Episode 216

posted in: Show Notes


BBC News – Twitter name @theashes brings cricket fame to US woman
Twitter name @theashes brings cricket fame to US woman

A woman in the US has made headlines after complaining about cricket messages sent to her Twitter account, which is named @theashes.
The woman says she knows nothing about cricket

She finally complained by tweeting that she was “not a freaking cricket match”.
The number of her followers has risen from 300 to 6,100 and an airline has offered her a free flight to Australia.
The woman, who Australian media say is Ashley Kerekes, from Massachusetts, tweeted that “this is not the account of the cricket match. Check profiles before you send mentions, it’s incredibly annoying and rude”.
started to sell T-shirts with the slogan: “I am not a freaking cricket match.”

BBC News – Wikileaks ‘hacked ahead of secret US document release’
Wikileaks ‘hacked ahead of secret US document release’
“We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack,” it said on its Twitter feed earlier.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said the US authorities are afraid of being held to account.
Wikileaks has said the release of classified messages sent by US embassies will be bigger than past releases on Afghanistan and Iraq.
The US government has written to Mr Assange, urging him not release the documents.
The letter from the US state department’s legal adviser Harold Koh said the release of classified state department documents was against US law and would put “countless” lives at risk.
Mr Assange is said to have asked which individuals would be put at risk by the leak and offered to negotiate over limited redactions.
In response, Mr Koh demanded that Wikileaks return official documents to the US government.
“We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials,” he said in the letter.
Mr Koh’s letter adds that the publication of the documents would endanger the lives of “countless” individuals – from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers – and put US military operations at risk.
Wikileaks earlier this week said that its next release of documents would be nearly seven times larger than the nearly 400,000 Pentagon documents relating to the Iraq war it published in October.

BBC News – Pirate Bay founders lose appeal
Pirate Bay founders lose appeal

Three founders of The Pirate Bay have lost an appeal against a conviction for illegally sharing copyrighted content.
The Swedish appeals court upheld the 2009 ruling against the site’s founders which saw them sentenced to a year in jail and heavily fined.
The ruling reduces the sentences the men face but increases fines to 46m crowns (£4.1m).
The appeal court ruling will see Mr Neij serve a 10 month sentence; Mr Sunde eight months and Mr Lundstrom four months. Once Mr Svartholm Warg is fit his “criminal liability” will be tested by the appeals court.

Still online!!

BBC News – Facebook looks to trademark the word ‘face’
Facebook looks to trademark the word ‘face’

If granted, the trademark will only apply to online sites and services used to exchange messages.
It could limit the use of the word in other social networks and services, such as Apple’s Facetime, lawyers said.

BBC News – German vandals target Street View opt-out homes
German vandals target Street View opt-out homes

German home-owners who have chosen to opt out of Google’s Street View service appear to have become the unsuspecting victims of anti-privacy vandals.
Local media report that homes in Essen, west Germany have been pelted with eggs and had ‘Google’s cool’ notices pinned to their doors.

BBC News – Facebook alternative Diaspora goes live
Facebook alternative Diaspora goes live

An open source alternative to Facebook – called Diaspora – has gone live.
The “privacy-aware” social network was founded earlier this year during a period when Facebook came under fire for its privacy settings.
The community-funded project is currently only open to a small number of invited people.

Human error triggered NAB software corruption | The Australian
Human error triggered NAB software corruption
The bank’s technology issues last week affected not only other major and regional banks, and their customers; retailers, such as Woolworths

The affected banks have been forced to roster additional customer service agents to handle queries that have been flooding in since the problem struck on Thursday.

NAB conducts batch processing on behalf of other banks each day. When completed, a file, containing a detailed transaction history, is generated, which is then sent to the banks by NAB at the end of the day.
On early Thursday morning, IT departments at financial institutions such as Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, HSBC, Citibank and Bank of Queensland went on high alert when they did not receive the files.
NAB told them that “technical issues” had hampered the delivery of the files.

it apparently was not a “file” itself that was the problem. Instead, it appears that someone from NAB’s IT department who had access to the system inadvertently uploaded a file that “corrupted” the system.

The “file” was actually software code containing instructions on how systems should operate in the batch processing cycle.

NAB has vowed to compensate people left out of pocket.

Firefox-maker Mozilla mulls do-not-track tool | The Australian
Firefox-maker Mozilla mulls do-not-track tool
THE makers of the popular Firefox web browser are exploring ways to create a do-not-track mechanism.

Recently Mozilla, killed a powerful and new tool to limit tracking under pressure from an ad-industry executive, The Wall Street Journal has learned. Mozilla says it didn’t scrap the tool because of pressure, but rather out of concern it would force advertisers to use even sneakier techniques and could slow down the performance of some websites.

advertisers don’t want to simply buy ads online — they want to buy access to specific people they consider most open to their message.

Last week, the online-advertising industry unveiled a website, www.aboutads.info, which allows people to opt out of 58 tracking companies, including Lotame, with a single click. Mike Zaneis, senior vice president at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said “we’ve built the functional equivalent of do-not-track.”

However, those 58 companies are only a portion of the tracking industry. Earlier this year, the Journal found 131 companies that installed tracking tools on computers of visitors to the top 50 US websites. Former ad executive Jim Brock has compiled a list of 274 companies on his website, PrivacyChoice.org, that use tracking technology.

$210k paid for oldest Apple | The Australian
$210k paid for oldest Apple
ITS processor works 1000 times slower than that of the iPad

The Apple I, one of only 200 made, sold on Tuesday at Christie’s auction house in central London for pound stg. 133,250 ($210,900). It came with its original packaging and a signed sales letter from Steve Jobs

When the Apple I was introduced in 1976, it was the only personal computer to come with a fully assembled motherboard, making it ready to use straight from the box – if the user supplied a keyboard, power supply and display, Christie’s said. It sold for $US666.66 and was available until it was discontinued in 1977.
Bidding on the Apple I came quickly, with the computer eventually going to Italian businessman and private collector Marco Boglione, who made his offer by phone.
Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, who agreed to add a signed letter to the lot. He said the auction was a historic moment for his work when sold alongside other technological greats such as an Enigma, the German coding machine.
“Today, my heart went out as I got to see things auctioned off like the Turing documents and the Enigma machine, and the Apple I,” Mr Wozniak said.

Acer jumps on tablet, apps store train | The Australian
Acer jumps on tablet, apps store train
THE world’s second-largest computer maker has thrown its weight behind tablet computers, unveiling five new tablets due to launch in the coming months.
Acer showed off its new tablet range in New York this morning, revealing tablet computers from 5 to 14 inches in size.
Microsoft’s Windows 7 software, will feature on the  10-inch tablet in the range.
A five-inch “superphone” tablet as well as a 7-inch and 10-inch tablet will feature Google Android software. All three feature cameras and added connections, though a mobile internet connection does not come as standard.
Acer will wait for Google to release a tablet-friendly version of its Android software called Honeycomb before releasing the tablets.
tablets are due to be released later next year.

Correspondents Report – Digging in Tokyo 07/11/2010
Digging in Tokyo
China announcing a 30 per cent cut to its exports of so-called rare earth metals, its largest customer of these minerals – Japan – is being forced to look elsewhere.

Rare earth metals are vital components in things like flat screen TVs, electric car batteries and smart phones.

the Japanese are turning to urban mining – trawling through the country’s mountainous scrap heaps to recycle the metals.

It’s estimated that Japan’s scrap heaps contain about 10 per cent of the world’s metal and mineral reserves and researchers believe a similar proportion of rare earths also sit inside these mountains of urban trash.


Mythbusters’ Savage: I got past TSA with razor blades | Technically Incorrect – CNET News

Mythbusters’ Savage: I got past TSA with razor blades

Many of you will be flying today. You will be going to see those to whom you feel closest, or, indeed, most indifferent, in order to give thanks for your feelings.
You will also have to enjoy the watchful eyes, hands and smiles of the TSA inspectorate.
You may not find it entirely comfortable. However, like “Mythbusters” presenter Adam Savage, in the rush to leave the house, you may have forgotten that you have a couple of 12-inch razor blades secreted about your person.
Savage, in the highly entertaining monologue that I have embedded, describes how earlier this year he was flying and happened to forget to remove potentially dangerous objects from his belongings.

Savage says he was shepherded through the body scanner “which, for some reason, makes my penis feel really small” and, once he got to the other side, discovered something quite surprising.
While his junk had been fully inspected, the ordinary scanner/all-over body scanner tandem seemed to have missed the blades.
Savage says he was somewhat alarmed at the TSA’s apparent inattention. “My tiny junk is offended,” he said.
Everyone appreciates that the TSA’s job is not an easy one and that it’s always hard in life to judge who is worth closer inspection.
However, one can only hope that, over the Thanksgiving period, the systems do manage to at least catch up to all the 12-inch razor blades that might be passing beneath their physical and metaphorical noses.

Windows Home Server to lose drive pooling | Microsoft – CNET News

Windows Home Server to lose drive pooling

The next version of Windows Home Server, codenamed “Vail” will lose a popular feature that let users pool together storage drives.
(Credit: Microsoft)
In the world of software, features come and go, though most of the time it’s in the direction of growth.
Such has been the story of Windows Home Server–that is, up until now. Microsoft has announced that the next major version of the software, codenamed “Vail,” will do away with what has arguably been one of the most user-friendly features: the drive extender.
This feature would let users take multiple hard drives of various sizes–like the ones that people might have left from old computers, or something they got at a Black Friday sale–and let them pool those drives together to add to a total amount of storage. The feature could be a lifesaver for people who wanted to expand the storage on a computer without having to mess with special third-party software, or complicated back-up solutions.
According to a post on the Windows Home Server blog, the feature will be removed from beta versions of WHS, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials beginning early next year. The reasoning for the change was that hard drive size has increased to the point where 1-terabyte-or-higher hard drives can be had on the cheap, and are readily available at the time users are buying new hardware they wish to turn into home servers:
“Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutions from OEMs will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality,” Michael Leworthy, Micosoft’s Windows Server senior technical product manager, said in the post.
Leworthy also noted that the decision had been driven by customers.
“When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs,” he said.
Shortly after writing that post, which was met with some 140 (mostly angry) user comments, Leworthy followed up, saying that the decision had been “incredibly hard,” but that it was necessary given the development of Home Server alongside the company’s Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials products. “For Windows Home Server users, these areas may not seem as important. However, as our development for these products is very closely tied, a decision like this affects all three,” Leworthy said.
A possible reason for the removal of the feature going forward could be tied to past difficulties with drive pooling being the culprit of data corruption. In some cases, this could lead to files that were stored on multidrive home servers being unreadable after they had been transferred there. Earlier versions of WHS had this problem, though Microsoft patched it back in 2008.

Chevy Volt to pull combined 60 miles per gallon | Green Tech – CNET News

Chevy Volt to pull combined 60 miles per gallon

General Motors today detailed the highly anticipated fuel economy label for the Chevy Volt, and it varies greatly depending on driving habits.
The EPA fuel economy label on the gas-electric Chevy Volt gives it a combined rating of 60 miles per gallon. There are separate ratings for electric-only driving, which is 93 “miles per gallon equivalent,” and for gas-only driving, which is 37 miles per gallon.

(Credit: Screen shot by Martin LaMonica/CNET)

On a full battery charge, the Chevy Volt, which GM hopes to start selling next month, drives about 35 miles. After that distance, a gas engine kicks in to run a generator that charges the battery.
In a call with reporters, GM executives took pains to point out that mileage will vary greatly depending on how frequently drivers recharge. “If you try to boil it down to a single number, it becomes quite difficult,” said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet product marketing director.
The Volt label provides additional information geared at showing the variety in miles per gallon and cost per mile a driver can expect. It shows that the cost per mile ranges from 4 cents per mile for 30 miles up to 9 cents per mile on gas only. Miles per gallon of gasoline can be as high as 168 mpg for a distance of 45 miles.
With the rating, the Volt qualifies as the best car in the compact-car category on fuel economy, and it rates relatively well on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.
Nissan on Monday announced that the all-electric Nissan Leaf will have a fuel economy rating of 99 mpg-equivalent. The Volt fuel economy in electric-only mode is 36 kilowatt hours per 100 miles, compared with 34 kilowatt hours per 100 miles for the Leaf.
Last year, GM announced that it expected to get 230 miles per gallon on city driving. Today, GM executives said that rating was based on an earlier methodology from the Environmental Protection Agency.
GM says that the electric range of the Volt will be between 25 miles and 50 miles depending on driving patterns, terrain, and weather conditions.
The Volt label is unique in that it provides more information than a typical fuel economy label. GM expects that potential buyers for the $41,000, four-person sedan will be willing to spend some time understanding how mileage can vary, said Doug Parks, Chevrolet Volt’s global vehicle line executive.

U.S. seizes sites linked to copyright infringement | Digital Media – CNET News

U.S. seizes sites linked to copyright infringement

Visitors to dozens of Web sites purportedly linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods were greeted by this message.

The U.S. government has launched a major crackdown on online copyright infringement, seizing dozens of Web site domains linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods.
The domains of torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as Torrent-finder.com, 2009jerseys.com, and Dvdcollects.com found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, “This domain name has been seized by ICE–Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”
One domain owner said he was surprised by the action.
“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak, which listed more than 70 domains that were apparently part of the massive seizure.
DHS representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The seizures came after a Senate committee unanimously approved a controversial proposal earlier this month that would allow the government to pull the plug on Web sites accused of aiding piracy. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) allows a Web site’s domain to be seized if it “has no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than” offering or providing access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.
The proposal has garnered support from dozens of the largest content companies, including video game maker Activision, media firms NBC Universal and Viacom, and the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America lobbying groups. However, critics such as engineers and civil liberties groups say the COICA could balkanize the Internet, jeopardize free speech rights, and endanger legitimate Web sites.
The battle against online file sharing has ramped up. Earlier today, a Swedish court upheld the copyright conviction of the founders of The Pirate Bay, a notorious file-sharing site. In October, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction against Lime Wire, the company that operated the popular file-sharing software LimeWire. In May, a judge granted summary judgment in favor of the music industry’s claims that Lime Group, parent of LimeWire software maker Lime Wire, committed copyright infringement, engaged in unfair competition, and induced copyright infringement.

Futuristic touch screen puts the desk in desktop | Cutting Edge – CNET News

Futuristic touch screen puts the desk in desktop

editor’s notebook The future just keeps getting closer and closer these days. Not only do we have iPhones with FaceTime–which, when combined with the iPod Nano (as I’m sure they will be before too long) will come pretty close to creating a mass-market version of Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV–we’ve also got robot cars and, ahem, robot journalists (which I’m trying to keep at bay by way of this terribly sophisticated and never-ending sentence–apparently the roboscribes have trouble with such Proustian gymnastics: Quick! They’re coming for our jobs! Hand me another semicolon and an em dash!).
And too, we’ve got “Minority Report”-like gesture-driven interfaces and now this: a multiuser touch screen the size of a desk, which curves up to create a, well, desktop like the metaphorical one you may be staring at right now.
I realize some of you will scoff at this device–whipped up by The Media Computing Group at Germany’s RWTH Aachen University, and brought to my attention by Engadget–but I freely admit that it fires my imagination.
I can see it combined with the type of Wacom pen-and-tablet device that lets you “draw” directly on screen. As a sometime graphic designer, I’d be in nirvana. I could hunch over in a hard-working, tortured artist kind of way and draw a picture or manipulate a Photoshop file, save a version of it, and then whisk that version across the (horizontal) desktop to see it curve up onto the (vertical) desktop that would now be a perfect bulletin board.
Media Computing Group)
I can see it incorporating the aforementioned gesture-driven technology to allow me to sit back and point at the drawings on my bulletin board to choose the ones I like: I could snap my fingers, say, and preserve those files; then–I don’t know–dismiss the rejects with a disdainful backhanded wave and watch them burst into unbelievably lifelike flames courtesy of a supercharged graphics card or an up-and-coming 3D Web technology like WebGL. A client meeting was never so much fun! It’s a multiuser device: I could set the client’s favorite drawings ablaze, and she could ignite mine! We could create a new video game! I’d let her win! I’d have to! She’s now my only source of income–my journalism job having been stolen by R2-D2!
But enough of my overheated holiday-weekend imaginings, irrelevant asides about robots, and tiresome, tiresome, tiresome–tiresome–syntactical pyrotechnics. Why don’t you take a look at the video and share with us your own brilliant vaporware in the comments section below?
(And, yes, I know, we’ve already had at least one real-life interpretation of the Dick Tracy gadget–and for a long time now. See? I told you the future just keeps getting closer. So close it’s become the past. Feel free to point out if and where the technology mashup I’ve conjured already exists–and when it appeared.)

Lady Gaga quits Facebook, Twitter for charity | Technically Incorrect – CNET News

Lady Gaga quits Facebook, Twitter for charity

Stars sometimes cause us vast moral dilemmas.
Should we support those stars who gyrate appallingly, but whose music we secretly love? Should we adore those stars whose songs we adore, but whose personal life seems a sewer of broken hearts and severed senses?
Now there is another parameter to this axis of complication.
Lady Gaga, she of the interesting designer fashions and music for gym clothes, is, along with other stars, quitting Facebook and Twitter.
There are those for whom this news might signify disaster on a worldwide scale. Lady Gaga, after all, has more than 7 million Twitter followers, more, it seems, than, it seems, anyone else. On Facebook, she has almost 24 million fans. Some, though, will think this excessive for an artist of such certain, but limited, qualities.
And yet, she and stars such as Justin Timberlake and Usher, are, according to the BBC, merely quitting on a temporary basis. Or at least so they hope.

(Credit: Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
You see, Alicia Keys has a charity called Keep a Child Alive. In order to raise money for this worthy cause, which commits itself to families whose lives have been affected by HIV/Aids in Africa and India, Keys has persuaded stars to quit social networking until people donate $1 million.
So here, for some, resides that moral conundrum. Should many people in the world feel that Facebook and Twitter would be enhanced by the disappearance of the likes of Gaga, Timberlake, Kim and Khloe Kardashian and Ryan Seacrest, all they have to do is deprive an excellent charity of much-needed funds.
Keys is not unaware of the irony of her movement. She told the BBC: “This is such a direct and instantly emotional way and a little sarcastic, you know, of a way to get people to pay attention.”
The president and co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, Leigh Blake, added: “We’re trying to sort of make the remark: ‘Why do we care so much about the death of one celebrity as opposed to millions and millions of people dying in the place that we’re all from?'”
They both offer stellar logic.
However, some might wonder whether more money would be raised had their irony been to offer that the more money is donated, the longer these stars will stay away from Facebook and Twitter entirely.
Perhaps they could experiment with half the stars being dedicated to this latter logic. How much might one imagine that people would pay to keep, say, Kim Kardashian from tweeting that she is sitting next to an air marshal on a plane?

Xbox birthday signals death of 5-year console cycle | Geek Gestalt – CNET News

Xbox birthday signals death of 5-year console cycle

When the Xbox 360 turned 5 years old this week with no known successor on the horizon, and no new imminent PlayStation or Wii either, it may well have signaled the demise of one of the video game industry’s most longstanding truisms.
Since at least the mid-1980s, major console makers have generally come out with new models every five years or so. For example, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came out in 1985, followed by the Super NES in 1991, the Nintendo 64 in 1996, the GameCube in 2001, and the Wii in 2006. Sony put out the first PlayStation in 1995 and followed up with the PS2 in 2000 and the PS3 in 2006. And Microsoft introduced the original Xbox in 2001 and released the Xbox 360 in 2005.

(Credit: Microsoft)
But now, with the Xbox 360 having turned five, and the PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii both having just hit their fourth birthdays, many industry observers see the ongoing success of each of the three major platforms as evidence that neither Microsoft, Sony, nor Nintendo have any intentions of following up in the next year or so. And why should they? Consumers are still buying the machines by the hundreds of thousands each month, and ramped-up online initiatives are breathing new life into the systems.
“I’ve been saying since 2002,” said Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter, “that the generation [started] in 2005 might be our last one.”
But why would the major console makers pass up the opportunity to make big new splashes with, say, an Xbox 720, a PlayStation 4, or a Wii 2?
To observers like Pachter, a lot of it has to do with the fact that with the current generation of consoles (often called the “next-gen”), each company found a way to maximize either the technology behind the devices, or the utility to a wide range of new gamers.
For example, while Nintendo’s Wii didn’t break new ground in its graphics capabilities, its innovative and intuitive Wii controller made it possible to design games that appealed to millions of people who had never considered themselves gamers in the past. And at the same time, with the Xbox 360 and the PS3, Microsoft and Sony created machines capable of game play of such high quality and graphics capabilities that some think there’s not that much room, or need, to grow any times soon.
Indeed, to Pachter, game play on these devices has reached the point where the games are sophisticated enough, and the microprocessors are so sophisticated already that there’s little reason to create a new generation any time soon.
Extending the consoles, and the franchises
One thing that’s become clear during the past year or so is that the console makers have found a way to extend the life cycles of their current machines without having to come out with new models.
For Microsoft and Sony, that’s manifested in the form of both cheaper and smaller versions of their current-gen consoles, as well as their innovative new motion-control systems, the Kinect and Move, respectively. By bringing in major new game play functionality with hot new accessories, the two companies have managed to build excitement amongst gamers, largely because of the promise of wide varieties of new games that can be produced for the Xbox and PS3.
After its early November release, Kinect quickly surpassed 1 million units sold and Microsoft expects to sell 5 million or more of the $150 device this year alone.

(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)
“Kinect has certainly given Microsoft a mid-life kicker,” said Dean Takahashi, the author of “The Xbox 360 Uncloaked.” “I wasn’t expecting that to happen, and really thought the company would have had to introduce a brand-new console by now…Kinect has extended this generation. For how long, I don’t know. But as long as the Xbox business is growing and profitable, Microsoft doesn’t have to rush a new console generation into the market.”
For its part, Microsoft, which didn’t even bother to publicize the Xbox 360’s fifth anniversary, doesn’t seem interested in playing the nostalgia game when it comes to industry traditions like coming out with new consoles every five years or so. “If you build a great piece of hardware that is designed with real game developers in mind and provides services that publishers, developers, and creators can use,” said Albert Penello, the senior director of Xbox product management, “and you have a group of people who are passionate about gaming and the industry, like Xbox 360 does, you can outlive the cycle.”
Sony, of course, has traditionally played the five-year game even as it has continued to profit from previous generations of its consoles. For example, the PlayStation 2, which has sold well over 140 million units worldwide since being released in 2000, is still for sale, and developers are still churning out new PS2 games. Yet the PS3 is now 4 years old. That’s the same cycle the company went through previously with the original PlayStation and the early years of the PS2.
Indeed, Sony has long asserted that it believes its consoles have a 10-year life cycle–even as, in the past, it has followed the traditional five-year cycle.
“We at PlayStation have never subscribed to the concept that a console should last only five years,” said Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications for Sony Computer Entertainment. “Both the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 had life cycles of more than 10 years, and PlayStation 3 will as well. The 10-year life cycle is a commitment we’ve made with every PlayStaiton consumer to date, and it’s part of our philosophy that we provide hardware that will stand the test of time providing that fun experience you get from day one for the next decade.”
Of course, with enmity between Sony and Microsoft always high, Seybold didn’t pass up an opportunity to point out the shortcomings of the Xbox platform and to highlight the benefits of the PlayStation brand.
“Original Xbox owners were limited to the 5-year console, and Microsoft just stopped making the software and hardware at that 5-year [actually 4-year] mark,” Seybold told CNET. “So those early-adopting Xbox consumers were quickly out of luck and new content, while PlayStation consumers know their investments in our consoles will bear fruit for years to come.”

(Credit: Sony)
Naturally, Microsoft is eager to tout the ongoing life of the Xbox 360–and what its highly successful Xbox Live service, the 2010 release of the cheaper and more streamlined Xbox 360 Slim, and now Kinect bring to the party. “We’ve focused a lot of creativity and resources on continually enhancing the current generation, from massive Xbox Live updates to additional downloadable content to exciting entertainment partnerships to Kinect,” said Penello. “Things like Kinect and [the Slim] absolutely extend the life cycle of Xbox 360. Kinect is our vision for fully immersive and interactive home entertainment that captures your body, voice, and imagination–transforming social gaming and entertainment forever.
Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Publishers are happy
One industry constituency that seems quite content with the ongoing life of the current generation of consoles is video game publishers.
And that’s because, as M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon pointed out, the publishers are happy with the tens of millions of each of the three major consoles that are currently in consumers’ hands.
“Publishers don’t really want to reboot the cycle at this point,” Pidgeon said, “because what they would be doing is shutting down the advantage they have with the large install base” of the three current consoles.
Pidgeon also said that in conversations he’s had recently with game developers, there is no loud cry for a new generation of consoles. Perhaps the developers may see a ceiling for the Xbox sooner than the others, Pidgeon said, but “certainly they’re not there yet with the PS3.”
At the same time, Pidgeon thinks that even if developers find themselves approaching the limits of what’s possible on current-generation consoles, they may choose to turn to PCs rather than call for next-generation hardware. As well, he suggested, the ever-improving online functionality of Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and the Wii’s online services provide even longer life for the platforms. “I do think there’s room to [grow on consoles],” Pidgeon said, “but eventually what you’re going to see is more PC games, and more online capabilities.”
From Pachter’s perspective, the ability to put high-quality games cloud–via services like OnLive, Trion Worlds, and others that offer AAA-quality games entirely over the Internet–could mean that the basic concept of requiring gamers to buy sophisticated hardware goes by the wayside. “If the content [is in the cloud],” Pachter said, “why would I buy another box? So we really might not see another console.”
And as the ability to play the highest quality games via cloud services advances, Pachter said, it might become harder and harder for the console manufacturers to sign the kind of exclusive development deals–such as Microsoft’s deal with Epic Games to produce the Gears of War franchise solely for the Xbox–that get gamers salivating for one console or another. “If the cloud gets [powerful] enough,” Pachter said, “it’s going to be hard to sign guys like Epic to do exclusives like Gears of War.”
In fact, added Pachter, the advancement of services like OnLive and others could mean that consumers find themselves saving several hundred dollars by not having to buy consoles. “That means you can buy eight or ten more games,” Pachter said.
Still, that future may well not be close enough to forestall the next generation of console hardware.
Both Pachter and Pidgeon said it is feasible to imagine the next consoles coming along as early as 2012 or 2013, or possibly 2014, though they disagreed as to which company might be first. And Takahashi said he thinks the Kinect gives the Xbox 360 at least several more years of life. Nintendo, Takahashi said, might be the first manufacturer to move on to the next generation, though he suggested that a price cut might be enough to give the Wii a few more good years.
And notwithstanding the ongoing success Sony has had with the PS2 in the PS3 era, Pidgeon said that he doesn’t expect the Xbox or the Wii to be first to be replaced. “It would be strategically difficult for either Microsoft or Nintendo to make such a move soon,” Pidgeon said, “because they [still have] a huge market opportunity with the current install base. [And] generally, when you announce a next generation, the last gen goes off a cliff.”

Konarka touts gains on niche-y flexible solar cells | Green Tech – CNET News

Konarka touts gains on niche-y flexible solar cells

Konarka’s flexible solar cells are well suited for charging portable electronics or building-integrated photovoltaics
(Credit: Martin LaMonica/CNET)
Konarka said today that it has achieved a record in organic solar cell efficiency but its products are still seeking a viable commercial niche.
The Lowell, Mass.-based company said the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has certified that Konarka’s plastic solar cells have achieved an efficiency of 8.3 percent, the highest that NREL has recorded for organic photovoltaic cells.
Founded in 2001, Konarka has a facility to make flexible solar cells using plastic in a roll-to-roll manufacturing process. It’s one of a handful of companies pursuing organic photovoltaics and other so-called third-generation solar cell technologies, which also include dye-sensitized cells.
Thin-film organic photovoltaic cells are cheaper than other solar cell technologies because of the material that’s used. But the efficiency has limited their potential applications to areas such as embedded solar cells in buildings or portable solar chargers for electronic gadgets.
Konarka, which has raised over $150 million, has announced commercial agreements with a number of companies, such as Konica Minolta, but commercial use of its technology is still in the early stages. Last year, Neuberg Energy of Germany started selling bags with a sheet of embedded solar plastic that can charge small electronic gadgets, such as phones and music players.

WikiLeaks removed from Aussie blacklist | Digital Media – CNET News

WikiLeaks removed from Aussie blacklist

No parts of whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks are now on the Australian blacklist of banned Web sites, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
In March 2009 the ACMA revealed that a number of pages on WikiLeaks were put on the blacklist of banned Web sites because the pages linked to Web sites on Denmark’s blacklist.
However, the ACMA today revealed that WikiLeaks was no longer on its blacklist of Web sites.
“Currently, the ACMA list of prohibited URLs that is notified to accredited filter providers does not contain any URLs within the WikiLeaks Web site,” the ACMA told ZDNet Australia in a statement. “Since April 2010, the ACMA has investigated two complaints about specific pages of content on the WikiLeaks Web site, which both resolved to content found to be not prohibited.”

Report: 3DTV sales to more than double in 2011 | The Digital Home – CNET News

Report: 3DTV sales to more than double in 2011


(Credit: CNET)
The adoption of 3DTVs is expected to spike next year.
Futuresource Consulting predicts that 4 million 3DTVs to be sold worldwide by the end of this year. The figure could at least double next year to 5 million 3DTVs in the U.S. and 3 million in Western Europe, the market researcher said today. Futuresource added that so far, “year-one adoption of 3DTV is running at a far quicker rate in most territories than it did for high-definition.”
According to Futuresource, vendors are seeing value in delivering 3D in their sets and “manufacturers are now able to embed 3D chipsets at a relatively low cost, allowing them to increase their margins while still keeping 3D affordable.”
Futuresource noted that Toshiba’s recent announcement of glasses-free 3DTVs could be “discouraging some consumers from investing in the current generation of 3DTV.” However, the research firm said it believes that the technology is “at least four years away” from being made available in large sets for the home and up to seven years away from reaching “mass-market pricing.”
Futuresource’s findings may show that 3D adoption is on the rise, but it doesn’t mean that the vast majority of consumers believe they are ready to adopt the technology.
Back in September, Deloitte released a study that found 83 percent of consumers do not believe 3D technology is enough to make them want to buy a new television. Even worse for vendors, 60 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t pay extra for 3D capabilities in their televisions. Moreover, Deloitte found that 31 percent of respondents believe 3D fails to “enhance the entertainment experience.”
Regardless, 3D is coming to the market from all sides. Major TV makers, like Samsung, Panasonic, Vizio, and others are adding 3D technology to some of their sets. Sony, which also offers 3DTVs, is doubling-down on the technology with the ability for developers to create 3D video games for the PlayStation 3. The console also supports 3D Blu-ray playback.
Simply put, 3D is coming to the TV market whether you like it or not.

No, you can’t see who viewed you on Facebook | InSecurity Complex – CNET News

No, you can’t see who viewed you on Facebook

Don’t fall for these false promises.
(Credit: Sophos)
Let’s put this matter to rest right now: Any Facebook application that offers to reveal who is viewing your profile is a scam. Period.
Security research firm Sophos posted a memo about a rogue app that was spread on Facebook recently with messages like “OMG … I can’t believe this actually works! Now you really can see who viewed your profile!”
The app is bogus. I’ve asked a Facebook representative about this before, and he told me that apps on the site do not have the ability to track who is viewing profiles.
In this particular case, clicking on the link provided in the message takes users to a Web page that encourages people to permit an application to access their Facebook profile.
“But do you really want complete strangers to be able to e-mail you, access your personal data, and even post messages to any Facebook pages you may administer?” the Sophos post asks.
Nearly 60,000 people have fallen for the latest scam, based on figures from Bitly using a search on one of the URLs used in this campaign, according to the post.
Facebook representatives did not return e-mails and phone calls seeking comment this morning.
Remember to be cautious when adding new applications on Facebook. Try to stick with reputable apps and pay attention to what permissions they seek.
If you have been duped by a scam, you should remove references to it from your News Feed, and revoke the right of the app to access your profile via Account, Privacy Settings, Applications, and Web sites.

Nintendo sells 1.5 million Wii, DS units in a week | The Digital Home – CNET News

Nintendo sells 1.5 million Wii, DS units in a week

(Credit: Nintendo)
Nintendo enjoyed an exceptionally strong past week.
The game company announced today that it sold 900,000 DS units and 600,000 Wii consoles in the U.S. from November 21 to 27, according to internal estimates. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said that such success means U.S. consumers “bought about 9,000 Nintendo hardware systems non-stop for every hour of every day during the week of Black Friday.”
Nintendo’s announcement is an important one, considering the issues it has been experiencing over the past few months.
Last month, Nintendo reported a disappointing six-month period from April to September with a loss of $24.6 million. It sold 6.69 million DS units during the period, down from the 11.7 million it sold during the same time last year. It sold 4.97 million Wii units between April and September, representing a decline from the 5.75 million Wii units it sold in 2009.
In response, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said in an interview with the Associated Press that his company was “not thinking of [a Wii price cut] for the near future.” He went on to say that the company’s plan was to offer bundles to ramp up demand for its products.
The company currently offers a “Mario-red” Wii option for $199.99, as well as a red Nintendo DSi XL bundle for $179.99. It also sells orange and green Nintendo DSi bundles for $149.99.
Nintendo was quick to point out that its decision to offer such bundles helped spur sales last week.
Although its past week’s sales are impressive, the company didn’t provide any indication on how its hardware performed for the rest of November. And it will have some work cut out for it to match last year’s hardware sales.
Last November, Nintendo sold 1.26 million Wii units and 1.7 million DS units, according to market research firm NPD.

‘Fit-to-Flow’ fluid connector: Medicine’s USB | Health Tech – CNET News

‘Fit-to-Flow’ fluid connector: Medicine’s USB

Cell phones with sophisticated cameras are already being fitted with microscopes for mobile, in-the-field testing. Connecting microfluids to these cell phones, however, has proved to be its own challenge.

(Credit: Tingrui Pan/UC Davis)
So biomedical engineers at UC Davis have developed what they call a Fit-to-Flow fluid connector (F2F for short) they compare to the USB interface, through which microfluids can be connected to electronic devices for biological and chemical testing.
They filed a provisional patent on November 1 and published a paper describing the chip on November 25 in the journal Lab on a Chip.
“We think there is a huge need for an interface to bridge microfluidics to electronic devices,” says Tingrui Pan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis who, with graduate student Arnold Chen, invented the chip and co-authored the paper.
Pan says their connector, which uses tiny channels a few micrometers across cut into a plastic membrane, should be able to be integrated with a standard peripheral component interconnect (PCI) device, with an embedded micropump providing the on-demand self-propelled power.
By using a standard connection, chips for different tests could be plugged into the same device, such as a laptop or cell phone, to test, display, store, and transmit the data. The potential uses for this kind of microfluidic connector could span several fields and include medical diagnoses, food safety testing, and environmental monitoring.
The work was funded through a UC Davis fellowship to Chen and a National Science Foundation Career Award to Pan.

Nissan Leaf named 2011 European Car of the Year | The Car Tech blog – CNET Reviews

Nissan Leaf named 2011 European Car of the Year

This is the first time in the 47-year history of the annual competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle, in this case the Nissan Leaf.
(Credit: Nissan)

Well, the Nissan Leaf has done it again. It’s garnered another award.
This time, the Leaf has been named 2011 European Car of the Year. The Leaf beat out 40 contenders including Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, and Volvo.
In the 47-year history of the annual competition, this is the first time the award has gone to an electric vehicle. This comes on the heels of the Leaf being rated at 99 MPGe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This award recognizes the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness, and handling,” said Nissan Motor President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan–and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault–Nissan Leaf represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future.”
Deliveries of the Leaf will begin this December in Japan and the United States. But it won’t hit Europe (Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, the U.K. and the Netherlands) until early 2011. The zero-emission car is currently being built in Japan, but will also be produced in North America and Europe when new manufacturing facilities open in late 2012 and early 2013, Nissan said in a statement.

10-year wait for NBN demand to hit 100Mbps | The Australian
NBN Co has forecast that the average consumer demand for broadband speeds won’t hit 100Mbps until 2022.
From there it expects demand to rise more sharply with the average speed of a consumer connection hitting 1000 Mbps by 2040. NBN Co says its figures are conservative and are based on an expectation “that the growth in demand for speeds will be considerably lower than the extrapolation of increasing speeds implied by the history of internet access technologies.”
The company revealed the forecast in a summarised version of its business plan for the $43 billion network which Labor released under pressure from Senator Nick Xenophon and the opposition late today. The summary also contained a much more bearish forecast which saw demand flatlining at 100Mbps in 10 years.
The 50-page heavily redacted document contains key market assumptions that underlie the NBN Co’s business case including forecast demand for broadband speed and usage.
One graph in the document depicts a number of “optional” future broadband take-up scenarios. It indicated that while consumers currently manage with broadband speeds around 20Mbps, NBN Co expects their requirements to increase steadily to 100Mbps by the 2022 financial year.
The projections are based on a mix of industry and Australian Bureau of Statistics and historical data, including networking company Cisco’s forecast of compound average growth in international data consumption of 36 per cent.
“A conservative approach has been taken with regard to long-term data usage growth, factoring considerations including saturation of usage, slowing growth in online hours and increasing delivery of content on multicast (networks),” NBN Co wrote in its summary.
According to ABS statistics presented in the summary average Australian data usage grew from below 2GB per month in 2003 to around 6GB per month in June this year.
Online gaming, IPTV and HDTV services were singled out as the key technologies pushing broadband consumption profiles from around 50GB per month to over 200GB per month for advanced broadband users in the future. The summary didn’t say when demand would hit 200GB per month.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed to release the document today in order to secure the passage of legislation crucial to the NBN which separates Telstra into retail and wholesale divisions.

$210k paid for oldest Apple | The Australian

$210k paid for oldest Apple

ITS processor works 1000 times slower than that of the iPad, but the first Apple computer has sold for 425 times the price.
The Apple I, one of only 200 made, sold on Tuesday at Christie’s auction house in central London for pound stg. 133,250 ($210,900). It came with its original packaging and a signed sales letter from Steve Jobs, one of Apple Computer’s co-founders and the current chief executive.
When the Apple I was introduced in 1976, it was the only personal computer to come with a fully assembled motherboard, making it ready to use straight from the box – if the user supplied a keyboard, power supply and display, Christie’s said. It sold for $US666.66 and was available until it was discontinued in 1977.
Bidding on the Apple I came quickly, with the computer eventually going to Italian businessman and private collector Marco Boglione, who made his offer by phone.
Marco’s brother Francesco Boglione, who attended the auction in person, said Marco’s purchase was testimony to his love of computers.
Present at the technology auction, which also included manuscripts, prints and science-themed texts, was Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, who agreed to add a signed letter to the lot. He said the auction was a historic moment for his work when sold alongside other technological greats such as an Enigma, the German coding machine.
“Today, my heart went out as I got to see things auctioned off like the Turing documents and the Enigma machine, and the Apple I,” Mr Wozniak said.

Early customers test NBN’s capacity limits | The Australian

Early customers test NBN’s capacity limits

NBN customers in Tasmania who have bought high-speed connections are stretching their ISP’s bandwidth capacity.
Customers in the NBN’s early rollout areas can buy plans rated at up to 100Mbps, but won’t initially get those speeds across all internet activities, due to factors such as a lack of ISP backhaul capacity.
This week The Australian reported on Tasmania’s Circular Head Christian school, used by Julia Gillard in the election campaign to show off 100Mbps broadband. The Prime Minister’s launch was fine, but the school has since experienced much slower connection speeds.
The school said it was now getting average download speeds of about 30Mbps.
Internode, the ISP serving the school, blamed the slowdown on its advance planning. The company underestimated the number of subscribers opting for the premium 100Mbps service and did not buy enough backhaul capacity from Aurora Energy, which operates major Tasmanian backhaul links, to cope with the surging demand.
Internode’s John Lindsay said customers’ speed problems were caused by capacity constraints, which the company was “working hard to solve”.
The ISP had bought more backhaul capacity to ease the congestion, he said. “Aurora Energy is providing us with a capacity upgrade today to improve our network performance.”
An NBN Co spokeswoman said there was no indication of a problem with its portion of the network, and it was working through backhaul problems with the retail service providers.
“The NBN in Tasmania is an initial rollout that is allowing all involved to test a number of things,” she said. “The rollout has enabled us to capture a number of learnings . . . and include such things as appropriate dimensioning of services.”
The NBN’s high speeds are likely to highlight other choke points, such as the undersea cable connections to the US

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