Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kmart Is Looking For Gamers To Send To E3

The Consumer Electronics branch of Kmart is giving a few lucky blogging gamers the chance chance to attend the E3 expo on the company's dime. So if you are a gamer, can write a good blog post and want the chance to attend E3 listen up!

Beginning today through March 30, KmartGamer, an online resource and community for video gamers, is seeking submissions from gaming bloggers interested in attending the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which takes place June 7 – 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

You will attend the gaming trade show on behalf of KmartGamer and will be reporting on all the E3 action for the site. Foe consideration you must
  • Be a skilled storyteller that's both passionate and knowledgeable about gaming, or a specific platform or genre. This passion must shine through clearly in your writing, photography, video -- everything you do that's gaming-related. In addition to being a general gamer and gaming enthusiast, you also have a clear passion in a specialty. This could be a platform, or a genre (e.g. sports, FPS).
  • Bloggers must be actively involved in gaming forums, sites or other channels (e.g. Twitter) where they talk about gaming. They're a recognized, trusted name on those channels and have a following. (Meaning they didn't just sign up for CAG yesterday.)

To be considered, video-game bloggers must follow the simple, two-step submission process:
  • Step One: Write a blog post that states why KmartGamer should select them for participation, including providing the following information within their post:
    • Why are you interested in going to E3?
    • What would you be excited to see and cover at E3?
    • Why do you want to go to E3 with KmartGamer?
    • Describe your experiences with KmartGamer, such as how you learned about this call for submissions or how you discovered the various KmartGamer online resources.
  • Step Two: Link their individual blog submission as a comment on the official KmartGamer.com blog announcing the call for submissions, located at http://www.mykmart.com/mykmart_blog/KmartGamer-bloggers-e3-2011. Bloggers are also required to supply their e-mail and mailing addresses in the necessary entry fields found on the KmartGamer.com blog by Wednesday, March 30.

Following the submission process, a team of Kmart Consumer Electronics representatives will review the applicants and select three bloggers to attend E3 on its behalf and blog about their experiences. KmartGamer will also provide bloggers with travel and hotel expense and a daily per diem for the three-day expo.

Gaming enthusiasts can also follow KmartGamer on Twitter at twitter.com/kmartgamer or on the KmartGamer blog at www.kmartgamer.com. Additionally, to learn about the latest Kmart consumer electronics offers and news visit, www.kmart.com/electronics.

For more details checkout the KmartGamer blog post "KmartGamer is going to E3 2011 -- and you can too!"

Linux Foundation Hosting Android Builders Summit and Embedded Linux Conference

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, has announced the 2011 Android Builder Summit to take place from 13 to 14 April at the Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco. Following the Embedded Linux Conference, the ABS will run for one and a half days, starting at 1 pm on the 13 April. The ELC runs from the 11 to 13 April.

The Android Builders Summit is a technical summit for OEMs, their device manufacturers, integrators, custom builders, and the growing Android and Linux Kernel developer communities. Android is expanding to an increasing number of industry segments in addition to smart phones and tablets. There is a need for the ecosystem of builders to collaborate on a common solution for existing limitations and desired features across all of these device categories.


The Android Builders Summit provides an intimate forum for collaboration at the systems level and discussion of core issues and opportunities when designing Android devices.

The summit addresses topics ranging from custom builds, alternative middleware, network functionality extensions, Peer to Peer frameworks, USB device support, security, unification of power management, tools and hybrid Android devices among many other topics.

Co-Located with the 2011 Embedded Linux Conference, the Android Builders Summit is 1.5 days, beginning at 1:00pm on Wednesday, April 13th and continuing on April 14th with a full day of exclusive Android content including keynote presentations from Qualcomm Innovation Center and Motorola. This is an excellent opportunity for companies participating in Android-based product development to interact and exchange ideas with their industry colleagues and other participants from the Android community. Immediately following the summit, The Linux Foundation will be offering its recently announced Android Training classes.

Who Should Attend:
  • Android OEMs and Device manufacturers and integrators
  • Android Custom Builders, and those wanting to bring Android to new market segments
  • Android and Linux Kernel developer communities

If you are interested in attending the Android Builders Summit it is encouraged that you to sign up early as there is limited space, and the event always reaches capacity. You can find registration information here.

Registration Fees

  • General Registration Fee: $295
  • Embedded Linux Conference Attendees: $100 - If you are attending the Embedded Linux Conference, you can register for this event as part of your ELC registration.  Do not use this registration form if you are attending ELC.
  • Student Registration Fee: $100 (Be prepared to show your valid student id onsite)
  • Group Registration Discounts: If your organization if planning to send three or more people to ABS, please contact usThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a 20% discount code.

Amazon Gives Prime Members Unlimited Instant Video Streaming

Amazon Prime members got a great gift this morning when Amazon announced the company's plans to offer them a new benefit: unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows. This new benefit is being added at no additional cost to current and new Amazon Prime members and whats even better the membership will continue to only cost $79 per year.

There is one downside however, the free service is only available to those that actually pay for an Amazon Prime membership – those that receive a free Student or Amazon Mom Prime membership are out of luck.

"Millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy the convenience of free Two-Day Shipping," said Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime. "Adding unlimited instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost is a great way to give members even more value for their $79 annual Amazon Prime membership."

Movies and TV shows included with an Amazon Prime membership can be watched instantly on Macs, PCs and nearly 200 models of Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes that are compatible with Amazon Instant Video. The selection of videos available for instant streaming currently includes movies, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, "Amadeus," "Syriana," and "Chariots of Fire," noted documentaries such as "Food Inc.," "March of the Penguins" and "Ken Burns' National Parks," plus TV shows, such as "Doctor Who," "Farscape," "Fawlty Towers" and children's shows, such as "Arthur," "Caillou," "Super Why!" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

Customers can learn more about an Amazon Prime one-month free trial and start watching instantly at www.amazon.com/primevideos. For more information on Amazon Instant Video, visit www.amazon.com/instantvideo.

Winodws 7 SP1 Now Available

The first service pack for Windows 7 has finally made its public debut.

Six days ago, Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 became available for MSDN/TechNet subscribers and had been leaked to the web via torrent for several days. Today however it is officially available for the rest of the world. Other than all the incremental hptfixes that Microsoft has released to date SP1 only contains two major new features, which will not affect the majority of users. The first being RemoteFX, a standalone product that requires Windows Server 2008 R2 to be used. The second feature is an update for HyperV in Windows Server 2008 R2 called "Dynamic Memory". The feature is as simple as it sounds -- it dynamically allocates memory to virtual machines as required and is able to remove memory from virtual machines when others need higher resources.

You can read more about the new features over on the Windows Server Team Blog.

Download Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (KB976932) directly from Microsoft.

Google Hit With More Antitrust Charges Over Advertising

A French Internet company 1plusV has filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming Google Inc. is abusing its dominant market position to stop smaller competitors from generating advertising revenues.

1plusV is the parent company of  French search engine eJustice.fr. which offers users a thematic search engine but claims it has been forced to adopt Google technology to access commercially vital advertising services. The Versailles-based firm is a competitor to Google's own thematic search but has claimed Google forced thematic search engines to adopt its own technology if they wanted to use its advertising service, thus limiting the development of alternative technologies.

The company also claims that Google ignored requests by certain websites not to be listed among search results, which gave it a competitive advantage over search engines that did respect those requests. 1plusV is also claiming that Google is prioritizing its own vertical, or thematic, searches for books over those of competitors, without visually differentiating them from the rest of the searches.

The European commission opened an investigation into the market dominance of Google last November after months of mounting complaints.Under those charges the commission was investigating whether Google lowered the position among unpaid results of services with which it competes, such as price comparison or specialized search, and placed its own services higher to shut out competition. The commission is also investigating allegations that Google lowered its quality score for sponsored, or paid, links of competing search services.

"We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission, explaining many aspects of our business. We believe there is always room for improvement, so we are working to address any potential concerns," said Google spokesman Al Verney, referring to the new complaint on Tuesday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Anti Kill-Switch Bill Introduced

The three U.S. senators that were initially responsible for legislation that many dubbed the "Internet Kill-Switch" have introduced a new bill that would clearly and concisely remove those powers from government control.

The new legislation entitled the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act (PDF) explicitly states that “neither the President, the Director of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications or any officer or employee of the United States Government shall have the authority to shut down the Internet.” It also provides an opportunity for judicial review of designations of our most sensitive systems and assets as “covered critical infrastructure.”

In a statement released this afternoon Senator Lieberman the original author of the "Internet Kill Switch" said:

“We want to clear the air once and for all. As someone said recently, the term 'kill switch' has become the ‘death panels’ of the cybersecurity debate. There is no so-called ‘kill switch’ in our legislation because the very notion is antithetical to our goal of providing precise and targeted authorities to the President. Furthermore, it is impossible to turn off the Internet in this country. This legislation applies to the most critical infrastructures that Americans rely on in their daily lives – energy transmission, water supply, financial services, for example – to ensure that those assets are protected in case of a potentially crippling cyber attack.  

The so-called ‘internet kill switch’ debate has eclipsed discussion of actual, substantive provisions in this bill that would significantly improve the security of all Americans by creating a new national center to prevent and respond to cyber attacks, requiring critical infrastructure owners - for the first time - to shore up cyber vulnerabilities, and establishing a strategy to secure the federal IT supply chain.  I look forward to working with Senator Reid to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the floor early this year.”

I haven't yet had the chance to review all of the new 221-page bill but have noticed the addition of the the new provision and have to say this is definitely a major step in the right direction. The old versions of the bill were very vague and offered broad wording.

Much of the old bill remains and many of the provisions are still in place. For instance the new bill would require the creation of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, the creation of a Directors position for that agency and the establishment of a cybersecurity research and development program in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Other provisions include the creation of regulations to require owners of critical infrastructure to fix cyber-vulnerabilities and would create a national center focused on preventing and responding to cyberattacks. The bill also would reform the cybersecurity rules for federal agencies, and it would setup guidelines for the hiring and training of federal employees and contractors engaged in the design, development, or operation of agency information infrastructure.

Intel Now Shipping Fixed 6-series Chipsets

According to DigiTimes Intel has begun shipping revised 6-series (Sandy Bridge) chipsets to first-tier notebook and motherboard manufactures. The new B3 stepping chipsets will replace the previously released defective units in the marketplace.

Late last month Intel announced they found a flaw in their new 6-Series 'Sandy Bridge' motherboards that resulted in degradation of some of the Serial ATA ports on those boards. Intel immediately halted shipments of the affected chipset and manufactures began a recall.

Originally the Cougar Point revision wasn't slated to hit OEMs until the end of the month. However pressures from manufacturers and a strong push towards AMD may have driven the company to bring a solution sooner than expected.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Report: DOJ And FTC Have Antitrust Questions For Apple

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal the Justice Department and the FTC are both interested in examining whether Apple is violating U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies' customers into the payment system for its iTunes store—and taking their 30% cut.

Even though this sounds like bad news this new scrutiny may never materialize into anything more than a preliminary report. Both agencies threatened formal revues when Apple blocked third party development applications. Apple later eased off those restrictions leading both agencies to back down. Its likely that could happen in this case and even more likely that the government is posturing to appease the masses.

Several antitrust lawyers have chimed on the antitrust issues raised from Apple's new in app subscription policy with many stating that Apple may actually face little risk of antitrust violations.

"It would be a steep, uphill climb," Hillard Sterling, an antitrust attorney and partner with the Chicago-based law firm of Freeborn & Peters told ComputerWorld.com. "The challengers would have to show that Apple has precluded competition in the marketplace. But there are plenty of platforms where publishers can offer their products outside the App Store."

To make a case against Apple, antitrust enforcers would have to show that Apple has market power and is abusing it. This will all come down to how they choose to define a market. Apple's iPhone currently only has a 16% share of overall smartphone sales while the iPad currently has three-quarters of world-wide tablet-computer sales.

Apple's Control Over Their Market

It all comes down to what the goverment will consider a 'market'. To make an antitrust case, plaintiffs would have to show that the new App Store rules prevent companies from selling their content. Sterling argues, "And that's a no brainer. They can offer their products through alternatives, such as Google's Android Market."

The major problem I see, and the point that I think is continually lost, is that Apple controls everything in their market. They preclude any competition from forming since they only allow iOS and MAC OSX on Apple branded devices and only those devices can use the App store and Mac store. If developers want to share in the 'Apple Market' they have to play by Apple's rules.

MacBook Pro The fastest, most powerful MacBook Pro

Exclusivity in and of itself isn't anti-competitive. Apple has the right to maintain control over their products as long as it doesn't hurt consumer choice or stifle competition. Apple has had a long standing position of exclusivity and has always sandboxed themselves from any outside competition. They don't allow any other company to create iOS or MAC OSX devices which quells all means of competition against them as a manufacture. The question here will be are they now using the position as not just hardware developers but software developers to create a hostile position.

Apple locks their devices to only be able to install apps through the App store and iTunes. This means they control the devices, the store and the means of distribution for hundreds of thousand of apps and millions upon millions of devices. Companies and developers not trying to work within the App store could potentially take a serious hit to business!

Apple Positions It's Software To Thrive

The second side of an antitrust inquiry could bring up the issues of tying software and creating a better environment for your software to thrive than outside competition. This is similar to what Microsoft has faced with Internet Explorer and other bundled Windows software.

Clearly Apple's own software such as iTunes, iBooks and Safari have been unfairly positioned. Apple blocks outside browsers, media players and media viewers. By this means alone they could be violating antitrust laws. Now with the "tax" on subscriptions they are putting competing content providers like Rhapsody, Sony and Amazon at a clear disadvantage.

Jon Irwin, the president of Rhapsody International Inc. has said that the new 30% fee would cut so deeply into the companies profit margins that they would no longer be able to compete.

"We have to pay rights holders, the music labels and publishers, for our content," said Irwin. "With all those fees that go out, [adding] Apple's 30% will exceed the revenue on our product. It's not a matter of making less money, it would be zero profit."

Companies like Rhapsody would be forced to raise prices in order to recoup lost revenues putting their prices significantly higher than Apple's own offerings. This would seriously hamper any competition within the App Store. Apple has maintained that users can go outside the app to buy those subscriptions although it seems clear by means of ease of use and the 'single-click sign-up option' iTunes offers iTunes would likely become the dominant means for subscribers to subscribe. This means that devs could lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why Now After All This Time

You really have to question the timing in which Apple has chosen to enforce the subscription policy. Apple has stated the policy was already within the terms of service yet they have waited until developers have spent hundreds on development dollars, man hours and advertising revenues to bolster a position within the App store and draw customers. But its only now that Apple decided to enforce those rules.

The company has clearly benefited from the works of outside developers yet they wait until now when they have a strong position in the market to enforce their rules. This seems like strong arming and sounds very extortionistic to me. It wreaks of Apple saying we want our cut or we'll dump your app and you can kiss all those customers and advertising dollars good bye!

No I'm Not An Apple Hater!

As much as I speak out against Apple I'm not a hater. In fact I applaud them for pushing not just the PC/Tablet industry but also the smartphone industry at a time that they both were rather stagnant. I also applaud them for seeing the potential in a device (or string of devices) and doing a great marketing job. Through their actions the company has done some pretty great things to push others.

The flip-side to that is that I feel you should hold all companies equally accountable. We should not grant top tier companies the right to completely exclude competition in the way Apple does. In short terms I think turn-about should be fair play. If Apple want to push to get Safari on Windows and other OSs then shouldn't they in-turn be forced to allow IE, Firefox and Chrome on iOS.

Intel Offers Advice On Protecting Your Handheld Device or Laptop from Water Damage

Anyone that has ever killed their phone or laptop because of an accident spill or splash down in the pool has inevitability asked themselves 'isn't there a way I could have saved my device". In fact there may just have been a chance that you could have revived your device. You just needed a little quick thinking, some ingenuity and of course a few essential tools.

Well today Intel comes to the rescue and gives us an article that we thought would be useful for our readers on how to protect and recover from water damage.

Contact with Liquid is not the End of Your Smartphone or PC

A TV ad shows a woman seated at a local coffee shop, surfing the web on her laptop for a last-second gift.A passer-by bumps the table and knocks the woman's hot coffee onto the computer.

If this has ever happened to you, you probably think it's time to buy a new handheld or computer.

Not so fast. While no computer or handheld is impervious to water or other liquids, you might be able to bring your workhorse device back from near-death in a few easy steps. It will take you about a day or so, but it could be worth the effort.

Here's what to do after a liquid-based accident involving your handheld or laptop.

Resurrecting a Smartphone or Cell Phone
In the popular crime scene/criminal investigation-type television shows, there's always an episode where a murder victim's phone is found in a swimming pool. The phone contains vital information to solving the murder, and the detectives somehow manage to dry the phone off and get it running again. Sound impossible? Not really. Here's how to bring your handheld back from a watery demise:
  • Get it out of the water as soon as possible. Plastic covers on cell phones are fairly tight, but water can still enter the phone within 20 seconds or less.
  • Remove the battery. Many circuits inside the phone will survive immersion in water if they are not attached to a power source when wet.
  • Remove the SIM and memory cards, if your phone has them. SIM and memory cards survive water damage well, as long as you don't heat them. Just pat them dry with a paper towel and set them aside until you need to reconnect your phone to your cellular network.
  • Remove any covers and external connectors. This will open up as many gaps, slots, and crevices in the phone as possible to allow for more thorough drying.
  • Get the water out. Carefully shake the phone without dropping it, then use a cloth towel or paper towel to gently remove as much of the remaining water as possible. Dry excess moisture by hand.
  • Rinse carefully. If your phone falls into the ocean or another form of salt water, rinse it with fresh water before salt crystals can form in the phone after removing the battery.
  • If possible, use a vacuum cleaner. This will remove all residual moisture by drawing it away from internal circuitry. Hold the vacuum at least two inches away over the affected (and accessible) areas for up to 20 minutes to avoid problems with static.
  • Use a can of compressed air. Hold the air can straight up (holding it upside down, sideways, or at an angle will shoot out the customary freezing liquid) and shoot into the crevices, speaker, microphone, and keypad. Any excess water should come out. 
  • Use a water-soaking substance water to help draw out moisture. An overnight dry "soak" in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice or desiccant gel works well.
  • Let the phone sit on absorbent towels, napkins, or other paper. Check the absorbent material every hour for four to six hours. If moisture is evident, change cloth or paper and continue to let the phone sit.
  • Test your phone. After you have waited a day or so, make sure everything is clean and looks dry. Then reinsert the battery and try turning it on. If your phone does not work, try plugging it into its charger without the battery.
    • If your phone works, you need a new battery.
    • If not, take your cell phone to an authorized dealer. Don't try to hide the fact that it has been wet—internal indicators will prove the presence of moisture.

A Second Life for Your Laptop
Even though most laptops now have sealed keyboards to keep fluid from leaking into the computer circuitry (or at least slow its progress for up to an hour), spills are still one of the major causes of laptop deaths. Here's how to minimize damage if a spill occurs.
If it's water you're dealing with:
  • Immediately turn off the machine. If necessary, do a hard shutdown by pressing and holding the power button. 
  • Use a soft cloth to blot up—not wipe up—excess liquid. A wiping motion will merely push the liquid around.
  • Remove any external cables, drives, network cards, and bays. Blot up liquid that may have gotten onto the removable media.
  • Don't take apart the casing. This can damage internal components and void your warranty, if applicable.
  • Tilt the laptop gently from side to side to allow liquid to drain out. Do not shake the machine.
  • Turn the laptop upside down to drain remaining excess liquid.
  • If you have one, use a blow dryer on the coolest setting and carefully dry the keyboard and any parts you have removed. Keep the dryer moving over all parts.
  • Let the laptop air dry upside down for at least one hour; 24 hours is preferred.
  • When the laptop is dry, reattach any removable components and start up the machine.
    • If it starts with no problems, test-run several programs and try using the external media.
    • If you see sparks or smell any foul odors, immediately power down the system. Take the unit to a repair specialist.

If you're dealing with a sticky or residue-based spill such as soda, juice or coffee:
  • Follow the above procedures, but carefully clean the surface of the unit after initial drying. Use a lightly damp, soft cloth with a diluted, 50-percent solution of isopropyl alcohol or watered-down window cleaner, a non-abrasive brand name cleaner or professional keyboard cleaner.
  • Don't forget to clean the touchpad in similar fashion.
  • Turn unit down and let it air dry for at least an hour; a day is preferred.
  • If necessary, take the unit to a repair specialist.

Remember to back up your laptop's contents following the spill. Even if you successfully revive it, the machine may be on borrowed time and could malfunction in the future.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Expect A Nokia Windows Phone Anytime Soon

By now I'm sure you've heard that Nokia has announced a partnership with Microsoft to release Windows Phone OS based mobile products and services. What you might not have heard is that Nokia is not adopting Microsoft's current Windows Phone 7 platform – which means that there is no chance of any handsets running Microsoft's software before the end of summer.

According to reports Nokia has decided to forgo development of a new handset or any other mobile devices based on WP7, the current version of the Windows Phone platform. Instead the company is going to wait until the next major release of the operating system, codenamed "Mango", is made available this coming October – and that is expected to have a slightly different name from the current Windows Phone 7 name.

The reports cite the odd exclusion of “Windows Phone 7,” only the mention of a new “Windows Phone” in last weeks announcements. That coupled with Nokia's refusal to confirm a likely release date for its first Microsoft-powered handsets has many convinced the company will be waiting until at least fall of this year. Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, has stated that we will see the Windows Phone operating system on a Nokia device this year, but the company will be shipping them "in volume" in 2012. So its possible we won't actually get hands on the device until early next year.

Sony Tells Gamers "Crack Your PS3 Get Banned From PSN"

Sony really really doesn't want PS3 gamers to crack their game consoles. The company is so adamant about the issue that it has been fighting what may be a long, ugly legal battle to remove all traces of the PlayStation 3 hacks and cracks available online. Now they are taking the fight to consumers and looking to block all cracked PS3's from the PlayStation Network

Notice: Unauthorized circumvention devices for the PlayStation 3 system have been recently released by hackers. These devices permit the use of unauthorized or pirated software. Use of such devices or software violates the terms of the “System Software License Agreement for the PlayStation 3 System” and the “Terms of Services and User Agreement” for the PlayStation Network/Qriocity and its Community Code of Conduct provisions. Violation of the System Software Licence Agreement for the PlayStation 3 System invalidates the consumer guarantee for that system. In addition, copying or playing pirated software is a violation of International Copyright Laws. Consumers using circumvention devices or running unauthorized or pirated software will have access to the PlayStation Network and access to Qriocity services through PlayStation 3 system terminated permanently.

To avoid this, consumers must immediately cease use and remove all circumvention devices and delete all unauthorized or pirated software from their PlayStation 3 systems.
Sony announced today.

"By identifying PlayStation 3 systems that breach our guidelines and terminating their ability to connect to PlayStation Network, we are protecting our business and preserving the honest gameplay experiences that you expect and deserve," Jeff Rubenstein, Sony Computer Entertainment's Social Media Manager, wrote on the company's official blog.

It looks like Sony means serious business. The company is already suing George "Geohot" Hotz, the hacker that originally discovered the PS3 root key for DMCA violations. A judge already ordered Hotz to remove the code from his website and also demanded he remove a how-to YouTube video.

Apple Blocking iBooks On Jailbroken iPhones?

Several reports have indicated that users of the latest greenpois0n jailbreak code on iPhones running iOS 4.2.1, have experienced issues that prevent iBooks from opening DRM-protected e-books.

According to reports on the blog Social Apples after jailbreaking an iOS device and attempting to open content purchased from the iBookstore users have noted receiving the following error message: "There is a problem with the configuration of your iPhone. Please restore with iTunes and reinstall iBooks."



Later reports and comments via users at Ars Technica and several other sites back the claims with many saying this is nothing but a a "screw you" to jailbreakers from Apple.

Ars explains the error is caused by the process that handles verifying and decrypting FairPlay-protected content, Apple's DRM protections scheme which is used on any protected song or other form of media purchased from the iTunes Store. FairPlay is performing a number of checks before decrypting protected e-books. It tries to execute several small, specially crafted binaries—each one made to fail on a standard iOS install but likely to run on jailbroken devices. If these binaries can run—one is unsigned, for instance, while another is improperly signed—then fairplayd can assume the device is jailbroken and refuse to decrypt the content. That triggers iBooks to display its error message.

The iPhone Dev Team has announced a new version of Pwnage Tool that will jailbreak your device using the “feedface” exploit developed by Chronic Dev. This new jailbreak fixes the iBooks issue. There will also be Cydia packages available to fix the iBooks jailbreak checks so we can all go back to reading our books. Now that @comex and @pushfix patched the problem, we’ll probably see the fix become universal and make its way over to the greenpois0n jailbreak as well.

If Apple can work this into iBooks one has to wonder what applications will be next.The US Government has ruled that jailbreaking, at least for now, is legal. However this clearly doesn't mean that Apple has to support it or that they can't find ways to work in protection schemes that block many of their applications from working.

Google And Apple Launch Competing Digital Subscription Services

Apple clearly holds a dominate positions in the smartphone application market with the huge success of the App store. With their recently announced in app subscription service they are pushing to become a major player in the digital magazine and newspaper business. Not to be out played Google's Eric Schmidt has announced Google One Pass, a service similar to that of Apple's that lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content.

With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across multiple websites and mobile apps. Offering a true purchase once view-anywhere functionality suvrscribers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password.

Google says One Pass is easy to implement and simple to manage. The set up is minimal and content will be managed through a simple online interface, so publishers can try out different approaches to selling content with minimal development cost and see what works for their business. It is powered by Google Checkout, so publishers’ e-commerce and payment processing needs are covered, and there is no need to build a third-party payment system into publishers sites.

Publishers have control over how users can pay to access content and set their own prices. They can sell subscriptions of any length with auto-renewal, day passes (or other durations), individual articles or multiple-issue packages. Google One Pass also enables metered models, where a publisher can provide some content or a certain number of visits for free, but can charge frequent visitors or those interested in premium content based on the business model that the publisher prefers.

Unlike Apple's service which takes a 30% cut right off the top Google is reportedly letting publishers keep about 90% of subscription revenue gained through One Pass. One Pass also operates across multiple sites, on multiple formats unlike that of Apple and their iTunes only model.

"Our goal is to provide an open and flexible platform that furthers our commitment to support publishers, journalism and access to quality content. Like First Click Free, Fast Flip and Living Stories, this is another initiative developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content," writes

Speaking at an event at Humboldt University in Berlin Chief Executive Eric Schmidt takes a clear jab at Apple, "Our intention is to make no money on it we want the publishers to make all the money." Clearly the battle between Google and Apple is starting to heat up and it looks like nothing but great news for developers and consumers alike!

For more details checkout the Google One Pass page or the Google One Pass announcement

Friday, February 11, 2011

AT&T Fighting To Keep iPhone Users Offers 1,000 Free Rollover Minutes

According to 9to5Mac, AT&T is trying its best to keep iPhone users by offering the up more perks than ever. Some iPhone customers have confirmed they are receiving text messages which say users can get 1,000 bonus rollover minutes at no cost. You simply have to reply “YES” to the 11113020 number and you will receive a text that says your account has been credited!

Comment's over at 9to5Mac have confirmed this works for any iPhone customers even if they have not yet received the text. We are not sure if anyone else has tried it or not but it might be worth a shot.

Update: I just tried it from my regular AT&T cellphone and got the confirmation reply so we'll see if it works or not!

This is just one of the latest moves by AT&T stop the masses from fleeing over to Verizon or other networks.

Earlier this week the company announced the launch of a new plan that offers unlimited talk and text with any mobile number on any U.S. carrier regardless of your recipient's provider. Users simply need to activate their unlimited mobile-to-mobile promotion by visiting www.att.com/anymobile. The new promotion is available on $39.99 and higher Nation plans and $69.99 and higher FamilyTalk plans.

All this follows reports several weeks ago that AT&T was offering iPhone owners free microCells to boost in-door coverage using the consumer’s broadband connection. The 3G microcells($199.99) went on sale from AT&T last year and are mainly popular for those living in low coverage areas. The microcell works like a signal extender boosting your broadband connection by actually creating a new 3G signal using your broadband connection.

A few caveats to the deal are that in order to accept it you must sign on to an additional 12-month contract. If the customer decides to break or cancel the agreement before the 12-month contract ends, they will have to return the microcell to AT&T or pay the pro-rated cost for it. This agreement won’t have any effect on your handset contract end date or your ability to upgrade your phone.

All these promotions are great for consumers as it actually drives a little competition. So for now at least kuddos to AT&T for not just throwing in the towel.

AMD 's New Chips May Get New 'Vision' Naming Scheme

According to X-Bit Labs AMD will be restructuring and renaming their entire CPU lineup starting with the upcoming release of the "Bulldozer" platform. The new naming structure is an attempt to emphasize the company's corporate AMD Vision trademark and hopefully make things less complicated for users

Essentially there will be three series separated by performance levels.
  1. Enthusiast Chips - the FX-Series - AMD Vision Black and AMD Vision Ultimate labels
  2. Mid-range/mainstream Chips - A-Series - AMD Vision Ultimate and AMD Vision Premium platforms
  3. Budget/Entry level Chips- E-Series - AMD Vision
The new FX-Series will consist of "Zembezi" processors based on Bulldozer micro-architecture with four, six or eight cores. These will be your high end enthusiast/gamer level chips.The A-Series processors will consist of the "Llano" APUs (accelerated processing units). These will have two or four cores and an ATI Radeon HD 6000-class graphics core. These will consist of the mainstream market mid-range chips. As for the E-Series, this group will serve the low-end market with APU's using one or two cores and a basic Radeon HD 6000-class "Zacate" graphics core.

The new naming scheme is really nothing new to AMD fans as they have been using the AMD Vision name and logos to differentiate platform levels for awhile now.  However if the plans proceed according to the reports  specific brand-names like Athlon, Phenom, Phenom II and Sempron will vanish into oblivion. User can also expect a new set of updated logo's (I've seen these and depending on which they choose they look cool) that will stand out a little more making it easier to differentiate the products.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Official X-Men: First Class Trailer Released

X-Men: First Class, the latest addition to the X-Men film series, is slated to hit theaters June 3, 2011. This much anticipated prequel is set in 1962 and reportedly depicts the beginnings of the X-Men team.



From the looks of the trailer we not only get a good look at the origins of the team and early lives of our favorite characters but it looks like we'll be introduced to a few new characters as well. So far the reception has been mixed but from what I see it looks fairly decent.

This Week In Apple, Verizon iPhone On Sale, iPad 2 Rumors And A New Jailbreak

Apple has had a busy week this week, what with the Verizon iPhone 4 going on sale and rumors that the company has ramped up production of the new iPad 2. There has also been speculation about the new iPhone 5 and even a few rumors about iPad 3, yeah I know!

So here's a quick breakdown:

Yesterday Apple and Verizon officially began accepting orders from the masses. Verizon was accepting pre-orders for current customers beginning Feb 3rd but now any of the millions of Apple Fans out there can order them. Just drop by Apple.com or Verizon.com and pick out your plan. For users that want a more hands on approach Walmart and BestBuy both confirmed that they will start selling the Verizon iPhone 4 today, Thursday, February 10.

The smartphone will be available at almost 600 Walmart in-store wireless areas, and the store will also have a variety of accessories like cases, car chargers, wraps, and hands-free options.

Speaking of the Verizon iPhone 4, for those of you that want to jailbreak your device there is an app for that. The device might not have been in users hands yet but the Chronic Dev Team has already released a new jailbreaking tool. Dubbed GreenPois0n RC5.4, the tool works with all Apple devices running iOS 4.2

So now that you have your iPhone fix you'll want your latest iPd rumors. Well Apple has reportedly started manufacturing the iPad 2 and it should be ready for release just as soon as they have enough stock on hand. It’s still unclear when the iPad 2 will be formally introduced however some speculation suggests it may be here just in time for spring.

The Wall Street Journal reports, based on "people familiar with the matter,"  that the new version of the iPad will be skinnier and lighter than the first edition, plus boast at least one front-facing camera that would enable FaceTime videoconferencing, like that available on the Apple iPhone 4 smartphone.  The Journal also reports that the device will be lighter, boast more memory and a more powerful graphics processor. These reports should comes as no real surprise as most of these rumors were already floated around. The iPad 2, like the iPhone, is also rumored to be available from both AT&T and Verizon this time around!

If that's not enough iPad joy for you Appleinsider and several other sites are floating around a new rumor fueld by ohn Gruber of Daring Fireball that Apple may be prepping iPad 3 for a fall 2011 launch. This is a very very speculative rumor and could be nothing more than guess work but we'll keep an eye on it anyways and report our findings down the road.

But wait you mentioned the iPhone 5, so where are those rumors?

Well here goes, the team over at iFixit recently did a Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown. Upon opening the device the team found a World-Mode CDMA/GSM Chip which means we could see a phone from Apple that works on both GSM and CDMA networks down the line. There were also a few upgrades such as dual antenna, lighter battery and a new GPS chip. All of which are expected to be seen in the iPhone 5.

Other rumors point to a totally new design as well as updated specs with a new 1.2GHz processor or even a dual core setup. Rumors also point to a larger screen: 3.7" instead of 3.5" and a massive graphical boost as it moves to a dual-core GPU - this could herald true 1080p output from the new device.

There has been some speculation that Apple might include Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the iPhone 5G, turning it into a kind of credit/debit card. We know Apple want a piece of the swipe to pay pie so there is no doubt they are working on something we just don't know what yet!

Speculation puts the release sometime near summer with June or early July being the most likely.

Update: According to Bloomberg Apple is reportedly working on another set of iPhone that will be smaller and cheaper. The reports suggests Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about $200, without a two-year service contract.

The prototype was about one-third smaller than the iPhone 4, said the person, who reportedly saw it last year. The smaller phone will use a processor, display and other components similar to those used in the current model, rather than pricier, more advanced parts that will be in the next iPhone

Microsoft Says IE9 Is Now 'Feature Complete' Gives Users A Release Candidate

According to Microsoft the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE9) is all but ready to be released to the masses. So today the company release what it is calling a Feature Complete Release Candidate (RC). Readers wanting to checkout the new RC can download it via Beauty of the Web.

“The release candidate is a major milestone that signals it’s time for developers to start taking advantage of IE9’s features,” Ismail said. “Our focus with IE9 has been on creating the platform for the next class of Web experiences built around HTML5 and tapping into the power of the whole PC.”

The IE9 RC introduces several features that build on those themes and on extensive feedback from users. These include smaller changes like being able to close a tab without making it active – a small addition that users really care about, Ismail said. 

But there are also bigger changes. IE9 has made improvements to Pinned Sites, which enables users to take their favorite sites and place them directly on the Windows 7 Taskbar like any other application. “A pinned site is more than just a shortcut,” Ismail said. “We have already seen sites use this to create experiences that are always visible to the user and pull the users back into the experience with notifications as important things happen.” 

Other major improvements include the new Tracking Protection feature, some user interface tweaks, more support for the emerging HTML5 Web standard, and even faster performance on standard benchmarks. 

The Tracking Protection feature  is the new privacy feature in Internet Explorer 9 designed to help keep third-party websites from tracking your Web behavior. With Tracking Protection, consumers can filter content in a page that may have an impact on privacy. Here you see a stock ticker, links for social sharing, videos, advertisements and single pixel images used for tracking page usage by third parties. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

So Long Dell Adamo We Barely Knew You

Dell's expensive MacBook Air Rival the Dell Adamo line has sang its last hurrah. According to CNet the company has officially discontinued the product line moving the last few new Adamos out the door at steep discounts.

First introduced back in 2009 the Dell Adamo was immediately tagged as a competitor to the new MacBook Air. While the Adamo matched the MackBook Air not only in styling and specifications it unfortunately matched the MBA in price as well, which might have ultimately led to its demise. When initially introduced the sleek little laptops fetched a $2000 price tag putting them well out of reach for most consumers and in many peoples eyes far to pricey for a Dell.

Dell has repeatedly slashed prices over the last several months finally cutting the price on the 13-inch Adamo down to as low as $799. Dell had to downgrade a few components in order to slash the additional 200 bones from the previous $999 price tag and initial price of $1099.

The laptops are still listed on the Dell site, however there is no pricing information and it is noted that they might not be available in your area.  As a final note, refurbished 13-inch Adamos are still available at low prices.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gaming In 2011

The following is a guest post from Jennifer Anderson an NCTJ trained journalist. She writes regularly for a range of technology and gadget websites, with a particular focus on the gaming community and gaming technologies Her post today comes to us via 3Wisemonkeys.co.uk


Gaming in 2011

2011 is set to be one of the most exciting years for gamers in quite some time. In addition to two breakthrough portable game consoles being newly released, the Nintendo 3DS and the Sony Next Generation Portable, the gaming trends that continuously changed through 2010 will continue to develop. From social network gaming to games on smartphone apps, the market for these games should continue to grow in 2011.

The biggest breakthrough in gaming in 2011 may well be in portable gaming. The Nintendo 3DS will produce 3D effects and yet the player will see these without any special glasses. Not only will this happen in games but 3D movies and videos can be stored on the console which will increase its popularity. Released in March the Nintendo 3DS is bound to make a big splash in the market and will be a popular choice for gamers. The device will most likely be in competition with the Sony Next Generation Portable which is going to have a similar amount of power as the PS3. No date is set on its release but with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tied in it is also going to be a popular choice for gamers.

The internet is becoming an increasingly popular destination for gamers. Online multiplayer games, such as World of Warcraft, free internet games and social network games are being played with growing regularity. Of course along with these, games such as The Sims and Call of Duty will continue to be popular choices on the PC as well as elsewhere. For this reason gaming PCs are growing in number.

Games with highly detailed graphics or fast paced action rely on the PC that they are played on to be up to standard in terms of graphic cards and central processing units. For that reason more and more computers in 2011 will be bought for gaming itself. The Cyber Power PC Black Pearl for example is one such computer and brings to the table a lot of RAM memory power, it uses the most powerful CPU around and has received high praise for its video and audio capabilities. Of course, such machines are very difficult to afford for the average gamer and so different standard of computers will be used by different people. Video and audio are particularly important as the better the sound and visual content the better chance gamers have of excelling and enjoying the overall experience. For that reason speakers and surround sound systems used are becoming ever more important in the gaming world and as such their sales figures with regard to gaming will also most probably rise in 2011.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Cisco Donating Valet Wireless Routers To Oakland Charter School

Cisco Initiates “Wireless Takeover” With Donation of Cisco Valet Wireless Routers and Adapters for All Students of Oakland Charter High School


Cisco’s Simon Fleming-Wood, VP of Marketing for Cisco Consumer Products will host an event at ARISE Charter High School in the Fruitvale District of Oakland on Monday, February 7 from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PST.  At the event, Cisco will stress the importance of closing the digital divide and provide ARISE students with all the 21st century learning tools they need to succeed by donating Valet Wireless Routers and Valet Connector Wireless USB Adapters to the families of the entire student body, grades 9-12, for use in their homes.

The need for a seamless school-to-home connection is even more important than ever, yet only one-third of U.S. homes are equipped with wireless, according to IDC. Cisco is addressing this need with a simple way to help more families benefit from home wireless. In addition to Cisco’s donation, the Oakland Tech Exchange West will be present to offer free home computers and training to ARISE students who don’t have them.

The press conference will be held at ARISE High School inside the Community Room. City of Oakland elected officials and school board members will be present to speak on the importance of technology in the classroom and at home.

What: Cisco Valet “Wireless Takeover” Router and Adapter Donation and Dedication
When: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PST
Where: ARISE High School, 3301 E. 12th Street, Oakland, Ste. #205
Who: Simon Fleming-Wood, VP of Marketing for Cisco Consumer Products
Mayor Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland
Claudia Burgos, Sr. Policy Analyst to Council member Ignacio De La Fuente
Bruce Buckelew, Director, Oakland Tech Exchange West
Dawanna Butler, ARISE High School Student
Noel Gallo, Board President, Oakland Unified School District
Tony Smith, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District
Why:The accessibility to wireless at home connects teachers, parents and students for enhanced learning before and after school. Home wireless can also have a very positive impact on families by enabling an environment of anywhere, anytime learning in the home.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Senators Refute Claims Cyber Security Bill Is An Internet Kill Switch

Critics speaking out in opposition to the new Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, also dubbed by myself and many others the "Internet Kill Switch Bill" have forced a rebuttal by backers of the proposal Senators Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper. The trio issued a statement this week condemning the actions in Egypt and refuting claims that the proposed legislation would give our president the same power over the internet the Egypt president so callously wielded.
“The steps the Mubarak government took last week to shut down Internet communications in Egypt were, and are, totally wrong.  His actions were clearly designed to limit internal criticisms of his government.  Our cybersecurity legislation is intended to protect the U.S. from external cyber attacks. Yet, some have suggested that our legislation would empower the President to deny U.S. citizens access to the Internet. Nothing could be further from the truth. We would never sign on to legislation that authorized the President, or anyone else, to shut down the Internet. Emergency or no, the exercise of such broad authority would be an affront to our Constitution."

"Our bill already contains protections to prevent the President from denying Americans access to the Internet - even as it provides ample authority to ensure that those most critical services that rely on the Internet are protected. And, even though experts question whether anyone can technically ‘shut down’ the Internet in the United States, we will ensure that any legislation that moves in this Congress contains explicit language prohibiting the President from doing what President Mubarak did."
The statement draws on five points of interest:
  1. That the bill is precise and targeted and only applies to our most critical infrastructure
  2. The legislation specifically says the President can only invoke the emergency authorities “if there is an ongoing or imminent” attack that would “cause national or regional catastrophic effects” by the disruption of the nation’s most critical infrastructure.
  3. Any measures ordered by the President must be “the least disruptive means feasible.”
  4. The President must notify Congress, and the emergency measures cannot be continued beyond 120 days without congressional approval.
  5. The legislation expressly forbids any action that would violate the First Amendment and also prohibits limiting internet traffic, emails, and other forms of communication (except those between critical infrastructure providers) unless no other action would prevent a regional or national catastrophe. 
Being an out spoken detractor of this bill and having studied its many forms I do have to say that the new legislation is a bit more focused and not as broad as it's previous incarnations. However, the Senators are still missing several key points and there are still several areas that are very open to interpretation.

For starters I didn't see anywhere that it expressly states the President can only enact the law for 120 days. Not that that really matters, our economy would go to hell in less time than that. Reports suggest that the recent blackout cost Egypt's economy about $90 million, or $18 million per day, comprising 3% to 4% of the country's economic output. The US government would clearly lose more than that on a daily basis and that could led to a catastrophic decline in our economy over the short term. Figure that over an extended period of 120 days and you are talking serious long term ramifications.

The wording of the bill and what networks might be impacted under the 'most critical infrastructure' is still very vague. There are some new guidelines added that were never there before but they still fail to pinpoint what networks would and wouldn't been shutdown.

The situations in which the president can invoke the emergency authority aren't nearly as cut and dried as the Senators statement seem to make it. There are 4 other instances, threat or potential threat to - national security, the economy, the disruption of the reliable operation of covered critical infrastructure and one very very vague criteria:

(E) other risk-based security factors that the Director, in consultation with the head of the sector-specific agency that is the first-party regulatory agency with responsibility for the covered critical infrastructure concerned, determines to be appropriate and necessary to protect public health and safety, critical infrastructure, national security, or economic security.
The last contention just simply makes no sense at all. If you think you are under 'cyber attack' or there is a threat from a serious worm, botnet or virus of some sort that is so threatening that you need to cut the lines of communication to major networks then clearly you are going to cut email services and limit internet traffic which is the way most of the infections get it. Either the Senators don't get that or they think we are just stupid enough to buy there arguments.

Language of the bill aside I see several other areas that bother me.

First is the creation of a new government body. We already have several agencies, many of which the legislation would draw on for support, that are up and running now that could and do handle cyber security threats. Why do we need to funnel millions of dollars to the creation of yet another agency?

Second is the feasibility of such a law and the ability of the agencies to react in a serious time of crisis. Clearly there will have to be a contingency plan in place, which the bill calls for new regulations to govern the 'critical infrastructure'. There is still really no clear guidelines how and what networks could be cut off. If there is a 'perceived' threat who decides what gets cut off and when? Are we going to have a bunch of analysts sitting around waiting to make a decision then calling the president who then has final say? If so we already lost as a well organized attack would probably have already gotten in.

The full bill can be found here H.R. 174: Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2011. I strongly suggest everyone read the bill for themselves and draw their own conclusions. I for one still do not like the wording of the bill and think it potentially hands over too much control to our government.

AT&T To Launch Mobile Hotspot App For Tethering, 4Gbs For $45/Mo

I've seen a few erroneous reports about the newest tethering offer from AT&T so I thought I'd try to clear a few things up.

Yesterday AT&T announced the new AT&T Mobile Hotspot application. A new app that will allow select smartphone customers to connect (tether) multiple devices from their smartphone – via Wi-Fi. The feature will launch February 13, beginning with the in-store launch of the HTC Inspire 4G. Customers will have to bundle the AT&T Data Pro plan at $25/mo for 2Gbs with an additional $20/mo AT&T Mobile Hotspot plan for a total of 4GB for $45 per month.

This is where most sites are making their errors. AT&T is not adding 2Gbs to the $25/mo plan for free! They are essentially bundling two plans for those of you that want to use the new Mobile Hotspot app.

AT&T has not specifically mentioned the iPhone in this plan, in fact most reports are suggesting that the iPhone will not initially be part of the new plan and it appears as though those users will still be limited to the $45/mo 2Gb plan they have now.

Part of the press release is a bit confusing and here is why: AT&T says they will automatically add the additional 2GB of monthly data usage to smartphone customers already on a tethering plan – at no extra charge. Then they add customers will incur the same $20 monthly fee they’re accustomed to paying. Well checking the AT&T site I see no such $20/mo tethering plan. All I see are two options for a $45/mo 2Gb plan. So I'm assuming they are adding the extra 2GB of data each month to those plans and someone at AT&T mistakenly mentioned a $20/mo plan, or perhaps this is for older 'grandfathered' plans? With AT&T you just don't know

At&t was nice enough to respond to my Facebook inquiry. So basically if I understand this correctly, they are just adding two more Gbs to their $45 plan and the other information is some kind of marketing hype? I'm not really sure since their response made about as much sense as the PR.

AT&T Hey Richard -- It's magic! No, just kidding. We appreciate your feedback and hope to help clear up your question. Adding 2GB to those already on a tethering plan is new for us, it isn't a new plan, we're just throwing in a few extra GBs at no extra charge -- that will start Feb. 13th. Think you're getting $45 as a result of a combination package -- $20 for the tethering plan plus $25 for the DataPro smartphone data plan.

Here is the break down from the press release:

AT&T Mobile Hotspot details include:
  • Connectivity for multiple wireless devices to AT&T’s mobile broadband network
  • 2 GB of data usage for $20 a month, bundled with AT&T’s Data Pro plan ($25 / 2GB)
  • The combined AT&T Data Pro plus AT&T Mobile Hotspot will provide 4GB for $45 per month
  • 4GB applies to collective use among all devices
  • Overage fee of $10 per gigabyte

Google Ups The Ante At Pwn2Own 2011 Offers $20k For Chrome Hack

Google reportedly raised the stakes for this years Pwn2Own hacking contest, offering up an additional $20,000 for anyone that successfully hacks into Google Chrome.

Organized by the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) team at security researchers TippingPoint, the 5th annual Pwn2Own 2011 contest pits security teams against some of your favors operating systems equipped with the webs best browsers as well as some of our favorite smartphones. This year the contest will offer up to $125,000 in prizes ($105k plus Google's bonus) for the teams that find and exploit security holes in Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox, as well as in Windows Phone 7, iOS, Blackberry 6 and Android.

To walk off with Google's $20,000 the researchers must find and exploit two vulnerabilities in Google's code and successfully break out of the browser's protective sandbox on Pwn2Own's first day. Only on the second and third days of the contest can researchers employ a non-Chrome bug, say one in Windows, to break out of the sandbox. A successful attack on the second and third days will still put $20,000 in the researcher's pocket, but only $10,000 of that will come from Google; TippingPoint will pony up the other $10,000.

Charlie Miller, the only researcher to have won Pwn2Own prizes three consecutive years, wouldn't commit last week to trying again, but on Wednesday he noticed the $20,000 for Chrome.

"Pwn2own now offering 20k for attack on Chrome," said Miller on Twitter. "Must be hard, glad Mac OS X doesn't sandbox their browser."

It would be great to see if Miller has anything up his sleeve for Chrome and the additional bounty might just be whats needed to entice him to enter again this year.

The contest will be taking place on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of March, 2011 in Vancouver, BC during the CanSecWest conference. This blog post will be updated as the contest plays out, but for real-time updates you can follow either @thezdi or @aaronportnoy on twitter or search for the hashtag #pwn2own.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Google Body Shows You Your Inner Workings

A few years ago we introduced Geek News readers to the "Visible Body", a cool new tool that gave users and interactive human anatomy visualization. At the time the visible body was a free tool but has since become a subscription based service. Today we are pleased to introduce users to a great alternative, Google Body Browser.

Google Body is a detailed 3D model of the human body. Using your web browser you can peel back anatomical layers, zoom in, click to identify anatomy, or search for muscles, organs, bones and more. You can also share the exact scene you are viewing by copying and pasting the URL.

You need a Web browser that supports WebGL.
Try: Mozilla Firefox 4 Beta | Google Chrome Beta or Chromium | WebKit nightly -

Generally I'd suggest using the latest Firefox beta but it wasn't working correctly for me. I downloaded and used the latest beta version of Google Chromeand had no issues. I didn't even need to use the steps listed in the link above. Just went straight the body browser and everything worked great.

A Complete Sandy Bridge Recall List

Figuring that many of our readers might have questions or concerns over the potential recall of their motherboards, desktops or laptops I thought I'd try to post a complete list of details as we know them.

First and foremost, as the chipset flaw is said to only potentially affect a couple of SATA ports on most boards most motherboard manufactures are offering a voluntary recall. This means if you are already running a Sandy Bridge setup and are happy with it, or are willing to take the gamble you DO NOT have to return it. They are also offering you the option to wait until new the new boards are out sometime around April before you have to make any returns. There might be a few exceptions but here's a list of details from each manuf.

Motherboard Recalls:

ASUS
ASUS will provide total warranty services this includes the hassle-free return and/or replacement of all affected ASUS products. For all customers who already own any ASUS product affected by the design error identified by Intel, simply visit this page for detailed warranty and service hotline information.

ASUS notebook and desktop products are covered by a warranty service that addresses the design error, with both swap and sales return offered as options to customers.

For motherboards, ASUS is offering you the option of returning any possibly affected motherboard for a swap or sales return. All warranties for affected motherboards will be reset to give you enough time to carry out any exchanges.

Gigabyte
GIGABYTE will provide a replacement motherboard with the new 6 series chipset onboard at the end of April in order to reduce any inconvenience to customers who are affected by this issue.

GIGABYTE recommends that all customers who purchased GIGABYTE 6 series motherboards contact their local dealer (retail store where you purchased the motherboard) at the end of April for a motherboard exchange. GIGABYTE will provide an equivalent new motherboard replacement.

MSI
As mentioned in our previous post MSI plans a full replacement of any affected product. The MSI product you revieve will have similar or better specs than the one you are currently using. These new MSI products will become available in April and you can keep your current board until then. This way you will miss your product only for a very short period of time. MSI will release details about their return procedure before the end of February.

If you are not confident about your current MSI based 6 series product MSI offers you the possibility to return the product to your point of purchase which will credit you.
ECS
Upon availability of the new B3 Stepping of the Intel 6 Series Express Chipsets, ECS USA will replace customer’s product with a brand-new one. New motherboards are expected in April. ECS USA will keep its customers updated on this schedule.

Replacement for products currently in the market that are affected: P67H2-A(1.1), P67H2-A2(1.0), P67H2-A3(1.0), H67H2-M(1.1), H67H2-M3(1.0)
Work closely with its distributors and reseller channel on the return and replacement of current inventory
For end users in the U.S. (48 contiguous states), ECS USA offers the following:
o Customers who wish to keep the product or have any issue returning the product at the point of purchase, ECS USA will absorb the cost of the product exchange 100% by offering a product swap. If a customer has one of the above products, please communicate with ECS USA via one of the following methods to arrange a replacement once they become available: 1. Via e-mail (preferred method): elite@ecsusa.com 2. Via voice-mail: 510-771-0208. This is a voicemail, only.

Desktops and Laptops

Toshiba
Toshiba is offering a full recall of all affected models. At this time, Toshiba requests you return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. You should back up your data and remove any confidential, proprietary or personal information before returning the product. Below is a complete list of affected models.


For more details please see the Toshiba recall page

HP/Compaq
HP said customers can return their PC and either "choose a comparable product" or receive a full refund. We are waiting on further details as to which models were affected and where to return them however its safe to assume you need to return them to the retailer you purchased your product from.

HP said only a small number of consumer desktops and laptops were affected, along with one commercial desktop PC model sold to small-business customers in the Europe-Middle East-Africa market.

Dell
Dell has confirmed that only four Dell products on the market were affected: XPS 8300, the Vostro 460, the Alienware M17x R.3 and the Alienware Aurora R.3.

"We're committed to addressing this with customers who have already purchased one of the four products," the company said in a statement, however no further details were given.
Update: A Dell representative posted the following post on the Direct2Dell blog
For customers impacted by this issue, Dell offers a couple of solutions.  Customers experiencing issues will be supported under the warranty and service terms.  Once we have new chipsets from Intel in early April, we will provide a motherboard replacement that corrects the design issue at no cost to our customers.  Replacements will be provided at the customers’ location and convenience via authorized Dell service providers.  Affected customers may also take advantage of the applicable return policy, which may vary by region. 

Samsung
Samsung will allow refunds or exchanges for six computer models sold in South Korea and one in the U.S., no details on which models are affected or the return procedures was given

Several other companies as well as system builders like Cyberpower were also affected by the chipset flaw. Many of these companies have delayed shipping products, canceled orders or are contacting customers directly to resolve the issue. I suggest anyone with questions or concerns contact either the retailer they made their purchase from or contact the manufacturers directly.

Most retailers are offering full replacement or refunds of not only the boards but also the cpus and most the other components purchased with the boards.

MSI Responds To Sandy Bridge Chipset Issue, Offers Recall And Temp Fix

Update: MSI is now taking customer registrations for possible replacement of their boards. For more information visit the MSI Support Page.

Following the reports of a chipset flaw that affects Intel's new 6-series 'Sandy Bridge' motherboards Intel has said it will not officially recall any boards and they are leaving the issue of recalls up to each manufacturer, distributor and retailers.

Details from most manufactures on potential recalls is still fairly sparse however MSI has stepped forward and provided their costumers the the details of their recall efforts as well as a temporary fix.

Products in the market
As of the 31st of January MSI informed all our distributors, retails and reseller to stop directly the sales of Intel 6 series based products of MSI and to hold any products pending shipments to customers. No need to worry in the case that you purchased an Intel 6 series based product form MSI after the 31st of January because we will take care for you.

We started the procedure to collect all the current stock in the market. Retailers and reseller can return their Intel 6 series MSI products they have in stock to their point of purchase (distributor) which can return the goods to the MSI distribution centers. If retailers, resellers or MSI distributors have any questions about the procedure they can contact their local MSI sales representative.

Affected models
At this moment there are only a limit models in the market based on the Intel 6 series chipset. You can identify them based on the model name in the list below.

MSI Mainboards
Intel© P67
Intel© H67
P67A-GD65 H67MA-ED55
P67A-GD55 H67MA-E45
P67A-GD53 H67MS-E43
P67A-C45 H67MS-E33
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MSI Notebooks
Intel© PM67
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How to get serviced
We want  you to have a MSI product which you can trust and rely on. This is why we have 2 choices for your purchased Intel 6 series based MSI products;

1.    Product swap
If you are confident and willing to wait we can swap your current Intel 6 series based product in a brand new MSI product which is based on the new B3 stepping of the Intel 6 series which solves the current SATA2 port issues. If you have an MSI 6 series mainboard you can – for the short term - connect your storage devices to the safe white SATA3 ports on your mainboard, for more detailed instructions please click here.

This MSI product you get swapped will have similar or better specs. These new MSI products will become available in April and this way you will miss your product only for a very short period of time. You can identify the new products by a clear sticker on the color box. We will release details about this procedure before the end of February.

2.    Product return
If you are not confident about your current MSI based 6 series product MSI offers you the possibility to return the product to your point of purchase which will credit you. Please make sure to back-up your personal data.

Hotline information
If you have any questions about the Intel 6 series chipset issue or if you are not sure which alternative SATA ports to use on your mainboard, or you want to know how to return your product you can always contact the MSI Hotlines in your region. Our people are ready to support you with your questions because your satisfaction is very important for us.
For customers that bought their products via Newegg, the company is reportedly letting customers make returns with no questions asked. They are also waiving the standard 15% restocking fee on all products associated with the order. So that means if you want you can return the motherboard, cpu and anything else and buy a new Core i5/i7 or AMD setup.

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 Wired.com 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 Wired.com 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: