Jan 30, 2009

New $3 Light Bulb 12 Times More Efficient, Lasts 60 Years

Cambridge University researchers have developed a $3 LED-based lightbulb that is 12 times more efficient than regular tungsten light bulbs, three times more than low energy ones. It lights up instantly, lasting for 100,000 hours,

The cheap lightbulb could cost the energy bill in any house by as much as three quarters. In fact, if everyone replaced their current light bulbs, the proportion of lighting in electricity consumption would go down from 20 to 5 percent worldwide.

They also avoid using any toxic materials, like lead: The new LEDs use gallium nitride, which until now was too expensive to obtain because it had to be grown on sapphire wafers, which brought the cost of the lightbulbs to $28 each.

The new method, developed by Cambridge University-based Centre for Gallium Nitride, uses silicon wafers, bringing the cost down to $3 each. And if you think this is a thing of the future, think again: Prototypes are already being produced and the light bulbs may reach the market in a mere two years.

Sony Launches Dust-Proof Optical Drive Only for India

Sony has introduced the AD-7220S-ID - a dust-proof drive designed especially for India. Off late there have been reports suggesting that dust is the biggest enemy of optical drive performance. In order to overcome this limitation, Sony has introduced the AD-7220S-ID with 'dust-proof mechanism' running at 22x speed. The AD-7220S-ID implements 6 sponges on the inside of bottom cover, bezel and PWB. These sponges help absorb the dust resulting in 20% longer product life.

The AD-7220S-ID with ‘Dust proof technology’ offers maximum 22x DVD Read/Write, 48x CD Read/Write, Maximum 12x DVD-RAM Write speeds and is available in SATA format. It also features a vibration reduction system, efficient heat dissipation, buffer under run protection, optimized writing quality by automatically adjusting the writing strategy, and automatic adjustment of CD-DA/VCD/DVD data extraction for smooth reading.

Yoshiaki Katsube, General Manager for Computer Peripherals
Marketing Division at Applications & Devices Marketing (Singapore) reiterated, “Based on feedback from our Sony Authorised Partners (SAP), dust is the main limiting factor in India and we worked closely with our design department to have a product specially for India that helps resolve this issue. The hard work of our designers and production team has resulted in this India- specific model. I am pleased to announce that this special dust-proof DVD-RW is now available for sale in India”.

It is compatible with DVD-ROM, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, CD-ROM (mode 1), CD-ROM/XA (mode 2, form 1 and form 2), Photo CD, CD Extra, CD-TEXT, CD-I, VIDEO CD, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, CD-DA, Enhance CD, UDF (fixed/variable Packet mode), DVD-Audio.

Other technical specifications include Buffer memory capacity of 2 MB, Access Time of DVD is 160ms, CD is 140ms and a weight of 600g.

The AD-7220S-ID is available through Rashi Peripherals at an estimated retail price of Rs. 1300 and comes with a 1 year warranty

Protect your Wi-Fi signal with paint

Fed up with the neighbours nicking your bandwidth? Passwords just not working in the fight to protect your Wi-Fi? Then it might be time to bring in the big guns and paint your house with some Wi-Fi blocking paint.

Researchers in Japan have come up with the hi-tech paint solution, which reportedly shields your Wi-Fi signal from piggy-backers on the outside, creating a protective broadband cocoon in your home.

Cheap option

The Wi-Fi blocking paint is being seen as a viable, cheap option for businesses to protect their wireless networks.

According to the New Scientist, the paint works out to cost around £10 per kilogram.

The paint is made from an aluminium-iron dioxide, which puts out a magnetic field to block certain frequencies.

Currently the paint can block frequency waves of around 48GHz, but the researchers from the University of Tokyo are working on a new formula that will be able to block out electronic waves of up to 182GHz.

So, no matter how high the Wi-Fi frequency, the paint should be able to work its magic.

10 lightweight apps to make older PCs fly

Your desktop PC might have been slim and speedy five years ago, but keeping up with application upgrades and filling your hard drive with feature-bloated commercial tools can soon make your machine sluggish.

If your computer feels underpowered, there's no need to ditch it and reach for the credit card to buy a new model.

Instead, try our pick of free, lightweight tools and it'll soon be back to its sprightly self.

1. Word Processing - AbiWord 2.6
Boasting most of the same functionality as Microsoft Word 2003, AbiWord is free and light on its feet. Needing only a paltry 16MB of RAM, it runs on Windows 2000 upwards. You can grab an earlier version for Windows 98 if your machine is really wrinkly.

2. Graphics - IrFanView 4.23
Forget about Photoshop and even its open source rival The GIMP - IrfanView's the photo editor to choose on underpowered platforms. With support stretching back to Windows 95 it opens and saves dozens of image formats, with batch editing, cropping resizing and other basic photo manipulation tools built in.

3. Coding - NoteTab Light
Looking for a seriously lightweight coding tool? NoteTab Light does the job. A text editor that's optimised for working with HTML and CSS, it has features like code snippets, HTML tidying and auto-correction. It'll run happily on Windows 98 upwards - Windows 95 too if you use the help file patch.

4. Email - Popcorn 1.87
With even online mail providers becoming bloated and AJAX heavy, Popcorn connects direct to your POP email account - reading mail direct from the server.You can use it with your ISP's service - or online mail providers that use POP3. Popcorn's no longer under active development, but new features are moot when the basics are in place.

5. Web Browsing - K-Meleon 1.5.2
Built around the same browser engine as Firefox, K-Meleon dispenses with all extraneous frills to compete convincingly for the title of "world's fastest web browser". Standards compliant and compatible with your Mozilla Bookmarks, it'll run on a 486 PC with 32MB of RAM and, as long as you have Microsoft's Visual C++ components installed, Windows 95.

6. Video - VLC Media Player
Judging media players is difficult as they're only ever as fast and reliable as the data you try to squeeze through them. VLC Media Player is portable. though, has a small footprint and - though it will struggle to play full HD video on older systems - it's perfect for DVDs and MP3s on Pentium class computers.

7. System Maintenance - CCleaner
Even computer maintenance tools can suffer from bloat - nagging you to update or upgrade components. CCleaner does none of the above. You run it, it finds files you can delete, you delete them - job done!

8. PDF Reader - Sumatra PDF
PDFs have become the industry alternative to printed documentation - but Acrobat Reader, Adobe's free tool for opening PDFs, is something of a resource hog. Enter Sumatra PDF - nimble on its feet and stripped of bells and whistles, it's a fast loading alternative to Adobe's offering.

9. Instant Messaging - Pidgin
Multiple messaging clients scoff your system resources, so switching to a single, universal IM tool makes sense. Pidgin does the job well, with support for AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo!, MSN and more.

10. Gaming - Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Got a fiver to spare? Half Life, the original Quake and even Doom are still available to buy through Steam - offering gaming thrills well into their dotage. Cheapskates can choose Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory a completely free, Quake III Arena based multiplayer frag-a-thon.

First 3D porn movie to be made in Hongkong

3D is the future of film watching in the home. We all know this because AV manufacturers have harped on about the technology for years.

But if you're not completely convinced about the hype, then one area of film making about to make its first bold three-dimensional steps will either turn you on or completely turn you off the idea. That area is, of course, 3D porn.

And one of the first countries to get in on the act is Hong Kong. A new movie costing around £2.5 million to make – a big budget in porn terms – called 3D Sex And Zen will use the technology as an, er, integral part of the plot.

In fact, over a third of the film will have sex scenes quite literally coming at you from the screen.

Many close-ups

Speaking about the new film, Stephen Shiu Jnr a spokesperson for the movie said: "There will be many close-ups. It will look as if the actresses are only a few centimetres from the audience."

TechRadar unfortunately missed the 3D porn demonstrations at this year's Adult Expo in Las Vegas (damn you CES!), luckily the folks on T3 got close to the action and assured us that it was "amazingly realistic. A bit too much, at times." They haven't been the same since.
By Marc Chacksfield

Google Earth Helps Nab Drug Dealers

While the World is still debating over boon and bane of Google Earth, the Swiss police discovered a two-acre field of marijuana while using Google Earth to investigate a case.

Police accidentally discovered the marijuana fields while using Google Earth to locate the exact address of two farmers they suspected of being involved in the drug ring. Zurich police's specialist narcotics unit Norbert Klossner told the Associated Press that "the two-acre-large plantation was hidden in a field of corn."

Police has arrested 16 people and seized 1.1 tons of marijuana as well as cash and valuables worth 9,00,000 Swiss francs.

Considering this recent case, do you still think India should ban Google Earth?

Nano Computers for Rs. 500

The computer is developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

Forget MIT's $100 laptop, "cheap" netbooks, and other crude attempts at making the computer affordable. Here comes the mother of all low-cost computers.

At Rs. 500, the upcoming, yet to be named, nano computer is set to be the cheapest computing device ever. Designed for students, the Government is supposedly readying a prototype of the device to be showcased at Tirupati on February 3, 2009. India's Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh will reportedly unveil the device.

The nano computer has been jointly developed by the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Chennai, and the IISc (Indian Institute of Science), Bangalore. The production of the device, however, has been handed over to private firms. It remains to be seen if this project manages to move past the "prototype" phase to actually end up in some assembly line.

Jan 28, 2009

Why Windows 7 should be a free upgrade

Windows Vista isn't a bad OS - now. But it's had its problems. Third parties didn't make drivers fast enough, bugs affected obscure features such as, er, copying and deleting files, and Vista Capable PCs were nothing of the sort.

Not all of the problems were Microsoft's fault, but Microsoft's name is on the box - so if people have a less than stellar experience with Vista, it's Microsoft they're going to blame.

Credit where credit's due, Microsoft appears to have got it right with Windows 7. It boots in less than a fortnight. It doesn't make our laptop shoot up to 100% CPU usage for no good reason, generating enough heat to cook a moose. It goes like lightning on machines that struggled with Vista. It's very good. In fact, it's great. Which is why Microsoft should give it away.

People paid good money for Vista expecting to receive a racehorse, and Microsoft sent them a pig in a wig instead. If that hasn't already scared them into the arms of Steve Jobs, they're still going to be wary about giving Microsoft any money ever again. So Microsoft shouldn't ask them for any.

Instead of flogging eleventy-two badly named and badly differentiated versions of Windows 7, Microsoft could easily offer two. The first, which it could call Windows 7 Essentials, would be the core OS, and it would be an upgrade for Vista SP1. The second would include touchscreen support and other sparkly things, and it would be Windows 7 Ultimate. Essentials would be free, with Ultimate as a reasonably priced upgrade.

Madness? Nope. Microsoft doesn't make that much money from OS upgrades: the real cash comes from new PCs. Giving Vista users a free upgrade wouldn't affect that much, but it would make a lot of people feel warm and fuzzy about Microsoft. Many of them would upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. Many of them would use Windows Live, and Office, and other Microsoft products. And when it's time to buy a new PC, it might just keep them out of the Apple Store.

Microsoft won't do it. But it should.

British Airways clears way for on-board mobile use

Passengers on British Airways flights will no longer be disconnected from the world while in the air, because the airline has announced plans to allow mobile phone use during flights.

Starting in Q4 this year, business class passengers travelling from London City airport to JFK in New York will be able to use their phones, but without the ability to voice call.

This means that text, email and web-browsing will all be possible on the flight, and the rest of the plane's passengers will be able to watch the film without having to have George from the accounts division shouting his instructions to Debbie in their ear.

No plans for chat

"There are no plans for voice calls at the moment, but we will listen to feedback from passengers," a BA spokesperson told The Telegraph. "The customer is in charge."

However, there's no word on when, or even if, the service will be rolled out to other passengers and flights, despite a few competitors trialling similar services on a wider range of flights.

The public is divided over the use of mobile phones on planes, with many wishing the skies to remain a peaceful haven of travel. But others, especially business people who spend a large proportion of time travelling, want to make use of the spare time to catch up on work.

Banning voice calls appears to be a good compromise, but only time will tell whether the public change their mind and let loose the full might of the mobile.

Rumour: Google to buy Skype

Is eBay looking to offload its VoIP cash-cow?

Leading VoIP service Skype goes from strength to strength, with revenues rising by 26 per cent last quarter. Yet despite this success, parent company eBay is rumoured to be looking to offload its cash-cow to none other than Google.

The rumours seem credible when you consider that eBay's latest financial results were pretty poor (revenue down 7 per cent to $2.04bn), well below the market expectations for what is traditionally retail's busiest quarter.

No eBay/Skype synergy

"Even eBay has now admitted that its $2.6bn purchase of Skype in 2005 was too much. With still no logical integration between the telephony service and the auction site, speculation over a potential sale is again intensifying," says Jemima Kiss in The Guardian.

According to The Times, eBay's Chief Executive, John Donahoe, told analysts earlier this month that: "synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal." He also said that Skype is "a great standalone business".

The Times report mentions US telcos AT&T and Verizon as potential buyers, while Jemima Kiss speculates in The Guardian that: "Google was rumoured to be interested as far back at November 2007, and that would fit with just one of the many pies in which Google has its fingers."

TechRadar has contacted Skype's UK press office for further information on this story, so stay tuned for updates.

Gmail Goes Offline with Google Gears

You will be able to access most of your emails, reply to them, and view starred and unread messages offline

Gmail has introduced its latest Labs feature called offline Gmail to enable e-mail access even when you are not connected to the Internet.

While this might sound uber geeky, the concept is simple enough when you actually use it. Oh, and the "offline" mode is already available in a simpler form if you happen to use Outlook or any other email client with Gmail POP access.

Gmail uses its Google Gears open source web application to enable the "offline" mode. Currently, Google lists Firefox 2, 3, and the Internet Explorer 7 in its list of supported browsers. Strangely, there is no mention of Google's own, the Chrome! However, it might be because Chrome support is obvious.

What it does

The feature, which needs to be enabled from under the "Labs" option under "Settings," downloads e-mails onto your computer and allows access even when there is no Internet connectivity. Users will be able to access most of their emails, reply to them, and view starred and unread messages, just like they do when Gmail is online. When you perform an action that needs web access, Gmail will queue the action and will execute it as soon the connection is restored. While it might not sound very exciting initially, I, for once, can realize how useful this might turn out to be. For many users, Gmail has become a data center, and I suspect that there are many people out there who would want to have a look at their mails and archives even when not connected to the Internet. The best thing is that once this feature is installed, Gmail will be able to go offline or online by detecting the network status, so you do not need to switch on/off the Offline mode manually. There is also this "Flaky Connection Mode" that detects a slow connection and uses the local cache for accessing data, and only uses the server when Gmail needs web access - like when hitting the send button.

Not all Gmail features work, though, in the offline mode. What does work, however, are the sending and replying to emails, searching your archives, and the much-needed auto-complete function. You will not be able to add attachments or add/manage contacts. However, most users will be able to live with such minor inconveniences.

As expected of a Labs feature, this application has been tested internally amongst 20,000 Google employees and has then been made available to the Labs. Not all users may see this enabled in their accounts, but the feature should be available to all in the coming days. As for the issues noticed, I have not seen anything go wrong in the little time that I have used this. However, CNET does report issues of the local cache going out of sync, but most issues can be sorted out by disabling and re-enabling the feature.

Jan 27, 2009

Booze powered cars coming soon

Forget heavy, expensive lithium-ion batteries, the next generation of eco-vehicles could be using alcohol-powered fuel cells.

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new nanotechnology catalyst that could make booze-powered fuel cells possible for the first time.

Like batteries that never die, fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into water while producing electricity. However, hydrogen is difficult to produce and explosively dangerous to store and transport.

Grog to go

As an alternative, hydrogen-rich compounds like ethanol - basically, pure alcohol - can be oxidised into the hydrogen ions and electrons that are needed to generate electricity. Up until now, though, scientists have been unable to find a catalyst capable of breaking the bonds between ethanol's carbon atoms.

The DOE's breakthrough is to develop an electrocatalyst, made from platinum and rhodium atoms on carbon-supported tin dioxide nanoparticles, that can break carbon bonds at room temperature, with just carbon dioxide as a by-product.

"Ethanol is easy to produce, renewable, nontoxic, relatively easy to transport and has a high energy density," said Brookhaven chemist Radoslav Adzic. "In addition, with some alterations, we could reuse the infrastructure that's currently in place to store and distribute petrol."

Just imagine it: in a few year's time, forecourt pumps could be dispensing pure alcohol to eco-friendly motorists. Just remember, it's strictly for driving, not drinking.

MAC:25 years in pictures

On January 24, two days after Ridley Scott's now legendary 1984 commercial went to air during Super Bowl XVIII, Steve Jobs stepped onto the stage at De Anza College in Cupertino CA, and pulled a beige box out of a canvas bag. As the lights dimmed and the opening notes to Vangelis' Chariots of Fire filled the room, the excited audience got its first glimpse of the Macintosh (video embedded below).

Macs are known for the intuitive software that makes them great for non-geeks, and Apple has always been consistent in pioneering new technology, but the ability to bundle it all into one super sleek package has given Apple an edge over the rest. Today, as the Mac turned 25, we thought we'd take a look at how its changed over the years. Please enjoy

1984: Macintosh 128K $2495

Inspired by Lisa and originally called the Macintosh, it was renamed after a new version was released to differentiate it. This original Macintosh came with a keyboard, mouse and 3.5" floppy drive.


Technical Specifications

1987: Macintosh II $3898

This first modular model (all previous models were all-in-one) came with a color video card and expansion slots.


Technical Specifications

1989: Macintosh Portable $6500

The Macintosh portable was Apple's first attempt to make a battery-powered equivalent of the desktop Macintosh. Clunky now, in its day it was quite the prize.


Technical Specifications

1991: Quadra 700 $6000

The Quadra 700 was of the first Macs to use the Motorola 68040 processor and had built-in Ethernet networking capabilities.


Technical Specifications

1991: PowerBook 100 $2500

The PowerBook 100 was the low-end model of the first three simultaneously released PowerBooks and the first to really start resembling the notebooks of today.


Technical Specifications

1993: Macintosh Color Classic $1390

The Color Classic was the first color compact Mac and the last of the classic beige box Macs.


Technical Specifications

1998: iMac G3 $1299

The iMac G3 was the first model of the iMac line made by Apple Inc. and was an all-in-one computer originally released in a striking blue. With the return of Steve Jobs, Apple suddenly got sleeker.


Technical Specifications

1999: Power Macintosh G3 $1599

Power Mac was the first to use the PowerPC G3 (PPC750) microprocessor, replacing a number of earlier Power Macintosh models.


Technical Specifications

1999: iBook $1599

The 'iMac to go' was aimed at the consumer and education markets and was originally known to have a 'clamshell' design.


Technical Specifications

2001: PowerBook G4 $2599

Saying goodbye to the old plastic casing, the G4 had a sleek titanium body and black translucent keyboard.


Technical Specifications

2002: iMac G4 $1299

In yet another design update, the G4 replaced the bulky CRT screen with a flat panel.


Technical Specifications

2003: Power Mac G5 $1999

When it was introduced, Apple claimed the G5 was the fastest computer ever built. Today it is known as the Mac Pro, still sleek, still super fast.


Technical Specifications

2008: MacBook Air $1999

"Thinnovation" Apple calls it; the worlds thinnest notebook.


Technical Specifications

Monster.com hacked again

The online job site Monster.com has been attacked by hackers resulting in lost user data on the site. Monster said “we recently learned our database was illegally accessed and certain contact and account data were taken, including Monster user IDs and passwords, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and some basic demographic data.” The company is recommending you immediately change your password and look out for phishing emails. USAJOBS (the U.S. government official job site) was also affected.

In 2007, hackers again attacked Monster.com with malicious ads that even if not clicked, still installed malicious code on the local machine and stole personal information from Monster. The personal information was then sent to a remote server. During that specific attack, more than 1.6 million entries of personal information from Monster.com users was compromised, according to internet security company Symantec.

Jan 26, 2009

Internet users surpass 1 Billion

The number of Internet users globally has crossed one billion-visitor mark in December 2008, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for the highest - 41 percent - as per internet marketing research firm comScore.

Total global internet audience (aged 15 above from home and work computers) has surpassed one billion visitors in December 2008, comScore said in a statement quoting data from comScore World Metrix audience measurement service.

"Surpassing one billion global users is a significant landmark in the history of the Internet. It is a monument to the increasingly unified global community in which we live and reminds us that the world truly is becoming more flat," comScore, Inc President and Chief Executive Officer Magid Abraham said.

The second billion will be online before we know it, and the third billion will arrive even faster than that, until we have a truly global network of interconnected people and ideas that transcend borders and cultural boundaries, Abraham added.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for the highest share of global internet users at 41 per cent, followed by Europe (28 percent share), North America (18 per cent share), Latin-America (7 per cent share) and the Middle East & Africa (5 per cent share), the comScore report revealed.

India boasts of the seventh highest number of internet users with as many as 32,099 visitors in December, 2008.

Meanwhile, China tops the charts in term of number of internet audience with 1,79,710 users last month constituting over 17 per cent of the global traffic.

Internet users surpass 1 Billion

The number of Internet users globally has crossed one billion-visitor mark in December 2008, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for the highest - 41 percent - as per internet marketing research firm comScore.

Total global internet audience (aged 15 above from home and work computers) has surpassed one billion visitors in December 2008, comScore said in a statement quoting data from comScore World Metrix audience measurement service.

"Surpassing one billion global users is a significant landmark in the history of the Internet. It is a monument to the increasingly unified global community in which we live and reminds us that the world truly is becoming more flat," comScore, Inc President and Chief Executive Officer Magid Abraham said.

The second billion will be online before we know it, and the third billion will arrive even faster than that, until we have a truly global network of interconnected people and ideas that transcend borders and cultural boundaries, Abraham added.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for the highest share of global internet users at 41 per cent, followed by Europe (28 percent share), North America (18 per cent share), Latin-America (7 per cent share) and the Middle East & Africa (5 per cent share), the comScore report revealed.

India boasts of the seventh highest number of internet users with as many as 32,099 visitors in December, 2008.

Meanwhile, China tops the charts in term of number of internet audience with 1,79,710 users last month constituting over 17 per cent of the global traffic.

Bluetooth enabled shades !!!!!

Tri-Specs Inc. is a company that is trying combine high-tech and high-fashion in user-friendly consumer electronics. Their offering is Bluetooth-enabled eyewear that combines the best possible acoustic technology for noise cancellation and voice quality in mobile communications with acoustically enhanced, premium stereo sound for a better MP3 music experience. This is not the first time, of course, that a company has tried to incorporate technology into eyewear. Other examples are VuZix iWear and MyVu.

TriSpecs are styled glasses that use STEP Labs’ noise elimination acoustic technology. They combine dual microphones, dual speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity in a mobile accessory which aims to produce the best voice quality and intelligibility on the market.

“Beyond the form and function of these glasses, their performance is without equal,” said Isaac Levy, CEO of Tri-Specs, Inc. “Once you try them, you’ll know why TriSpecs are a must-have accessory in every wireless and fashion accessory manufacturer’s product line.”

TriSpecs are styled glasses that use STEP Labs’ noise elimination acoustic technology. They combine dual microphones, dual speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity in a mobile accessory which aims to produce the best voice quality and intelligibility on the market.

“Beyond the form and function of these glasses, their performance is without equal,” said Isaac Levy, CEO of Tri-Specs, Inc. “Once you try them, you’ll know why TriSpecs are a must-have accessory in every wireless and fashion accessory manufacturer’s product line.”
“The form factor of TriSpecs glasses allowed our acoustic engineers to design a dual-microphone solution that produces an unbelievable Bluetooth headset experience,” said Michael Hickerson, President of STEP Labs.

TriSpecs sunglasses are available with a variety of features, styles, and colors and feature -

* Power turns on by extending the in-ear speakers
* Voice prompts and voice dialing for easy, hands-free use
* Instant, dynamic volume to compensate for noise changes in the environment
* Retractable standard ear bud speakers or upgrade with in-ear barrel speakers
* One-touch activation of phone calls
* MP3 and call control buttons on the arms of the glasses
* Available in black, white, and metallic with optional designs and style elements
* Supports Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, backward compatible with 1.2, A2DP, AVRCP, GAVDP

The company promises the following for battery life - 7hrs of talk time, 5hrs for music and 70hrs standby. The firmware of the device can also be upgraded when connected to the PC via the built-in microUSB slot.

There’s no official pricing though a few reports state that the glasses would cost a little less than Rs. 9,800 ($200). Availability is also yet to be disclosed.

Virgin mobile offering 200 free SMSes

Virgin Mobile is offering its customers 200 free SMSs everyday.

Virgin Mobile customers will now be able to send 100 National as well as 100 Local; a total of 200 SMSs free daily after paying for the first 3 SMSs on each leg (National and Local respectively) to any network.

M. A. Madhusudan, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Mobile, India said, "Our research shows that youth have a high propensity to consume mobile services and are looking for solutions that give them the flexibility to use mobile services as per their need. Youth around the country send 6 times as many SMSs and have a constant desire to connect & share with their large network of friends, peer group and family. They use SMS as an important device to lead a life of their choice; zoning people in and out from their world as and when they want to and also use it as their Secret Messaging Service (SMS). But, due to voice text pricing parity, sending SMSs are expensive and better deals are usually available only with packs or upfront commitment. However, now with our new free SMS proposition we believe that youth will take up to this medium in a big way and it will become the new voice of the youth. .

This offer comes without a pack and the first three local SMSs of the day are charged at Re. 1 each and the first 3 national SMSs are charged at Rs. 1.50 each and thereafter all the SMSs sent are free.

SMSs can be sent to any number across all networks in the country.

The new free SMS offer is available to all Virgin Mobile subscribers across the country without any extra monthly commitment/upfront payment or pack. All new subscribers and the existing subscribers who are already on the New 50 Paise STD Local tariff will get this SMS benefit by default, while the customers who are on the Old 50 Paise Local tariff can avail this benefit by recharging their account by Rs. 12.

Jan 25, 2009

dell mini launched

The Dell Inspiron Mini 12 will be available through select Croma Stores in India before the end of January fo Rs. 31,000 .
"The Mini 12 is designed specifically for mobile, hi-def lifestyles" said Girish Mehta, Director of Consumer Marketing, Dell India. "With its slim lightweight design and 12" widescreen display, the Mini 12 is the ideal on-the-go Internet companion for today’s mobile generation".
With a starting weight of 1.24kg and only 0.92 inches thick, current standard features on the Inspiron Mini 12 include Windows XP Home, built-in webcam, 1GB of RAM and 80 GB hard drive. It also features built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b/g wireless and a 12.1-inch WXGA display.

Britannica starts its own wikipaedia

Plans to allow users to update its online reference material
Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced that it is working on a method to keep its online reference material updated. For this, what better way than calling out for enthusiast readers who would contribute this material for Britannica?

For sometime now, the company has been working towards turning the online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica into a place that will feature more participation and collaboration both from their expert contributors and the public, it says in their latest blog entry.

Some of the key features being released next week are:

- A Suggest Edit button allows a user to edit any section of an article and submit the changes to Britannica s editors.

- Users whose editorial suggestions are accepted and published entirely or in part will be credited by name in the section of each article that lists contributors.

- Visitors to the site will now be able to see a list of all people who have contributed to an article, as well as a history of recent changes to it.

Other changes, including more sophisticated functionality, collaboration features, and robust editing tools, are in development for releases in the near future.

One may find a lot of similarity between this Encyclopaedia Britannica project and Wikipedia. But interestingly, none of the changes suggested by the contributers would be published until Britannica gives it an okay.

"We are not abdicating our responsibility as publishers or burying it under the now-fashionable 'wisdom of the crowds'," wrote Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica in a blog entry regarding the issue. He went on to add, "We believe that the creation and documentation of knowledge is a collaborative process but not a democratic one."
For an outline of what Britannica has been planning for, click here.

Jan 22, 2009

AOL Mail enhanced

AOL has launched an enhanced version of AOL Web Mail that offers users one-click access to Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and a variety of third-party sites and destinations directly from the AOL Web Mail page, http://mail.aol.com.
Over the past year, AOL has added more than 30 new features and a variety of new functionality to Web Mail in an effort to make it more open to third-party content and to offer more monetization opportunities to advertisers. The new version is being released globally, making it available in more than 38 countries and locales around the world.

"Web Mail is an integral part of the AOL experience and at the heart of our product offerings," said Ted Cahall, President, AOL Products and Technologies. "With this new release
, we can showcase the important role AOL products continue to play in the company. Enhancing products that already attract a large, engaged audience is a key goal for our organization."

Key features of AOL's new Web Mail product include:

- Access to Third-Party E-mail Accounts: The third-party mail plug-ins allow users to preview Yahoo! Mail and Gmail within the AOL Web Mail experience, as well as take advantage of one-click access to Yahoo! Mail and Gmail.
- Faster performance: Using updated technologies, AOL has increased the speed and performance of its Web Mail experience, and enhanced the user interface to make it more intuitive.
- Themed Skins: More than 45 new "skins" or themes let users personalize their page, and offer advertisers the ability to work with AOL to create themes that will appeal to key audiences.
- Plug-in Gallery: Users can customize their Web Mail page by choosing from a variety of new plug-ins offering one-click access to favorite sites, content, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. The Gallery also offers access to all of the AOL gadgets currently stored in the myAOL Gallery. In addition, AOL is inviting third-party developers to create new gadgets for Web Mail via http://dev.aol.com.
- AOL Sync: Users can make real-time updates to AOL Calendar and Address Book from their desktop or a variety of wireless devices, including the Blackberry and iPhone. In addition, users around the globe can enjoy a completely mobile AOL Mail experience from virtually any device.

Jan 21, 2009

Windows Mobile 6.5 Due in Mid 2009

The latest edition of Microsoft's mobile OS was expected to make an appearance in the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona.

DigiTimes reports that Microsoft expects to deliver Windows Mobile 6.5 to handset makers by mid 2009.

The news comes soon after expectations of the latest edition of Microsoft's mobile OS to make an appearance in the upcoming Mobile World Congress at Barcelona.

The report says that while the handsets would be ready to be delivered by mid 2009, most manufacturers are expected to delay the launch until the fourth quarter in order to cash in on the festive season. So, if you were eagerly waiting to have a go at Windows Mobile 6.5, your wait just got a tad longer!

Windows Mobile 6.5 is expected to compete with the likes of the Android and Apple's OSX when it arrives later this year.

Airtel Launches IPTV Service

Bharti Airtel has announced the debut of its Triple Play Service with the launch of Airtel digital TV
interactive – it's Internet Protocol Television Service. With this, Airtel delivers the Triple Play Advantage of Telephony, broadband and Entertainment Service to its customers. The Triple Play Service will be initially available to customers in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida starting today.

Atul Bindal, President-Telemedia Services, Bharti Airtel, said, "Today, with the launch of Airtel digital TV interactive, we begin offering the Triple Play Advantage offer to our customers – leading in with voice, then broadband and now television and video on demand. We offer our customers a Single Knock on The Door experience - a uniform Airtel Quality of Experience with a single Customer Service interface and a single unified bill for voice, broadband and TV and video entertainment."

Airtel's IPTV Headend, with best-in-class MPEG4-10 compression technology, will allow it to offer more content and better quality images as well as services like live broadcast television, network based time-shifted TV, real video-on-demand and a host of other interactive services. Airtel will deliver its IPTV service to customers through a fibre backbone of Carrier Ethernet Network with last mile delivery on copper using ADSL2+ technology. This latest technology enables high-speed broadband connectivity which in turn delivers superior digital video and audio quality.

Customers can gain access to the future of TV entertainment on Airtel digital TV interactive by choosing from 2 entry packs –

- Magic@ Home Pack - Triple Play Plan - at Rs. 999 per month which gives 135 channels including 256 kbps broadband speed with unlimited download and a landline connection

- Combo Pack – IPTV and Broadband Plan – at Rs. 599 per month which gives 117 channels including 256 kbps broadband speed with download limit of 2.5 GB

The service will be backed by 24x7 customer care.

iPhone Gets an External Game-pad

Mobile gaming is getting bigger and better on a daily basis. Dedicated gaming handsets are being designed just to provide for that demand. So far, one of the better gaming handsets available on the market, or at least the one that games look best on according to us is the iPhone. The problem has always been control though as the handset’s lack of buttons sometimes poses a problem.

iPhone games will be glad to hear that a site called iControlPad.com has developed a console like controller casing for the handset that should allow for a true gaming style feel on the phone. The casing is simple and very neatly designed to slip right over the device. It features -

* A D-pad for navigation
* Action Keys (ABXY)
* A start button
* Power LED
* Select key

The controller add-on has been in development for sometime now and has finally reached a stage where the developers believe it’s ready for mass production. In order to use the device though, your device will need to be jailbroken. There’s no confirmation yet, but it’s likely that the company would also develop an iControlPad for the iTouch.

The availability of the device or pricing has not been disclosed. All we can say is, it's going to take mobile gaming to a whole new level.

Worm infects 9 million wiindows users

The malicious program includes a code or other malware that could damage both, the system and the network.
Being slated by experts as one of the worst malware outbreaks of the past five years, a nasty worm called "Downadup" aka "Conficker" and "Kido" has affected over 9 million Windows users worldwide, says F-Secure, an internet security solutions provider.

The number of infected machines rose from 2.4 million to over 8.9 million in just four days, according to F-Secure calculations.

The malicious program includes a code or other malware that could damage both, the system and the network. The program uses computer or network resources to make complete copies of itself.

The principal targets are corporate Windows servers belonging to small businesses who have not installed security updates released by Microsoft last October.

F-Secure issued an alert about the new versions of the "Downadup" worm earlier this month. The alert informed victims that the worm infects Windows workstations and servers, causing various problems.

According to F-Secure's estimates, a third of all potentially vulnerable systems have not had the update. Since New Year, F-Secure has been receiving several reports of corporate networks getting infected with variants of this worm.

If you're a victim of this worm, you could visit F-Secure's Malware Information page for more information for its removal from your computer system.

Most Indians Can't Stay Without their Mobile Phone

With mobile handset prices dropping as well as cheap call and SMS rates prevalent, Indian mobile phone subscriber base has reached new heights.

Constant usage of mobile phones has made users dependent on mobile devices; so much so that they would want to be in contact with another person when attending natures' calls.

The Synovate survey on consumer behavior, commissioned by Microsoft's Windows Mobile division gathered some findings with regards to mobile phone usage in Asia. Here are some of them:

58 percent of Asians -- which includes India -- comprise of those who wished to use mobile phones when traveling by air.

The survey also found that Indians are the "most social" with 69 percent most likely to use their phones in a cinema, 21 percent in a place of worship, and 79 percent at a wedding ceremony.

A quarter of users across the markets surveyed said they used mobile phones in meetings. Almost 80 percent of Asians polled use a mobile phone while eating with other people.

With so many day-to-day utility applications being made available on mobile phones -- be it to surf the internet, pay bills, , this dependency on mobile phones is only going to escalate.

Jan 13, 2009

MSN, Google Slammed Over Porn Distribution

Internet search giants Google and Microsoft's MSN, among others, have been targeted by the Chinese government in their latest crackdown on pornography and vulgarity on the Web. The two search engines, along with China's popular website Baidu, have been threatened with closure if they do not remove all such material and links from their portal.

While Google and Baidu have been accused of carrying porn and lewd content, MSN came in for criticism for having a large amount of "inappropriate images" on its film channel and "select pictures" in its social messaging section.

Google and Baidu have since issued apologies and promised to remove all offending material. Google, in a statement, said that it had deleted all links to vulgar material from its search indexes and would prevent such material re-appearing.

Search engines threatened with closure if they do not remove vulgar material and links to such material from portal

A total of 91 sites have been shut down or blocked since the month-long campaign was launched last week, reported the Xinhua news agency. Chinese authorities have warned of tougher measures in the following days against law-breakers.

China has the world's largest online population at more that 250 million, with a majority of the users being people below the age of 30, according to state-owned China Internet Network Information Center.

While China has already taken the lead to make the Internet safe viewing for children, the UK government is also planning to bring in an international law to police the Web.

Intel Classmate 2 Unveiled for $550

Re-branded as 2go Convertible Classmate PC, the new version was spotted for sale at CSE 2009 at $550 (Rs. 26,500 approx)

Intel's Convertible Classmate 2.0 version laptop was spotted for sale at the CES 2009 - re-branded as 2go Convertible Classmate PC.

Manufactured by Computer Technology Link, this Classmate 2.0 has exactly the same configuration like that of the first Classmate PC, but with swivel (turnable touchscreen). The second version of Classmate PC is priced at a steep $550 (Rs. 26,500 approx.).

The 2go Convertible Classmate PC has 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, Intel GMA 950 graphics, up to 2GB RAM, 60GB PATA HDD, 9.5-inch display and packs Windows XP. This Classmate 2.0 notebook has resistive 1024 x 600 touchscreen, is turnable and packs accelerometer that helps to automatically adjust the screen orientation. Besides the touchscreen, another thing that has changed is the wireless card, which got changed from 802.11n to 802.11b/g.

The interesting part of Classmate 2.0 is that, CLT currently allows one laptop per customer (OLPC). This truly looks like a refined business version of OLPC (one laptop per child) concept.

Jan 12, 2009

Windows 7 features !!!!

Improved taskbar and full-screen previews
The taskbar at the bottom of your screen is what you use to switch between the applications you've got open. In Windows 7 you can set the order in which the icons appear and they'll stay put. They're easier to see, too. Click once on the new large icons or bigger preview thumbnails and you're ready to go. You can even see a full screen preview before switching to the window.

Get the picture: See what's open with previews and easily control your Windows experience with the new Taskbar.

Faster, more responsive performance
Nobody likes to wait. So we've focused on the basics that can impact the speed of your PC. Windows 7 starts up, shuts down, resumes from standby, and responds faster. You'll have fewer interruptions and can recover more quickly from problems when they do occur because Windows 7 will help you fix them when you want.

Jump Lists
With Windows 7, we focused on keeping the things you use most right in front of you. One example: The new Jump List feature. It's a handy way to quickly reach the files you've been working with. To see the files you've used recently, just right click on the icon on your taskbar. So right-clicking on the Word icon will show your most recent Word documents. Plus, if there are other files you want to keep handy, you can just pin them to the Jum

New ways to work with Windows
Windows 7 simplifies how you work with the windows on your desktop. You'll have more intuitive ways to open, close, resize, and arrange them. You can drag open windows to screen borders, so you'll no longer have to click on tiny objects in the corner of a window to make it do what you want.
Maximize a window by dragging its border to the top of the screen, and return the window to its original size by dragging it away from the top of the screen. Drag the bottom border of a window to expand it vertically.
It's easy to copy files or compare the contents of two windows by dragging the windows to opposite sides of the screen. As your cursor touches the edge, the window will resize to fill that half of the screen.
To see all your desktop gadgets, just drag your mouse to the lower right corner of your desktop. That'll make all the open Windows transparent—making your desktop, and the gadgets on it, immediately visible. Want to minimize all your windows? One click and it's done.

Internet Explorer 8
Available now, Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 helps you do what you want online, faster. With innovations to the address bar, search, tabs, and the Favorites bar, Internet Explorer 8 brings you more information, with less effort.
Instant Search
To start, as you type a search request you'll immediately start seeing relevant suggestions from your chosen search provider, complete with images when available. The twist: search will also use your browsing history to narrow the suggestions. You'll start seeing search results while you're typing. If you see what you're looking for, you can go right to the list without finishing the request.

Start typing and search results start appearing
There are online services you use all the time. Like getting a map. With Accelerators, you can highlight a bit of information on any page, click on the blue Accelerators icon, and choose from a variety of services relevant to the information you selected. So if you highlight a business address and right click, you can use an Accelerator to get a map right there. The Live Maps Accelerator will show a map preview directly on the page.

At your service: Accelerators get what you need, fast
Web Slices
With Web Slices you can instantly see changes on a website without going to it. Use a Web Slice to monitor things like auction items, sports scores, entertainment columns, and weather reports. When the content you're watching changes, Internet Explorer 8 delivers updated information directly to a Web Slice in your Favorites Bar, so you can see it right away.

Windows Live
With Windows 7, some features previously included in the operating system are now available for download through Windows Live Essentials, a set of free applications available for your PC and supported by Windows 7. You can download Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Mail, Writer, Movie Maker, and more. With these great applications, you can improve your Windows experience, and benefit from faster delivery of these features and service

Better device management
One of the great things about PCs is how they let us use such a wide array of devices. In the past, you had to use several different screens to manage different types of devices. But With Windows 7, you'll use a single Devices and Printers screen to connect, manage, and use whatever printers, phones, and other devices you have on-hand.

All together now: See all your devices in one spot
A new technology in Windows 7 called Device Stage takes device management a step further. Device Stage helps you interact with any compatible device connected to your computer. From Device Stage you can see device status and run common tasks from a single window. There are even pictures of the devices which makes it really easy to see what's there. Here's a list of products that take advantage of Device Stage.

Device Stage puts device features front and center

Extended battery life
Performance improvements are about more than speed. For example, your laptop battery lasts longer with power-saving features, such as adaptive display brightness, which dims the display if you haven't used your PC for a while.

Theme packages reflect your style
With Windows 7, you start with a clean desktop and get to decide how it looks. We provide the templates, or themes, and you can choose the color or format, including whether you'd like to enjoy a slideshow for your desktop background.
New theme packages include rich backgrounds, 16 glass colors, sound schemes, and screensavers. You can download new themes and create your own to share with friends and family. There are plenty of choices to make it yours.

By design: Themes give your desktop a personal touch

Take control of problems
Many of you asked us to stop Windows from sending so many alerts and messages and to give you more control over messages. In Windows 7, you get to choose the messages you want to see.
Even if you don't change a thing, you'll still see fewer notifications and icons popping up because the Action Center consolidates alerts from 10 Windows features, including Security Center and Windows Defender.
Rather than popping up with a message in the lower right of your screen, if Windows 7 needs your attention, you'll see an Action Center icon and can find out more by clicking it. If you don't have time to look at the alert immediately, Action Center will keep the information waiting for you to address later.

Share music and videos
One of the great things about PCs is how they help you put your pictures, videos, and music in one place. Once everything is in that spot, it's natural to want to share it all with other PCs in your home. Windows 7 helps you do it. Windows 7 introduces new media sharing features that make your PC a great hub for experiencing audio, video, and pictures throughout your home. So, when you set up a homegroup or stream media from Windows Media Player, you can enjoy your music, pictures, and videos on other computers running Windows 7 and other devices in your home.

Windows Touch
While great for a lot of tasks, using a keyboard and mouse is not always the easiest way to do things. If you've got a touch-screen monitor, you can just touch your computer screen for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom. Large touch-sensitive areas on the Start menu and the taskbar make it easy to use.

Handwriting recognition additions
Handwriting recognition takes a big step forward in Windows 7. Beginning with greater accuracy and speed, Windows 7 improves pen input in several ways. You can write math expressions, create personalized custom dictionaries for handwriting recognition, and use the new languages supported in Windows 7. Of course, you can also use the pen to just make a quick list.

Windows 7 beta now available

Microsoft has apparently decided that it has enough server capacity and has made the code available for the Windows 7 beta.

I don't see a posting on the Windows 7 blog, but when I went to the Windows 7 page Saturday morning, I found the following message and was directed to this site to get the code.

"The Windows 7 Beta is now available for download," Microsoft said on its Web site. "Thanks for your interest and help with the beta."

The software was supposed to be made available on Friday, but the company delayed the release after a day filled with Web site problems.

Update: Microsoft offered up some recommended specifications for the beta, but cautioned those could change for the final release. It called for a 1GHz processor (either 32-bit or 64-bit), 1GB of system memory, 16Gb of disk space, support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory, as well as a DVD burner and Internet access.

The software maker also cautioned users should have some technical skills, such as the ability to "burn an ISO file to make an install DVD. (A good example of what we mean by 'technical')." It also said folks should know how to install Windows (uh, yeah) and set up a network.

Furthermore, the company cautioned that the beta is not the quality one should expect from a final release. "It can be glitchy--so don't use a PC you need every day."

I can see the Vista jokes coming now...

Acer Slashes Price of Aspire One Netbook

Acer has announced a new limited period special festive offer from Jan 9 – 20, 2009 on its entire range of Netbooks for the Indian consumer.
The Aspire One netbook will now be available for Rs. 14,499 during this time. The fully loaded Windows XP Home version of the Aspire One will be available for Rs. 16,499.The Aspire One is available in five colors - Sapphire Blue, Brown, Black, Pink and White. With an LCD size of 8.9” and weighing less than one kilo, the Aspire One comes with an ergonomically designed keyboard which is 89% of a full-size keyboard and a battery life of up to 3 hours.The Aspire One is equipped with the latest Intel Atom processor technology, Linpus Linux Lite or Windows XP Home, and has 1 GB of RAM installed with up to 160 GB of HDD.

Jan 6, 2009

15 Reasons PC Gaming Beats All

How about an epic PC versus console gaming smackdown, in the tradition of end-of-year numbers lists?

I spent part of 2008 taking polite shots at PC foibles like Microsoft's halfhearted Games for Windows initiative, the functionality and game support travesties that plagued Vista for the better part of 2007 into 2008, PC gaming's dwindling stable of A-list exclusives, and the short-term-gains mentality that's increasingly dropping eggs in low-risk baskets labeled "World of Warcraft" and "The Sims."

So here's my last minute about-face defending the PC as a viable games platform, and a friendly rejoinder to Techradar's "12 reasons console gaming beats PCs."

1. PCs are scalable. Sure, it's a glass half-full or half-empty proposition, because component upgrades often vandalize (and scandalize) your wallet. Question is, would you rather have a platform that can play nearly anything, past to present, contingent on do-it-yourself propensity? Or be locked into a restrictively governed molding that's only changed out once every half-decade or so?

2. PC games are endlessly manipulable. Another "your mileage may vary" point, because tinkering's not for everyone, and plenty of people just want something that works. On the other hand, if you've only played Far Cry 2 on a console, you've been prowling around in visuals that only shadow the game's tricked-out PC sibling. And while stuff like NVIDIA's PhysX is accessible on NVIDIA-derivative consoles, don't expect Mirror's Edge to ever look as gleefully dissolvable on a PS3 or Xbox 360 as its physics-enhanced PC version. Also: Two words = mod scene.

3. PCs ape consoles in emulation. Here's a point often missed. PCs can be nearly any past-tense console, by hook or by crook. Miss stuff like Rare's Wizards & Warriors? The original tag-team Mario Bros.? Mega Man? Berzerk? No need to track down a moldering Atari 2600 or original NES, or Edward Stratton III's original Tempest arcade box. Just find an emulator and a stack of ROMs, or a Flash or Java site like PlayNES.net running scads of these in ostensibly legal emulation (including save-state options!) and you're golden.

4. PCs can be anywhere. If you're living in the 1970s, you think computers still hunker in lightless basements, or converted linen closets, or musty shag-carpeted attics. I've never parked my PC anywhere other than a desk/armoire/piped-and-fluted-hybrid in a living room within cabling distance of my Dolby-fied flat-screened piece-de-resistance. Swapping between a desktop LCD and your larger living room variety is a snap, not to mention that doing so offers more audio/video playback options than any of the console manufacturers.

5. Keyboard and mouse beats all. We've yet to see an interface as intuitive and broadly commanding (and that's including Nintendo's vaunted Wiimote and nunchuk).

6. PCs do gamepads, surprise! Take that, all you blinkered QWERTY mockers. Got an Xbox 360 controller? Plug it into your PC and games like Dead Space and Gears of War adapt instantly. What's more, I dare anyone to invoke a console's comparably foggy web browser and tap out a response to this point, cycling through detached-panel ASCII symbols and frantically pulling triggers, one tedious sequential character at a time.

7. Consoles go kaplooey, too. I'll see your "blue screen" and raise you a "red ring" or two (or 33 percent of total, if those early estimates were accurate). Leave your pity for PC gamers at the door, because consoles are just as prone to bellying up when something short circuits in quality control. (Because, hate to break it to you, consoles are PCs too!) And memo: Game-breaking creepy-crawlies and PC-style firmware updates and patches have consoles on the hook these days, too.

8. Consoles could vanish tomorrow, but PC gaming is forever. Planning to solve for the unified theory of everything while lounging on your sofa in front of you new 50-inch plasma power-gobbler? Chances are, not so much. Feng Shui your heart out, you still need a place to spread the tree-ware and focus without distractions. Vive la PC! In the end, PC gaming soldiers on in part because the business-to-casual range of our daily activities remains wildly PC-centric. "And it plays games too?" There you go.

9. PC games are stylistically unbounded. It's like the Irving Berlin song: Anything consoles can do, PCs can do better. There's nothing consoles offer that PCs (and PC games) can't, and we're talking strictly one-way negotiation. Anything that requires fast-switch precision movement's out the window on a 360, Wii, or PS3. Real-time strategy games are a tangled mess on consoles, and while certain tactical third-person shooters work well enough, a decent mouse/keyboard gamer will repeatedly roast anyone wielding a pair of comparably clumsy thumb-sticks. Don't get me started on the complete lack of console support for serious simulations and wargames.

10. PCs are the creative heart of video gaming. This is where the grandest, wackiest, coolest, hippest, least predictable stuff in gaming's happening, folks. Hands down and bar none. Don't believe me? Then you need to try more stuff like Crayon Physics, DCS Black Shark, Synaesthete, Fret Nice, and for goodness sake spend some time with Iron Dukes. (Want some more? See my February 2008 feature on "Award Winning Indie Games.")

11. PC games cost less. I'm not saying it makes a lick of sense (it doesn't) but Epic's Gears of War cost 60 bucks when it debuted on the 360. When it hit the PC with brand new content, that price dropped to $50, and that's still the going rate for PC A-listers. A $10 delta may sound trivial if you only buy a few games a year, but even two games a month is pushing $240 -- enough to fund a new Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii every 365 days.

12. Online PC matchmaking is free. I realize it's only Microsoft dragging its base through the mud here, and analysts claiming Xbox Live offers something unique are simply wrong. Still, it's worth mentioning that online PC matchmaking and multiplayer are, and always have been free. It's not a luxury item, it's not a special service, it's not a value proposition -- it's an entrenched and completely reasonable customer expectation.

13. Piracy ain't just a PC problem. Console piracy rates barely scratch the PC's reportedly onerous numbers, but the former's aren't exactly waning. The more people playing console games, the more the scene laser-targets each console's proprietary padlocks, the more increasingly end-user-friendly workaround hacks and mod-jobs and firmware-fooling pre-insert ROM disc tools flood the market. While there may be cash to have short-term by switching gears, abandoning the PC over piracy rates may turn out to be yet another iteration of the "grass-is-greener" myth.

14. PCs excel at family-hotseat-group-play, too. First of all, You Don't Know Jack was working the lines long before the likes of Scene It!. Second, sure, there's stuff like Buzz Quiz and, you know, Amercan Idol Encore 2 on tap, but they're still a tiny fraction of the broader number of family-friendly party games you can pull up (many for free) and play on your PC, whether piped through an office monitor or jacked into your Dolby/plasma master-lounge-center.

15. PC display screens trump living room TVs. The old anti-CRT/NTSC argument is finally weakening now that HDTVs with 1080p have a foot in, but I'll still see your 1920 x 1080 max lines of resolution and raise you 3840 x 2400 while you're waiting for market momentum to clumsily foist the Next Big Thing on entertainment centers (while online entertainment providers ironically bleed the life out of picture quality by compressing the heck out of on-demand digital video). Okay, so picture quality's not as big a deal these days for non-videophiles, and graphics bickering is pretty 1990s. Still, I needed a 15th point, so there you go!

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Seagate today announced a new 3.5” drive that stores 500 GB on a single platter

Scotts Valley (CA) – A solid state disk (SSD) drive may be the sexiest mass storage device for notebooks and high-end PCs, but if it is about cheap storage the good old hard drive is still the way to go – and hard drive technology still has room to grow: Seagate today announced a new 3.5” drive that stores 500 GB on a single platter.
Just in time for CES, Seagate has begun shipments of its 12th generation 3.5” Barracuda hard drive, which continues to spin its platters at 7200 rpm. However, Seagate was able to increase the aereal storage densities of its platters, which reduces the number of disks and potentially power consumption as well.Whereas the previous Barracuda generation used disks with a storage capacity of 320 – 375 GB, the new 7200.12 HD model increases the number to 500 GB per platter or a density of 329 Gb per square inch. That number is especially impressive if we remember than the industry believed that the natural storage density barrier would be about 100 Gb per square inch and even laser-assisted technologies would only reach to 250 Gb per square inch.Seagate offers the new drives as 1-platter and 2-platter models providing up to 1 TB of storage, which is less than the maximum capacity of the 7200.11 drive that tops out at 1.5 GB (4 x 375 GB). At least in theory, the new platters would allow Seagate to come up with a 2 TB hard drive, which may be the case as soon as the company’s rivals are catching up with similar technology. There was no information on the power consumption of the drive, but we would expect the drive to consume less than the 4-platter 1.5 TB model and be in the range of the previous 2-platter 750 GB 7200.11 drive.Seagate said that the new Barracudas are in production now and are offered in 500 GB, 750 GB, and 1 TB versions. The company did not disclose the suggested retail price of the drives.

Jan 5, 2009

iFart iPhone App -- A Hit

After its debut on Dec. 12, this app had been downloaded by thousands of users everyday and is an instant hit

After all the hue and cry about Apple's iFart app being "obscene" and should be banned, the company decided against it. It was a good decision, I would say, as this iFart app stands at the numero uno position on the Apple's online store website since two weeks now.

iFart Mobile is available for download in the iTunes App Store for $99. It has options for 26 Fart Sounds which include 'Dirty Raoul', 'Bombardier', 'Silent but Deadly' and many more. After its debut on Dec. 12, this app had been downloaded by thousands of users everyday and is an instant hit.