Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Google To Provide Details On Government Censorship Requests

Google today has announced details of a new tool that will outline worldwide government request to remove content from their servers.

The new Government Requests tool will provide everyone with information about the requests for user data or content removal Google has received from various government agencies around the world. As of today's launch Google is only providing data from July-December, 2009, with plans to update the data in 6-month increments.

In his post David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, says "Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services. Of course many of these requests are entirely legitimate, such as requests for the removal of child pornography. We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data. Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship."

The map shows the number of requests that Google has received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, with certain limitations.

Google says these numbers are imperfect and may not provide a complete picture of the overall total number of government requests. For example, the US has a total of 3580 data requests and 123 removal requests. Each request may represent more the removal of more than one URL or for the disclosure of information for multiple users. Meaning these numbers may actually be higher than estimated.

See the FAQ for more information.

Mozilla Begins Disabling Unsafe Older Versions of Java Deployment Toolkit

That annoying pop-up you keep seeing asking you to disable the older versions of the Java Deployment Toolkit plug-in in your Firefox web browser are not spyware, malware or some fancy virus. According to security expert Brian Krebs its actually an attempt by Mozilla to "block attacks against a newly-discovered Java security hole that attackers have been exploiting of late to install malicious code."

In a post on his blog, Krebs, details the issue:

By default, installing Java automatically installs the Java Deployment Toolkit plug-in into Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's browsers. While Oracle Corp. has pushed out an update to its Java software to fix a dangerous security flaw in the program the update does not remove the older un-secure versions of the plug-in. Even uninstalling Java itself can actually leave the plug-in behind.

It has been advised that you go ahead and disable any older versions of the Jave Deployment Toolkit either through the pop-up or by manually going to Tools, Add-ons, click the Plugins and selecting the Toolkit, then hit the “Disable” button.

Here's a full list of Add-ons/Plug-ins Mozilla has blocklisted and the reasons why.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Buy Cheap Pre-owned Games at 7-Eleven

7-Eleven has teamed up with Game Trading Technologies to introduce the 'Great Games Below $20' program. The new program will be available at some 50 percent of the U.S. stores operated and franchised by 7-Eleven Inc, which amounts to roughly 3,000 U.S. Stores nationwide.

"What this means to consumers is that they will have many convenient locations, most open 24/7, to buy value-priced video games," said Todd Hays, president and CEO of Game Trading Technologies, Inc. "The program is available to all 7-Eleven U.S. franchisees, and we hope to have most U.S. stores on board by September."

Games will be available on various platforms at varying costs below $19.99.

Android Users Register Now For Flash and Air for Android Betas

Adobe has posted notification sign-up pages for Android beta versions of its upcoming Flash Player 10.1 and AIR products. Originally announced in February, Adobe's AIR for mobile devices is based on Flash Player 10.1, which the company says is optimized "for high performance on mobile devices".

Users interested in trying the Flash Player 10.1 Beta for Android and AIR for Android Beta can register for email notification of the start of beta testing. Registration requires an Adobe membership.

Adobe membership is free and allows members access to Adobe Labs downloads, sample applications, services, and special community areas including forums and wikis as well as access to membership benefits on Adobe.com.

iFixit Tears Apart The New 15" MacBook Pro

Those geeks over at iFixit are at it again, this time tearing down the new 15" Apple MacBook Pro. These newly announced Intel Core i5 MacBook's feature new a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared level 3 cache, 4 GB of 1066 MHz DD3 SDRAM a 15.4 inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display powered by Intel HD Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 256 MB of GDD3 RAM.

Even if you aren't an Apple FanBoy its always cool to see the inner workings of the newest toys on the market. So I suggest that everyone check out iFixit's step-by-step instructions and full gallery of images, especially if you like seeing a lot of aluminum and silicon.

Further reading

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Will An Adobe Vs Apple Lawsuit Lead To An Open App Store?

Rumors are mounting that Adobe is fed up with Apple's tight fisted strangle hold approach to the App Store. In fact many believe that Adobe might be ready to test the waters in court. A move which might force Apple's hand and loosen the monopoly in place.

At issue is the duo’s feud over Adobe’s Flash technology which as of now Apple has refused to let Adobe’s Flash technology anywhere near the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad system. As of last week Apple basically disallowed anything built on or around Adobe flash. Now Adobe is crying foul over Apple’s decision to not only prevent Flash on the iPhone OS, but also to ban iPhone/iPad apps that were created by converting Flash applications.

This is seems might be the straw that broke the camels back. When Apple released their iPhone OS 4 update they also updated their iPhone SDK developer agreement to rule out the use of cross-compilers like Adobe’s Flash Packager for iPhone – which basically converts Flash apps into native iPhone apps. The updated language in the iPhone OS 4.0 SDK essentially bans any iPhone apps that started their lives as Flash apps.

According to ITWorld sources close to the matter are suggesting that a lawsuit from Adobe is coming in the next few weeks. Officially Adobe's won't make statements about such actions, but there's no question that Adobe wants their slice of the Apple pie.

Apple's Monopoly May Come To An End

The argument that may be the end all for Apple's strangle hold over the App store is that by limiting how and what platforms developers use they are restricting competition with their market share. I've read that Apple accounts for over 90% of all mobile app purchases (personally I think that's an over inflated number), even if the Android market is heating up and other platforms are coming along. With more than 50 million iPhone users, 35 million iPod Touch users, and the growing segment of iPad users they account for a huge share of the market, and by ruling their market with an iron fist they may be opening the door to the anti-trust arguments.

Not only are they blocking Flash but by blocking the flash to iPhone compiler they are effectively blocking several apps that are already built, in the works or slated to be designed. Apple has made no qualms about rejecting apps in the past, but the majority of those haven't had the backing Adobe can muster. If Adobe decides to push the issue and get the courts involved Apple may be forced to loosen their grip which in turn could open the doors for many of those banned apps.

My Thoughts

One thing is for sure it will be interesting to see where things go. Personally I'd like to see the grip that Apple holds loosened a bit. I don't see many other companies out there that have been given the leeway they have when it comes to their reign over the App store. MS faces anti-trust suites constantly over IE, and other proprietary software, yet Apple can ban and block access to Apps like Google Voice, FireFox and others simply because they feel they duplicate apps already loaded on their devices??

New OGON Designs Wallet Protects Against RFID Identity Thieves and Skimmers

OGON Designs has created a new credit card wallet that protects your cards from electronic identity theft and protects the electro-magnetic strip from demagnetization. The aluminum shell protects personal data that could be stolen via special low cost radio scanners, making OGON’s technology far more efficient and threatening against advanced thieves. OGON wallets protects against this infiltration while keeping cards in healthy condition.

These fashionably designed wallets are meant to fit comfortably in a pocket, backpack or briefcase however the hard aluminum case means that most guys like me will likely have to carry them in either a coat pocket or briefcase. The rugged aluminum out shell is great but it also means you can't slide them into a back pocket and it means its a bit clunky for a shirt pocket.

With an overall size of 11cm x 7.5 cm x 1.7 cm, you have plenty of room for up to 7 credit cards and or ID's and if you leave an open slot or two there is plenty of room at add in a few bills in case you want to carry some cash. These little wallets are lightweight at 2.47 ounces, making them ideal for a ladies purse or as mentioned  a mans coat or jacket pocket.

The new Ă–GON Designs Credit Card Wallets retails for $39.00 - $59.00 and come in a wide variety of colors including black, gold, silver, grey, orange, red, green lime, blue, purple, and chocolate. For more information checkout www.thestylecube.com

New Ransomware Targets Copyright Law, Threatens Legal Action

A new piece of "ransomware", a piece of malware that is actually acting like a legitimate program, has cropped up and is now demanding $400 from users that is says are violating copyright laws.

The "ransomeware" informs victims that an "Antipiracy foundation scanner" has found illegal torrents on the users system. If he/she won't pay $400 (via a credit card transaction), they might face jail time and huge fines. Victims are instructed to pay the very FAKE ICPP Copyright Foundation. This company purports to be associated with the RIAA and MPAA, and that a copyright violation has been logged.

Beware all of this is completely fake. There is no "ICPP Foundation", and the messages will appear even if the system contains no illegal material whatsoever.

If you are hit by this trojan, DO NOT PAY. Instead, use an antivirus program that is capable of detecting it to remove the trojan. F-Secure Antivirus detects it as Rogue:W32/DotTorrent.A. You can use F-Secure's free online scanner at ols.f-secure.com to check your system.

More details can be found Via F-Secure's blog post:
ICPP Copyright Foundation is Fake - F-Secure Weblog : News from the Lab

Yawn, Apple Updates MacBook Pros

If you Apple FanBoys are done salivating over the new iPad Apple has updated the MacBook Pro line-up to add in the new Core i5 and Core i7 CPU's from Intel as well as slightly more updated GPU's from NVIDIA.

Among the low-end line (if you can call it that) is an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro running a non-Arrendale Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at either 2.4 or 2.66GHz, NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics and up to 10 hours of battery life starting at $1,199.00.

These are rather mild updates to your older system so there really isn't much to shout about! It’s the new Intel Core i5 and i7 MacBook Pros that everyone’s been waiting for and that most will be salivating over.

The lowest end of the Intel Core based MacBook Pro packs a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M GPU with 256MB of RAM. This marks a significant update on the previous model, which didn’t have discrete graphics. It starts at $1,799.00. Want to bump that CPU to a 2.5GHz Core i5, that'll cost you $200 more and increases not just the CPU but the hard drive as well up to 500GBs.

Go up to $2199.00 and you get a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 CPU and double the GPU RAM, you are however still stuck with the rather none impressive NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M.

Finally at the top end is the new 17" MacBook Pros: The only come in one flavor and feature an Intel Core i5 CPU running a clock speed of 2.53GHz, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, an ExpressCard/34 slot and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics with 512MB of RAM for $2,299.

For anyone but an Apple FanBoy the specs on the updated MacBooks are a bit of a yawner. The low end Core 2 Duos aren't really much, even the lower end Core i7's aren’t anything special compared to similarly-priced PCs. Numerous manufacturers offer a PC for around $2000 that comes with quad-core i7’s, 1GB graphics card along with tons of RAM and a higher-res screen than what’s in the new MacBook Pros. The one area however that Apple has most of those PCs covered is going to be battery life. Apple apparently made the trade-off of not going with the most powerful hardware available to boost the projected battery life to previously unheard of levels.

Apple is claiming that the 15- and 17-inch can see between 8-9 hours while the smaller, Core 2 Duo-equipped 13-inch can rock for 10 hours straight. That’s impressive even if Apple exaggerated those claims a bit. A similarly priced, all be it much higher end PC wouldn't be able to touch those claims. You'd be lucky to get 2-3hrs of use.

More details from Apple

Monday, April 12, 2010

Over 25 Companies Pledge Public Support for the MeeGo Project

The Linux Foundation today announced over 25 companies, including Acer, ASUS, BMW Group, Cisco, EA Mobile, Novell, and Wind River have pledged their support and interest in the MeeGo project. MeeGo, which merges Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo Linux-based platform, is an open source software platform for the next generation of computing devices. This participation translates into millions of developer hours dedicated to cross-device compatibility, application portability and the user experience for MeeGo-based devices. 
“MeeGo is an exciting new software platform and gives customers mobile computing solutions based on Intel Atom processors which offer innovations for the user experience,” said S.Y. Shian, vice president and general manager of Notebook Business Unit, Asus Corp. “As the netbook market grows, Asus is continually exploring offerings that optimize this computing experience and address the specific needs of today’s netbook customers.” 
Contributors are attracted to MeeGo because it extends reach beyond just netbooks and smartphones to also include communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, connected TVs, media phones and more.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Apple Debuts iPhone OS 4.0

Apple latest iPhone OS is currently being showed off today at a media event at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Taking the stage this morning at 10am sharp Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened with a list of some rather impressive (and some unimpressive) numbers. Jobs said Apple has sold 450,000 iPads since its debut on Saturday, users have downloaded 600,000 digital books and 3.5 million applications. Add to that some 50m iPhones and 35 iPod touches sold to date.

The main focus today was not the new iPad, but rather then new features in the new iPhone operating system. iPhone OS 4.0 will offer seven main features and over a 100 minor features with multitasking being the most prominent of the major changes. We don't have a full list of all the new features but some of the more minor details include GameCenter, iBooks, in-app SMS, home screen wallpapers, Bluetooth keyboard support, and “tap to focus” for video with 5x digital zoom, spell check and iPod out.

As mentioned multi-tasking was the biggest and most asked for feature. To preview the new feature Apple's Scott Forstall showed off an iPhone using Pandora. Double tapping the home button now brings up a “multitasking dock” which shows up to four programs possibly running at once. From there you simply select the app you want to use tap it and boom you're there. The current application state is saved as you're double tapping in and out of apps.

Forstall showed how users running Pandora and such can now be streaming audio non-stop and how they can now navigate away from the app to use any of the other 3 running apps all while still listening to their songs. This also means Skype users can still run apps while still being able to receive calls. This also applies to navigation apps, which means you can receive calls and do everything else without killing the TomTom app. Social networking apps, however, while able to take advantage of this new service will drop the GPS while in the background and instead run off of the cell-based A-GPS system.

All in all there really haven't been many surprise in today's announcements. The one that did reportedly shock the crowd the most was the delay of the iPhone OS 4 release for the iPad. Jobs told the crowd iPad owners will have to wait until this fall for the new OS to be ready for them. For iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod Touch users IPhone OS 4 will be available starting summer 2010.

Update: iPhone OS 4 keynote video now online!

If you want to watch the full video of the keynote as given by Mr. Jobs you can head over to Apple and get a copy.

ZZF Adds New 'ZAP' Assurance Warranty Program

Zip Zoom Fly a very popular online retails, and one of our favorite places to shop , has announced a new quality assurance program dubbed 'ZAP' ( ZipZoomfly Assurance Program). Under the new program the retailers offers their customers an extended warranty that exceeds that of the regular manufacture.

Starting April 6th, 2010 and for the rest of April, any purchases of qualifying products made from our website will benefit from our new ZipZoomfly Assurance Program for one year absolutely FREE! This will happen automatically in your shopping cart, no hassles, no hidden fees, no worries. So start shopping today and as always, receive the service, protection and peace of mind that you deserve from ZipZoomfly.com!

For more details as well as the ZAP terms and conditions click here

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

WD Launches Two New Large Capacity WD VelociRaptors

WD announced today that it is now shipping WD VelociRaptor 450 GB and 600 GB hard drives, the next generation of its 10,000 RPM SATA family of hard drives. The new WD VelociRaptor hard drive is designed for blade servers, high-performance PCs, Mac(R) computers, professional workstations, as well as 1U and 2U rack servers that require a balance of high performance and capacity. As the only 10,000 RPM SATA hard drive on the market today, and a favorite amongst enthusiast and enterprise groups, the WD VelociRaptor hard drive now comes packed with twice the capacity and up to 15% performance increase over the previous generation.

The most popular hard drive for high-performance enthusiasts who demand the ultimate SATA drive, the WD VelociRaptor hard drive is built with enterprise-class mechanics that provide 24x7 durability under high-performance demands and packs up to 600 GB of capacity into a 2.5-inch enterprise form factor. The WD VelociRaptor drive is also available in the IcePack(TM) enclosure, a 3.5-inch mounting frame with a built-in heat sink - a factory customization that fits the drive into a standard 3.5-inch system bay and keeps this powerful drive extra cool when installed in a high-performance desktop chassis and 3.5-inch HDD form factor enterprise chassis.

"WD is a leader in the performance and reliability of enterprise SATA hard drives," said Tom McDorman, vice president and general manager of WD's enterprise business unit. "Demand for performance combined with an increase in capacity continues to rise and WD is the leader in this category. WD customers can rely on the new WD VelociRaptor to deliver high performance under the harshest conditions, while continuing to keep user data safe."

Features of the new WD VelociRaptor hard drives include:

  • Killer speed - SATA 6 Gb/s interface and 32 MB cache enhance the next generation 10,000 RPM WD VelociRaptor making it up to 15% faster than the award-winning previous generation.
  • Monstrous capacity - WD VelociRaptor SATA drives are available in capacities up to 600 GB, double the capacity of the previous generation.
  • Rock-solid reliability - Designed and manufactured to mission-critical enterprise-class standards to provide enterprise reliability in high duty cycle environments. With 1.4 million hours MTBF, these drives have the highest available reliability rating on a high capacity SATA drive.
  • Ultra-cool operation - Consumes no more power than the previous generation WD VelociRaptor while offering double the capacity and higher performance.
  • IcePack mounting frame - The 2.5-inch WD VelociRaptor is enclosed in a backplane-ready 3.5-inch enterprise-class mounting frame with a built-in heat sink that keeps this powerful little drive extra cool when installed in high-performance desktop chassis.
  • Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF(TM)) -Optimizes operation and performance when the drives are used in vibration-prone, multi-drive chassis.
  • NoTouch(TM) ramp load technology - The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit.
  • Environmentally conscious - In addition to being ROHS compliant, this generation of WD VelociRaptor is also a halogen-free design.
Price and Availability
WD VelociRaptor (model WD4500HLHX and WD6000HLHX - 3.5-inch version with IcePack) hard drives are available now at select distributors and resellers. WD VelociRaptor 2.5-inch hard drives (model WD4500BLHX and WD6000BLHX) are under evaluation with OEM customers and will be available through select commercial distributors within this quarter. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the WD VelociRaptor 450 GB (model WD4500HLHX) is $299 USD and the 600 GB (model WD6000HLHX) is $329 USD. More information about WD VelociRaptor hard drives may be found on the company's Web site at http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=821.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Apple 'We Sold 300k iPads, Not 700k'

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster may want to re-think his revision of predicted iPad sales, as he decided Sunday to nearly double his estimates from the original 200-300k to a whopping prediction that Apple sold between 600-700k iPads (including online pre-orders which started on March 12th) on the first day (4/3).

Apple themselves have released their numbers which are inline with Munster's previous prediction Apple today announced that it sold over 300,000 iPads in the US as of midnight Saturday, April 3. These sales included deliveries of pre-ordered iPads to customers, deliveries to channel partners and sales at Apple Retail Stores.

Were there actually 300k iPads sold? That's rather difficult to say. Apple's notorious for their 'interesting' estimation tactics. They give estimates based on the number of units they shipped out to stores and partners, so these might not be actual sales numbers. Stores could still be sitting on a surplus of iPads and the actual sales numbers could be considerably lower.

Update: I jumped the gun with a bit of misreading, these aren't weekend numbers as I thought. Guess I overlooked the "midnight Sat. part." However considering it was Easter Sunday I still doubt these numbers were much higher for a total weekend sale. I also doubt they sold every unit shipped, which again drops the total sales figures. My guess would be they sold somewhere near 250k.

What does that mean for Apple and the iPad, not much really. The numbers aren't staggering, but they aren't all that disappointing either. Given the fact that it was Easter weekend, and the iPad had very few actual hands on reviews I'd say they did fairly well. Now that more people have their hands on the device and we are seeing a mixed bag of reviews it will be interesting to see if sales continue at a brisk pace or not.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The iPad Stripped Down

The folks at Rapid Repair got their hands on the new iPad and of course as good geeks do they couldn't wait to tear it to pieces. They've posted a ton of great pictures showing the step by step processes, I f you want to check out the complete step-by-step disassembly, click here. Trust me you won't be disappointed!

If you want even more iPad teardown goodness you might also want to checkout the teardown the folks at iFixit have done. It might be a little more thoroughly explained then the RapidRepair teardown.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Today is iPad Day, Did You Run Out And Buy Yours?

Unless you've been living in a cave in Afghanistan or under a rock in Antarctica by now you should know that Apple's new iPad has officially made its debut today. Geeks everywhere are most likely sprinting out to get their first hands on experience with the new device as I type this.

For me personally I don't plan on buying the first generation incarnation of the iPad. I have several reasons for my thinking but the major one has been the inability to actually touch and feel the iPad. I'll be working all day today so I don't have plans on rushing down just to try it out. I do plan to check it out at my BestBuy when I have the chance, but I doubt I'll be a buyer.

For those of you that are planning on jumping on the iPad ship Apple is selling the Wi-Fi only versions of the iPad. Honestly its the one I'd suggest, stay away from the more expensive 3g models. The Wi-Fi models start at $499 and up to $699 with 64GB of storage.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

YouTube Gets A Redesign, We Hate It!

As of 7pm PST today YouTube will begin rolling out it's newly revamped, more streamlined YouTube homepage to the masses. User wanting to get a peek at the new design can do so by visiting this YouTube page. Users who then agree with us and dislike the new changes and want the old design back can then opt back out by visiting this page here.

Only about 10 percent of YouTube's users can see the new format now; it will be officially rolled out to everyone by 7pm Pacific time on Wednesday for everyone else.

YouTube's old design

YouTube's new design

For more details on the new page changes you can checkout the Official YouTube Blog announcement

ReCellular Launches New Cell Phone Trade-in Program

Mobile phone recyclers ReCellular has launched what they are calling a comprehensive easy to use trade-in program for both consumers and phone retailers.

Consumers can visit SecureTradeIn.com and follow a few basic instructions provided. Once they have found their phone and trade-in value they then Fed-Ex their phones, via free shipping, off to ReCellular who promises guaranteed data protection.

Once they have the phone they then match it to your information and verify that it works, yes to get cash for your phones they must be in working order, they'll then mail you a check.

The company guarantee's a 0% waste policy which they says means that they will never contribute to any landfill.

ReCellular has built a network of nearly 1,100 collection partners, representing nearly 40,000 collection sites across the nation which collects nearly 5million phones per year. These partners include:
  • Wireless carriers such as AT&T Mobility and Sprint, and retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart, partner with ReCellular to facilitate recycling programs for their customers.
  • Individual businesses partner with ReCellular to dispose of their corporate communications equipment.
  • Grassroots and charitable organizations such as Cell Phones for Soldiers partner with ReCellular to operate donate-a-phone fund-raising programs.

Isohunt Becomes MPAA's Next Victim

Popular file-sharing search site isoHunt may be the next inline, behind sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay, to fall to legal actions brought forth by the MPAA.

isoHunt has been in a long standing legal battle, one that the MPAA has won on many fronts. A federal court sided last year with the MPAA, ruling that Isohunt was liable for secondary copyright infringement. Gary Fung, the 27-year-old Canadian who runs isoHunt, said he and the MPAA are now battling over how to comply with the March 23 injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles.

“It is axiomatic that the availability of free infringing copies of plaintiffs’ works through defendants’ websites irreparably undermines the growing legitimate market (.pdf) for consumers to purchase access to the same works,” Wilson wrote in support of his injunction. The judge added that “upwards of 95 percent of all dot-torrent files downloaded from defendants’ websites” return infringing material or works “at least highly likely to be infringing.”

Wilson ordered Fung to comply within his order within 14 days of the MPAA providing Fung a list of content to be removed giving the parties until April 12 to hammer out an agreement.

In order for Fung and isoHunt to comply with the judge's ruling the site would effectively have to investigate every single file and or link returned by the site's search engine to see whether it's legal or not. Unfortunately this type of hands on verification would be nearly impossible to implement. Therefore it looks like Fung will have little to no choice but to shutter the site for good.

“Filtering against keywords. It amounts to nothing less than taking down our search engine,” Fung said in a telephone interview with Wired.com. His position is that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires Hollywood and the MPAA to provide links to infringed files to be removed, nit just a simple keyword filter.

Keyword searches, he said, could scoop up non-infringing works adding such keyword filtering is nearly impossible to implement if it's to have any sort of precision, nor can it avoid conflict with fair use cases, free commerce, or extra-territorial law.

isoHunt is not the only site affected by the judge’s ruling. Torrent sites Torrentbox and Podtropolis may to be affected.

Read More:
ARS Technica - IsoHunt told to pull .torrent files offline, likely to close
Wired.com - Isohunt Ordered to Remove Infringing Content

MSI Says 'RTFM Email' Was an April Fool's Prank, Apologizes

Anyone in the tech support sector has had one of those days, you know when you get that call asking you that all so basic of questions that is right there in the manual. You hang your head in disgust just wanting to say couldn't you have just "read the f'n manual."

Well it looks like at least one person over at MSI has a pretty good sense of humor about it. Late last week reports began emerging from the MSI HQ User Forums about a new "RTFM-chip" that the company has installed. The announcement via email and forum posts reads as follows:

New announcement: RTFM-chip details revealed!‏
From: MSI HQ User to User Forum (do_not_reply@forum-en.msi.com)
Sent: 26 March 2010 06: 16AM

The MSI-forum and MSI-support team are fed-up with explaining you what can be found in the manual. I mean, come on, how hard is it to read a manual?

They are printed on paper so you see them.

We have been talking to MSI for a couple of years and came up with a solution.
It has been implemented on a few boards for some time and with big success. It had various names, like CoreCenter (1st gathering tool) upto DrMOS (fully automatic)

Some of you noticed because Windows wanted you to install a driver, but you couldn't find the manufacturer. On AMD systems this was called the Away-driver.

What you didn't know is this, this driver activates the RTFM-chip. (Re-Turn inFormation to Manufacturer chip) It means it can detect if you read a manual as well stores the parameters you have set in the BIOS. As soon as you start Windows we are informed about your settings and manual readings.

As we have been monitoring peoples behavior for some time and combined those with the RMA information from returned boards. At the same time monitoring questions on the forum and matched the IP's.

We have made a discovery.

A lot of RMA is unneeded and unwanted, many happens due to user mistakes, numbers show that 90% of the RMA is OC people killing boards and newbies connecting the wrong connectors or insert parts that should not be inserted. Or simply forget to remove standoffs or CPU-power. MSI plans on tackles those numbers, and the RTFM-chip will give a readout of what you have done when it did post or attempted to post!

Checking on you isn't new, Homeland-security done this ever you installed XP-SP3 or above, but their info in encrypted so useless to MSI. So MSI decided to ban people from support, RMA and the forum who has done the damage themselves or didn't read the manual the first of next month. We know who you are, and we have gathered enough information via our RTFM-chip.

The only question is, should MSI continue to do this? As some information is real bad. Will this hurt your relation towards MSI products?

Please let us know, as we have to talk to MSI management the first of next month and make them decide what to do with the information.

To unsubscribe from these announcements, login to the forum and uncheck "Receive forum announcements and important notifications by email." in your profile.

You can view the full announcement by following this link: link since removed

The MSI HQ User to User Forum Team.

MSI has since written a nice little apology explaining that they didn't believe anyone would actually take then seriously. "We are sorry people took this for prank for serious ," says a forum post and email message from the company's support team head. "We thought of this prank after answering the many posts where people ask the obvious that is already in the manual."

I've just got to say kudos to the MSI team for having a great sense of humor and even bigger kudos for saying something many of us in the sector want to say many many times a day! I know this is just the nature of the beast, and often times people just want a little hand holding to reassure them of what they are doing. But c'mon people, save your support teams some undo pressure and try to take the time to at least double check the specification, manual, FAQ's or main website for information before asking those unnecessary questions that could have been resolved by spending a few minutes time checking it yourself.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AMD Makes Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition A Reality

ati logoAMD Expands DirectX 11 Gaming up to 12 Times HD Resolution with ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition Graphics

Harnessing the world’s most powerful graphics processor, AMD today introduced the ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition graphics card. Equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, the ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 is the first graphics card capable of rendering in excess of 1 billion pixels per second in today’s titles, unleashing PC game environments of unprecedented size and resolution. Enthusiast gamers now have access to a seamless, stunning perspective across six displays, enabling up to 12 times more resolution than 1080p HD.

“The ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition graphics card opens the door to a new era in personal computing,” said Matt Skynner, vice president and general manager, AMD Graphics Division. “With the ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition, PC users get the ultimate panoramic computing experience in one powerful card. By bridging the innovation in ATI Eyefinity technology with broad ecosystem support, AMD is revolutionizing the PC visual experience.”

Before today, PC enthusiasts needed two or even three graphics cards to simultaneously drive six independent computer monitors at and beyond 1080p HD resolutions. The ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition delivers that capability in one graphics card, reducing the cost of ownership for a six-screen display while streamlining the ease with which gamers and productivity experts can set up hundreds of possible multi-monitor configurations.

radeon 5870 eyefinity 6 edition

Users can also benefit from a well-developed ecosystem around ATI Eyefinity technology, including broad support by the game development community. Updates in the latest ATI Catalyst graphics driver software continue to improve the ATI Eyefinity experience by periodically enabling new features, while a partner program exists to help assist users in identifying ATI Eyefinity-validated components to use in their set-ups.

Features of the new ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition include:

  • 2GB of GDDR5 memory to enable high frame rates and image quality settings in the latest DirectX 11 games in three- and six-display gaming setups.
  • Full display flexibility right out of the box, with the inclusion of five adaptors: two mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapters, two passive mini DisplayPort to DVI dongles, and one passive mini DisplayPort to HDMI dongle.
  • Support for 3x2 display configuration with new configurations supported in upcoming ATI Catalyst software updates.
  • Broad support for software developers worldwide including Bioware, Codemasters, EA, and Turbine who have adopted ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology in the latest DirectX 11 games such as DiRT 2 from Codemasters and Battlefield Bad Company 2 from EA DICE.
  • The ability to use ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU technology in conjunction with ATI Eyefinity multi-display capabilities as released in ATI Catalyst graphics drivers version 10.2, enabling increased gaming performance when driving high-resolution ATI Eyefinity display groups.
  • ATI Eyefinity technology enhancements were made available in ATI Catalyst graphics update version 10.3, including bezel compensation, which helps simulate a more integrated display surface by adjusting for display bezels. 

Speeds &Specs

  • Engine clock speed: 850 MHz
  • Processing power (single precision): 2.72 TeraFLOPS
  • Processing power (double precision): 544 GigaFLOPS
  • Polygon throughput: 850M polygons/sec
  • Data fetch rate (32-bit): 272 billion fetches/sec
  • Texel fill rate (bilinear filtered): 68 Gigatexels/sec 
  • Pixel fill rate: 27.2 Gigapixels/sec
  • Anti-aliased pixel fill rate: 108.8 Gigasamples/sec
  • Memory clock speed: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory data rate: 4.8 Gbps
  • Memory bandwidth: 153.6 GB/sec
  • Maximum board power: 188 Watts
  • Idle board power: 27 Watts
  • Full HD 5870 Eyefinity Edition Specifications

ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition Reviews

Related Articles:
MSI Releases R5870 Eyefinity 6 Graphics Card
Maximum PC - Eyefinity Performance Preview: The First Benchmarks!

Samsung Launches March to a Million Cell Phone Recycling Program

SAMSUNG Mobile Reaches More Than 7 Million U.S. Students With Nationwide Mobile Phone Recycling Program

Samsung Telecommunications America is kicking off a nationwide in-school education and recycling program as part of its March to a Million pledge to collect one million mobile phones for recycling in 2010. Reaching an estimated seven million middle and high school students in approximately 9,500 schools across the U.S., the eco-focused program will educate teens about the importance and ease of mobile phone recycling.

“Samsung Mobile has numerous eco-friendly initiatives in place, including our Mobile Take-Back program and last year’s launch of the Samsung Reclaim, the first phone in the U.S. constructed from eco-friendly bio-plastic materials,” said Paul Golden, Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung Mobile. “The March to a Million program is taking our green initiatives one step further to educate consumers on the importance and ease of recycling mobile phones. The goal of the in-school program is to reach an influential demographic and one that we think will help us spread the word throughout their communities.”

Students will learn about the importance of mobile phone recycling and the impact that it can have, both environmentally and socially, and participate in activities that will allow them to educate their peers, parents and local communities. Each participating school has the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes to win either a VIP concert from the pop/rock band, Hey Monday, or one of fifty $1,000 “Green Grants” to put towards making their school more environmentally friendly. The winner of the VIP concert will be announced in June.

In addition, Samsung Mobile unveiled the official March to a Million logo. To meet the goal of collecting one million phones for recycling in 2010, Samsung Mobile is creating eco-friendly educational programs, supporting wireless carrier’s mobile recycling programs and utilizing existing Samsung Mobile event sponsorships to collect and recycle mobile phones.

Samsung Mobile’s cell phone recycling efforts speak directly to their longstanding partnership with the EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program. With only 10 percent of cell phones recycled annually, Samsung Mobile urges Americans across the country to recycle their cell phone during this year’s Plug-In To eCycling National Cell Phone Recycling Week the week of April 5 through April 11, 2010.

Samsung Mobile’s March to a Million program supports Samsung’s Eco-Management 2013 Plan announced in July 2009. The plan details a comprehensive set of sustainability goals to be achieved by Samsung in 2013, which include the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from manufacturing and product, the development of eco-friendly product, financial investment in eco-management initiatives and enhanced green partnerships with suppliers and partners.

For more information about Samsung Mobile’s In-School Recycling program4 or Samsung Mobile’s March to a Million initiatives, please visit www.samsungmobileusa.com/marchtoamillion or www.facebook.com/samsungmobile. To find out more information about Samsung’s Eco-Management 2013, please visit www.samsung.com.

Source: Samsung

GeForce GTX 480 and 470 Released

nvidia logoNVIDIA has released their new flagship FERMI GF100 based GPU's the GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX470. The top end GeForce GTX 480 packs 480 shader units (now referred to by NVIDIA as "CUDA cores"), branched geometry processing along with multiple tessellation units, and a 384-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface to connect to 1536 MB (1.5 GB) of memory. The slightly more affordable GeForce GTX 470 packs 448 CUDA cores, and a 320-bit GDDR5 memory interface to connect to 1280 MB (1.25 GB) of memory.

Both models support new features by NVIDIA, such as CUDA 3.0, faster PhysX acceleration, Stereoscopic 3D, 3D Vision surround multi display technology, as well as support for OpenCL and DirectCompute 5.0.

The GeForce GTX 480 has a suggested retail price of US $499, the GTX 470 is suggested to be priced at $349, although these are suggested prices finally pricing by partners such as XFX Gigabyte and others could vary. NVIDIA says the cards should be available on or shortly after April 12th.

GeForce GTX 480/470 Specifications:
  • Microsoft DirectX11 Support
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology with CUDA C/C++, DirectCompute 5.0 and OpenCL Support
  • NVIDIA PhysX Technology
  • NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology
  • NVIDIA 2-way and 3-way SLI ready
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround Ready
  • PCI Express 2.0 Support
  • Two Dual-Link HDCP DVI-I Connectors
  • One Mini-HDMI 1.3a connector
  • OpenGL 3.2 Support
  • Engine Clock speed - 700 MHz/607 MHz
  • Processor Clock (MHz) - 1401 MHz/1215MHz
  • Memory Clock speed - 3696 MHz/3348 MHz
  • Memory - 1536MB GDDR5/1280MB GDDR5
  • Memory interface - 384-bit/320-bit

GeForce 470 Benchmarks
 @ Hartware
 @ Hardware Canucks
 @ Tweaktown
 @ PCPer

Geforce 480 Benchmarks
 @ TweakPC
 @ Legion Hardware
 @ InsideHW
 @ Hi Tech Legion
 @ Benchmark Reviews
 @ Legit Reviews
 @ Hardware Canucks
 @ HardwareHeaven
 @ Ninjalane
 @ HotHardware
 @ OCC
 @ Bjorn3D
 @ NeoSeeker

Related Articles
EVGA Announces GTX 480/470
ZOTAC Unleashes Next-Generation Graphics Cards
SPARKLE Proudly Announced GeForce GTX 480/470 Graphics Cards
Inno3D GeForce GTX 480 & 470 – Adrenaline Rush!
Engaged in the Future of Gaming—ASUS Leads the Way

Want A 'Free' iPad, Try Attending Seton Hill University

Seton Hill University announced on today that starting this fall semester, all 2100 of the school's full-time students will receive an iPad tablet device in an effort to boost learning ability and technical know-how.

According to the announcement, "The iPad initiative kicks off the University's Griffin Technology Advantage Program. This new program provides students with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools, ensuring that Seton Hill students will be uniquely suited to whatever careers they choose - even those that have not yet been created."

The Griffin Technology Advantage will provide all first year undergraduate students at Seton Hill not only a shiny new iPad but also a brand new 13" MacBook laptop which will be replaced for a new updated version every two years.

Pretty cool of the school to offer the free MacBook's as well as the bi-annual updates but I have to question the reasoning behind offering the iPad's.

Rumor HD and CDMA iPhones Coming This Summer

The Wall Street Journal has been reporting that two new iPhones may be in the works for the coming months. One is reportedly going to be a High Definition version while the other is said to work with Verizon's CDMA network. Both AT&T and Verizon has declined to comment on the speculation at this time however the timing does seem likely as Apple has released a new iPhone model every summer for the past three years and is widely expected to do so again this summer.

While the WSJ story makes no mention of an HD iPhone Engadget has been spreading speculation that the next generation iPhone will be named the “iPhone HD.” They are also speculation that the new model will have an A4-class SoC, a 960 x 640 display, a front-facing camera, and that iPhone OS 4.0 will enable third-party multitasking.

The best guess as to a release time has Apple unveiling the next generation iPhone and iPhone OS 4.0 on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.

Garmin Releases the New Forerunner 110 GPS Watch

The Garmin Forerunner Series has always had a great reputation as being on the forefront in running related devices. Be it training for that next 5k or just the every day walker these compact devices are simply put the easiest way to track your training.

Garmin this week announced the new Forerunner 110 sports watch – a sleek, intuitive and affordable solution for runners, joggers and walkers who simply want to know the most essential of real-time workout data: how far and how fast. Forerunner 110 was announced in preparation for world-class marathons in Paris, Boston and London, where it will be on display at Garmin booths in each location.

“Forerunner 110 fills the needs of runners of all levels by focusing on simplicity without sacrificing accuracy,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “Within seconds of stepping outside, you simply press start and instantly know your distance, pace and time – all without any complicated setup or excessive accessories.”

Inspired by the countless runners who have the same request at race expos and retail outlets – “Show me the Garmin watch that has GPS and is easiest to use” – Forerunner 110 is the ideal entry-level device for easily tracking progress and goals in exercise and training. In addition to displaying time and distance, Forerunner 110 shows pace in one of two ways, averaged out either over the current lap/mile (if auto-lap is enabled) or over the duration of the run. Runners wearing a Garmin heart rate monitor (included in some bundles or available separately) can monitor how hard they’re working while they exercise as Forerunner 110 displays current heart rate data and features heart rate-based calorie computation. Between workouts, the simplified menu system helps users review run data, change auto-lap, set an alarm or edit the user profile.

Water-resistant and slimmer than any other GPS-enabled fitness watch on the market, Forerunner 110 boasts a high-sensitivity SiRFstarIV GPS receiver with Garmin’s HotFix technology to quickly acquire and sustain satellite reception, perfect for wooded trails under dense trees or in the urban canyons of skyscrapers.

Available in three stylish color combinations – black/gray, charcoal/red and gray/pink – Forerunner 110 looks fashionable on the run, in the office or out on the town. Lasting up to 8 hours in GPS/training mode and up to three weeks in power-save mode, Forerunner 110 can be an everyday watch even on an off day of training. Users can save time by charging the battery and uploading workout data to Garmin Connect at the same time through an easy-to-use USB connection, which also is used to upload free software updates quickly from www.garmin.com.

Because Forerunner 110 stores and displays up to 200 hours of saved history, runners can see their totals even when they haven’t had a chance to upload to Garmin Connect. But once at Garmin Connect (http://connect.garmin.com), users can quickly and easily log their workouts, track their totals, set goals, share workouts with friends and family and participate in an online fitness community of more than 20 million activities around the world. Garmin Connect displays metrics such as time, distance, speed, elevation and heart rate. This information is shown through charts, illustrations, reports and a variety of map representations including street, photo, topographic, and elevation maps as well as the popular Google Earth application.

Forerunner 110 is the latest breakthrough from Garmin, which has spent 20 years developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ lives, making Garmin a household name in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. For more about features, pricing and availability, as well as information about Garmin’s other products and services, go to www.garmin.com, www.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/jakesjournal. To watch step-by-step, feature-specific tutorial videos for Forerunner 110 and other Garmin products, visit the online learning center at www.garmin.com/learningcenter.

Source: Garmin

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Miller Snubs Apple and MS Says 'Find Your Own Bugs'

Following his feats at Pwn2Own security researcher Charlie Miller gave the snub to software giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe when he refused to provide the companies with the more than 20 vulnerabilities he has found in their software.

When Miller took the floor at CanSecWest many believed that his intent was to fully disclose the vulnerabilities he found, however that was never his intention. He instead demonstrated how he found the vulnerabilities, hoping that Apple, Microsoft and other vendors would listen to what he has to say.

Using a "dumb fuzzer", which is basically just a few lines of code that search for flaws in software by inserting data to see where the program fails, Miller quickly uncovered 20 vulnerabilities ranging across several different applications including; Apple's Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, and its Safari browser; Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation maker; Adobe's popular PDF viewer, Reader; and in OpenOffice.org, the open-source productivity suite.

"People will criticize me and say I'm a bad guy for not handing over [the vulnerabilities], but it actually makes more sense to me to not tell them," Miller said. "What I can do is tell them how to find these bugs, and do what I did. That might get them to do more fuzzing." That, Miller maintained, would mean more secure software.

"We find a bug, they patch it," said Miller. "We find another bug, they patch it. That doesn't improve the security of the product. True, the software gets incrementally better, but they actually need to make big improvements. But I can't make them do that."

Miller's hope is that vendors like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe, which spend millions of dollars and have teams of security engineers and scores of machines running fuzzers looking for flaws, will sep up and learn from something that one researcher with three computers has done in a short time. If the companies will duplicate his work, and maybe, just maybe, be motivated to do more of their own research prior to releasing the software they can learn to find these flaws before the release rather than taking findings from researchers after the fact and creating a reactionary fix. 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Set to Open at Universal Orlando Resort June 18

Not your typical Geek News from us we know but hey its hard to be a geek and not love Harry Potter!

One of the most widely anticipated theme park entertainment experiences ever created – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort – is set for a public grand opening on June 18.

Universal Orlando Also Unveils Details for the Highly Anticipated New Attraction: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Today, Universal Orlando Resort also revealed details about what is expected to be one the most exciting theme park experiences ever created:  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  It will be one of three themed attractions within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the heart of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This all new adventure combines a powerful storyline with spectacular new technology so effectively that guests will be completely immersed in the experience.

And as they live their adventure, guests will feel things no one has ever felt inside a theme park attraction, move in ways no one has ever moved, experience film like no one else ever has, explore vast sets punctuated by amazing special effects – and have an adventure only possible in Harry Potter's world.

The new attraction lies deep within Hogwarts castle, a majestic structure that towers over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films comes to life.

The Adventure
...meeting Harry, Ron and Hermione as if they were in person
...soaring over Hogwarts castle with Harry
...being swept into a Quidditch match
...feeling the chilling effect of a Dementor
...exploring your favorite places inside Hogwarts castle
...living adventures you've only been able to imagine – until now.


The Story
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey draws you into the excitement and chaos of Harry's life.  As you venture through Hogwarts castle, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice, you travel by Floo powder, and begin the adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.

"Guests will experience firsthand a completely new adventure featuring the iconic characters, amazing creatures and recognizable locations they've only read in the books or seen in the films," said Thierry Coup, creative director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Location
The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey experience starts as soon as you walk through the gates of Hogwarts.  Within the towering Hogwarts castle, you explore a truly magical place. You journey through iconic locations taken from the films and take in the extraordinary detail of each scene.  They include:
  • Dumbledore's office: Here, you meet the Headmaster as he welcomes you to Hogwarts
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom:  Where you first meet Harry, Ron and Hermione
  • Gryffindor common room: You meet three additional characters who prepare you for your journey
  • Room of Requirement: Here, with hundreds of floating candles above, you take your seat on an enchanted bench and begin the Forbidden Journey
  • Other locations: In addition, guests will pass through the Dungeon passageway and hallways of Hogwarts where they will have the chance to see hundreds of wizard portraits from the films, including several magical talking portraits created exclusively for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including the four founders of Hogwarts. Guests will even get a glimpse of the Sorting Hat.

The Innovation
This is more than just an attraction and it is unlike any theme park experience ever created.  It's a revolutionary, 360-degree theme park experience and first-ever combination of live-action, advanced robotic technology and innovative filmmaking – specially designed and developed for this brand-new adventure.
"We have created an entirely new way to place our guests into the heart of one of the most compelling stories of our time," said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative.  "What we have done will forever change the theme park attraction experience."

The attraction's newly created ride system envelops guests in filmed action scenes and moves those scenes with them as they travel through the ride, allowing more time in the center of the adventure and with their favorite characters.  This fusion of robotic technology and filmed scenes has never been achieved until now.  In some cases, technology had to be invented to achieve the highest level of guest experience.   The combination of pioneering, state-of-the-art technology, innovative filmmaking and surprises around every corner make this attraction the embodiment of the Harry Potter book and film series—and the future of theme park entertainment.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Quick Facts
  • Storyline: As you venture through Hogwarts, you meet Harry, Ron and Hermione , who convince you to skip a planned lecture and follow them. Upon taking their advice you travel by Floo powder, and begin your adventure as you soar over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more.
  • First-ever combination of advanced robotic ride system technology with innovative, immersive filmmaking
  • Award-winning composer John Williams oversaw the creation of the attraction’s score
  • The queue includes the following Harry Potter book and film elements: Headmaster Dumbledore’s office, Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Gryffindor common room, Room of Requirement, and the greenhouse; talking portraits including the Fat Lady and the never-before-seen four founders: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw; the Sorting Hat, the One-Eyed Witch statue and the Mirror of Erised
  • Duration of ride: The full attraction experience, including the queue, takes about an hour
  • Number of scenes in the attraction: 12
  • Characters (featuring Harry Potter film talent): Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid and Draco Malfoy

    • You may also catch a glimpse of Fred and George Weasley, Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom

For the latest news about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com.

Source: PR NewsWire

Blizzard Announces BlizzCon 2010

 Blizzard announced today its fifth BlizzCon gaming convention will kick off on Friday, October 22 in Anaheim, California. Details about ticket availability and pricing will be announced on the official BlizzCon web site in the near future. The company did state tickets will be sold in much the same way as last year, meaning a Battle.net account is required, and tickets will be sold to the lucky few that queue into the system first.

Anyone wanting to attend better get on the ball because lastt year's show sold out in just eight minutes.

Adobe Wowing Users With CS5 Preview Videos

Adobe this week released a new video showing users a sneak peak of some of the tools that will be available in Photoshop CS5 when i'ts launched in April. Beware after viewing this video you may feel the urge to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new software!!

This video is for the new 'Content-Aware Fill Tool'. This new tool allows you to remove unwanted items, like camera lens flare or stray objects, even big things like trees with a few clicks. Adding, moving and repairing items within your pictures just got a whole lot easier – all you have to do is select the problem area with the Content-Aware Fill Tool, click and Photoshop does the rest.

Honestly all I can say is WOW!! I'm ready to give it a test drive.

Skype Mobile for Verizon Wireless Launches Today

skype logoBeginning today, new and existing Verizon Wireless customers with Android 3G smartphones and BlackBerry 3G smartphones can get Skype mobile in a number of ways. Visit www.verizonwireless.com/skypemobile or www.skype.com/go/mobile from a PC to enter the mobile phone number to receive a text message with a link to the application. Verizon Wireless customers can also text “SKYPE” to 2255 to receive the link. In addition, Android customers will be able to download the app from Android Market. New BlackBerry customers will find the application on their 3G smartphones’ home screens in the Downloads folder when activated.

Skype mobile gives Verizon Wireless 3G smartphone users with data plans a simple new way to stay in touch with friends, family and business colleagues around the corner and around the world while on Verizon Wireless’ network. Skype mobile users can:
  • make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype contact around the globe;
  • send and receive unlimited instant messages with other Skype users;
  • manage the Skype contact list directly from the mobile application; and
  • call international phone numbers at competitive Skype calling rates.

Customers need a Verizon Wireless smartphone and data plan to use Skype mobile. Skype-to-Skype calls will not be charged against their monthly minute allowances or data plans. Verizon Wireless customers can visit www.skype.com to purchase Skype Credit to make Skype Out calls and make calls to international landline or mobile numbers.

Skype mobile will be available initially on millions of best-selling Verizon Wireless 3G smartphones, including the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, and Tour 9630 smartphones, as well as DROID by Motorola, DROID ERIS by HTC and Motorola DEVOUR.

More details can be found via the Skype Blog

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hackers Go Four-for-Four As Firefox 3 on Windows 7 Falls at Pwn2Own

I see a reoccurring theme here, all four teams that have competed at this years Pwn2Own contest have successfully exploited their targets and compromised the machines at hand. This time it was a Windows 7 equipped machine running Firefox 3.

@TheZDI Nils from MWR InfoSecurity (@MWRLabs) succeeded against Firefox on Windows 7 with the quintessential calc.exe launching payload.

As with most of the hacks there aren't many details given out as to how they were accomplished. Its really not surprising me that most have fallen but what is surprising me is the rate at which they are being exploited. In most cases it has taken less than 30mins. Now keep in mind most of these target hacks are exploiting third party software and not the OS itself, but it's still a bit unnerving.

Update: Via Threat Post

A 26year old German hacker known simply as "Nils" exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Mozilla Firefox to take complete control of a 64-bit Windows 7 machine. "Nils" who heads up the security research team at U.K.-based MWR InfoSecurity, used several tricks to bypass Address Space Layout Randomization (ALSR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP) to get his drive-by download to load an executable on the target machine.

ASLR+DEP are held up as significant roadblocks to thwart malware attacks on the newest versions of Windows but, as this contest shows, skilled hackers with enough motivation and resources can bypass those mitigations easily.

Nils said Mozilla can do a better job of opting into ASLR on Windows, a clear hint that implementation errors make it easy to bypass the Windows defenses.

Windows 7 And IE8 Fall At Pwn2Own

So far the hackers are three for three at Pwn2Own, with the ZDI now confirming that Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 have fallen.

@thezdi Peter Vreugdenhil (@WTFuzz) succeeded against Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7 with a technically impressive exploit bypassing DEP.

It'll be interesting to see if the rest of the smartphones the, RIM Blackberry Bold 9700, Nokia E72 device running Symbian and HTC Nexus One running Android as well as the two browsers Google Chrome 4 and Mozilla Firefox 3 can withstand the onslaught.

Update: Via Threat Post
Dutch hacker Peter Vreugdenhil pulled off an impressive CanSecWest Pwn2Own victory here, hacking into a fully patched 64-bit Windows 7 machine using a pair of Internet Explorer vulnerabilities.

Vreugdenhil, an independent researcher who specializes in finding and exploiting client-side vulnerabilities, used several tricks to bypass ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention), two significant security protections built into the Windows platform.

“I started with a bypass for ALSR which gave me the base address for one of the modules loaded into IE. I used that knowledge to do the DEP bypass,” he added.

Update: Via PCWorld

"[The exploit] reuses Microsoft's own code to disable DEP," said Vreugdenhil. "You can reuse Microsoft's own code to disable memory protection."

In a paper he published today ( download PDF ), Vreugdenhil spelled out how he evaded both ASLR and DEP in more detail.

"It was a two-step exploitation," Vreugdenhil said of the unusual attack. "I could have done it with one, but it would have taken too long." Using the double-exploit technique gave him control of the machine in a little over two minutes; if he had used only one exploit, the task would have required 50-60 minutes.

"I didn't know how much time I would have at Pwn2Own," he said, referring to the constraints of the contest, where hackers had limited time slots. And he didn't want to bore his audience. "I put some eye candy in the exploit," he said, referring to a progress bar he inserted that read "Please be patient while you are being exploited..."

Mac Book Pro Running OS X Falls In Under A Minute @Pwn2Own

 Correction: Miller actually hacked the full patched MacBook Pro in under 10seconds!!

Wow Charlie wasn't kidding when he said he had a bag full of hacks ready for this years Pwn2Own. The ZDI just confirmed that Miller (@0xcharlie) successfully hacked the MacBook Pro running OS X via Safari what looks like less than a minutes time. His payload returned a full command shell.

@thezdi Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) popped the MacBook Pro via Safari. His payload returned a full command shell.

As we reported a few days ago Miller said he was ready to report on no less than 20 zero day exploits that he had discovered within OS X. It looks like he might have know at least a few that are affecting Safari as well ;)

"I can't talk about the details of the vulnerability, but it was a Mac, fully patched, with Safari, fully patched," said Miller on Wednesday, not long after he had won the prize. "It probably took five or 10 seconds." He confirmed that he had researched and written the exploit before he arrived at the challenge.

iPhone Hacked Via Safari At Pwn2Own

 Hackers,  Iozzo and Weinmann compramised their fully patched iPhone in a total of 20 seconds.

The Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), an initiative founded by TippingPoint which organizes the security competition Pwn2Own, has confirmed via Twitter that contestants Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf Philipp Weinmann successfully exploited the iPhone via a 0day Safari hack! 

@thezdi Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf Philipp Weinmann successfully exploit the iPhone via Safari! Their payload pulled the SMS database. #pwn2own

The team of Iozzo and Weinmann were the first candidates in the hacking contest and the iPhone, which was hacked in less than 10 minutes, is the first smartphone to fall in the contest in the last two years. The iPhone was a 3GS model and was running iPhone OS 3.1.3.

Up next Charlie Miller gets to take his crack at exploiting Safari I believe on an Apple Macbook Pro running OS X. Stay tuned for more details.

Update: additional details courtesy the ThreatPost:

The exploit crashed the iPhone's browser session but Weinmann said that, with some additional effort, he could have a successful attacked with the browser running.

"Basically, every page that the user visits on our [rigged] site will grab the SMS database and upload it to a server we control," Weinmann explained. Iozzo, who had flight problems, was not on hand to enjoy the glory of being the first to hijack an iPhone at the Pwn2Own challenge.

Halvar Flake, a renowned security researcher who assisted with the winning exploit, said the biggest hiccup was bypassing the code-signing mitigation implemented by Apple on its flagship mobile device.

"This exploit doesn't get out of the iPhone sandbox," Flake explained, noting that an attacker can do enough damage without escaping from the sandbox.

"Apple has pretty good counter-measures but they are clearly not enough. They way they implement code-signing is too lenient," Flake added.

In addition to hijacking the SMS database, Weinmann said the winning Pwn2Own exploit could have exfiltrated the phone contact list, photographs and iTunes music files. He was unsure if the exploit could have hijacked e-mails.

Weinmann declined to publicly discuss the techniques he used to find the vulnerability. "We're working on developing techniques to find a certain class of vulnerabilities. I don't want to discuss it too much."

Aaron Portnoy, a security researcher at TippingPoint Zero Day Initiative (the company sponsoring Pwn2Own), described the attack as "very impressive."

"It was a real world exploit against a popular device. They exfiltrated the entire SMS database in about 20 seconds. It was as if a Web page was loading."

TippingPoint ZDI acquired the exclusive rights to the flaw information. The company will report the issue to Apple and will withhold details until a patch is released.

Weinmann and Iozzo won a $15,000 cash prize and got the keep the hijacked iPhone.

Review: Adesso WKB-4200UB Wireless Keyboard

We've reviewed our share of Adesso products over the last several months and while we've thought they all were good enough products in their own right however we had yet to find one that stood out head and shoulders above anything else we've reviewed. Well that all changed when Adesso sent us the Adesso WKB-4200UB. A few weeks ago this little beauty showed up at our door and almost immediately took over as our every day keyboard.

For starters the new keyboard is sleek and stylish. It features a black and grey design, which fittingly reminded me right away of the Oakland Raiders (no I'm not a fan). Gone is the center placement of the trackpad, which was one of the issues we had with the WKB-4000UB we previously reviewed.

Keyboard dimensions are 16.5" x 8.0" x 0.75" making it roughly 2" shorter and 1.5" skinner than our everyday keyboard which is the Logitech MX3200. The micro usb receiver is also much shorter than that of our Logitech receiver, although we still had to use both considering the WKB-4200UB lacks a compatible mouse/ 

The full specifications are as follows:
  • Connection: 2.4 GHz RF Smartlink with 12 Auto-Changeable channels (65000 IDs per channel)
  • Wireless Range Distance: 30 ft
  • 4 Internet Hotkeys: (Scroll Up/Down, Home, E-mail and Forward/Back
  • 6 Multimedia Hotkeys:(Play/Pause, Stop, Previous Track, Next Track, Vol+/Vol- and Mute )
  • 3 PC Hotkeys:(My Computer, Search and Sleep)
  • Keyboard Dimensions: 16.5" x 8.0" x 0.75"
  • Mini USB Receiver Dimensions: 1.65" x 0.75" x 0.25"
  • Weight: 2.0 lbs
  • Number of Keycaps: 87 Keys Mini Layout in an ultra-stylish design.
  • Keyboard Technology: Membrane Switch
  • Mouse Function: Touchpad with two Buttons
  • Switch Life: 5 Million Cycles
  • Switch Travel: 3.0+/- 0.3mm
  • Includes 2 AAA Battery
  • Power Consumption:

As you can see from the images the numeric keypad is gone, replaced by a very functional, very well placed trackpad. The trackpad along with the new hotkeys and media keys make this keyboard ideal for use in a media center, or office presentation type environment, yet the size and layout make it suitable for everyday use.
ADESSO Pro Touchpad Keyboard

When used for everyday things like browsing, document writing, blog posting emails ect. the trackpad is very convenient. The right hand placement is aligned almost perfectly with the position held by a normal users mouse.  Touch sensitivity is very responsive and not overly assertive. For more advanced use such as gaming or apps that need a more precise faster mouse response you'll be disappointed. The response just isn't up to par in that area.

Tactile response on all the keys is fairly good. The keys are a bit noisier than I'd like and are a little firmer what I'm accustom to. Being a slim keyboard they keys are a bit smaller than normal and some are a bit cramped, but nothing that can't be overcome by a few weeks adjustment. Integrating the numeric keys into the right side of the keyboard adds a little more functionality for a kiosk environment but seems to serve little purpose for any daily needs. You'll find yourself either forgetting to switch off/on the num lock or not using then at all.


I'll admit the $100 price tag we found the WKB-4200UB listed for at Newegg seems a bit high, especially when you take into consideration the fact most people are going to want to add on a decent wireless mouse. I'd like to have seen Adesso packaged it with at the very least a generic three button wireless mouse for when I'm gaming or just plain get tired of using the trackpad. But when compared to other offerings out there in terms of size, functionality and features it's really hard to beat.

From what I've seen on the market you just can't find a 2.4ghz slim wireless keyboard out there with both a trackpad and full sets of both media and hot keys. For what I'd use it for, which would mainly be a media center PC, I think the Adesso WKB-4200UB might just be perfect. You get a size and shape that easily fits on your lap, or a sleek stylish keyboard that would show nicely on the coffee table.

AT&T Launches New Music Service

AT&T today announced a new AT&T Music application that combines the most popular mobile music services – song and album downloads, streaming radio, song match, lyric search and an enhanced music player – into a single, cohesive experience for AT&T mobile phones. The service is available first as a download on three of AT&T's most popular quick messaging phones, delivering the tightest integration of mobile music services available to this category of devices.

Within one mobile broadband application, subscribers to AT&T Music can:
  • Listen to 40 commercial-free genre radio stations;
  • Customize unlimited personal radio stations;
  • Use song match to identify the tune by holding their phone up to music playing on the radio, TV or elsewhere;
  • Search for lyrics to identify song title and artist;
  • Preview, buy and download songs and albums straight to their phone; and
  • Listen to personal music saved on their mobile device, including the ability to create and manage playlists and find music by artist, album, song or genre.

"We've long been a leader in mobile music and have been at the forefront in evolving the category to offer some robust experiences, but those experiences have largely been available though separate applications," said Mark Collins, senior vice president of Data and Voice Products for AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "We recognized a need to create a 'no dead-ends' experience that weaves together all of the most popular music services, so customers don't have to jump in and out of different applications depending on how they want to access mobile music."

The app was designed to deliver deep integration of tasks while maintaining simple, easy-to-use navigation. A customer with a song line stuck in his or her head can enter those lyrics into the lyric lookup function to identify the song and artist and, from there, view full lyrics, access the artist's bio, preview and buy the song, or create a personalized radio station from that song.

AT&T plans to enable full song and album downloads through direct deals with Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music and indie music distributor The Orchard. Details on additional content providers will be announced in the future.

The new AT&T Music experience is available today on the LG Xenon, Samsung Solstice and Samsung Impression. AT&T plans to make the service available as a download on additional handsets soon and will begin preloading the service on devices beginning this summer.

Feature enhancements, such as the ability to purchase and manage ringtones and ringback tones from within the application, are also planned.

The service is available for $6.99 per month to customers who subscribe to an unlimited data plan. Song and album purchases are charged a la carte.

Customers with currently compatible handsets can download the new AT&T Music experience through the AT&T App Center, available directly from their phone or www.att.com/appcenter. Customers can also text MUSIC to 7299 to receive a link to download the application; messaging rates apply.

Source: AT&T