfStudio 2.0 suite of tools is extensive, customizable and, most importantly, based on open standards, which is critical for developers looking to integrate them into their existing workflows," said Neal Robison, director, Developer Relations, Graphics Products Group, AMD. "AMD is committed to arming developers with a full complement of hardware and development tools that help increase their development efficiency and improve 3D performance quality."

New Features Help Reduce Development Time
With GPU PerfStudio 2.0, AMD is introducing a newly written GPU Performance Analysis tool and an extensive feature set including:

  • Frame Debugger, allowing developers to freeze applications on a single frame for detailed inspection;
  • Shader Debugger, for the live debugging of HLSL and ASM pixel shaders;
  • and Frame Profiler, which quickly identifies performance bottlenecks and optimization opportunities.

In internal testing of GPU PerfStudio 2.0, AMD software engineers measured significant time savings when searching for and resolving issues within games.

The new tools are immediately accessible to all game developers, requiring no modifications to existing code. GPU PerfStudio 2.0 delivers instant benefits to developers, enabling them to quickly identify algorithm and performance issues early in the development process, avoiding the hassle of discovering problems later in the development cycle and having to re-code particular game segments to get around them.

Flexible support, including the latest DirectX® 10.1 games
GPU PerfStudio 2.0 offers a number of unique capabilities that set it apart from other application development tools offered today, including support for DirectX® 10.1 enabling the production of the most advanced gaming titles possible today.

GPU PerfStudio 2.0 also offers platform flexibility with native support for 32-bit and 64-bit applications, including the ability to debug 32-bit applications on a 64-bit system. Developers also have the freedom to run GPU PerfStudio 2.0 on a different system from the application being debugged for a more flexible workflow.

The new tools also makes navigating often complicated cross-vendor development issues a thing of the past, taking a platform-agnostic approach to hardware support. No custom drivers are required in order to utilize the full feature set available on ATI Radeon graphics processors - GPU PerfStudio 2.0 works with the shipping ATI Catalyst™ driver.

GPU PerfStudio 2.0 is free for all developers and is available through a closed beta program. Interested developers may contact AMD at PerfStudio.Beta@amd.com

Source: AMD Press Release

Google Now Accepting Applications For Summer Of Code 2009

Google has begun accepting applications for their fifth Summer of Code. The company is inviting students to apply for the program through April 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST. If you're interested in learning more, check out Google's Frequently Asked Questions.

About Google Summer of Code
Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects. The GSoC has worked with several open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund several projects over a three month period. Since its inception in 2005, the program has brought together nearly 2500 students and 2500 mentors & co-mentors from nearly 100 countries worldwide.

Through Google Summer of Code, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios and the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers. Best of all, more source code is created and released for the use and benefit of all.

This year student participants have more than 150 open source software and technology–related projects to choose from when submitting their applications, from operating systems to content management systems. Successful students will receive a stipend of 4500 USD for their participation in the program.

For more details visit the Google Open Source Blog, the GSoC 2009 Site or read more at the Official Google Blog.

Hitachi Delivers New Power-efficient Enterprise Hard Drive

First Hitachi Ultrastar Drive to Feature 6Gb/s SAS Interface for Improved Performance and Configuration Flexibility

SAN JOSE, Calif. – March 24, 2009Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) today introduced its second-generation small form factor enterprise hard drive, the 10K RPM Ultrastar C10K300. The new Hitachi drive is optimized for the power and performance requirements of rack-mounted servers and networked storage arrays. Built using proven Hitachi power management technology, the Ultrastar C10K300 delivers the low power specifications that are of primary importance in today’s data centers. The new drives are offered in 147GB and 300GB capacities and ship with a dual-port 6Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface, which delivers 100 percent faster data throughput than its 3Gb/s predecessor. The new industry-standard SAS interface also improves signal strength over greater physical distances, allowing IT managers to deploy larger, more complex storage infrastructures.

The Ultrastar C10K300 is designed to provide higher server/storage density through compact 2.5-inch design, a low-power profile and improved thermal characteristics. The small form factor drive occupies 70 percent less physical space and consumes up to 65 percent less power than similar 3.5-inch enterprise drives.

Advanced Power Management

The Ultrastar C10K300 is the company’s first enterprise-class drive to incorporate Advanced Power Management capabilities, which has previously allowed Hitachi to achieve best-in-class power efficiency on its popular Deskstar family of products. The technology provides IT managers with multiple power mode options so that performance requirements can be achieved using the lowest possible energy expenditure. The Advanced Power Management implementation in the Ultrastar C10K300 delivers a best-in-class idle power specification of 3.4 watts and 6.1 watts in active operating mode.

Newegg The Ultrastar C10K300 uses halogen-reduced components to support the “green” computing initiatives that are of increasing importance in today’s data centers. The drive has earned the Hitachi EcoTrac classification, used to describe products that minimize environmental impact in the areas of product design, manufacturing, operation and disposal.

“Space constraints and low power considerations in data centers have driven the transition to blade servers that rely on small form factor enterprise hard drives. The Ultrastar C10K300 is positioned to capitalize on and accelerate this trend with significant improvements in performance, power efficiency and configuration flexibility,” said Brendan Collins, vice president, Product Marketing, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. “The new drive delivers the quality and reliability that our enterprise customers have come to expect from Hitachi.”

SAS 6Gb/s Performance

Fast response time is critical for a wide range of enterprise applications, including online transaction processing, real-time business analytics and timely delivery of data-intensive content-on-demand such as multiple channels of streaming video. The increased transfer rate of the new SAS interface operating at 6Gb/s is ideal for meeting these challenges. The new serial interface is fully backward compatible with existing 3Gb/s devices to provide enterprise customers with exceptional configuration flexibility and investment protection.

The drives feature average seek times as low as 3.9 milliseconds and the fast rotational speeds reduce average latency time to 3 milliseconds, enabling customers to access data more quickly and efficiently.

Built for Reliability

The Ultrastar C10K300 is built on a mature design platform to ensure greater reliability and reduced qualification times. The drive includes a host of industrial-strength technologies designed to maximize reliability in mission-critical environments. Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motors deliver a low acoustic rating and improved data integrity, while Rotational Vibration Safeguard (RVS) technology anticipates and counteracts disturbances that can occur in multi-drive configurations. In addition, the Ultrastar C10K300 uses Hitachi-patented head load/unload ramp to minimize integration induced drive damage.

The Ultrastar C10K300 is now shipping to customers worldwide.

Steamworks Makes DRM Obsolete

steam logoSuite of Services Expands With Customer Executable Generation (CEG), Support for DLC, Matchmaking, and More

March 24, 2009 - Valve today announced a new set of advanced features delivered in Steamworks, a complete suite of publishing and development tools that are available free of charge to developers and publishers worldwide.

buy.comHeadlining the new feature set is the Custom Executable Generation (CEG) technology that compliments the already existing anti-piracy solution offered in Steamworks. A customer friendly approach to anti-piracy, CEG makes unique copies of games for each user allowing them to access the application on multiple machines without install limits and without having to install root kits on their PC.

The new features also include support for in-game downloadable content (DLC) and matchmaking. The in-game DLC support allows developers to deliver new content as they choose (paid or free) from inside the game itself, allowing users to make immediate purchases and experience the new content in the same game session. The Steamworks matchmaking now includes the robust lobby system shipped and tested in Left 4 Dead.

"Delivering this extension of services on Steamworks first anniversary, demonstrates our commitment to continually develop the platform to better serve the community working with these tools," said Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve. "As we roll out these features, we continue to look for new ways make PC games easier to create and better for customers to experience."

buy.comSteamworks was launched in early 2008 and has already shipped in products distributed at retail and electronically with major PC releases such as Empire: Total War, Dawn of War II, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and Football Manager 2009.

The Steamworks services are offered free of charge to developers and publishers around the world. In addition to the services added in this spring's extension, Steamworks offers support for Steam Achievements, Steam Community, Auto Updating, Statistics, Steam Cloud and more.

Steamworks is fully integrated with the Steam, a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC games that has grown to reach 20 million accounts throughout the world, up from 15 million accounts just one year ago. Steam now offers over 500 applications to gamers in every country of the world.

For more information, please visit www.steamgames.com

Source: SteamWorks Press Release