Monday, August 02, 2010

Microsoft Promises Office 2011 For Macs In October

Microsoft today announced that their next version of the Apple Mac OS version of Microsoft Office would be available in over 100 countries by the end of October. The suite will come in two editions to purchase at retail — Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 and Office for Mac Home and Business 2011.

Mac Office 2011 Pricing

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will retail starting at $119 (U.S. estimated retail price [ERP]).

It will be available in two editions — a single install for $119 (U.S. ERP) and a Family Pack for $149 (U.S. ERP) with three installs for families with more than one Mac in their household. The Home and Student edition provides the core productivity applications that Mac users want and need.

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac, Outlook for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will retail starting at $199 (U.S. ERP).

It also will be available in two editions — a single install for $199 (U.S. ERP) and a Multi-Pack for $279 (U.S. ERP) with two installs for a user with two machines. If Home and Student customers determine that they need the additional functionality of a desktop e-mail client, they can easily step up to Office for Mac Home and Business 2011using online upgrade functionality.

Microsoft Office for Mac Academic 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac, Outlook for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will retail at authorized academic stores and Microsoft, http://www.officeformac.com, for $99 (U.S. ERP).

This special edition was created for higher education students, staff and faculty, and includes one installation.

Office 2008 Technology Guarantee program

As with various version of Microsoft Office for Windows Microsoft has also announced a Mac office 2008 will be covered by their Technology Guarantee program. The program allows qualifying customers to upgrade to Office 2011 at no additional cost when they purchase Office 2008 between now and Nov 30th.

Qualifying purchase details:

Office 2008 for Mac must be purchased between Aug. 1, 2010, and Nov. 30, 2010, at Microsoft or an authorized reseller.

Customers can register for the program online at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/techg. Qualifying registrants must fill out the form and submit their product key(s) and dated sales receipt for Office 2008 for Mac by Dec. 31, 2010.

You must meet all eligibility requirements to receive your Technology Guarantee upgrade. Complete details on this upgrade offer can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/techg.

Apple Stops Bad Mouthing Competitors Removes Antennagate Videos

Since the release of the new iPhone 4 Apple has come under some serious scrutiny from several major tech sites and consumer magazine including Consumer Reports and TechCrunch over antenna problems leading to reception issues. Apple's original approach was to downplay the issue originally telling consumers they should "Just avoid holding it in that way" or buy a bumper case.

"Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas," said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman. "If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

The company then changed direction and looked at blaming a software design flaw before finally stooping to bad mouthing the competition with videos of the so-called "death grip" at work on other smartphones.

Over the weekend is appears Apple has decided to remove those videos in-lieu of what we can only expect will be another approach at downplaying the iPhone 4 issue and or passing the buck on to other companies as well.

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The original video files attacking the Blackberry Bold, HTC Droid Eris, Motorola Droid X and other smartphones are no longer available on Apple's specially-created Smatphone Antenna Performance page. Instead, visitors are now met with a new page showing images of the company's state-of-the-art testing facilities and a brief description describing attenuation and signal loss as well as minor details about their testing program.

The exception appears to be Apple Canada, where the old page still lives and Apple’s official YouTube channel where they are no longer featured, and are a little bit trickier to find.

The removal from the main US site leads us to wonder why the videos have been removed. Its possible that the threat of legal action here in the US by companies whose phones have been demonstrated could be behind the change. Apple however has yest to offer any answers.

The majority of the videos sparked some serious backlash from the tech community as well as Apple's competitors. They argued that their phones did not experience the same level of signal attenuation as the iPhone 4, which can lose signal strength when the bottom left corner of the device is touched.

Most tech pundits agree that in many cases Apple's results could not be as easily replicated as those of users who complained about issues with their iPhones. In fact in several reports the results couldn't be replicated without holding the phone in a totally unnatural manner unlike that of the iPhone.

"We can't seem to recreate this one as easily with our Droid Xs," Engadget reports. German-based Stiftung Wartentest, basically the German version of Consumer Reports, found the iPhone 4's reception will drop by up to 90 percent under the death grip versus a 25 percent signal loss for two other unnamed smartphones.

Clearly the issues Apple highlights are not the same. Apple tried hard to convince us none fanboys that it was but it’s not working. After all, if the other smartphones mentioned like the BlackBerry Bold or Droid X had the same issues as the iPhone 4, it would have been big news by now.

My conclusion:

Apple fanboys are going to be Apple fanboys and clearly as sales of the new iPhone continue to climb we can see that consumers are willing to let Apple slide on the this one. Sure this may not be an issue that affects every iPhone user equally, and hey it might not affect you at all, but in my eyes the issue here is that there is obviously a problem with a major number (even if it's a small percentage) of iPhones and Apple as a major manufacture should be held accountable. A major company like Apple should not be playing the blaming game and trying to point fingers the other way. They've acknowledged the issue by means of the bumper case giveaway and should leave it at that.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

iPhone Dev Team Releases iPhone 4, iPad Jailbreak

That wonderful group of hackers known as the iPhone Dev Team has released their new Jailbreak tool for the iPhone 4, 3GS, 3G, or iPad. The new tool titled "JailbreakMe" reportedly works on the device itself with little user interaction. Simply visit the JailbreakMe website (or secondary site) on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to get started.

If you get a hand at the purple screen, it's because the server is overloaded at this time so you'll either need to try the secondary site or wait for a few hours and try again.

For more details follow @MuscleNerd or @Comex on Twitter as they have been updating details about known issues and sever responsiveness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

X Prize Foundation Offers Millions For Creative Ways to Clean BP's Messy Oil Spill

The X Prize Foundation, most noted for their multi-million dollar contest such as the as the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize has set their sites on cleaning up the BP oil spill.



On July 29, 2010, the X PRIZE Foundation will launch its sixth major competition, a multi-million dollar privately funded Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, designed to inspire entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface. At the press conference, speakers will discuss the goals and objectives of the prize, team rules for entry, amount of the prize purse and announce the competition benefactor.

More information is due tomorrow during the official press release but for now you can visit http://www.xprize.org or follow the X PRIZE Foundation via Facebook or on Twitter @XPrize.

Fake Firefox Update Page Pushes Fake Flash Update

F-Secure has posted details of a fake Firefox "Just Updated" page which pushes users to install a phony update to Firefox and Flash that actually contains malware. In their recent post Rogue AV Masquerades as a Firefox/Flash Update F-Secure provides details of how the page works.

For starters lets explain what the page is, You know that page that instantaneously appears right after you install that recent update to your Firefox browser? And you open Firefox for the first time? Well this page looks almost identical to one of those.

 
Image courtesy F-Secure


Once a user is on the page there is a message box that suggests you not only update to the "latest and greatest version" of Firefox but also a message warning you that your Flash player is outdated and needs to be updated. Without clicking anything a download dialog box appears offering a fake file titled "ff-update.exe". Unsuspecting users that save and run the fill will find themselves infected with a rogue antivirus product named "SecurityTool" which starts finding threats which aren't there and demanding payment in order to remove them.

The files the "SecurityTool" software detects are an old virus, Virus.DOS.Glew.4245 and several trojans, worms and other vulnerabilities. Of course these aren't actually present, unless that is the software adds them. The name and URL of the site are obscured to we have no way of knowing how well the spoof was done but F-Secure says their software already detects this particular threat and has blocked the web site from which it spreads.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dell Updates Streak Pre-Sale Details

Update: According to Computer World, the information quoted below from the Dell site is wrong and was accidentally posted. Dell spokesperson Matt Parretta told Computer World's Matt Hamblen, "It was a mistake, and we took that information down this morning. I can say definitely that the Dell Streak won't go on sale in July."

It looks like its anyone's guess as to when the Streak will actually be released!

Last week we mentioned that Dell was offering very few details about it ongoing pre-sale of the new Dell Streak Tablet. Today the company finally outed the information that most customers had been begging for!

According to Dell:
Pre-sale registrants get first access to pre-order the Dell Streak though Dell.com on July 27 for $299.99 with new two-year eligible AT&T service contract†, and $549.99 without. Those who sign up during the pre-sale signup will also receive a free second-day shipping upgrade as well as a coupon for a Plantronics Bluetooth earpiece for 99 cents. Clicking on the link below will take you directly to the pre-sale site.

Registering sometime between July 20 - 27 will sign you up for a spot to pre-order a Dell Streak. On June 27, customers who register will receive an e-mail from Dell that will contain a unique purchase link. That e-mail will also contain a coupon code that will allow you to buy the Plantronics Bluetooth headset for 99 cents. If you do not use that purchase code before July 28, you will lose your priority order status and will have to place your order with the general public when it will be available for order by all US customers.
For those of you looking for more details here's the Dell Streak product page.

Dell is also confirming that the Dell Aero is making its way to US customers. The phone is expected to be available for order Aug. 9 at Dell.com/mobile or from AT&T for $99.99 with new AT&T two-year contract†, and $299.99 without. At this time AT&T has very few details on their product page but you can sign-up for an email alert as soon as the Dell Aero is available.

Apple Warns Jailbreaking May Be Legal But It Still Violates Your TOS And Warranty

Following recent changes made to the 1998 DMCA by the Library of Congress that made it legal to Jailbreak and root smartphones Apple has found itself in a bit if a conundrum. What to do to keep control over the millions of user out there that currently own iPhones. Their response, remind users that even though its legal Jailbreaking still violates the iOS terms of service and voids the warranty on your iPhone.

Apple released for following statement to Cult of Mac:
Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.

Apple's approach is fairly short and sweet: Apple wants to control the iPhone. Sure they use the guise that by keeping things things simple and stable and not allowing every app out there to run on the iPhone they can provide a better end user experience. But it all really comes down to control.

They want to control your network, and keep their exclusivity with AT&T. They want to control how and where you buys apps, keeping the App Store intact (a major cash cow). If they lose that control they stand to lose millions in revenue and sites like Cydia, an underground app store specializing in safe unauthorized apps (such as tethering apps), has been picking up steam of late. The site is said to service millions of Jailbroken iPhones. The new Jailbreaking exemption could lead to a revolution of sorts with more and more users breaking away from Apple gripe. Something the company just doesn't want to see.

Now don't get me wrong here Jailbreaking does have it faults. Not all apps out there in the wild are perfect and yes in some instances Jailbreaking can open the door to software that can ruin a users experience (and maybe steal your identity or spread viruses). There is always a chance that you'll run into instability, disruption of services, and other issues. Lets not forget however that even Apple's own iTunes App store was recently hit with a few malicious apps and even more recently well respected Citigroup had to warn customers of a security flaw in its free iPhone app.

Given these issue, and of course the rise of similar attacks, it's hard to buy Apple's stance that Jailbroking iPhones makes them that much less secure than they already are! I say if you want to do it, do it. At the very least you should look into the pros and cons on either side before you jump in line and buy what Apple is saying.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Logitech Looking For ‘Host with the Most’ To Debut Google TV

Logitech is looking for three social media savvy individuals to help introduce the world to the new Logitech Revue with Google TV. The three lucky entrants will be hosting a coming out party at one of Logitech's fully furnished loft spaces in Los Angeles, New York City or San Francisco.

You may be selected to be a ‘Host with the Most’ for Logitech if you:

  • Have a knack for hosting awesome parties – and lots of ‘em
  • Possess the ability to tell a story – using a variety of social media tools, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
  • Are an articulate, energetic and passionate voice to lead, communicate and drive awareness and excitement for the Logitech Revue with Google TV experience
  • Love technology and have a lust for all things innovative and new in consumer electronics.

What does it take to be a Logitech ‘Host with the Most’?

We are considering people with the following criteria:

  • Some social media experience and networks established (including but not limited to a personal blog and accounts on Twitter, Facebook and/or YouTube)
  • Must be authorized to work in the United States
  • Must reside in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York City, or be willing to relocate/commute to one of those cities for the duration of the campaign (approximately September 15 – November 15). Relocation costs not covered by Logitech.
  • A Bachelors Degree (preferred)

This is a paid, contract position with Logitech.

The Logitech ‘Host with the Most’ search begins today. Here’s how the application process will work:

7.26 – 8.20: Submissions and voting voting
8.21 – 8.23: Voting continues after submissions close
8.25: Finalists announced
8.26 – 9.03: Finalists judging
9.09: Hosts announced

Interested? Apply now at the application above or on the contest tab at Facebook.com/Logitech.

If you are a Safari user unable to login via the Facebook link above, please click here to enter.

Ready more at Calling all Logitech and Google TV Fans!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Win $10k For Living in the Museum of Science and Industry

Living in a Museum would be a dream for some, living in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and being paid $10,000 to do so, now that's the dream of any geek anywhere!

The Museum is looking for one lucky geek to spend one full month living inside the museum from October 20 to November 18, 2010. In addition to sleeping and eating at the the museum, the selected applicant would have to spend his or her time blogging, speaking with the media and perhaps even performing live science demos around the building.

The lucky winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000, a package of tech gadgets, an honorary lifetime membership to MSI, and of course the chance to live a geek filled month of excitement like none other!

To enter you must be over the age of 18 with an adventurous, outgoing personality with a strong interest in learning about science and the world around you. You must also be willing to o live and breathe science 24/7 for 30 days. The deadline to apply is August 11 and you can find more details via the museum’s website.

Requirements of the Month at the Museum

The winning candidate must:
  • Pass a drug test, behavioral assessment, and background checks.
  • Sign an Agreement covering the terms of the engagement.
  • Sign a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement.  (We have a secret recipe for fun, and it can't get out.)
  • Agree to very limited contact with the outside, and limited and/or prohibited personal use of cell phone, texting, e-mail, Facebook, etc., during the residence period.
  • Reside exclusively in the Museum during the residence period. Occasionally, the candidate will leave the Museum to see science where it happens or appear at events on the Museum's behalf.
  • Following the residence, make a few event appearances, if the Museum opts to arrange them.

Physical and other specific requirements of the position may include:
  • Sleeping in confined or “untraditional” spaces.
  • Significant walking around the Museum, including climbing stairs frequently.
  • Lifting up to 40 lbs. (Of what, we don’t know yet. We’ll think of something.)
  • Ability to stand for significant periods of time. (This might include working the Museum floor, performing live science demos, blowing up chemicals in our "Bangs, Flashes and Fire" show, and other really fun stuff.)
  • Meeting, interacting and socializing with crowds of Museum guests every day … with a smile.
  • Working on a computer daily to write about your amazing experiences.
  • Speaking English for demonstrations and other appearances.

Rules and Regulations

  • You may enter only once. Submitting multiple entries will disqualify you from the competition.  The Museum will not automatically confirm receipt of your application but you may request confirmation by e-mailing matm(at)msichicago.org no sooner than 10 days after submission of your application.
  • You must not be previously or currently employed by the Museum (whether as an employee, volunteer or contractor), or related to or a member of the same household as an MSI employee, volunteer or contractor.
  • You must be 18 or over at the date of application.
  • You must be legally allowed to receive compensation for services in the United States. 
  • You must be available to live in the Museum for 30 days with no outside personal or work responsibilities.  Semi-finalists may be required to submit evidence of their physical and mental fitness to fulfill the position specifications.

Entry Materials

Complete entries must include the following:
  • VIDEO: A 60-second video (on DVD, playable on DVD player) telling us about you and why you should be the person chosen for this assignment. Use the video to showcase the creativity and qualities that make you the right person. 
  • ESSAY: A 500-word essay that explains why you want to be the person chosen to live in the Museum for a month.
  • APPLICATION FORM: Complete and sign the application form and short-answer sheet.
  • PHOTO:  Submit a 5” x 7” head shot
  • RELEASE AND WAIVER: Execute the Release and Waiver accompanying the application form.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Students Get Windows 7 Professional for $29, Office Professional Academic 2010 for only $79.95

In honor of the upcoming back to school season Microsoft has decided to run a new promotion for .EDU email holders.

For what is likely a limited time users with a valid e-mail address at an educational institution ending with the domain suffix .EDU (i.e., leina@contoso.edu) OR have a valid email address at one of the educational institutions listed here can download Windows 7 Professional for only $29.99.

For those of you that already have Windows 7 but are looking for Microsoft Office deals you can also get Office Professional Academic 2010 for only $79.95.

To be eligible individuals must be a student at a U.S. educational institution and must be actively enrolled in at least 0.5 course credit and be able to provide proof of enrollment upon request. Both offers come from Microsoft's distribution partner DigitalRiver.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dell Offers Very Few Dell Streak Pre-Sale Details

Dell may have announced the Streak pre-sale for US customers this week however its what the company isn't saying that is speaking more loudly that what it is.

Dell kicked off the pre-sale opportunity July 20 for those eager customers that just can't wait to get their hands on the new 5" tablet (err smarthpone?). The company has said that pre-sale registrants will get the first access to pre-order the Dell Streak through Dell.com. What the company has failed to say is exactly when the phone will be available, at what price, through what carriers and whether or not there will be an option for unlocked devices.

Speculation has the Streak showing up as an AT&T phone as early as next Monday. The Dell site simply says "available for purchase in late July" with no mention of a carrier. These reports seem the most likely as phone will utilize the GSM bands that are currently only offered by AT&T and T-Mobile. Add to that the fact sites like PC Mag have already outed the phone as an AT&T device and its seems reasonable.




Hardware-wise, the Dell Streak features the following:
  • A sharp 5-inch capacitive multi-touch WVGA (800x480) display for a great full-screen experience watching video or browsing the web
  • Fast 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash that offers easy point & shoot capability and quick uploads to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and more
  • VGA front-facing camera enables video chat functionality down the road
  • A user-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack means many of you can use the Dell Streak as the music source (and more) in your car
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1 (think headsets, external keyboards, stereo headsets, etc.)
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • A user-accessible Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB. That means you can store  lots of movies, music, photos or other kinds of files.
On the software side, here's what you can expect:
  • A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • Access to over 38,000+ apps via the Android Marketplace
  • Microsoft Exchange connectivity and integration through TouchDown
  • Google Voice support
  • Integrated Google Maps with voice-activated search, turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views
  • Quick access to activity streams via integrated social network app widgets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

From the early reviews and pictures the Dell Streak looks intriguing. I see a lot of concerns over the overall size and shape, with more than one review stating that its to big to be a great smarthphone and too small to be a great tablet. Price concerns are another big area of concern. If the phone is priced to high it will price itself out of the competition so I guess time will tell.

Enter The Intel vPro Technology Innovation Contest

Got a brilliant new use for Intel vPro technology? Then put your good idea to use and you could win yourself some cold hard cash!



Intel is always searching for innovative uses of Intel vPro Technology. If you have one enter the Intel vPro Technology Innovation Contest by submitting a video for a chance to win $4,000 toward a trip to the 2010 Intel Developer Forum, Sep. 13-15, in San Francisco.

The contest runs from July 21st 2010 12:00AM PDT to 11:59PM PDT August 20th 2010 and is open to all legal residents of the United States age 18 and older. Employees, officers and representatives (and members of their immediate families and those living in the same household of each) of Intel Corporation, its parents, subsidiaries and affiliated companies, advertising and promotion agencies and any company involved in the design, execution, production or judging of this promotion (“contest entities”) are ineligible.

Judging will be based on an ongoing review of entries during the contest period and final judging will be completed on or about August 30th, 2010 by a panel comprised of Intel vPro Engineers appointed by Intel Corporation. Judges will evaluate all eligible submissions on the following criteria: Degree to which Intel vPro capabilities are employed, uniqueness of the innovation, and breadth of applicability. Judges' decisions are final. You may withdraw your submission at any time by notifying Intel. If a submission is withdrawn your right to win a prize is terminated.

Click here for full contest details

Your Replacement Dell PowerEdge Motherboard May Have Malware

Dell has issued a warning to all of the business consumers that several of the companies replacement motherboards for their PowerEdge servers could potentially be infected with malware.

Apparently the issue does not affect any Dell PowerEdge servers shipped directly from Dell's factories rather it's limited to a small number of the replacement motherboards which were sent via Dell’s service and replacement process for four server models: PowerEdge R310, PowerEdge R410, PowerEdge R510 and PowerEdge T410.

Dell's Matt McGinnis has posted more details on the Dell Support forum thread here with many more details being posted on this post. The company promises it will continue to update this main server forum thread. Beyond the discussion forum, concerned customers are urged to contact Dell's server support team.

The malware has been identified as the W32.Spybot worm and was discovered in flash storage on the motherboard during Dell testing. The malware does not reside in the firmware as previously thought. Dell is assuring consumers that all industry-standard antivirus programs on the market today have the ability to identify and prevent the code from infecting the customer’s operating system which is limited to Windows based operating systems only.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Droid X Screen Problems? Get A Replacement From Verizon!

It has been confirmed that Motorola's hot new Droid X has a few screen issues, and unlike some competitors (cough Apple, cough cough) the company has quickly confirmed the issue and will be offering a quick concise fix.

The statement below was released via Engadget who confirmed reports that a small number of Droid X displays, approximately one-tenth of one percent have been experiencing issues.

Verizon's statement:

"Verizon Wireless and Motorola are aware of a very small number of DROID X units that have experienced a flickering or banding display. Motorola has resolved the issue and is continuing to ship the phones. Any consumer who experiences a flickering or banding display should contact a Motorola customer support center or Verizon Wireless."

According to Verizon Wireless representatives any Droid X owner with the display problem will receive a replacement phone. Good to see at least one company is willing to own up to their mistakes!

Review: Able Planet NC300B Headphones

Honestly I can say while I know that over the years Able Planet has produced award winning headphone sets I hadn't personally heard much about the company until last year when we had the chance to review their Clear Harmony NC200 Foldable Headphones.

Until that time I always thought a pair of headphones was a pair of headphones and there was going to be very little difference. Boy has my thinking come along way since then. Noise-canceling and true fidelity truly make there mark over your standard set of headphones. So much so that I can't see myself ever returning to a run of the mill set again.

Introduction

Having had our Clear Harmony NC200's for some time now and absolutely loving those we jumped at the chance to review the newer True Fidelity NC300's. Unlike the ultra-portable foldable NC200's the NC300 are standard over-the-ear headphones with an adjustable and padded headband that uses powered noise-cancellation technology as well as Able Planet's LINX AUDIO technology.

    FEATURES
  • Featuring Award-Winning Patented LINX AUDIO a Hear the Difference technology
  • In-Line Volume Control for Easy Adjustment to Safe Listening Levels
  • Lightweight and Comfortable fit
  • State-of-the-art active noise cancelation (ANC)
  • Superior comfort
  •  
    SPECIFICATIONS
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity at 1 kHz: 115 dB (Off); 121 dB (On)
  • Plug: 3.5mm
  •  
    INCLUDED
  • 1/4 Home Stereo Adaptor
  • AAA Battery (1)
  • Hard Shell Protective Carrying Case
  • Airplane Adapter

The NC300 headphones are lightweight, fairly compact and very stylish. The noise-canceling features are nothing short of amazing and sound quality is superb. The headphones offer inline volume controls that are very accessible and side earpiece mounted switch for noise-canceling. All this is powered via a single AAA battery.

Noise Cancellation

Possibly one of the biggest and brightest features packed into our NC300's are the noise-canceling technology. Now lets face it no noise-canceling headset is ‘perfect’ – in other words, they don’t block everything out. But from my very unscientific testing I'd have to say Able Planet has noise cancellation down to a sweet science.

You do get that ominous hum when there is no noise be pumped through the headphones however as mentioned this is only noticeable when there is no noise. Once you start turning up the music, you will quickly drown out any other noise in the area. And yes I mean any other noise, I could sit with the TV on at a moderate level and still not hear it above the music I was listening to and almost all but the loudest background noise while on the road was gone.

Naturally you should be careful about damaging your hearing by listening to too much excessively loud music.

Sound Quality

Without exacting scientific testing this is going to be one area that is very subjective, so caveat emptor, and you may have a very different opinion from me as to what you feel is great sound quality verses just so so. So please take this as its meant as just an open opinion.

I use my headphones not only to listen to a wide range of music but to listen to and watch movies and for some light gaming on my PC and or laptop. When doing musical tests sound production on mid's and high's was crisp and clear with almost no noticeable clarity issues. Lows on the other hand weren't reproduced very well at all. Now these are headphones so some consideration has to be given for that. When watching movies or during gaming sound quality felt very precise and very clean.

Comfort - the one downfall

Unfortunately this is going to be another very subjective area and sadly the one area that our Able Planet NC300B's fail very short on. When watching movies or listen to music I was not able to wear them for extended periods – over an hour. Unlike the NC200's and other headphones I've previously used the headband felt very rigid and tight. The adjustment band seemed to slip from a comfortable position down to a tighter one which tighten the ear cups down to an uncomfortable level. The ear pieces themselves were fine, it seemed the only issue was the band.

Being summer and rather warm I did notice the ear cups made my ears quite warm, even sweaty so I found myself needing to take them off periodically. This wasn't a major concern as its a fairly common issue with most similar headphones. The headband issue, at least in my opinion, was a major flaw though.

Conclusion

For the most part I give the Able Planet NC300B headphones a glowing review, this doesn't however mean that I would also give them a strong recommendation. In fact on a 5 point scale I'd barely give them a two.

Its my opinion that you can make a great product but if its not comfortable enough for me to use it then its not worth me buying it. Sadly this is the case for the NC300's. I'm very aware of the fact that comfort is a subjective area so they might feel great to someone else and just not to me so I won't say they are horrible or they shouldn't be bought just that from my experience they aren't for me. Personally I felt the NC200's we previously reviewed were a much better fit and more portable.

My comfort issue aside you can clearly see how these could be a great set of headphones. They offer great sound quality and exceptional noise-canceling all for a price tag that most would consider as being extremely affordable. The Able Planet Site will hit you with a bit of sticker shock as the Able Planet NC300B headphones carry a $150 price tag. Don't let this bother you you savvy shoppers out there should have no issues finding them for a much better price elsewhere.

ABLE PLANET NC300B True Fidelity Around-the-Ear Active Noise Canceling Headphones (Black)

Google Image Search Gets A 'Bing' Makeover And We Hate It

Google's image search product just received one of its biggest makeovers since the tool launched way back in 2001. Among the new features are several items that remind us of the Bing search, which BTW we don't care for.



Included in the Google Image Search update are a new tiled layout, the removal of all text from below the images on the search results page, instant continual scrolling between pages with no load time in between and the addition of much larger thumbnails, which Google says have been designed for "modern browsers and high-res screens".

Here’s a full list of new items in this refreshed design of Google Images:
  • Dense tiled layout designed to make it easy to look at lots of images at once. We want to get the app out of the way so you can find what you’re really looking for.
  • Instant scrolling between pages, without letting you get lost in the images. You can now get up to 1,000 images, all in one scrolling page. And we’ll show small, unobtrusive page numbers so you don’t lose track of where you are.
  • Larger thumbnail previews on the results page, designed for modern browsers and high-res screens.
  • A hover pane that appears when you mouse over a given thumbnail image, giving you a larger preview, more info about the image and other image-specific features such as “Similar images.”
  • Once you click on an image, you’re taken to a new landing page that displays a large image in context, with the website it’s hosted on visible right behind it. Click anywhere outside the image, and you’re right in the original page where you can learn more about the source and context.
  • Optimized keyboard navigation for faster scrolling through many pages, taking advantage of standard web keyboard shortcuts such as Page Up / Page Down. It’s all about getting you to the info you need quickly, so you can get on with actually building that treehouse or buying those flowers.
While most of the new design is cosmetic in nature Google has promised a few changes in the functionality department. The newer, supposedly better, search tool is now more capable of better refining search results based on context. Making it easier to look for pictures that contain flowers of a specific color, or animals of a particular subspecies.

Google promises the new “Similar images” tool will now allow a user to search animals such as the Snow Leopard and the new Google Images algorithm can recognize the difference between each subspecies, returning just those leopards of a particular subspecies. It can tell you the name of the subspecies in a particular image—even if that image isn’t labeled—because other similar leopard images on the web are labeled with that subspecies’s name.

Personally I like the functionality changes, most of which had already been added. The addition of a new 'size' tab that gives you the size information of a particular image is helpful as is the new results landing page you see once you click and image.

Unfortunately I can't say I like all the changes particular the cosmetic ones. The new tiled look can be cluttered at times and looks fairly disorganized particularly when viewing search results for people.

I'm not certain why Google has been adding in various changes throughout their sites like the new changes to the news sections, home page and other areas. I've always liked using Google for the simple design with a minimalistic feel. If I wanted something that looked clutter and disorganized like Bing I'd just go use Bing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sign-up For The DC Universe Online Beta

Sony Online Entertainment is now accepting applicants for the upcoming PlayStation 3 and PC MMORPG DC Universe Online Beta.

Those interested in trying out the Superhero MMORPG can sign up for either the PlayStation 3 or PC version at the beta registration page. Those accepted into the trial period will receive a follow-up e-mail from SOE with further instruction. SOE did not specify a start date for the beta but did hint that the action MMORPG will roll out in phases, similar to the testing phase for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Game Features:

  • Experience the power of visceral combat where you control every blow your character strikes, delivering a level of action that is unparalleled in the MMO segment.
  • Choose your side -- superhero or villain -- as you battle to save or conquer the universe.
  • Fight alongside or against your favorite DC heroes and villains including Batman, The Joker, Superman, Wonder Woman and others…The next legend is YOU!
  • Experience the intensity of a world created in the artistic vision of legendary comic book artist Jim Lee.
  • Take advantage of the state-of-the-art physics engine and use objects in the world around you as weapons, including even your enemies!
  • Players will create their own custom DC-style hero or villain, each with a unique look and combination of superpowers.
  • Embark on heroic or villainous story-driven adventures penned by famous DC writers including Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman.
  • Gameplay is optimized for both the PS3 computer entertainment system and PC.
  • Explore the DC Universe; walk the darkened streets of Gotham City, investigate the mysteries of the futuristic cityscape of Metropolis and travel to legendary locations including Arkham Asylum and the Justice League of America Watchtower.

DC Universe Online screenshots and trailers can be found on the Official DC Universe Online page as well as the DC Universe Online Game's YouTube Channel.

Apple: There Are No iPhone 4 Antenna Issues But Here's A Free Case Anyways

Apple and CEO Steve Jobs may be vehemently denying reports that the iPhone 4 has serious antenna and reception issues however that hasn't stopped the company from caving to pressure and offering up a partial fix.

In a Friday news conference Jobs does a two step around an all out confirmation that the latest greatest iPhone from Apple has some flaws. "We love our users, we really love them," Jobs said. "We try very hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off. When we fall short, which we do sometimes, we try harder. We pick ourselves up, figure out what's wrong and we try harder."

Jobs says Apple will be offering customers who have already purchased a $29 Bumper case from Apple a full refund and all iPhone owners will be given a choice of several different manufacturers' cases, including Apple's.

"We can't make enough bumpers," Jobs said. "No way can we make enough in the quarter. So what we're going to do is source some cases and give you a choice."

The free-case-giveaway is effective immediately, and good for iPhone 4 purchases through Sept. 30. iPhone 4 owners who have bought a Bumper will be able to apply for a refund on the company's Web site starting this week. In addition, customers who are still unhappy with the iPhone 4 can return their handset undamaged within 30 days for a full refund. Users can return before or after they've received their free case, therefore you can order your free case and try it out. If you still have issues with your phone you can send it back with out issue.

"No restocking fee or anything," Jobs said. "We want to take care of everyone. We want every user to be happy."

At this time it appears as though Apple has pulled all of their bumpers from the companies online store. Apple's site now carries the note, "iPhone 4 Bumpers are currently unavailable for sale." Apple has yet to state why the bumpers are no longer unavailable on the site, we can only assume Apple is bracing for the inevitable in-flux of demand in the wake of last week's announcement.

You can checkout the full press conference here.

My thoughts:

You really have to watch the full news conference for yourself. I only touched on some of the basic details Mr Jobs gives out about the bumper program. I didn't cover any of the finger point and 'calling out' of other companies that Jobs did. Its really sad that Apple feels they need to result to acting like a kid on the playground.

You made a mistake, there is undoubtedly an issue, own up to it and move on. Don't sit back and point fingers accept the blame and be done with it. No company wants to have to shell out the 10's of millions of dollars Apple is going to be spending to make things right but that doesn't give you a free pass to act childish.

There are reports that engineers warned the company this might be an issue. Then there was the whole iOS 4.0.1 update which was supposed to correct the way signals bars are displayed on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4. Now Jobs wants us all to believe this is an issue with all phones on the market. Come on!

Mozilla Now Offering $3K For Firefox Bugs

The Mozilla Foundation has announced it will now reward users who discover and report critical security vulnerabilities in its software $3,000 for each vulnerability found.

The Mozilla Security Bug Bounty Program originally launched back in 2004. When it was first announced the programs reward for bugs was limited to just $500. Today several other companies, including Google have launched similar programs offering up more and more money for users that can find critical holes in their web browsers.

Eligible security vulnerabilities must be remotely exploitable (over the web or a local network) and not previously have been publicly documented.

Reward Guidelines

The bounty will be awarded for sg:critical and sg:high severity security bugs that meet the following criteria:
  • Security bug must be original and previously unreported.
  • Security bug must be a remote exploit.
  • Security bug is present in the most recent supported, beta or release candidate version of Firefox, Thunderbird, Firefox Mobile, or in Mozilla services which could compromise users of those products, as released by Mozilla Corporation or Mozilla Messaging.
  • Security bugs in or caused by additional 3rd-party software (e.g. plugins, extensions) are excluded from the Bug Bounty program.
  • Submitter must not be the author of the buggy code nor otherwise involved in its contribution to the Mozilla project (such as by providing check-in reviews).
  • Employees of the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiaries are ineligible.
Mozilla also ask that users finding the security bug as part of your job (in other words, while being paid to work on Mozilla code) they then would appreciate your not applying for the bounty. Funds for the project are limited and they would like this program to focus on people who are not otherwise paid to work on the Mozilla project.

Mozilla reserves the right to not give a bounty payment if we believe the actions of the reporter have endangered the security of Mozilla's end users. If two or more people report the bug together the $3000 reward will be divided among them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ScareWare Now Features 'Live Tech Support'

Nicolas Brulez of Kaspersky Labs has discovered that scareware vendors have ramped up their rogue AVs and are now spreading this malicious software with an “Online Support” button. Users installing the fake anti-virus software Security Master AV and clicking on the 'Online Support' button are directed to a chat window in which they can ask questions, or get "tech support", directly from the scareware 'vendor'.

Pressing Support takes you into a live chat with the rogue AV Tech Support. Brulez says he wondered whether it was a bot answering questions based on keywords or real people – and he reports, "yes, they turned out to be real!"

Kaspersky Labs learned that they not only offer Technical Support by chat, but also by phone and email. The email is especially useful if you don’t speak English. The live chat tells you (in English) to send an email in your native language to a given email address to receive support in your native language.

Once you are in the live chat one of three 'tech support agents' (Debora Brown, Kendra Grace or David Lee) attempt to convince victims in fluent English that their free trial software is genuine adding that the first rogue AV is a ‘Free Scanner’ only and that in order to remove the infections users will need to install the bogus full product. The newer products “clean” the machine, unlike the previous ones.

Below are some videos captured by Brulez and the Kaspersky Labs team:




This new hands on approach is like nothing ever seen before. It shows how well organized some of these groups have become.

Twitter's @earlybird Service Kicks Off With New Deals

Last week, Twiiter unveiled a new daily deal service that will deliver tweets on exclusive offers, previews, and events from the companies select advertising partners. The new service called, @earlybird, officially launched their first set of offers this morning partnering with The Walt Disney Studios.

For a limited time, @earlybird followers in the U.S. can get a special deal on tickets for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a new feature film from Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films that opens in theaters today.

Get 2 for 1 tickets at Fandango theaters to Sorcerers Apprentice while supplies last! Click for rules and limitations! http://t.co/zEgBXjn.

Twitter has not announced any further official partners but they are promising deals ranging from entertainment, fashion, technology, beauty and travel in the coming days and weeks.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Apple Silencing Detractors Censors Forums Over Negative iPhone 4 Remarks

Throughout the web Apple's reputation may be taking a beating over reported the iPhone 4 antenna issues the latest of which comes via Consumer Reports. The popular review site/magazine recently gave the new iPhone the negative rating of "can't recommend".

The report made big news around the web and has surfaced along side several other tests verifying the reported antenna issues. There is one place however you will not find mention of the new report. If you browse through Apple's own support forum you will not find a single post mentioning the Consumer Reports rating.

Why not you may ask? Well according to several reports the company has taken to censoring remarks and deleting threads even mentioning the negative rating.

According to Endgaget this is nothing out of the norm for the company. They state, "Apple deleting threads from its support forums is nothing new; outside of "regular" moderation, the company routinely deletes discussion of hardware flaws that it's not ready to 'fess up to, or just generally negative lines of thought about its products."

Personally I think its sad commentary that Apple has to stoop so low as to silence their own consumers. If there is an issue and even your staunchest of supporters is out there trying to voice and opinion you should be listening and trying to rectify that issue. Not sweep it under the rug in the hopes that it will just go away! 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460

nvidia logoEven though Newegg and a few other retailers jumped the gun a bit and started posting the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 a bit early today marks the card's official release by NVIDIA.

As previously mentioned the new card packs 336 CUDA cores, core clock speeds of 675MHz, 1,350MHz shader speeds and an effective memory clock of 3,600MHz with 768MB of GDDR5 memory running through a 192-bit interface. The 768MB variant will have an msrp of $199 while a more robust GTX 460 1GB, with a 256-bit memory interface will also be available at an estimated US price of $229.

For more details on the card checkout the official NVIDIA GTX 460 page

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 Benchmarks and Reviews:


Related Content:

Review: Adesso iMouseT1 Desktop Optical Trackball

The trackball may not be as popular as it once use to be but a few companies out there are still offering up these rather unique input devices. Adesso is one such company that is still churning out new models. The latest of these is the Adesso iMouse T1 Desktop Optical Trackball, an optical trackball featuring an 800 DPI sensor tacking a 1.8-inch ball ergonomically jammed front and center for easy manipulation.



Adesso iMouseT1 Specification:
  • Tracking Technology: Optical trackball sensor technology
  • Buttons: 2 left and right click buttons
  • Scrolling Wheel: 1 scroll wheel to navigate easily
  • Resolution: 800 DPI
  • Switch life cycles: 1,000,000 times
  • Connection: USB
  • Cable length: 5ft
  • Dimensions: 6" x 3.4" x 2"
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs
  • Operating System Supported: Windows 7 / Vista / XP / 2000 and Mac OSx or OS 9

The iMouse T1 features dimensions of 6" x 3.4" x 2" making this a rather large device with a large oddly shaped body. Flanking the trackball are three standard buttons left and right and a side mounted scroll wheel, all three of which are quit large. The overall size and shape will make for easy use for some but will provide a rather uncomfortable feel for others.

Those with large hands or that have accessibility concerns such as carpal tunnel, arthritis or any other hand related issues should find the size ideal. Users with smaller hands will likely find the iMouse T1 a bit hard to use as hand positioning feels stretched and out of place.

Tracking is very smooth and with some adjustment to mouse settings very precise. Both the top buttons provide a nice tactile feel and show good responsiveness. The one issue we found was that they scroll wheel on our iMouse feels stiff making for jagged scrolling and the location makes using the third (usually middle click) button near impossible.

Conclusion:

Overall we had no major complaints about our iMouse T1. There were a few issues with the scroll wheel and I'm a bit disappointed in the overall size as well as the lack of a wireless option. I've become rather spoiled by using a wireless mouse and keyboard combo and would have preferred not being tethered to my desk. Being a geek with smaller hands the bulk and shape of the iMouse made for an uncomfortable feel until I made a few adjustments to my hand position. I actually found it easier to use left handed than I did right. This was likely due to being use to the feel a mouse has in my right hand. Size and shape aside we'd definitely give the iMouse a recommendation rating.

Pricing:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get Your NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 At Newegg Now

Retailers have begun listing the latest incarnation of NVIDIA's Fermi based cards the GeForce GTX 460. The card which has yet to be officially released packs 336 CUDA cores, core clock speeds of 675MHz, 1,350MHz shader speeds and an effective memory clock of 3,600MHz with 768MB of GDDR5 memory running through a 192-bit interface.

Currently Newegg is offering twelve models in all from the usual suspects ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI and Palit. Prices range from $199 for the based edition GTX 460 to $245 for a SONIC PLATINUM 1GB 256-bit version from Palit.

Full specs and details from NVIDIA will be posted as soon as they become available!

Tether Your Android Phone For Free

AT&T customers and iPhone fanboys may want to look away as today we are going to give you the low down on a quick easy way of tethering your Android powered phone for free.

For starters we'll offer some words of warning this is a bit of an advanced approach you have to gain root access to your phone, something that involves a multi-step process that uses an unofficial Android add-on which can brick your phone or have other nasty implications if applied incorrectly. Unless you are totally comfortable with what you are attempting you probably shouldn't try it, or at the very least get some help from someone that knows a bit more than you do.

That said for an average PC user that has done things like a bios flash, firmware upgrade or something similar it's really not going to be an overly complicated process, I just offer the warning as some users might not be aware of the dangers. So if you're up for the challenge here is a great tutorial from the Android and Me blog. This is a fairly easy to follow three step process that involves unlocking your phone's bootloader, flashing a recovery image, and flashing an add-on to the default Nexus One firmware.


Once you have you Android phone rooted you need to bounce over to the Google Code site and grab the Android Wi-Fi Tether application. This program enables tethering (via wifi and bluetooth) for "rooted" handsets running Android (such as the Android DevPhone 1). Clients (your laptop for example) can connect via wifi (ad-hoc mode) or bluetooth and get access to the internet using the 3G, 2G mobile connection or (in case you are using bluetooth) the wifi connection which is established by the handset.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Blizzard Responds To RealID Concerns

 **Update**
In a message posted on the company's Web site shortly before 1 p.m. EDT Friday, Activision Blizzard CEO Mike Morheieme said the company changed the plan announced earlier after receiving a raft of feedback, much of it criticizing the move, from users posting to the company's forums.

Saying that Blizzard's recent announcement to include users real names not only in-game but also on the companies Battle.Net gaming forums has come with a little backlash is a serious understatement. Blogs, forums and various other sites have been flooded with complaints from concerned gamers voicing various opinions about the issue.

Today a Blizzard rep spoke at length with gaming site Gamasutra trying to alleviate some of those concerns. Oddly enough some of the discussion leaves more questions for us than it did actual answers.

"Players can continue to read the forums anonymously regardless of whether they choose to post in them, and their gameplay experiences will not change if they choose not to use the Real ID communication features in game," the Blizzard rep stated. This we actually already knew...yeah optional go figure huh

The rather mystifying part of the statements was that he explains that players can actually register any name they wish when signing up for their Real ID. HUH? Correct me if I'm wrong here but that seems like an utter FAIL. I thought the point was that users had to use their REAL names and that they were somehow going to verify these real names. I assumed via CC information.

The rep does continue to state that each RealID user name must be tied to a unique CD key for that game, and Blizzard says it plans to attempt to enforce the use of legitimate names. I'm assuming they will be blocking names like Mike Hunt, Wi Tard eect ect

"We have multiple teams here who will be monitoring the forums and looking for inappropriate names," the rep explained. "When the situation does arise, our community and customer service representatives will investigate and determine if any action is needed."

The rep continues to explain further benefits of not providing fake names adding that using fake names only hinders the company's ability to provide timely service. The Terms of Use agreement also require that players provide Blizzard with accurate information, as certain aspects of customer service rely on identity verification.

The new Real ID system will be integrated into the StarCraft II forum later this month. The service is expected to invade World of Warcraft sometime around the launch of Cataclysm.

Maybe I'm lost here, or maybe Blizzard is doing a complete 180 based on the negative reaction from their user base, either way it seems like there are now more questions about this new Real ID system.

Pirate Bay User Database Hacked, Millions Of Email And IP Addresses Exposed

According to Brian Krebs, at KrebsonSecurity.com, an Argentinian hacker named Ch Russo reported that he and his group had discovered a SQL injection vulnerability in The Pirate Bay's website that allowed them to obtain and expose personal information of all the users registered at the site. This includes not only identifiable information like email addresses and usernames, but also more important information like users IP addresses.

Russo maintains he and his group did not alter, copy or delete information in The Pirate Bay database. But he acknowledges that they did briefly consider how much this access and information would be worth to anti-piracy companies like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“Probably these groups would be very interested in this information, but we are not [trying] to sell it,” Russo told KrebsOnSecurity.com in a phone interview. “Instead we wanted to tell people that their information may not be so well protected.”

Russo's original post has since been removed and they site is now returning "403" errors, most likely due to some sort of retaliation attack. Before the site was taken down Russo admitted that The Pirate Bay administrators had removed the Web site component that facilitated access to thepiratebay.org user database, although he added that he’s had no direct contact with the site administrators about his findings.

Other than financial gains possible from selling the information to the RIAA or MPAA the leak could potentially be threatening to the millions of users out there that use the Pirate Bay. Not only could spammers utilize the emails for a mass phishing scheme or spam attack but hackers could utilize IP information obtained for sniffing attacks to attempt to gain control of a Pirate Bay users computer.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Add Fonts Into Photoshop Without Adding Them To Windows

If like me you use a ton of fonts for your Photoshop or Illustrator projects but you don't want to drag down the performance of other applications or you don't want to take the time to add them all to the Windows font folder then here is a quick easy way of adding them without facing these issues.

The trick is to put them into the Adobe common fonts folder under you program files folder (usually “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts\”) or if you are running a 64 bit OS such as Windows 7 64 bit (“C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts\”).

You can get to this directory by going to Start > Run and issuing the following:
%ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts
This should bring you to a directory called “fonts”, from there you can either add all your fonts directly into that folder or an even better step is to create sub-folders for easier organization. Then you add in all the fonts you want to use in and they will be loaded when Photoshop loads. Just keep in mind the more fonts you add the longer it takes Adobe Photoshop to load all these fonts so it will slow down load times. The benefit however is that Windows and all your other font using applications will perform better overall and load times for those applications will bemuch faster

Once you your fonts installed and hopefully organized you don’t have to reload Photoshop for the new fonts to start working, they should appear in the drop down menu right away.

This tip should work on any version of Photoshop above 5.5, including Photoshop 6, 7, CS, CS2, CS3 and CS4 (I haven't tested it on CS5).

Tip on font organization: I typically organize my fonts according to styles, type face ect. You won't notice the difference from the Photoshop drop-down however if you find a new artistic font you want to use in say MS Office and you have a bunch of artistic fonts loaded into an "artistic fonts folder" then its much easier to locate that individual font. Rather than than having to dig through hundreds of fonts you know its located in with the few artistic fonts in one single main folder.

Enter The Palit GeForce GTX 480 Giveaway

Officially kicking off yesterday (July 6th) and running until Aug 16th, the gang over at Palit have launched a contest right up any geeks alley. Up for grabs are a GeForce GTX 480, 470, or 465 graphics card (first, second and third prizes). Entering is easy, all you need to do is hit the company's three social media web pages and show a little love.

Step 1: Facebook
  • (a) Head here and click on "LIKE."
  • (b) Make sure you comment on the contest entry and insert the code phrase "I got game."
Step 2: Twitter
  • (a) Head here and then click "Follow."
  • (b) Retweet the Palit name once with the code phrase "I got game."
Step 3: MySpace
  • (a) Head here and then click "Add to Friends."
  • (b) Make sure you comment on MySpace with the code phrase "I got game."

To learn more about the contest--including the terms and conditions--head here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Review: BullGuard Internet Security 9.0

With an ever growing threat from viruses, spyware and malware its important that every user take action and protect themselves with not just a good anti-virus application but also a great security suite. These should include not just a passive anti-virus program but active protections as well. They should also include a good firewall, email protection, built in spyware/malware protection, phishing protection and preferably some sort of back-up plan.

Generally here at Geek-News we advocate using the latest in freeware protection such as Avast, AVG or Avira. While we know these are all great pieces of software in their own right they don't offer the full protection that a full fledged security suite can offer, and many times must be supplemented by other software packages. So this past few weeks we decided to stray from the norm and test out BullGuard Internet Security 9.0, a full featured packaged costing $59.95.

Testing BullGuard

We are not software security experts, nor do we want our review to reflect that. We wanted to test the security suite from the home geek's perspective. So we started off with a clean install of Windows 7 went through the standard installation procedures, and took notes of what we saw. Mostly we focused on user related information like the controls, settings and basic usage information. For actual testing we downloaded new copies of several of our favorite programs, visited several questionable sites and then tried downloading several test files. Essentially we did the things we think every home user will do every day to see how well we though the software would stack up.

The Good:
  • Clean interface, easy to navigate and use
  • Small footprint, uses very little memory even when scanning so it was lite on the resources
  • Fully packed with lots of features

The Bad:
  • Lacks customization: You install all the components or nothing (only bad if you want to use other products in conjunction with BullGuard)
  • Integration: There was a serious lack of integration controls, components such as toolbars attach themselves to browsers without permission. This is something I really dislike!
  • Poor firewall controls: All installed applications are seemingly always set to allow unless you manually block them. This can be a serious concern.
  • Overly simplified feel: Without the above controls the security suite feels dumbed down to an advanced user.
  • Questionable AV protection: Several test files were overlooked

Conclusion

Sadly I see a trend in the software world of "simplifying" user controls. For me it feels more like the dumbing down of the applications or OSs more than anything. Unfortunately BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 falls victim to this trend. For the basic user the security suite might be ideal however for advanced users wanting greater customization, more control and much tighter security you'll find the suite severely lacking.

I never actually installed any malicious software that needed an internet connection I did test with the GRC Leak Test (which was auto allowed) however the fact the firewall allowed almost every piece of software I did install an automatic connect was alarming to me. I checked the firewall settings several times and saw no options to change these settings. Its my opinion even trusted software should be set to the "ask me" setting for the first time.

The Anti-virus protection was moderate at best. I tried and successfully downloaded several test files that weren't flagged by BullGuard but were by Windows Defender and my testing on a few "keygens" that are typically flagged as malicious turned up no hits. On the plus side BullGuard did not only block many of the high priority tests but it also blacklisted the site URLs. A very proactive step towards potential future infections.

Given all the above issues I would not recommend BullGuard for most users. For the basic home users wanting lightweight protection and a simplified feel you might be ok. I however feel there are other better alternatives out there that are more well know, more reliable and just as user friendly.

Activision Adds 12 New Songs To The Guitar Hero Music Library

Activision has announced the addition of twelve new songs the the Guitar hero library. The new songs will be compatible with both Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero, as well as forward compatible with the upcoming releases of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock when it's released this fall.

These latest additions to the music library will feature tracks from GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award winners Queen, heavy metal rockers Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed, and the Guitar Hero debut of hard rock band, Shinedown.

Available for download beginning today, the Queen 2 Track Pack will feature three of their biggest hits, including "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Killer Queen" and "Somebody To Love."

The Avenged Sevenfold Track Pack will allow fans to shred along with three hit singles, "Afterlife," "Almost Easy" and "Scream," from their self-titled, fourth studio album.

The Disturbed Track Pack on July 20, which features "Down With The Sickness," the second single off their debut album, The Sickness, "Stricken," the lead single off the band's third studio album, Ten Thousand Fists, and "Indestructible" the fourth single off their fourth studio album similarly titled, Indestructible.

Starting July 27, fans can enjoy the Shinedown Track Pack, which features "Devour," "Second Chance" and "Sound of Madness," three of the biggest hits off their certified Platinum album, The Sound of Madness.

The Queen 2, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed and Shinedown track packs will be available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft for 440 Microsoft Points, on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system for $5.49 and for Wii for 550 Wii Points. All songs in each track pack will also be released as downloadable singles for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft for 160 Microsoft Points, PlayStation 3 system for $1.99 and Wii for 200 Wii Points each. In addition to the in-game music store and Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360, Xbox 360 owners can expand their Guitar Hero music library using the Guitar Hero VIP Pass Music Store, available exclusively on Xbox LIVE online entertainment network.