PLACE YOUR LINK HERE

-

 

Subscribe in RojoSubscribe in NewsGator OnlineAdd to netvibes
Add strictly | tech to Newsburst from CNET News.com
Add to Plusmo

Subscribe by Email

 

     

12/08/2006

New Design!

Hey all you seers, readers, and feeders! I got a cool new template, I've been working on the past 2 days. I hope you like it. Send your feedback to me here.

-Jonesey

Labels:


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Wii straps break plasmas, ask me

I was playing my wii today, before learning about the remote straps. I got pissed when I lost the game and "whipped my hand" I guess you can say??... well when I did that, the next thing I hear is a crack of glass.... on my $3,000 60" plasma TV.... hopefully Nintendo, or my insurance will pay.

I join other Wii users victim to these crappy remote straps.

Labels:


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Wii launch in UK causes carnage

Last night the Nitendo Wii offically arrived in the UK at HMV in Oxford Street, London. This is also where officially launched festivities and gamers showed up on the hundreds for a chance of getting their hands on the new Nitendo hardware.

According to the HMV spokesperson almost 500 fans turned up for the event, here by midnight the queue already stretched along Oxford Street and around the corner - leaving us to ponder if the people at the back had even a fighting chance of seeing the shop counters before breakfast.

The store reportedly received over 1200 Wii-related phone calls yesterday alone - three quarters of which were from people wondering if they could get their hands on a console without pre-ordering.

Rolling up Oxford Street just before the main event at midnight, a white Wii bus unloaded a sprinkling of celebrities to show off their Wii Sports skills (or lack of) for the crowd, including virtual tennis hot-shots Ian Wright, Nell McAndrew, Ricky Hatton and Pat Cash.

First in the queue was 17 year-old Zelda fanatic Marwan Elgamal, who pitched up his tent at 5pm on Tuesday in order to guarantee a Wii in his house this weekend, which was finally handed over to him by Mr Wright at gone 12.

"I have been looking forward to this day for months!" Elgamal said. "Despite the cold and rain, it was well worth it - not only was I the very first person in the UK to own the Wii, but I also got to thrash Ian Wright in a game of Wii Sports!"

David Yarnton, General Manager at Nintendo UK said of the launch: "This is such an exciting time for Nintendo - since the launch of the Nintendo DS we have been committed to exploring a new approach and offering a more inclusive experience. The launch of Wii sees our commitment to innovation and bringing in new audiences taken one stage further, and we are overwhelmed with the incredible response we've received from the public - both young, old, male and female." -st [strictlytech]


Labels: , ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

12/07/2006

Hotspot security fable

Hot spots, which provide travelers and nomads with a quick and easy way to access the Internet , have grown in popularity -- there are now more than 100,000 scattered across the globe. Consumers and businesspeople can walk into coffee shops, fast food restaurants, hotels, office buildings and even municipal parks, where they can turn on computers and check e-mail, surf the Web or access corporate data.

However, as they take advantage of these services, many open themselves up to potential security breaches like Trojan horses, computer viruses, exposure to inappropriate content, and identity theft.

"Most individuals who access a hotspot do not understand the risks that they are taking," said Pete Lindstrom, a senior analyst with market research firm Burton Group.

Just about all computer users utilize hot spots to some degree. Teens view them as a good place to hang out and chat with friends, and businesspeople see them as an easy way to stay in touch with the office. Still, the simplicity of hot spots masks their potential problems. Because hot spot providers want to make it easy for anyone to take advantage of their services, they offer bare-bones network functionality -- basically a simple, low-security connection to the outside world.


No Security Standards

In fact, security is often an afterthought for hot spot providers. At the moment, hot spots have no standards outlining acceptable practices, and the sites are largely unmonitored. Consequently, users are more vulnerable there than at home or work, where companies or internet service providers often add security functions to their connections.

As a result, users are exposed to various threats. Hotspot users risk downloading viruses, Trojan horses and worms that can usurp their computers' processing cycles or even render the devices inoperable. Because these programs usually masquerade as legitimate software, most users do not spot them.

The clients may also access inappropriate content, such as pornography or graphic depictions of violence. ISPs usually offer features allowing users to wall off content and prevent children from accessing adult-oriented material or chat rooms. Such filters are typically not found with hotspots.

Send Money, Guns and Lawyers

This possibility creates problems both for customers, who may not want to view such items, and proprietors, who could be subjected to lawsuits from angry users.

"Hot spot usage is so new that issues such as what checks need to be in place to monitor content have not been on most individuals' radar screens," said Craig Mathias, principal at market research firm Farpoint Group.

There are instances in which hackers can grab a user's personal data. Evil Twin, for example, is a phishing scheme designed to attack WiFi hot spots. With Evil Twin, a fake hot spot poses as a legitimate one. Once a user logs onto the bogus site, sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or bank account information, is intercepted.

There are steps users can take to safeguard against such problems. A simple one is to limit the sites they access while at a hot spot, visiting only sites that begin "https" ("s" stands for "secure") as opposed to "http." The former will not store their input long enough to create problems. In the case of Internet cafes, libraries or businesses that provide computers to the public for Web access, users should make sure to clear the machine's cache, cookies and history before leaving the premises.

Companies Tackle Hot Spot Security

Companies are also becoming more proactive. Often when users are on the road, they are only granted access to applications via a virtual private network (VPN), which adds security and encryption functions to the hot spot link. Corporations are also issuing disposable passwords. Employees can be given one account when traveling and another when they are in the main office.

Hot spot suppliers understand the problems, and some are taking steps to add new user-authentication schemes. Companies such as Boingo Wireless, Fiberlink Communications, Infonet (NYSE: IN) Services and iPass require that client software be installed on mobile devices to provide authentication and encryption features. When a user logs in, the system determines whether the access point is a member of its network. If it is not, the user gets a failed authentication notice.

In other instances, the hot spot provider automatically launches a personal firewall and encrypts log-on credentials as well as any other data. Hackers looking for credit card information will not be able to see any.

One challenge with such approaches is that they are based on proprietary software, so they are not available to all wireless users. "The hot spot providers need to perform a delicate balance: They want to add more security functions but do not want them to prevent some users from working with their service," Farpoint Group's Mathias told TechNewsWorld.

Opting for a Standard Approach

To avoid proprietary options, the world most popular and the network with the best reception, Verizon added support for the IEEE 802.1x standard to their hot spot networks. The specification prevents information from being intercepted as it is transferred between a WiFi network and a client device. To work, this function has to be incorporated into end users' wireless network cards. The technology is being built into new systems, but older ones will require upgrades.

The carriers could also develop tiered services, charging customers for secure connections and offering free access for unsecured lines. "Users may balk at paying for a service that they had been getting for free," Burton Group's Lindstrom said.

Hot spots send a mixed message to users. Usage continues to grow because of the convenience they offer, but there are no clear-cut resolutions to the security shortcomings they present.


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Zune sales are on target says MRST

Microsoft Corp., facing speculation that sales of its Zune portable media player have been underwhelming since its premiere last month, said Wednesday that it expects to sell 1 million Zunes by the middle of next year.

The technology giant introduced the $249.99 Zune just before the holiday shopping season. It marked the latest twist in the MP3 player market, which has been dominated by the iPod, made by Cupertino's Apple Computer Inc., with about 75 percent of the market share, according to the NPD Group.

The Zune's 1 million figure "is spot on with where we thought we'd be," said Bryan Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft's entertainment group. "Apple is the market leader. We didn't expect to beat them this holiday, but we wanted to be relevant and we wanted a chance to grow. I think we are on plan.

"Over time, the market share will sort itself out," Lee added.

Apple has sold over 65 million iPods since their premiere five years ago. From July through September of this year, it sold more than 8.7 million iPods for $1.56 billion in revenue. This autumn, it released a new iPod shuffle and iPod nano, as well as an updated iPod video and new movie download service. Rumors are already circulating about whether it will unveil a new iPod during the Macworld conference next month.

Microsoft said it opted to focus on the high-end segment of the MP3 player market when it developed the Zune, which holds 30 GB of music, photos and videos and comes in only one model, in contrast to less-expensive devices such as the $79 iPod shuffle. And it is trying to set itself apart by offering a wireless feature that lets users beam a song from one Zune to another, something the iPod can't do.

NPD, which compiles sales data from retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City, said the Zune ranked No. 2 in unit sales during its first week in stores, but fell to fifth during the second week -- the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the first day of the holiday shopping season.

The Zune faced intense day-after-Thanksgiving sale promotions. SanDisk's Sansa, which has largely held the distant No. 2 spot behind the iPod, slashed prices and rose to a 39.3 percent share in unit sales for that week, according to NPD.

Apple, whose sales at its Apple retail stores were not included in the analysis, hung onto the No. 1 spot with 39.4 percent. Creative and Memorex were No. 3 and No. 4 with 3.1 percent and 2.8 percent, while the Zune tied Disney, which sells a line of kid-friendly MP3 players, for the No. 5 spot, with 2.1 percent.

Despite the fall in ranking, Microsoft said that unit sales of the Zune have been steady.

"In terms of building customer awareness and getting retail presence, it (the Zune) was a good launch," Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD, noting Microsoft's MP3 player hasn't been around long enough for there to be enough data to paint a complete picture.

But the Zune has received mixed reviews, as well as complaints about problems from consumers about installing the Zune software on computers.

Whether it will be able to upend the MP3 player market remains to be seen, said Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies. "It doesn't have anywhere near the cachet and cool factor that Apple has," he said. "Microsoft has a very difficult road ahead of them, given the amount of competition in the MP3 player field." -s|t


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

12/06/2006

Microsft word security hole discovered

Late Tuesday Microsoft warned there is a yet-to-be-patched security hole that can be exploited in cyberattacks, which is on multiple versions.

Microsoft security advisory also stated that the attacks are 'limited. Currently the Washington-based software maker is creating a security update the addresses this flaw.

The vulnerability is similar to previous so-called zero-day flaws that have hit Office applications in recent months. An attacker could rig a Word file in such a way that he would gain complete control over a vulnerable PC when the file is opened, Microsoft additionally said in its advisory. A hacker could exploit this flaw by posting a malicious MS Word file on a website.

Security experts have said the limited-scale attacks are actually the most dangerous. Widespread worms, viruses or Trojan horses sent to millions of mailboxes are typically not a grave concern, since they can be blocked. Instead, especially for businesses, targeted Trojan horses have become nightmares, as they can fly under the radar.

The latest Office vulnerability affects Word 2000, Word 2002, Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Word 2004 for Mac, Word 2004 version X for Mac, as well as Works 2004, 2005 and 2006, Microsoft said. As a way of protection, Microsoft suggests not opening or saving Word files from unknown sources or that arrive unexpectedly.
-s|t strictlytech

Labels: , , , ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Iran cuts off access to YouTube Web site

TEHRAN -- Iran has blocked access to YouTube.com, and a media-rights group warned Tuesday that Internet censorship in the Islamic state is on the rise. Internet users who tried to call up the video-sharing YouTube site Tuesday were met with the message, "On the basis of the Islamic Republic of Iran laws, access to this Web site is not authorized."It was not known how long the site had been on Iran's Web blacklist. The Paris-based media-rights group Reporters Without Borders said YouTube had been blocked for five days.

Iran's Shiite cleric-run government regularly blocks opposition Web sites, including blogs, and the number of sites that bring up the "unauthorized" message has been increasing over the past year. Western news sites, however, are generally available.

Videos from the Mujahedeen Khalq and other Iranian opposition groups have been posted on YouTube.com, along with videos posted by individual Iranians critical of the regime. The site also has Iranian pop music videos, which are frowned upon by the religious leadership.

In its statement Tuesday, Reporters Without Borders warned that "censorship is now the rule rather than the exception" in Iran.

"The government is trying to create a digital border to stop culture and news coming from abroad--a vision of the Net which is worrying for the country's future," it said.

"The Iranian government policy is not an isolated case. It is getting closer and closer to that of the authorities in China, with particular stress being laid on censorship of cultural output," it said.

In October, Reporters Without Borders named Iran as one of the 13 worst culprits for online censorship, along with Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Hard-liners have severely restricted pro-reform newspapers over the past six years after they blossomed following the 1997 election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Conservatives in the courts shut down many even before Khatami was succeeded by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year. Some independent newspapers remain, but their criticism of the government is muted for fear of being shut down.

Also Tuesday in Iran, Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a "myth," said the nation will hold a conference to discuss the evidence of the World War II genocide.

The two-day conference is scheduled for next week, Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi said.

"The president simply asked whether an event called the Holocaust has actually taken place. . . . No rational response was ever given," Mohammadi said, explaining the reason for the conference.

The conference is yet another step in Ahmadinejad's public campaign against Israel. He also has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Mohammadi rejected any suggestion the conference would support anti-Semitism, saying that was a "Western phenomenon." The proof, he said, was Iran's community of 25,000 Jews. He said the conference seeks to "provide an opportunity for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom."

Iran has repeatedly announced plans for the gathering, including during UN chief Kofi Annan's visit in September when he said that an exhibition of cartoons denying the Holocaust, which was on display at the time, promotes hatred. -ap

Labels: ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Satellite to be rerouted in James Kim search

A commercial satellite-imagery company said Tuesday it is rerouting one of its satellites to fly over the Oregon wilderness where rescue crews search for CNET editor James Kim.

GeoEye's Ikonos satellite will fly over the Western seaboard at about 10:30 a.m. PT Wednesday at a distance from the Earth of about 423 miles, said Mark Bender, a spokesman for the Dulles, Va.-based GeoEye. The satellite could record images of an area as large as 2,000 square kilometers.

The cameras on the Ikonos could once boast the world's highest resolution, able to get a bead on objects 39 inches wide.

"If you set a card table out on a street, we couldn't see it was a card table," said Bender, "but we could let you know something that looked like a card table was there."

Kim is believed to be on foot in a remote wilderness area of southwest Oregon. He and his family were stranded while traveling home to San Francisco following a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Kim's wife and two daughters were rescued Monday. The search for Kim has focused on a 5-mile stretch of a narrow canyon a few miles from where the Kim's car was found.

The satellite, which is used by the U.S. military for mapping and gathering intelligence, could be rendered useless if the weather is bad, said Bender. The snow and large trees would also make it nearly impossible for a satellite image to pinpoint Kim's location, but it could help authorities plan their search efforts, Bender said.

"We can't see through clouds," he said. "If it's cloudy, we wouldn't be able to get back for three days."

The forecast for the area around Grants Pass, Ore., where Kim is believed to be lost, calls for early morning fog.

Another concern said Bender is where to send the pictures. The company only flies the satellite and doesn't employ analysts to comb the photos. Bender said his company was notified by a concerned citizen interested in helping to find Kim.

"We need to be in contact with someone involved in the search so we know where to send the images," Bender said.

Bender declined to state what the cost was to the company to "retask" a satellite.

"We're doing it because it's the right thing to do," he said. -cnet

Labels: ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

MySpace.com Moves to Keep Sex Offenders Off of Its Site

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 5 — My Space.com, the social networking site, said Tuesday that it was developing technologies that would help combat the use of its site by sexual predators by cross-referencing its more than 130 million users against state databases of registered sex offenders.

The Web site, which is owned by the News Corporation, said that within 30 days it planned to deploy the technology, which will seek to identify known sex offenders not just by their names, but also by date of birth, height, weight and ZIP code.

If the automated system finds a potential match between a MySpace user and a registered sex offender, employees will try to verify the match or determine if it is a false positive. Users who are registered sex offenders, MySpace said, will be denied access to the site and, depending in the circumstances, be turned over to law enforcement.

The system, which MySpace executives said was the first of its kind, comes as the site has faced scrutiny and criticism by advocates of children’s safety. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said the technology was a potentially useful step in slowing the incidence of sexual solicitation of minors.

“It’s not a panacea, but it makes a whole lot of sense,” Mr. Allen said.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nonprofit group, one in seven regular Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 will be solicited online for sex. That figure has fallen from 2000, when it was one in five.

The perception, particularly among parents, has been that children are vulnerable on social networking sites like MySpace.com, which allow users to create profiles, share their interests and create a vast social network.

MySpace said that more than 80 percent of its users were 18 years or older.

In its announcement, MySpace said it had signed a deal to use technology created by the Sentinel Tech Holdings Corporation.

Forty-six states have public data bases that include 550,000 registered sex offenders. The technology will compare the names on the databases with the 135 million MySpace users.

Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace, said the company hoped the technology would work in real time, meaning that as people signed up — which they are doing at a rate of 320,000 a day — the system would automatically compare the names to the databases.

The system, by MySpace’s admission, is not fool-proof. If registered sex offenders sign up but do not give their real names, physical attributes, locations or post their real picture, they could elude detection.

Similarly, there is a chance that people who are not sex offenders might be flagged by the system. Mr. Nigam said a team was in place to analyze potential matches and throw out false positives.

Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a free speech and consumer advocacy group, said the technology was a response to growing worries about the extent of the problem of sexual solicitation of minors on the Internet.

Mr. Bankston said the incidents of such solicitation were falling but that fear was causing companies to take steps that could ultimately impinge civil liberties.

“My concern is MySpace is acting based on a level of pressure and fear that may be unreasonable,” he said. -nytimes

Labels: , , ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Man will be able to live on the moon by the year 2020, says NASA

NASA has opened the door to the next generation of space discovery by announcing ambitious plans for a permanently staffed base on the surface of the Moon.

Construction on the lunar outpost would begin soon after 2020, with astronauts living there within four years, the space agency said. The project comes after several prominent scientists and environmentalists urged humans to look beyond Earth to ensure the survival of the species.

Ultimately, the Moon would be a staging post for humans to explore the solar system and one day land on Mars.

"This is not your father's Apollo," said John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, referring to America's short-stay trips to the Moon of the 1960s and 1970s.

"This is not flag-and-footprints. This is the idea of starting an outward movement that includes long stays on the Moon."

NASA began planning for the first lunar landing since 1972 when George Bush, the US president, announced his new vision for space exploration four years ago.

The agency has already unveiled the design of the Orion spacecraft that will replace the ageing space shuttle fleet in 2010 and the heavy-lift Ares rockets that will carry humans and cargo back to the Moon.

The proposal for the lunar base, however, is the first detailed account of how NASA, in partnership with space agencies from around the world, intends to prepare for the first manned exploration of deep space and a possible Mars mission within three decades.

A robotic probe will be sent in 2008 to scout potential sites, but the settlement is likely to be built on the Moon's south pole, which NASA officials say is the logical choice for Mr Bush's stated objective of "living off the land" as far as possible. The southern end faces the Sun for 75 per cent of the time and would allow for the best harvesting of solar power.

Scientists also believe that the south pole craters contain rich natural gases such as the rare helium-3 that could be used as fuel for the generation of nuclear power. In addition, teams of astronauts living there for six months at a time would mine for hydrogen and oxygen to make water and possibly rocket fuel.

"Conditions at the south pole appear to be more moderate and safer," said Shana Dale, a deputy administrator of NASA.

"Blasting fuel out of the well of Earth's gravity is immensely expensive. But if water is found on the Moon, hydrogen to make hydrogen fuel cells could be extracted."

The base plan also calls for the development of a pressurised rover vehicle that would allow astronauts to drive around on the Moon's surface without wearing spacesuits.

Dr Michael Griffin, the head of NASA, said that the project could only succeed in partnership with other countries and space agencies, especially Canada, Russia and Europe. He has likened the project to the exploration of earth's polar regions in the last century, with nations combining resources in a spirit of discovery.

China, however, is unlikely to participate despite its own significant investment in space and Dr Griffin's visit there this summer, the first by any NASA official to inspect the country's space facilities.

The level of UK involvement also remains to be seen. Britain is a junior partner in the European Space Agency and its annual contribution - $129 million in 2004-5 - is too low for a place in the organisation's human spaceflight programme, which the UK government considers of "disproportionately low scientific value".

However, Nicholas Patrick, a Yorkshire-born US astronaut whose mother is from Skye, is scheduled to venture into space tomorrow for a 12-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery.

He said he intended to lobby politicians for the country to take a bigger role.

"Britain has such a wonderful history as an exploring nation, I would hate to see it go forward without participating in the space exploration that's going on these days," said Mr Patrick, who helped design the cockpit of the new Orion spacecraft.

NASA has not announced how much the lunar base will cost but says that it can be paid for within existing budgets and with contributions from partner countries and commercial investment. The agency receives $8.6 billion annually from the US government.

Physicist Stephen Hawking, a Cambridge University professor, has previously warned that the "long-term survival of the human race is at risk" if it is confined to a single planet.

He said: "Sooner or later, disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us out. But once we spread out into space, and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe."

Professor James Lovelock, a British environmentalist who has worked with NASA designing scientific equipment to try to find life on other planets, has echoed Mr Hawking's concerns. In his book The Revenge of Gaia, he warns that climate change could almost wipe out humanity, causing the world's population to drop from 6.5 billion to as little as 500 million.

FIFTY YEARS ON AND NO END TO THE SPACE RACE

4 October, 1957: Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, is launched by the Soviet Union to analyse the Earth's atmosphere, sparking the space race

3 November, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik-2, carrying a dog, Laika, into space, making it the first spacecraft to carry a living creature

1 January, 1959: Luna-1, the first spacecraft to escape Earth's orbit, is launched. Built by the Soviets, it discovered the existence of solar wind and the fact that the Moon has no detectable magnetic field

12 April, 1961: Yuri Gagarin completes the world's first manned spaceflight, aboard a Vostok spacecraft. He is known in Russian history as the "Columbus of the cosmos"

20 July, 1969: The United States' Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, land on the surface of the Moon to take "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"

4 July, 1997: NASA's Mars Pathfinder lands and deploys the first rover on the red planet

Q & A:

Why do we need a Moon base?

NASA says a permanent lunar outpost is essential for training astronauts and testing equipment for the next generation of space exploration, notably manned missions into the solar system and an eventual landing on Mars.

Will this help us get to Mars?

The space agency says the base is crucial to such a mission because it will allow astronauts to acclimatise and prepare for such a long-duration trip (at least a 68 million mile-round trip in up to three years).

What are the dangers and obstacles?

The Moon is a harsh environment with low gravity, constantly pelted by micro-meteorites and exposed to temperature swings of hundreds of degrees. Conventional construction machinery would soon be ruined by Moon dust.

What resources are there on the Moon?

Scientists believe there are significant amounts of hydrogen which could be harvested for use as fuel. Ice deposits can provide water and craters may contain volatile gases that could be used commercially.

How much will it cost, and can NASA afford it?

NASA's original estimate of $116 billion by 2025 has been affected by many factors, not least design changes in the rockets and vehicles and inflation. The agency will not say how much it might cost now, but is banking on money saved from the 2010 retirement of the space shuttle fleet, and investment from foreign space agencies, to bolster its $8.6 billion annual budget.

What's the timetable?

NASA will send a probe to the Moon in 2008 to look for a suitable site, and plans to test-fly its first unmanned Orion spacecraft a year later. In 2014, the first manned launch is scheduled, with a Moon landing and start of construction in 2020. It is hoped astronauts will be living there by 2024.

Why didn't NASA do this at the height of the space race?

Its objectives were different then. The race was to get to the Moon, not stay there. When Congress pulled the plug on funding for the Apollo missions in 1972, the moon was forgotten and NASA concentrated on development of the shuttle.

Will space tourists be able to visit?

Probably, but not for many years. NASA has a long-standing policy of allowing only its own astronauts into space, but partner agencies, such as Russia, can and do sell seats.

How will it differ from the space station?

The Moon base is intended as a permanent outpost for use long into this century, and its primary purpose will be to prepare astronauts and equipment for onward journeys.

Will Britain be involved?

British scientists will undoubtedly contribute expertise, but the UK is not involved at a high enough level to have any major clout. -scotsmannews

Labels: ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

12/05/2006

Getting a computer for under $100 bucks...really

Right now you probably think I'm some salesman trying to rip you off and have you buy a crappy cheap computer. Well, no, I'm not. I just remember looking on the Internet for a mac and these computers came up over and over, for a little under $100.

What computer is it?

The 2001 Apple iMac Blueberry... yea back in the day they were thousand dollar "top-of-the-line" machine. Now they are cheap computers flooding eBay.

I actually bought one off these computer for a family member who wanted to learn how to use a computer, for beginners these are perfect. But for avid multi-tasking, programming, gaming, computer users, these are not ideal. Another great feature is they are actually "cool looking". No tower and monitor, the computer is the CRT monitor!

Here is some specs on these mini machines from a real eBay listing:

With this Mac, you are ready to connect to the Internet. Hook it up with the on-board Ethernet port, or the built in 56K modem and 10GB hard drive. Watch movies with the slot-loading DVD-ROM!

This iMac has everything you need installed; operating system OS X, browser, iTunes and all the other extras that comes with OS X. Power it on and experience the Apple way!

All our products have been tested and comes with a warranty against DOA. We guarantee that this will start up and be ready to run when you receive it. It comes with keyboard, mouse, and power cable.


* Apple iMac G3 Blueberry
* OS X 10.1 installed (no recovery or software CDs included)
* G3 400mHz processor
* 10GB Hard Drive
* 256 MB
* DVD-ROM
* USB on board
* FireWire
* 56K Modem
* 10/100 Ethernet on board
* Sound on board, built in speakers
* Power cord
* Apple Family Number: M5521

I/O Ports:

- USB: 2
- Video: DB-15 VGA
- Floppy: none
- Ethernet: 10/100Base-T
- FireWire: 2
- Mic Type: Built-in
- Other Ports: Speaker, Headphone,

Click here to see listings for iMac Blueberries on eBay!

-jonesey [Dawson]

Labels: ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Nine Great GPS Gadgets for Holiday Giving


Today's hottest GPS devices come packed with more than electronic road maps that provide turn-by-turn voice directions. They can be as multi-functional as a desktop scanner, printer and fax machine combination. Some of the newest devices double as a game and video player as well as an MP3 player.

Whether for business or family fun, everybody takes road trips. When traveling to unfamiliar turf, nothing can make the trip more enjoyable than not getting lost. Traditional Global Positioning Software (GPS) has come a long way. A modern GPS device is something no traveler should leave home -- or office -- without.

Today's hottest GPS devices come packed with more than electronic road maps that provide turn-by-turn voice directions. They can be as multifunctional as a desktop scanner, printer and fax machine combination. Some of the newest devices double as a game and video player as well as an MP3 player.

TechNewsWorld scoured store shelves and online shopping sites to assemble a must-have list of the best GPS gadgets available this holiday season. Any one of our nine top choices will make a gift that keeps on giving.

Vehicle Navigation Systems

Pioneer Electronics' AVIC-S1 is a compact and lightweight portable navigation device that gives drivers access to the entire map of the United States and Canada in a system slightly bigger than the palm of a hand. It is fully contained in a 4.1" x 3.5" x 0.7" chassis, which includes a 3.5-inch touch-panel display, 2 GB flash memory for map storage, SiRF Star III GPS receiver, Bluetooth support and built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery to quickly deliver door-to-door route calculations and voice instructions. US$600.

Magellan's CrossoverGPS offers voice-and text-prompted turn-by-turn driving directions with preloaded street-level maps for the 50 United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It also makes traveling through the great outdoors safe for those who could otherwise get lost via preloaded topographic contour maps. The system features a 3.5-inch color touch-screen display with a 3-D birds-eye map view. Formerly known as the "RoadMate2500T," the Magellan CrossoverGPS measures 3.4" x 4.3" x 1.1" and weighs 8.5 ounces. $549.99.

Rand McNally's GPS Navigator is one of the newest portable vehicle navigational systems on the market this season. It offers multi-stop route planning, a "detour" button to route quick trips around traffic snarls and a "Go Home" button that directs the driver home from any location.

This device comes preloaded with 26 road trips selected by Rand McNally's editors. Each trip includes recommended dining, shopping and other attractions along the route. In addition, it comes with a printed road atlas and trip planner and is programmed with maps of the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. $499.99.

Mobile Phone Services

InfoSpace's Find It! is a cool GPS gadget that works on your mobile phone. This all-in-one, GPS-based mobile local search application allows consumers to easily and quickly find everything from nearby restaurants and movie times to people, maps and driving directions.

Find It! is available on Sprint and Nextel phones for $2.99 a month. It can be used to look up nearby movie theaters, choose a film, pick a time, find a nearby pizza place and get directions. Users can choose from six categories of local information, including Dine Out, Go Out, Shop, Travel, Health and Services. Other features include: Spoken turn-by-turn directions; an expanded content library including nearby events, WiFi hotspots, entertainment, golf courses, and 15 million other points of interest. Refreshed listings are updated weekly.

Novelty Tracking Devices

SnowRanger is an innovative product that provides ski resort maps that can be downloaded to Garmin and Magellan GPS receivers. Take the GPS device onto the slopes to see where all the lodges, trails and chairlifts are on the mountain, as well as your own location, where you have been and which direction you are heading. SnowRanger currently has maps available for 54 resorts packaged into four sets for $29.95 per set, either as a download or on CD-ROM.

SlimTRACK is a wireless GPS device that secretly tracks anything that moves from your car to your kid or your kid in your car. A real-time security and tracking device, it uses global GPS and wireless Internet communication to secretly keep tabs on anything that moves. Use it to keep track of any object so you can find it.

The device can be programmed to set speed limits and distance restrictions, and to send a message when the tracked object moves or travels too far or too fast. SlimTRACK is no bigger than a deck of cards and weighs no more than a cell phone. Plus, it needs no Web service subscription. Monthly fees range from $19.95 to $49.95, plus activation fee. $499.95

Personal Navigation Devices

Mio's DigiWalker H610 is a handheld personal navigation and digital entertainment device that provides real-time directions or entertainment while driving, bicycling or walking. The H610 comes with 50 preloaded maps of the U.S. states and Canada. Use it to play digital video, photos and music, or one of four included video games. The palm-sized device lets you check weather, convert currencies, get flight info and more. A free three-year subscription is included. $431.36.

Delphi Electronics' Nav200 is a portable navigation device with entertainment features that include an MP3 player, picture viewer, movie viewer and game. It comes preloaded with U.S. and Canadian NAVTEQ maps on a 1.5 GB SD card; a 3.5-inch bright, anti-glare, full-color LCD touchscreen; and a built-in rechargeable battery. $379.

Labels: , , ,


Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

Apple launches iTunes in New Zealand

Apple has finally launched the New Zealand version of its iTunes music store, letting Kiwis download music legally to their iPods.

The iTunes store sells tracks from its two-million song catalogue for $1.79 each, with most albums costing $17.99. Music videos cost $3.59 and games cost $7.99.

New Zealand bands on the site include Shihad, Fat Freddy's Drop and Elemeno P.

It will also have free podcasts from TVNZ, Radio NZ and the Voice Booth, as well as international ones.

Shoppers need a New Zealand credit card to buy from the site, or an iTunes gift card bought from the site by credit card.

Many Kiwi music fans were feeling left out after Apple started up the Australian iTunes store last year. There have been sporadic rumours of an imminent launch since, rumours which reached a fever pitch earlier this week.

Apple needs to negotiate separately with the recording industry in each country to sell music, which is believed to have delayed the New Zealand launch.

The country is the 22nd where iTunes store has launched.

Songs from the iTunes store will play on iPods, but not on other MP3 players without first converting the tracks to MP3 files, a process which is still technically illegal in New Zealand.

Other music sites, such as Digirama, sell songs in the right format for these players, for $1.75 each. Other sites like Amplifier sell music as MP3s which can be played on any MP3 player, but these tend to be independent bands.

It is the tenth digital music store in the country, but it will likely become the dominant player quite quickly, as it has in other markets.

With two million songs in its catalogue, it will be the largest digital music store in New Zealand.-stuff

  • www.apple.co.nz
  • Labels: , , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Japanese Groups 'Seriously Concerned' About YouTube

    Copyright holders send a letter requesting that the service be more proactive in identifying and removing protected material.

    A broad group of companies and associations covering most of the Japanese entertainment industry is calling on YouTube to be more proactive in policing its Web site for copyrighted material.

    In a letter sent Monday to YouTube Chief Executive Officer Chad Hurley and Chief Technology Officer Steve Chen, the group requests YouTube start a system that proactively identifies and removes copyrighted material rather than making rights holders find it and send in complaints.

    File Deletion Ineffectual

    "Taking into account the current status of your service, we believe that your company should not just wait for rights owners to take the 'Notice and Take down' procedures but should bear the responsibility to prevent, in advance, copyright infringements such as illegal uploads and distributions, or to avoid those infringements," said the letter, a copy of which was distributed to media today by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC).

    Monday's letter is signed by JASRAC and 22 other organizations including the Motion Picture Producers' Association of Japan, the Japan Video Software Association, the Association of Japanese Animations, all of the major commercial TV broadcasters, the Japan Satellite Broadcasting Association, the Recording Industry Association of Japan, and Yahoo Japan.

    It comes a month and a half after YouTube deleted 29,549 files based on a complaint filed by JASRAC. The association said the files in question infringed on the rights of 23 Japanese content companies. Neither that complaint nor YouTube's action could stop users from re-uploading content to the site, and plenty of clips from Japanese TV shows can again be found on YouTube.

    Prompt Action Requested

    "We are seriously concerned about the current situation where the Notice and Takedown scheme, aimed [at preventing] copyright infringements, is not functioning well due to the large amount of illegal uploads," the letter said.

    "While we expect you to promptly take adequate and necessary measures to prevent copyright infringement on the YouTube Web site, until you do so, we request you to take provisional measures ... in order to prevent illegal uploads of audio-visual works, which copyrights are neither owned by the persons posting the works on the Web site themselves nor licensed by the right owners."

    The preventative measures requested by the group include the posting of a message in Japanese on the YouTube home page warning that posting copyrighted material can be illegal and that users may be liable to civil or criminal prosecution; and a register of names and addresses of users posting content and the termination on-request of user accounts that are used or have been used since June 2006 illegally to upload copyrighted material.

    The group also requests a reply to the letter by December 15.

    YouTube could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Labels: , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Yahoo! and Reuters want your news images

    The You Witness News page at Yahoo will incorporate user-generated images and video to illustrate and enhance stories on Yahoo News and Reuters.com. Payment plans are vague, however.

    If you witness news, Reuters and Yahoo want you to share. Starting on Tuesday, the two companies will begin accepting photographs and videos of news events from Internet users and placing user-generated content with related online news stories.

    Following in the footsteps of Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, photo journalist Robert Capa, Kennedy assassination videographer Abraham Zapruder, and today's YouTube video-activists, You Witness News deputizes anyone armed with electronics as a member of much maligned media. The initiative continues Yahoo's effort to derive value from its user base and shows that traditional media companies like Reuters recognize the merits of "crowdsourcing."

    "The goal of creating this service is to essentially take advantage of all of the people who are out there with cell phone cameras or portable video cameras who may be a witness to breaking news and give them a very easy one-click access to a global news audience online," says Scott Moore, head of news and information at the Yahoo Media Group.

    The You Witness News page on Yahoo will be used to solicit user-generated images and videos in order to illustrate and enhance stories on Yahoo News and Reuters.com. And Reuters plans soon to distribute select submissions to its print and broadcast news customers.

    Plans to pay users for their contributions remain vague but Moore says both companies plan some form of reward. "We do intend to compensate users who contribute valuable photos and video," says Moore. "That's partly why we did the partnership with Reuters. It's not like anybody is going to make a living doing this but we recognize that there is commercial value in these kinds of images and videos, and we are going to have a mechanism that at least allows people to get paid for their contributions."

    Initially, Yahoo will be offering a social reward in the form of online profiles that show what users have submitted. "The main value proposition for people who witness news and capture it in some way is that they are going to have the opportunity to take their experience and share it with literally tens of millions of people around the world instantaneously," says Moore, though he adds, "We may compensate people too for contributions that we only run on Yahoo News."

    Reuters plans to compensate photographers and videographers when it distributes their work to its news clients. The details are still being worked out.

    Submitted material will be screened by editors to separate the good from the bad and fraudulent. This is an issue of particular importance to Reuters, which in early August withdrew photos filed by a freelancer based in the Middle East after revelations that some of the photographer's images were inappropriately manipulated.

    Labels: , , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    How Wii Defeated the PS3 and the Xbox 360


    Some people might think the consoles are engaged in some fierce battle for supremacy. Well, things are rather different.

    Let’s turn back in time a bit: when the initial edition of Xbox first appeared in 2001, its declared rival was clearly the PS2. Despite the Gargantuan dimensions it managed to reap applauses and the prize for the best gaming console at that time. Every gamer thought at Microsoft’s product as a daring and fruitful endeavor, from which all could benefit (competition is good in for the industry).

    The superior processing power Xbox brought (compared to the PS2) forced Sony to think at something that they would later call “a gaming PC” (the PS3). This is important, because the competition between the two giants (Sony and Microsoft) actually deepened the old path in gaming: better games means better graphics and in-game physics (in one word- realism). This is what the hardcore gamers like.

    The following years have proven once more that evolution for games is intrinsically linked to the powerful hardware built for them. It is clear that games (for both PC and consoles) are among the most demanding software applications today, requiring more and more processing capabilities from the platforms they run onto. But this also means higher costs, for producers and for buyers alike. It is where Xbox 360 and PS3 are now included (if we ignore the PC, which is the classical example…).

    If we were to find a single defining trait that would characterize the PS3 and the Xbox 360, that would definitely be power (I am omitting Wii intentionally). Compared to their predecessors and their greatest rival, the PC, next-gen gaming consoles are a lot more evolved concerning internal hardware. This allows them first to run games at higher FPS even on HD screens, bringing also a more realistic game-physics to the panel.

    The second most important trait about Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is the optical drive that comes with them. Many are still considering the PS3 as merely a Blu Ray player that sells for only $600. It is a wrong point of view, but it has implications in the other battle Sony is involved in: the HD DVD vs. Blu Ray. Depending on the winner (if there’s ever going to be one…) games will be packed either for HD DVD (favored by Microsoft) or for Blu Ray (Sony’s turf). It is not far fetched to imagine in 5-10 years from now on games that will measure not less than 50GB, with huge high-resolution textures and extremely complex gameplay. This is what awaits us if the Blu Ray wins. This will make Crysis (the famous PC game that will illustrate Vista’s Direct X 10 capabilities) look like an arcade game…

    Packing a lot of processing power is what actually defines the next-generation gaming, according to many analysts. But is it enough? Besides these hardware improvements and their implications next-gen consoles have brought little innovation: controlling a car or a 3D character is still quite difficult and sometimes boring. Microsoft tried to compensate this by introducing on Xbox Live a series of improvements from…the past: arcade games and pack of HD TV shows and movies. So actually what Microsoft did was to somehow deny and also underline the fact that Xbox 360 is a next gen console (arcade games vs. HD offer). Sony will follow that trend too: Vice President of Technology for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Paul Holman said that Sony plans to release a series of firmware upgrades, similar to the PSP, that will enable the PS3 to become more media center oriented and allow for third-party applications and hardware.

    It is thus interesting to consider that next generation gaming consoles are naturally evolving towards a PC (this is what Sony claims about PS3), but in different paths: while MS doesn’t want gamers to think Xbox 360 is more of a PC (because it would affect the Games for Windows program; generally, gaming is the second most important activity for Windows users, occupying about 18% of their time), Sony is counting on making PS3 look like a powerful and cheap PC (simply because they just don’t have their OS installed on more than 90% of all computers in the world).

    Right now, we are witnessing a hierarchy with PS3 at the top (the “boss’ of consoles in almost every aspect possible: weight, dimensions, processing capabilities and price), the Xbox 360 in its immediate vicinity (cheaper, plenty of additional services to choose from, attractive software package and connectivity with other platforms, especially Windows) and the “outsider” Wii.

    I intentionally left Wii as a separate chapter because of a declaration that Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, gave at this year’s E3: that Wii is not a next generation console and that it does not compete with Wii.

    You can look at Wii whatever you want, but you cannot ignore it, despite of its outsider status. Actually if we take in consideration the numbers we might just have the huge surprise that Wii is the winner of the console war, at least until now: there have been sold more than a million Wii consoles in less than a month, far beyond what Sony managed to sell and close to what MS declared about its Xbox 360.

    It is interesting to talk about Nintendo’s strategy before and after Wii’s launch. While Sony and Microsoft preferred to improve products that have already gained popularity and established a worldwide brand (Xbox vs PlayStation), Nintendo preferred to revolutionize gaming with Wii (by the way, the console’s code name was Revolution).

    Starting with the odd name and continuing with the unusual dual-control system, Wii is clearly…something different. Compared to Xbox and PS, Wii has lower production costs and thus a lower price at retail shops. It has a “weaker” hardware, but has a wider range of addressability.

    What Wii does is nothing more than follow the line of success established by its even smaller brother, the DS. In Japan, home of one the most powerful gaming communities in the world, Nintendo DS beats PSP by a factor of 1 to 5. DS has shown that today’s gaming can be fun without being extremely complicated and the fact that Nintendo launched the DS Lite especially for Europe demonstrates how popular this handheld console is in this part of the world.

    Wii is merely repeating the success of DS: cheaper, innovative and addressing the masses (the slogan used in the ad campaign for Wii is “gaming for the masses”, while Wii-the name- was chosen because of its resemblance with “we”).

    Wii “exploits” categories of gamers that Xbox 360 or PS3 ignore: women, elderly people and small children. They can all play Wii Sports, a game which has been voted as ‘Best Sports Game’ at E3 2006, but not everyone can play Halo 2. Games for Wii are not necessarily full of modern effects like soft shadows, bump mapping or specular lighting (although that doesn’t mean they don’t exist), but it seems gamers are not really missing them. Splinter Cell Double Agent for example, has the same gameplay and almost the same look on all platforms (PC, Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360) but what makes the difference is the feeling that the gamer has while pushing buttons on the keyboard, tilting the controller or holding the Nunchak. Actually, Wii’s controllers are another sweet innovation which makes it so attractive: it brings gaming to a level that PS3 and Xbox 360 don’t even dream of. Wii makes gaming more physically active: you don’t just sit on the couch or in front of the LCD screen, you move while playing, and thus your gaming experience is transformed.

    In the end, Wii also demonstrates that a game is not all about fancy graphics and astounding physics. People play Mario on Wii with probably the same pleasure they did 10 years ago. And this pleasure is felt by all categories of gamers: even those who play Halo or FEAR are impressed. You could say that Wii brings back memories from the arcade era, but it does that in an original and also modern way and MS or Sony should take that originality in consideration. -playfuls

    Labels: , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Sony Launches PlayStation Download Service


    Sony has introduced the first titles for its PlayStation downloads service and the company is expecting to add additional titles later this month as well. Each game so far is priced at $5.99. For the time being these are only playable on the PSP, however.

    The much talked about PlayStation download service has finally made its debut. By logging on to the PlayStation Store, PS3 owners can now choose from an initial five PS1 games, each $5.99: Cool Boarders, Crash Bandicoot, Hot Shots Golf 2, Syphon Filter, and Tekken 2.

    Currently, in order to play these games you will also need a PlayStation Portable. After downloading a PS1 game, you can then hook up your PSP to your PS3 and transfer the game (assuming you have enough space on your memory stick). The largest game so far is Tekken 2, coming in at a hefty 535MB. It should be noted that the multiplayer functionality in these titles will not work, because the old code has not been modified to support Wi-Fi.

    Sony said that a second batch of PlayStation titles is already being planned for release later this month, and additional first and third-party titles will be added "on an ongoing basis."

    "Downloadable PlayStation emulated games on the PSP is just the beginning, but it underscores our vision for leveraging the wide breadth of content that's available from the PlayStation brand, and delivers value to gamers well beyond the initial purchase of their PS3 and PSP," said Peter Dille, senior vice-president product marketing of SCEA. "We built every system with a hard disk drive and offer every customer free access to the PlayStation Store so they can experience the full extent of the PlayStation library. We'll offer additional PlayStation games to the PlayStation Store on a regular basis."

    Sony has previously told us that the PlayStation downloads will also be playable directly on the PS3 itself, so that is something we can probably expect in the near future. Moreover, this service is not meant to replace the PSP downloads site, so if you do not own a PS3, eventually you should be able to download PS1 titles directly to the PSP or from a PC and then transfer them over to the PSP.-gamedailyBIZ

    Labels: , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    REPORT: A lot more people use Firefox than any other browser

    Ok, I have good news. People are making the switch. What switch? The switch to a better, safer, faster browser [thats free], Firefox [click the link to download]. I looked at my browser statistics [in a chart]. And I placed it below. it shows a clearly larger difference.

    Take a look:

    Click here to see the chart

    -jonesey

    Labels: , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Digg founder dishes iPhone specs

    Kevin Rose might be getting a phone call from Steve Jobs today.

    In the latest episode of his weekly Diggnation podcast with Alex Albrecht, Rose claimed--in between swigs of what appears to be a 24-ounce bottle of the very tasty Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic--to have the dirt on Apple Computer's long-rumored iPhone combination cell phone/iPod device. There's no shortage of blogs and Apple watchers predicting the imminent arrival of the iPhone, but MacRumors.com notes that Rose accurately predicted the news from last January's Macworld and also called the iPod Nano, so we're willing to listen. Especially when it's this entertaining.

    First of all, Rose doesn't call it the iPhone, just the "Apple phone." Its most distinguishing feature? "It's going to be small as s**t," the Digg founder said.

    Apple will use two batteries in the phone, one for the music player and one for the phone, Rose said. That way, you can run down the battery on the music player but still be able to make and receive calls on the phone. It will have a slide-out keyboard for text messages or e-mail, and "touch screen on the outside," he said. Apple has filed for several patents related to touch-screen functionality on the sides of an iPod-like device.

    Two versions are planned, a 4GB phone for $249 and an 8GB phone for $449, Rose said. The phone is also being made for both GSM and CDMA networks, he said, also claiming there was support for a third network called "Sprint PCS." We'll overlook this one, since Sprint uses CDMA technology, and guess that Rose might have been talking about Nextel's network, now owned by Sprint.

    It sounds like Rose is expecting to hear the news officially from Apple in January, when the company will host Macworld in San Francisco. He seemed a little nervous about talking out of school about Apple's phone, asking Albrecht at one point, "Is that illegal when you say s**t like that?" Albrecht reassured him that if he didn't sign anything, it's probably cool. -cnet

    Labels: , , , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Why Vista might be the last of its kind

    Imagine this. One of the world's most powerful monopolies puts 10,000 people to work for five years to create one new product. And nobody is really sure if anyone wants it. How's that for a gamble?

    That's what we have with Windows Vista, the new computer-operating system from Microsoft that debuted last week for businesses and, next month, for consumers. There has been so much buildup for this moment that you would expect Vista to cure cancer.

    It's been so long in coming that I'll just be happy if it does the job and doesn't present me with a daily dose of the Blue Screen of Death. Already experts are predicting Vista may be the last of its kind. Obsolete before it's out the door? Geez, we haven't even had a chance to open our wallets yet.

    "Suddenly, the market changed and competitors started delivering technology at the speed of the Internet," said James McQuivey, professor of market research at Boston University. "In some cases, they do it for free, and that's painful for Microsoft."

    Redmond giant

    The theory about the threat to the Redmond giant goes like this: Microsoft made Vista the old-fashioned way, as a single packaged product that it puts on a disk so users can buy it in a store and load it onto their computers.

    By contrast, rivals such as Google are creating spreadsheets and browsers that you simply download from a computer server, which delivers what you need to your desktop as you need it. If Google follows through with more offerings of free, ad-supported software over the Internet, Microsoft won't be able to charge a premium for its operating systems anymore. Nobody will need its big upgrades anymore.

    Suppose this threat, or the one from the free Linux operating system, is real. Maybe Microsoft will have to issue smaller upgrades every year or so to keep up. You have to wonder if it is possible or wise for Microsoft to throw more money at a future project than it has thrown at Vista. This will probably be the last operating system from Bill Gates, who retires to do philanthropy in 2008. Was it worth it?



    It's worth noting just how complex Vista became. BusinessWeek estimates it took 10,000 employees about five years to ship Vista.

    In an interview with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer a few weeks ago, I asked if he had added up how much money it cost to develop Vista. He laughed, "I can't say I have. It would be impossible to count up. ... I'm sure it's a lot."

    If we assume Microsoft's costs per employee are about $200,000 a year, the estimated payroll costs alone for Vista hover around $10 billion. That has to be close to the costs of some of the biggest engineering projects ever undertaken, such as the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb during World War II. And while Microsoft toiled on Vista, its stock price stayed flat.

    So many things went wrong with the building of Vista that it's hard to know where it all started. The original code name was Longhorn, kicked off in 2001 after Windows XP shipped.

    The company tried to pioneer on a lot of fronts, trying to change the code language used to write the operating system and fiddling with the basic file system the software uses as its foundation.

    It pondered many ideas for 3-D interfaces that would help users navigate the computer more easily. Not everything worked. After a few years, the company aimed lower.

    Ballmer says Microsoft tried to innovate too much. So the company reorganized and tried to placate impatient consumers by shipping Service Pack 2 for Windows XP then rebooted the whole Vista effort in mid-2004. It's hard to imagine exactly how much Microsoft flushed down the toilet.

    Microsoft has more than 500 early business customers for Vista, but companies by and large are expected to shrug at it, at least until Microsoft comes out with a service pack, or a new version that patches all the expected holes.

    A survey by CDW, which supplies computers to businesses, found that only 20 percent of businesses plan to upgrade to Vista in the first 12 months after its release.

    Monopoly profits

    Still, Microsoft stands to reap monopoly profits if Vista takes off. Analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies estimates Vista will be running on 76 million computers by the end of next year.

    And Vista sales should contribute $11.5 billion to operating profits from Windows in the year that ends June 30, 2007, according to Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Jason Maynard.

    So Microsoft comes out with a product a couple of years late and it is still expected to hang on to the monopoly because it has no direct parallel competitor.

    Those in other markets don't get away with this. Sony's delays with the PlayStation 3 video-game unit probably mean it will lose market share to Microsoft and Nintendo. No such catastrophe is awaiting Microsoft.

    I've been playing around with the test version of Vista. It appears to accomplish things we ought to take for granted: better reliability, compatibility, security, search capability and task management. That said, it doesn't feel like a product that is the fruit of 10,000 brilliant minds and $10 billion in resources.

    When I think about how much Microsoft poured into Vista, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a longtime Microserf.

    "I think about what it could have been," he said.

    Labels: , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    PSone Games Now Available for PSP


    December 4, 2006 - Sony Computer Entertainment today has released the first five PlayStation games for download via the PlayStation Store. Currently available for play on the PSP, CoolBoarders, Crash Bandicoot, Hot Shots Golf 2, Syphon Filter and Tekken 2 are on sale for $5.99 each.

    Though a PlayStation 3 is required to download the games, they can only be saved directly to a PSP and not temporarily stored on the PS3's hard drive. After purchase, two files are downloaded - the game file (which can be up to 600MB or so) and the license file, a small document that prevents illegal copying.

    A number of universal control schemes are available in each game, giving you the option of how to emulate the lack of the L2 and R2 buttons. Each configuration uses either the D-Pad or analog stick for inputting L2 and R2, either by using a directional press to trigger them or alt-shifting the PSP's L and R buttons.

    By default, each game's description on the PlayStation Store comes with this bit of text: "This title has been converted from the original PlayStation disc to the PSP system. Consequently, there may be times where the title plays differently from the PlayStation disc version, or where some features do not function properly. This version does not support PlayStation peripherals (Controller, Memory Card, Multitap, etc.), therefore functionality such as multiplayer, versus, and co-op modes will not be available." -ign

    Labels: , , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Worm targets Myspace users

    This ones scary, I don't have a Myspace, it seems to "difficult to use" with profiles and stuff, it is easy to edit though.


    MySpace users have been hit with a new worm that spreads through a malicious video, changing users' profiles by adding links to phishing websites as it goes.



    Embedded in a QuickTime video, the worm exploits a cross-site scripting flaw on MySpace and the HREF track feature in QuickTime. The infected file also embeds itself in the user's profile, allowing it to spread further throughout the network of over 120 million profiles. Once the movie has been viewed by a MySpace user, it infects their profile.

    "The vulnerabilities are being used to replace the legitimate links on the user's MySpace profile with links to a phishing site," said Websense.

    Phishing websites attempt to gather confidential information from users, such as passwords and PINs for financial websites.

    "Once a user's MySpace profile is infected (by viewing a malicious embedded QuickTime video), that profile is modified in two ways. The links in the user's page are replaced with links to a phishing site, and a copy of the malicious QuickTime video is embedded into the user's site. Any other users who visit this newly-infected profile may have their own profile infected as well," said Websense.

    The affected sites have a blue navigation bar that is not usually found on the pages, along with the links to the fake sites. Internet Explorer users are reported to be most vulnerable to the worm.

    Conor Flynn, technical director, Rits, told ENN that virus writers are now viewing social networking websites as a way to spread their malicious code. "People have taken to these sites in huge numbers. They have a reasonably high level of confidence in the material they are getting from them," he said.

    However, MySpace and similar sites do not take responsibility for the content that is posted, and as such, the content's integrity should be taken with a pinch of salt, Flynn said.

    To combat further security threats, Flynn warned that users need to be vigilant about keeping all their software up to date, including video applications such as QuickTime, Windows Media Player and RealPlayer. He recommended turning on automatic updates for these applications.

    Although the majority of concerns about social networking and video sites revolve around copyright and the suitability of content, this is not the first time MySpace has been involved in a security scare. The site has previously been used to spread the Samy and Spaceflash worms.

    The social networking website was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp in 2005 for USD580 million. -electicnews

    Labels: , , , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    Toshiba Debuts 100GB Capacity 1.8 inch HD

    Toshiba Corp. has debuted a 1.8-inch hard disk drive with the largest storage capacity achieved yet in its class: a whopping 100 GBs. Although this might seem unnecessarily large, such storage is becoming increasingly essential to support personal digital media applications consisting of high-capacity audio and video.

    The MK1011GAH drive employs perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology and an improved error correction code to secure what Toshiba claims to be the highest areal density of any 1.8-inch HDD in the market (240.8 megabits per square millimeter, 155.3 gigabits per square inch). The drive also boasts improved power consumption (0.003W/GB), ensuring a more environmentally-friendly design; and complies with the EU’s RoHS directive. Data transfer rate is 100 MB/sec.

    “This latest Toshiba advance meets the needs for enhanced, lightweight storage capacities, and will support the development of future generations of smaller, lighter, more powerful mobile PC,” said the firm. “In the personal digital media market, the new drive's unrivaled capacity will support storage of multiple data sources, including home video and movies, and will bring users improved functionality.”

    Toshiba will commence mass production of the MK1011GAH drive in January 2007. The drive will also be on display at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 8-11. -marketnews

    Labels: , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.

    12/04/2006

    Nintendo's Wii Launches in Japan to Huge Crowds


    TOKYO — Nintendo's Wii video game system hit Japanese stores Saturday with long lineups and shortages, following its sellout U.S. launch last month.

    More than 3,000 people braved frosty weather to line up at downtown Tokyo electronics retailer "Bog Camera", hoping to get their hands on the console, said store spokeswoman Naoko Ito.

    The store started turning people away at 5:40 a.m. local time — more than an hour before doors opened — and Wiis were sold out "for the foreseeable future," Ito said.

    Earlier, crowd-control staff at the store, trying to avoid a stampede, used megaphones to urge shoppers to stop pushing.

    Short supplies were reported elsewhere in the capital.

    With the Wii, Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. — which brought the world the mustachioed plumber Super Mario, as well as Gameboy hand-held game machines — hopes to challenge the dominance of Sony Corp. (SNE) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)) in the game console market.

    Unlike its rivals' high-powered consoles, Nintendo's Wii puts simplicity above fancy graphics and computing horsepower.

    The Wii's remote-control wand can be swung like a tennis racket, fishing pole, or orchestra baton in easy-to-play games the company hopes will appeal to a wider audience than the traditional young male demographic.

    That will be especially crucial in Japan, where a graying population has made the game industry's growth sluggish in recent years.

    The Wii has a price advantage at $250 — about half of Sony's PlayStation 3 at roughly $500 or $600, depending on the model.

    Microsoft's Xbox 360, which launched last year, sells for $300 to $400.

    Nintendo also has more machines for sale. Nearly 400,000 Wiis were available for the Japan launch date. U.S. shoppers snapped up more than 600,000 of its Wii video game systems in the week after its launch there on Nov. 19.

    Sony had just 100,000 PS3s in Japan and 400,000 consoles in the U.S. when they debuted last month.

    Production problems have pushed PlayStation's European launch back to March.

    Analysts expect Wii to mount a serious challenge to Sony's 70 percent market share, which it built with previous PlayStation consoles.

    Sony has sold more than 200 million PlayStation series machines over the years.

    Nomura Securities Co. analyst Yuta Sakurai said last month he expected Nintendo to sell 40 million machines, compared with 70 million Playstation 3 consoles in the next five years.

    More critically, the profit is also likely to be better for Nintendo, while Sony is losing money for every PS3 console it sells until it gets a return on its huge investments.

    Sony is expecting to rack up 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in red ink in its game unit for the fiscal year ending March 2007, much of it in startup costs for PlayStation 3. By contrast, Nintendo is forecasting profit of 100 billion yen ($845 million) for the fiscal year, as Wii buoys earnings in the second half. -foxnews

    Labels: , ,


    Post to del.icio.us | Digg it.


     


    Add to Technorati Favorites

     

    Popular posts

    None yet!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     

     

    2006 / Strictly | Tech

    Creative Commons License
    All articles and website template is licensed under a:
    Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.