Friday, February 27, 2009

White-Hat Hacker Competition Targets iPhone
Those white-hat-wearing, security-exploit-finding folks over at TippingPoint Digital Vaccine Laboratories are at it again. At the CanSecWest 2009, digital security conference to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, next month, TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) team will be sponsoring their third annual Pwn2Own contest. This time around, contestants will be attempting to demonstrate vulnerabilities of smartphones and browsers...
Swedish Youth Group Says WOW is Like Cocaine
In what is sure to cause great debate (and probably a healthy stream of jokes and parodies as well), the founder of a Swedish youth organization is singling out World of Warcraft as a very addictive game. How addictive? He has labeled World of Warcraft as "the cocaine of the computer games world...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Google Lauds Transparency With Status Dashboard
Perhaps getting its inspiration from President Obama's joint address to Congress and the American people this last Tuesday, Google has decided to also increase its transparency with the public. In actuality, Google's decision probably has more to do with Tuesday's Gmail outage, which lasted for about two and a half hours. (The fact that both the President's address and the outage happened on the same day is surely just a coincidence... Although conspiracy theorists may say otherwise...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blu-ray to Be Less Expensive Soon
Blu-ray might have won the high-definition (HD) disc format wars, but it still has a long way to go before it wins a place in our living rooms... If it ever does. In fact, physical media is seeing increasing competition for our eyeballs from Internet streaming and download sources, such as Netflix and Vudu. Further complicating matters is that Blu-ray equipment and media are perceived as being too expensive for most folks, especially when compared against the cost of DVD equipment and media--the very format that Blu-ray is supposed to supplant. In a move that should bring down the price of Blu-ray equipment and media, three of the nine founding members of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), are proposing the establishment of "a one-stop-shop license for Blu-ray Disc products...
$100 MS SideWinder X8 Gaming Mouse Available
Microsoft's latest gaming mouse, the SideWinder X8, is about to hit the physical store and virtual online shelves for an estimated price of $99.95. Microsoft originally announced the 4,000-dpi, wireless, Microsoft BlueTrack Technology-based, gaming mouse last September, and promised that it would be available by February 2009--it looks like Microsoft will deliver it on time with just days to spare...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Flexible Touch-Screen Display Created
Arizona State University (ASU) announced today that its Flexible Display Center (FDC) has created what it claims is the first flexible, touch-screen display. The prototype is a thin active-matrix display with grayscale support, laid out on a "flexible, glass-free substrate." The display is capable of "real-time user input" via finger touch or stylus...
Vudu to Offer HD Movie Download Purchases
Vudu, a movie and TV show download service provider, has just given us yet another reason why we never need to leave the house. Vudu announced today that it is making high-definition (HD) downloaded titles available for purchase. A number of online movie and TV show sources, such as Apple, Amazon, CinemaNow, as well as Vudu, currently offer HD movie and TV show downloads as rentals, but this marks the first time that HD downloaded titles will be available for purchase...

Monday, February 23, 2009

TV & Video Viewing on the Rise
The numbers are in for Americans' TV and video consumption, and The Nielsen Company reports that our TV and video watching habits have reached new heights. Whether this is the natural progression of a long-standing trend, a byproduct of more people staying home because of the recession, or perhaps a combination of the two, Nielsen states that "the average American watches more than 151 hours of TV per month"--which averages out to over five hours of TV per day--"an all-time high...
World's Highest-Resolution Satellite Imagery
If you ever have that nagging feeling that you are being watched, you might not be wrong. But with your watcher being 423 miles above you, you might have a hard time confirming your suspicions. And while being spied upon from such a distance may seem like not much detail can be realized, you might be in for a surprise--the GeoEye-1 Satellite, which just achieved "full operational capability certification from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency" (NGA), can capture images on the ground down to 0.41 meters (or about 16 inches). GeoEye claims that the GeoEye-1 now delivers "the world's highest resolution, most-accurate satellite imagery...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quake Live Beta Open to All on Feb. 24
Few gaming franchises have been as popular as id Software's Quake series has. For some time now, Quake fans have know about the pending release of the next Quake iteration, Quake Live. In fact, some lucky players have been fortunate enough to play the still-in-development game as they participated in id's closed-beta testing program. But in just four days from now, anyone who wants to, should be able to get a hands-on peek at Quake Live, as id opens up the beta program to the general public: A very simple-looking page at the Quake Live site states...
The Future of Netflix is All About Streaming
A great debate is raging as to what the future of video distribution will look like. On one side of the debate are those who claim that physical discs like DVDs, Blu-ray, and whatever format will eventually supplant Blu-ray, will always deliver a superior viewing experience than anything that will be available via streaming or on-demand content. Pundits on the other side of the debate--and this is the side that appears to gaining the most momentum--say that as broadband's footprint continues to expand, throughput speeds continue to increase, advances continue to improve in compression technologies, and more consumer electronics devices gain access to streaming content, the inevitable future of video distribution will increasingly depend on online access...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

OCZ Announces a Budget Illuminated Keyboard
OCZ Technology's products gets covered a lot at HotHardware.com and on other enthusiast sites, as OCZ regularly churns out high-end system components, such as high-speed system memory, flash memory-based devices, power supply units, and CPU cooling solutions on a regular basis. With all these components devoted to speeding up the innards of enthusiast rigs, it might come as surprise to some that OCZ also dabbles in exterior peripherals as well, such as keyboards and mice. As it's been more than a month since OCZ's last product announcement, the company probably figured it must be time to announce its latest addition--this time a backlit multimedia keyboard, the Alchemy Series Illuminati Keyboard...
Hulu Pulls Its Content Off Boxee
If you use your computer for watching TV shows and movies or listening to music--especially when this media is streaming to your PC from over the Internet--there is a good chance that you've at least heard of boxee, or perhaps you even use it. Boxee is a free, open-source, cross-platform, media center application that has quickly become very popular, not just with users, but also even with device manufacturers who have taken notice and are figuring out how to integrate boxee into their multimedia devices, such as set-top boxes. But apparently, boxee has a few detractors as well in form of some content providers; and as a direct result of the complaints from the content providers, the ability to watch Hulu on boxee--perhaps boxee's most popular feature--is being pulled...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WD Launches an Easy-to-Use NAS Device
Perhaps the second-most prevalent reason why people don't back up the data on their computers is that they think it is too difficult or time-consuming. (The main reason why users don't back up their data is that they don't realize that they should--until it's too late--but that's a discussion for another time.) If backing up was truly seamless, then a lot more people would likely do it and far fewer folks would wake up to the rude surprise that years of photos, ripped CDs, and e-mails were gone in the blink of an eye when their system's hard drive unceremoniously died...
Universal Mobile Phone Charger By 2012
It might be difficult to believe, but 17 different mobile phone manufacturers and mobile service providers all agree on something that will actually make your mobile life a little easier in the coming years. Unfortunately, it is nothing as earth shattering as agreeing on a standard mobile operating system or reducing handset or service costs industry-wide, but more of a gesture of convenience, energy efficiency, and less environmental impact: they have all agreed to adopt a "universal charging solution for mobile phones" by January 1, 2012...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yahoo! Mobile for iPhone and Other Smartphones
Move over Google, Yahoo! is looking to compete for prime real estate on the iPhone's home screen. Today at the Mobile World Congress 2009 show in Barcelona Spain, Yahoo! announced the launch of its new Yahoo! Mobile service, which will be available as an application and Web service, for not just the iPhone, but for a slew of different smartphone platforms...
HTC Magic is the World's Second Android Phone
Despite all the hoopla surrounding Google's Android open-source operating system for smartphones, so far only one phone is available to date that actually runs the Android OS--the HTC Dream (also knon as the T-Mobile G1). The HTC Dream is finally going to get some company in the form of only the second official Android phone to be announced--also from HTC--the HTC Magic...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nokia Readies Its Ovi App Store For Smartphones
Nokia has officially announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, that it is launching an app store for its smartphones, which Nokia is calling the Ovi Store. The Ovi Store will be open to developers to upload content starting next month, and it will be ready for users to start downloading content beginning in May. The Ovi Store comes on the heels of Apple's highly successful App Store for its iPhone and iPod touch devices, and the growing Android Market for the nascent Android platform...
Review: Asus Eee Top ET1602
With its Eee family of netbook and nettop PCs, Asus seems to have cornered the market on small-form-factor, lightweight, low-power, inexpensive computers. A nettop can be a second or third system when space is tight and all you need to do is surf the Web, listen to music, or look at photos. (Nettops are sometimes referred to as the perfect PC for the kitchen; you can add looking up recipes to the list as well.) Asus had a hit last fall with its diminutive, $349.99 Eee Box nettop, and now it looks to repeat that success with the Eee Top ET1602...
Advanced Flash Lite Coming to More Smartphones
Adobe has announced today at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, that it is working on a new version of its Flash Lite Distributable Player, which is designed to bring Adobe Flash 10 functionality to smartphones. The Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 Distributable Player is available now as a beta for 11 Windows Mobile and 11 Nokia S60 (Symbian OS) devices (the list of compatible phones can be found here)...

Friday, February 13, 2009

The App Store Competition Cometh
There is no denying the popularity of Apple's App store, which offers free and paid applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. By some reports, almost 21,000 apps are currently available for download from the App Store--a very impressive metric, considering that the App Store is only seven months old. But the iPhone is not the only smartphone with a centralized location from where users can download applications for their devices; and the marketplace for smartphone downloads is about to get a lot more crowded...
Samsung Introduces a Solar Powered Mobile Phone
Samsung has just introduced a product that Al Gore should love. Actually, anyone who cares about the environment and wants to wear their "green" concern on their sleeve--or in this case, in their hand or next to their ear--should find Samsung's new solar-powered, "Blue Earth" touch-screen phone an appealing way to stay connected in style, while producing less climate-damaging CO2 in the process...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

YouTube Enables Video Downloads
YouTube has announced that after over three years of streaming user-uploaded video, it is shutting down... Or at least that is what we thought when we first saw the headline of the blog entry that went up today on YouTube's official blog. The headline read: "YouTube Goes Offline." No, YouTube is alive and strong and isn't going anywhere (at least that we know of). What the upon-first-glance, potentially-misleading title is actually referring to is that YouTube is now enabling, sanctioned video downloads. That's what "offline" refers to--you can now download videos and watch them offline, instead of only while online. Get it?...
Many Worldwide Mobile Phone Users Surf the Web
With the iPhone, HTC G1, and Palm Pre garnering all the mobile phone headlines lately, sometimes it's easy to forget that these aren't the only smartphones in existence (actually, the Palm Pre isn't even available yet). The number-crunchers over at AdMob have just reminded us of this fact with the release of its latest AdMob Metrics Report, which gives an overview of which are currently the most-used phones for getting Internet access. They also report on where geographically mobile users are using Wi-Fi to get online...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Google's Power to the People Project
Google wants to empower you with the knowledge of how your home appliances consume power. Combining grassroots efforts, "policy advocacy," "developing consumer tools, and even investing in smart grid companies," Google is looking to find ways to make consumers more informed about how they consume power. With this knowledge, Google hopes that people will use the information to find ways to cut back on their energy consumption in order to save money and lower their carbon emissions...

Monday, February 9, 2009

OpenDNS and Kaspersky Take On Conficker
Internet security and infrastructure service provider, OpenDNS, and security software provider, Kaspersky Lab, have collaborated to help alert users that their systems are infected by one of the "most widely-spread" worms to come our way, the Conficker worm. The Conficker worm, which is also called Kido and Downadup, first popped up "in late 2008," and according to some reports has already infected "as many as 15 million computers around the world...
Woz To Be a Contestant on Dancing With the Stars
Steve Wozniak is famous for many things, including co-founding Apple Computer with Steve Jobs, creating the Apple I and Apple II computers, bringing the first universal TV remote control to market, crashing an airplane, teaching high school, organizing the US Festivals, and even playing Segway polo; but perhaps one of few things he is not publically know for is being a dancer. But now in a growing list of new endeavors, Wozniak--also known as "The Woz"--will be putting on his dancing shoes (presumably without his ubiquitous Segway) and joining the cast as a contestant on the eighth season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, which premieres on March 9...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Potential Security Issue in Google Latitude
Only one day after Google has released its social networking, location-aware application, Google Latitude, a privacy advocacy group is claiming that Google Latitude has "a fundamental design problem that could substantially endanger user privacy." Even though Google Latitude is designed to minimize privacy risks, Privacy International claims that Google Latitude's current opt-in system is still not secure enough...
Parking Violation Notices Lead to Malware
Using a combination of social engineering and malicious software, an innovative new way to get people to install malware on their computers has recently popped up, and it all starts with finding a flier on your car's windshield stating that your car is illegally parked. The fliers are fake, but they prey on people's fears by stating, "PARKING VIOLATION This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to website-redacted." These fake fliers started appearing on windshields in the Grand Forks, North Dakota area a few days ago...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

USB-Based 7-Inch Secondary Displays
Sometimes one screen is just not enough to display everything you need or want to see. This is especially true for users who have lots of apps open at once or users who need a lot of screen real estate, such as for video or image editing. For such users, a second display is often the answer; but a second display can sometimes be overkill, represent a prohibitive expense, simply not fit on a desk with limited space, or a system just might lack a dedicated second video-out port...
Know Where Your Friends Are With Google Latitude
Google Maps has been able to display your approximate location since November of 2007. Starting today, Google's location feature has been expanded to allow you to also see where your friends and family are as well with Google's new Google Latitude feature. As this can be seen as a potential privacy issue (stalkers need not apply), Google has made this feature an entirely opt-in service, and users have "fine-grained" control over who can see their location information and what specific location information others can see, including the ability to manually override your location information--in other words, you can actually lie about where you really are...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Windows 7 To Come in Six Different Versions
Microsoft has announced that When Windows 7 is released, it will be available in six different versions, ranging from Windows 7 Starter up to Windows 7 Ultimate. The different versions are somewhat similar in name and function to the different versions of Windows Vista. While many were hoping that Microsoft would abandon this tiered approach, that is obviously not going to happen. Each higher version will include the complete feature set of all versions below it...
Seagate Announces a 2TB SAS 2.0 Enterprise HDD
Seagate Technology is now the second hard drive manufacturer to announce a 3.5-inch hard drive with a 2TB capacity. Western Digital got the honor of being the first to announce its 2TB drive last week, the WD Caviar Green (WD20EADS) SATA drive. Seagate's 2TB drive is actually part of a new family of enterprise-class hard drives called Constellation...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Broadcast Momentarily Shows Porn
Some Comcast customers in Tucson, Arizona, who were watching the Super Bowl last night, received a very unexpected program interruption during the last few minutes of the game. Just moments after Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown that momentarily gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left on the clock, the broadcast suddenly switched from the Super Bowl to a scene from a pornographic movie--including full-frontal, male nudity--for about 30 seconds, before the broadcast returned back to the Super Bowl...
Netflix Hints at Streaming Premium HBO Content
Netflix recently sent a survey to some of its customers asking if they would be willing to "pay an additional $9.99 per month" to "watch HBO original series and movies streamed from the Internet to your computer or TV." As this was a survey designed to gauge potential customer interest, there is no definitive indication as to whether Netflix will in fact offer such a premium service...