News Archive 2006

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This page contains all the news articles posted on Helpedia during year 2006.

For newer news items, please check the dedicated news page.

Contents

Siemens breaks network speed record

German Technology outfit Siemens claims to have set a new speed record for electrical processing of data through a fibre-optic cable.

Siemens has managed to process data using exclusively electrical means at 107 gigabits per second on a 100 mile-long US network.

The 107 gigabit speed is 2.5 times faster than a previous maximum transmission performance record.

Siemens told Reuters that the technique used electrical processing only and removed the need to split signals into multiple, lower data-rate signals to avoid bottlenecks which makes transmission slower and more expensive.

This news article was written on December 21, 2006.

P2P Uploader jailed for piracy

A Hong Kong Court of Appeal has upheld the landmark conviction of P2P uploader Chan Nai-ming, a person convicted for uploading files using the BitTorrent protocol. He would be the first person convicted for beeing a P2P uploader, the people before him were convited for other reasons. He will be jailed for three months.

He was arrested last year for using BitTorrent to upload Miss Congeniality, Red Planet and Daredevil. He advertised the movies on an online chatroom.

The original case ruled that there was not much of a difference between Chan's uploading the movies and someone manufacturing and distributing illegal DVDs.

Chan's case was that he had never actively distributed any copies of the movies online, he had just made them available for others. The argument was rejected by both courts.

This news article was written on December 16, 2006.

Sony PlayStation 3 shipments are lower than expected

According to research done by American Technology Research analyst Paul-Jon McNealy, Sony's launch weekend had between 125,000 to 175,000 units available for the North American market, well below the expected shipment volume. Sony originally planned on having around 400,000 PS3 units shipped for the initial release and 1 million units before the end of the year.

After thousands of gamers across the country spent up to several days camping out in front of stores, the Sony PlayStation 3 sold out quickly and game stores and retailers are not sure when they will receive more shipments.

Nintendo, Sony's major competitor in the console market, has also recently released its latest console, and the Nintendo Wii game console also quickly sold out the first day it was introduced to the market however Nintendo is promising to replenish suppliers at a rate of 250,000 per week. They also hope to have up to 4 million consoles available to consumers by the end of the year.

This news article was written on November 27, 2006.

China Lifts Ban on Wikipedia

Wikipedia has been unblocked in China after being banned more than a year. The subdomain zh.wikipedia.org that contains the Chinese language version of Wikipedia is again fully accessible to users.

Before beeing banned in late 2005, Wikipedia was gaining popularity in China, a nation which has strict laws in place on Internet use. The Chinese government gave users access to the English version of Wikipedia almost a month ago. Even with the site once again being allowed, keyword filters blocking specific events such as the Falun Gong movement and Tinanmen Square massacre will remain in place on Wikipedia.

This news article was written on November 17, 2006.

Microsoft to release six critical updates on Tuesday

Microsoft is expected to release six new security updates for Windows next week. According to the Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification, all six patches are critical.

One of the critical security updates addresses the exploits currently found in Microsoft's XML Core Services. There isn't much detail on the other five security updates but Microsoft has marked all six patches with its maximum severity rating.

This news article was written on November 12, 2006.

MIT researchers develope ethanol direct injection engine

MIT researchers are developing an automotive power plant that promises up to 30% greater fuel economy than traditional gasoline engines. The new engine, which would be powered by ethanol, would be production ready within five years.

MIT says that it can boost fuel efficiency by directly injecting ethanol into the cylinder. Direct injection technology is already being used on a number of gasoline engine vehicles including the Lexus IS350 and Pontiac Solstice GXP.

The use of direct injection combined with ethanol is what allows for the 30% increase in fuel economy. MIT goes so far as to say that if every vehicle in the United States were equipped with such an engine, yearly automotive fuel consumption would drop from 140 billion gallons to 110 billion gallons.

This news article was written on October 29, 2006.

ATI Shareholders Approve Acquisition by AMD

ATI Technologies Inc. shareholders voted today to approve the proposed acquisition of all outstanding common shares of ATI by an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD). More than 99 per cent of the votes cast by shareholders were in favor of the transaction.

AMD and ATI announced plans to merge back in July, which was pending government and shareholder approval. The Canadian Goverment gave the merger a passing grade through its anti-trust laws and regulations early September.

ATI will seek final court approval for the arrangement at a hearing on October 17, 2006. The transaction is expected to be completed during the week of October 23, 2006.

This news article was written on October 15, 2006.

Microsoft to offer upgrade coupons for Windows Vista

According to Information Week, Microsoft is planning an upgrade program for the people who purchase new PCs this holiday season. The upgrade coupons will either be free or provide discounted pricing:

Customers who buy systems running Windows XP Home Edition can upgrade to Vista Home Basic Edition for a flat $49 fee and to the higher-end Windows Vista Home Premium Edition for a cost of $79.

The Windows Vista Technology Upgrade Program runs from Oct. 26, 2006, through March 15, 2007. Distributors are expected to have the new SKUs in house for system builders by Oct. 15.

Microsoft has not officially announced the coupon program, but mentioned that it is currently working with its partners on a plan for such an offer.

This news article was written on October 5, 2006.

Seagate Delivers 750GB HDDs for DVD Recorders

Seagate Technology has announced that its highest storage capacity DB35 Series hard drives are shipping to DVR and digital entertainment device manufacturers for the next generation of DVRs. Seagate now offers 750, 500, 400, 320, 250 GB HDDs.

"Seagate is thrilled to be providing technology that is the basic enabler to products driving such intense levels of customer satisfaction. Access to more and higher quality digital entertainment content is exploding," said Rob Pait, director of Global Consumer Electronics Marketing at Seagate. "The ability to store high definition content will continue to be at the heart of enabling simple and satisfying digital entertainment systems."

The drives would allow recording up to 750 hours of standard TV, 125 hours of high-definition TV recording and will support ten simultaneous standard TV streams.

This news article was written on September 25, 2006.

Google.org founded, a for-profit philanthropy

According to Slashdot, Google has set up a subsidiary called Google.org, a for-profit philanthropy with initial capital of a billion dollars.

Unlike most charities, Google.org will be a for-profit one, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes. One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.

This news article was written on September 20, 2006.

Toshiba Announces New 1.8" HDD Family

Toshiba has announced its new family of 1.8" hard drives which are 10% smaller than its first generation perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) HDD's.

The two new models introduced - the 40GB MK4009GAL and 80GB MK8009GAH - are both 4200RPM units which feature an areal density of 134 gigabits per square inch. Given their reduced footprint, the 40GB and 80GB drives now measure 54x71x5mm and 54x71x8mm respectively and weigh in at 48 grams and 59 grams respectively. The cache size was also increased to 8MB.

This news article was written on September 13, 2006.

Vista may slow down the Internet

Paul Mockapetris, one of the principal inventors of DNS is warning that Windows Vista might grind net traffic to a halt if left unchecked.Because Vista supports two different versions of TCP/IP (v4 and v6), Mockapetris believes that the introduction of the new operating system will cause a significant increase in DNS traffic and may bring DNS servers already running near capacity to their knees. This would have a significant impact on the Internet's ability to function as DNS requests could become unanswered by the swamped servers.

Some experts disagree with Mockapetris and believe this might be a FUD campaign to stir up support for Nomium, a vendor of DNS products were Mockapetris works as chief scientist.

This news article was written on September 7, 2006.

FairUse4WM Cracks Windows Media DRM, Again

The makers of Fairuse4WM have modified their application in order to remove the restrictions on protected WMA and WMV files once again. This happens just days after Microsoft has issued a patch that prevented Fairuse4WM from removing DRM data from files.

Fairuse4WM works by stripping the DRM information from protected windows media files allowing users to freely manipulate the files and play them back as they see fit.

The apparently failed update from Microsoft changed the IBX in PlaysForSure rendering v.1.1 useless to users who were forced to update through their content provider. FairUse4WM v.1.2 is backwards compatible with files that have yet to be updated.Although it only took Microsoft 3 days to issue its first fix it appears that the FairUse4WM creators are still one step ahead of the software giant.

This news article was written on September 3, 2006.

Chaintech Phases Out Motherboard Business

According to Digitimes, Chaintech will exit the motherboard market and will focus on NAND flash memory business. Chaintech's current memory business accounts for half of its sales and is expected to rise as Chaintech expands its memory business.

Chaintech waits for flash memory prices to stabilize before it enters the memory business. Walton Chaintech representatives were quoted saying:"Walton Chaintech will wait until the NAND flash prices become stable before it enters the NAND flash market, with future testing, packaging and module assembly to be done by its parent company Walton Advanced Engineering, the company was quoted as saying."

This news article was written on August 28, 2006.

Memorex ships HD DVD media

Memorex, now a division of Imation Corp. , has launched and shipped their first HD DVD-R media.

The HD DVD-R discs can hold 15 GB of data or video and should already be on shelves.

Memorex states that with a single 15GB HD DVD-R can record up to 75 minutes of high-definition audio and video or up to 7 hours of standard DVD-quality video. Additionally, the HD-DVD standard allows recording of 7.1-channel audio along with the high-definition video.

The launch price is $19.99 for a 15GB HD DVD-R disc compared to about $19.99 for 25GB blu-ray media. Blu-ray has won the optical format war in pricing as far as Memorex is concerned. Memorex also plans to launch HD DVD-RW media by the end of the year.

This news article was written on August 23, 2006.

Dell Orderes 2 Million AMD Based Desktops And Laptops

According to a report by Bank of America, Dell has ordered 2 million systems with AMD processors from their suppliers - 1.2 million desktops and 800,000 notebooks.

The estimations are that the machines will be arriving in late Q3 or early Q4 of this year and that the number of systems is roughly 16 percent of all Dell's desktop volume and roughly 19 percent of its notebook volume.

This news article was written on August 18, 2006.

Intel Releases Open Source Drivers For GMA 3000 Video Cards

Intel has released drivers for the company's G965 express family of chipsets under a tri-open source license to the OSS community. The open source drivers have been released under the X.org MIT License, the Mesa MIT License and the GPL v2 license. The drivers have full support for 2D and 3D features of Intel's GMA X3000 and GMA 3000 integrated graphics cores.

This is the first release of the 965 chipset code and the release still needs a significant amount of testing and fine tuning before production use. However this is a major step forward for Intel in the open source community.

This news article was written on August 12, 2006.

RIAA Sues LimeWire Over Copyright Infringement

RIAA has filed another lawsuit in its crusade against peer-to-peer file sharing networks, this time targeting the popular LimeWire network.

In the complaint the RIAA alleges that Lime Group LLC and its associates "actively facilitating, encouraging and enticing" its users to steal music and that the company is doing nothing to block access to copyrighted works. The RIAA further alleges that Lime Group LLC has built a business model that allows them to directly profit from piracy.

LimeWire began operating in 2000 and has since become the program of choice among P2P users as other P2P companies have shut down or changed their business models to allow legal file trading. Last year the US Supreme Court ruled that P2P companies could be sued for copyright infringement if they were found to encourage piracy when the court ruled in the Gorkster case. The RIAA is seeking damages including at least $150,000 for each illegally downloaded song.

This news article was written on August 6, 2006.

European Commision Launches Antitrust Probe Against Toshiba And Sony

According to some reports, the European Commision believes that the companies backing the Blu-ray and HD DVD formats may have some licensing terms that breach European competition rules. An unnoficial antitrust probe was already launched this month.

Toshiba, the leading company behind HD DVD and Sony the leading company behind Blu-ray both received letters from the European Commission earlier this month. According to a European Commission representative: "we sent a letter earlier this month to the makers of HD DVD and Blu-ray to request information about licensing." Toshiba did not respond to inquiries but Sony confirmed that it did receive a letter from the European Commission.

Sony will be shipping its first Blu-ray player will be shipping only slightly ahead of its PlayStation 3 console - currently scheduled for November 17th. On the HD DVD side, Toshiba announced earlier that it would be shipping its HD DVD players at a loss to gain a head start.

This news article was written on July 30, 2006.

Toshiba Employee Awarded 87 Million Yen For Flash Invention

Fuijo Masuoka, a Toshiba employee, was awarded ¥87 million ($749,225) by a Tokyo court as a result of winning a patent case.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said that while Masuoka had wanted 1.1 billion for inventing flash memory, the award is nevertheless the third biggest ever awarded in employee patent cases.

Masuoka, now a professor at Tohoku University, had registered 500 patents when he worked at Toshiba. Toshiba paid six million yen to him while he was working there to transfer the patents.

The flash patents represent a mere 41 out of the 500 he transferred.

This news article was written on July 27, 2006.

High PS3 Price is Pushing Away Developers

It seems the recent events and problems that surround PS3, such as issues with Blue-Ray support or the fallout from the $499-599 price structure, no longer turn away only customers but also developers.

According to GameDaily Biz, the support from 3rd party game developers may be questionable:

"In the PS3's native Japan, the reaction has been less than pleasant, with more than 90 percent of developers in a recent survey stating that the price of the console is just too high. And indeed it seems that this high price is affecting whether or not certain developers decide to develop for the PS3. Sony's PlayStation business has always been backed by incredibly strong third-party support, but now for the first time that could be in jeopardy."

This news article was written on July 23, 2006.

Microsoft Buys Winternals and Sysinternals

Microsoft announced this week that it has acquired Windows utility and recovery company Winternals.

The Microsoft team was also interested in Mark Russinovich, widely regarded as one of the industry's top kernel experts.

Microsoft co-president of platforms and services Jim Allchin said "I've had my eye on Mark for some time. The work he and Bryce have completed in system recovery and data protection illustrates the depth of thinking and skill they will bring to future versions of Windows."

Microsoft also announced that Russinovich will be appointed as a Microsoft Technical Fellow, a title "awarded to someone whose technical vision, expertise, and world-class leadership is widely recognized."

This news article was written on July 19, 2006.

Microsoft Fined $365.4 Million In Antitrust Law Suit

The European Commission fined Microsoft $375.4 million for failure to comply with antitrust rulings.

The European Union had previously fined Microsoft approximately $634.7 million in 2004 for taking advantage of its monopolistic position in the market. The amount of the fine comes from the number of days the EU waited for Microsoft to comply.

The EU had previously told Microsoft to open up its code as well as open up its Windows operating system to competitors. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told reporters that "Microsoft has still not put an end to its illegal conduct.

I have no alternative but to levy penalty payments for this continued noncompliance." If Microsoft still does not comply by July 31st of 2006, it will be fined approximately $3.83 million per day.

This news article was written on July 12, 2006.

Lexar Flash Drives To Be Recalled For Fire Hazard

It seems that flash drives company Lexar will have to recall some of its models from the market because of fire hazard. The drives affected are the JumpDrive FireFly and JumpDrive Secure II:

JumpDrive FireFly

  • 256 MB (red) : JDFF256-431RU, JDFF256-264, JDFF256-445RU
  • 512MB (lime green) : JDFF512-431EM
  • 1GB (blue) : JDFF1GB-431TO
  • 2GB (black) : JDFF2GB-431BK

JumpDrive Secure II

  • 1GB : JDSE1GB-00-500 Rev H, 3052-1GBA-2006, 3052-1GBA-2106, 3052-1GBA-1906, 3052-1GBA-1806

The reason for the recall is overheating which could lead to burns and property damage.

The recall affects around 66,000 units that were sold between April and May of 2006. Consumers are urged to immediately stop using the devices and contact Lexar (via the web or by phone, (800) 248-2798) for replacement products.

This news article was written on July 8, 2006.

NEC Opens Second Factory In Vietnam

NEC announced this week that it has opened its second manufacturing facility in the Loteco Industrial Park in Vietnam.

The company says that the new facility will hold roughly 1,000 staff members and produce such products as transformers, integrated electronics, fiber optics and anti-magnetized parts for electronic use. Also, the new facility will help increase the company's overall capacity of parts from 14.7 million units to 20 million units annually.

This news article was written on July 2, 2006.

Dell To Offer Free Computer Recycling Program

Dell announced a new program to recycle Dell-branded computer components for returning and non-returning Dell customers free of charge. Dell already has a policy that the company will recycle any brand of computer or printer if you purchase a new Dell PC, with free pick-up.

The new policy will also extend Dell's recycling initiative to any Dell-brand computer, anytime. In essence, the new policy no longer just encourages users to purchase Dell as a value-add to remove the old PC. In most cities in the US it is illegal to throw away PC components and other devices - and many recycling companies charge a premium on older computer components that contain lead.

"We have a responsibility to our customers to recycle the products we make and sell," claimed Michael Dell. "Our direct relationships with consumers allow us to offer this easy and free service and we encourage others in our industry to do so as well."

This news article was written on June 29, 2006.

Intel Opens 300mm Wafer Factory In Ireland

Intel announced the opening of its newest 300mm wafer facility in Leixlip, Ireland. The new fab is called Fab 24-2, as the facility is essentially an expansion on the existing Fab 24 facility that was built in 2004.

Intel's Fab 12 in Chandler, Arizona and D1C/D1D fabs in Hillsboro, Oregon already compose of the majority of Intel's 300mm wafer production. Late last year, Intel representatives claimed a plan was on the table for a 300mm D1E facility in Hillsboro as well.

Intel also has plans to open another fab in Chandler, dubbed Fab 32, expected to produce 300mm wafers for 45nm CPUs. Fab 28 in Qiryat Gat, Israel is also expected to product 300mm wafers for 45nm processors when it is completed in 2008. Intel also has plans to build a massive facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that will even eclipse Fab 24-2 in size.

This news article was written on June 25, 2006.

Frozen Chip from IBM reaches 350 Ghz

According to an article at EETimes, IBM and Georiga Tech have demonstrated a 500 GHz Silicon-germanium (SiGe) chip, operating at 4.5 Kelvins. The 'frozen chip' was fabricated by IBM on 200mm wafers, and, at room temperature, the circuits operated at approximately 350 GHz.

By comparison, 500 GHz is more than 250 times faster than today's cell phones, which typically operate at approximately 2 GHz, according to the organizations.

The experiments, conducted jointly by IBM and Georgia Tech, are part of a project to explore the ultimate speed limits of silicon germanium (SiGe) devices, which are said to operate faster at cold temperatures.

This news article was written on June 20, 2006.

Jack Thompson's Violent Game Bill Signed Into Law

Louisiana Democratic Representative Roy Burrell's HB1381 bill, covering violent videogames, has been signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco.The law takes effect immediately, the latest in a very long line of video game-related bills specific to one U.S. State.

The measure proposed by HB 1381, which was drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, allows a judge to rule on whether or not a videogame meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. A person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year. Needless to say, the ESA will likely be mounting a legal challenge to this bill in the very near future.

This news article was written on June 16, 2006.

Verbatim Announces HD DVD-R, 2X BD-R

Verbatim Corporation, a Mitsubishi Kagaku Media (MKM) brand, announced July availability of HD DVD-R media in Japanese markets. The company then announced that it will be the first to offer 2X (72Mbps) single-layer 25GB Blu-Ray Recordable and Rewriteable media this July as well. Verbatim has not announced an estimated shp date for the US.

The 15GB HD DVD-R media will be thrown into production in the early part of July, however the press release says production of 30GB dual layer HD DVD-R media will begin this month.

Like its DVD-R counterparts, HD DVD-R media will feature the Metal AZO recording dye which Verbatim claims to be highly resistant to ultraviolet light and heat which can wear away at the media.

This news article was written on June 12, 2006.

FBI Raids Over 20 Underground Servers

According to WiredFire, over 20 underground servers were seized in a raid at two hosting companies, Layer Tech and Server Matrix.

In total, boxes with hundreds of terabytes of data stored in total were taken away, 4 topsites were shut down directly because of the actions of the FBI, and the number of other sites that were slowed down, or shut down on their own, is not known.In response to the busts, several people in the scene are urging people to abandon using Layered Tech and Server Matrix to use as seedboxes, fearing it is only a matter of time until they are noticed taken down.

The release groups and affils most affected by this raid are : FLAMES, SAGA, DiAMOND, NBP, F4GC and TBE.

This news article was written on June 9, 2006.

HP Cameras May Pose Fire Risk

According to The Inquirer, THE US Consumer Product Safety Commission said HP has warned 700,000 Photosmart R707 digicams pose a fire risk when they're connected to an AC adaptor or docking station.

There is a report of one camera catching fire but there are no injuries reported. The cameras were sold between August 2004 and April 2006 and sold for between $250 and $400.

This news article was written on June 7, 2006.

A-Data Will Announce DDR3 Modules At Computex

A-Data will be announcing DDR3 modules at Computex 2006 on June 6, 2006, after only two weeks from the moment AMD launched its DDR2 supporting socket AM2 processors.

DDR3 is the DDR2 successor and promises greater bandwidth and lower power. DDR3-1066 MHz modules will be shown at Computex at the A-Data booth. DDR3 is not limited at 1066 MHz, it has a lot more headroom available. Modules are expected to ramp up to 1600 MHz in the future.

DDR3 Memory modules will have 240 pins , 120 on each side and one notch at the 48th pin from the left of the module. This way, the memory module will not be inserted by mistake in a DDR or DDR2 slot.

This news article was written on June 4, 2006.

DVD Forum Approves HD-DVD Format For China

The DVD Forum delegates, during the May 24th steering committee for the DVD, elected to pursue a physical HD-DVD format standard specifically for China.

The most pressing issue for all optical storage camps is piracy. With rampant piracy of DVD and VCD titles in China, the push to create an HD-DVD standard that only exists in China would force Chinese residents to buy players that conform to the new specification.

The logical progression is that Chinese residents would not be able to play HD-DVDs from the US and that newly pirated content would stay in the Chinese HD-DVD format rather than make its way into the US.

This news article was written on May 29, 2006.

Chicken and Egg Problem Solved

Scientists and philosophers now agree which came first: The Egg. From the CNN article: "Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal's life. Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg. Professor John Brookfield, a specialist in evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham, told the UK Press Association the pecking order was clear".

This news article was written on May 27, 2006.

.MOBI Domain Launched

The new TLD will serve the purpose of guiding mobile users to made-for-mobile content formatted especially for mobile devices. As of right now, trademark holders in the mobile industry are allowed to register. General trademark holders can begin registering their trademarks on June 12 and the domain doors will be opened to the public for registration on August 28.

Despite the widespread adoption of mobile devices, the constantly changing data capabilities of these devices and standards can slow down its acceptance and make developing generalized services for mobile users a difficult proposition. However, ICANN has no stipulations on the .MOBI TLD, meaning the purchaser does not require WAP or light CSS support.

ICANN just approved the .TEL top level domain a few days ago, and the .EU TLD had its general availability launch last month. However, even in this spree of additional TLDs, ICANN continues to reject the .XXX TLD proposals.

This news article was written on May 24, 2006.

Zero Day Microsoft Word Exploit On The Loose

SANS Internet Storm Center today received reports that a new zero-day exploit in Microsoft Word is being used to compromise users' computers. The flaw in Word allows attackers to execute malicious code when the infected word document is opened.

"Michael," who reported the vulnerability, states:

"The exploit functioned as a dropper, extracting a Trojan byte-for-byte from the host file when executed. After extracting and launching the Trojan, the exploit then overwrote the original Word document with a "clean" (not infected) copy from payload in the original infected document. As a result of the exploit, Word crashes, informs the user of a problem, and offers to attempt to re-open the file. If the user agrees, the new "clean" file is opened without incident."

This news article was written on May 21, 2006.

Samsung Launches First HSPDA Phone

Samsung launched the first High-Speed Packet Downlink Access (HSPDA) based phone in Korea today modeled the SCH-W200.

The SCH-W200 is the first retail phone to support HSPDA which is a new mobile broadband standard capable of transmitting data at up to 1.8Mbpsec. The high-speed transfers will pave the way for high-quality audio and video streaming services aside from internet access from anywhere as long as cellular reception is available.

The SCH-W200 is a CDMA 2000 1X EVDO/HSPDA handset with a 2.12-inch 262K color TFT LCD screen at 240x320 resolution. It has a built-in 2-megapixel camera which is able to take pictures as well as record video in the MPEG4/H.263/H.264 formats and also support video conferencing and streaming as well as the ability to play MP3/AAC/AAC+ files.

Interfaces will include a USB port for connectivity with PCs for data transfers as well as an output to TV for viewing documents and possibly video. The SCH-W200 will also accept microSD flash media for storage which is currently available in capacities from 256MB to 1GB.

This news article was written on May 16, 2006.

Cell Phones Explode In Brazil

Cell phone users in San Paulo, Brazil are having problems with their phones exploding. There have been at least five cases in the past two months, all Motorola phones. This is only a problem among a small number of users among the 89 million cellular phones in Brazil.

"In the most recent incident on April 30, the 34-year-old victim in Formosa, Goias state, had surgery for burns on her thighs and arms. She was driving with the phone in her lap when it exploded."

Motorola states the cause is from the use of low quality knock offs. Motorola officials claim the issue is centralized only to Brazil and that existing customers should not be concerned if they have not already been contacted by the company.

This news article was written on May 13, 2006.

NASA And Indian Space Agency Working Together

The United States and India have been partners in space ever since the Indian space program began in 1972.

Unfortunately, NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have temporarily ended plans to train an Indian astronaut that hoped to be on board a manned shuttle launch later this year.The reason for this was that NASA manned missions currently are being sent into space to either work on the International Space Station (ISS) or to do general repairs on the Hubble space telescope.

NASA and the ISRO have agreed to put two US built science instruments on board the Chandrayaan, which will be India's first unmanned moon explorer. The spacecraft may launch as early as 2008. One instrument will look for polar ice while the other will study the surface mineral composition on the moon.

This news article was written on May 9, 2006.

Chinese Create Artificial Rain Over Beijing

Chinese scientists from the Beijing Weather Modification Office successfully created artificially generated rainfall, in order to help wash a layer of sand and dust off Beijing due to drought.

The artificial rainfall brought a total of 9-11.2 mm (about four-tenths of an inch) of rain to Beijing. Earlier in the year, scientists also made another rainstorm which helped clear the air after massive dust storms. People are still very skeptical about the success and effectiveness of the artificial rainfall in China. A total of 163 pieces of cigarette-like sticks containing silver iodide were burnt and seven rocket shells were launched in 6 districts and counties Thursday afternoon, which resulted in the heaviest rainfall in Beijing this spring.

This news article was written on May 7, 2006.

Real Cloaking Device Material Invented

Two mathematicians, Graeme Milton from Utah University and Nicolae-Alexandru Nicorovici from Sydney University of Technology have proposed calculations for a real cloaking device.

The calculations require a new material they refer to as a "superlens". Objects that are placed close to the superlens appear invisible. The superlens is composed of newly found materials that cause light to behave abnormally. Instead of making light bend as it passes through, the superlens causes light to effectively travel backward.

Currently the proposal is simply mathematical calculations and no actual prototype has yet been developed.

This news article was written on May 4, 2006.

MS's Steve Balmer Memo To Staff Revealed

As Microsoft's shares plummeted last week, CEO Steve Ballmer issued a memo to employees to provide "some context" for the increased spending forecast that caused the negative response on Wall Street. At one point, he called it "a lesson that the entire leadership team at Microsoft will learn from."

Here's the original memo, as initially reported by Bloomberg News:

Throughout our history, Microsoft has won by making big, bold bets. We've always taken a long-term approach, striving to solve the hardest problems in computing and working to realize huge new opportunities in vast new markets through investments in innovation across the broad spectrum of human endeavor.

I believe that now is not the time to scale back the scope of our ambition or the scale of our investment. While our opportunities are greater than ever, we also face new competitors, faster-moving markets and new customer demands.

So what accounts for the negative reaction that we've seen from analysts and investors?

To ensure that we win where we see opportunities and can respond with speed when the marketplace changes, we made the decision to ramp up investments during Q3 in a number of key areas. In addition, the cost of producing Xbox 360 consoles was higher than expected, while at the same time we decided to manufacture and sell as many consoles as possible to build on our lead in the race to be number one in the video game business.

These investments will continue. As a result, we also provided guidance for Q4 of this fiscal year and for FY07 that indicates our willingness to be aggressive when making investments where they are strategic for future growth.

The bottom-line result of these investments created a shift in our near-term profitability that was a surprise. The change in our stock price reflects this.

But I've never been more confident that we are making the right investments. In addition to adding a third manufacturing facility to enable us to meet market demand for Xbox 360, we are investing heavily in our services strategy; in our readiness programs for the launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and other products in the pipeline; and in a number of other areas where we see opportunities for rapid growth. We've accelerated the pace of our hiring and increased spending to ensure that we continue to bring the world's brightest minds to Microsoft.

When you look across the array of businesses we are building, it is clear that we are in a position that no other company can match. We have made and we continue to make the investments needed to ensure strong growth for our core businesses, while delivering the innovation that is essential to establishing a leadership position where we see opportunities in businesses such as entertainment, mobile devices, search and software-based Internet services.

This news article was written on May 2, 2006.

AMD Recalls 'Inconsistent' Opterons

According to The Inquirer, AMD has decided to recall a few thousand Opteron x52s and x54s processors because the units may have a temperature induced FP bug.

When the chips get hot, and you are running FP heavy code, you get 'inconsistent' results.

AMD declared that there are a small number of chips - about 3000 - and it has a test that can identify the chips. If you are affected, it will replace the chips for free.

This news article was written on April 29, 2006.

HRRC and EFF Oppose the PERFORM Act

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein yesterday introduced the PERFORM Act (Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006), which would ensure that all streaming media services used protected formats. Because users can save songs on radio receivers without paying to download the content, this act would be a roadblock to prevent downloading in the future. Ars Technica reports:

Under the rules set forth in the Act, you would be able to make automated sound recordings, but only based on "specific programs, time periods, or channels as selected by or for the user," but not on "specific sound recordings, albums, or artists." Once recorded, it would be illegal to process the recorded data in order to extract separate songs for later use.

The Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are preparing to battle the legislation. The HRRC and EFF both believe that consumers would no longer be able to enjoy the flexibility of digital technology because the legislation will destroy Internet radio.

This news article was written on April 28, 2006.

IO-Data Japan Launches Blu-Ray Recorders

The drives are manufactured by Matsushita (Panasonic). Pansonic has just announced that its own brand of Blu-ray PC recorders will be available within six weeks or so. Both Panasonic and IO-Data will ship retail production shipments in early June.

The two IO-Data PC drives consist of an internal PATA BRD-AM2B and an external USB 2.0 BRD-UM2. Both drives have a maximum write speed of 2x and can read/record to dual layer DVD+R, dual layer DVD-R, DVD-RAM, CDR and dual layer Blu-ray recordable media.

Panasonic has suggested a price of $850 for its Blu-ray recorders.

This news article was written on April 24, 2006.

Person Fined For Fake Spyware Scam

Zhijian Chen was fined $84.000 for running a bogus anti-spyware scam, after a court has decided in favour of Microsoft.

He would send bogus security alerts to users and encourage them to download an phony anti-spyware program. Then, he would then claim a share of the profits from Secure Computer, which makes the software.

Microsoft filed a charge against Chen's Secure Computer outfit in January. Two others were also involved in the scam Seth Traub, and Manoj Kumar, from Maharashtra, India. Chen admitted the charges.

Chen used the Windows' "Net send" command to put pop-ups on users' machines that mimicked official warnings. A user then clicked on an embedded link and were directed first to Chen's page, then to Secure Computer's own site.

They were offered a free scan which always detected spyware even if there was none there and were offered Spyware Cleaner for $49.99.

Chen collected a commission of 75 percent of the purchase price, or $37.46, for each copy of Spyware Cleaner he sold.

This news article was written on April 20, 2006.

Apple Sued By Burst.com For Patent Infringement

Apple is sued by a company called Burst.com that claims it owns patents in regards to content delivery technology used in iTunes.

The delivery mechanism used in iTunes is often found in other general purpose applications and do not exploit any special techniques.

Burst.com does not agree with this and mentions that in a previous trial, it has managed to receive a payment of about $60 million from Microsoft.

This news article was written on April 18, 2006.

Microsoft Subpoenaed By AMD In Anti-trust Case

Microsoft is the latest in the long list of companies subpoenaed by AMD in it's anti-trust case against Intel. AMD hopes to explore "Microsoft's decision to develop software for AMD's 64-bit CPUs, and the timing and schedule for development of that software". Information Week reports:

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the Redmond, Wash., software maker is not a party to the lawsuit. "We anticipate that both sides will be seeking documents and other evidence from Microsoft and many other participants in the PC industry," the spokeswoman said. "We will work with the parties in this case to respond to reasonable requests for documents and information."

This news article was written on April 16, 2006.

Firefox 1.5.0.2

Firefox 1.5.0.2 was released yesterday, 13th of April, solving several bugs and vulnerabilities.

"We're identifying this as a critical release, and we're strongly recommending that everyone update as soon as possible," Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering at Mozilla, said in a statement. "This is one of the most stable releases we have ever delivered. It proactively addresses a wide range of security, performance and stability issues we have identified, using the very latest tools and techniques," he said.

This news article was written on April 14, 2006.

10GBaseT Standard Almost Complete

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is set to ratify the 10GbaseT standard by July of this year. While the standard promises 10Gbit/second signal speeds, companies will need to upgrade their existing cabling to handle the additional bandwidth.

Existing Cat5e is not officially supported by the 10GbaseT standard while Cat6 cabling is limited to 37m - even that is not guaranteed and is down from the 55m target. Cabling specialist Systimax is confident that signals will be able to travel as far as 100 meter with augmented copper.

Cat7, Category 7, cabling is still slated to handle 10GbaseT speeds up to 100 meters (600MHz spectral bandwidth). However, Cat7 does not use the standard RJ45 interface -- the proposed IEEE specification relies on the Nexans GG45 cable jack. GG45 is backwards compatible with Cat6 RJ45 interfaces, but when in Cat7 mode the four pairs along the corners of the input are used opposed to the four along the top of the cable.

While 10GbaseT standard is almost complete, 100GbaseT is prepared:

Systimax hopes its involvement with the Ethernet Alliance can create a forum for the discussion of new technologies like 100 gigabit Ethernet, which has yet to make it to the project stage with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and is probably five to seven years away from commercial deployment.

This news article was written on April 13, 2006.

Afghans Sell Flash Drives With Stolen Military Information

Afghan cleaners, garbage collectors and other workers are able to walk off a U.S. military base carrying sensitive information about military operations, which later end up on sale at Afghan bazaars. Deployment rosters with service member Social Security numbers, assessment of enemy targets, names of corrupt Afghan officials and base defenses are examples of some of the information that is being sold several hundred yards away from the base.Along with the sensitive information stored on USB flash memory drives, the workers are also able to steal knives, watches, packets of Viagra and refrigerators. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Workers are supposed to be frisked as they leave the base, but they have various ways of deceiving guards, such as hiding computer drives behind photo IDs that they wear in holders around their necks, shop owners said. Others claim that U.S. soldiers illegally sell military property and help move it off the base, saying they need the money to pay bills back home.

This news article was written on April 11, 2006.

Russian Developers Conference Profitable For Ageia

Ageia has recently announced that it has managed to sign deals with several russian game developers, at the Russian Developers Conference. The developers will support in their games support the Ageia PhysX chips.

Akella, Abyss Lights Studio and Buka Entertainment are just a few of the studios that have licence to use the chips.

This news article was written on April 9, 2006.

Samsung Blu-ray Player Launch Delayed

Samsung Electronics is following Japan's Toshiba Corporation in delaying its set top products which will be capable of playing next-generation optical media formats.

In an announcement by Samsung Electronics of South Korea the company states they will be rescheduling the launch date of its first Blu-ray disc player, the BD-P1000, from the original date of May 23rd to June 25th of this year.

This news article was written on April 6, 2006.

Judge Rules: Banning Violent Games Is Unconstitutional

Six states have tried to or are currently trying to place some sort of restriction or ban on video games with violence and sexually explicit material. Michigan is the latest state to have a judge claim that trying to criminalize the sale of violent video games is unconstitutional. US District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled that denying minors access to video games is against the constitution because they are protected by the First Amendment. The Associated Press reports:

"Video games contain creative, expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment," he said in his ruling.

This news article was written on April 4, 2006.

Toshiba Announces First Commercially Available HD-DVD

Toshiba has announced that it has launched the world's first commercially available HD-DVD player, the HD-XA1 model.

The company has mentioned that the demand for high-definition content is growing with each day and thus consumers are demanding HD players now more than ever. This is debatable though, because just a week ago, Toshiba has announced it will delay the launch of new players because they felt the market was not ready for them.

Movies on HD-DVD discs will be available to consumers by mid-April, this year.

The new players are immediately available for purchase in Japan. The HD-XA1 will launch with a price tag of $799 USD.

This news article was written on April 2, 2006.

Soundstorm 2 May Appear in PSP 3

NVIDIA's original SoundStorm released with the nForce2 chipset was considered a savior for PC audio. Delivering what it called Dolby Digital Live, NVIDIA's SoundStorm was able to encode a Dolby Digital 5.1 stream in real time from any source, and output it to your favorite multi-channel audio equipment.

Sony may have revealed the source of the PlayStation 3's audio processing capabilities. According to slides that Sony showed off at the Game Developer's Conference that just past, NVIDIA's RSX processor designed to accelerate graphics for the PS3 is also providing hardware accelerated audio.

According to an article on The Tech Report, NVIDIA indicated to it that its next evolution after SoundStorm would be delivered in an untraditional manner. Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA's CEO indicated that his company was looking at ways to evolve the graphics processing unit (GPU) to provide non-traditional features - he did not allude to the possibility of sound processing however.

Today, there are several sound products that offer Dolby Digital Live. Recent codecs from RealTek and C-Media all offer the option of Dolby Digital 5.1 support. Unfortunately, these products rely on the host processor and so use a lot more system resources than dedicated audio processors such as Creative Labs' Audigy 2, or X-Fi.

This news article was written on March 31, 2006.

ASUS To Sell Ageia PhysX Card In May

Asustek has announced that it will be the first company that will sell the high-end version of the Ageia PhysX board.

The add-on card will have 256 MB RAM and, as a totally new "cool thing", it will probably cost a lot.

This news article was written on March 29, 2006.

Internet Explorer 7 Will Not Be Included In Windows Vista

According to BusinessWeek, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 will not be integrated into Windows Vista. Breaking nearly ten years of tradition, Internet Explorer was always very tightly integrated into Windows, allowing users to do such things as launch a website directly from any Windows Explorer window, or save a live web page as the desktop wallpaper.

Windows itself has been under much scrutiny over recent years by the security industry as well as the hacking and virus communities. Exploits that were found to exist in current versions of Internet Explorer, were used to attack the core operating system because of the tight integration. Despite ongoing security updates by Microsoft, analysts believe that removing Internet Explorer from the core of Windows will improve the overall security of the OS more so than many of its small patches combined. Despite the move to improve OS security by Microsoft, Internet Explorer will still ship with Windows Vista.

This news article was written on March 26, 2006.

Alienware Bought By Dell

Alienware and Dell have announced an agreement to merge, with Dell buying the Miami company.Alienware has long been a very independent company with a strong focus on highly tuned customer support and customization. Alienware pioneered the custom PC business by doing such things as: customizing the manual in the customer's name; including benchmarks of the system, installing and tweaking drivers, and installing whatever games the customer wanted. Long story short, Alienware gave great individualized attention to its patrons.

We believe that this acquisition will offer our customers the best of both worlds — an Alienware that takes advantage of the world-class business practices and operational efficiencies that have made Dell one of the most respected companies in the world, while preserving the DNA of the Alienware brand and product strategy portfolio.

Alienware says that Dell executives have agreed to let Alienware operate independently, with its own marketing and product strategies. In the above statement however, it's clear that Alienware expects to embrace some of Dell's own strengths, which sit squarely in the realm of low cost, mass production, and offshore support. All of these traits give Dell its strength -- besides its sell direct approach, which Alienware already does.

This news article was written on March 23, 2006.

Phishers Will Have Hard Time From Microsoft

Microsoft will start more than 100 legal proceedings against alleged phishers in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative is designed to target international phishers, who are usually sending misleading URLs to users to try and get them to enter personal information such as bank account information, passwords and credit card details into a fake website. Some of the most popular sites that are hurt by phishers are Paypal, MSN, Amazon and Ebay.

The campaign will target phishing groups that flood inboxes with unsolicited e-mails requesting bank account details, passwords, credit card details or other personal details that can be used for identity theft and fraud.

This news article was written on March 21, 2006.

Two US Senators Wish To Revive .XXX Domains

Max Baucus of Montana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, two senate democrats, officially introduced the "Cyber Safety for Kids Act of 2006".

The new bill would push for the Bush administration to create an ".xxx" domain, which would be reserved specifically for pornographic web sites. The two senators believe that this way parents will be able to easily filter and eliminate what kids can and cannot view on the Internet.

"While the Internet is an exceptional learning tool, it allows children the same easy access to websites about space shuttles as it does for pornography," said Senator Baucus, adding that violators would be subject to a hefty fine.

The two senators hope that the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, can work together to make sure that minors are shielded from adult content. The legislation will have a hard road, especially with many public interest groups ready to rally against the creation of the virtual red-light district. During last summer, ICANN initially went along with an .xxx domain, but was met with heavy criticism that forced the organization to hold off any decisions since last December.

This news article was written on March 18, 2006.

Windows XP On An Intel Mac Contest Won

A programmer named Blanka was able to get past all of the EFI issues and has provided a working solution to natively run Windows XP on an a Mac. The programmer can now claim the $13,854 prize thanks to his video of the installation and booting of Microsoft's ubiquitous OS on an Intel-based iMac. Winxponmac.com posted this on its site:

Contest has been won - updates to follow shortly. All further donations will go into an account to sustain the open source project that will be launched with the initial solution.

This news article was written on March 17, 2006.

Justice Department Will Receive Some Google Information

Google will have to open some of its Internet files for the U.S Justice Department, after beeing order by a californian judge.

The judge is extremely cautious about forcing Google to turn over what users enter into the search engine. The government scaled back its request of information, which led to U.S. District Judge James Ware agreeing to open some of the files for the DOJ.

Google's strong protests have forced the government to scale back its request to a random samping of 50,000 web site addresses and the text of 5,000 random search requests. Only 10,000 of the web sites and 1,000 of the search requests will be analyzed by the government.

The judge said he didn't want to do anything to create the perception that Internet search engines and other large online databases could become tools for government surveillance. He seemed less concerned about requiring Google to supply the government with a random list of Web sites indexed by the company.

This news article was written on March 16, 2006.

VIA Launches Powerful EPIA Mini-ITX Motherboard with Onboard C7 Processor

VIA has announced its new EPIA EN-Series Mini-ITX motherboard which features a built-in 1.5GHz VIA C7 or 1.2GHz VIA Eden processor. Both processors are built on 90 nanometer technology and do not require fans. Both also feature average power consumption of less than 1 watt.

As for the VIA EPIA EN motherboard, it features a VIA CN700 IGP chipset which supports full hardware HDTV encoding up to 1080i, 720p output, hardware MPEG-2 acceleration, VIA Vinyl Audio, support for up to 1GB of DDR2 400/533MHz memory, SATA II RAID, an LVDS connector and Gigabit LAN.

"The VIA EPIA EN mainboard presents a tremendous opportunity for our customers to take a powerful yet highly efficient all-in-one platform and create their next generation systems quickly and easily", said Jerry Yeh, Associate Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. easy-to-use small form factors are driving the proliferation and diversity of the x86 platform into new and exciting markets, and our VIA EPIA mainboards continue to be an integral part of this evolution."

This news article was written on March 13, 2006.

Supermicro May Ship AMD Motherboards To Google

According to The Register, Supermicro has gotten into the AMD business and is already making friends in high places, such as Google.

The company officially launched its quad socket Opteron server board, capable of fitting into a 1U rackmount. The board sells for $1,300 to OEMs and requirers a 1,000W power supply for a standard system. Four HE dual core Opterons can fit in Supermicro's 1U server, meaning your standard 42U rack could hold 336 Opteron cores at once. The motherboard uses an nForce4 Pro 2200 Northbridge and the AMD 8132 PCI-X controller.

This news article was written on March 12, 2006.

Microsoft Unveils The "Origami" Project

Microsoft has officially announced its Origami project today.

The new Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) feature 7" screens, weigh less than two pounds, get around three hours of use on a charge and run on variant of Windows XP TabletPC Edition. Models from Asus, Founder and Samsung are due to hit the market within the next few months.

"We believe that (ultra-mobile PCs) will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as the mobile phone today," said Microsoft VP Bill Mitchell.

With a price tag of between $599 to $999, our guess is only the true gadget geeks will go for these.

This news article was written on March 10, 2006.

iPods Detected In Vending Machines

It looks like the popular music player is now being sold in some vending machines. A vending machine that provides consumers with iPods was found in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, GA. After a person puts in a credit card, a Video iPod, Shuffle, Nano, or a variety of accessories are available.

Although it is arguable whether or not this particular vending machine will sell a lot of iPods for Apple, it will certainly garner lots of attention. iPod vending machines have been in Macy's for approximately three months, but now that they are starting to crop up in airports and grocery stores, the iPod really has started to get its stride.

This news article was written on March 9, 2006.

AMD Announces Three New Opteron CPUs

AMD announced today three new 2.6GHz dual-core AMD Opteron processors.

The Opteron 185 is geared towards one-way/two-core servers and workstations, the Opteron 285 targets two-way/four-core servers and workstations while the Opteron 885 handles eight-way/16-core enterprise server duties.

"AMD integrates two AMD Opteron processor cores onto a single die, allowing them to communicate at full processor speed," said Randy Allen, corporate vice president, Server and Workstation Division, AMD. "That means Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors are the only native dual-core x86 systems available today for customers who want efficient solutions for their datacenters.

Datacenter managers can fill racks with dual-core platforms without worrying about increased electricity and cooling costs."

AMD has already lined up top-tier system manufacturers for its new processors including:

  • BladeCenter LS20, e36m and Intellistation A Pro product lines from IBM
  • Galaxy Sun Fire X4100/X4200 servers and Sun Ultra 40 workstations from Sun Microsystems
  • ProLiant D 585, DL385, DL145 G2, BL45p, BL35p, BL25p servers and xw9300 workstations from HP

Pricing for the Opteron 885 and 285 is listed at $2,149 and $1,051 respectively in 1,000-unit quantities and the processors are immediately available. Opteron 185 processors on the other hand are expected to be available within the next 30 days - pricing will be revealed closer to the launch date.

This news article was written on March 6, 2006.

Student Removed From University After An Attempt To Hack His Grades

21-year old You Li, a former undergraduate at the University of Utah, has been indicted by a federal grand jury and kicked out of school for hacking into the University's network to change his math grades. The Chinese national was indicted on two charges - accessing a protected computer to commit fraud and obtaining information from a protected computer:

He also used the professor's password to the University's math department computer to access that system and a file on that system and to change one or more of his grades in the professor's class to better grades, including changing at least one grade from failing to passing. Li also wrote and installed, the indictment alleges, a program in the professor's math department computer account that would run when the professor logged in, falsely notifying the professor onscreen that the professor needed to enter his user ID and password for the University's administrative computer system. The file that Li allegedly changed was actually a backup file and the professor kept track of student grades in a primary file on a laptop computer.

This news article was written on March 4, 2006.

Blizzard To Release Spanish Localized World Of Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment, the company that created the very popular World of Warcraft MMORPG, has announced that it will release a localized Spanish version of the game soon. The Spanish version will be released and hosted by the Blizzard Europe team.

"We look forward to offering Spanish-speaking players in Europe a version of World of Warcraft tailored specifically for them," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment.

"The enthusiasm for the game here has been overwhelming, and we're pleased that this new localised version will make World of Warcraft accessible to an even wider audience."

The company also confirmed that there are now over six million WoW players around the world. Blizzard gained a million players over the past eight weeks, which is an astounding feat.

This news article was written on March 2, 2006.

Intel And Micron To Invest 3.8 Billion Dollars In Flash Technology

Intel and Micron have entered a deal where both have agreed to contribute over $1.2B each to create a company called IM Flash Technologies LLC. In the deal, Micron also agreed to sell its NAND flash and chip division along with associated intellectual properties to Intel for $270 million.

In the deal, Micron will hold 51% control over the joint venture with Intel on the balance. The new company will develop and produce flash memory technologies based on designs by Intel. The two companies said that each have agreed to also invest a combined total of $1.4B over the next three years. With consumer electronics sky rocketing in sales and mainstream acceptance, flash memory continues to be a strong cash cow for many companies.

So far Intel has paid over $1.96B in cash to the project, which will be located at Micron's own production and development facilities in Boise, Idaho, Manassas, Va. and Lehi, Utah.

This news article was written on February 28, 2006.

MPAA Goes After Torrent Sites, eDonkey and Newsgroups

The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) has expanded its crackdown on online movie piracy by filing seven new lawsuits against online sites. Websites targeted include Isohunt.com, BTHub.com, TorrentBox.com, TorrentSpy.com, NiteShadow.com, Ed2k-it.com, NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com and DVDRs.net.

"Website operators who abuse technology to facilitate infringements of copyrighted works by millions of people are not anonymous they can and will be stopped. Disabling these powerful networks of illegal file distribution is a significant step in stemming the tide of piracy on the Internet", said John G. Malcolm, Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations for the MPAA.

This news article was written on February 24, 2006.

Tangent Files Antitrust Suit Against Microsoft

Tangent, an OEM based in Burlingame, Calif., filed a complain Feb. 14 in U.S. District Court for Northern California, seeking an unnamed amount from the software giant, claiming the software maker has been able to overcharge for its operating system as result of Microsoft's "artificial" market dominance.

"Because Microsoft, through its exclusionary practices, eliminated its competitors from the market and has blocked entry of new competitors and expansion of existing rivals, it has been able to increase, maintain or stabilize prices at anticompetitive levels" since the late 1980s, the complaint said. "Microsoft's supra-competitive prices are not the result of superior products or competition on the merits. Rather, Microsoft has been able, at the financial expense of purchasers to artificially inflate its profits…."

Tangent alleged further that Microsoft entered into restrictive agreements with OEMs and system builders, limiting or eliminating their ability to feature non-Microsoft products.

This news article was written on February 22, 2006.

US Legislature Suggests China Web Crackdown

Nearly every US company with a Web site located in China will have to move it elsewhere or its executives would face prison terms of up to a year, according to proposed legislation expected to be introduced this week in the US Congress.

The highly anticipated proposal, created by Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican from the House of Representatives, in response to recent reports about censorship in China by Google, Yahoo and others, also makes it unlawful to filter search results or turn over information about users to certain governments unless the US Justice Department approves. It would also impose new export restrictions to those nations.

"For the sake of market share and profits, leading US companies like Google, Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft have compromised both the integrity of their product and their duties as responsible corporate citizens", Smith said at a related hearing in the House on Wednesday. Smith, chairman of a human rights subcommittee, likened that cooperation to companies that aided the Nazis in World War II.

Besides the relocation requirement, Smith's proposal says that:

  • A US corporation that offers a search service "may not" alter its results in response to the request of an "Internet-restricting country".

That would permit ongoing censorship by Western nations such as Germany, which requires Google to filter Nazi-related sites from search results, or the United States, which imposes a similar requirement on search engines as a result of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

  • Search engine companies must provide the Office of Global Internet Freedom - a new federal bureaucracy that would be created - with a list of verboten search terms" provided by any foreign official of an Internet-restricting country".
  • Any Web site with operations in the US must regularly provide the Office of Global Internet Freedom with a list of content deleted or blocked at the request of an Internet-restricting country.
  • A new set of federal regulations - apparently aimed at Cisco's routers and software used by the other companies - would be erected to criminalise certain exports to China, Iran, Vietnam and other Internet-restricting nations. Current law permits the export of "publicly available technology and software" to those nations. Those exports would no longer be permitted if software or hardware is exported for the purpose of "facilitating Internet censorship."

Infractions can be punished, depending on the exact prohibition violated, by fines of up to 2 million dollars and criminal penalties of up to five years of prison time.

This news article was written on February 22, 2006.

Bank Accounts Raided By New Trojans

In response to the increased adoption of stronger authentication, cybercriminals are changing their tactics, according to Alex Shipp, a senior antivirus technologist at MessageLabs. "We have recently seen a move away from stealing user name and passwords," Shipp said during a panel discussion at the 2006 RSA Conference in San Jose on Thursday. The new "bank-stealing Trojans" wait until the victim has actually logged in to their bank. "It then just transfers the money out."

"All of the authentication, little keys you have to have in your hand, biometrical things, it doesn't matter. The bad guy just waits until you're there and then takes the money out," Shipp said.

This new type of Trojan is on the rise and is currently number three on the list of most common threats, according to Shipp. The most-seen threat today is remote control code used to maintain networks of zombie PCs, or botnets, he said. Second are phishing scams, which seek to dupe computer users into giving up personal information, Shipp said.

This news article was written on February 21, 2006.

Google Rejects US Government Demands To Hand Over Data

Google Inc. formally rejected the U.S. Justice Department's subpoena of data from the Web search leader, arguing the demand violated the privacy of users' Web searches and its own trade secrets.

Although Google is willing to censor material in China, the company is not yet ready to violate the privacy of users in the United States. In a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Google also claimed that the government's demand to turn over search information is simply impractical because it won't aid the government in its current crusade.

Unfortunately, competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo have agreed to turn over data. The Mountain View, California-based company said that complying with the U.S. government's request for "untold millions of search queries" would put an undue burden on the company, including a "week of engineer time to complete."

Complying with the Justice Department request would also force Google to reveal how its Web search technology works -- something it jealously guards as a trade secret, the company argued. It refuses to disclose even the total number of searches conducted each day.

This news article was written on February 21, 2006.

NBC TV Channel Has Less Viewers than Olympics Website

Although TV ratings for the Olympics have not been overly impressive, NBC's Olympics web site has drawn 167 million page views, which is more than 145 million page views for the entire duration of the Olympics in 2002. NBC is thankful that people are watching the Olympics somewhere, especially after shows like "American Idol," "Grey's Anatomy," "House," and "Desperate Housewives" all beat NBC last week. The site offers medal counts, athlete profiles, schedules, results, photos and video recaps.

"Our strategy has evolved over time from one where we would use the Internet and these digital platforms to promote television," Zenkel said. "It has evolved into a strategy in which we use these digital platforms to make more content available."

This news article was written on February 20, 2006.

Chicago Plans Citywide Wi-Fi

Chicago is the latest major U.S. city that plans to make wireless broadband citywide. The city already has hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots in typical places that are familiar for people: libraries, coffee shops, and bookstores. The city is now asking any interested technology companies to submit official proposals for the project. City officials have not yet announced any projected costs that users would have to pay for access to the Wi-Fi network after it has been completed. More details will be revealed when the city determines which companies will be involved with the development of the system.

Assuming everything falls into place as planned, the Chicago citywide Wi-Fi network could be running as soon as 2007, city officials said.

This news article was written on February 18, 2006.

Adaptive Armor for Better Ski Protection

Spyder, a popular skiwear company, has developed an impact suit that is designed to help protect U.S. and Canadian skiers. Spyder worked exclusively with d3o Labs to produce the suit that flows normally but will harden in a fall.

The new material is called d3o, a mixture of viscous liquid and a polymer. The exact chemical contents of d3o are currently a secret, but many researchers believe that the suit truly is revolutionary. After the material was synthesized, it is poured into a mould for the specific body part it will protect. The molecules are normally free flowing, but will lock if an object attempts to move through the liquid too quickly. In practice, whenever a high speed object collides with the liquid, a hard armor-like pad forms.

This news article was written on February 17, 2006.

Microsoft Office 2007 Prices And Applications Announced

Microsoft has announced that the beta program currently known as Office 12 will become Office 2007 when it is released later this year.

Office 2007 has been completely redesigned compared to its Office 2003 predecessor and features a new "Ribbon" menu system in many Office applications to make editing and navigation easier.

Here's a list of the different Office packages complete with pricing (full/upgrade):

  • Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 (Available only through volume licensing; price N/A)
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 (Available only through volume licensing; price N/A)
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2007 ($499/$329)
  • Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 ($449/$279)
  • Microsoft Office Standard 2007 ($399/$239)
  • Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 ($149/NA)
  • Microsoft Office Basic 2007 (Available only through OEMs; price not quoted)

You can read more about it on Microsoft's site (.doc file)

This news article was written on February 16, 2006.

Dell Announces 8ms LCDs for Europe

Dell took an unusual step backwards today by announcing the 8ms UltraSharp 17" 1707FP and UltraSharp 19" 1907FP LCD displays. The displays both use 6-bit LCD panels capable of 262,000 colors per pixel with an 8ms gray to gray response time.

Dell has been a large proponent of 8-bit Super IPS LCD panels in the past, but the move to 6-bit panels for the 1707FP and the 1907FP is not completely unusual. Typically, Dell will use different components for different regions - so the UltraSharp 1907FP in Europe may be completely different than the UltraSharp 1907FP in the US.

Both displays come with a native resolution of 1280x1024 and 500:1 contrast ratios. Representatives from Dell Europe claim the price of the 1707FP and 1907FP will be £199 and £299, respectively.

This news article was written on February 15, 2006.

Xbox 360 DRM Soon To Be History

A new utility from 360gamesaves.com gives you access to the Xbox 360's HDD and memory cards

Xbox 360 users can rejoice in the release of Xplorer360 v0.9. Brave users can now hook up a 360 HDD to your PC with a SATA adapter and even more adventurous users can read/write data to the 360's memory cards via your PC's USB port. Here's a list of the features supported with the initial release of this application:

  • FULL Read/Write to 360 HDDs.
  • FULL Read/Write to 360 Memory Units.
  • Physical and Logical drive access.
  • Support for opening of dumps of both devices.
  • Backup/Restore dump options.

With this newfound power, users can now share savegame data with others over the Internet and it opens up a new can of worms. The utility even gives you the ability to transfer old Xbox savegame data over to your Xbox 360.

This news article was written on February 14, 2006.

Blind student Sues Target.com For Lack Of Accessibility

The California Association of Blind Students set its sights on Target.com as part of the first salvo against websites that do not support software capable of interpreting text on the screen for blind readers. The lawsuit claims "Target thus excludes the blind from full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of daily life".

Blind Advocacy groups believe the lawsuit against Target is valid on the premise that eCommerce websites must uphold the same disability standards as the brick and mortar counterparts. When websites use image maps and lack alt-text for images on the site, reader software developed for blind people stops functioning correctly. Federal laws governing disabled patron access to eCommerce websites do not exist in the US yet.

"What I hope is that Target and other online merchants will realize how important it is to reach 1.3 million people in this nation and the growing Baby Boomer population who will also be losing vision," said Bruce Sexton Jr., 24, the blind third-year Cal student who filed the suit.

This news article was written on February 12, 2006.

All US Analog Broadcasting To Terminate By 2009

President Bush signed legislation earlier this week that will officially end analog broadcasting on Feb. 17, 2009, which is the date that all U.S. broadcasters must stop transmitting analog television signals.

Viewers who have analog TVs will have to purchase a converter after the transition is complete. Along with the legislation, $1.5B USD in funding will be offered to provide two $40 USD vouchers for every household to be used to purchase converter boxes. The bill will free up 60 MHz of spectrum that will be given to the highest bidders of wireless-broadband and cell phone providers.

This news article was written on February 12, 2006.

Bungie Says Halo 2 Will Not Run On Windows XP

It seems that Halo 2, the sequel to the very popular Halo video game, will only be playable on the upcoming Microsoft Vista operating system for the PC platform. Bungie Studios, developer of the Halo video games, claims that the move to make the game Vista-only isn't to force people to purchase the new operating system, though the official Bungie explanation as to why is not so clear:

"As Bungie Studios and Microsoft are dedicated to delivering a top quality translation of Halo 2 for the PC, their efforts require the use of the best available technological platform for Windows games. Windows Vista will help bring clarity to our customers and help them get more out of their personal computing experience, allowing them to focus on what matters most to them."

This news article was written on February 10, 2006.

ATI Releases Catalyst 6.2 Drivers

ATI's newest Catalyst drivers resolve many issues with games, Catalyst Control Center and Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Here are some of the game issues resolved with the Catalyst 6.2 driver release:

   * BattleField 2 Special Forces: A blooming or ghosting effect is no longer noticed when playing the game in night vision mode. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21648
   * City of Heroes: Running Shadertest 7 no longer results in slow performance being noticed. Further details can be found in topic number 737-21463
   * Half-Life2: Enabling Catalyst AI no longer results in the outer edges of the water appear dark or black in color. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number. 737-21649
   * World of Warcraft: Pixel corruption is no longer noticed when playing the game on systems containing an ATI Radeon X1600 series. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21652

You can download the drivers from ATI Support's site.

This news article was written on February 9, 2006.

GE, Toshiba Venture To Build Silicone Plant

General Electric and Toshiba have announced that its joint-venture will setup a 4th plant in China to produce silicone based products. The facility will produce such things as molds, lubricants, elastomers, and speciality silicone-based fluids. The joint company, called GE Toshiba Silicones will be building the new facility in the city of Nantong, Jaingsu province. In fact, this is GE Toshiba's 4th and largest silicone plant in China.

Costing roughly $78 million USD, the plant is set to be completed and operational by the tail end of 2007 and will be cranking out more than 20,000 metric tons of products per year. GE alone already sells more than $2 billion USD of silicone products per year and says that China is rising rapidly as a major buyer of silicone based products.

GE Toshiba Silicones Co. will be competing with 34 other silicone manufacturers around the world. Most of the competitors are based largely in Brazil, Norway and the US. While the company's production output is large, the total output from all of GE Toshiba Silicones' competitors amount to over 65% of the entire world's silicone products.

This news article was written on January 23, 2006.

Philips To Reduce CD-R Royalties, Cheaper Discs For Everyone

It seems Philips has decided to cut CD-R royalties by almost half. Currently, $0.045 USD from every (sanctioned) CD-R manufactured is paid to research giant Royal Philips Electronics. Under a new licensing plan, media manufacturers will only pay $0.025 USD per disc. For the average 100 CD-R pack, that translates to a $2.00 USD savings.

The move to reduce licensing costs is an effort by Philips to reduce the amount of unlicensed media being produced in South East Asia. Two of the largest CD-R producers, Ritek and CMC Magnetics, produce licensed media for Philips. Whether or not the royalty reduction will actually translate to cheaper discs to the end user seems unclear - but Ritek and CMC will now have the ability to compete with rogue media with the new lower licensing plan.

This news article was written on January 20, 2006.

AMD Signs $150M Wafer Contract with Soitec

CPU manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices just renewed its silicon-on-insulator contract with Soitec for the 2006 calendar year. AMD uses Soitec's wafers for its 90nm Athlon 64, Opteron, Turion and Sempron processors. The contract, for $150 million USD, is triple the size of AMD's 2005 contract.

A threefold increase in SOI demand for AMD bodes well about the company's expectations for 2006. However, Soitec has been under legal pressure lately from rival wafer companies on charges of patent infrigement. Additional legal problems for Soitec could give AMD serious supply problems as AMD is now heavily reliant on Soitec's wafers.

This news article was written on January 17, 2006.

Toshiba Scientists Find Practical Technology For Entangled Light

Researchers from Toshiba Research Europe Ltd. and the University of Cambridge have announced a quantum device that can create entangled light.

The process starts with a silicon-based device that uses quantum dots inside a block of indium arsenide. Quantum dots are essentially nanocrystals small enough to exist in the quantum confinement regime. When the quantum dot is excited by a laser pulse, two electrons in the indium arsenide are excited. The energy will then be converted into two entangled protons that can be split outside the device.

This news article was written on January 15, 2006.

Mozilla Releases Thunderbird 1.5

Mozilla today released Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5, the latest version of the free e-mail client.

Updates include an integrated spell checker, a better spam filter, automated updates and better RSS support. The program debuted in December 2004 and has supposedly been downloaded over 18 million times. Version 1.5 marks a major milestone release for the software, and all current users are advised to update.

If you wish to download Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5, simply click here.

This news article was written on January 13, 2006.

Fujitsu Expands With A New $1 Billion Plant

Fujitsu is spending over US $1.05 billion on a new chip manufacturing plant to keep up with rising worldwide demand. The global market for microchips is expected to swell 8% this year and by nearly 11% in 2007.

The company's new Japanese plant will begin volume operation in July of 2007 and will initially produce 300mm wafers on a 65 nanometer manufacturing process. This would be Fujitsu's second plant to produce 300mm wafers. The first plant will will have its capacity boosted to 15,000 unit a month by March of next year.

Fujitsu already has a facility in the Mei prefacture; it is currently responsible for much of S3's core logic. The additional fab will be Fujitsu's first 65nm capable facility.

This news article was written on January 12, 2006.

Apple Starts Shipping Intel Core Duo iMacs

MacWorld - Apple has shown the next generation of iMacs which are based on Intel's Core Duo processor. Apple says that the new iMac is more powerful than any PC in its class with benchmarks showing that the new Duo Core iMac is 2 to 3 times faster than current G5 iMacs.

Apple also says that the new iMac will come with OS X 10.4.4 and all applications and utilities included have been recompiled to run natively on the new platform. Professioanl applications such as Aperture and Final Cut will be available sometime in March. For now, any application not yet recompiled for the x86 architecture will still be supported by the new system using Rosetta -- OS X's real-time x86 binary code translation layer. Microsoft's Office for Mac is also currently undergoing transisition to universal binaries but currently will also run on Rosetta.

This news article was written on January 11, 2006.

Viagra Packages To Include Anti-Counterfeit Tags

In a move to thwart counterfeit Viagra, on Friday said it has included special radio frequency identification tags on all packages of its anti-impotence pill to verify they are the authentic Pfizer product.

Pfizer has previously also opposed illegal imports of authentic Viagra into the United States, where they can be sold at steeply discounted rates, but said the new technology is not designed to block such imports.

Pfizer spokesman Bryant Haskins said the tiny tags are small computer chips that have been affixed to the underside of labels on each bottle of Viagra, as well as on cases and pallets of the drug. The invisible tags relay an electronic code that verifies the product is bona fide and authorized Viagra.

This news article was written on January 8, 2006.

Google Expands: The Video Store

The Google Video Store, a new service introduced by Google during CES, will allow users to search for videos from programs played on CBS and basketball games presented by the National Basketball Association.Viewers will have to wait 24 hours for new CBS episodes, and NBA games will be available via tape delay. Google will charge $1.99 per episode for CBS shows and NBA games will be available for $3.75 per game.

This news article was written on January 7, 2006.

Seagate considers making more aquisitions

Seagate made a blockbuster move when it announced plans to purchase rival hard drive manufacturer Maxtor for $1.9 billion. CEO Bill Watkins announced that Seagate will continue to search for more companies to acquire in the future. On the top of the list of potential targets are software companies and companies that integrate different software and chip technologies into hardware systems.

Seagate, with its acquistion of Maxtor, now owns more than 40 percent of the hard drive market.

This news article was written on January 6, 2006.