GPS vendor TomTom announced Thursday that it has launched an online mapping solution to compete with MapQuest and Google Maps. Dubbed TomTom Route Planner, the free service provides door-to-door route planning options to any address in the U.S. or Canada.
Using TomTom's MapShare technology, the service provides users with continued map improvements made by TomTom users that see flaws and correct them. According to the company, improvements are uploaded regularly to provide up-to-date driving conditions. TomTom's IQ Routes feature will offer more accurate arrival estimates by accessing average speeds for each road instead of employing posted speed limits to determine arrival. The service is currently in beta and available now to all users.
Local.com, a company that offers local search and networking, announced Thursday that it has signed an agreement with coupon provider Valpak to distribute local business offers through the Local.com network. According to the company, Valpak coupons will appear on the site's search results and profile pages. Users will be able to print the Valpak coupons for redemption at local businesses.
The Karaoke Channel Online, a service that lets people record themselves singing their favorite songs, says that it will now allow its users to publish their recordings across Facebook, MySpace, Delicious, and other social networks. To participate, users will need to pay $14.95 per month for unlimited access to the site's 5,000 songs. A full-year membership costs $99.95.
In its monthly Global Threat Report released Thursday, SaaS (software as a service) Web security firm ScanSafe reported that the rate of zero-day malware blocks increased to 26 percent in November, up from 16 percent in October and the 19 percent average for the year. According to the company's senior security researcher, Mary Landesman, "attackers were more intent than ever on ensuring the malware they used would bypass traditional security measures" during November. A sign of even more Web threats to come? (full Story)
To the stable of games for the iPhone, you can now add the legendary SimCity.
building' game, priced at $9.99, is now available for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Users can take advantage of the 'touch screen' technology to design and construct their vision of an urban landscape.
MG Siegler at VentureBeat, who's had a chance to play with the game for a while, waxed enthusiastic about the touch-screen qualities and more--"SimCity is a very impressive game on the iPhone"--but warned of some lingering bugs from the game's demo period:
so, have fun with your iPhone 3G !!! (story Link)
While some of those issues have been fixed--the game runs fairly snappy now, when loaded--I'm experiencing the game crashing and a slowdown in actions like zooming. From the early reviews I'm seeing on SimCity's App Store page, I'm not alone in experiencing this.
And unfortunately, loading even the more bare-bones previously saved city takes a long time (I'm talking minutes). Maybe for some, that will just add to the nostalgic experience--I remember this was an issue on my old PC back in the day as well. For others, it'll be annoying.
The vulnerability was found by Thomas Unterleitner of Austrian security company Phion and was announced Friday. Unterleitner told ZDNet UK on Friday that Phion told Microsoft about the flaw in October but that he understood a fix would only be issued in the next Vista service pack.
According to Unterleitner's disclosure of the flaw, the issue lies in the network input/output subsystem of Vista. Certain requests sent to the iphlpapi.dll API can cause a buffer overflow that corrupts the Vista kernel memory, resulting in a blue-screen-of-death crash.
"This buffer overflow could (also) be exploited to inject code, hence compromising client security," Unterleitner said.
Unterleitner told ZDNet UK via e-mail that the "exploit can be used to turn off the computer using a (denial-of-service) attack." He also suggested that, because the exploit occurs in the Netio.sys component of Vista, it may make it possible to hide rootkits.
Using a sample program, Unterleitner and his colleagues ascertained that Vista Enterprise and Vista Ultimate were definitely affected by the flaw, with other versions of Microsoft's operating system "very likely" to be affected as well. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are vulnerable. Windows XP is not affected.
Asked about the severity of the flaw, Unterleitner pointed out that administrative rights were needed to execute a program calling the function that would cause the buffer overflow. However, he also said it was possible--but not yet confirmed--that someone could use a malformed DHCP packet to "take advantage of the exploit without administrative rights."(full Story)
YouTube announced Thursday that it has launched a new landing page to corral all the high-definition video uploaded to the site.
Along with the new page, YouTube's HD player now launches in a widescreen window that takes up the majority of the browser window. YouTube posted an FAQ on how to how to encode HD videos and how to avoid "windowboxing"--images that are surrounded by black bars.
The video-sharing site quietly rolled out HD-enabled videos earlier this month by adding a "watch in HD" option where the "watch in high quality" option usually appears. Last month, the site began expanding the viewable width of all videos appearing on the site, creating an image like that of a movie theater screen or high-definition television.
The site is also testing three new landing pages dedicated to the popular categories of news, movies, and music. Each page will be populated with the most popular content on the site related to that category, YouTube explained on a company blog:
The news page will be populated with breaking stories from around the world as well as news drawn from the Google News service; music will feature rising videos alongside playlists dedicated to different genres; movies will showcase some of the most popular short and full-length movies on YouTube today.
BlackBerry users who own the Bold, Curve 8900 & 8320, 8820, Pearl Flip 8220, and Pearl 8120 will be able to stream video to their smartphone using a Slingbox device.
The download requires BlackBerry device software 4.5 or higher and will be free for a limited time. We'd imagine once the beta lifts, all users will be required to pay the one-time fee of $30.
Sling Media is recommending a Wi-Fi connection for optimal viewing performance on some of the BlackBerry models (that support it); otherwise, a high-speed data connection will be needed.
Not sure if your device is compatible? Point your BlackBerry browser to http://mobile.slingmedia.com/go/bbcheck and let Sling Media tell you if it is .(story Link)
Now that Apple has announced that it is pulling out of Macworld after its 2009 event, during which Steve Jobs won't be making a keynote presentation, the outpouring of outrage is being heaped upon us once again by those who can't believe that Apple is ending its association with IDG and its expo.
Why? IDG and Apple's relationship over the past few years has been anything but cordial, and we can't forget that Apple wants complete control over, well, anything Steve Jobs can get his hands on. On top of that, Apple has been able to create Macworld-like hype for its own events, so the need for a Macworld keynote is even less appealing.
But to simply stop there in trying to explain Apple's decision to drop out of IDG's event would be overlooking the idea that the company may have run out of ideas for Macworld destined to send shock waves through the industry.
A quick look back at recent Apple events tells you everything you need to know about the position Apple currently finds itself in. Besides its latest, during which it showed off the new MacBooks, most of Apple's press events over the past few years have been sub-par, to say the least.
An iPod refresh event? Please. Discussions on sales figures and App Store mumbo jumbo? What a joke. I don't need Apple to drag me to a press event in Cupertino to tell me that the iPod, which was once tall and thin, is now short and fat. And when Apple decided to bring its design back to the tall-and-thin design, I didn't need to be there to hear that, either.
I don't blame Apple for holding press events, though. After all, what other company can coax hundreds of reporters to fly to San Francisco for a less-than-stellar announcement, time and time again, without any backlash?
For years, Apple amazed us with outstanding events every few months, when it unveiled some of the best products on the market. Since then, the allure has worn off, and Apple, just like every other company in the business, simply can't innovate as quickly as it once did. In essence, its product updates are being more evolutionary than revolutionary.
That's not a bad thing. I'm perfectly fine with evolutionary upgrades to the company's product line, and I think most consumers are as well. But because it has always relied on press events to unveil those updates, Apple still feels obligated to drag us out to San Francisco to see Steve pull the latest and greatest Apple device out of his back pocket, even though it's a small upgrade over its predecessor. (full Story)
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