Friday, April 28, 2006

Microsoft is Preparing for Battle

Microsoft reported strong third-party return development on Thursday, but analysts uttered the company also telegraphed a important heighten in cost, an suspicion that it was preparing to take on its big online rivals, Google and Yahoo.

Microsoft's consummate executive, Steven A. Ballmer, giving the keynote lecture at a conference for Web developers and designers in Paris once.

The company reported a 13 percent exacerbate in sales for the partition, to $10.9 billion, and a 16 percent show oneself in net income, to $2.98 billion, or 31 cents a share, from $2.56 billion, or 28 cents, in the period a stage earlier.

The emolument were 2 cents a share below what analysts surveyed by Thomson first bid had foretaste.

The chief financial officer for Microsoft, Chris Liddell, said: "Over all for the region, we are very happy near the uninterrupted market momentum we're seeing. pl is accelerating for the period."

still a bullish stance on wages, Microsoft evidently surprised analysts by predicting significantly loftier outgoings in the next fiscal stage. Its shares, which had gained 15 cents, to $27.25, in routine traffic, fell on the expectancy of tonier Often, exception more than 6 percent after hours, to $25.50.

Executives also said they did not see any immediate increase in perquisite on the horizon even as Microsoft prepared for its largest release of new deal in in more than five years.

The company said once again that the rehabilitate for its new managing system software, Windows range, would not be ready during January.

For the first time, the company offered guidance on the coming year; its 2007 pecuniary phase starts in July.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Streaming MP3's being banned?

The Washington Post reports that Senators Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Graham (R-S.C.) have introduced S. 2644, dubbed the PERFORM Act, that is aimed at punishing satellite radio for offering its subscribers devices capable of recording off the air.

Buried in the bill, however, is a provision that would effectively require music webcasters to use DRM-laden streaming formats, rather than the MP3 streaming format used by Live365, Shoutcast, and many smaller webcasters (like Santa Monica's KCRW and Seattle's KEXP). The streaming radio stations included in iTunes also rely on MP3 streams (since Apple isn't about to license the Real or Microsoft streaming codecs).

Today, webcasters that want to transmit major label music are entitled to do so under a statutory license (administered by SoundExchange) set out in section 114(d) of the Copyright Act. So long as they follow the rules and pay a royalty, webcasters can play whatever music they like, using whatever streaming format they like.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Future Computer Chips Might Have a Micro Pump

Some engineers at Purdue University have invented tiny "micro-pump" cooling device that can be used to circulate coolant throughout the channels etched on an individual chip. The prototype chip contains numerous water filled micro-channels, grooves that are about the width of a human hair. The channels are also covered with hundreds of electrodes that receive varying voltage pulses in such a way that a traveling electric field is created in each individual channel. The traveling field creates ions, or electrically charged atoms and molecules, which are dragged along by the moving field.


Free software from Yahoo turns your PC into DVR

The software, Yahoo Go for TV, is free to download. After the software is installed, people plug their computer into their television's video and audio input connections. The computer can then record and play back shows on the TV just like with a standalone DVR. Consumers can also play DVDs, music, photos or other downloaded content.

The cost of a few cables and TV tuner card, in comparison with the hundreds of dollars being shelled out for DVD players or DVRs, could lure consumers away from DVR competitors like TiVo. And many industry leaders see TV-computer combinations as the portal for reaching consumers.

Microsoft said recently that its Windows XP Media Center software is outselling the standard edition of the software, and Hewlett-Packard announced last year that it is developing technology to let high-definition televisions directly access digital content from home computers.

In other news:

* Hotmail's new address

* TV stations fret over HD

* Children teaching teachers about tech

* Extra: Are we ready for ultra-mobile PCs?

* Video: Robotic giraffe wanders Maker Faire

The Yahoo software, as of yet, only runs on Windows and requires a computer with 20GB of disk space to store recorded programs, 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz processor.

The DVR feature on Go for TV also requires a TV tuner card and connector cables for connecting to a TV monitor. Yahoo also suggests using a remote control, which usually comes standard with the purchase of most TV tuner cards. While the software works with any TV signal, Yahoo recommends a 1.5mbps broadband connection for best results.

Television listings are provided via a Yahoo Go for TV interface. Users are prompted to give their ZIP code during setup, so that the proper service provider can be chosen. Yahoo Go for TV updates the listings daily. Those who already use TiVo can still use the Go for TV digital video recording feature by simply connecting each component to a different video input outlet. One system will not interfere with the other, as long as they each have access to the TV signal.

Last year, Yahoo partnered with TiVo so that TiVo subscribers could browse and schedule downloads remotely via the Internet. Yahoo has not released any information on how this release affects that relationship.

The Yahoo Go for TV software works in conjunction with many of Yahoo's other Yahoo Go media products, such as Yahoo Launchcast, a radio and music subscription service, and Flickr, Yahoo's photo-sharing site. In addition, Go for TV lets people view photos from any online service and to listen to music from CDs or digital-music libraries already stored on the linked computer.

Last week, Yahoo announced its purchase of Meedio's technology and intellectual property. Houston-based Meedio's software integrates videos, photos and music for digital home media systems. At the time of the announcement, some industry watchers speculated that Meedio would enable Yahoo to offer a similar system.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Computer generated scientific paper accepted

Real artificial intelligence it was not, but a student prank still managed to get the better of some human intelligences last week, when a computer-generated piece of gibberish was accepted as a genuine scientific paper.

Sick of receiving spam emails requesting submissions to the 2005 World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics - which charges $390 for each attendee - students Jeremy Stribling, Daniel Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote a program to generate a nonsense paper.

Starting with skeleton sentences, pools of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and a random assortment of computer science jargon, the program produced a grammatically correct yet utterly nonsensical paper titled: "Rooter: a methodology for the typical unification of access points and redundancy". "This isn't artificial intelligence, it's the dirt-simplest way we could think to do this," Stribling says.

The conference organisers say that the paper was sent to human reviewers, who never commented on it, so it ended up being automatically accepted. The conference has now banned the paper. But the pranksters are still planning to give a computer-generated talk at the conference by persuading a human speaker to let them take his or her place.


Monday, April 24, 2006

FREE 14 day Eve Online Pass, no strings

Play Eve online 14 days for free, with no credit card required. This RPG is set far in the future when humans get stuck on the other side of a black hole, in a virgin universe. Nerds and space enthusiasts alike will love this game, especially for it's realism. Outer space is actual size, and I am serious when I say that. It took me 15 minutes just to approach a planet in my spacecraft. Of course there is warp speed, but only for great distances. Follow this link: Free 14 day Eve Online Trial

Is the Xbox 360's price to low?

E3 is on the horizon. Price announcements for both PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution are seemingly right around the corner. System configurations are now mostly known although certainly Sony might fiddle with PS3's configuration before release. Many of the hardcore gamers who don't have a problem with giving more of their hard earned cash to Microsoft have already plunked down $400 or more on an Xbox 360 depending how badly they wanted one. Strangely, I've run across a lot of folks I don't think of as hardcore at all who already have one of those hot white consoles under the TV.

Before this new generation began, rumors of higher priced games and a higher priced initial console buy swirled around the 360 launch. When Microsoft finally announced the price, many people including myself thought that $400 was simply too much to ask for a brand new machine, especially one from an also-ran console maker in a Sony-dominated market. I have completely flip-flopped on this after the last holiday season.

I think Microsoft didn't charge enough for 360.

The beginning of a console generation has typically been for those with deep pockets or an unhealthy hardcore jones for videogames. These people are willing to smack down big bucks for the latest technology. The price of 360 was too low to keep the launch confined to that group and it was a big mistake in my opinion. With a higher price tag, Microsoft would have made more money, made sure sellouts wouldn't have lasted for months after Christmas and still sold through all the units they had to sell before the holiday. The demand for a new system was far higher than most people anticipated, especially given the early demise of the original Xbox, a system that will probably be gone from store shelves by February 2007.

In addition to those positives for Microsoft's bottom line, the original Xbox would've looked far more attractive in 2005. Even with a limited release schedule for last holiday season, the original box probably would've sold better with a bigger price disparity in place between it and the new machine. Folks who looked at $400 as reasonable might have backed off at $500 or more as a list price, especially those that didn't already have an Xbox at home but did own a PS2. Essentially, by making the price $400 for the Premium Pack (the "real" 360), it was priced low enough to be mass-market right out of the gate. This one simple fact causes all the problems Microsoft experienced at the holiday and even represents the first big mistake of the transition to new consoles. Microsoft cut the generation short unnecessarily because they undercharged for Xbox 360, hurting both their bottom line and everyone else's at the same time.

So what happened to make even $400 too low a price for the next generation? Gaming grew up.

You have to look at home entertainment trends. People spend a lot more time and money in general on entertainment, especially at home. It used to be surround sound setups for their den, now it's a massive HDTV to go with it. These buys are "expensive" but often easily justifiable because of the inordinate amount of time people use these devices. Even the folks with lower incomes are buying very good TVs and the latest technology to pair with them. The high end is now the middle. The low end is nearly unprofitable commodity stuff that five years ago was cutting edge. Suddenly, a $400 game system with $60 games and accessories price-hiked by $10 or more from last generation isn't really that much to pay because of the sheer amount of time it will get used. I can see this outlay for 360 being justified in homes that are obviously spending beyond their means to some extent but definitely keeping up with the joneses at all costs.

I think what's happened is there's this group of folks in my age group who grew up with videogames and of course never left them behind. We're still playing and we're not going to stop anytime soon. As long as the spouse is conducive to the expense ("Pick up a new pair of shoes if you want, baby... I'm getting this new videogame."), we're going to keep on buying. We're also doing pretty well for ourselves. Growing up in the era of technology, we're comfortable with it and we've got jobs based around it. Buying more of it is how we entertain ourselves. Essentially, times have changed from even the launch of the last generation.

The greying of gamers is driving more purchases of games and gaming systems.

t's going to take a massive economic downturn to change this trend. That's why I think Sony should be aggressively high with the price of PS3. Push that newly priced at $129.99 PlayStation 2 into every single home possible by sending the message that right now, the next generation of gaming is SUPER expensive. Send the message that if you want to play the best games at the top of the technology curve, you're going to have to pay for it, just like every console before this. Make good money right away and give yourself plenty of room for price drops because clearly the mass market price is now much higher than it was before. Yes, I'm saying gouge your early adopters and make the system a luxury item again. I mean, why not? What's the benefit of pricing lower and selling out anyway? No one who wants one will be sitting there saying "It's great it's so cheap!" if they can't buy one. They're going to be moaning about the eBay prices that you could've been charging for your own goods right out of the gate instead of fueling that resale market of losers who lined up days in advance to get one to finance their son's college books for the year.

When it comes to Nintendo, they've already succeeded in breaking out of the technology game. Revolution is no longer mentioned in the media (print or online) in discussions of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That mental association is already broken. They're on their own road. Pricing for them becomes an issue of impulse buy so a lower price makes sense. They want the Revolution to be purchased by almost anyone at any time because the technology inside almost assures the system of being easily produced in ridiculously high quantities and a launch of millions available on day one if they choose. Instead of kids getting a Game Boy for Easter (a huge item at Easter believe it or not), they're going to get Revolution. Price the games at the usual $50 for top tier titles and everything's a-ok. It's amazing to me how quickly the press have cut Nintendo out of system discussion, but you can pick up any print publication and see for yourself. It's already happened. Nintendo and their products are always talked about separate from the PS3 and 360 ones, often without any comparison whatsoever. I personally find this mental shift over the last year fascinating.

Despite the recent downturn in sales when comparing year to year, things have never looked brighter. Gaming is huge but the console transition was handled poorly. Expect this holiday season to create huge demand that will make 2007 and 2008 into massive years for the industry. If the price is right, expect Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to also end up with hats made of money.

Long Shot is a weekly column here at GamerDad. Dave Long's work has been published in Computer Games Magazine and various websites. The Longshot Logo by Lee Johnson. Click the target symbol above to access the archive.


Weird "Booms" Across the US

First there's ice falling in the SF area, and now there are some weird 'booms' being reported across the US? OMG, it's the apocalypse!!!

read more | digg story

Running an ISP in a warzone

SGT David A Coughanour is currently right now serving in Iraq where he runs IT operations for a small chunk of the Sunni triangle. One of the major projects that we have accomplished here is setting up an ISP that supports only 350 subscribers. It has also survived multiple mortar attacks, and is built entirely on Linux.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Opera 9 Beta Test Drive

Opera released a version 9 public beta yesterday with a handful of nice new features like widgets and site-specific preferences. Check out this test drive of the browser.

read more | digg story

Code Monkey Like Fritos

Jonathan Coulton's latest song in his thing-a-week series, Code Monkey, is an anthem for under-appreciated developers everywhere.

read more | digg story

Friday, April 21, 2006

Computer Bug Symptons and Fixing Them

Long ago, when software first became a product anyone could purchase, computer bugs were fixed before they were released on the market. But with such complex software on the market these days, there is just no possible way for the programmers to fix every bug before they release it, or it would never get released. Usually these computer bugs prevent the software that is causing it, from operating properly, but sometimes they also have other symptoms.

A major symptom that bugs cause is operating system instability. This basically means that your OS will crash or freeze sometimes or maybe all the time when you are using your computer. On Windows a bug will cause a blue screen to come up, stating whether it is your hardware or software that caused the error. To get out of this screen you have to restart your computer, which means all work will be lost unless saved before the blue screen shows up. For Linux a message called kernel panic will be displayed, stating what caused the error.

The next symptom of a computer bug is application instability. A lot of applications crash because of bugs, but the good news is you won?t have to restart your computer, just the application. The bad news is any work you were doing on that application will be lost if not saved before the error occurred.

Learn how to fix computer bugs by following that link.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nerd's Parents Don't Want Son to Be Popular

In Mundelein Illinois Lawrence and Marcia Sprouse are worried that their 15 year old son, who is a nerd, is becoming popular. They are afraid for him, and don't like the fact that he has started hanging out with Jocks and going to parties on the weekend. I find this very funny because usually it is the opposite, but his parent's have said that they are mostly worried about him doing drugs and alcohol. I am a nerd, and was one in high school, but still would have liked to party once in awhile, so his parents should lay off.

Read more here.

New Evidence Suggests Mars May Have Had Life

A new mineral history report of Mars is saying that the planet started out relatively wet and temperate, underwent a major climate shift, and then evolved into a cold, dry place strewn with acidic rock. Jean-Pierre Bibring, an astrophysicist from the University of Paris, led the team of scientists from France, Italy, Russia, Germany and the United States. The investigators pieced together the mineral history using data from Mars Express, a mission launched by the European Space Agency.created with Mars Express mission data, Mars would only have been hospitable to life in its infancy.

The first era lasted from the birth of Mars, about 4.6 billion years ago, until about 4 billion years ago. The oldest rock - exposed by erosion, impact or faulting - shows the presence of clay minerals. These minerals, such as chamosite and nontronite, need abundant water, moderate temperatures and low acidity to form.

So, if life did exist long ago on Mars, where would it be? Scientist suspect that the evidence would most likely be found in clay rich rocks and soil north of the Syrtis Major volcanic plateau, in Nili Fossae, and in the Marwth Vallis Regions. That is where the next landers will most likely land.

This makes the computer nerd happy, and you know why, because this means that we might run into some evidence of an alien species in our lifetime. Yay!

Syrtis Major volcanic plateau

Amazing WoW Character

This is my friends World of Warcraft character, and man is he bad ass!

Firefly TV Show Fans Start a Movement

For all of us fans of the short lived TV show Firefly, and the movie that followed called Serenity, then you will definitely want to check out Can' They are starting a movement that is trying to show charity screenings to everyone on June 23, all across the world, to prove to Universal that the franchise is popular and can make money. If this doesn't work, then their may never be a sequel and we might not ever see our heroes again! Join the effort today and make it happen.

P.S. If you haven't seen Firefly or Serenity, watch them immediately! Best TV show and movie ever.

Halo 3 Inside Information

This is kind of a heard it from my friends, brothers, sisters boyfriend type of thing, but they were right about certain information on Halo 2, so I thought I would share. All I was told was that in Halo 3 the pistol will be as powerful as a rocket. Pretty cool huh!

Futurama greenlit for 26 new episodes

Billy West (the voice of Fry, Dr. Zoidberg and others) releases more inside info. According to a post he made on his message board, Futurama is going to be renewed for television with 26 episodes. No word as to what network it will be on or which cast members will rejoin the show.

read more digg story

103 inch Plasma TV

And you thought your TV was big, just wait until Panasonic releases their 103-inch, yes you read that correctly, Plasma TV before the end of the year. The price for this big ass TV has yet to be announced, but I imagine only the rich will be able to afford it. In case you are wondering, it has a high definition resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. Also, they obviously did this because LG and Samsung held claim to the largest Plasma displays at 102 inches. One more inch is all they went up I guess.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Meedio Bought By Yahoo

Meedio, a company that makes software that turns your PC into a DVR (digital video recorder) like TiVo, sold most of their technology to Yahoo they announced on Monday. This is good news for Yahoo, but bad news for existing Meedio users. Yahoo has launched "Yahoo Go" and they plan to offer a TV portion, which is not a Go yet (no pun intended), but when it is Meedio will be the software that people use. Existing users are not happy because Meedio has currently been slowing down support and services, plus they even stopped selling their products.

On a side note, Meedio has planned on changing their name to PsyKoh, and several of the top executives have joined Yahoo's Digital Home sector.

Monitors Made of Oil and Water

As we all know oil and water don't mix, but they can make remarkably bright colors. A company of Philips called Liquavista, has decided to try and commercialize a technique that can make screens and monitors based on the fact that water and oil don't mix.

How does this new technology work? CNET explains below:

In electrowetting, each pixel cell contains a small amount of dyed oil and water and a layer of a material that can be converted from hydrophobic (water repelling) to hydrophilic by applying electricity. When the material is hydrophobic, the water pushes away from it and forces the dyed oil against the surface. The pixel, which has a light source behind it, then projects the color of the dyed oil out.

In hydrophilic mode, the water draws toward the surface, shoving the dyed oil to the side, changing the color projecting from the pixel. Flipping the pixels rapidly allows a screen containing millions of the pixel cells to create an image.

I think this is big news because if they succeed, it will replace LCD monitors and be much cheaper too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Philips Patents Forced Ad Viewing

Philips has just filed a patent for a new technology that will force people to watch commercials on TV by not allowing them to turn the channel! In fact you cannot change the channel or do anything else until the commercial is over! Plus, even if you use TiVo or another digital recording device to record your TV show, you will not be able to fast forward! Whew that is a lot of exclamation points, but come on, that is borderline civil rights violation in my opinion. Also, just about every company that advertises on TV still makes money from their commercials, so basically Philips found a way so they can all make more money while annoying us more.

So how will this technology work you ask? It will take advantage of Multimedia Home Platform, a technology that is behind interactive television in many countries around the world. This MHP software is actually built into most modern digital TV receivers and recorders. MHP looks for flags that are put in a broadcast, and displays custom messages on your TV that let's the viewer have additional features and info about a TV show. The patent actually can use that current MHP technology to do this forced ad viewing. So technically this means that this can be automatically added to your current home TV and recording device. They are planning to offer an option so you can pay money to take back control of your TV, but who wants another fee.

AT&T offers video on-demand through DSL

AT&T has teamed up with Akimbo Systems to offer video on demand through DSL. This is only available to customers of Homezone, AT&T's new TV service for DSL users. Homezone is not yet available to everyone, but they expect to launch this new service in it's 13 state region in the summer. This new service will be like iTunes is to an iPod, but instead of music it will be videos, and instead of an iPod it will be a set top box. How much will this cost you wonder? Surprisingly only $9.99 a month, and $199 for the box. By the way, this special box will be able to hold 150 hours of video!

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