Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays From Geek News

The holidays are officially upon us and I'd like to take the time out from celebrating with my friends and family and wish all of the readers of Geek News a happy holidays and a happy New Year.

Hope all you geeks out there get a ton of geeky presents this year!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sony Debuts 'Music Unlimited' In The UK

For awhile now we've heard rumors that Sony may be launching their very own music service to compete with Apple iTunes. Today the company finally took the wraps of the new service when they announced the debut of "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity".

The new cloud based digital music service initially launched in the U.K. and Ireland and will eventually be rolled out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and of course the U.S. by some time next year.

This subscription based service will be priced at £3.99 a month for Basic access, £9.99 for the Premium stuff which gives you full on-demand access to over 6 million tunes. The basic plan works as an ad-free radio station and subscribers can listen to dozens of personalized channels - categorized by genre, era as well as mood through SensMe - without the requirement to download or manage their music files.

The premium subscription plan offers a one time 30 day Premium free trial enabling users to listen in full to every song on-demand, create personal playlists of favorites, and gain access to premium Top 100 channels which are regularly updated with the latest hits.

Being that it is a cloud based service there is nothing to download. Users select the songs they want and stream them to their Sony PS3, Bravia TV, web-connected Blu-ray player or to a PC such as the Sony Viao. Sony is also promising future support for "a wide range of Sony's portable devices" and Android-based smartphones.

My Thoughts

It'll be interesting to see if Sony can break into the music service business. They have some great portable music devices out now and several smartphones that would be well paired with this type of streaming service. The down side is they are so late to the game that most established services and/or devices like the iPod and iTunes almost have an insurmountable lead making it hard for them to get a good foot hold.

Source: Sony Press Release

Review: 8GB Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Pocket HD Camcorder

Flip may be the leader of the pack when it comes to pocket camcorders however several companies including Creative, Kodak, JVC, Pentax and Sony are gunning for that top spot. Sony has a few products on the market today that are competing for the crown but the latest gadget from the electronics giant, the Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20, is the one the company hopes can knock Flip from its throne.




Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Features
  • 8GB Internal Memory (4 GB on the MHS-TS10)
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • 12.8MP Digital Still Images
  • Full 1080P Video Resolution at 1920 x 1080
  • 3" Capacitive Touch-Screen
  • Sony Face detection Technology
  • Sony SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Outputs - Mini HDMI and Flip-out USB Arm

First Thoughts

When I was first introduced to the Bloggie Touch I was immediately impressed not only by the specs but the look and feel of this little camcorder. Specs wise the Bloggie Touch is at the top tier and I could almost say second to none in this category. Most gadgets in the pocket camcorder category only shoot in 720p and very few feature still image capabilities let alone the ability to shoot at 12MPs. Add to that the Touch's brushed metal case and that big 3" touch screen and you have a device that, on paper at least, WOWS you.

Using The Bloggie Touch

Now you may notice I said on paper that is because the 'wow factor' quickly dissipated for me. The metal case and that extra sharp touchscreen are nice but they are fingerprint magnets. I found myself constantly cleaning smudges from the screen and the back of the case. Something that grew more and more tiresome as the days went on.

The overall size and shape are nice the device measures just 2 1/8" x 4 1/4" x 5/8" and weighs a scant 4.4oz (125g). This is considerably smaller than most of the Flips and other similar devices. Unlike the square shape of the Flips the Bloggie Touch features a curved back which made for an almost perfect for carrying in any pocket. This curvature also gave it a better feel when holding it.

Sadly button layout was not thought out well. You have a large center facing record button for videos yet the button for shooting stills in on the side fairly close to the power button. Several times I powered the device off instead of snapping a photo. The microphone was placed higher on the same side and quickly became a favorite target of my finger when I was shooting anything on the horizontal.

Sony was nice enough to include a section on the manual giving users suggestions on holding the Bloggie but what self respecting Geek would read the manual?

Video and Image Quality

So we are down to the nuts and bolts of it. Does the Bloggie provide high quality videos and images?

If you are in a well lit area not trying to shoot anything further than 5-6 feet away or anything that moves much you will love your Bloggie Touch. The true 1080p videos come out very crisp with a good sharp quality. Images are decent, I wouldn't say they are bad just not as good as I'd like. Unfortunately the real down side comes in to play if like me you like to shoot in less than perfect lighting and shoot action shots. Here is were the Bloggie really fails and you will not be impressed.

For starters there is no flash so pictures in anything but great lighting will not turn out. Most of the devices in the category don't have the ability to shot pictures nor do they have a flash so that may not be the deal breaker for some that it was for me. The image below was taken side by side, one with plenty of light, the other with basic lighting as you'd get in a nightclub or other night time environment.


As you can tell the quality with good lighting is decent however the image in a dark setting is horrible! For videos you can get by with less light than you can for photos as they tend to turn out a little brighter. The auto-focus will have a much worse response time but your videos will be slightly more viewable.

While I'm discussing the auto-focus I should mention that I found it very lacking. With only slight movement my Bloggie Touch would want to re-focus on something other than what I was shooting. There also seemed to be a fairly noticeable amount of lag when initially focusing on a subject.

Shooting in good lighting conditions with a subject that wasn't moving much produced a very high quality video. All the detail and crispness expected with 1080p video was definitely there. Because of the issues with the auto-focus I found shooting actions shots lacking due to the videos fading in and out occasionally or focusing off subject. Picture quality in well lit situations was ok just not great. Sony's products have a reputation for high quality images and in my opinion the Bloggie fails to live up to that reputation.

My Conclusion

I'm very critical of my gadgets, especially the ones that cost $200, so I might be overly critical of the Sony Bloggie Touch. I know these devices aren't meant to do everything and aren't loaded with the same features you find in a camcorder, nor should they be. Having visited TestFreaks.co.uk and reading some of the reviews I just expected so much more. Many of the reviews give it higher rankings than I could ever give it.

I will say I was impressed by the design, one area that the Bloggie clearly excels. I was also impressed by the on-board software and user interface. The ability to tag items for upload directly to Facebook or YouTube was nice.

Sadly none of that overcomes the shortfalls I found in the function of the Bloggie.

One major suggestion is that you buy a longer USB Extension Cable as the one included in the box is only about three inches long and is pretty much worthless. I says this because I for one don't like the idea of my Bloggie hanging out of my USB port by the USB arm. Accidents happen and I'd hate to ruin something either in the Bloggie or on my PC.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Buy Gives Customers A Christmas Gift, Dumps Restocking Fees

Being a computer geek and general tech junkie one of my biggest complaints has always been restocking fees. I absolutely hate shopping sites or stores that charge me just because I buy something and then either don't like it or just find the need to return it. But we all know that when it comes to electronic items, restocking fees are a fact of life. After all, retailers can't sell an item for full price once it's returned in an open/used state, even if it was only used for a few minutes. So to recoup some of the loss associated most companies make the customer eat some of the cost with a 10-15% restocking fee.

After years and years of customers complaints Best Buy has finally caved and recently announced that as of 12/18/2010 the company will be doing away with their traditional 15% restocking fee. The company posted the following notice on its website:

Best Buy continually listens to our customers, and they told us they want to give confidently this holiday season and every other day of the year — and with that comes easier returns. Effective Saturday, December 18, Best Buy is improving its return policy by removing restocking fees for all products except special orders. Customers can visit BestBuy.com for further information.

According to popular consumer affairs blog The Consumerist the new policy applies to all items including iPads, iPhones, notebook computers, and digital cameras. In addition, a company email notes that customers who were charged a restocking fee between November 17 and December 17 can come back to a Best Buy store to get the fee refunded.

All I can say is its about time! Walmart did away with restocking fees years ago and a few other places like Staples has followed suite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Gawker Now McDonalds, Walgreens and deviantART

It would seem as though hackers have been busy of late. First we were informed of a breach over at Gawker, where not only email address but usernames and passwords were stolen. Now we have news from Silverpop Systems, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia, a company that serves a host of top-tier business, that databases containing user emails from two of their clients have been breached. What sites you may ask. None other than McDonalds and deviantART. This follows a similar report from Walgreens that databases congaing user emails and dates of birth had been breached.

In the case of Walgreens it is unclear if the breach is related to the other two Silverpop breaches or not. The company did not reveal how the data was stolen, but coincidentally, the drugstore chain shares a business partner with McDonald's. Both companies use the marketing services firm Arc Worldwide — the company that hired Silverpop Systems, according to reports, to manage McDonald's database. Either way millions of users have been affected in the recent breaches.

Details for consumers

Walgreens recently posted the following:
Dear Valued Customer,

We recently became aware of unauthorized access to an email list of customers who receive special offers and newsletters from us. As a result, it is possible you may have received some spam email messages asking you to go to another site and enter personal data. We are sorry this has taken place and for any inconvenience to you.

We want to assure you that the only information that was obtained was your email address. Your prescription information, account and any other personally identifiable information were not at risk because such data is not contained in the email system, and no access was gained to Walgreens consumer data systems. As a company, we absolutely believe that all customer relationships must be built on trust. That is why we believe it is important to inform you of this incident. Online security experts have reported an increase in attacks on email systems, and therefore we have voluntarily contacted the appropriate authorities and are working with them regarding this incident.

We encourage you to continue to be aware of increasingly common email scams that may use your email address to contact you and ask for personal or sensitive information. Always be cautious when opening links or attachments from unsolicited third parties. Also know that Walgreens will not send you emails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. So if ever asked for this information, you can be confident it is not from Walgreens.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact us at 1-888-980-0963. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.

Sincerely, Walgreens Customer Service Team

Here's is the McDonalds notice to customers:
Unfortunately, a third party was able to defeat the security measures put in place by the email database management firm to protect the information you provided to us. Law enforcement authorities have been notified and are investigating the matter.

And deviantART recently informed customers:

Silverpop Systems, Inc., a leading marketing company that sends email messages for its clients, told us that information was taken from its servers. This was probably part of a sweep by spammers. As a result, email addresses belonging to deviantART members were copied. Corresponding usernames and birth date may also have been removed.

We can assure you that nothing occurred on our systems with respect to this incident and no access was gained to private information on deviantART’s servers.

As a member of deviantART, you certainly have a right to know when an incident of this kind occurs. Unfortunately spammers are an unavoidable part of living on the Web.

The likely result of this event might be an increase in spam to your email. Experts have told us that there is an increase in email scams out there on the Internet and you should be cautious. Only click links or download attachments from people you know, particularly if they ask for personal information, and be sure that your email service provider has adequate spam filters.

Because we value the information that members give us, we have decided not to rely on the services of Silverpop in the future and their servers will no longer hold any data from us.

"It appears Silverpop was among several technology providers targeted as part of a broader cyberattack," Silverpop said in a statement. Further statements made by Silverpop Chief Executive Bill Nussey today would suggest the company wants to make it very clear that they are not the only company that has suffered a breach. "In parallel to our customer and security-focused efforts, we continue to work with law enforcement to identify the criminals that have targeted us and several other companies in our industry, " Nussey writes.

Never heard of Silverpop, well you aren't alone. In fact before the recent breaches I had never heard of the company myself. However chances are you or someone you know has an email address associated with one of their many clients. The company after-all has over 105 rather big name customers!

The company states it is working with law enforcement officials and the FBI to uncover who is behind the breach but until then it is advised that you beware your inbox, even if the email is from a know source!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AMD Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 Have Arrived

AMD today released the company's twp top dawgs the Radeon HD 6970 and Radeon HD 6950. The two new cards are meant to complete AMD’s Radeon HD 6000 single-GPU card family which was introduced back on October 21st. At that time, only the Radeon HD 6870 and Radeon HD 6850 were launched.

The Radeon HD 6970 and Radeon HD 6950 are completely identical in shape and size in fact they are essentially the same cards visually. Specifications aside the only major difference is that the 6970 requires one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector, while the 6950 requires two 6-pin connectors. Both cards support dual-link DVI and HDMI 1.4a natively. There is also support for a two miniDP outputs, version 1.2. Eyefinity is also fully supported.




A new feature added to the Radeon HD 6970 and Radeon HD 6950 is a dual-BIOS on board. AMD has implemented this dual-BIOS is so that people flashing their BIOS’s will not brick their video cards. One BIOS on video card contains the factory default which is protected. The other BIOS is open and allows you to flash to it. If you screw up your BIOS flash, all you have to do is switch the video card back (via an actual switch on the side of the card) to the protected BIOS and re-flash the other BIOS. Saving the user from bricking their pricey add-on.


Based on the early reviews the cards perform pretty much as expected with both the Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 showing very fine price-to-performance ratios. The 6970 manages to keep pace with the much pricier NVIDIA GTX 580, but is priced similarly to NVIDIA's GTX 570. The much cheaper HD 6950 seems to have hit the real value price point with a a great price-to-performance ratio making it the new bang-for-the-buck leader.

Radeon HD 6970 Specifications
The AMD Radeon HD 6970 packs 2.64 Billion transistors and 1,536 streaming processors running at 880MHz core clock speed on the 40nm process. There are 96 texture units, 32 ROPs and 128 Z-Stencil. There is 2GB of GDDR5 running at 5.5GHz on a 256-bit memory bus. This provides 176GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

Radeon HD 6950 Specifications
The Radeon HD 6950 is also based on the 40nm process with the same 2.64 Billion transistors. There are 1,408 streaming processors running at 800MHz core clock speed. There are 88 texture units, and the same 32 ROPs and 128 Z-Stencil count. There is also 2GB of 5GHz GDDR5 RAM being used which provides 160GB/sec of bandwidth.




Benchmarks and Reviews

Related Articles

Best Buy Begins Selling Nexus S Thursday Morning

For you cellphone geeks out there that are chomping at the bit to get your hands on Samsung's Google-branded cellphone the new Nexus S you'll only have to wait a few more days. Best Buy has announced the company will begin selling the hot new phones in their retails stores at 8SM local time this Thursday, Dec 16th.


The Nexus S is available in all Best Buy and Best Mobile specialty stores. Exact inventory will vary by store and the phone will be sold out on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of 2 per customer.

Pricing: The Nexus S is an unlocked phone and can be purchased without contract for $529. The Nexus S can also be purchased for $199 with a TMobile two-year service agreement and qualifying voice and data plan or for $249.99 for add-a-line activations.

Source: Engadget via Best Buy

Google eBookstore Now Open For Business

Late last week Google officially announced the creation of the new Google eBookstore. A site dedicated to those of you that love reading your books electronically.

With one of the many devices that are compatible with Google eBooks users can browse and search through millions of what Google is calling the largest ebooks collection in the world. In fact Google states there are currently more than three million titles including hundreds of thousands for sale.

Browsing the site you'll find the latest bestsellers like James Patterson’s Cross Fire and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom as well as popular reads like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and classics like Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Gulliver’s Travels.


As mentioned the eBookstore offers support for a range of devices. They support not only the latest Apple devices including the iPhone, iPod and iPad but all Android devices and a large list of eBook readers including the Barnes & Noble Nook.

Sorry Amazon Kindle owners, currently, Google eBooks are not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices, though they have said they are open to supporting them in the future.

Perhaps the best feature of the new eBookstore is that Google eBooks are stored in the cloud, so there is no file to download if you want to read on your computer, phone or tablet. To read online using the web reader, simply click the read button on any free or purchased ebooks. Once you open your book using the mobile reader app, your book will sync to your device and you can continue reading it online or offline. Your ebooks will be stored within your Google account, which allows you to save your page positions and sync across all your devices as you continue reading.

You can click here to learn more about using multiple devices to read.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Review: Linksys E2100L Wireless-N Router

Linksys has a long standing as one of the best networking brands on the market. I know I've used their routers for years any absolutely love them. It wasn't until recently that I upgraded from my old WRT-54G with the hacked DD-WRT Firmware to something new. Of course when I was shopping around the first place I looked was at the new Linksys models.

As timing would have it they asked us if we'd like to review one of their new E-Series routers. So we jumped for the chance and made a tough call and went with the new Linksys E2100L. More on that decision later!

These days Linksys is owned by Cisco, which is of course one of the best know names in networking. Recently the company introduced several new products under the Cisco/Linksys name one of which is the new Valet line of wireless routers for home users. Along side the home based Valet line Cisco Systems also detailed a new line of routers for business and tech savvy users. These new routers have Cisco in their name but Linksys as their model number.

This new series is know as the Linksys E-series which includes four new Wireless-N routers: Linksys E1000, Linksys E2000, Linksys E2100L, and Linksys E3000.

The E1000 is the budget router for people with lighter networking needs. The E2000 is a midrange wireless router with support for Gigabit Ethernet and selectable dual-band, letting it to in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. The Linksys E2100L is a slightly more advanced model powered by Linux that allows for more customization and flexibility in network control and optimization. It doesn't support Gigabit Ethernet or dual-band wireless, but it has a USB port and a built-in UPnP AV Media Server that is capable of streaming digital content from attached USB drives to an Xbox 360, PS3, or other compatible devices.

The top of the line is the Linksys E3000, which supports all the features available in Cisco consumer-grade wireless routers, including simultaneous dual-band, Gigabit Ethernet, built-in UPnP AV media server, USB port to host network storage, and more.

Today we are focusing on the Linksys E2100L which after much deliberation we selected as providing the best band for your geek buck. Why you may ask? We'll we figured most of our readers would want the option of having the USB port for file sharing and the being the geeks we are we wanted the added customization of the Linux based OS. Now I know the Linksys E3000 offers dual band as well as Gigabit Ethernet but we figured most shoppers would want to save some of their hard earned cash and not splurge on the E3000.



Linksys E2100L Specifications
  • Model: Linksys E2100L
  • Technology: Wireless-N
  • Standards: IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE802.11n Draft
  • Bands: 2.4 GHz
  • Security: WPA/WPA2 Personal SPI firewall protection
  • Antennas: 2 Detachable
  • Ethernet ports x speed: 4 x 10/100
  • USB port: Yes for centralized file sharing with NAS devices
  • OS Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Setup

Right out of the box Linksys routers are amongst the easiest you'll find to setup and the E2100L. You can either run the Cisco Connect software or do it the old fashioned way and log direct into the interface and adjust your settings as needed.


Considering we opted for the E2100L because of the Linux Based OS we opted to forgo using the Cisco Connect software and manual adjust all of our settings. For users of older Linksys models most of the UI will look familiar and is easy to navigate. We had most of our settings changed and our router secured and up and running in just a few mins. Setting up the built-in media server and adding an external drive was a bit different and took a few attempts with a few different devices but once it was running things went smoothly.

Wireless Coverage

With all wireless routers range is one of the biggest areas of concern. After all if you can't get a wireless signal its pretty pointless to have the router. Being that the E2100L is a Draft N router and has dual external antennas it should have decent range. During my testing I was only able to use Wireless-G devices (at the time we didn't have any draft n devices setup).

For the most part coverage was fine, when I say fine I mean I had a decent signal. The downside to that is that it was no better than my older router. To be honest that disappointed me a bit. I didn't expect much of a gain but I did figure it being a newer router it might offer a little better coverage.

Built-in Media Server

Cisco says the built-in USB port can be used for connecting to an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or other USB storage device, allowing you to share your files at home or over the Internet. We however had a few issues setting it up with our flash drives. I couldn't diagnose the issue any further than the devices simply not working. Testing with other devices, more specifically our external hard drive went rather smoothly and setup was quick and easy.

The E2100L also includes a built-in UPnP AV media server that streams music, video, and photos from your storage device to an Xbox 360, PS3, or other UPnP AV-compatible device. We only used the device on a local machine that was wired but we did test the media server functions and we can say streaming locally was very smooth. We found no playback issues and no file transfer issues what so ever.

Conclusion

Being a Linksys fan from the start I might sound a bit bias here but I'll say I honestly think the new E-Series routers are some of the best I've used. Price wise they are a bit expensive, I believe they are now down to $70-80 whcih would make it a great deal, the E2100L was priced at $120 when we first spotted them, but the features are pretty hard to beat.

Having the addition of the built-in USB port was one feature that really drew me to the E2100L. Is that something worth paying more for. Well for me at the original price it certainly wouldn't be. Its nice to have but I could setup a networked NAS or a share from my PC and be content. At the lower prices I've seen lately I would say yes it is definitely a feature that would draw me to this router.

For the average user going with something slightly cheaper like the Cisco Valet series will likely be a better option. For the geeks out there that want something packed with features and aren't really concerned with cost I'd say the E3000 is a better bet. You'd add dual band and Gigabyte Ethernet both of which would nice to have. For the Linux/DD-WRT users out there that are drawn to the E2100L for it's Linux use, honestly I'd say you are better off finding something with all the features you want (possibly the E3000) and flashing the device.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Like Geocaching? Checkout The New OpenCaching.com From Garmin

Are you a Geocaching geek? If so you might want to checkout the newest project from the fine folks over at Garmin. OpenCaching.com, a  free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world.

“Garmin is extending its reputation for ease of use even further into geocaching, creating the most intuitive experience possible,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “By making it free and easy to download every detail of every cache, Opencaching.com will introduce more people to this great activity and show them just how fun, easy and rewarding it can be. OpenCaching.com gives us a chance to go beyond the development of hardware and software and interact directly with the vibrant global community of cachers.”

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt where participants of all ages explore the outdoors, hiding and finding containers of various shapes and sizes that are filled with collectables, trinkets and logbooks for signing in and letting fellow cachers know you were there. Creating a cache consists of placing a container in a public area, saving the GPS coordinates and uploading them to a website. Finding a cache is as simple as searching the website and downloading those details to a GPS handheld. As free and open as the great outdoors, OpenCaching.com was created to help promote the growth of geocaching and build the worldwide community of cachers.

The strength of OpenCaching.com lies within the geocaching community, from diehard cachers to families and classrooms trying it for the first time (for which there is an informative how-to guide included on the site). Everyone – regardless of experience or numbers of caches found or placed – is welcome to the same information and invited to get as involved as they want. OpenCaching.com will work with any device or software package that can read GPX files, regardless of manufacturer.

“Because OpenCaching is brand new, we’re counting on cachers everywhere to get creative and get involved,” said Bartel. “We want everyone who posts, seeks and finds a cache to have the pride of ownership in this new site, and there’s no better way than to build it together. As the word gets out about OpenCaching, we expect the number of caches posted to grow quickly.”

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cisco Teams With The NHL To Offer NHL Logo Flip Cameras

Cisco’s Flip Video, and the National Hockey League (NHL) have teamed up to offer 30 uniquely designed NHL team Flip video cameras. In addition, Flip Video will offer Facebook fans a chance to win Flip cameras and a trip to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover.

Beginning December 7, fans can choose their own official NHL Flip video camera with a custom design from any one of the 30 NHL teams from the U.S. and Canada. A perfect gift for hockey lovers, the new Flip designs are available through the Flip Video online store: theflip.com/NHL. The NHL-branded Flips will be offered on all of the latest Flip video cameras including the Flip UltraHD, MinoHD and SlideHD, starting at $149, for anytime shoot and share fun.


“Flip is the only video camera on the market that consumers can customize and select from thousands of unique designs. Our ability to offer customization has enabled us to team with the NBA and now the NHL, which was a natural extension for our brand,” said Jodi Lipe, director of marketing for Cisco’s Consumer Products. “Whether it’s at the Stanley Cup Final or an afternoon snowball fight with friends, Flip video cameras are a fun and simple way to capture and share videos with friends and family.”

“Hockey fans are in a class of their own when it comes to diehard loyalty,” said Dave McCarthy, NHL Vice President Integrated Marketing. “Owning a Flip video camera representing their favorite team is a great way for fans to show support and more importantly have fun sharing their passion with fellow hockey fans and friends around the world.”

To help promote the new NHL designs, Flip is hosting a contest called the Flip Video Fan Face-off that will give away one grand prize trip for two to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina, January 30, as well as daily prizes of NHL-custom designed team Flips every day in December.  Hockey fans can face-off for these cool prizes starting on December 9, 2010 at www.facebook.com/flipvideo.

Flip Video is the only video camera line to feature official designs from the NHL and all 30 NHL teams so fans can show their affinity for their favorite NHL team while shooting and sharing video with others at games, parties or events. Flip video cameras make it easy to share video via email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and even on a TV.

AMD's New Six Core Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition CPU

amd logoAMD delighted consumers with the addition of three new processors to the compnay's lineup today, the top dog being the new six-core Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition. Along side the new high end Phenom II X6 AMD released two mainstream processors the Athlon II X3 455, and the Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition.

The new flagship of AMD's processor lineup, the Phenom II X6 1100T, is based on the AM3 socket, supporting DDR3 and DDR2 memory on older AM2+ motherboards. It carries a clock speed of 3.30 GHz, features 512 KB of L2 cache per core, and 6 MB of L3 between all six cores. It features the TurboCore technology, which bumps clock speed by a few hundred MHz when it senses high load. As a Black Edition chip, it features an unlocked bus multiplier perfect for all you overclocking enthusiasts out there. Despite its increased clock speed, the 1100T still only has a TDP of 125W.

The AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition will be released with a $265 price tag which forces AMD to bump the price of the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition down to $235.00.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition (HDE00ZFBK6DGR) Specifications:
  • Model Number & Core Frequency: X6 1100T / 3.7GHz (Turbo) / 3.3GHz (Base)
  • OPN: HDE00ZFBK6DGR
  • L1 Cache Sizes: 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (768KB total L1 per processor)
  • L2 Cache Sizes: 512KB of L2 data cache per core (3MB total L2 per processor)
  • L3 Cache Size: 6MB (shared)
  • Total Cache (L2+L3): 9MB
  • Memory Controller Type: Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
  • Memory Controller Speed: Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
  • Types of Memory Supported: Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
  • HyperTransport 3.0 Specification: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
  • Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth: Up to 37.3GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 21.3 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR3-1333) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)] Up to 33.1GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR2-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
  • Packaging: Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
  • Process Technology: 45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
  • Approximate Transistor count: ~904 million
  • Max TDP: 125 Watts

Phenom II X6 1100T Benchmarks and Reviews

As mentioned AMD did release two new chips meant for the mainstream. First up is the Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition. Clocked at 3.40 GHz, featuring 512 KB of cache per core, and 6 MB shared L3 cache. This one has a TDP of 80W, and is priced at $115. Next is the new Athlon II X3 455, a triple-core chip based on the "Rana" silicon (which is Propus with one core locked), it lacks an L3 cache, but features 512 KB L2 per core. With a TDP of 95W, this one goes for $87.

NVIDIA Releases The New Nvidia GTX 570

NVIDIA today announced the release of their new GeForce GTX 570 -- the latest addition to the company's GTX 500 Series of DirectX 11 (DX11) GPUs. The GeForce GTX 570 is meant to bring a new level of DX11 price/performance to the enthusiast PC gaming market. The card is available today from most of NVIDIA's add-in card partners including ASL, ASUS, Colorful, ECS, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Innovision 3D, Jetway, Leadtek, MSI, Palit, Point of View, PNY, Sparkle, Zotac and others.


The GeForce GTX 570 features similar specifications to that of the GTX 480 but with a lower price at around $350. As the GeForce GTX 470 was to the GTX 480, the GTX 570 is essentially a cut down version of the recently released GTX 580. The GeForce GTX 570 boasts 480 CUDA cores, graphics clock speed of 732MHz, 4.5% higher than the GeForce GTX 480 and a shader frequency which was increased to 1464MHz.

The GeForce GTX 570 is paired with 1280MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 950MHz (3800MHz DDR). Combine that with a memory interface of 320-bit and you get a peak theoretical bandwidth of 152GB/s.

Early benchmarks out the card pretty much in line with what we expect to see from a cut down GTX 580. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 runs slightly slower the the GTX 580 but it stomps the GeForce GTX 470 and runs at the same performance level as the GeForce GTX 480 for much less money and at a cooler temp.

For a more details on the GeForce GTX 570 and additional product specifications, please visit this page.



Nvidia GTX 570 Benchmarks and Reviews

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Microsoft Launches Xbox LIVE Rewards Program

Microsoft has officially launched their Xbox LIVE Rewards program a new rewards system aimed at giving back to Xbox gamers.



The program is open to all all Xbox LIVE members, both paid and free although those with paid memberships such as Silver and Gold Xbox LIVE members will be able to take advantage of more opportunities to earn reward points. Users will earn points for things like purchasing an Xbox Live Gold membership, or purchasing games and movies from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Users can earn additional points by taking surveys and participating in Xbox promotions.

Xbox LIVE Rewards Points are essentially the same as Microsoft Points. For those familiar with the Microsoft Points Rewards program you'll be right at home with the Xbox LIVE program. Points can be used to purchase anything you would normally buy with your Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Gamers can earn Microsoft Points/Xbox LIVE Rewards by performing any of these activities outlined in the chart below.


The maximum number of Microsoft Points a participant can earn during a twelve (12) month period is fifteen thousand (15,000) and any Microsoft Points awarded during the Program Period must be redeemed by June 30, 2012. Any Microsoft Points remaining in an Enrollee's Account after the expiration period described above will be forfeited without compensation.

For more details checkout the Xbox LIVE Rewards FAQ and the Xbox LIVE Rewards Terms And Conditions.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

iPhone Jailbreaking Pros And Cons

Breaking your iPhone free of the death grip that Apple has over the device might be all the rage these days but is it a good idea? Does it actually put users at a great risks as Apple suggests? Kaspersky Lab Director of Global Research and Analysis Costin Raiu offers his thoughts in this exclusive video Q&A with Threatpost Editor Ryan Naraine.


My thoughts:

Mr. Naraine has a few spot on observation but to me many of his thoughts miss the mark. For instance the jailbreakme.com exploit that uses a PDF flaw to remotely jailbreak your phone. In no way is this going to make your phone any less secure than it already is. Obviously the flaw is there, jailbreaking isn't opening that flaw any more than it already is. The iPhone and iOS operating system have already been shown to be very insecure jailbreaking doesn't really open any doors that aren't there!

The second point I disagree with is that jailbreakers are less likely to upgrade to a new version of iOS or apply patches. Sure they don't want to lose their jailbreak, however devs are always working to break the newest version of the OS and most geeks want the latest greatest. So I'd say jailbreakers are more likely to update than other users. They might not apply these updates immediately but lets face it how many of us actually do?

One area I can agree with Mr. Naraine on is that some of the third party apps might not be as secure as those in the Apple App Store. This isn't to say that all the apps in the App Store are secure or that those 'unapproved' third party apps are malicious. Just that users need to take extra caution and be careful when using them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New 'Seftad' Ransomware Encrypts Drives Demands $100 For Fix

There are several new version of the GpCode ransomware running wild around the web these days however there is a new even nastier piece of code that researchers have discovered that is even more alarming. The new MBR-infecting ransomware known as Seftad overwrites the master boot record on infected machines telling victims that their hard drives have been encrypted and demands a payment of $100 to reverse the damage.

This malware which was first detected and analyzed by Kaspersky Lab malware analyst Denis Maslennikovas shows as Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Seftad.a and Trojan-Ransom.Boot.Seftad.a. This ransomware is downloaded by Trojan.Win32.Oficla.cw. If Seftad.a was downloaded by Oficla.cw and run, the victim’s PC is rebooted and the following message appears on the screen:


Entering an incorrect password three times will cause the PC to reboot a second time and display the same message again.

"If the victim browses the malware author’s website, he is asked to pay $100 using ‘Paysafecard’ or ‘Ukash’. If you are infected by this malware do not visit the website. Use the password ‘aaaaaaciip’ (without quotes) to restore the original MBR. If the password doesn’t work, you can cure your MBR with Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10," Maslennikov said.

This new approach at attacking the master boot record (MBR) is something new that we haven't seen from ransomware in the past. Several variants include the new GpCode utilizes actual encryption (GpCode is now using theAES 256 and RSA 1024 encryption algorithms) but doesn't attack the boot records. Since the MBR is the first section of a users hard drive to be loaded damaging the MBR can be extremely difficult to reverse.

As of now its unclear if a user can use their installation media and run the FIXMBR command or if running a repair install or other work arounds will work.

EU Accuses Google Of Search Results Tampering

European Union regulators have launched an launches antitrust probe into Google's handling and potential abuse of search rankings. At question is rather or not Google is using its dominant position in the online search market to stifle competition by deliberately lowering links to smaller rivals' sites in the companies own search results.

The European Commission announced today that it has decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google Inc. has abused a dominant position in online search, in violation of European Union rules (Article 102 TFEU). The opening of formal proceedings follows complaints by search service providers about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid and sponsored search results coupled with an alleged preferential placement of Google's own services. This initiation of proceedings does not imply that the Commission has proof of any infringements. It only signifies that the Commission will conduct an in-depth investigation of the case as a matter of priority.

Several competitors, one owned by Microsoft, say that links to their services appear too low on Google's general search results. They also claim that when Google offers similar services, such as online price comparison, it puts its own links higher on the sponsored search results, the ones companies have to pay for.

In addition, the Commission will look into whether Google prevented advertising partners from posting ads from Google's competitors on their sites and whether it was making it more difficult for customers to move data from their advertising campaigns to other ad platforms.

If Google is found guilty of tampering with results to unfavorably position the competition lower in its ranks the company could could potentially face billions in fines, as in the recent cases levied against Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.

Google has responded to the allegations, "It may seem obvious, but people sometimes forget this—not every website can come out on top, or even appear on the first page of our results, so there will almost always be website owners who are unhappy about their rankings," wrote Google SVP Susan Wojcicki and VP Udi Manber on the company's European Public Policy Blog.


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Monday, November 29, 2010

Save Money This Holiday Season Do Not Buy Expensive HDMI Cables

It often amazes me that people spend hours and hours waiting in line during the holidays only to walk into their local retailers and plop down 100's of dollars on expensive cables when they don't need to.

Just this past weekend I watched in horror as a couple got duped into spending nearly a hundred dollars on a couple of HDMI cables for that nice new HDTV they bought. I'm certain they spent hours scouring the web and wait just for the holiday sales to get the best deal possible only to blow some of the money they just saved on cables that they could have gotten for a fraction of the cost.

Consumers need to educate themselves. For the most part the sales staff of electronics stores (BestBuy, Staples ect) are trained to push sales and push expensive cables as add-ons. And why not they offer more overhead for stores that sell them for $20 on up. But what those sales people won't tell you is that there is actually little to no difference between a $100 cable and a $5 cable.

HDMI uses a digital signal unlike an older analog signal it takes a lot of interference to actual degrade that signal. Meaning those expensive HDMI cables you see offered at your local retailer for $40 or more are not worth it as there is no digital signal difference between a cheap or expensive HDMI cable and the amount of shielding on even the most inexpensive cable is going to be more than sufficient.

I always feel bad when I see people walking out of BestBuy with a bag full of over prices cables. When I can I mention that they should check Fry's, which often has HDMI cables for under $10 or I tell them to check online sites such as Monoprice.com or even Amazon and their AmazonBasics Cables.

People really should be proactive and educate no only themselves but their family and friends, and help them learn that its ok to save some money and use cheaper cables. You should never pay more than $10 for a standard six-foot HDMI cable. And despite what salesmen and manufacturers might tell you, there's no meaningful difference between the $10 cable and the $50 cable. Unless you see something obvious, such as dropouts or a flashing screen, the digital information transmitted by both cables is exactly the same--no cable can make the picture any better or any worse.