Thursday, March 24, 2011

NVIDIA Announces The New 'World's Fastest' Dual GPU GeForce GTX 590

As teased yesterday by NVIDIA today the company announced the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590.


The new high end, meaning very expensive and extra powerful, GTX 590 is designed for the ├╝ber enthusiasts and those looking to build the ultimate PC gaming rig. With dual NVIDIA Fermi class GPUs the card is taughted by NVIDIA as the "fastest dual graphics card available today."


With a combined 1024 NVIDIA CUDA architecture cores, 3GB of GDDR5 memory, 6 billion transistors and over 2200 individual components all packed into an 11 inch dual slot card, the GTX 590 delivers a staggering 32 tessellation engines that can power today's cutting edge DX11 games at resolutions of 2560x1600 and higher. The core is clocked at 607 MHz, the shaders are clocked at 1214 MHz, and the memory is clocked at 853 MHz for a memory data clock rate of 3414 MHz. This gives you a total effective memory bandwidth of 327.7 GB/s and a texture fill rate of 7.7 GigaTexels/s.

All that power means the GTX 590 is a bit of a power hungry beast, which should be expected. It has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 365 Watts pushing the recommended PSU rating to 700watts.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 Benchmarks and Reviews

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Newegg Pricing

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DUI Checkpoint Apps Under Congressional Scrutiny Removed By RIM

Earlier this week U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Tom Udall (D-NM) wrote to Google, Apple, and RIM to express concern about smartphone apps that could be used to keep tabs on - and possibly evade DUI checkpoints. Stating these applications could be "harmful to public safety," the legislators asked the companies to remove the apps or alter them so they do not allow for real-time DUI checkpoint information.

“Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern,” the senators said. “We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration.”

The applications in question could be used to help drivers identify where local police officers have set up DUI checkpoints, possibly allowing offenders to escape detection.

Today RIM confirmed it has removed PhantomALERT, the only possible suspect reported found, from the BlackBerry App World. PhantomALERT provided users data on speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, school zones, DUI checkpoints, and dangerous intersections.

A RIM representative reportedly contacted the senators to say it would comply with their request for removal. "Drunk drivers will soon have one less tool to evade law enforcement and endanger our friends and families," the senators said in a joint statement. "We appreciate RIM's immediate reply and urge the other smartphone makers to quickly follow suit."

App makers feel their apps are wrongfully being targeted, and deservedly so.

Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomALERT, one of the companies targeted by the senators said "They're misjudging us, it's a safety tool. It's approved by a lot of police departments. How is that we're being sanctioned? It just doesn't make sense."

The maker of “FuzzAlert,” Steve Croke, says he didn’t design his app to help people evade DUIs but to let people know where things like red-light cameras and speed traps are. He says he added information on DUI checkpoints because other apps had it and it publicizes the existence of such checks.

“I don’t think anybody realistically is going to go into a bar and get smashed and then check my app,” he said. “Is government really allowed to come in and say ‘You can’t do this?’”

On their website EveryCheckpoint.com the makers of “Buzzed” write that the purpose of their app is to send “a powerful and direct message” that local police departments are ”cracking down on driving under the influence, and this causes drivers to think twice about getting behind the wheel.”

In most cases the information is publicly available with many police departments posting the details of potential checkpoints on their websites or giving the public notice via the local media. In the case of a few of the apps its a matter of social networking, with users posting details of checkpoints they see or have heard about. This information can often be found via Twitter, Facebook or other sites.

While these apps make make it easier to find the information or may better pinpoint the locations of checkpoints they certainly aren't doing anything that should come under fire from US Senators.

8 Tips To Combat Possible Rising Wireless Prices

The following is a post by consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch, Andrea has been featured on NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. To view recent interviews or get more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com.


With news of a possible merger between two of the nation's largest wireless carriers and one of the most significant deals since the financial crisis, AT&T and T-Mobile's proposed $39 billion deal have many speculating: will this lead to price increases for cell phone plans and other wireless services?

Although this merger is a winning deal for the two companies involved, financial experts and consumer advocates suggest that there's a potential loser in the outcome of the decision - the consumer.

Don't let the uncertain future of unlimited minute and data plans keep you up at night. Prepare for the possible increase in wireless service prices with these 8 savvy saving tips.

1. Extend Your Family
Family plans are great for any group of reasonably trustworthy people, including roommates, friends and extended family. Members of your plan don't need to be related to receive these money saving rates, but make sure everyone on your plan is trustworthy enough to pay their share of the monthly bill.

2. Switch to Pay-As-You-Go Phones
The New Millennium Research Council says that 25 million Americans could save money by switching to a prepaid phone. Prepaid service companies like Boost Mobile, NET10 and Virgin are more accessible than ever and even major national companies are getting in on the act, crafting reasonable prepaid plans for those who want the reliability of a nationwide network. Some carriers have watered-down versions of other plans, such as the text-friendly T-Mobile offering of $15 per month for unlimited text (but no voice). Others opt for a credit model, where you pay per usage. Rates differ by company, but most charge between 5 and 10 cents per minute or text.

3. Purchase Unlocked Phones
Consider purchasing an "unlocked" phone when switching networks, signing up for a new plan or simply updating your phone. The SIM card (Subscriber Identification Module) isn't associated with one specific provider, therefore these free-agent phones are compatible with any network, allowing you to use them for the service you prefer. Amazon and eBay are just a few of the electronic stores you can purchase an unlocked phone at a very reasonable price.

4. Use Coupon Codes
You can buy unlocked phones online with coupons for Best Buy and TigerDirect from a site like CouponSherpa.com. Don't forget to use a coupon when buying accessories to compliment your new phone.

5. Make the Trade
If you are just looking for an upgrade and your phone still works, check GreenPhone or CellTradeUSA to switch for another model. The trade will cost you, but often you will discover a better deal than purchasing elsewhere. Also, consider CraigsList to purchase from a private individual. But, buyer beware, as electronics purchased from this website come with no guarantees.

6. Download Text for FREE Apps
Texting can cost upwards of $10 per month. Cut your provider out of the picture if you have a smartphone. Download free texting apps like Textfree With Voice for iPhone and chompSMS for Android which also include free voice minutes too. Even though you'll only be able to connect to others who have the app, the savings make it worth convincing your family and friends to try out this new method.

7. Take Advantage of Employer Discounts
Switch to the provider your employer uses if you're not voraciously committed to your current provider. Almost every major carrier offers a business discount that can be applied to personal phones. The only thing required is a valid e-mail address or other form of ID from your employer. From major corporations to school districts, plenty of outfits are part of these programs.

8. Let Go of the Extras & Go Basic
Service providers have started heaping on extraneous fees. Almost any desirable phone these days now requires a data plan in addition to voice, text and other services. The key is leaving all else behind and selecting only what you'll use.

NVIDIA Teaser Video Promises Big Things Tomorrow

NVIDIA is trying to build a little hype for tomorrow's release of their "next generation" graphics card. What may it be you ask well unless that have something totally shocking that no one has heard rumors of its the new Nvidia Geforce GTX 590 dual-GPU card. The card has been delayed a few times but speculations says it should be releasing tomorrow.


The GTX 590 combines two of NVIDIA's massive GF110 GPUs on one package menaing the GTX 590 is essentially a down-clocked GTX 580 SLI setup compacted into a single dual height card. The GTX 590 packs 1024 CUDA processors, 128 texturing units, 96 ROP units as well as dual 384-bit memory buses with the clock speeds set as 612 MHz for the core and 3420 MHz for the 3GB GDDR5.

Pricing is expected to be $699. We'll have more details of the release, final specs and benchmarks as they are released tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Amazon Opening Android App Store Gets Sued By Apple

According to a Wired report Amazon will open its own Android app store on Tuesday however the company is already facing hurdles as Apple has filed a lawsuit against Amazon trying to block the company's use of the term "App Store."

Unlike Google's open-door policy Amazon will reportedly be active in determining which apps are worthy of inclusion in the store. Mobile users will be able to access the store through Amazon.com or via a native app on their Android-based devices. Amazon has made no official announcement of a launch date; its stance has been that the store would launch "later this year."

The location of the store was first discovered last week when Androidnews was hitting various Amazon.com pages. They discovered a Web page for what appears to be the location of the new Amazon app store (www.amazon.com/apps). The page apparently revealing a selection of 48 apps and their prices - many of which undercut Google's Android Market. The page has since been removed and now redirects users back to the Amazon homepage.

Update: You can read more on the Amazon Appstore via their official press release.

The early discovery of the new Android based App Store may be the least of the the company's worries as Reuters News reported Monday that Apple had filed suit on March 18 in a California court defending their application for the trademark for the term "App Store."

"We've asked Amazon not to copy the APP STORE name because it will confuse and mislead customers," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told Reuters on Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Apple Inc v. Amazon.com Inc 11-1327, Amazon is unlawfully using Apple's App Store trademark in connection with what Amazon calls the “Amazon Appstore Developer Portal” and “Amazon Appstore” along with other instances.

Apple has applied to register, but as of yet doesn't officially own, the APP STORE trademark. The matter is currently before a trademark trial and appeals board due to Microsoft currently fighting Apple's attempt to trademark the term. Microsoft believes "App Store" is generic term used throughout the technology industry and therefore should not be permissible as a trademarked term.

"The term 'app store' should continue to be available for use by all without fear of reprisal by Apple," Microsoft Associate General Counsel Russell Pangborn said in a previous statement. "An 'app store' is an 'app store.'"


My thoughts:

It'll be interesting to see how things play out. I've always said that they need to stop allowing companies from trademarking all these generic nondescript terms that are now widely being trademarked. Apple has applied to trademark 'places' Facebook applied for 'face' these are terms that are already used by several tech companies. Its my opinion that terms that are trademarked need to be distinctive and not terms that are already widely used in a given genre.

How could it be validated to restrict a company like Face.com from using 'face' because Facebook has filled for the TM, or Google places, Facebook places ect from using the terms 'places' as it relates to social media. Much the same 'app' is already widely used by the tech community and therefore shouldn't be exclusive to one company.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New MacBook Pros Plagued With Freezing Problems

Owners of Apple's new 15-or 17-inch MacBook Pro are reporting serious freezing issues when their machines are under an extensive load. Issues that are only solved by powering down the system and doing a hard reboot. Reports have begun showing up on the Apple Discussion board, as well as on the MacRumors forum, indicating that the new machines are freezing up entirely when under an extensive load such as video rendering, gaming or running multiple applications simultaneously.

Just one of the Apple Support threads is already 63 pages long and counting. Posters are saying the problem is the notebooks will freeze even as sound continues to play the cursor will also still be movable, but the computer is completely unresponsive. The author of the post said he wasn’t doing anything unusual, but had seven apps open and was in the middle of an auto-backup to Time Machine. Other posts say they were using CPU-intensive programs like iMovie when their system crashed and yet more posters complain about crashes during gaming.

Apparently, there’s only one way to solve the problem: a hard reboot.

The problem was so persistent that one customer wrote in the Apple discussion board that he was able to reproduce it on every MacBook Pro at his local Apple Store. Another user said he reproduced the problem on three different machines. This MBP-Freeze Wiki runs through the steps you can take to re-create the crash to see if your MacBook has the issue. Though if it does, you’ve probably already noticed it by now.

Apple has responded with the release of an update, OS X 10.6.7, which Apple says fixes a MacBook 2011 graphics bug. "This update is especially important for owners of the new 2011 MacBook Pro systems because it addresses a graphics bug that caused hangs and crashes under heavy graphics load." Some users are reporting that the new update has alleviated their freezing issues for now while still others have said the patch had little or no affect at all.

One user on the MacRumors forums writes:

this still does not fix the issues on the new MacBook Pro 2011 models (15" 2.3ghz) - just tested on the two machines we have here. Still they are getting too hot, constantly the fans are blowing (testing with Transmission/Bittorrent downloading the Ubuntu DVD). Also we had two freezes already (only under heavy load). I am posting updates on our findings to our blog ( http://j.mp/dLSqgy ) - and we are still waiting for replacements from apple.

ArsTechnica is reporting there are indications that the issue might be with the AMD GPUs. The site is citing a post by user ND381whom apparently  narrowed down the problem to using discrete AMD Radeon GPUs—his tests repeatedly showed the issue would occur when CPU intensive operations coincided with running apps that cause Mac OS X's automatic graphics switching to move from Sandy Bridge's integrated Intel graphics to the discrete GPU.

The freezing problem doesn't appear to affect MacBook Pros using only the Intel IGP, and for this reason the latest 13" MacBook Pros aren't suffering from the issue. However, users of the latest 13" MacBook Pros do report having issues with hotter CPUs and in some cases fans that operate at higher RPMs than older models.

For users wanting the latest patch that is said to fix some of these issues you can download the standalone updates from the following links:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nvidia Releases Mainstream GeForce GTX 550 Ti

Earlier this week NVIDIA introduced the newest member of its Fermi based GPU family the GeForce GTX 550 Ti. A mainstream minded card with a $150 price tag and performance numbers to match.



The GeForce GTX 550 Ti is currently the bottom end of NVIDIA's 500 series lineup and is meant to be the successor to the GeForce GTS 450 which was released last fall, but will not directly replace it in the marketplace. (Nvidia claims the GTS 450 will be for sale until at least later this year.)

Both cards feature similar specs and build architecture. The GTX 550 Ti is an evolution of the previous-generation's GTS 450 - both cards utilize 40 nm chips with a 238mm die packed with 1.17 billion transistors. They both also feature a single graphics processing cluster that's made up of four 48-core streaming multiprocessors (SMs) giving them an identical 192 CUDA cores apiece, but that's roughly where the similarities end.

The GTS 450's GF106 die utilized only two of a possible three memory-controller partitions, resulting in a 256KB L2 cache, two sets of eight ROPs and a 128-bit memory interface. Thanks to improved yields and transistor-level changes, the GTX 550 Ti's revised GF116 die makes full use of all three memory-controller partitions - that means a larger 384KB L2 cache, a total of 24 ROPs and a 50 per cent wider 192-bit memory interface capable of delivering almost twice the memory bandwidth.

Core clock and memory clock speeds are bumped from 783/900 MHz in the GTS 450 to 900/1026 MHz in the GTX 550 Ti.Nvidia claims that all these changes, taken together, result in 28 percent performance increase over what that of the GTS 450, and thus 20 percent more performance per watt.

GeForce GTX 550 Ti Specifications

  • Core Clock 900MHz
  • Memory Clock 1026Mhz (4.104GHz data rate) GDDR5
  • Shader Clock 1800MHz
  • Memory Type 1024MB GDDR5
  • Memory Interface 192-bit
  • Stream Processors 192
  • Stream Processors Clock 1800MHz
  • Transistor Count 1.17B
  • Feature Support DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, NVIDIA 3d Vison, Cuda, PhysX, NVIDIA SLI

GeForce GTX 550 Ti Benchmarks and Reviews


Related Articles

NewEgg Pricing

Motorola Confirms $600 Wi-Fi Only Xoom Coming March 27th

Motorola has confirmed the price and release date of the new Wi-Fi only Motorola Xoom. The device will be available at several  retailers across the United States starting March 27 for a suggest retail price of $599.

Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, select Sam’s Club locations, Staples and Walmart will be offering the 10.1-inch widescreen HD tablet with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) through both online and retail store channels starting Sunday March 27th . The MSRP for MOTOROLA XOOM Wi-Fi with 32 GB of memory will be $599.

Rumors, as well as several pictures, have suggested that Sam's Club will be offering the Wi-Fi only Motorola Xoom for a discounted price of $539. This has yet to be confirmed however its likely if they are selling them at that price they would officially be on-sale on the 27th as well.

MOTOROLA XOOM showcases the innovations of the Honeycomb user experience – including widgets, true multi-tasking, browsing, notifications and customization – on a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, enabling video content that’s richer and clearer than ever before. With a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM, MOTOROLA XOOM delivers exceptionally fast web-browsing performance. The latest Google Mobile services include Google Maps 5.0 with 3D interaction and access to more than 3 million Google eBooks and apps from Android Market. MOTOROLA XOOM also supports a Beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.2 downloadable from Android Market, enabling the delivery of rich Flash based web content including videos, casual games and rich Internet applications.

Google Shows Off Coming Blogger Updates

 According to Google blogger will undergo a major overhaul in the coming months with a major redesign of the user interface, some added features in the user dashboard and a move to the Google Webkit for rich text editing.


The video above was recently posted on the Official Google Blog showing off many of the new features including the cleaner more modern UI which now uses the Google Web Toolkit. In addition to a new blogging interface there will be an updated dashboard that features a similar modern design.

According to the video it looks like there will be several functionality changes as well as a new content discovery feature that lets you uncover interesting and related content based on the topics of the blog you’re currently reading. Blogger finds topic keywords and features them in a drop-down menu, allowing users to quickly jump between different Web sites posting similar material.

The video also promises some yet unrevealed changes that "could not be mentioned", I guess we'll have to wait and see what those are.

I for one can't wait to see the new changes in affect. The old blogger UI is getting rather stale and is flat out boring. The rich text editor is decent but lacking in several areas and the dashboard is just flat out dated beyond reason.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 Officially Released

Microsoft has officially released the company's latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 9. Users wanting to try out the latest version can download IE9 here.

I've been running the beta and release candidate and have to say IE9 is by far my favorite version to date. It is far snappier than previous version. The tab function is much improved, there are more add-ons that have greater functionality and feel and the overall fit and finish of the browser seem much cleaner than previous releases.

As expected IE 9 features almost all of the enhancements shown in both the beta and release candidate. With improvements made to the new Tracking Protection feature, several user interface tweaks, more support for the emerging web standards like HTML support as well as support for Canvas, SVG and CSS3 properties. There were also improvements made to the InPrivate filtering feature. This new feature allows users to filter out content from external domains, such as Google Analytics scripts, Facebook buttons, counting pixels and externally hosted scripts. It uses blacklists and whitelists, making it similar to ad blocker extensions such as AdBlock Plus. Microsoft does not itself intend to publish tracking protection lists, but does host them.

On the performance end Microsoft has tweaked the JavaScript engine which according to MS now offers JavaScript performance comparable to that of Google's Chrome 10 and Firefox 4. During my initial use I can say it feels faster than previous versions of IE but I don't see it being anywhere near the speeds of Chrome. MS is also boasting greater hardware acceleration with additional tuning for low-end GPUs

More information is available at http://www.BeautyoftheWeb.com and for more on the new features and design changes see what's changed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beware Japan Earthquake Scams And Phishing Emails

The sad reality of life is that scammers will use any chance they can to bilk unsuspecting people from their money. With all the attention the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are receiving its likely that we'll see an influx of scams and phishing emails related to the incident. Meaning people truly wanting to help the victims of this sad incident need to take caution and be on the look-out for suspicious emails and websites. Below is some very useful information that should help keep you safe and keep your money out of the hands of scammers.

The Internet Storm Center (ISC) issued a warning on its Web page Friday morning warning readers to expect "emails (sp) scams and malware circulating regarding the recent Japanese earthquake."Examples of Tsunami-related spam have already shown up in spam filters, according to the Web site spamwarnings.com.The ISC warns users should avoid opening questionable attachments or clicking suspicious links within any unsolicited emails. Users looking to make donations via website should also been warned that scammers have become adept at using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to place scam Web pages high in the search results of major search engines like Google.

You should always verify your links and double check the websites and web address before you donate. For instance users wanting to donate to the Red Cross should go directly to RedCross.Org. When you decide to donate make sure you are on a secure page. Look in the address bar for the HTTPS:// security protocol.

Here's a good list of reputable organizations accepting donations (via MSNBC):
  • Using your cell phone, you can text-message donations of $10 to the Red Cross. Text the letters REDCROSS to 90999 to make the $10 donation, or visit the organization's website.
  • The International Medical Corps is putting together relief teams, as well as supplies. The organization is in "contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities,” said Nancy Aossey, IMC president, on its website. You can donate here. Or, you can text MED to 80888 to donate $10 to emergency relief efforts.
  • Save the Children is accepting donations for its Children's Emergency Fund. "We are extremely concerned for the welfare of children and their families who have been affected by the disaster. We stand ready to meet the needs of children who are always the most vulnerable in a disaster,' said Eiichi Sadamatsu of the organization in a statement. You can also text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • GlobalGiving, based in Washington, D.C., is providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10.
  • The Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is sending an assessment team from Tokyo to the city of Sendai "to assess damage and will begin providing basic necessities (food, water, etc.) beginning as soon as possible tonight or tomorrow," a spokesperson said. In Tokyo, the Salvation Army "opened its main building to help shelter commuters who were unable to reach home. They served hot drinks and packed meals." You can text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
  • World Vision, with a staff of 75 in Japan, focuses its relief efforts on children. Visit the website to donate, or call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453). You can text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • The mGive Foundation, which helps with mobile donations, said these groups are also accepting text-based donations: Convoy of Hope, text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10; World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals, text WAVE to 50555 to donate $10. "When prompted, mobile donors should reply with YES to confirm a one-time gift," the foundation says. "The $10 one-time donation will appear on the donor’s next mobile bill. All donations are tax deductible and receipts may be printed" from the mGive site. "Message and data rates may apply."
  • Facebook has a Disaster Relief page with lots of good information about organizations that are offering aid, and that you can help, in turn.
  • Portland, Ore.-based Mercy Corps  is "accepting donations to help survivors of Japan's earthquake and tsunami through our longstanding partner, Peace Winds Japan." Donations will go to meeting the "immediate and longer-term needs of the survivors," a spokesperson said. You can text “MERCY” to 25283 to donate $10.
  • Microsoft has a Disaster Response Effort underway. "We are taking a number of steps, including ensuring the safety of our employees and their families and proactively offering customers, partners and local response agencies technical support to help ensure business continuity," the company said. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

iFixit iPad 2 Wi-Fi Teardown

As always when a new geeky gadget hits the streets the folks over at iFixit have rushed out to get their geeky hands on one and immediately began tearing it apart. The couldn't wait to get their hands on the new iPad 2 and as such they couldn't wait to pull it apart and checkout all the goodness the new aluminum shell hides.

Currently they are still working on the iPad 2 Wi-Fi Teardown but they do have some preliminary photos and specifications for everyone to checkout. They are living updating the post so you can refresh the page every few mins and there will be more details

Confirmed specs:
  • 1 GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 16/32/64 GB internal storage capacity
  • 9.7" LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology(1024 x 768)
  • HD (720p) Rear-facing camera + VGA Front-facing camera
More details will be posted as soon as they become available so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pwn2Own Day Two: iPhone 4, BlackBerry Both Go Down

On day two of the Pwn2Own security researchers had their chance to take on several of the markets latest smartphones. Included where an Apple iPhone 4, RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800, Nexus S running Google's Android and Dell Venue Pro running Windows. At the end of the day only two challengers reamined unbroken the Dell and the Nexus S both of which went unchallenged.

Long time Pwn2Own contestant Charlie Miller became the first four time winner teaming with Dion Blazakis to take down the iPhone 4. The hack utilized a drive-by exploit on a rigged web-page. Once the phone visited the page a lfaw in MobileSafari was exploited to swipe the phone’s address book

In an interview with ZDNet, Miller said the attack works perfectly against an iPhone running iOS 4.2.1 but will fail against the newest iOS 4.3 update.

“If you update your iPhone today, the [MobileSafari] vulnerability is still there, but the exploit won’t work. I’d have to bypass DEP and ASLR for this exploit to work,” Miller said.

On the BlackBerry, a multi-national team composed of Vincenzo Iozzo, Ralf-Philipp Weinmann and a third researcher from the Netherlands were able to successfully hack their BlackBerry Torch combining two information leak bugs and an integer overflow bug to exploit. The WebKit based BlackBerry browser was exploited to run their code on the phone.

The teams each will receive a check for $15,000 from TippingPoint, as well as the smartphones they exploited, in a ceremony Friday at CanSecWest.

There is still one more day of the contest however it is unlikely that anyone would step forward to attempt exploits of the still-standing browsers and smartphones. No one, for instance, has attempted Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome or the other two smartphones.


Day one results: Pwn2Own Day One: No Surprises Here Safari, IE Both Hacked

YouTube Now Hiring What You Need To Know

Google today announced that the company will be increasing the number of people working at YouTube by more than 30% at various positions and locations around the world. The company currently has about 650 employees meaning a 30% increase would mean YouTube could hire close to 200 more staffers this year.

Want to work for Google? Well here is a list of the positions they are looking to fill:

Current openings

What’s it like to work at YouTube?

YouTube is an extremely team-oriented, creative workplace where every single employee has a voice in the choices we make and the features we implement. We work together in small teams to design, develop, and roll out key features and products in very short time frames. Which means something you write today could be seen by millions of viewers tomorrow. And even though we’re a part of Google and enjoy all of the corporate perks, it still feels like you’re working at a startup.

Good luck to all those that apply, I've heard nothing but great things about working for the company and would love to learn some of our readers were the next Googlers to make the team. You may want to watch some of these video to learn more about working at YouTube.

iPad 2 Officially On-Sale Tomorrow Why You Shouldn't Buy It

The iPad is undoubtedly a huge success for Apple and in many opinions the best tablet on the market today. Trying to follow on that success tomorrow Apple is releasing it's traditional yearly product line update, one which most consumers will likely flock to. But should they?

For any of the Apple fans out there that currently own the iPad my answer is a resounding no and here's why!

We've heard the details, the iPad 2 is marginally thinner, lighter and slightly faster than its predecessor. In terms of actual upgrades it features a new cpu, more memory, a new case, dual cameras and of course the newest release of Apple's mobile operating system  iOS 4.3. This is all great and all but the details you need to focus on are the actual hardware updates which are the new Apple dual-core A5 processor the additional memory (reportedly double that of the old iPad) and the cameras. After-all these items are the only real reason you'd want to upgrade the weight and thickness are so marginal they would hardly be noticed.

For those that have an iPad even if you sale your current model you are going to have to add roughly $200-250 to purchase your iPad 2. Now stay with here. The total reported cost of the new parts you get are roughly in the neighborhood of $75-100. The cpu is somewhere around $20, the added memory tops out at $60 and the new front facing VGA camera, we'll say another $10-15. So you are spending roughly 2-3 times the actual cost to get only a slight increase in performance.

From the early reviews the camera, while a nice feature, is anemic to say the least. Why Apple decided not to upgrade either of the cameras is beyond reason but the new front facing camera is a VGA camera. The sensor is decent but nothing better than the iPod and a fair piece worse than the rear camera. Something most reviews scathed about.

The additional memory is a great add-on but hardly going to be noticeable for most tasks. iOS and most of its apps just don't use that much memory. The dual core cpu is probably the best overall addition and will give users an increase in performance. How much and how noticeable it will be will really depend on the users and the applications they use.

Personally I don't see a justification in terms of the price to performance. To me the gains just aren't there. If it were me I'd hold on to my iPad and wait for the next, hopefully bigger/better, release that should provide more features and overall more functionality. Make Apple release a meaningful upgrade not just another costly minor update!

Now that said, for those of you that don't own an iPad and are on the fence about buying a new one I'm not going to say don't. Any geek out there will agree the iPad is a great device and the entry level price point is hard to beat. The iPad also offers a ton of extras via the Apple App Store that have yet to be matched. The draw back is that there are a ton of competitors out there that offer as much if not more as the iPad. The Xoom is making major waves, the Samsung Galaxy Tabs are making a few ripples and there are a few alternatives coming down the pipes that could make a big splash.

So I guess what I'm saying is you should seriously evaluate your decision before you leap.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pwn2Own Day One: No Surprises Here Safari, IE Both Hacked

For followers of the now highly publicized Pwn2Own hacking contest it should come as little surprise that both Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer have fallen of the first day.

Taking just short of 5 seconds and despite a last-minute update from Apple, Safari was the first to be cracked by security researchers from the French penetration test company VUPEN. Reportedly the team used a known flaw in Apple's Calculator program to execute a bypass of ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention), two key anti-exploit mitigations built into Mac OS X.

Apple had released a last minute update that patched 62 vulnerabilities in various aspects of Safari 5.0.3. This however was of little consequence to the contest at the MacBook Air used in the contest was still running the older un-patched version. TippingPoint can not disclose the nature of the vulnerability but has said the vulnerability used by Vupen to hack Safari has not been fixed in 5.0.4, otherwise they would not have awarded the $15,000 prize.

VUPEN won a $15,000 cash prize and an Apple MacBook Air 13″ running Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

A second researcher, Stephen Fewer, successfully hacked into a 64-bit Windows 7 machine running Internet Explorer 8 using three different vulnerabilities and custom exploits. Fewer used two different zero-day bugs in IE that he’d found previously to get reliable code execution, and then exploited a third vulnerability that allowed him to jump out of the IE Protected Mode sandbox to get to the operating system.

Like VUPEN, Fewer’s attack also successfully bypassed DEP and ASLR in Windows 7. Fewer won a $15,000 cash prize and a new Sony Vaio laptop running Windows 7 for being the first contestant to hack the Windows browser.

Firefox and Google Chrome stood untested, with the attempts at hacking Firefox being rescheduled to Thursday and the contestants scheduled to test Google Chrome being no shows. Thursday will also feature attempts at hacking the four smartphones slated for this year including and iPhone 4 running Apple's iOS 4.2, a Nexus S running Google's Android (version unknown), a Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7 and a Blackberry Torch 9800 running the Blackberry 6 OS. TippingPoint will award $15,000 for the first hack of each of the smartphones.

The contest will continue through the CanSecWest conference ending March 11th.

Review: HTC Freestyle

I recently decided to upgrade my old Motorola Tundra from AT&T to something a bit more functional that offered more online features. Not wanting to add to much more to my monthly bill I decided to forgo the leap to a true smartphone and instead opted for one of AT&T mid-class (semi-smart) phones. After reading several reviews of my options I decided on the brand new HTC Freestyle.



The HTC Freestyle seemed to incorporate everything I wanted from a new phone. Touchscreen, fully functional browser, decent camera, a few apps (especially Facebook and Twitter streams) and an overall reasonable size. I found a good deal on the phone through Amazon Wireless so I went ahead and ordered it.

HTC Freestyle Tech Specs:
  • 3.2-inch 320x480 HVGA resolution with capacitive touch screen
  • 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus camera
  • Onboard GPS w/optional AT&T Navigator service
  • Memory expansion via microSD card - up to 32 GB
  • Onscreen QWERTY keyboard
  • Full email and messaging capabilities
  • Friend Stream for updates from Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr
  • Full PC-like HTML Web browser

The HTC Freestyle is a nice compact phone it only weighs 3.35 ounces and measures 4.29 x 2.13 x 0.47 inches. The battery is a 1300 mAh lithium-ion battery rated at up to 7 hours of talk time, and up to 384 hours (16 days) of standby time.

Pros - the things I like:
  • Optional Data plan so it won't cost you an arm and leg
  • Best none smartphone I've seen with lots of features
  • Very nice user interface, almost Android like with easy to use menus
  • Good customization with several customizable home screens
  • Light weight and nice design

Cons - what I hated about the phone:
  • Sim card and MicroSD card are located under the battery which makes them hard to remove
  • Screen size is fairly small for the touch keyboard making it hard to use
  • Wireless Data is on by default I'd prefer it to be off
  • Can't customize Friend Stream at all
  • Data connection seems slow and usage seems remarkably high
  • No Wi-Fi!

The HTC Freestyle has to be one of the most feature packed phones I've used in awhile. To me its more smartphone than not with several apps and the full connectivity features. Setup and customization are really easy as is navigating the various menus. You can add up to 6 additional "home" screens with options for people or frequently used numbers, shortcuts for your favorite apps, a Friend Stream screen, calendar, weather and a few more. The phone features something called Leap view. By pinching the screen it will reveal all seven home screens as thumbnails allowing you to 'leap' to whichever you one with just a tap.

The phone does have several buttons so its not all touchscreen, which is nice. You get send/end and back buttons on the front, a volume up/down rocker on one side a camera button on the other with a sleep/power button on the top. They are all nicely placed making the easy to use and not obtrusive so you don't accidentally hit them.

As features and design go the phone is great, however this is where we come to the bad part the functionality.

The reception seem to be very spotty. I've never had connection issues with any of my other AT&T phones in or around my house but with the Freestyle I seem to. While I didn't notice any dropped calls the number of bars stays fairly low and the data connection seems weak. I often found myself having to make several attempt to connect to  pages and could never get the Facebook linking for friends to connect or update.

Friend Stream is nice to have as I need to stay in contact with not just my own Facebook and Twitter friends but my business accounts as well. The downside is there is no way to limit the updates it shows or who from. This means I ended up wading through updates to pages I don't even have listed on my regular Facebook wall. I'd also like to have seen the option for more than one account.

Communication was good, the sound quality and speaker volume was nice and the speakerphone worked ok. The full html browser is very nice and navigation was great. The on-screen qwerty keyboard was bothersome even for my nimble fingers. So I can say without hesitation that anyone with larger fingers will want to stay away!

Since this isn't a true smartphone like an Android or iOS based phone you are limited to the applications installed or those found in the AT&T AppCenter. You don't have the option of piking up some of the free apps from Google or the Apple App store. Most of the apps included on the phone, especially the maps and GPS, are subscription based which prevented me from testing them. Monthly charges ranged from $5-9 which I think was overdoing it considering the fact I already had unlimited data from AT&T. Not having a free GPS or map tool is a big drawback and pretty much eliminates one of the better features of the phone.

Conclusion - what I really think

When its all said and done I think going to a full blown smartphone would be the better option. I found myself using more data than I thought so immediately need to upgrade to the 'none smartphone unlimted' plan. In the end it cost me an extra $10/mo which might still be under the cost of the smartphone plans, I'm not sure. Before buying the Freestyle I'd  suggest that you weight your monthly costs and actual data usage against actual features.

In just a couple of days of testing I found myself using Facebook and the web a ton more than I original thought I would. I thought I would be able to get by with using the pay-as-you go data features but clearly that was not going to work. So the trade off in actual features, Wi-Fi an App store, more apps ect may well have been worth the upgrade to a better phone.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Viewsonic's $600 Dual-Boot ViewPad 10 Now Available

Viewsonic has announced the immediate North American availability of the new 10.1" dual-boot ViewPad 10. Giving users a choice between Windows 7 and Google Android within the same device.

The ViewPad 10 features an Intel Atom Pine Trail N455 1.66GHz processor, 1GB of DDR3 memory and either Windows 7 Home Premium with a 16GB SSD hard drive or Windows 7 Professional with a 32GB SSD hard drive. The device offers expandable memory options via a micro SD card slot for up to 32GB of additional space. Sadly the only option for Google Android is version 1.6, its not clear if an update is available or not.

The 10.1" screen features a resolution of 1024x600 with LED backlight technology partnered with capacitive multi-touch functionality. Additional features include built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 1.3 megapixel built-in front camera. The two models are listed at $599 and $679 respectively.



Unfortunately the specifications of the ViewPad are fairly weak when compared to the new Motorola Xoom, iPad 2 and even the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The lack of an updated version of Google Android is also a marked setback for the device however the inclusion of Windows 7 is nice.

At the $600-700 price point I don't see this being a big winner for Viewsonic and would hardly call it a major competitor in the market. But for some users that are wanting a full featured OS like Windows 7 its a nice option at a reasonable price.

Get A Free Expo Pass For Interop 2011

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This year's even will feature 350+ exhibitors including APC, Avaya, Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and VMware. For more details download an event brochure
or visit Interop Las Vegas

AMD Releases The New $699 Radeon HD 6990

AMD has launched their new 'king of the hill' powerhouse gaming gpu the Radeon HD 6990, price tag $699. With the new HD 6990 AMD claims the title of 'world's fastest' graphics card!

Featuring a massive 4GB of GDDR5, 3,072 Stream Processors, 64 ROPs, and an 830MHz core clock speed. Add in a dual-BIOS switch setup to allow overclockers to tweak the card with automatic settings that allow you to crank that clock up to 880MHz with a corresponding increase in voltage. To push all that power the HD 6990 requires more power as the power-hungry card has a 375W TDP. In preliminary testing Anandtech reported the card sucked down over 490 watts of power during intense gaming benchmarks and as much as 550 watts when overclocked.

This thing is definitely a monster of a card!


Radeon HD 6990 Specifications

Full specs via AMD
  • Default (BIOS1)
    • Up to 830MHz Engine Clock
    • 5.10 TFLOPs Single Precision compute power
    • 1.27 TFLOPs Double Precision Compute Power
  • Overclocked (BIOS2)
    • Up to 880MHz Engine Clock
    • 5.40 TFLOPs Single Precision compute power o 1.37 TFLOPs Double Precision Compute Power
  • 4GB 2x2 GDDR5 Memory
  • 1250MHz Memory Clock (5.0 Gbps GDDR5)
  • 320 GB/s memory bandwidth (maximum) 
  • TeraScale 3 Unified Processing Architecture
    • 3072 Stream Processors
    • 192 Texture Units
    • 128 Z/Stencil ROP Units
    • 64 Color ROP Units
    • Dual geometry and dual rendering engines
  • High Speed 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface
  •  Second generation DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, Shader Model 5, DirectCompute 11 support

 

Radeon HD 6990 Benchmarks and Reviews


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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Fix Ink Issues On Your Brother MFC All-In-One Printer

Using ink refills or generic ink is a great way to save money. But what do you do when your printer doesn't accept the new ink? Sometimes you can find reset codes, some times you can use the old tape trick and tape the ink cartridges fooling the ink sensors into accepting the new ink however sometimes you are just stuck with new ink and a printer that won't work.

Recently my Brother MFC-230C ran out of ink so I decided to buy some cheap replacements on eBay that were "guaranteed" to work. The first set worked fine for a month or two even though it appeared as though they ran out a little quicker than usual. When it came time to replace those I ran into nothing but issues. At first the black ink would show "no ink cartridge" and the colored inks would still show low or nearly empty. I managed to do a hard rest and get the black ink to show however this only worked for a short time.

Being fed up with these hassles I almost when out and paid for the original Brother ink cartridges to see if this would alleviate my issues. Then I came across a great tutorial on how to fool your ink sensors into thinking they are always full. Not only did this solve my issues with incompatible cartridges it also allowed me to use nearly all the ink in my carts before replacing them.

This worked on my Brother MFC-230C, and is verified to work on the Brother MFC-240C and Brother MFC-440CN and rother MFC-665CN, others might be similar if not the same.

See images below
  1. Pull the top up and remove the control panel, you'll see 3 screws under the top lid. You'll need to pry the panel out pulling towards you and up.
  2. Locate and unplug the connector with 9 wires (it should be labeled "cartridges" on the circuit card)
  3. Disconnect only the center wire (5th cable from either end). Its a bit of a pain to get out but I didn't want to cut mine right off until I knew for sure it would work.
  4. Reconnect the the 9 wire connector
  5. Close the lids and restart the printer
All ink levels should now show full...




Although I've tested it on my own printer and it works fine for me there is still some risk involved and results can not be guranteed. Try this at your own risk!

Credit goes to cano14 over at Tech Support Forum for the information and the images.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How To Get Top Dollar For Your Used iPad

So the iPad 2 is out and you can't wait to get your hands on it but you don't know what to do with that old iPad you have sitting there on your desk. You have a couple options: you can sale it yourself via Craigslist or eBay or you could try one of the many trade-in programs out there. The choice is going to be a tough one and one will net you more cash than the other. So weight your options before making your decision.

You want top dollar you say

Selling your used iPad yourself is really the best way to get the most money. This however comes with a few drawbacks. First off you have to make sure you wipe away any personal data. You don't want the next owner getting copies of those private emails or potentially having access to stored passwords or anything else that might be used to access your personal information. Second you have to take the time to list it and possibly answer a magnitude of questions. If you list it on Craigslist you have to deal with potential of meeting buyers and perhaps dealing with them for the exchange. Third you have those pesky eBay and PayPal fees and maybe even unscrupulous buyers that try to scam you.

All these can be rather time consuming, annoying and potentially risky so you might want to look into a trade-in program. These are generally quicker, easier and more reliable but will cost you in the long run.

Trade-in Programs and how they work

There are several options when it comes to trade-in programs and some are better than others. Some give you cold hard cash via a visa gift card or PayPal while others force store gift cards on you. I'd recommend skipping the later unless of course you get a really really good deal or plan to shop at that particular store anyways.

Most all trade-in programs work the same way. You visit the site of the program you like, enter the information on the device (say iPad 16GB WiFi model), describe the condition (working great, none working, ect) and any accessories you have (power cords, cases ect)  and then they give you a value. If you like the price they give you you then confirm your deal. In most cases they will send you all the packing materials and pay for the shipping cost. All you need to do is box it up securely and send it off.

Yes you'll have to ship them your iPad and yes this can be risky so do your homework and make sure you can trust the site you choose. Go with a well know site, do just pick something at random and remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

Once you have shipped them your iPad they will evaluate it to make sure that it is in working order or at least in the condition you described to them. If anything is not up to snuff they will let you know and might rescind their original offer. You WILL have the chance of accepting or declining this new offer if one is made. If you don't like the new offer they will ship your iPad back to you. For the vast majority of items, payment is issued within a week once your items arrive and has been evaluated.

Which site is best?

The site you choose is entirely up to you but I suggest checking with a few different ones to see what they are offering. You might get a few dollars more at most but you never know. Best BuyBuyMyTronics.com, Gazelle.com, NextWorth.com, EzTradeIn.com and CExchange.com are amongst the top site out there. PowerMax is another option as an Apple Authorized Specialist and I'm sure there are more. Just make sure you do your homework and pick a reputable site.


So how much can I expect?

At the time of this post, the following iPads, if in perfect condition with all the accessories, would yield the following amounts on Gazelle.com:
  • Apple iPad 16GB WiFi: $300
  • Apple iPad 16GB WiFi+3G: $320
  • Apple iPad 32GB WiFi: $340
  • Apple iPad 32GB WiFi+3G: $350
  • Apple iPad 64GB WiFi: $405
  • Apple iPad 64GB WiFi+3G: $510
*These are a drop from earlier in the day when they were anywhere from $50-75 higher

eBay currently remains the best place to sell your iPad. Based off resale prices of a 32GB iPad Wi-Fi+3G in excellent condition the average final price from 25 completed listings is about $580. This will likely fluctuate as more and more people list their iPads and auction become convoluted so be prepared for the fact you may not get as much as others or as much as you think you might. eBay's instant sale site is another great option for those looking to leave out the hassle of dealing with auctions. Just keep in mind in most cases you'll get hit with eBay listing fees, final value fees and possibly PayPal fees.

Sale now or what until later?

Honestly, in my opinion and opinion only, if you have an iPad now the iPad 2 isn't enough of an upgrade to warrant spending a couple hundred dollars. Sure its the newest thing on the market and it has that new dual core chip. But can you say you would even notice. Not likely! If however you can't wait and absolutely must have it on March 11th when it comes out then by all means sale ASAP. As more and more iPads hit the market the price will come down.

Malware Infects Android Market Several Apps Removed

Some rather unscrupulous developers dumped several nasty pieces of malware into the Android Marketplace over the weekend. A total of 50 apps were affected in one way or the other totaling about "50k-200k downloads combined in 4 days."

A full list of the 50 programs that were either pirated or renamed versions of legitimate Android software can be found at Android Police, who originally reported the issue. Following those reports several more applications were found to have been intentionally infected with a piece of malware dubbed "DreamDroid."

Those applications were from publishers named Kingmall2010 and we20090202 and Myournet, all users have since been removed. In total, more than 50 programs have been pulled from the Android Market.

An analysis of the DroidDream malware by Kaspersky Lab malware researcher Tim Armstrong showed that it's quite stealthy and efficient at its tasks.

"So what is the purpose of this Trojan? The application will attempt to gather product ID, device type, language, country, and userID among other things, and then upload them to a remote server. Unlike most of the other samples seen so far, there is no attempt at sending or receiving premium rate SMS messages," Armstrong wrote in his analysis of the Android malware.

"DroidDream is packaged inside of seemingly legitimate applications posted to the Android Market in order to trick users into downloading it, a pattern we've seen in other instances of Android malware such as Geinimi and HongTouTou," said Lookout CTO Kevin Mahaffey. "Unlike previous instances of malware in the wild that were only available in geographically targeted alternative app markets, DroidDream was available in the official Android Market, indicating a growing need for mainstream consumers to be aware of the apps they download and to actively protect their smart phones."

Google doesn't utilize the stringent application processes other companies use ofr inclusion into their app store. Developers can essentially upload any app they want without so much as a twinge. This openness is part of what has made Google and Android as success. But that same openness leave users open to attacks such as these.Perhaps the only actual protection users have lies in Google's ability to remotely remove applications that are found to be harmful, as it has done here but this action tends to be reactive, not proactive.

Symantec security researcher Mario Ballano recently posted an analysis of "Android.Pjapps," a backdoor Trojan that Chinese hackers used to hijack the legit Steamy Windows app. The malware infiltrated a user's smart phone to send invisible text messages to premium rate numbers, that would then reward the hackers with a commission.

These are only a few of a number of increasingly popular attacks on smartphones as use of devices increase. More of these types of attacks are immanent so users should make themselves more aware of the potential threats they face and not let themselves be blindly led.

Refurbished iPads Now $349-659, Get 'Em While Their Hot

Looking for a great deal on the 'old' iPad, well no fear the fine folks over at Apple have just dropped the price on their refurbished models to make way for the new thinner lighter iPad 2.

The new iPad 2 might be thinner and lighter and pack a bit more punch but last year's model was no slouch. So why pay top dollar for the new one when you can get yesteryear's model at such a great price! Apple has lowered the price of the basic model refurbished iPad down to an incredible $349 or $150 less than the new iPad 2. The Apple Store has all of the details. The prices range from:

  • $349 for the 16GB WiFi model
  • $479 for the 16GB WiFi + 3G model
  • $529 for the 64GB WiFi model
  • $559 for the 32GB  WiFi + 3G model
  • $659 for the 64GB WiFi + 3G model

Apple notes regarding their refurbished Apple iPad devices:
  • Stringent refurbishment process prior to sale
  • Covered by Apple's One-Year Limited Warranty 
  • AppleCare Protection Plan can be purchased
  • Engraving and gift wrap not available for refurbished iPads
  • Supplies are limited
  • Comes with all manuals and accessories
  • New battery and outer shell (to me this makes the device look brand new)
  • Brand new white box?? (ha!)

    So if you aren't into the latest greats and want to save yourself a little of that hard earned cash you might want to head over to the Apple Store and see what they have to offer.

    Update: For those of you looking for deals on new iPads Apple has slashed prices on them as well. Pricing is listed as follows:


    That would be $100 off the original pricing making these a pretty decent deal.

    Good Sites Affected By Google Algorithm

    Last week we reported that Google had made a significant algorithm change targeting low-quality content farms and scrapers removing them from the top of search results. To the dismay of several webmasters the new changes have now taken full affect and some well know, highly publicized, highly followed sites have taken a hit.

    Well webmasters rejoice, there might be a reprieve in your future.

    “We deeply care about the people who are generating high-quality content sites, which are the key to a healthy web ecosystem,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal told Wired. “However, we don’t manually change anything along these lines. Therefore any time a good site gets a lower ranking or falsely gets caught by our algorithm — and that does happen once in a while even though all of our testing shows this change was very accurate — we make a note of it and go back the next day to work harder to bring it closer to 100 percent. That’s exactly what we are going to do, and our engineers are working as we speak building a new layer on top of this algorithm to make it even more accurate than it is.”

    Cult of Mac, an Apple-centric blog took a beating following the new changes — losing nearly all of its Google juice causing traffic to the site to fall by one-third to one-half over the weekend. Since that time Cult of Mac’s editor Leander Kahney has wrote a follow-up to Wired.com to say that his site suddenly recovered its Google juice Tuesday a.m. before a report outlining Google's attempts to help some site owners.

    Google has not said they are specifically looking at sites on a case by case basis. Nor have they said they will, or have they offered to look into any particular site. In fact the company states:

    So what changed for Cult of Mac. It could be nothing, it could just be the algorithm working itself out. Its likely that with any of these changes that most site owners are going to need to site and wait this one out for a few days.

    In an odd twist of fate Cult of Mac, was at least for a time, outranked by sites that have reprinted it's original content without permission. For now, the site plans to send copyright notices to some of the sites, stop publishing full RSS feeds to make re-posters have to work harder and contact Google in hopes of restoring the site’s search traffic. Hopefully they will report the content scrapers to Google as well to get them taken down!

    My thoughts

    Its interesting that Wired points out sites like Associated Content and Mahalo. I always thought that Google should have excluded these sites from day one. Now it appears as though they are two of the highly visible sites that are taking a serious hit from the Google changes. Allen Stern over at CenterNetworks reported yesterday that Mahalo will be cutting 10% of it's headcount. This may just be a preemptive strike by Calacanis and crew but it shows the power of Google.

    Sadly sites like Cult of Mac, and the few others mentioned in the Wired story, are casualties of war. But I did find it odd that in some of my own searches I saw the same paradox CoM faced. I found scrapped content and content farms actually ranking higher than their original counterparts. So to me it seems Google's new algorithm might have had the opposite affect.

    Thinner, Lighter, Faster iPad 2 Announced

    It comes as no surprise that during today's Apple press event the new iPad 2 was announced. What may be a surprise is that it is supposedly going to be available next week. Yes that's right, Apple said you'll be able to get your geeky little hands on the new iPad 2 March 11th.


    The breakdown

    The new iPad will be shrink in thickness some 33% from13.4mm down to 8.8mm. It will also shed some weight dropping from 1.5lbs down to 1.3 lbs and it now comes in two colors, traditional black and a new white version that will be ready on the first day of shipments.

    Specs wise there are some pleasant surprises and some not so pleasant ones. You'll now get that front facing VGA camera for FaceTime you've always wanted. You'll also get a new three-axis gyroscope to work in conjunction with the accelerometer and compass to sense which direction your iPad is heading and how it’s moving. So games, maps, and other apps know your every twist, turn, tilt, and 360. The best part might just be the addition of a new dual core Apple ARM Cortex-A5 processor for 2x the speed and up to 9x the graphics power.


    iPad 2 comes with iOS 4.3 preinstalled, with all the new features including faster Safari mobile browsing performance; iTunes Home Sharing; enhancements to AirPlay; the choice to use the iPad side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute audio; and Personal Hotspot to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection over Wi-Fi. Additional iPad 2 features include HSUPA support for enhanced 3G upload speeds on iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G on AT&T, and HDMI Video Mirroring that lets users mirror their iPad screen on an HDTV using an optional adaptor.

    What is surprisingly missing is the rumored retina display and SD ports as well as a very questionable rumor of a price drop. Apple has decided to keep the prices unchanged despite some rather minor updates.

    Pricing & Availability
    iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available on March 11 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G compatible with the Verizon network will be available in the US only for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 will be sold in the US through the Apple Store (www.apple.com).

    For more information see the Apple press release or visit Apple.com/iPad.

    Update: For those of you that want to view the entire keynote Apple has posted the video online.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    Is This The New Windows 8 UI? We Sure Hope Not

    The folks over at Microsoft have released a new video showing of a radically new user interface that many are speculating could end up in Windows 8.

    >

    In the above video, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, shows off a new user interface that could conceivably be incorporated into Windows 8. This is pure speculation of course but it is certain that MS is working on some new radical designs.

    As you can tell from the video this new interface is something out of this world for MS and a huge risk to say the least. Gone are the traditional taskbar, start menu and icons that are all to familiar to traditional operating systems. In their place are "bubbles" that interact with files and post streaming information off the internet.

    Bubbles are auto-generated in various categories (personal, entertainment, gaming, etc.) and can also be created by a user. Clicking on a bubble brings up a program or interaction item. For example clicking on a bubble for an upcoming flight will display alternate flight times with weather-based probability for delays. Users could use the interface to switch their flight, should the desire.

    From my perspective it looks like it would be a very user friendly touch interface but hardly one meant for a traditional desktop. Many sites have already reported that Windows 8 is getting a new UI make over and the main interface will be codenamed “Wind" and is supposedly going to incorporate more 3d effects but I really question that this would be it. It could be a new UI for touch specific devices but I doubt MS would take this big a risk on their desktop OS. I like the idea of real-time updates but I'm not big on the "bubbles" look. I recall seeing a website out there awhile back that had this type of interface and it was too easy to get lost jumping from place to place.