Monday, January 31, 2011

Revamped 'Internet Kill Switch' Bill Back In The News

Here we go again, yet another new version of the 'Obama Internet kill switch' is back in the news. This newest revision of the same old bill which was initially introduced last year was re-introduced today backed by the original author senator Joseph Lieberman and a new co-author senator Susan Collins, the Republican ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Senator Collins is spouting the some old rhetoric used by senator Lieberman last time around claiming the bill is designed to protect against “significant” cyber threats before they cause damage.

“My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,” Collins told in an e-mail Friday. “It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.”

You really have to question the logic behind this bill. For instance every major network in the country is already protected and monitored by people that have far greater understanding of potential threats than any politician out there. Then you have to question what amounts to a “significant” cyber threat? Worms and botnets certainly can be threats to some networks however in most cases once they are elevated to the point of being a significant threat it will usually be to late.

You really have to ask yourself if the internet is so much of a backbone to today's society then what can be gained by shutting it down. Doesn't the shear act of killing the networks seem counterproductive? If there is a major threat from say a virus or worm terminating connections to the web certainly isn't going to help as the majority of internet users get their security updates, hotfixes and information about said attacks via that very same disconnected web. How would users then get the updates to alleviate the issues on their own PCs?
Simple answer, we wouldn't! Millions of computers could sit there infected waiting for the web to be re-established. Then we'd be right back where we started from.

A report commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), actually backs my position suggesting that taking out the Internet would disrupt citizens and the private sector when they might need the infrastructure the most - during times of cyber- or even military attack, or natural disaster.

It would be entirely counterproductive to terminate connections to the web or major networks. You'd be killing the stream of information to millions of people and hampering security companies from trying to collaborate and potentially issue fixes. Sure in some remote cases there might be some government entities and some private networks that should be disconnected. But the government shouldn't have total control over those networks. Network admins, system admin, security engineers you know people in the know that actually know how to handle these situations should decide.

Secondly you really have to question the timing on the resurrection of this bill especially given recent events in Egypt. You really have to ask ‘why now’? Of all times to re-introduce a bill with the broad power this has you do so at a time that the world is focused on a government that has done just what this bill sets forth. Our own government has spoke out against the "great firewall of China" yet they want to enact something that could be even more sinister?

Then lastly you really have to question the feasibility of all this. Certainly it would not live up to a challenge in the Supreme Court. But lets say it does what are we looking at here. Are we talking about a number of 'kill switches' stationed around the country that can be activated to actually shut down networks? Or would we be talking about the President being informed of a potential threat, calling network owners, them calling the IT dept. and then the switch being flipped. If its the later the logistics alone would make this near impossible. If it were to be the former then you have to ask the question, "If our networks aren't safe how safe are these switches going to be"?

Clearly this legislation is ill-conceived!

Want more information read the bills for yourself

Reviewing the US Senate website it looks as though there are actually a few new bills on the table all of which contain similar language. HR 174 appears to be the new Collins Lieberman bill

  1. Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2011 (Introduced in House - IH)[H.R.174.IH][PDF]
  2. Tough and Smart National Security Act (Introduced in Senate - IS)[S.8.IS][PDF]   
  3. Cyber Security and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2011 (Introduced in Senate - IS)[S.21.IS][PDF]
According to the bill is still undergoing review before it is formally re-introduced so the language of the bill may still change however the general scope of the bill will not. At the time of its initial introduction, it was opposed in an open letter by about 24 organizations concerned that it might lead to broader authority, including Internet censorship.

About two dozen groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Center for Democracy & Technology, were skeptical enough to file an open letter opposing the idea. They are concerned that the measure, if it became law, might be used to censor the internet.

I suggest and urge anyone, and everyone write their senators and government officials opposing this legislation. It leads us down a very slippery slope that trust me no one wants

Intel, Google, IBM Among The First To Join President Obama's "Startup America" Campaign

Today, President Obama announced the launch of Startup America, a national (public/private) initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. The core goals of Startup America are to increase the number of new high-growth firms that are creating economic growth, innovation, and quality jobs; celebrate and honor entrepreneurship as a core American value and source of competitive advantage; and inspire and empower an ever-greater diversity of communities and individuals to build great American companies.

Among the early companies to join the Startup America Partnership are familiar names Intel, IBM, Google, Facebook, HP and AOL co-founder Steve Case who will chair the partnership.

As part of this partnership, and in conjunction with its ongoing Invest in America initiative, Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment organization has pledged to invest another $200 million in American technology companies and joined the campaign’s board of advisors.

“Intel is dedicated to creating a culture of investment in the United States that supports American startups and the country’s future competitiveness,” said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. “We are pleased to join the Administration in the effort to help new businesses succeed in the United States and consider this partnership an important opportunity to promote education, innovation and entrepreneurship to maintain a globally competitive economy.”

IBM will invest $150 million in 2011 to fund programs that promote entrepreneurs and new business opportunities in the United States. HP will be investing more than $4 million in 2011 in the HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE). Facebook will be launching Startup Days, a series of events around the country that helps provide entrepreneurs with engineering and design support to build off the Facebook Platform. While Google is partnering with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurship education for at-risk high school students from low-income communities, to offer a number of NFTE’s lessons and curriculum plans to Bay Area students. And startup incubator TechStars is rolling out “The TechStars Network,” which encourages and promotes regional organizations that operate start-up accelerator programs with models similar to the incubator.

Goals of Startup America
Startup America will:
  • Expand access to capital for high-growth startups throughout the country;
  • Expand entrepreneurship education and mentorship programs that empower more Americans not just to get a job, but to create jobs;
  • Strengthen commercialization of the about $148 billion in annual federally-funded research and development, which can generate innovative startups and entirely new industries;
  • Identify and remove unnecessary barriers to high-growth startups; and
  • Expand collaborations between large companies and startups.
Learn more:

Intel Finds Flaw In New 6-Series 'Sandy Bridge' Motherboards

According to a press release released this morning by Intel the company has identified a flaw in the design of a chipset that controls the Serial ATA ports on the newest 6 Series "Cougar Point" motherboards.

The chipset is utilized in PCs with Intel's latest Second Generation Intel Core processors only and does not affect any of the previous generation chips or boards. This is for the new recently released 'Sandy Bridge' chips and the new 6-series boards not the older Core-i5/i7 and 5-series boards.

Intel has said it has stopped shipment of the affected support chip from its factories and corrected the design issue. The Sandy Bridge microprocessor itself is unaffected and no other products are affected by this issue. The systems with the affected support chips have only been shipping since January 9th and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue. The only systems sold to an end customer potentially impacted are Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based systems. Intel believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution. For further information consumers should contact Intel at on the support page or contact their OEM manufacturer.

What It Means for You

If you are currently running one of the new boards and a Sandy Bridge chip then there really is no need to worry. Intel doesn't believe you'll see any ill effects from the flawed chip anytime soon. It just means that there may be a recall of your board sometime down the road and you may be entitled to a new board at that time.

For now manufactures really have not yet determined what to do. There are no replacement boards ready and they don't expect them to be ready for several months. So for now there is no official recall however it is very likely there will be one once the boards are in place. The suggestion is to hold off on buying a new Sandy Bridge setup until the issue has been worked out, which according to several sources won't be until April or May.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Microsoft Gives Advice On Location Privacy

Data Privacy Day (28 January) has come and gone with little fanfare, however the goal and message of the event hasn't gone un-noticed. Several companies, including Microsoft have spoken out and offered advice to consumers on how to protect themselves against threats resulting from the use of location awareness, found in an increasing range of hardware devices and used by many social networking sites.

Microsoft's advice, just don't do it! Especially when it comes to "check-ins" that offer GPS location services.

In a post on his blog, Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft, provides several more tips. Most are pretty common sense but many are fairly often overlooked in today's connected society. Suggestions include:

  • Limit who you add to your social network location services, and do not make your location data publicly available or searchable.
  • Only trusted friends should know your location. If you have contacts you don't fully know or trust, it's time to do a purge.

More information on the research MS has conducted about Data privacy can be found on the Microsoft Data Privacy Day website. For more information on Data Privacy Day, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sony Announces It's PSP Successor The Next Generation Portable (NGP)

Today in Tokyo, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. announced the successor to the company's PlayStation Portable gaming system the new Next Generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP). NGP is set to make its debut at the end of the 2011 and  as of right now there aren't many details available but here’s everything we know right now.

Next Generation Portable: Front
Image Courtesy Sony Inc for more images please visit their flickr photo album

Key NGP features:

  • Multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display
  • Multi-touch pad on the rear of the device
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Two cameras (front and rear)
  • Software titles on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards
  • Three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass
  • Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity
  • PlayStation Network access, including ““LiveArea™”, “Near” and “Activity” log features Trophy Support
  • NGP will be able to play PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.

NGP Technical Specs:

  • CPU ARM Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
  • GPU SGX543MP4+
  • Dimensions Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
  • Screen (Touch screen) 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED
  • Multi touch screen (capacitive type)
  • Rear touch pad Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
  • Cameras Front camera, Rear camera
  • Sound Built-in stereo speakers
  • Built-in microphone
  • Sensors Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
  • Location Built-in GPS
  • Wi-Fi location service support
  • Keys / Switches
      PS button
      Power button
      Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
      Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
      Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
      Right stick, Left stick
      START button, SELECT button
      Volume buttons (+/-)
  • Wireless communications Mobile network connectivity (3G)
      IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1) (Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
      Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

Sony hasn't given a list of all the games that are for the NGP but has confirmed that a slew of its biggest franchises are in development. Here is a list of games that are confirmed or were shown:
  • Broken--Sony
  • Call of Duty--Activision
  • Dungeon Defenders--Epic Games
  • Dynasty Warriors--Koei
  • Gravity Daze--Sony
  • Hot Shots Golf--Sony
  • Hustle Kings--Sony
  • Killzone--Sony
  • Little Big Planet--Sony
  • Little Deviants--Sony
  • Lost Planet--Capcom
  • Metal Gear Solid--Konami
  • Monster Hunter 3rd--Capcom
  • Reality Fighters--Sony
  • Resistance--Sony
  • Smart As--Sony
  • Uncharted--Sony
  • Wipeout--Sony
  • Yakuza--Sega

Other details such as exact release date, price, and more will be announced in due course. We’ll keep you updated.

Update, the official video and site for the press release are out. More details can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NVIDIA Introduces The New GeForce GTX 560 Ti

NVIDIA this week announced their newest 'mainstream' GPU the new $250 (MSRP) GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

The GeForce GTX 560 Ti is the newest addition of the Company's "Fermi" line of consumer level GPUs that were designed to deliver stunning DirectX 11 (DX11) performance for PC gaming platforms. According to NVIDIA, the GTX 560 Ti is up to 65% faster in the newest DX11 tessellation games and 30% faster in previous generation DX 9 and DX 10 games. The card features 1GB of DDR5 memory with an 822MHz graphics clock and a 1645MHz processor clock. There are eight tessellation engines, 384 CUDA cores giving the card a totally memory bandwidth of 128.3 GB/s a texture fill rate of 52.6 GigaTexels/sec.

Because this product is named similarly to the GTX 460 from the previous generation, consumers might think that this is a replacement to that line when in fact the GTX 560 Ti is more meant to be the perfect replacement for the now end-of-life GTX 470. The price to performance of the new card places it in the category not necessarily of the 'mainstream' but more of the upper midrange market segment. The new, and yet to be upcoming, GeForce GTS 550 will be more for the mainstream masses.

GeForce GTX 560 Ti Benchmarks and Reviews

Related Reading

NewEgg Pricing

Apple Facing Antitrust Scrutiny

According to recent reports Belgian officials have begun investigating Apple over what officials believe may be "an abuse of market power" following complaints over Apple’s terms for selling iPad newspaper and magazine subscriptions via iTunes only.

Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Belgian economy minister, urged Belgian antitrust authorities to investigate possible abuses of Apple's dominant position and tying software and subscriptions to iTunes and the App Store on the iPad and other iOS devices.

The Belgian minister suspects that Apple is abusing its dominant position on the tablet computer market by selling exclusive newspaper subscriptions from its online shop iTunes. "If newspapers will no longer be able to sell their subscriptions with their own channels, but only by using iTunes, this will look like an abuse of a dominant position," Van Quickenborne said.

At the heart of the issues is Apple’s demand that iPad versions of Belgian and Dutch newspapers and magazines only be sold via iTunes or throug apps downloaed via the App Store. Apple is then charging the publishing companies a fee of 30 percent of the subscription price. Several publishers including NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch publisher owned by Reed Elsevier NV, have raised concerns and voiced their opposition to the stringent regulations

According to reports via the Belgian ministry for economic affairs may not stop at probing just the iTunes regulations. The ministry may investigate the lack of interoperability of the iPad with competitors' products namely the tying of software such as Apple's Safari web browser and the lack of foreseeable competition from other browsers such as FireFox.

Its about time!!

Readers of Geek News know that I've always been critical of Apple and the tight control in which the exhibit over not only their device but their software and more specifically the control they exhibit over the App store. Several times I've voiced my opinion to the tune of calling Apple's tight fisted policies nothing short of anti-competitive and antitrust in nature.

Microsoft for years has faced antitrust lawsuits, fines and extraordinary pressure from the US and the European Union for tying Internet Explorer into Windows and "undermining competitors such as Mozilla's Firefox or Apple's Safari."

Unlike Apple, Microsoft had never disallowed other browsers to operate through Windows, but the fact that it offered immediate access to Internet Explorer on the computer's desktop was deemed to be a breach of competition rules. MS has since faced similar scrutiny over tying Windows Media player as well as other MS software into Windows yet Apple has been able to exhibit total control over the software allowed and disallowed on iOS devices.

The iPad and other iOS related Apple products have gone far beyond the limits crossed by Microsoft. Apple's iOS does not allow any browser (or any other software) that Apple does not want to run on its platform. In fact outside of Safari Opera Mini is the only other browser that is currently available. So while Microsoft only favored Internet Explorer and other software over their competitors, Apple does not give competitors a chance.

Add to that the fact that Apple forces developers to pay for inclusion into the App Store, the arbitrary approach the company has to denial into the store and the fact that they have knowing and willing removed apps that provide "duplicate functionality" I think its about time someone has stepped up. These policies are the pure definition of anti-competitive.

Check your 'Apple is not a monopoly' arguments at the door!

Every Apple fanboy I've discussed the issue with has made the same ridiculous argument. Apple is not a monopoly therefore they can't be acting in an antitrust, anti-competitive nature. Well I hate to say it but Apple by means of its astonishing success has become that antitrust giant that they so loved to bash in the past. The company by means of its success has become it's own market and Apple clearly holds a dominate position in the 'Apple Market'.

Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the last quarter, 16.24 million iPhones, 19.45 million iPods and 7.33 million iPads. Recently the App Store crossed the 10 billion apps downloaded mark and the company touts usage by more than 160 million iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users worldwide.

Apple can no longer be considered the under dog or the little guy out there struggling to stay alive. Apple and Apple devices may not as a singular market (smartphones, computers, MP3 players ect) hold the lions share but their is no denying that taken as a whole they have a fairly large position and Apple holds a tight monopoly on that position. No other company has been allowed to participate in the anti-competitive practices Apple has. So I say again its about time we see someone taking a closer look at their policies!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ATI Re-Branding Radeon HD 5700 Series To Radeon HD 6700 Series

Re-branding of GPUs is often a confusing situation for consumers. Many times shopped see a higher series number and think the are getting a better GPU when in fact in many cases they are getting the exact same model with a new flashier name. In some rare cases you might even be getting a worse GPU by looking at series models alone. That is why I always suggest you do your research and verify what you are buying.

This week ATI implemented the companies plans to re-brand the Radeon HD 5700 series to the a newly created HD 6700 series, by listing the Radeon HD 6770 and HD 6750 on its website. For now, the new cards are listed as available only to OEMs, however that won't stop consumers from being a little confused.

So to alleviate some of that confusion let me first say, as far as specifications go, there are no changes between the 5700 and 6700 series with the two exceptions of OpenGL 4.1 support and HDMI 1.4a support. Visually speaking you can see a different-looking cooler shroud on the reference-design graphics cards. Other than that, they're the same exact cards internally.

The HD 6770 is based on the 40 nm Juniper silicon, with 800 VLIW5 stream processors, and 1 GB of GDDR5 memory over a 128-bit wide memory interface. The HD 6750 on the other hand has 720 stream processors. There's no information at present on when (or if) AMD plans to release this to the consumer market.

If you really want to check for yourself here are the links that represent both incarnations of each card:

Apple Wants To Keep You Out Of Your iPhones

Apple is literally 'putting the screws' to iPhone 4 do-it-yourselfers with a new rare "pentalobe" screw set.

Most users may not even notice the difference in screw sets on their devices. But then again most users never tear apart their devices to see the inner workings. For us geeks however tearing apart a new toy is common place.

For you Apple fans the job of cracking open that new iPhone might soon get a little tougher. Apple has begun replacing common Phillps head screws with a rare "pentalobe" screw head that has no readily available (at least on the cheap)  screwdrivers that can remove it. Not only are the new screw shipping on the newest iPhones but now it appears as though Apple has a policy in place to replace any Phillips head screws with the new pentalobe screws whenever an iPhone 4 is taken in for service.

News of these new screw heads began making headlines today following a report by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. Wiens recalls his ventures to Japan to be one of the first people to get their hands on the new iphone 4 for one of the websites noted teardowns. Wiens noted, "I saw something odd about the Japanese phones: they had different screws on the bottom!"

image via

Wiens writes, "Apple chose this fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive. Shame on them." He also noted that the screws are only used on the exterior of the device, merely to make it difficult for end users to get inside. "Otherwise," Wiens said, "Apple would use it throughout each device."

In other words, Apple is rearing it's ugly tyrannical head again and doesn’t want you to be able to modify your phone in any way nor do they want you to fix any potential issues without the company’s explicit permission and oversight (and of course a nominal service fee).

The new screw heads should be nothing new to Apple fans. They've turned up on several Apple devices including the new MacBook Air and some of the older MacBook Pros. The screws were used to cover the SSD slot and batteries in those cases. According to reports Apple charges $29 for the pentalobe screwdriver however (and this seems like shameless promotion) iFixit sells a kit for $10!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Linksys E4200 dual-band 450Mbps router

Earlier this week Cisco unveiled the stylish new Linksys E4200 dual-band 450Mbps router. This sweet looking little router just happened to land on my desk and was begging for a thorough Geek News review.

First Impression - Wow what a sleek design!

This has to be one of the best looking devices on my desk at the moment. The entire router just screams luxury device with a sleek black matte housing featuring a center strip of silver metal on the top with Cisco's logo embossed on it. Gone are all the annoying flashing lights you see on most routers instead the logo glows a soft bluish-white when the router is connected and gently flashes during setup.

The E4200 features 6 (yes six) antennas for added range. However you'll never notice a single one since they are all tucked neatly inside. I've personally never used a router without external antennas but this one might have me sold!

Features - Down to the heart of the beast

Cisco touts the E4200 as a router designed for the tech enthusiast that wants the best in multi-use, multimedia home networking. Essentially they are billing the E4200 as the best of the best for the hardcore geeks out there have Web-connected TVs, game consoles, iPads, and other bandwidth-gobbling gadgets.

The router features simultaneous dual-band (2.4 and 5.0 GHz) Wi-Fi with four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is also a USB port on the back for attaching FAT32, NTFS, and HSF+ storage devices which provides basic NAS functionality, including performing as a Media or FTP server. This added feature is great foe networking devices such as external hard drives or flash drives and setup is a breeze. (We covered the use in our review of the E2100L)

The Linksys E4200 also provides cross-platform capability supporting Windows XP (SP3), Vista (SP1 and above), Windows 7, and Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11, Leopard 10.5.8 and Snow Leopard 10.6.1. Unfortunately, there's no official Linux support but that may be coming!

Setup - Can Cisco make this any easier?

The E4200 ships with the standard easy to use Cisco Connect software that makes setup and management off all their browsers a snap. If you've ever used a Cisco/Linksys router you know how easy their software is to follow and how quick and easy setup is.

I personally never use the software and instead opt for manual mode which hasn't changed much. The interface will look pretty familiar to anyone that has dealt with Cisco/Linksys routers in the past.

For those that choose to use the new Cisco Connect software you'll find a couple of new features, one of which is an Internet speed test that will measure the speed of the Internet connection. The second is the ability to shut off the rear LED lights to the ports on the back.

This was one new feature that I absolutely loved! The feature can be found from the router's home page using the address Cisco doesn't allow users to dim the glowing Cisco logo that's on top of the router which would have been nice but the soft white glow isn't as annoying as the constant flashing of other front facing leds!

Speed and Performance - Do I get more bang for my buck?

At $180 the E4200 is a high-powered high priced router, unfortunately at this time unless you have a laptop equipped with an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 or 5300 Wi-Fi adapter you can't take full advantage of that speed and power. Cisco promises that in the future there will be USB adapters and add-in cards that support the speeds but for now you are going to be limited to 300 Mbps (more than fast enough for most things).

During my initial, all be it limited, testing speeds and range seemed to be similar to what we saw when testing the Linksys E2100L. I got excellent coverage through out the entire house which extended well outside. I haven't done any throughput tests however those given by CNet in their review show the the E4200 excelled. CNet claims "the E4200 is the fastest true dual-band router they've seen when it comes to wireless performance" and that is good enough for me!

Conclusion - To buy or not to buy, that is the question!

The Linksys E4200 is definitely a high-powered stylish router and it is more then capable of handling anything the geekiest of geeks can throw at it. For those living in the modern well connected home that has several high-intensive network devices like the latest home theater equipment streaming loads of video, gaming consoles or other equipment that saps bandwidth router will surely be impressive and would make a fine addition to your network. For the average every day geek that is looking to buy a replacement router and want some future-proofing you might also take a peek at the E4200.

For the average home user that doesn't fall into the two categories above, well this router really isn't your best option. You might opt for the Linksys E2100L, Linksys E2000 or one of the Cisco Valet series routers

Currently the Linksys E4200 is only available online at the Linksys store at or at (here) you may also find it at select Best Buy brick and mortar locations for an MSRP of $179.99.  The E4200 will roll out to other retail and online retailers over the next few months.

Uncensored Playboy Coming To An Apple Device Near You

What Hugh Hefner wants Hugh Hefner gets, Apple be dammed! Playboy founder Hugh Hefner announced late last night that an uncensored version of Playboy will land on the iPad in March, despite protests from Apple and their no-nudity clause for all iOS apps.

"Big news! Playboy -- both old & new -- will be available on iPad beginning in March," Hefner tweeted. In follow-up tweets, Hefner said that the Playboy's complete catalog would be available on the iPad, and that the issues would be uncensored.

In an e-mail to CNET, Playboy confirmed that it's releasing a Web-based subscription service offered and ran by Bondi Digital Publishing that would give users access to every issue of Playboy past and present. This service would be compatible with the iPad and use some of the iPad's features. But the magazine added it's also planning to release a non-nude version of a Playboy-branded iPad app in the coming months that would adhere to all of Apple's policies and guidelines.

Playboy has not yet released any of the details nor has it revealed the pricing of the iPad-based access, or when in March the new service would launch. Currently, access to the online edition of Playboy costs $7.95 per month when billed annually, or $19.95 when billed monthly.

The Web service will be available to iPad (an other iOS device) users through the tablet's Safari browser.

Google's 4th Annual Doodle 4 Google Contest Now Open

Google has announced the launch of their fourth annual Doodle 4 Google contest. The annual contest invites students grade K-12 to design the homepage doodle. Entrants receive the chance to take home a $15,000 scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for their schools.

Every year Google chooses a theme for talent young people to work towards and this year's theme is “What I’d like to do someday...”

Changes to Doodle 4 Google in 2011
  • Parents Can Register Their Kids: This year, based on your feedback, we are expanding the contest. Now, in addition to schools, parents and legal guardians can directly register their K-12 students in the contest and submit their doodles. Check with your child’s school or After School Programs first to see if they are participating, since we only allow one entry per student. As always, public, private and home schools can register on behalf of their students.
  • After School Programs: We are working with two After School Programs: Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Girl Scouts of the USA to register students.
  • No Cap On Doodles Per School: There is no cap on how many doodles each school, After School Program, or family can send in. Just remember, only one doodle per child.
  • A Variety Of Guest Judges: This year, a group of guest judges, including Whoopi Goldberg, Actress/Comedian/TV Talk Show Host, Jim Davis, Creator of "Garfield", and Evan Lysacek, Gold Medalist for Ice Skating, and several other well known cartoonists, animators and illustrators will help judge the contest and attend the final awards ceremony to personally congratulate our winners. 

For more details, check out, including full contest rules. To get started, whether you’re a teacher or a parent, register your student(s) by March 2, 2011 and get to working on those designs as all entries must be postmarked by March 16, 2011.

Cisco Introduces The New Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual Band N Router

The Linksys E4200 is a powerful simultaneous dual-band Wireless-N router optimized for maximum wireless experience. A built-in USB port and UPnP media server lets you stream HD videos seamlessly directly from your router to your wireless devices. Share files with other computers wirelessly, with network speeds of up to 450 Mbps. Maximize gaming performance with the router's 4 Gigabit ports. Plus, the latest version of Cisco Connect software gets you set up in a few simple steps and offers powerful tools for managing your wireless network.

“Cisco’s Linksys line continues to lead the industry with innovative technology for the growing number of wireless-enabled homes”, said Simon Fleming-Wood, vice president of marketing, Cisco Consumer Products. “The new Linksys E4200 router is ideal for home entertainment enthusiasts who want to equip their homes with the latest wireless technology or anyone who wants the reassurance of outfitting their home with the best router on the market today.”

Product Details:
  • Maximum performance up to 300 Mbps (2.4) and up to 450 Mbps (5.0GHz)
  • Dual Band (2.4 and 5.0 GHz)
  • 4 10/100/1000 Gigabit ports
  • 6 antennas for maximum range
  • SpeedBoost for maximum speed at greater distances for added in-home mobility
  • 3X3 internal MIMO special stream configuration on the 5.0 Ghz band for ideal performance for streaming HD videos, gaming and voice
  • Quality of Service (QoS) for prioritizing bandwidth for movies, voice or music
  • UPnP media server for adding on storage to serve your Internet enabled TVs or media server PCs
  • USB port for easily adding external storage drives
  • New design
  • Advanced security: WPA and WPA2 and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) Firewall
  • Plans to support IPv6 in the spring
  • Cisco Connect software for enabling simple setup, network management tools (parental controls, guest access) plus optional advanced settings

Pricing and Availability:
The Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual-Band Wireless-N Router is immediately available for an MSRP of $179.99 at Best Buy, Best and the Linksys store at The E4200 will roll out to other retail and online retailers over the next few months.

Here is the link for our review of the Linksys E4200!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Apple Fights Back Against Jailbreaking Seeks Permanent Ban

NBC News reports that Apple is asking the federal government to overturn a court decision backing the U.S. Government Library of Congress Copyright which legalized jailbreaking and unlocking of devices, allowing the user to run unauthorized applications on any device they choose.

Apple's argument to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Current jailbreak technologies now in widespread use utilize unauthorized modifications to the copyrighted bootloader and operating system, resulting in the infringement of the copyrights in those programs."

Jailbreaking became legalized following recent changes made to the 1998 DMCA by the Library of Congress. Back in July the government approved a handful of new exemptions to a federal law that prevents the circumvention of technical measure that prevent users from accessing and modifying copyrighted works.

Clearly Apple wants to push for further control over their devices. The absolutely hate the fact that users can use none app store applications or other none app store sources for their programs which cuts them out of the cash cycle. Apple wants their devices to be as closed and controllable as possible.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Linux Foundation Announces Events for 2011

The Linux Foundation has recently announced their list of upcoming Events for 2011 include a new LinuxCon Europe in Prague, Czech Republic.

The goal of the Linux Foundation events is to bring together the best and brightest that the Linux community has to offer, including community developers, system administrators, business executives and operations experts. The newly announced LinuxCon Europe will deliver attendees top notch speaking talent (from across Europe and around the globe), innovative and abundant program content, and a wide variety of opportunities to connect with peers. LinuxCon Europe attendees the opportunity to also attend the Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE) at no additional cost.

Further information, including event dates and locations, as well as registration details and the Call for Presentations for all of the 2011 events, can be found on the Linux Foundation's Events web page.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Apple Offering A $10,000 iTunes Gift Card For 10 Billionth Download

Apple announced today that their all to popular App Store is nearing the 10 billion download milestone. Similar to past milestones the company plans to countdown to the event via an all to familiar countdown page. Currently the page sits at approximately 9.7 billion downloads and counting.

As it has done in the past, Apple is sponsoring a giveaway that showers the person who downloads the 10 billionth app with an iTunes gift card worth $10,000. Not bad for someone that is visiting the App Store and downloading anyways!

For those that don't want to download apps there is an alternative method of entry and there is no purchase necessary to win. Click here to submit a free entry form. To enter or read official rules, visit

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jailbreak Your Apple TV With 'Seas0nPass'

The guys over at FireCore have come up with a new app that makes it quick and easy to jailbreak your second-generation Apple TV.

Seas0nPass was created exclusively for the AppleTV user, as previously no AppleTV specific jailbreak tools were available. Seas0nPass allows you to easily create custom AppleTV IPSW files and restore them in iTunes (similar to the existing Pwnage Tool app). Also included is a simple 'tethered boot' option which aids in using newer AppleTV firmwares when an 'un-tethered' jailbreak is not yet available.

Seas0nPass is available for free, and is open source. The source code is available on Github and for more details check out FireCore’s support page for the full instructions and download.

One thing to note: Seas0nPass is still very new and does have a few bugs that need straightening out, so proceed at your own risk.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fujifilm's New More Rugged FinePix XP30 Featuring GPS

Waterproof digital cameras are becoming all the rage these days. Last year several companies got their feet wet introducing their first ever waterproof offerings. With several other companies such as Olympus and Fujifilm introducing updated offerings. This year marks a first for the waterproof, rugged camera line with Fujifilm raising the bar by introducing the new FinePix XP30; the world's first water, shock, dust and freeze proof model featuring built-in GPS functionality.

The FinePix XP30 picks up where the FinePix XP10 left off featuring the same 4-way durability only with slightly more rugged specifications.You get a newly designed look with a riveted front that is waterproof to 5 metres/16.4ft as opposed to only 3m with the XP10. You'll also get shockproof protections for drops up to 1.5 metres/4.9ft, or a full foot and a half more protection over the XP10. Add to that the same Dust / Sandproofing as well as freezeproof protection down to −10°C.

To add to the cameras durability new is a new shockproof bumper design to shield the LCD screen in case of accident drops. A new rubberized grip to help keep the camera in your hands during tough conditions and a a strengthened glass lens cover providing better protection for that all too important lens.

The most emphasized new feature is the built in GPS sensor for geo-tagging support. Locations can be displayed either as longitude and latitude or by place name. The FinePix XP30 has an embedded list featuring around half a million places of interest across the globe. When a shot is taken, the image is tagged with location information, enabling you to quickly find shots of a place you've visited. Should users then want to create a photobook of a specific location they can do so using the Photobook Assist function where you can tag images then turn the pages of the book on the camera's rear LCD.

But that's not all. If you visit a location that you want to return to but can't remember which way to go, the Photo Navigation mode is invaluable. Simply find a shot of the location and the FinePix XP30 will not only tell you how far it is from your current spot, it'll show you the direction you need to travel to get there.

For those who want to re-trace their steps and map a route of their travels, the Route Logging function is sure to appeal. The FinePix XP30 stores location data every 10 minutes and, once the images are downloaded to a PC through MyFinePix Studio (bundled image viewing software), a map of the route, along with the pictures you took along the way is created using Google Maps.

Fujifilm FinePix XP30 / XP20 key features:
  • 14.2 megapixel resolution
  • GPS functionality - The XP20 drops the GPS function
  • 5x wide optical zoom covering 28 - 140 mm (35 mm equivalent)
  • CCD shift image stabilization
  • 2.7 inch rear LCD with 230,000 pixels
  • Waterproof to five metres
  • Shockproof up to 1.5 metres
  • Freezeproof to −10°C
  • Dust / Sandproof
  • Motion Panorama mode
  • Available in Black, Silver, Orange, Blue, Green and White

Pricing on the new XP30 is $240 or $200 for the XP20 without the GPS. The cameras are available now for pre-order however they won't be available until mid-February for shipping.

My thoughts:

I've been watching the waterproof digital camera market since I did my review of the FinePix Z33Wp back on Aug of '09 and had been keeping a close eye on the XP10 since it was released. So naturally when I saw the data on the new XP30 I was a bit intrigued. I'll have to say that I'm not going to be an early adopter on this one. Given the drawbacks I faced with Z33WP I'm a bit shy of Fujifilm's cameras. I know these basic waterproof cameras are supposed to be pretty much point and shoot and you shouldn't expect something top notch but I'm a bit picky.

Right now the XP10 can be purchased for around $100 so at $240 the XP30 seems like an expensive alternative. After-all, GPS aside you aren't gaining much in terms of actual performance. Sure you get a rubberized feel that offers more protection and a few extra feet of waterproofing and drop resistance but that hardly seems worth it to me. I really do like the sounds of the GPS and Photo Navigation mode. I'm just not sure I'd actually use it that much. Hopefully we'll see some reviews soon and that will sway me one way or the other.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Verizon iPhone 4 Some Questions Answered

So you've heard the great news that Verizon will finally be getting the iPhone but you aren't sure what that means. Well I've got a few answers to some of the common questions I've seen asked.

Q) I'm an existing Verizon customer can I upgrade?
A) You can check your eligibility on Verizon's Website here. If you've purchased a new Verizon handset recently you can return it within 30 days of purchase to take advantage of the iPhone 4 instead.

Q) Will my AT&T iPhone now work on Verizon?
A) No they are two entirely different networks. Verizon uses a CDMA based network whereas AT&T uses a GSM network this is the reason iPhones have never been able to be unlocked to work on Verizon. Your AT&T phone may still be unlocked to work with other GSM networks but you will need a new CDMA phone to work with Verizon.

Q) How much will the Verizon iPhone cost?
A) Verizon will offer two versions of the device: a 16-GB model for $200 and a 32-GB model for $300, both with a new two-year contract.

Q) How much will data and calling plans be?
A) At this time we don't know Verizon has yet to confirm anything. It's not clear if Verizon iPhone customers will see Verizon's standard smartphone data plans or if the carrier will tailor a plan specifically for the iPhone.

Q) Can I port my number from AT&T to Verizon?
A) If you are a current AT&T customer and you have fulfilled your contract then yes you can port your current number over. If however you are still under contract you will have to pay the AT&T  ETF's before they release your number. You are able to check your number's portability eligibility online, at any Verizon Wireless store, authorized agent location or by calling us at 1.800 2 JOIN IN.

Q) Are the AT&T iPhones different than the new Verizon iPhones?
A) The short answer is no not really. Because of the new CDMA-specific antenna there are a few minor changes to the outside of the phone that will require new cases and internally there are difference in the radio chipsets but internally not much has changed. Both phones will have the same features including FaceTime video calling, the high-resolution Retina display, a 5-megapixel camera, HD video recording, long battery life, and all the other great features of iPhone 4. There is one difference that is a big plus for the the Verizon iPhone. The new phone adds the hotspot feature which allows up to five Wi-Fi enabled device to be tethered to your iPhone. This feature costs extra on Verizon's Android smartphones. There is no mention if it will it cost extra for the iPhone 4, too?

Q) Which version of IOS does the Verizon iPhone run?
A) The Verizon iPhone's software is slightly more advanced than the current offering from AT&T it's running iOS 4.2.5, while the most current release for all other iPhones is iOS 4.2.1.

Q) Is Verizon the only one who can sell a CDMA iPhone?
A) No, Apple COO Tim Cook told reporters today that while Apple and Verizon have a "multiyear" contract, unlike the previous deal with AT&T it is not exclusive. That means other CDMA carriers like Sprint could potentially be next to sell the iPhone.

Hopefully this helps answer a few of the questions many of you have. There are several more questions and answers on the Verizon site which can be found via Verizon iPhone 4 FAQs.

Verizon iPhone Becomes A Reality

Verizon Wireless and Apple today announced that a new CDMA version of Apple's iPhone 4 will be available on the Verizon Wireless network beginning on Thursday, February 10. Qualified Verizon Wireless customers will be given the exclusive opportunity to pre-order the iPhone 4 online on February 3, ahead of general availability.

“We are pleased to introduce millions of wireless users to the industry leading iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network,” said Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon. “This is an important step for the industry as two great companies join forces to give wireless customers one of the most important technological additions to the mobile landscape this century.”

Verizon will offer two versions of the device: a 16-GB model for $200 and a 32-GB model for $300, both with a two-year contract. iPhone 4 will be available at more than 2,000 Verizon Wireless Communications Stores nationwide, online at, at Apple Retail Stores, at the Apple Store (, at Apple Authorized Resellers, and by calling 1-800-2 JOIN IN.

Verizon has not mentioned what the company would charge for its iPhone data and service plans when the phone goes on sale. However there have been several rumors speculating that the company may offer customers an unlimited data service plan.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Google Offers Sneak Peek of Android 3.0, Honeycomb

Late last month Google announced the company was working on a new version of Android geared towards larger format device like netbooks and tablets. Late last week the company offered a sneak peek of Android 3.0, via the video below.

Google reports the company has spent a lot of time refining the user experience in Honeycomb, developing a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface.

"Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb," writes Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering. Android 3.0 will feature refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive. Google also boost that have made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.

Honeycomb also features the latest Google Mobile innovations including Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability, access to over 3 million Google eBooks, and Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device (PC, tablet, etc).

For now there is no word as to when the public can expect to see tablets featuring the new OS however there were several new devices featured at this years CES that showcased Android and are expected to be released with the latest version.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Apple's Mac App Store Opens Tops One Million Downloads in First Day

Apple's newly opened Mac App Store seems to be an over night success with the company claiming more than one millions apps have been downloaded in the first day.

“We’re amazed at the incredible response the Mac App Store is getting,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Developers have done a great job bringing apps to the store and users are loving how easy and fun the Mac App Store is.”

The Mac App Store is just like the App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Essentially its is an all in one repository where Apple fans can download just about everything for their Macs running OSX Snow Leopard including a few freebies.

Users can browse Mac apps by category, such as games, productivity, music, and more. Or do a quick search for something specific. Read developer descriptions and user reviews. Flip through screenshots. When you find an app you like, click to buy it. Currently there are more than 1,000 apps in listed under education, games, graphics & design, lifestyle, productivity, utilities and other categories.

To get the Mac App Store, download the Mac OS X v10.6.6 Software Update or visit To find out more about developing for the Mac App Store visit

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Firefox Dethrones Internet Explorer, In Europe Anyways

According to data compiled by web analytics company StatCounter, Firefox bumped Internet Explorer (IE) as the dominant browser in Europe at the end of 2010. According to the numbers compiled by StatCounter's research arm StatCounter Global Stats during December 38.11% of internet page views involved Mozilla's Firefox web browser, while Internet Explorer fell back to second place with 37.52%. Google Chrome made a strong showing coming in third place at 14.58%.

"This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "This appears to be happening because Google's Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share."

Google Chrome is gaining market share in Europe which shows with their strong third place ranking. The 14.58% share Google Chrome holds is nearly triple that of 2009 which in comparison was 5.06% in December last year. "We are probably seeing the impact of the agreement between European Commission competition authorities and Microsoft, to offer EU users a choice and menu of browsers from March last," added Aodhan Cullen.

The news comes on the heels of reports that IE lost 1.4 percentage points of overall usage share in December which accounts for one of the largest one-month decline in more than two years. Chrome was again the prime beneficiary of IE's slide, as Google's browser reached the 10% milestone worldwide for the first time ever. According to Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications, IE's total share fell to 57.1%, another record low for the Microsoft-made browser. IE has lost 5.6 percentage points in the last 12 months, and 10.7 points since IE8 was introduced in March 2009.

Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' CPUs Are Here

intel logoAlthough the news has been spreading around the web for the past several day today marks the official release of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processor architecture or what the company calls its "second-generation Core processors."

Today at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel highlighted several new features, services and partnerships that combine to deliver an entirely new visual experience with processor graphics built in. Intel claims that more than 500 desktop and laptop PCs are expected from all major OEMs worldwide throughout the next year.

With their announcement Intel has officially released the product sku's of more than 20 processors as well as , wireless adapters and chipsets, including new Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel 6 Series Chipsets, and Intel Centrino WiFi and WiMAX adapters.

Sandy Bridge represents the latest in Intel's development strategy. The new chips are based on the 32nm "Westmere" die shrink of about a year ago, but introduces new technologies, features and capabilities that neither Westmere nor the previous "Nehalem," could claim.

"The new 2nd Generation Intel Core processors represent the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, PC Client Group, Intel. "The built-in visual capabilities enabled by these new processors are stunning. This, combined with improved adaptive performance, will revolutionize the PC experience in a way that is obvious for every user to see and appreciate – visibly smarter performance."

With Sandy Bridge, Intel claims that mainstream PCs will be able to perform a wider variety of actions, all while consuming less power. Intel has put particular focus on the CPUs' media prowess, from its built-in DirectX 10.1 capabilities to new programming that Intel has promised will considerably improve video transcoding, photo editing, and other similar tasks (such as watching Blu-ray 3D content).

Additional changes in Sandy Bridge also include a major revamping of Turbo Boost, which can improve performance even more for short periods of time, and new Advanced Vector Extensions driving floating point–intensive application performance.

Sandy Bridge What You Need To Know

For starters the company hasn't dropped its "Core" designation for its CPU lineup: You'll still see some of the older Core i3, i5, and i7 branded chips on the market. These older chips are still going to be based on the LGA-1156 and older LGA-1366 sockets. The new '2nd generation' chips will share the 'Core' branding and similar designation however they will not be based on the older sockets. They will require an entirely new motherboard with a new socket LGA-1155 cpu socket. These new motherboards will now feature the Intel 6 Series Chipsets. Mainly the performance-focused P67, the integrated graphics-focused H67 and the entry-level H61.

To keep the confusion over the two generation chips to a minimum Intel has added a few naming features. The number immediately following the "i" modifier will be followed by a "2" to indicate that said CPU is a part of the Sandy Bridge family, as it's a second-generation CPU. The following three numbers will indicate the specific processor SKU, so you will now see designations like Core i7-2600K, Core i5-2500K, Core i5-2400, And Core i3-2100. The letters appended to the end- "K", "S", or "T" will detail whether the CPU is unlocked for overclocking, optimized for "lifestyle" computing, or optimized for power-savings.

For the new Sandy Bridge chips Intel has optimized Intel Turbo Boost Technology to provide even more performance when needed. Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 automatically allows processor cores to run faster than the base operating frequency if it's operating below power, current, and temperature specification limits.

For the layman out there what this means is the chips will effectively 'turbo up' when more power is needed. Overclocking the chips as much as 10-15% when more power is needed and throttle the chips back down when its not.

Newer better graphics right from your cpu. That's right with Sandy Bridge Intel has design the chips to have better video support featuring DirectX 10.1. The new chips sports completely redesigned video and media subsystems that Intel claims will greatly increase performance in everyday computing as well as more specialized tasks like video editing and transcoding. There's built-in support for a wide variety of popular video codecs, as well as accelerators for commonly used filters like scaling and removing noise.

This new 'on-chip' GPU design won't be a powerhouse and shouldn't be expected to replace a discreet GPU (and probably won't be good for gaming) however Intel boasts that the new execution units present in its Sandy Bridge GPU not only come at more than twenty times the power of Intel's Generation-5 graphics, but that the cards themselves should rival integrated (and even entry-level discrete) graphics from Nvidia and ATI.

Other new features include Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), Intel InTru 3-D, and Intel Clear Video Technology HD. Intel InTru 3-D enables immersive stereoscopic 3-D to 3-D-capable HDTVs or monitors via HDMI 1.4.

Intel Sandy Bridge Reviews:

Source: Intel Press Release

Monday, January 03, 2011

Opera Previews New Touch Based Browser For Tablets And Netbooks

Opera has announced plans to launch a new touch based version of their popular web browser at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

The new browser will be specifically geared to work on the latest tablets and touch enabled netbooks. Offering users a full touch capable web browsing experience with smooth panning and smooth zooming.

“In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. Opera is creating waves with the first public preview of Opera for tablets,” said Christen Krogh, Chief Development Officer, Opera Software. “Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.”

There is no word on exactly when the new version of Opera will be available on that visitors to this week's CES can preview it at the Opera booth in South Hall 2, Lower Level, #26502.