Monday, June 30, 2008

Sony PS3 moves toward an online community, gradually

PlayStation 3 consoles have always had Internet connectivity, but players trying to message one another have found that they're considered "busy" while they're in a game. An upcoming firmware update should change all that.

What's been perceived as perhaps Sony's greatest continuing weakness in its full-feature game console battle against Microsoft's Xbox 360 is the continued delay of its all-inclusive online community. This weakness is only compounded by the perception problem the company created for itself, having announced the PlayStation 3's Home service over a year ago, and having since then delayed its rollout, most recently in search for something that's more "focused" on gaming rather than the virtual bar-hopping experience Home was originally touted to be.

Analysts: Dell reclaims market share, but HP is gaining faster

Somebody needed to tell the world's PC manufacturers there was a recession scheduled for the first quarter of 2008. Anyway, they didn't seem to pay much attention to those warnings, and iSuppli thinks the industry looks pretty healthy.

For the last two years, analysts both with iSuppli and other firms have said that a healthy worldwide PC market had to grow at an annual rate of 12%. Despite what's generally perceived as a global economic slowdown, the annual rate of PC shipments was 12.1% at the end of March, based on numbers released by iSuppli today.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Google gadget makes you the 'media server'

Google recently launched what it's calling a media server gadget, a new Windows-only application designed to send videos and images from a user's computer to any universal plug and play (uPnP) device.

Typical uPnP devices include the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and the number of uPnPs available to consumers is growing dramatically. Google Media Server should auto detect all uPnP devices connected to the computer, so users should only have to install and briefly configure the gadget before it works on its own.

Palm reaches all-time high in sales, painfully low profits

Centro manufacturer Palm Inc. announced that despite record high sales, its fourth quarter revenue was well below forecasts, reporting losses of $43.4 million.

The Centro is proving to be the flagship device for Palm, that is to say, it's been just enough to buoy the company through flagging Treo sales until the 800w ships.

2008's fourth quarter sales for the Palm Centro were a record high 968,000 units, a 15% increase over last quarter. Centro sales are actually exceeding expectations for the company, but are providing too low a margin to offset the losses in Treo sales.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bye, Bill. A fond remembrance

On this final day of Bill Gates' salaried employ at the company he founded, we recall a period of history way, way back -- an era when Gates was one giant among many, and just as likely to survive the shakeout as any other.

The computing industry was built by brilliant people with colorful personalities and extraordinary talent. We have forgotten most of them. Chuck Peddle, Adam Osborne, Clive Sinclair, Federico Faggin, Les Solomon, Gary Kildall...these are among the names we knew by heart and often knew personally, for those of us who grew up with the dawn of the computing era. We knew these people often because we had met them in person -- during the first computer conferences, they were part of our second family, even if they only showed up in name only.

BlackBerry users still await update for MS Office doc creation

BlackBerry users worldwide will one day be able to use DataViz' Documents to Go to create Microsoft Office files on their phones. Yet so far, only a couple of ISPs have provided their customers with this update to BlackBerry services.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) -- At this week's Digital Experience show in New York City, DataViz gave demos of Documents to Go, its software suite for creating, viewing and editing Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel files and attachments on smartphones.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Google gets social with new iGoogle

Select users are now being treated to the next version of the company's portal, which integrates social networking characteristics into the site.

As things currently stand with iGoogle, users cannot do much more other than add widgets and customize the look of the page. This essentially makes Google's offering no more compelling than the dozens of other available portal sites out there -- and some may argue from the page's bland design any more appealing.

ATI seeks to break back into the GPU game with barrier-breaking cards

This week, AMD launched two new graphics cards that each give the Sunnyvale- based company two new firsts:. The ATI Radeon HD 4850 is the first teraflop graphic card, while the ATI Radeon HD 4870 is the first to feature GDDR5 memory.

Both cards in the 4800 series reportedly represents what AMD describes as a "2X performance jump" over the older Radeon HD 3800 generation; providing one trillion calculations per second, when the previous generation of cards could only offer up to half a trillion calculations. This marks one of the first times the speed of GPUs has been measured in teraflops.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sony plans Blu-ray disk burning for consumer movie software

This summer, Sony expects to release a new edition of Vegas Movie Studio which will add high-def output capability, enabling users to burn their homemade digital videos directly on to Blu-ray disks for the first time.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - Prior to the upcoming shipment of Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Edition, Sony's Vegas Movie Studio has allowed users to import video. "But it did not have any output capabilities for burning in any format," acknowledged a Sony spokesperson, speaking with BetaNews at Pepcom's annual "Digital Experience" press event where the product was announced last night.

Indie film distributor starts a 'virtual film studio' online

The company behind the popular IndiePix Internet distribution service of independent films has launched a new online studio for indie filmmakers.

IndiePix decided to create the service, it said, because its editorial team is receiving around 10 projects per week from filmmakers around the country. The new site,, will offer indie filmmakers and directors a new forum community, distribution tips from established filmmakers, and other benefits. More importantly, the site will allow filmmakers to track sales and other financial information involving their video. The ability to track sales online any time will provide more accurate sales numbers than waiting for a quarterly sales report.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FT: Virgin Mobile close to deal with SK over Helio

Apparently confirming earlier reports that the two sides were at the bargaining table, the Financial Times reports that the two companies are very close to a deal.

According to a Financial Times update this afternoon, a deal has been agreed to "in principle" for Virgin Mobile to acquire the Helio-branded operations of Korea-based SK Telecom. An announcement could come as early as the end of this week.

New shares of the company would be issued, according to the report, with Virgin as the new majority shareholder, SK retaining a 20 percent share in the new company, and the stronger Virgin Mobile brand being used for the combined business.

Nokia will buy Symbian, but doesn't want to control it

"This is the fastest and the best way [to] go forward," said Nokia's XVP yesterday. "What we are gaining here is the knowledge and the experience from the employee base in Symbian Ltd. For Nokia, this is a good investment."

During yesterday's press conference with soon-to-be members of the Symbian Foundation -- the group being assembled by Nokia after its historic purchase of Symbian Ltd. is complete -- the one aspect of the deal that reporters couldn't quite wrap their heads around was this: Nokia wants to set Symbian free, so it's buying it. Is this how Nokia expects to answer the challenge from Google's Open Handset Alliance with Android?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adobe Acrobat JavaScript flaw exploit in the wild

Computer researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered a flaw within most recent version of Adobe's Reader and Acrobat software applications that could allow hackers to take control of vulnerable systems.

"Adobe categorizes this as an critical issue and recommends affected users update their installations," Adobe said in an advisory today.

There are reports that the exploit is in the wild, which both Adobe and security firm Secunia appear to be taking seriously.

Panasonic may produce a full-size OLED TV display

Matsushita -- which owns the Panasonic name brand -- indicated to a Japanese business daily newspaper that it plans to beat competitors to the punch, by mass producing a 37-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television within the next three years.

According to the Japanese Sankei Shimbun, Matsushita is aiming for a 37-inch OLED -- the first OLED TV above 30-inches available to consumers -- with a target price of ~$1,400.

Sony has an 11-inch OLED TV it launched in Japan and has brought to US markets. Its 11-inch Xel-1, whose resolution is a bit less than true HDTV, is currently available through Amazon for a whopping $2,499.99. Meanwhile, Samsung is actively working on several different OLED TV models it hopes will be available in the coming years, including some which it previewed at the last CES.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R U ready 4 Twitter prez D-bates?

On Friday, the Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) began an ongoing debate between McCain and Obama representatives on Twitter, moderated by prominent blogger Ana Marie Cox.

Representing Sen. John McCain is Online Communications Director for the Republican National Committee Liz Mair, and Georgetown professor and Technology, Media and Telecom advisor to the Obama campaign Mike Nelson (no relation to Michael J. Nelson from MST3K...although that might have been cool).

'Making available' theory takes center stage in RIAA v. Thomas

After the judge in the Jammie Thomas trial admits he may have made some serious mistakes, the organization helping to defend her in court is now seeking a retrial.

A hearing on the subject is scheduled for August, where the two sides will argue for and against throwing out the October verdict that found Thomas guilty and fined her $220,000.

The whole idea of the 'making available' defense is this: A defendant in an illicit file-sharing case is essentially found guilty of infringement by just making the files available for download. Oftentimes, there is

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Microsoft re-issues one security fix for a Bluetooth hole

For an undisclosed reason, there continued to be a vulnerability in Windows XP's built-in protocol stack for Bluetooth, even after a patch released a week ago Tuesday was supposed to have addressed the problem.

Last week's round of Patch Tuesday updates from Microsoft included what had been described as a critical fix, over and above what the company had just released in Windows XP Service Pack 3, that addressed a potential problem with how the operating system's internal Bluetooth protocol stack responds to requests for certain services.

Samsung: Consumers, businesses to spark NAND flash rebound

Driven by applications ranging from cell phones, videocams, and embedded pens to PCs and servers, NAND memory is now set for a big resurgence, according to a Samsung vice president this week.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - Ultimately, the NAND flash cards already used in mobile devices and digital photography might even replace CDs, contended Jim Elliott, Samsung's VP of memory management, in a presentation at a Samsung press event on Wednesday.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

AT&T will pay a high price for iPhone 3G

The carrier may be paying as much as $425 in subsidies per unit to Apple, according to an analyst's estimate. If that's true, that's more than double what its competitors pay on average for other smart phones.

As a general rule, carriers usually pay subsidies are about $200 for smart phones. However in a research note, Oppenheimer financial analyst Yair Reimer believes AT&T is paying Apple $325 per phone for right of carriage.

What's more, if Apple sells the phone for AT&T, the carrier may be offering an additional $100 to the Cupertino company for its services. That means at maximum the company could be paying a stunning $624 for the 8 GB iPhone, and the $724 for the 16 GB model.

MetroFi is the latest to pull out of muni-Wi-Fi

The company announced Friday it's ending service in most of the areas it served, including major cities in California, Oregon, and Illinois, becoming the latest casualty of the muni-Wi-Fi bubble.

A message on MetroFi's Web site today indicated the company was dropping both its free and premium services effective Friday for the cities of Concord, Cupertino, Foster City, and Sunnyvale in California, and Naperville, Illinois. Remaining under MetroFi control, if only for the time being, are wireless networks in Riverside, Calif. and Aurora, Ill.

Friday, June 20, 2008 agrees with Google's critics, issues new privacy safeguards

Number 5 search engine has issued an open letter agreeing with the sentiments of privacy buffs while also rolling out new user privacy safeguards for its own platform.

As previously reported, a letter sent to Google in early June by a privacy coalition that includes the Electronic Privacy Center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation contends that "Google's reluctance to post a link to its privacy [policy] on its home page is alarming."

EBay to cut fraud risk, but only for PayPal payments

To help prevent fears of online fraud among buyers and sellers alike, Internet auctioneer eBay plans to abandon its previous limits on transaction protection beginning this fall.

The upcoming changes apply only to payments made through PayPal, however, as opposed to checks, direct credit card payments, and other forms of payment used by some buyers and sellers on eBay.

Right now, people buying goods through eBay via PayPal are only protected for up to $2,000 per transaction if the purchased item never arrives, or if it varies significantly from the seller's description. Sellers, on the other hand, are currently protected for only $5,000 annually against claims, charge-backs, and reversals from eBay buyers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

French bill would ban Internet use for illegal downloaders

France's Cultural Minister Christine Albanel introduced a bill to discourage the consumption of pirated media, under the threat of revoking the perpetrator's Internet access. Yesterday, that bill was approved by the Council of Ministers.

In addition to establishing the creation of a new state agency to be called HADOPI (High Authority for Copyright Protection and Dissemination of Works on the Internet), the "key measure" of Albanel's project is the three-strikes policy (or

Sprint Nextel tries again to hang onto some 800 MHz spectrum

Late Tuesday, Sprint Nextel filed for an extension in its relinquishment of portions of the 800 MHz spectrum which will be used for public safety purposes.

The FCC's original plan for rebranding the 800 MHz spectrum dates back to 2004, when the Commission initiated practices to "remedy the interference problem" in this band occurring between Cellular architecture systems and "high-site non-cellular systems" used by public safety agencies (19 F.C.C.R. 14,969, 14,972).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Toshiba's lastest Qosmios take aim at gamers, filmmakers

To appease gamers, filmmakers and users who want a portable notebook, Toshiba introduced three new notebooks in its Digital Products Division (DPD) yesterday.

The Qosmio G55, using the Cell processor currently used in the Sony PlayStation 3, has been designed specifically for multimedia enthusiasts. The notebook is available with up to 500 GB of storage, and is the first Toshiba product to ship with an 18.4-in. screen.

Under the new "Quad Core HD Processor" name, Toshiba, Sony and IBM worked together to create the Cell processor used in the PS3 and several supercomputers.

Toshiba's SSD-based notebooks double their capacity

In a move to bolster its Portege notebook lineup, Toshiba today introduced a new notebook that features a single 128 GB solid-state drive.

Although the Alienware Area-51 m9750 can be configured up to 128 GB SSD using two 64 GB units, the R500-S5007V Portege is the first truly portable notebook with a single 128 GB SSD.

Toshiba's "recommended" $2,999 R500-S5007V configuration includes a 1.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB DDR2 RAM, 12.1-in. screen, and integrated SuperMulti optical drive. It also ships with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. Previous Portege models had 64 GB SSD storage for the same $2,999 price tag.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apple, AT&T settle visual voicemail patent claims

Apple and AT&T said Monday they had reached a licensing agreement with Klausner Technologies over two of that company's patents related to visual voicemail.

Klausner filed suit in December, asking for damages and royalties totaling $460 million. Separate cases have also been filed against Comcast, Cablevision, and Skype for an additional $300 million in damages. Reuters also reports that the firm has settled with Skype parent company eBay and with US iPhone carrier AT&T as well, both of which will be licensing the patents. Discussions with Comcast and Cablevision are said to be "ongoing."

Beta brings Web-based widgets to desktop

Washington DC-based software company Mesa Dynamics has launched Amnesty Hypercube in beta, an application designed to create an iTunes-like market around Web services and widgets.

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to iTunes, Amnesty Hypercube allows users to assemble a "playlist" of Web-based widgets and allows them to be opened from the desktop, embedded in the dashboard with the traditional widgets, or placed in social networking sites.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Microsoft the latest to sponsor the Open Source Census

Pulling another big surprise, Microsoft has signed on as a sponsor of OpenLogic's Open Source Census, giving it more access than most to the survey's findings about open source software downloads by enterprise developers.

First unveiled in December, the Census represents an attempt by tools vendor OpenLogic and its partners to pinpoint which open source packages are being used in various kinds of enterprise settings, and to share that information among developers, their employers, and software vendors.

T-Mobile to offer iPhone in Germany for as little as one euro

Depending on the plan selected, Deutsche Telekom customers will be able to purchase an iPhone at a deep discount, the company said on Monday.

Apple's new subsidized pricing scheme has resulted in its carriers offering the 3G iPhones at substantial discounts in certain cases. O2 already announced last week that it will give the 3G iPhone away for free to those who sign up for its higher-priced plans.

So far, AT&T has not announced any type of variable pricing for potential buyers of the 3G iPhone in the US.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How LG's 'Scarlet' snared a global spotlight

Just what -- or who -- is "Scarlet"? A senior LG Electronics official explained that LG wants people all over the world over to ponder the answer. Yes, Scarlet is a TV series...specifically, a series of TVs.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - To help pull off the goof convincingly, LG hired David Nutter, producer of TV's "The Sopranos" series, said John Taylor, LG's VP of public affairs and communications, during a talk at this week's new Digital Downtown show in New York City.

FCC debates regulation of wireless early termination fees

With complaints to the FCC rising over the long-held practice of fining those who end their cellular contracts early, the agency looks poised to intervene. And for the first time, all sides may be nearing some sort of agreement.

Yesterday afternoon, FCC commissioners heard testimony from consumer advocate groups and carriers alike, and there seemed to be at least some agreement among all parties on the subject of early termination fees (ETFs). Chairman Kevin Martin has taken the lead on the subject, questioning the reasoning for the fee that has become a common part of everyday life with wireless devices.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

GTA IV leads surge in US video game sales for May

NPD reports that US video game sales were up 37 percent over last year, with Take-Two's blockbuster title leading the charge.

While Grand Theft Auto IV sold a combined 1.31 million units for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it appears at least for the time being not to be translating into higher hardware sales as Sony and Microsoft had initially hoped.

Some 871,000 of those copies were for the Xbox 360, outselling the PS3 version by nearly two to one. However, that success did not translate into strong sales for Microsoft -- it trailed Sony in console sales during the month by about 22,000, and the only console to report increasing sales month-to-month.

Google goes out of its way to make Facebook roadblock obvious

After Google and Facebook could not come to terms over Google's Friend Connect service, the Mountain View-based search company has further snubbed Facebook, publicly noting Friend Connect users' incapability to access it.

Users noticed the snub when they logged into the service for all Google Friend Connect sites and noticed at the top was the Facebook logo with a "Disabled by Facebook" text where the log in link would normally be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sirius + XM merger still under fire from broadcasters, legislators

A senior Republican US Senator has accused Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin of misleading Congress and the Justice Dept. about the XM + Sirius merger deal. But this round of opposition has a familiar flavor to it.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R - Kansas), ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee, has long opposed the XM + Sirius merger, saying in April that the Department of Justice had "made a mistake" last March when it found nothing anti-competitive about the combination of the two satellite radio companies.

Facing pressure from Facebook, MySpace regroups

As competition heats up with Facebook, social network MySpace is set to launch a major redesign of its Web site next week.

While MySpace won't say so directly, it appears its new site design may be the beginning of an effort to slow its competitor's advances. Launching Monday, but not appearing across its pages until Wednesday, the redesign will change many of the most popular features of the site.

Initially, the changes are slated to appear on the home page and search functions, as well as the navigation, profile editing, and MySpace TV. However, officials said additional changes are on tap throughout the summer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Bluetooth's horizon: high speed, ultra-low-power specs

With Bluetooth now celebrating its ten-year anniversary, a senior official with the Bluetooth SIG foresees new devices that will support emerging Ultra Low Power and High Speed specifications.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - In an interview with BetaNews Wednesday, Kevin Keating, the Bluetooth SIG's senior marketing manager, harkened back to the early days, when Bluetooth product demo sessions typically consisted of displays of cellular handsets by about eight vendors.

Comcast gets a theoretical upstream speed boost

Comcast gets a theoretical upstream speed boost

A graph showing an apparent speed boost for Comcast service in Macomb County, Michigan. Click on the graph to see it in full-size.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sneak preview: Polarid PoGo printer for instant digital photo printouts

Today at the Bluetooth SIG press event in New York City, Polaroid previewed a pint-sized, inkless portable printer dubbed the PoGo, that can turn your digital camera into a modern equivalent of the old Polaroid Instant.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - Remember those old Polaroid instant cameras from the latter half of the 20th century? (Would you believe they still make them?) Today at a Bluetooth SIG press event, Polaroid showed off its PoGo portable printer, which uses a Bluetooth link from a cell phone's camera to make your handset into a modern SX-70 equivalent.

ZoneAlarm Pro misidentifies Yahoo Messenger as a Trojan...again

It's getting more difficult to keep track of the various stages and permutations of malware, whose definition has expanded to mean "anything you didn't ask for and don't want running." But since when did Yahoo IM become malware?

It's no secret that a lot of our Windows-based production systems, and even some of our virtual ones, run ZoneAlarm Pro. There are a lot of software-based firewalls available now, but for the most part, we've been able to trust ZoneAlarm, even now that its originators have been absorbed into Check Point Software Technologies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DivX to find its way to more handsets, courtesy of AMD

AMD and DivX today announced a licensing agreement in which DivX technology will be implemented into future AMD Imageon processors commonly used in mobile phones and other handheld products.

The companies already have existing licensing and certifications, but this recent licensing agreement will focus on DivX certification for AMD's Imageon A250 application processor, announced at the Mobile World Congress in February. Consumers benefit from a stronger relationship between AMD and DivX because video playback, higher quality imaging, and vector graphics are all "DivX Certified," ensuring the processor has gone through a testing routine to ensure the CPU works as well as possible.

Amazon goes down for the count twice

While Amazon is not disclosing what exactly caused its site to fail for two hours on Friday, the world's largest online retailer may find its problem comes from the site design itself. first failed around 1:25 pm EDT on Friday. For a two-hour period, customers attempting to access the site were greeted with an error message. Once the site began to return, portions of Amazon remained largely inaccessible.

Problems seemed to appear once again on Monday, as some users reported receiving "Service Unavailable" errors. This was the same message that appeared on Friday.

Monday, June 9, 2008

HP and Acer end their patent litigation

Engaged in patent-infringement lawsuits in three federal courts, and under two US International Trade Commission investigations for well over a year, HP and Acer summarily ended their battle on Sunday.

HP threw the first punch in March 2007 in the US District court of the Eastern District of Texas, calling for monetary compensation for- and an injunction upon Acer's computers which supposedly infringed on five patents (referred to in the original suit as "the '721, '697, '211, '933, and '759 patents") held by HP, three of which it obtained when it acquired Compaq.

How cool is that IBM supercomputer?

Some time over the next five to ten years, IBM expects to replace a new water cooling method for its Hydro-Cluster supercomputer -- just unveiled in April -- with an emerging approach based on 3D chip stacks.

Right now, IBM's new Hydro-Cluster model removes heat from processors by means of water-cooled cooper plates instead of traditional heat sinks. For instance, the Power 575 system rolled out two months ago is billed as tripling energy efficiency while also operating five times faster than IBM's earlier supercomputers.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Register your favorite digits now as a URL in the .NU domain

While numerically-named sites such as and already exist, on June 10 the landrush will begin for the .NU domain which is being marketed in the US as the "number domain."

Belonging to the small island nation Niue which is located between New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands, the internationalized domain name has been popular for several years in Scandinavian countries where "nu" translates to "now." Roughly 80% of the registered .nu domains are Swedish.

Intel subpoenaed by FTC over CPU business practices

Intel subpoenaed by FTC over CPU business practices

Though the US Federal Trade Commission has yet to issue a statement as of 1:30 pm EDT, Intel has acknowledged it has received a subpoena from the FTC, effectively formalizing its inquiry into Intel's US business practices in the CPU market.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

U2 band manager compares ISPs to 'shoplifters'

Speaking during a music conference in Hong Kong, the manager of U2 did not hold back, going on a public tirade against large Internet service providers, alleging they're profiting from illegal file sharing.

"The recorded music industry is in a crisis, and there is crucial help available but not being provided by companies who should be providing that help -- not just because it is morally right, but because it is in their commercial interest," U2 manager Paul McGuinness said during the Music Matters conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Next round of Microsoft 'Patch Tuesday' addresses Bluetooth problem

On its next "Patch Tuesday," slated for June 10, Microsoft plans to release seven security fixes, including three critical updates.

According to Microsoft's Security Bulletin Advance Notification for June, the fixes will also include three important updates and one classified by Microsoft as moderate.

The three critical updates are aimed at vulnerabilities in Windows -- as well as one in the Internet Explorer (IE) browser -- that permit code execution with the use of DirectX, IE, and Bluetooth.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Facebook asks, 'How do you like this ad?'

Innumerable Web sites have been inviting readers to rate and comment about articles and blogs for ages already. Now, Facebook has added a considerably rarer function: Users can give "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to ads.

Judging from a particularly sophisticated example given by Facebook founder Rob Webb, Facebook members will also be able to leave feedback about why they like or dislike an ad, either by choosing a reason from a drop-down menu, or by creating a new reason not already on that list.

The 'Watch Video' link in Google Search is conspicuously missing

A feature that enabled Google users watch videos hosted on either YouTube or Google Video without leaving the search results page, has been quietly removed from the search site.

The Google Video Plus box originally launched in May 2007 with support only for Google's YouTube and Google Video brands. Users interested in previewing a video would click a blue box next to its title, to open up a console that plays the video directly in the screen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Study: Mobility of workers tracked via their cell phone usage

An academic study charting the daily mobility of people based upon their mobile phone data has raised ethical concerns regarding privacy and nondisclosure.

The study was conducted by Northeastern University and recently published in the journal Nature. Cell phone usage data from a private European mobile phone carrier was used as the primary dataset for the study. Both the carrier and the nation in which the data was gathered were not named.

In-game advertisements coming to Sony PS3

Sony has selected IGA Worldwide as its first partner to provide dynamic in-game advertisements for PlayStation 3 games, with an initial focus on the frequently delayed MMO undertaking called Home.

Within Home, the company says the simulated environment will "depict brands in various forms...where users would expect to see them in real life: on billboards and posters, on shopping bags and soda cans and on images of TV screens."

Sony may be a bit late to the advertising party, but the timing of this announcement is no less interesting. On Tuesday, competing firm Massive Inc. announced

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Windows XP lives on in the next embedded OS upgrade

The versatility of Microsoft's previous generation of operating system is about to be shown off some more, with a new edition that will be customizable for various embedded devices, using a special version of Visual Studio.

It's no secret that the Windows XP kernel is better suited for small devices than the Vista kernel, whose new architecture -- including such features as Address Space Layout Randomization -- requires a larger memory footprint. What may be a surprise is how much Microsoft has managed to compress into the next edition of Windows for embedded devices, now called Windows Embedded Standard, including .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Media Player 11, Silverlight, and Internet Explorer 7.

Pandora launches a new beta of its desktop music app

The Music Genome Project has released a beta of its music-recommending internet radio service Pandora as a gadget that works independently of browsers, based upon Adobe AIR.

Everything that the user gets in the in-browser version of Pandora can now be delivered from the system tray or dock of his system, with the latest Pandora Desktop beta for Windows and Mac, released this week. This is beneficial because the gadget itself is no small item. In the Pandora blog, this issue is somewhat shamefacedly addressed:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Facebook releases its open source platform

After last week's confirmation of plans to make its developers' platform an open source project, Facebook this week followed through by releasing most of the code that runs its platform, including the most frequently used methods and tags.

"This release is just a first step in providing you a look into Facebook Platform, and we hope you'll help us [to] iterate and improve on it," wrote Facebook's Ami Vora, in a blog post celebrating the official launch of the new Facebook Open Platform.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 now slated for August

Citing heavy customer feedback, Microsoft officials as high up as Bill Gates himself revealed today that the next public beta of IE8 won't be going home with Tech·Ed attendees this year.

Though the beta roadmap for Microsoft's next release of Internet Explorer has never been quite clear, one of the key "takeaways" from Bill Gates' keynote address at Tech·Ed 2008 in Orlando this morning -- other than this week's pending release of Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2 -- is the fact that testers and developers won't get a chance to see the next public beta of IE8 until late this summer, at the earliest.

Minnesota private community says no to Google Street View

In the latest example of "opt-out" in action, an entire Minnesota town demanded that Google take down Street View imagery of its municipality, and the search giant duly complied.

The City Council for the 4,500-resident town of North Oaks, Minnesota sent a letter to Google in January giving the company the option to either remove the imagery or be cited for trespassing. Rather than risk a legal battle, North Oaks no longer has Street View capability.

Dish, EchoStar sue TiVo to keep their DVR offerings afloat

Dish Network says their new software no longer infringes on TiVo's patents, but the DVR maker disagrees.

Last week, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said his company believes Dish Network's new software still infringes on its patents, and was asking for an injunction to block DISH from using it immediately. On Friday, EchoStar responded by launching a new suit, essentially asking the court to validate its software as legal and non-infringing.

Such a ruling would give EchoStar and Dish a leg to stand on in the nearly four year old battle between the two companies. Dish Network was spun off from EchoStar on January 1, and now controls all of EchoStar's former satellite television holdings.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

India, Brazil next to take issue with Open XML

After South Africa voiced its objections to how the Open XML standards ratification proceedings were conducted, the standards bodies of both India and Brazil are registering similar complaints.

The IEC has confirmed that it received two additional appeals from India and Brazil before the deadline. A fourth country is said to have considered filing an appeal, but the standards body has not confirmed this, and declined to say how many appeals it had received.

Lenovo hardware must qualify for Olympics too

As the Beijing Olympics approach, the testing deadline draws nearer for a technology infrastructure which has been built exclusively for the games by Lenovo. So the company is staging a dress rehearsal.

Lenovo reports over 30,000 pieces of its equipment will be used (desktop and notebook systems, servers, monitors, etc.) during the 2008 Summer Olympics, with some 580 of its engineers working on site.

Before that can happen, however, the company intends to put the system under as much stress as it can during a three-day "dress rehearsal" that will take place on June 10-12.