Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

We live in an era where every six months a newer and speedier graphics card emerges that pushes pixels exponentially faster than its predecessor, but at its core is still just a faster graphics card. There hasn't been much in way of truly mind-blowing innovations, until now. The new Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision ($199 list) takes PC graphics in a whole new direction and creates a 3D graphics environment previously only seen in movie theaters.

GeForce 3D Vision is a consumer lever "stereoscopic 3D ecosystem." In layman's terms, it is a set of 3D glasses that makes certain games, videos, and photos appear three-dimensional. The 3D Vision comes with a set of rechargeable active shutter glasses, a USB IR emitter, a driver disc, and all of the requisite DVI and USB cables. In a perfect world the glasses would be plug-and-play, and you would be (virtually) knocking off bad guys within minutes. Yeah, unfortunately, that's not really the case. First of all you need a system with a fairly new Nvidia graphics card (a GeForce 8800 or higher will suffice). You will also need to use certain 120Hz monitors and a DVI cable without a VGA adapter, (for testing, we used a 22-inch Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ). The device will also work with select Mitsubishi and Samsung DLP HDTVs and the Light Speed Depth Q 3D projector. Nvidia sends along all the required cables for these displays as well.

Installation

Setting up the 3D vision was pretty straightforward. The first thing you need to do is delete your old Nvidia display drivers and install the new ones that come on the included disc. Once this is done, you follow the installation directions, plug in the IR emitter, put on the glasses, and calibrate them with a series of images that are provided on the same install disc. Make sure the IR emitter is within your line of sight to avoid transmission issues and some image flickering. ,,,

Game on

I have found that whenever a company launches an innovative product, it is often only useable in a very narrow realm. Remember when the first HDTVs came to market and had a picture that blew away standard definition television? The only glitch was that there were only a handful of HD channels to watch. Nvidia has taken its time with the development of the GeForce 3D Vision and has gotten all its ducks in row before launching the device. The GeForce 3D Vision will work with over 300 games on the market today. I tried the system out with Spore and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and was impressed with the use of 3D rendering—but not really blown away. But when I played Call of Duty: World At War, it was another story: Stereoscopic technology is going to totally change the way we play first-person shooters. Along with a good pair of headphones, the GeForce 3D Vision had me totally immersed in the game. Blood, bodies, and bullets were flying all around me, and it was awesome. The images produced were not quite the 3D we are used to seeing at the movies. ,,,

What about ATI graphics card users?

ATI is currently working on its own 3D technology with monitor maker iZ3D, but it uses a different technology—stacked LCD panels with different polarization and polarized glasses. iZ3D monitors work with Nvidia cards as well, of course, but you if you buy an ATI card, you get a rebate on a monitor. iZ3D also makes a special 3D driver for 3D DLP TVs, which works free with Radeon owners but is a paid deal with Nvidia cards. The iZ3D drivers support other technologies as well, like the Nvidia's stereoscopic shutter technology. Look out soon for Extremetech editor Jason Cross's in-depth comparison of ATI and Nvidia's 3D technology. (full Story)

Bargain Hunt: iPod Docks  

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Even with a brand-new iPod, it can often feel like something is missing. Sure, listening to the device with your headphones is fine—even what it was originally intended for—but sometimes you want to rock out like you used to with your stereo or shelf system. The ideal solution is to pick up an iPod dock, which will let you pump up your music without blowing out your eardrums. Here are three good docks whose prices have dipped 15 percent or more.

Editors' Note: All listed prices are current as of the date of publication—and apt to change quickly and often.

AngleJBL On Stage IIIP
Was: $170
Is: $130
Savings: $40 (23.5 percent)
Why You Want It: The JBL On Stage IIIP earns Apple's "Works with iPhone" certification," so it's perfect for iPhoners who want to pump out their tunes. The small, portable device delivers quality audio and includes a remote for full iPod navigation.

Right AngleAltec Lansing T612
Was: $200
Is: $156
Savings: $44 (22 percent)
Why You Want It: The T612 is another good choice for iPhone users. The audio is well-balanced, and the device allows the user to tweak the treble and bass. Because of its price and capability similarities to the On Stage IIIP, style mavens can choose between the two very different designs.

Logitech Pure-Fi Dream : FrontLogitech Pure-Fi Dream
Was: $200
Is: $161
Savings: $39 (19.5 percent)
Why You Want It: We loved this dock enough to award it an Editors' Choice rating. The device can be used as an alarm clock, and it is well-designed, simple to set up, and easy to use. It also has powerful speakers, strong bass, and a backlit remote. (story Link)

VistA Now All Open Source  

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The big open source struggle that began with Linux, moved to enterprise applications and then the consumer space, is now pointed directly at the heads of doctors and hospitals.

VistA, the public record EHR and hospital management software created by the Veterans Administration, is once again an open source movement with word that DSS, its biggest commercial licenser, is switching to the Eclipse Public License.

In a press release posted by its PR firm, the company also said it is joining the Open Health Tools Foundation.

In the press release DSS President Mark Byers was frank about the company’s ambitions with the move:

  1. Make VistA a standard framework in the coming battles over health IT; and
  2. Get greater cooperation with the open source VistA community.

This is huge news, wrote open source health expert Fred Trotter at his blog. It changes the VistA game and gives open source a strong competitor in VistA software alongside Clearhealth and Medsphere.

While he expressed some skepticism about whether DSS “knows how” to be an open source vendor, Trotter’s piece was welcoming and he offered high praise for its code:

The fact that DSS has chosen to release its code through OHT brings a new relevance to OHT. There should be no confusion however; OHT is relevant because it is working to release DSS code, not the other way around. The code that DSS is releasing has the potential to be vastly more valuable than anything OHT has even attempted.

The move to strengthen open source and VistA is well-timed, given the new Administration’s promise to increase health IT spending. Whether it can beat a city filled with lobbyists is anyone’s guess. (full Story)

The tech community is gearing up for CES and Macworld Expo 2009 events this week and it is expected there will be new from the large computer makers, Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc. However, did you know that Nokia is now the world’s largest computer maker with 13.8% of market share? HP, Dell, Apple, Acer, Lenovo, RIM, and Toshiba follow in the stats. These numbers only include the Nokia smartphones and not all of the Nokia mobile phones (Series 40 phones are quite powerful too, but not included) or devices (Nokia Internet Tablets are not included), which would increase their numbers even more.

Nokia was the world's largest computer maker in 2008Now, the first argument you will probably make to Tomi’s article linked above is that Nokia smartphones (and those from RIM, Apple, Windows Mobile, and Google) should not be considered computers. I recommend you check out his other follow-up article that takes an in-depth look at the history of computers over the last 50 years to see how today’s modern high end smartphones fit into the computer picture.

Nokia has been calling their Nseries devices “multimedia computers” for the last couple of years and I tend to use this label often too as agree with them about the Nseries functionality. These devices capture amazing photos and video that you can even edit on the device itself and share online without ever needing to connect to a PC. Most, if not all, of the Nseries devices come with TV out cables and Bluetooth so you can actually use a Nseries device as your only computer with a connection to a monitor/TV and Bluetooth keyboard. Most people today use their computer for email and web browsing and with a Nseries device and external monitor/TV there is no reason you can’t do it all with the phone as the central core of your system.

You will never do away with the full PC computer and no one is saying they will go away because there are a ton of real needs for a full size powerful computer. However, it is quite amazing what these mobile devices today can do and I know that every phone currently in my collection blows away the PCs I had back in the 90s. I actually prefer to use my mobile phone for setting appointments, browsing through email, and browsing through my RSS feeds over using my PC since I find it more convenient and faster. Coworkers also tell me they prefer using their iPhone for browsing through their email list rather than using Outlook on the PC. (full Story)

The pre-CES rumors were spot on again with the rumored OQO Model 2+actually being announced and shown off at CES. The OQO model 2+ does have an OLED display (seems to be a popular theme at CES this year) and more for a full PC in your pocket.

CES 2009: OQO announces model 2+ with OLED and Intel Atom processor

Specifications include the following:

  • 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 (1.33 GHz Z520 an option too)
  • 2GB RAM (1GB optional)
  • 120GB HDD (60GB HDD and 60GB SSD options available)
  • Windows XP Home, Pro and Vista Business options
  • 800×480 5 inch WVGA active matrix touchscreen OLED (LCD also an option)
  • Integrated WWAN option
  • Integrated 802.11 a/b/g WiFi
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0
  • Integrated backlit QWERTY keyboard
  • 4500 mAh battery (9000 mAh option available)
  • Size: 5.6 x 3.3 x 1.0 inches and 1.0 lb

The 1.33 GHz Windows XP model with LCD display, 60GB HDD, and 1GB RAM starts at US$999 and the 1.86 GHz model with Vista Business or XP PRo, 120GB HDD, 2GB RAM, and OLED starts at US$1,499. These are actually reasonable prices compared to what the OQO models started at in the past. The devices ordered today are estimated to ship in May of 2009.

The 60GB SSD adds US$700 to the price and the WWAN options (HSPA, Sprint EVDO, or Verizon EVDO) add on another US$149. Docking stations and other accessories are also available at rather high prices so your bottom line cost could easily be over US$2,000. I like the idea behind the OQO model 2+, but still can’t afford such a device myself. Anyone interested in this latest model? (story Link)

As a flip-side to Ed Bott’s “Six Vista annoyances fixed in Windows 7” I thought I’d play Devil’s Advocate and offer up what I think are a selection of potentially new annoyances that Windows 7 introduces.

#1 - Revamped Taskbar and Start Menu are far from perfect

My take on the Taskbar and Start Menu is that it’s going to be one of those things that people either love or hate. Like any major change in the user interface it is bound to attract automatic criticism, but given that it is undoubtedly flawed.

The new revamped taskbar is visually very interesting (and certainly a lot easier to use at higher screen resolutions that the Vista or XP taskbar), but it tries to do too much and as such comes across as kludgey and counter-intuitive. One failure is that it’s hard to tell the difference between apps that are running and shortcuts that have been pinned to the taskbar.

#2 - Goodbye Classic theme

If you never really bonded with the Vista look and preferred to use the Classic look, then Windows 7 isn’t for you because the Classic theme is gone. OK, there is a Classic theme, but it’s basically the new Start Menu with a new skin and nothing like the classic Classic theme.

#3 - Ribbon UI make a patchy appearance

The Ribbon UI in Office 2007 was one of those love it or hate it changes. Well, whether you loved it or hated it, the Ribbon now makes an appearance in Windows 7 on Paint and WordPad. If you like the Ribbon, great, you get to play with it in a few apps, while not in others. If you hate the Ribbon, well, tough, you’re stuck with it in these apps.

#4 - For some users, Windows 7 will mean more time spent setting up

Gone are applications such as Windows Mail, Windows Messenger, Movie Maker and so on. Anyone wanting apps of this sort will need to download then via Windows Live Essentials. Problem is, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and if you use these apps Windows 7 means having to download and set up the apps that you need.

#5 - Search is odd

Why is it that when I search for say “Note” from the Start Menu I get Sticky Notes above Notepad? I’ve noticed countless such examples of strange behavior from the search system. Either it’s not been fully refined yet, or there’s some strange logic at work there.

#6 - Jump Lists are messy

Jump Lists is a new feature that Microsoft claims will give the user access to tasks related to specific applications.

(full Story)

While I think the T-Mobile Shadow appealed to a number of people moving from a feature phone (at least that is the type of demographic I saw every time I went into the T-Mobile stores) I don’t think it struck a strong chord with mobile phone enthusiasts. I personally found the T-Mobile Shadow to be one of my favorite non-touch screen smartphones (see my review andfollow up thoughts). Today, HTC and T-Mobile announced the next generation Shadow that will be available in January or February.

CES 2009: HTC and T-Mobile announce new Shadow with UMA supportThe new T-Mobile Shadow will be available in black/burgundy and white with a few improvements over the original T-Mobile Shadow (now available for a measly US$29.99). The improvements include Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard (was 6.0), 260 MHz processor (was 201 MHz) and UMA support for functionality with the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service. I personally found the first Shadow more than adequate and think these improvements are all that was really needed, with the exception of a GPS receiver. I would be happy just to get 6.1 on my existing Shadow and wish T-Mobile would provide that upgrade. (story Link)

Samsung is beefing up its Blu-ray offerings with its announcement earlier today of two new Blu-ray players and three Blu-ray home theater systems, including the first Blu-ray sound bar. As with its HDTV introductions this afternoon, the company hasn’t divulged price or availability yet, but they may be worth the price and wait if they perform as well as they are stylishly designed.

Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-ray playerThough the BD-P3600 has a lower product number than the BD-P4600 (pictured), it’s actually the higher-end of the two new Blu-ray players. While both units come with support for BD-Live (Profile 2.0), which adds Internet-based features to compatible discs, along with an included 802.11b/g/n USB adapter and the ability to stream movies from Netflix’s on-demand service for subscribers, only the BD-P3600 can output 7.1 channel high-definition audio as an uncompressed PCM signal for the best quality reproduction. On the other hand, the BD-P4600 is a mere 1.5 inches thick and can be wall mounted. It also has the red accents that some other Samsung “Touch of Class” designs have, which may or may not be to your liking.

Samsung HT-BD8200 sound barFor the design-conscious, Samsung has refined its sound bar system to incorporate a Blu-ray player in the form of the HT-BD8200, which also comes with a wireless subwoofer. As with other sound bars, the HT-BD8200 provides virtual surround sound for those who don’t mind not having the full multichannel experience (and its related clutter). At 2.6 inches deep, it, too, can be wall-mounted, and with the optional wireless USB dongle, it can handle BD-Live features and Netflix streaming video. (full Story)

CES 2009: Nokia announces E63 QWERTY device for the US for only $279 unlockedThe Nokia E71 is a fantastic device (see my review) and I keep on going back to using it because it has a killer form factor and is solid as a rock. Nokia announced the E63back in November for Europe and other countries. Today at CES 2009, Nokia announced that the E63 will becoming to the USA with support for 3G (on AT&T) for a low MSRP of US$279 as a SIM-unlocked device.

I had a chance to play with Rafe’s Nokia E63 for a bit and it actually has a slighter better keyboard than the E71 and is a great device. The differences between the E71 (can be found between US$300 and US$400 online) and the E63 is that the E63 has a colored plastic case (red or blue) compared to the metal casing on the E71, the E63 has a 3.5mm headset jack (bonus), no GPS is provided in the E63, and the E63 has a 2 megapixel camera (compared to the rather anemic 3.2 camera on the E71). The E63 still has WiFi, Bluetooth, S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1, large 1500 mAh battery, and all the other great applications (such as QuickOffice). (full Story)

Microsoft Server Worm Can Spread Via USB  

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A Microsoft worm that is currently attacking business systems is also a USB worm, security vendor F-Secure has warned.

The worm, which F-Secure calls Downadup, attacks the vulnerability outlined in MS08-067, a Windows Server service flaw that was patched in October.

The worm launches a dictionary attack to attempt to crack user passwords, and uses server-side polymorphism and modification to the Access Control Lists (ACL) "to make network disinfection particularly difficult", F-Secure said in a blog post on Tuesday.

However, F-Secure said it has discovered the worm also propagates on the client side, via USB. If a person plugs a USB stick into an infected computer, the malware creates an autorun.inf file on the root of the USB drive.

The .inf file then uses either autorun or autoplay to infect any unpatched systems either when the stick is plugged into the system, or when the user double-clicks on the USB icon in My Computer in Windows Explorer.

The USB worm uses a steganographic technique to hide the autorun file in "binary garbage" to make detection more difficult, said F-Secure's chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen in a blog post on Wednesday.

The US Computer Emergency Response Team has urged IT professionals to apply the patch linked to in MS08-067. (full Story)

Sony made their grand debut just prior to Steve Ballmer’s keynote, and boy, they know how to put on a show. Here’s what’s notable (I’ll leave the many Bravia announcements to Home Theater blogger Sean Portnoy, who was in attendance with me and will post tonight).

Sony P-Series NetbookVAIO P-Series Lifestyle PC

About the size of a woman’s wallet (or a man’s wallet for a suit), this 1.4 lb. Netbook-that-resembles-a-wallet (the P is for Passport) was the biggest announcement. It supports integrated WAN, LAN (incl. Verizon 3G) and Bluetooth, and packs GPS that doesn’t need the Internet (in the U.S. and Canada). The screen is a high-res (1600×768), 8-inch ultrawide LCD intended for viewing entire web pages on one screen, eliminating horizontal scrolling. Oh, and it comes loaded with Windows Vista.

It comes in five colors (red, green, white and two shades of black) and will retail for $900. It’s available now for pre-order and will be at select retailers next month.

Sony DPF-X100Digital Photo Frames

Two new models: First, the 10-inch DPF-X1000, which is 800×480 SVGA LCD (15:9 aspect ratio) and has 2GB internal memory, HDMI output, an alarm clock, and auto dimmer, white balance correction, and is Bluetooth ready. Second, the 10-inchDPF-V100, which includes all the previous stats but has 1GB of internal memory.

Both will be available in March, for $300 and $250, respectively.

Sony HDR-XR520VHDR-XR520V 240 GB HD HDD Handycam camcorder

The barnburner: Full 1920×1080 HD video and 12 megapixel still image capability. Features a large capacity 240GB HD that holds 101 hours of HD video in LP mode, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor for low light, photo and video geotagging via a built-in GPS receiver and NAVTEQ digital maps, image stabilization, “Smile Shutter” for photos even when recording video, and face detection. This bad boy will be available in March for $1500.

Sony HDR-CX1000HDR-CX100 HD Flash Handycam camcorder

For those who prefer flash camcorders, Sony announced this as well. Has Full 192×1080 HD video and 4 megapixel still image capability, plus 8GB embedded memory expandable via Memory Stick PRO Duo. Packs 10x optical Carl Zeiss Vaio-Tessar zoom with Steady Shot up front. Comes in three colors — red, black, silver — and includes Smile Shutter and face detection. Will be available in March for $600.

Sony MHS-PM1 Webbie HD camcorderMHS-PM1 “Webbie” HD MP4 camcorder

Available tonight for $170, this is Sony’s YouTube-friendly device. It captures HD MPEG-4 video and 5 megapixel stills, has a 4 ounce body, comes equipped with PMB Portable software for quick online upload, and has a rotating swivel lens. Expandable storage via Memory Stick PRO Duo, and of course, comes in three colors: eggplant, orange and silver.

The company also had two more things to note: OLED prototypes in various sizes (expect this tech to develop further) and a “major” announcement tomorrow. Stay tuned. (story Link)

AMD Officially Releases Phenom II and Dragon Desktop Platform  

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AMD’s 45nm quad-core Phenom II processors get an official unveiling.

The Phenom II comes in two flavors:

  • X4 920 - 2.8GHz - $235
  • X4 940 - 3.0GHz - $275

The price and performance of these pieces puts them roughly in the middle ground between Intel’s Core 2 Duo and the Core i7 - around the Q9400 mark. Certainly these new processors beat the original X4’s hands down, and give Intel’s mid-range Core 2 Duo’s a run for their money. However, despite having a clock speed of 3.0GHz, don’t be fooled into thinking that these CPUs come close of the Core i7 - they don’t.

Along with being based on 45nm architecture, the Phenom II processors also have 6MB of L3 cache, and have a DDR2 and DDR3 compatible integrated memory controller (although this first batch only support DDR2).

These processors sound promising, and certainly have a fair amount of overhead when it comes to overclocking, but ultimately the initial reviewsare somewhat understated. The main advantage of the Phenom II seems to be that you can drop them into any 125W TDP Phenom compatible motherboard, whereas Intel’s i7 means a whole new platform. My guess is that over the next 12 months AMD will release more Phenom II parts with faster clock speeds.

The Dragon platform is basically a combination of a Phenom II processor, a 7-series chipset motherboard and a Radeon 4000 series GPU. These parts actually come together quite well to create a well-rounded, balanced platform that doesn’t feel CPU top-heavy like most Core i7 systems do. (full Story)

Microsoft: Windows 7 Means Business  

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Windows 7 is going into public beta, Microsoft head Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas late on Wednesday.

The first beta version of the successor to Windows Vista is immediately available as a downloadable disk image to MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet subscribers, while the general public will get to test drive the new operating system from Friday 9 January.

Windows 7 is expected to hit shelves towards the end of this year or the start of 2010, according to Microsoft's broad roadmap for operating system releases, which specifies a three-year gap between releases. The new OS first made an appearance in October, when a 'pre-beta' version was given to attendees of Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference (PDC) 2008.

Prior to Ballmer's Wednesday announcement, ZDNet UK talked to Microsoft's UK Windows chief, John Curran, in London. Curran, who called the beta release "feature-complete", said Windows 7 would appeal to business users and IT professionals because of its enhanced security and because the new OS does not require new hardware investments above those required by Vista. "[The encryption feature] BitLocker was a key enhancement in Vista, but Windows 7 takes that a step further," Curran said. "BitLocker To Go is the new feature. If you take a traditional USB drive and then turn on BitLocker, you can either put in a password or lock [the USB drive] using a smartcard." A USB drive encrypted using BitLocker To Go will be usable on a PC running Windows 7, Vista or XP — although an XP machine will only be able to read the drive after downloading software to allow this.

"Any hardware that runs Vista, you can have confidence it will run Windows 7 the same or better without a hardware upgrade," Curran said. He also claimed that, as the new OS is "fundamentally built on Vista", most Vista-compatible applications will also be compatible with Windows 7. The exceptions would be applications that are highly operating-system-specific, such as antivirus or file-management software. Curran described Windows 7 as "designed and optimized for the mobile PC, whether it is a netbook or a laptop", and claimed the new OS would work even on current netbooks such as those using a1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU.

A key feature for business users, Curran said, would be DirectAccess. This feature, also included in Windows Server 2008 R2, lets mobile workers access their corporate networks without the need for a VPN. It also lets IT professionals remotely manage laptops, even if the machines are too small to allow for the incorporation of a smartcard reader. Curran also said power-management enhancements in Windows 7 made the operating system suited to mobile computing. "Windows 7 does some clever things in terms of power management," he said. "The screen automatically dims after 30 seconds [of disuse] but, if you flick the touchpad with your finger to keep [the PC] awake, it will wait longer until the next time it auto-dims. It will adjust its behavior according to your needs."

It is not yet clear how many sleep modes will be included in Windows 7 — many saw the number in Vista as too great and too confusing — but one certain addition is that of "wake to wireless", adding to the current "wake to LAN" mode. Another enhancement for business users, Curran said would be found in Windows 7's search functionality. Whereas Vista's integrated search covers the client PC in question, the new "syndicated search" allows search across a corporate network or even across Sharepoint. Curran also said that Windows 7 was smaller than Vista, in terms of the amount of space it takes up on the hard drive, and that performance had been "tweaked across the board".

In its appearance, Windows 7 closely resembles Vista. Two significant exceptions are the size of the buttons in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen — these are now larger so as to be more usable in the OS's built-in multitouch mode — and the lack of the sidebar. The sidebar in Vista contained the widgets, but in Windows 7 these mini-applications can be spread across the desktop in a similar way to widgets in the Android mobile operating system. As Android seems set to make its way into netbooks, it is likely that Google’s operating system will become a direct competitor to Windows 7 in that market segment.

The taskbar in Windows 7 also includes another visual enhancement over Vista, in that it will automatically display multiple tabs for a browser or multiple documents for applications such as Word. Asked whether businesses should ignore Vista in favor of the upcoming Windows 7, Curran claimed that "the road to Windows 7 is through Vista". (full Story)

Report: Microsoft in stealth Yahoo takeover?  

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Techcrunch, quoting anonymous sources, is reporting that a group of Silicon Valley executives and investment bankers are proposing a takeover of Yahoo - with the help of financing from Microsoft.

The proposal calls for a premium of about 20 percent over Yahoo’s current share price, which closed at $12.71 Tuesday, down 2 percent. Shares continued to slide in after-hours trading. The Silicon Valley group would immediately sell Yahoo’s search and marketing businesses to Microsoft and take over the top ranks of Yahoo, leaving the company as an independent, the site reported.

It’s important to note that this is simply a proposal to Microsoft at this point and that it needs backing from Redmond to fly. (story Link)

Reviewing Windows 7  

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Microsoft has a long history of interleaving really terrible releases with cleaned up offerings and therefore, given Vista, I had high hopes for Windows 7.

On quick review it appears to meet expectation: it’s a pig, but it’s a pig that works within the expectations and limits of the Wintel market place. What it feels like, in fact, is exactly what it seems to be: the hybridized 2003 minwin core from 2008 Server with improved driver recognition and handling on the inside and the most recent Office improvements in copying the Mac interface somewhat generalized to the GUI on the outside.

Overall, not too bad - and likely, I think, to appeal to those members of the Windows/XP crowd looking for a politically and emotionally acceptable excuse to jump back on the upgrade band wagon.

Notice, please, that I’m saying it’s better suited to Wintel community use than Vista in large part because it seems to have fewer internal corruptions and a more Mac like exterior - not that it’s in the same league with any of the major Unix players. Relative to MacOS X or SuSe’s latest Linux desktop, Windows 7 is just another three legged horse, differing from Vista only in not also being lame on one side.

In many ways the improvement relative to Vista reminds me of Windows 98’s improvements over Windows 95 - itself, of course, similarly MacOS inspired. But remember what came after 98? Right: ME and the end of the line for the tottering tower of complexity Microsoft had layered on top of DOS.

The original “Longhorn” ideas were largely based on PICK and might, I think, have led to a new foundational core OS for Microsoft had they been pursued after XP came out. But they weren’t with Microsoft choosing, instead, to continue layering complexities on on the object VMS ideas Dave Cutler brought to Microsoft in the early 1990s - and like DOS with Windows 98, I think that process has pretty much reached its limits. (full Story)

There are two ways to view Philip Schiller’s keynote at Macworld Tuesday: It was either a respectable effort by one of Steve Jobs’ understudies or a bummer since the main attraction wasn’t on stage and the announcements left a lot to be desired. Both would miss the big picture.

The big picture is this: For the long-term health of Apple the company needs to prove that it is more than just Steve Jobs. Jobs could stay at the helm of Apple for 10 months or 10 years. It doesn’t really matter. At some point in the future, Apple will have to get along without Jobs whether retirement, a boardroom coup, cancer or a hormone imbalance leads to a change.

That’s why Schiller’s keynote, which probably benefited from low expectations, is more important than it initially appears. Apple is putting executives such as marketing guru Schiller and operating chief Tim Cook in the limelight to show it has a bench. The transition from Jobs is a gradual process that will take years to unfold if Apple is lucky.

If Apple has any sense it will simply steal the transition playbook from Microsoft instead of this press release back and forth it has deployed. The software giant telegraphed its management changes so it wouldn’t spook customers and investors and followed through with a plan that made sense for all parties.

Remember Microsoft’s transition? Bill Gates stepped down as CEO in January 2000 and handed the reins to Steve Ballmer, who became president of Microsoft in 1998. Gates continued as chief software architect for eight years and Microsoft highlighted a bunch of executives–notably Ray Ozzie. Gates’ last day was June 27.

Microsoft’s transition to a new management team took a decade to complete. Why should Apple be any different assuming Jobs’ is healthy enough to continue? When the time is right Jobs should initiate a similar process. (full Story)

Ultimate Windows Tweaker - GeneralThere are a number of apps that have dubbed themselves the "TweakUI" for Windows Vista, and one of the newest contestants for the title is the Ultimate Windows Tweaker. The app is free, supports both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, and only offers the relevant tweaks for your version of Vista and installed applications. Ultimate Windows Tweaker features over 130 tweaks and customizations designed to give you a bit more control over your Vista installation.

The Ultimate Windows Tweaker is a portable app and requires no installation. You can drop the executable on a thumb drive or a network share and use it to configure as many Vista systems as you choose. Best of all, it's tiny, and weighs in at under 1MB.

Once you run the app, you can choose from seven areas to customize, including User Accounts and UAC, Security, System and Performance, Network Optimization, and more. The personalization tweaks are largely UI options that allow you to make Vista look and behave the way you want. The System and Performance options are some of the most useful, and allow you to tweak Vista to shut down faster and tell Vista to automatically end unresponsive programs.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker - Network

The Ultimate Windows Tweaker also allows you to customize Internet Explorer for performance, and will automatically detect whether you're running IE7 or an IE8 Beta. Once the app knows what version of IE you're running, it will only present you with the options available for that version. You can also make changes to the way Vista handles networking, bandwidth, and shared files and folders. (full Story)

TruPhone Launches iPhone Skype Capability  

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TruPhone_iPhone_Skype.jpgTruPhone has announced a new Skype-enabled app at Macworld that lets iPhone and iPod touch users make Skype voice calls or instant message other Skype users, claiming that all users need is a TruPhone account. The service will launch next week.

The company said in a statement that Truphone-to-Skype communications are free over the Internet. iPhone users, meanwhile, can also place and receive Skype calls and messages when not in a Wi-Fi-accessible location for the cost of a local callusing the Truphone Anywhere feature. The only asterisk there is that roaming charges will apply abroad. The app apparently routes calls over the Internet, not over a GSM voice channel (it also works on the iPod touch, after all). The app also displays a virtual dial pad for making calls.

It will be interesting to test this out; so far I've had just about zero luck making reliable mobile Skype calls. (Skype running on a PC or Mac usually works pretty well, though.) Separately, the company also announced instant messaging over MSN Messenger,,, (full Story)

Safe Eyes Mobile Protects Kids on the iPhone 3G  

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Safe_Eyes_Mobile_iPhone.jpgThe iPhone, like many cell phones from all four carriers, has some basic parental controls built-in for free (though with some other models, protection comes from the carrier, not from the handset itself). Now InternetSafety.com has announced Safe Eyes Mobile, what it claims as the first Internet filtering software that lets parents protect children from viewing objectionable content on a mobile device.

Essentially, it's a replacement browser for the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPod Touch; it blocks millions of pages of inappropriate online content while allowing full access to the rest of the Web, "eliminating the need to turn off the iPhone's highly acclaimed mobile browsing feature to avoid exposing children to the unsavory side of the Internet." There's a YouTube-based video demo at www.safeeyes.com/iphonedemo as well.

The app works by checking against a blacklist of Web sites that's updated daily, and defaults to protecting against adult and tasteless categories. Parents can check off up to 31 other categories using the app. Here's one important difference: the app can filter content over both AT&T's 3G data network and the iPhone's Wi-Fi radio. It will be interesting to see how the replacement browser works next to Safari; the company claims that it still supports pinch zoom, bookmarks, and Google Search. Pricing and a release date have yet to be determined. (story Link)

Hands On: Apple MacBook Pro 17-Inch (Aluminum)  

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The new MacBook Pro 17-inch (Aluminum) boasts a graphics upgrade, but its new chassis design (non-removable battery, what?) will cause a stir among Mac fans.

San Francisco, Calif.—So the (underwhelming) hardware story from today's Macworld Expo 2009 was the introduction of the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch (Aluminum) with the same unibody construction as the 15-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Here's the stats: 17-inch screen with 1,920 by 1,200 resolution (true HD); 2.66-GHz or 2.93-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor; 1066-MHz Front Side Bus; 4GB of 1066-MHz DDR3 SDRAM standard (up to 8GB supported); 320GB 5400rpm or 7200rpm spinning hard drive; optional 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive (SSD); and DVD DL +/-RW SuperDrive. There's the switchable Nvidia GeForce 9400M/9600M GT graphics found in the 15-inch version, with the same 512MB discrete/256MB shared memory configuration for the graphics. Like the Mac Pro desktop, the MacBook Pro 17-inch (Aluminum) is sold as a single configuration, with a whole bunch of upgrade options.

macBook_cyberssystem.blogspot.comThe MacBook Pro 17-inch (Aluminum) is obviously a bit bigger than the 15-inch model, but given that the chassis proportions are so similar, you'd never realize that from a distance, unless they were sitting next to each other. The giveaway when you get up close is that the speaker grilles next to the keyboard are just a bit wider. Looking at the bottom of the 17-inch, I get a sense of design déjà-vu. It's a seamless case, like that of the MacBook Air, iPhone, and iPods. The 8-hour (95Whr), 1,000-charge cycle battery is sealed in the case.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said in his keynote address at Macworld that Apple saved weight and space for battery cells by omitting the removal hardware, but I'm sure there will be a backlash from the Apple faithful for the omission.

Another omission due to the sealed chassis: You're not going to easily be able to upgrade the memory or hard drive either. I was told by an Apple rep that, as with the iPod and iPhone, the battery will be an Apple Service item.

The MacBook Pro 17-inch (Aluminum) will be available with an anti-glare (matte) screen for a $50 fee, but I wish it were a no-cost option. There are a whole lot of users out that don't like the glare shining off of a glossy screen (check out the slideshow for the flash reflection off of the 17-inch MacBook Pro on the show floor). The screen is bright, but you better hope your eyeglass prescription is up to date—text can look real small on the 1,920-by-1,200-pixel resolution screen. On the other hand, HD video looks great on the screen, and can be displayed at the full 1,920 by 1,080 resolution. It's a pity that the optical drive is (still) the dual-layer DVD-burning SuperDrive. And no Blu-ray options from Apple. I guess the company wants you to buy all your HD video from the iTunes store.

The keyboard and trackpad are the same as that on the current 15-inch MacBook Pro; the button-less trackpad feels the same with the four-finger multitouch feature. All the other features mimic the current 15-inch: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 85W MagSafe AC adapter with breakaway connector, ExpressCard/34 slot, FireWire 800 port, Mini DisplayPort, and wired Gigabit Ethernet jack. The 17-inch has an additional USB 2.0 port for a total of three. (full Story)

How to Negotiate a Better Salary  

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If you want to make the most of your career you'll want to negotiate your salary in the best way possible. Where a lot of people make a mistake with that is, they talk about the salary that they expect to get on their resume or cover letter and that, can get them weeded out of the applicant pool before they ever even get an interview. You'll want to avoid any mention of how much you expect the company to pay you when you submit your application, resume, or cover letter to them. It's not a good idea, because you might set your expectations too high and be turned down right away. If you set them too low you could end up making your prospective employer think that you really aren't worth anything or that you have no confidence in yourself.
Neither one of these scenarios is likely to get you an interview, much less get you the job. If you're specifically asked about a salary requirement you can state that you are looking for the market rate, or that your salary requirements are open but you're sure a company such as that one would pay market rate.
Those are nice ways to say that you expect to be paid well without coming out and putting a dollar figure on your employment opportunity. Once you've been through the entire recruitment process and have been hired is the time to start discussing dollar figures, because then you have a position of strength. The employer probably doesn't want to spend a lot of time going through the recruitment process with someone else, so he or she will be more willing to negotiate as long as you don't get greedy. Know in advance what the salary range is for your job in that area of the country and understand that you'll need to stay within that. An employer isn't going to want to pay more for what is essentially still an unknown quantity. You should also stick with the old adage that you won't get anything unless you ask. If you've shown the employer what you have to offer, ask for what you really think is fair and then negotiate from that point. (Source)

After countless rumor posts and many download leaks around the web, Steve Ballmer announced at CES today that Windows 7 Beta will be publicly available for download on January 9th.

Windows 7 Beta is already available for download to MSDN and Technet subscribers, and via Microsoft Connect for anybody enrolled in the Windows 7 Beta program. Everybody else should watch the Windows 7 Page for the download link to be posted on January 9th.

According to the Windows 7 Team Blog, only 2.5 million downloads for the beta will be issued for a limited time. It will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit edition and available for download as an .ISO file. Most DVD burning software can burn the ISO image onto a DVD, but if you don’t have those ImgBurn is a good alternative. You can also just mount the ISO using PowerISO so you can install Windows 7 Beta without even burning a single DVD. Another alternative is to run it as a virtual machine. You can find more info about how to do that here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Windows 7 Beta can only be upgraded from Windows Vista SP1. Make sure you have Service Pack 1 installed. You can take a look at this article if you are having problems installing SP1. (full Story)

Pharos Announces New Unlocked GPS Smartphone  

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LAS VEGAS – Pharos on Tuesday at CES 2009 announced the company's latest unlocked GPS smartphone, the Traveler 137. The Windows Mobile Professional phone is distinguished by a large 3.5-inch, 800x480 touch screen and support for both AT&T and T-Mobile's high-speed 3G networks.Pharos Traveler 137

Pharos makes both standalone GPSes and GPS smartphones, and unlike many other manufacturers the company has decided to go it alone by offering unlocked phones that work on AT&T and T-Mobile. Most unlocked phones don't work with T-Mobile's 3G network, which runs on the unusual 1700-MHz band. But the Traveler 137 does, delivering fast Internet speeds on T-Mobile as well as on AT&T.

It actually works better on T-Mobile than on AT&T: with tri-band 1700/1900/2100 3G, it works with all of T-Mobile's and foreign 3G systems, but misses any AT&T 3G cities using the 850-MHz rather than the 1900-MHz band. In those cities, it has to drop to 2G.

The Traveler 137 is a powerful, slab-style Windows Mobile Professional 6.1 handset with a 528-MHz processor and a killer list of features. To hit the Internet, the phone supports both HSDPA 7.2 with HSUPA and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g. (That means its cellular networking is faster than what either AT&T or T-Mobile have on offer today.) The 137 has GPS, of course, along with Bluetooth 2.1, an FM radio, and dual cameras: a 3-megapixel one on the back and a VGA one on the front, for taking pretty self-portraits. The 256 Mbytes of RAM and 512 MB of Flash is supplemented by a MicroSD card slot supporting up to 16 GB memory cards.

The phone's most visible feature, though, is its screen, a 3.5-inch, 800x480 panel. That's the same size as the iPhone's screen, but more than double the resolution. Only the Sony Xperia X1 matches this resolution on a phone, and that phone costs $200 more than the Traveler 137.

Since Pharos is a GPS company, the company focused on including top-notch GPS software on the Traveler 137. The phone's Smart Navigator software downloads maps while the phone has cellular coverage, so you can still use it to navigate when you're out of phone range. The phone will come with U.S. maps for free; Canadian and European maps are available at an extra charge.

"Most navigation solutions for smartphones only work when within a carrier coverage zone," said James Oyang, Pharos' president, in a statement. "We've equipped the Traveler 137 with our hybrid navigation system that follows you wherever you want to go and charges you only when you actually use it." (full Story)

SanDisk Announces Rock Band 2 Wii Card  

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he Rock Band franchise shows no signs of stopping, and SanDisk is jumping on the juggernaut with branded SD storage cards for Nintendo's leading game console.

The Nintendo Wii's amazing popularity remained strong this past holiday season; according to market research firm NPD Group, Nintendo sold more than two million of the gaming consoles in North America in November alone. The accessory market for this popular gaming console expanded just a smidgeon Tuesday as SanDisk announced the Rock Band 2 Wii Card, a storage card specially branded for Wii owners who are fans of the virtual gaming franchise.

The announcement was made at the CES 2009 show in Las Vegas.

"The actual storage capacity on the Wii is pretty limited, said Brian Pridgeon, director of international product marketing at SanDisk, pointing out that most users don't even realize the console comes with a storage card slot. "We're giving consumers a chance to extend their gaming experience," he said.

The 2GB Rock Band 2 Wii Card will sell for $12.99 – room enough for dozens of downloadable songs, instruments, instructional lessons, and other content, the company said.

Adding an SD card allows a gamer to store saved games, transfer data to a different console, and continue his progress. There's nothing unique about SanDisk's card, however; it doesn't come with any special Rock Band content,,, (full Story)

2009 Preview: Tech to Watch For in the Year Ahead  

Posted by Mohammad Talha

It's one thing to prognosticate about the future with nothing to go on—and we're not above it!—but why bother when there's so much concrete evidence of big changes to come in technology this year? Here's a list in order of appearance of what you can absolutely expect to impact your computing and Internet-connected life in 2009. (Story Link)

Left 4 Dead Freezing Fix  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

Steam has had a holiday sale going on  and being the frugal gamer that I am I got a couple deals. One of them being Left 4 Dead.   However much to my dismay after downloading and installing the game it had horrible freezing and the sound looped over and over while the screen stood froze.  So as any salty PC gamer would do I hit up the Left 4 Dead forums and dug around to see if anyone else had the same issue.

My moment of  genius payed off. I found many who came before me had the same issues.  It had to do with Left 4 Dead prompting me to update my Geforce video driver to 185.20 which I did during the install I mentioned above, and consequently there appears to be issues with this and multi-core processors at the moment. (story Link)

Killzone 2 You Will Disarm Nukes  

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Halo, Resistance, Gears of War and Killzone — it seems that most every epic first-person shooter series these days tells the tale of an inspirational, heroic retaliation against an bloody alien invasion, in order to have some kind of plot on which to pin its player-led massacre. But as tired as we are of directing gruff space marines, we don’t begrudge FPS developers the use of this cliche… because each individual game has managed to kick some serious ass, and sell fairly well in the process.

But according to a review of adult content at the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) this morning, Killzone 2 players won’t just have the one cliche to cope with.

” This is a first-person shooter in which players are members of an elite military unit whose mission is to quell an intergalactic threat and disarm a stockpile of seized nuclear weapons,” the report reads.

After the jump, the ESRB has another small spoiler; and a detailed description of why Killzone is not for the kiddies. (story Link)

Windows 7 Piracy  

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Microsoft Corp. said a court in China convicted 11 people for manufacturing and distributing counterfeit Microsoft software that the company valued at $2 billion.The sentences, which Microsoft said were the toughest yet for this type of crime in China, ranged from a year-and-a-half to six-and-a-half years. The company characterized it as the largest software counterfeiting case yet in terms of lost sales.

The counterfeiting syndicate involved in the case was found to have distributed high-quality fake versions of 19 products including Windows XP, Windows Vista and Office 2007, in at least 11 languages in 36 countries, Microsoft said. Software made by the syndicate was identified in more than 300 different cities in the U.S. alone, the company added.

Rampant software piracy in China has long been an issue for companies like Microsoft because China has until now tended to be lenient with offenders of intellectual property rights. Companies have been pressuring the government for years to crack down on the piracy of movies, music and computer software.

“I hope that this is an example of a continuation of increased international collaboration and commitment to protecting intellectual property,” said David Finn, associate general counsel for world-wide antipiracy and anticounterfeiting at Microsoft.

The Redmond, Wash., company said 25 members of the syndicate were arrested by Chinese authorities in July 2007 after a joint investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and China’s Public Security Bureau. Microsoft had been tracking the group since 2001.

Mr. Finn said the group had a bigger factory production capacity than Microsoft’s own production facilities in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The company said tens of thousands of customers helped in the investigation by using its antipiracy technology to verify whether their software was genuine or not. (story Link)

Microsoft ‘Blue Track’ Mouse  

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Is this the end of laser?

Microsoft Blue Track MouseSomeeagle-eyed readers over at Engadget havestumbled upon a Microsoft Explorer Mini Mouse with “Blue Track” technology on Amazon.de.

If you recall, Microsoft recently tempted fans with a “Say Goodbye To Laser” teaser touting new technology around the corner. Could this be evidence?

The ‘Gadg reports that the “Blue Track” technology is “based on a blue LED combined with a wide-angle lens that’s supposed to work on more surfaces than laser and optical,” and that the company seems to be aiming this at the portable market, noting the mouse’s wireless adapter and miniature size. (Story Link)

Nokia N96 Review  

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Aesthetically, the N96 looks and feels more polished and smoother than the N95 8GB. The screen remains the same size at 2.8-inches and is non-touch sensitive. Though this is a tad smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch multitouch screen, both basic text and multimedia content were displayed with good clarity and enough brightness. Employing the dual-slider design here again, sliding up reveals the keypad, while sliding down reveals four multimedia keys which morph depending on the application being used. The keys in both instances are flat and glossy, but they provide reasonable tactility and are comfortable to use. We liked the keypad lock slider at the top of the unit; and the handset also boasts an accelerometer.

The N96 has a largely plastic build and the phone doesn’t feel as solid as we would have liked. The slider is an improvement over its predecessor, but this just doesn’t feel like a Rs. 35khandset should. In addition, the rear battery cover feels flimsy, especially when removed. Apart from all this, Nokia has upgraded the internal flash memory to a whopping 16GB plus a microSD card support of up to 8GB. Meaning a total memory of upto 24GB! Though its symbian s60 interface may not be as sleek as the apple iPhone’s Os, using the handset is generally a hassle-free experience.

The phone does lag at times, but this will most likely be improved by future software updates. And its built-in GPs chip with a-GPs support is completed by the Nokia Maps application that has support for three coutries (India, Singapore and UAE). It comes with three months free trial turnby- turn navigation for 8 Indian cities. This is superior to the maps found on the iPhone 3G. Conveniently, an in-car charger is also included in the package.a 5-MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics is once again present, but its dual LED flash instead of Xenon flash is a letdown. Regardless, photos are reasonable. It’s not without its issues — including color reproduction, image noise and a general lack of sharpness; photos taken at night are passable, however. The multimedia capabilities of the N96 are excellent.

The external speakers produce reasonable sound, and a 3.5mm headphone jack lets you connect any set of headphones. There is also an FM radio. a particularly clever feature is the built-in kickstand: flip it out and the N96 can be rested upright on a desk or table, making it ideal for watching video content. The handset is DVB-h capable, meaning it is theoretically capable of receiving live television broadcasts but only Delhi Doordarshan has this service currently. Nokia also bundled a full length Bollywood super blockbuster Om shanti Om, 50 music videos, a mix of evergreen hindi and english soundtracks. We liked the Indis Ms that features messaging in 8 different Indian languages, we are expecting to see more applications like this in the future. and for security concern, there is a very useful Wavsecure program. Users can secure everything on the device wirelessly over the internet incase the phone is lost or stolen. Or it will let them wipe every personal data from the device.

Connectivity is excellent, with the N96 boasting Wi-Fi 802.11g/b, Bluetooth with a2DP, USB with a standard micro-USB interface and HSDPA capabilities. Call quality is excellent and the hands-free speakerphone is also loud And clear, though the handset’s battery life is questionable. We found ourselves charging the handset every night to ensure a full day’s use The Nokia N96 did not bring anything revolutionary over the N95 8GB apart from the upgraded memory and a TV tuner function. And for its price tag of Rs 35k against the Rs 25k for N95 8GB, we don’t really see why we should go for it. (story Link)

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