Download Windows 7 Codecs  

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Windows 7 Codecs is a codec pack specifically designed for Windows 7, and was created by the shark007, the same author who created the Vista codec pack.

The description on the website says that the codec pack will automatically remove most other popular codec releases and install new ones onto your computer. It also does not contain a media player or will not affect your file-type associations. You don’t really have to worry about this - he’s basically telling you what the codec pack does.

Download Windows 7 Codecs here  -  don’t forget to bookmark us

If you’ve been wondering why Windows 7 can play many of your media files out-of-the-box, it’s because Windows 7 now natively supports most popular formats including H.264, Xvid, and DivX. Even so, there are many other multimedia formats that Windows cannot play without the proper codec. To solve this problem, you can download a codec pack. A codec pack basically contains many other codecs required to play certain media files so you don’t have to download them one-by-one.

You may or may not want a codec pack. A codec pack would be good for those who want to view a variety of different media formats without having to download another media player, or for those who don’t want to worry about downloading additional codecs in the future. (Link)

iTunes Music Comes to BlackBerry Storm with nuTsie  

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iTunes tends not to play too nicely with non-Apple smartphones,--like, say, the BlackBerry. Melodeo intends to change that. The company today announced the availability of nuTsie for the BlackBerry Storm; it gives users unlimited access to their iTunes library (the name is an anagram for iTunes, get it?).

Available now for $19.95, the app doesn't actually feature an iTunes-like interface, nor does it stream music from your home library. Rather it cross-references the music library and playlists on your PC with its own collection of licensed music: nuTsie recreates your mobile library and playlist using that music. If you have something they don't, it sends the service a request to purchase that music. The app is downloadable from Melodeo's site.

Oh, and a fun side-note: Dave Dederer, the company's VP of business development who also sends out its press releases, includes the title "has been rockstar" in his e-mail signature. If anyone in this business deserves such a moniker, it's the guy who played guitar for the Presidents of the United States of America for 11 years.  (Link)

Motorola: Windows Mobile 7 Coming in 2010  

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Motorola had an earnings conference call today with some juicy tidbits embedded in it. Primarily, Moto confirmed that they're losing tons of money and that their handset business is not doing very well at all. So how are they going to turn it around? With Android and Windows Mobile, apparently.

The juiciest new info appears to be CEO Sanjay Jha claiming that Windows Mobile 7 is coming out in 2010. Motorola will be focusing on Google Android phones throughout 2009, Jha said. Here's the full quote:

"As you know, Windows 6 series is available in 2009 and as compared to Android, we believe in 2009 Android is more competitive; more of our effort and focus in 2009 is going to Android, but in 2010 when Windows 7 will become available, we will then participate in a more focused way in Windows Mobile 7 in 2010."

Microsoft hasn't confirmed anything about Windows Mobile 7 other than its existence, but Windows Mobile 6.5 is widely expected to be coming out on Feb. 16 at the Mobile World Congress trade show. Pundits (such as me) also expect that one of these Windows Mobile versions will include Zune functionality.

Jha said that Motorola will put out fewer phones this year than last, they'll be higher-end devices, and that some of them will run Android.

"As we move forward in 2009, our platform decisions and market focus will result in fewer new product launches than in the past year. We will be much more focused on mid and high tiers. This allows us to narrow our portfolio and focus on delivering more devices with compelling user experiences," he said.  (full Story)

Pirates iPhone Apps, Makes for Hilarious email Exchanges  

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You should be able to guess what you're getting yourself into when you download an application whose name begins with the word "crack." Take, for example, Crackulous, an app designed to let users pirate iPhone apps--one which, not surprisingly, can only be used on a jailbroken phone.

Gizmodo wrote up the app and called it out a bit for taking money out of the pockets of hard-working app designers. But the best part of the post came later, when its author, Adam Frucci, got a message from Crackulous's designer. The app that Gizmodo linked to was apparently a pirated version of the software. Crackulous's designer asked that Frucci remove the link and replace it with the URL of the original version of the app, "instead of supporting the pirates."

The irony of such a request should, of course, be immediately apparent. But that doesn't dissuade an amazing e-mail exchange from unfolding, all of which Frucci reprinted for our enjoyment in an update to the post, including an assessment that the creator, "deserve[s] appreciation" for the app. Definitely worth reading. (story Link

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Microsoft Shuts Down “Flight Simulator” Game Studio  

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As the rest of the tech world scrambles to assess the implications of the recently announced 5,000 layoffs at software giant Microsoft, news has come in that might potentially spell the end of the company's nearly 30-year-old Flight Simulator series.

Microsoft confirmed Friday that the software giant has shuttered ACES Studios, the developer of the Flight Simulator series of games, whose latest incarnation is Flight Simulator X. The simulation is considered Microsoft's oldest product, whose original version first shipped in 1982.

However, a Microsoft spokeswoman said that while the studio has been closed, the software company remains committed to the Flight Simulator franchise, without explaining how future products can be launched without a dedicated software development team backing them.

"We can confirm the closing of ACES Studios, which was responsible for the Flight Simulator franchise," Microsoft spokeswoman Kelda Rericha told Appscout. "Following our annual strategy review process, IEB [Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business unit] is making adjustments within our business to align our people against our highest priorities. The closure of ACES Studios was one of those specific changes."

Rericha refused to disclose any further details regarding the future of the company. She did, however, suggest that the Flight Simulator series is likely to stick around in some form or another. "We are committed to the Flight Simulator franchise, which has proven to be a successful PC-based game for the last 27 years," Rericha added. "You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great Live experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing specific to announce at this time."

Of course, the Flight Simulator franchise is a fairly broad one, and anything falling under the largely online Live umbrella would likely be fairly different than the game's traditionally resource-intensive online incarnation.

"It's definitely confusing; I wish I had more clarification on that that we could provide, Rericha added. "At this point, they're just not talking about it yet – how the product will, and if the product will, live within Microsoft."

Microsoft does not have a time frame on when it will provide additional information, Rericha added.  The most likely scenario seems that, like the rest of us, Microsoft is still attempting to assess exactly how such a large number of redundancies will affect its business strategy. Projects like Flight Simulator have likely been given a lower priority than, say, Windows or Office, and therefore their fates are still not entirely certain even in Redmond. (full Story)

Apple Fixing iTunes Plus Issues  

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Last week, Apple introduced individual track upgrades for DRM-free, 256 Kbps iTunes Plus files—and promptly ran into trouble, as some users ended up being charged full price for some albums, instead of the 30-cents-per-track total price.

iTunes_Store.jpgNaturally, this was cause for concern, as it defeated the whole point of the lower-priced upgrades. Plus, once it happened, there was no way to back out of the deal; customers' credit cards were charged instantly. Macworld reports that Apple has now responded to those complaints with the following letter:

(contents after the jump)

I understand that your album from iTunes was listed as a $3 upgrade but you were charged $9.99. Customers with the Shopping Cart enabled have been experiencing issues with iTunes Plus upgrades of individual albums. They are being charged the full album price instead of 30% of retail for the upgrade.

However, the order containing this item is currently processing. Your request is flagged for follow-up and I will contact you once I can fully refund your order. Please note that processing can take up to five business days from the date of purchase. I also issued 5 courtesy song credits for any inconvenience this issue may have caused you.

The report said that anyone who has been overcharged should log into their iTunes account, click Purchase History, click Report a Problem, find the item in question, and then click the Report a Problem link next to the overcharged item. (Link)

Review: HP EliteBook 2530P  

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It's rare when a laptop can pull off great battery life with either its standard battery or an extended one. The HP EliteBook 2530p ($2,099 direct)—a business ultraportable—has the battery capacity to last from a breakfast meeting to a late-afternoon powwow without sacrificing performance. Its long battery life can be attributed, in varying degrees, to the low-voltage CPU and the solid-state drives (SSD). I needed a laptop that was light, durable, and had a full-size keyboard for a weeklong business trip, so I brought the review unit of the 2530p with me. (Its internal optical drive didn't hurt either, since two DVD flicks came for the ride.) Suffice it to say that the 2530p delivered in spades.

With the EliteBook line, HP has come a long way with its business laptops. I'm used to the bland, conservative attire of Compaq-branded frames, so it's nice to see that the 2530p has the looks to go with its brains. It's completely surrounded by anodized aluminum, a moldable metal that's both durable and sleek. Its looks are more appealing than those of the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 and the X301. With a thickness of 1.1 inches, the 2530p is not as thin as the Sony VAIO VGN-Z590. At 3.7 pounds, it's heavier than the Z590 (3.2 pounds) and the same weight as the Lenovo X200. Even with the standard battery and an optical drive, the 2530p is pleasantly light and can minimize the hassle of an airport security check, since it's easy to pull out of and return to your bag.

The typing experience a laptop offers is crucial for me as a writer, and I didn't miss a beat with the 2530p's full-size keyboard. The number "1" key is about half the size it should be, but every other key is standard size. If I had to rank the typing experience, I'd say that the Lenovo X200 is easily the best, the 2530p a close second, and the Sony Z590's uniquely styled keys, third. The 2530p uses dual pointing devices: a pointing stick and a touchpad. The pointing stick is too stiff for my taste, but the touchpad is both responsive and appropriately sized. Along with those of the ThinkPad X200 and the Dell Latitude E4300, the mouse buttons are the quietest and the least resistive in the industry.

The 16:10 format, 12-inch LCD widescreen is acceptable for office productivity, but I found the 13-inch one on the Sony Z590 better equipped for viewing movies and photos. Even with a bigger screen, the Z590 is at least half a pound lighter, as well, thanks to its carbon-fiber frame. If a bigger screen is a must, the HP EliteBook 6930p has the same exact look and a 14-inch screen. A matte screen is another business feature of the 2530p and the ThinkPad X200—it offsets any glare coming from a bright light source. (full Story)

Official Descriptions of Google G-Drive  

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Just as the flurry of coverage around Google's long-awaited GDrive announcement was beginning to die down for, well, a lack of any real news, the rumored cloud storage solution has once again reared its head, thanks to a little digging by one blogger.

Brian Ussery rooted around in the code on a Google page describing the company's various services. He eventually discovered the following abstract of the online storage app:

Online file backup and storage... GDrive provides reliable storage for all of your files, including photos, music and documents... GDrive allows you to access your files from anywhere, anytime, and from any device--be it from your desktop, web browser or cellular phone.

It's not quite an official announcement--that's expected by many to occur next month. It is, however, one more step toward the service that various news outlets have already deemed the "death of the PC." And, at the very least, it's certainly enough to get the blogosphere buzzing about GDrive again.  (story Link)

Hands On with the Verizon Hub  

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The Verizon Hub, a souped-up home voice-over-Internet phone sold (confusingly) by Verizon Wireless, could eventually become the hub of your home. But right now, it costs too much and provides too few services to live up to its potential.

I got an hour-long demo of the Hub, so this isn't a full review, but I did get a good picture of what the phone will be. It will be priced at $199.99 (including a $50 mail-in rebate) plus $34.99/month when it goes on sale on Feb. 1 at Verizon Wireless stores.

The Hub's idea is a good one: replace your home phone with a touch-screen PC that lives in your kitchen or living room. And the Hub's hardware delivers. Based on OpenPeak's OpenFrame design, it has an 8-inch, 800-by-480 touch screen that is quick, responsive, and easy to use. Next to the touch screen (and next to the unit's speakerphone) is a removable candybar-style DECT 6.0 cordless phone with customizable wallpapers and ringtones. You can buy additional handsets from Verizon; they didn't tell us the price for those.

The Hub makes its calls over any wired or Wi-Fi Internet connection, but here comes the first problem: you have to have at least one Verizon Wireless mobile phone to subscribe to the service. No, this isn't a mobile phone, it's a home phone, but Verizon only wants to sell it to its own wireless subscribers. And you don't need to use Verizon DSL. You can use it with any Internet ISP. You just need a Verizon Wireless line. But it's not a wireless phone. Confusing, I know.

The Hub starts up with a home screen with customizable wallpaper and "widgets" showing the time, weather, and details about your voice mail and messages. Tap a large "menu" button to get the Hub's basic menu. Along with an address book and calendar, the Hub can send and receive text and picture messages (though only from Verizon Wireless phones), watch movie trailers and buy tickets, view a set of canned video clips on various topics, get local traffic information for 35 cities, search for businesses, and track kids' phones using the Verizon Wireless Chaperone feature. (full Story)

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Skype 4.0  

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skype40screen.jpgSkype this week rolled out the latest version of its popular VOIP software. First announced and released in beta form in June of last year, Skype 4.0 features a complete redesign and a number of new features.

Available for download beginning today, Skype 4.0 features a one-click video call launch, improved sound quality, and a better organized list of conversations, for easier toggling. The latest version of the app also features a bandwidth manager for optimizing voice and picture quality, and improvements to the instant messaging program.

The latest version of the app is downloadable today for Windows on Skype's site. (story Link)

The G-Drive vs the Future of the PC  

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Every so often, the mainstream media puts out a story that says the PC is on its last legs. The latest, a Fox News story that "Google's Rumored GDrive May 'Kill' the PC," suggests that the Google Drive would shift consumer interest away from Microsoft's OS in favor of cloud computing.

I've read stories about the death of the PC for the last 15 years, and as you know, PCs are still going strong. Even in a down economy, manufacturers will still sell at least 260 million of the things worldwide in 2009. But it's true that what constitutes a "computer" will change over time; the more interesting debate should be around what forms, what functions, and what processors will dominate the PC landscape in the future.

In the most extreme view of this new computing model, applications, data, and back- and front-end processing will exist in the cloud. In essence, it's the mainframe model of the past, with the cloud serving as the mainframe and the PC as a terminal or thin client of some type. There is a measure of truth to this idea, though it assumes that we'll get much faster broadband speeds. And even then, the front-end dumb terminals would more than likely resemble PCs—screens and user interfaces built into appliances, thin clients, and perhaps even netbooks with lightweight OSs. I think this view of the future is what the Fox News story was trying to evoke.

Even if we did get a GDrive that served as our computing back-end in the sky, many front-end devices, depending on what they are being used for, could still need serious CPU and graphics coprocessors to handle mainstream business and consumer applications. Hence the future of the PC seems more complex than this story would lead us to believe.

A more likely scenario is that the average home will have at least one very powerful PC that can handle the video and graphics-intensive applications consumers will demand in the future. Think of things like HD video, 3D images and games, and next-generation apps running simultaneously—and instantly accessible. This PC would also become the home media server. Since PCs of this nature really do become the center of a family's digital lifestyle, people will want as much processing power as they can afford so that they could benefit from what Cisco calls a more "visual networking" environment. A lot of people will also have smaller laptops (thin clients, perhaps) in other rooms of the house for accessing and manipulating their stuff, whether in the cloud or local. And we'll have computers built into our refrigerators and stoves that rely pretty much exclusively rely on the cloud for their data and back-end processing.

At the business level, computing will shift away from desktops, moving almost entirely to portable computers, including laptops, netbooks, and smartphones. There will be a place for thin clients, too, especially for use in call centers and for other types of data-processing functions, and we will continue to need workstation-class PCs in the enterprise for things like desktop publishing, graphics creation, and scientific and engineering applications. (full Story)

Known Bugs in the Windows 7 Beta  

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By all accounts, the beta of Windows 7 is remarkably stable. That said, it IS a beta, and there will be some problems. But are yours unique to you and your jury-rigged DIY machine? Before you pull out all of your hair, swing by Microsoft's list of "Things to Know About This Beta Release of Windows 7," which details a number of known problems and incompatibilities. A note on the page informs us that "these release notes address late-breaking issues and information about this beta ...that are less critical than those reported in the Release Notes." A few leap out at me as potentially the most dangerous, or the most irritating:

Guest Mode
If you do any of the following in a standard user account that has Guest Mode turned on, subsequent logins to the account will fail:

* Change any HomeGroup settings.
* Use CardSpace to create a personal InfoCard.
* Install Adobe Flash Player.

In addition, Windows Media Center will stop responding if you attempt to run it from an account in Guest Mode. There is no workaround for either issue at this time other than to log on with an account that as administrative privileges and turn off Guest Mode for the user account. If Windows Media Center stops responding, use Task Manager to stop the Windows Media Center process.

Homegroup
If your computer is part of a HomeGroup and is also part of a home network as well as using a VPN or 3G connection, access to HomeGroup computers may be slow. To avoid this, disconnect from the 3G connection when the computer is connected to the home network. (full Story)

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Favorite Add-Ons for InternetExplorer8  

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When you think of browser extensions, you probably think of Firefox, and Firefox fans have long touted the browser's ever-expanding catalog of extensions as a reason to switch from Internet Explorer. Handy Firefox add-ons like Morning Coffee and AdBlock Plus make for a more pleasant browsing experience.

Of course, Internet Explorer has a catalog of third-party add-ons as well, and one of the most visible changes in Internet Explorer 8 is the browser's new approach to extensions and add-ons. IE8 users will be exposed to new terms like "Web slice" and "accelerator" and will notice a further shift away from the Firefox extension model.

In fact, you may have to shift the way you think about browsing altogether. The new IE8 add-ons put an incredible amount of resources within one or two clicks of the Web page you're on. For instance, instead of opening a new tab to look up an unfamiliar term on Wikipedia or Google, just highlight the term and click on the Wikipedia or Google accelerator for a quick definition. And as an alternative to visiting Digg five times a day, bring Digg updates to your Favorites bar with the Digg Web slice. IE8 makes these one-click actions easy to set up and use.

There's simply a difference in strategy for the different browsers, according to Joshua Allen, Microsoft's Internet Explorer "evangelist." Allen said that the emphasis for Internet Explorer is to offer a seamless Web experience for Windows, since IE is essentially a Windows feature. Obviously, it isn't the overarching goal of Firefox to make the Windows experience better, and Allen says Microsoft's different approach to add-ons reflects that difference in philosophy.

"From our point of view, it's simple: People spend much of their day visiting their favorite sites and searching, and we want to make those activities kick ass on Windows," said Allen in an e-mail. "These are two of the most common activities people do on Windows. We make 'favorite sites' better via accelerators and Web slices, and we make search better through visual search…."

As Allen explained, IE8 add-ons come in several flavors:

Accelerators perform actions on highlighted text and URLs. For instance, highlight a word to look it up in an acronym dictionary or Wikipedia; highlight a URL for a pop-up preview of the Web page; highlight a movie to find it in the Netflix catalog.

Add-a-Web SliceWeb slices automatically check your favorite Web pages or pieces of Web pages for updates and notify you of new stuff in your Favorites bar. The Digg Web slice keeps track of top stories for you; the Live Search Weather Web slice keeps tabs on your local weather forecast. To add either of these Web slices, simply go to an enabled Web page and click on the green Web slice button in your IE8 tool bar (shown above).

Visual Search presents you with visual search suggestions from different Web services, using the search bar. Search for "iPod" and the Amazon Search Suggestions tool will present you with images of different iPods for sale on Amazon, while the Wikipedia Visual Search offers previews of Wikipedia entries.

In addition to these new types of add-ons, there's still the classic Firefox-type extension, though it isn't as much of a priority for Microsoft, according to Allen. (full Story)

Samsung’s P3 Touch Screen  

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A while back Samsung had launched their YP-P2 PMP with its touch screen capabilities and Bluetooth functionality. While it wasn’t much of a comparison to the iPod Touch, the additional features both players employed like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth was what made me a personal fan. Not particularly of either device, but of devices in general that offer something a little more than just video and music playback. Samsung’s latest, the P3 is also equipped with Bluetooth and tries to offer a more iTouch-like interface. Here’s how it fares as a standalone device though.
Form Factor
It’s an eye-catcher, no doubt. Its sleek and slender lines with a metallic finish also gives it a little bit of a classy feel. It’s light weight, so portability is one of the few things you won’t have to worry about. The 3-inch TFT touchscreen display has a 480 x 272 pixel resolution and also supports very intuitive haptics. A touch sensitive quick access bar to the currently playing music and skip keys is located just under the display.

A hold/power key along with volume control keys and a tiny speaker are located on the top of the device. Samsung’s proprietary connectivity port is located at the bottom near the 3.5mm earphone socket.

While I do like the overall design, the speaker is negligible. Some of the cheaper mobile handsets provide louder and better quality sound.

Features and Performance
Interface

The P3 comes loaded with features. First off is the display characteristic and touchscreen functionality. Like the P2 before it, Samsung hasn’t managed to fix the sometimes awkward touchscreen. It tends to be a little too responsive at times and sometimes annoyingly non-responsive. I do like the interface though. It’s vibrant and colorful, depending on the theme you choose and can be spread across more than one screen, just like in the iTouch.


Trying to keep pace with Samsung’s Omnia and F480 mobile handsets, the P3 also has a Widgets section that can be accessed by simply pressing the screen at any place. The widgets themselves are very animated and serve a variety of purposes. Some are useful, like the dimmer for the display, clock, notes, access to the photo album and calendar. Some don’t seem to serve any purpose at all like the flower or the butterfly and some other odd animated characters. Other than some inane provision for entertainment in those moments of sheer boredom, they don’t do much else. You can also adjust the layout by moving the icons around just like you would in the… wait for it… iTouch. (story Link)

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Now You Can Access Gmail Offline  

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The folks at Gmail Labs have been busy and they’re now dishing out offline access to Gmail.

On enabling offline access, Gmail will load in your browser even if you don’t have an Internet connection. You can read messages, star, label and archive them, compose new mail and messages ready to be sent will wait in your Outbox until you’re online again.
It’s built on the Gears platform, which has already been used to offline-enable Google Docs, Google Reader, and other third-party web applications.
To get started with offline Gmail -
- Sign in to Gmail and click ‘Settings’.
- Click the ‘Labs’ tab and select ‘Enable’ next to ‘Offline Gmail’.
- Click ‘Save Changes.’
- In the upper righthand corner of your account, next to your username, there will be a new ‘Offline’ link. Click this link to start the offline synchronization process.
Standard Edition users can follow these instructions immediately, while Premier and Education Edition users will first need their domain admins to enable Gmail Labs from the Google Apps admin control panel.  (story Link)

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