Monday, June 30, 2008
Stores aren't going to pull inventory, however; if they have copies they will sell them out. Also, you can still get Windows XP on nettops and netbooks (e.g., Asus Eee PC). Additionally, at least through the end of next January, you can get XP using the "Downgrade Rights" available to purchasers of Vista Ultimate and Vista Business. Some OEMs, such as HP and Dell, will even pre-downgrade your PC to XP for you.
Microsoft hasn't been listening to end users who have said that Windows XP is just fine for them. In fact, the SaveXP.com site has had over 210K signatures for its petition to save XP, but no go.
Since Microsoft says Windows 7 will debut in 2010, and that they will support Windows XP until 2014, many businesses will stick with XP as long as possible. Those with Volume License Agreements (VLAs) can pretty much do as they please. Even Intel has foregone Vista, though it has deployed it to a few departments.
Microsoft shot itself in the foot with Vista, with things such initial hardware incompabilities, and difficulties finding drivers (that worked). That gave Vista a bad reputation from the start, and arguments and lawsuits over "Vista-ready," and just how much Microsoft knew, haven't helped.
Will consumers, who don't have as many of the choices move to Linux or Mac OS? Doubtful that you'll see a huge move to those OSes, but you might see some defections. After all, part of the reason some posit for a backlash against Vista is the familiarity many have with XP. You can make Vista look and act like XP (except for incompatibilities, of course), but it's not easy for John Q. Public to do so.
And that's part of it. Why should an end user struggle to get what he wants, when it's already there in a package for him?
On Friday Rogers revealed specifics for the services plans for the upcoming iPhone 3G. One look at them and Canadians became quite angry. The fact of the matter is, I would think Apple would look askance at it as well. Why? Take a look at the differences:
A mandatory three-year contract. O2 offers an 18-month contract and throws in the iPhone for free. The U.S. (AT&T) has a two-year contract.
In the U.S., AT&T offers 450 minutes of voice, unlimited data and 200 SMS messages. But for Rogers ...
- $60: 150 minutes of calls, with unlimited evenings and weekends; 400 MB of data; 75 sent SMS messages, with unlimited incoming text messages and visual voicemail messages.
- $75: 300 minutes of calls, 750 MB data and 100 sent SMS messages.
- $100: 600 minutes of calls with 1 GB of data and 200 sent SMS messages.
- $115: 800 minutes of calls, 2 GB of data and 300 sent SMS messages.
The site intends to send a petition to Rogers on July 11th, the day the iPhone 3G is available, and also to send a letter to Steve Jobs. The letter to Jobs is already written, and says:
Dear Steve,He needs to rewrite that last sentence: the site has over 14,000 signatories at the time of this writing. Any Canadian readers out there: has this pricing info changed your mind about the iPhone? I'll tell you, if I heard this type of pricing info for AT&T, I'd stay away as well.
My name is James and I would like to thank you for creating the wonderful iPhone device. We really think that you will change the world with it, just as you changed the world with the iPod. We were so happy to learn that on July 11th, we would finally be able to buy the iPhone and legally use it in Canada.
To our great disappointment, Rogers Communications Inc. has announced VERY unfair rates in comparison to AT&T in the United States and to other authorized wireless service providers around the world. As a result, a consumer movement was born yesterday (June 27th) in protest against these rates.
Nearly 6,000 people have signed an online petition to help make a difference and the list is growing rapidly. In the last 48 hours, the website has had 40,000 unique visitors from around the world supporting Canadian consumers. There are a vast number of Canadians that would take the opportunity to buy an iPhone at $199CAD but these new plans have put it out of reach for many.
I would like to invite you to take a look at all these disappointed people at www.ruinediphone.com.
I was going to buy an iPhone for me, my girlfriend and my family.
Now, sadly, I cannot afford the plan.
I hope you can do something Steve; we are loyal customers and trust that you will. We don't want to lose faith in Apple.
Representing nearly 6,000 Canadian consumers.
It had been rumored that since several retailers had posted release dates on their sites, we'd be getting a confirmation at the 2008 WorldWide Invitational (WWI). But while Blizzard Executive Vice President Rob Pardo did speak about the Evolving Design of StarCraft II, he seemingly quashed those hopes.
According to Internode Games Network, Pardo:
explained that they were "about a third of the way through" the campaign, and were concentrating on story structure and cinematics at this point - commenting that by the end of the year, Blizzard should have something very impressive to show off.Now, one could hope that what he meant by "something very impressive" he might have meant the release of the game, but with them only 1/3 of the way through the campaign, that seems unlikely.
This also casts a pall over Diablo III, because if they won't be done with StarCraft II by Christmas (which would be about 1 1/2 years after announcing StarCraft II), when will they be done with Diablo III?
SymProtect, if running when the SP installs were done, would prevent a utility called Fixccs.exe from being able to delete registry entries created during the installations, thus causing the corruption problems. At first Symantec blamed Microsoft, then admitted to the XP SP3 problems, and finally to the additional, rarer, Vista SP1 problems.
Microsoft's KB article agrees, saying:
This problem occurs when the Fixccs.exe process is called during the Windows XP SP3 installation. This process creates some intermediate registry subkeys, and it later deletes these subkeys. In some cases, some antivirus applications may not let the Fixccs.exe process delete these intermediate registry subkeys.Symantec has always contended that other security products with similar registry protection features "should" have this same issue, and Microsoft seemed to at least allude to that, with the reference "some antivirus applications" above.
When this problem occurs, certain applications, such as Device Manager and Network Connections, may be unable to enumerate the device or the connection instances. These applications will report a blank status even though devices and connections still function as expected.
The fix provides a new fixccs.exe file, but it's interesting that Microsoft fix only addresses XP SP3, not Vista SP1, which Symantec's tool also fixes - and thus seems to have the same issue.
While Microsoft has not taken such steps, we know from previous incidents that it could block the delivery of the update packages uinder certain conditions. A smart move might be to prevent downloading XP SP3 if Windows Update detects SymProtect enabled on the system.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Blizzard had been teasing gamers with screenshots at its website, and anticipation had been high since it acquired the Diablo3.com domain name earlier this year.
That's the good news. Typical of Blizzard, there's no release date announced yet. However, based on how long they've been developing Starcraft 2, with an anticipated (leaked?) release date of December, it looks like we'll be waiting about 18 months or so.
Blizzard's already opened up an official site, with tons of stuff on it, including:
- The cinematic teaser trailer shown at the 2008 Worldwide Invitational
- A 20-minute gameplay demo video
- More than 60 screenshots and pieces of concept art
- Deckard Cain's journal, narrated by Deckard Cain himself
- And much, much more
Diablo III will pick up the story twenty years after the events of Diablo II. Mephisto, Diablo, and Baal have been defeated, but the Worldstone, which once shielded the inhabitants of the world of Sanctuary from the forces of both the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, has been destroyed, and evil once again stirs in Tristram. Playing as a hero from one of five distinct character classes, players will acquire powerful items, spells, and abilities as they explore new and familiar areas of Sanctuary and battle hordes of demons to safeguard the world from the horrors that have arisen. The first two characters classes -- the barbarian and the witch doctor -- were shown as part of the announcement at the event today in Paris.First and foremost, Diablo III will stick to its cooperative gameplay roots, one of the things I loved most about prior releases. Friends and I could travel together and defeat Baal, with the only competition being over who could pick up the dropped treasure first.
Diablo III will feature a custom 3D-graphics engine to render lush indoor and outdoor areas of Sanctuary with a high level of detail and vivid special effects. The game's physics-enhanced environments will be interactive and destructible, offering traps and obstacles that create added danger for players and monsters alike. These elements, along with a new quest system and random scripted events, will be integrated into the game's random-level generator, giving Diablo III the ultimate combination of dynamic gameplay and replayability. Cooperative and competitive play will be available online through an upgraded version of Blizzard Entertainment's renowned online gaming service, Battle.net®.
Watch the official trailer below. This is the one unveiled today; other sites have been showing the February trailer.
Check out their gameplay footage here:
Saturday, June 28, 2008
On Wednesday NAMESAFE sued LifeLock over search ads that it said were purchased by LifeLock, which used the NAMESAFE trademark yet directed users to LifeLock's web site.
According to a press release issued by NameSafe on Friday,
"We have discovered that LifeLock has been sponsoring advertisements on most major search engines including (among others) Google, Yahoo, Lycos, MSN, Dogpile, and AOL, that deceptively led consumers to Lifelock.com. Specifically, when you searched 'Namesafe.com' in any major search engine, you found an advertisement that said 'Namesafe.com' but when you clicked on it, you were not directed to the official site for NAMESAFE (www.namesafe.com), but rather to our competitor, LifeLock.com," said NAMESAFE founder and CEO David Ridings. "It is one of the most bizarre attempts to steal a company brand and its costumers that I have personally seen. Ironically enough, we consider it a form of 'corporate identity theft' from a company that is in the business of protecting identities, and we really could not tolerate it. Having said that, we expect it will stop today."An exhibit in the lawsuit purports to show a search for NAMESAFE that shows NAMESAFE's name as the top sponsored result. However, the link is to LifeLock's Web site. You can see the exhibit by clicking the above NAMESAFE logo.
In a sense, this is ironic, since both firms are in the business of protecting consumers against ID theft and this is sort of corporate ID theft.
However, I tried searching for NAMESAFE myself, in several search engines, and didn't get a result as above. It's quite possible that NAMESAFE got what it expected: LifeLock dropping the ads.
I wouldn't expect the suit to be dropped, however, at least until some restitution is made.
By the time the auction ended at 7:27 PM Wednesday, 23 bids had been placed and the winning bid was $5,700, by a "drpeppersnapple." She called the winner’s phone number and found out "drpeppersnapple" was a representative for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and they won't just be honoring the $5,700 bid; they'll up the ante to $10,000 and supply all the beverages.
Additionally, Dr. Pepper Snapple told Gray it would launch a Web site to find her a bridesmaid. If not, it would provide a surprise guest to fill the spot. Let's see, what which woman appears in Dr. Pepper commercials?
Why would Dr. Pepper do this? Good PR, but maybe they are also thinking "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" in terms of soda sales. At any rate, makes you wonder if you should do your own crazy eBay auctions, eh? Let's hope we don't see a spate of them.
In Firefox 3.1 status meeting notes from 6/24, the ship date is now estimated to be Q4 of this year or Q1 09. First alpha is in July, while first beta is in August. The release date is close to what had previously been stated by Mozilla. They had earlier said, however, that it would be date-driven, and it looks like a little flexibility has been added to that.
Earlier Mozilla had also said the features in FF 3.1 would consist of those that had missed FF 3 but were nearly complete. Additionally the notes indicate more changes to better meet the Acid 3 test (currently FF 3 scores 71 / 100) and changes to the Location Bar (which, depending on who you ask, is either the best or worst feature of FF3).
According to Mozilla's count, there have been 23.4 million downloads of FF3 at the time of this writing.
Friday, June 27, 2008
As everyone in the world is likely writing about this day, I wanted to find a different angle. How about Gates' statements about Yahoo!, given in one of his last interviews, one with Tom Brokaw?
But first ...
No matter what you think of Microsoft, it can arguably be said that Microsoft (and IBM; let's face it, the IBM PC started the real PC revolution) were instrumental in getting us to the point we are at now: one billion PCs in use worldwide, according to Gartner.
A small amount of "credit" should be given to Digital Research, who blew their chance to get their DOS on the first IBM PC, and gave Microsoft the opening it needed.
Whild MS- and PC-DOS were the first stepping stones to Microsoft's near-monopoly, it was Windows that really revolutionized things, with a consistent user interface across applications. Not to say that Windows 1.0 was a wonder: it sucked. But that was a combination of a lack of horsepower CPU-wise and immature software.
Despite Linux and Apple's inroads, and they've made plenty, Windows is still the dominant OS in the world. Whether we curse Microsoft, or thank them, Bill Gates and his company have had a major impact on computing. And he will be missed.
As far as any potential deal with Yahoo!, Gates was honest, at least. As repored by CNBC, when asked by Brokaw about any deal, he said "I don't think that one is likely." He added that, however, that he believes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will find "plenty of other opportunities."
Perhaps, but compare Microsoft's performance with Gates at the helm vs. Ballmer's time at the top, and you'll see a huge difference, and not in a positive way. Microsoft's not going anywhere, but we'll see how things shake out now.
Microsoft closed down 0.12 (0.43%) at $27.63 on Friday.
The Blizzard Authenticator has a FAQ on Blizzard's site, but no picture and no way to buy it - yet. It's not a USB dongle; it's a device that produces a code you have to enter every time you login. There are similar devices to login to some financial sites or corporate VPNs. The price is already listed as a pretty reasonable $6.50.
It's definitely not the "big surprise" (we're still hoping for Diablo 3), but it's definitely a nice extra level of security for concerned WoW players.
Here's their FAQ:
What is the Blizzard Authenticator?
The Blizzard Authenticator is an optional tool that offers World of Warcraft players an additional layer of security to help prevent unauthorized account access. The Authenticator itself is a physical "token" device that fits easily on a keyring.
Where do I get a Blizzard Authenticator?
The Blizzard Authenticator will be able to be purchased directly from the Blizzard Store for $6.50
How does the Blizzard Authenticator work?
You must first associate the Blizzard Authenticator to the World of Warcraft account you play. Once the account has been linked, the Authenticator token will be required to log in to Account Management or to the game; when logging in, you will be prompted to supply a digital code generated by the Authenticator.
How do I associate a Blizzard Authenticator with an account?
You can associate your Blizzard Authenticator to the World of Warcraft account you play by logging into Account Management. Click the “Add Blizzard Authenticator” button and then enter the serial number on the back of your Blizzard Authenticator.
What is a digital code and where do I see it?
The digital code is a six-digit numeric code that is produced when you press the button on the front of your Blizzard Authenticator. Each code is unique and is valid only once.
Where do I enter the digital code when I log in to World of Warcraft or to Account Management?
After you enter the account name and password, you’ll be prompted to provide the digital code from your Blizzard Authenticator. You must press the button on your Authenticator and enter the code it displays to complete your login.
Can I apply my Blizzard Authenticator to more than one account?
Yes! You’re welcome to associate a single Blizzard Authenticator to as many accounts as you like. Please remember that you must have that Authenticator with you to log in to any of these accounts afterwards.
What happens if I lose my Blizzard Authenticator? Do I lose the account it’s linked to?
If you lose your Blizzard Authenticator, you will need to contact Blizzard’s billing and account services team for assistance. Our representatives will be able to assist you with regaining account access by verifying certain secure information with you.
Will my Blizzard Authenticator work while I am traveling? Will it work in other countries?
Yes, the Blizzard Authenticator will work anywhere you can log in to World of Warcraft.
Will this have any effect on Parental Controls?
No, the Parental Control service will not change in any way. However, the parent/guardian will need the Blizzard Authenticator to log in to Account Management and make changes or updates.
Can I turn the extra security of the Blizzard Authenticator on and off as I wish?
While you can add the Blizzard Authenticator as you wish, removing it will require a call to billing and account services.
Does the Blizzard Authenticator replace my password and secret question?
No, the Blizzard Authenticator is only there as an optional measure to augment account security. It does not replace standard security measures. You will still be asked to enter the account name and password when logging into the game or Account Management, and should not share that or your secret question information with others.
Will a Blizzard representative ever ask for my Blizzard Authenticator information?
Yes. Blizzard may ask for the serial number on your Blizzard Authenticator, typically to help you associate it to an account or to verify your ownership of that Authenticator.
What if my Blizzard Authenticator stops working or has a technical problem?
Blizzard will have several support options available to assist you and ensure that the impact on your play experience is minimized in the event of a problem with your Authenticator. Please contact our billing and account services team for assistance if you have questions.
Most people are aware of top-level domains, though they may not realize it. Suffixes like .com, .net, .biz and so forth are called generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and there are 21 of them at this point. Suffixes such as .uk are country-code TLDs, BTW.
In a press release, Dr. Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN said:
"The Board today accepted a recommendation from its global stakeholders that it is possible to implement many new names to the Internet, paving the way for an expansion of domain name choice and opportunity. The potential here is huge. It represents a whole new way for people to express themselves on the Net. It's a massive increase in the 'real estate' of the Internet."
The approval means that companies could turn brands names into domains, while individuals could use their own names.
An implementation plan still needs approval, but following such approval ICANN could begin taking applications, perhaps in Q2 of 2009.
Don't expect John Smith to be applying, however. The cost of setting up such a domain name is expected to be in the low six-figures.
ICANN also posted a FAQ on the new process.
While many will cheer this move, I did hear the following complaint from an acquaintance: "Great. I used to be able to try .com, .net, .org if I wasn't sure of the domain name, and get a hit most of the time. Now I'll have an infinite number of choices."
Frequently asked questions on the process
1. Are you selling these new names?
ICANN is not "selling" new top level domain names. There will be a limited application period where any established entity from anywhere in the world can submit an application that will go through an evaluation process. It is anticipated that there will be additional rounds relatively soon after the close of the first application round.
2. What's to stop others registering my brand name?
Trademarks will not be automatically reserved. But there will be an objection-based mechanism for trademark owners where their arguments for protection will be considered.
3. How did this proposal get developed?
ICANN has a multi-stakeholder policy development process that served as the foundation for the process design. It involved consultation with domain name industry, trade mark attorneys, the business sector, users, governments and technicians.
4. How will offensive names be prevented?
Offensive names will be subject to an objection-based process based on public morality and order. This process will be conducted by an international arbitration body utilizing criteria drawing on provisions in a number of international treaties. ICANN will not be the decision maker on these objections.
5. When will all this happen?
ICANN is working towards accepting the first applications in the second quarter of 2009.
Besides this initiative, the following other resolutions were passed by ICANN:
- The adoption of two measures to eliminate "domain tasting" (the practice of using the add grace period to register domain names in bulk to test their profitability)
- The adoption of ICANN’s Operating Plan and Budget for fiscal year 2008-2009.
- Begin public input on a report on the "fast track" for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) for country codes and have staff work with the community on how to implement IDNs.
- Implementation of measures to improve the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO), and a timeline for agreement on how different groups are represented on it.
- Selection of Mexico City as the site of ICANN’s first meeting in 2009.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Whether or not you believe that, and likely AMD / ATI will, and NVIDIA won't (and doesn't), for end users, the real question is: "where are the drivers? I want to try them."
NVIDIA has posted beta versions of 177.39 on its site. Just remember, they're beta, so the normal warnings apply.
Windows Vista 32-bit
Windows Vista 64-bit
Windows XP 32-bit
Windows XP 64-bit
And it seems like Intel, Microsoft's BFF, is making that choice. But don't worry, Microsoft, Intel isn't looking to choose the OS from its other (and new) BFF, Apple.
A small comfort for Microsoft is that according to a person with direct knowledge of Intel's plans, who spoke to the New York Times, Intel is choosing to skip Windows Vista not because of its purported incompatibilities and reputation as a bloated OS, but rather lack of a compelling reason to upgrade.
"This isn’t a matter of dissing Microsoft, but Intel information technology staff just found no compelling case for adopting Vista."Meanwhile, while research firm Gartner said that typically 30% of companies skip a Windows version, in the case of Vista, the percentage will be higher. Much as with Intel, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason for companies to upgrade.
After all, unlike me, they don't need DirectX 10. And perhaps they heard about Microsoft's latest reliability update for Vista SP1.
Of course, Microsoft won't be hurting too badly: they still have all those XP licenses to look forward to.
The list is rather large, but one of the key fixes is one in which "large applications" (like Office apps) "cannot run after the computer is turned on for extended periods of time." According to the KB article, in such an instance you may be told the app is "not a valid Win32 application."
That bug was posted on the TechNet support forums way back in April. Obviously it's a nasty bug, and it wasn't until April 21st that Microsoft Employee John Gray chimed in saying:
Pretty bad when you advertise how reliable the OS is, and how it can run for days, right? Now we see why this is a "reliability fix."
Microsoft is aware of this issue and is working on a fix. As several people have observed, this is konwn (sic) to affect Excel 2007, Access 2007, Snipping Tool, and Windows Media Player on Vista SP1. The fix is to either exit as many apps as possible that you are running (e.g. Outlook), and then load the app (and then you can reload the apps you had running), or a logoff/logon will clear it up for a while (days/weeks). The error messages are confusing, but the problem is neither an invalid application file nor insufficient system resources. It only affects certain applications, and typically only after the user has been logged in for an extended period of time.
At any rate, yesterday, in the same thread, Gray announced the fix had been rolled into this reliability patch, to obvious cheers.
The full list of fixes is below. You can download the patch from the above KB article, and it will be available via Windows Update in July.
This update improves the performance, responsiveness, and reliability of Windows Vista in various scenarios.
This update includes the following improvements on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer:
- This update improves the stability of Windows Vista SP1-based computers by addressing some crashes that may occur when you try to check e-mail by using a POP3 e-mail client such as Windows Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. The crashes may occur on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer in the following scenario:
- Incoming POP3 and outgoing SMTP traffic monitoring is enabled.
- Both a third-party antivirus application and an antispyware application are installed, such as the following applications:
- ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
- SpySweeper by Webroot Software, Inc.
- This update improves the reliability of the Windows Vista SP1 based-computers by addressing some problems that occur when you delete user accounts by using the User Accounts item in Control Panel. When this problem occurs, the system may stop responding (hang).
- This update improves the reliability of Windows Vista SP1-based computers that experience issues in which large applications cannot run after the computer is turned on for extended periods of time. For example, when you try to start Excel 2007 after the computer is turned on for extended periods of time, a user may receive an error message that resembles the following:
EXCEL.EXE is not a valid Win32 application
- This update improves the reliability of Windows Vista SP1-based computers by reducing the number of crashes that may be caused by the Apple QuickTime thumbnail preview in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
- This update improves the performance of Windows Vista SP1-based computers by reducing audio and video (AV) stuttering. Such AV stuttering may occur when the audio or video component is streaming high definition content from a Windows Vista SP1-based computer that has a NVIDIA network adapter nForce driver version 18.104.22.168 that is installed to a Windows Media Center Extender device.
With Blizzard's 2008 WorldWide Invitational (WWI) to be held this week, and with Blizzard teasing splash screens on their website (unless you've been asleep - or don't care - you know about them; click the above to enlarge) rampant speculation has arisen again. Blizzard generally teases splash screens when they have a new game announcement, so ...
DiabloII.net has been tracking all the "clues" at the Blizzard site, including the splash screens and more. And on Wednesday they said they had some inside info about the game:
With this week's speculation over the Blizzard teasers, more and more reports in the media, and numerous tips coming direct us at IncGamers from reliable inside industry sources in the past 24 hours, we now have confirmation from inside sources to say that Diablo 3 WILL be announced on Saturday at WWI Paris 2008.Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean we will be meeting Baal again anytime soon. Based on how long Starcraft 2 has been in development since it was announced. And in fact, based on the retailers who have posted dates for Starcraft 2, it might be the release date of that game that's being teased at Blizzard's site.
Or maybe we'll get lucky and it will be both. We'll find out Saturday.
Earlier this month, at the same time they announced Acrobat 9, Adobe opened a beta of Acrobat.com, which is basically another online document / collaboration site. It includes a Web-based word processor, conferencing and remote access, PDF creation, and 5 gigabytes of file storage.
More info on Acrobat 9 can be found on Adobe's site. And no, there's no Reader version yet. Sorry!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Based on that, he said the following:
Some of you may have heard about "Windows 7", which is the working name for the next release of Microsoft Windows. We have learned a great deal through the feedback you have shared with us about Windows Vista and that feedback is playing an important role in our work on Windows 7. You have told us you want a more regular, predictable Windows release schedule. To this end, our plan is to deliver Windows 7 approximately 3 years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista.Some of this is the same message which has been stated previously by Microsoft: since Windows 7 will build on Vista, you shouldn't wait for Vista. Basically they're saying, "if you're going to have problems, you might as well get them out of the way now as Windows 7 will have the same issues."
You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista. As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward.
However, based on the fact that the same email outlined that Windows XP support for security and critical updates will continue until 2014, and that there are ways to still get XP, will businesses choose to skip Vista entirely?
Obviously corporations aren't going to be buying nettops or netbooks, which will still ship with XP, but volume license agreements (VLAs) mean that those businesses can continue to install XP.
Additionally, for consumers and those without VLAs, the "downgrade rights" program will allow Vista Ultimate and Business users to get XP shipped with their computer - and at least in the case of Dell and HP, even get XP pre-installed (pre-downgraded, so to speak). Of course, "downgrade rights" expire on Jan. 31, 2009, but that won't affect corporations.
So, did we finally get the go-ahead from Microsoft that Vista is "skippable?"
But it took a team of Dutch researchers, the same group whose study last year indicated that cell phones could interfere with critical care equipment such as ventilators and external pacemakers, to come up with a similar result regarding RFID tags.
RFID tags are used to track various items, including - in hospitals - items like medicines and surgical tools. However, the study, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that RFID tags can interfere with equipment such as respirators, external pacemakers and kidney dialysis machines.
The researchers tested medical equipment within meters of an RFID reader broadcasting a signal to nearby RFID tag. In 123 tests of 41 different pieces of equipment, the equipment malfunctioned 34 times (28%), with 22 of the problems serious enough to affect patients.
Erik Jan van Lieshout, a critical care physician at the University of Amsterdam led the study, as well as the prior cell phone study. He urged caution in reacting to the study. "Don't put on a frenetic ban on RFID systems. That would be as stupid as instituting systems without testing them."
Virtually none of the equipment had no interference at all, but older equipment seemed to be less susceptible to interference.
Last year the FDA issued a set of draft guidelines that identified RFID technology as a potential safety concern.
In fact, their guidelines said:
In general, a wired connection is more reliable than a wireless connection. FDA believes the more critical the medical device function and information passed via RF technology, the more important it is the wireless connection be robust. We recognize there are several concerns about the potential effects of RF wireless technology in and around medical devices related to the ability of the devices to function properly and the resultant safety of patients and operators, including:Despite this, there hasn't been much attention paid to RF interference and possible issues with regards to patient safety. Despite the fact that the FDA has no injury reports due to RFID interference with a medical device, this study shows that more attention needs to be paid to this subject, as increased RFID tag use could mean that such a safety record won't stand up over time.
- RF wireless emissions from one product or device can affect the function of another
- electromagnetic environments where medical devices are used may contain many sources of RF energy
- the use of RF wireless technology in and around medical devices is increasing.
Currently live in Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City (MO), Knoxville, Los Angeles, and New York, they plan to expand soon into Albany, Buffalo, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Louisville, Memphis, Milwaukee, Rochester, and Syracuse.
The supported device list is full of Windows Mobile and Palm OS phones, some Blackberrys, and a few Razrs as well as Nokia cell phones. But don't look for it yet: no iPhone. That version is coming later this summer.
Pretty simple to use: you go to your city, type in your cell phone number, and they send you a text message that allows you to download the application to your phone. In L.A., for example, you can access 270+ traffic cameras (which means, in L.A., a lot of gridlock images).
Some of the cameras will show rapidly updated still images while some will show live video.
It should be noted that a large message on the FreeTrafficCams site says "Warning: Do not Use While Driving," which one would think would reduce the utility of this application, but considering how much distraction comes from just talking on a cell phone, it's good advice.
The original 8 GB iPhone set Apple back about $226. The new 3G model costs Apple $173 to build. The savings of $53 equates to 23%, a sizable reduction.
New parts in the 3G model are the Infineon 3G chipset and Broadcom subsidiary Global Locate's GPS unit. However, the Samsung processor, flash memory, and many other components are carried over from the original iPhone, and lower costs there offset the new parts, despite the additional overhead of the necessary $45 in royalties for a 3G license that Apple must pay to Qualcomm et. al.
As Business Week quotes iSuppli analyst Jagdish Rebello, from the analysis:
"They have done a good job in using what worked well with the first one and making improvements where it mattered."Well, I always figured the iPhone 3G would be evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary (the iPhone was already that). But as they open up the device (more or less) with their SDK, we should see the revolution on the iPhone come in software, rather than hardware.
For those looking at the new prices for the 8 GB and 16 GB iPhone 3G ($199 and $299, respectively) and saying: hey: $173 is only a $23 profit for Apple, don't worry. Apple gets a sizable subsidy from AT&T, and is making out quite well, despite the dropping of the revenue-sharing provision they used to have with the carrier.
The iPhone 3G is scheduled to arrive on July 11th.
In terms of the Symbian purchase, according to a press release, Nokia has received favorable responses from all the major stakeholders, except Samsung, but expects Samsung to agree as well. It already has 91% of the remaining shares accounted for.
Meanwhile, the company announced the Symbian Foundation, which is expected to start operating during the first half of 2009. Membership of the foundation will be open to all, though not free: there's an annual membership fee of $1,500.
In the press release announcing the foundation, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia said:
"Establishing the Foundation is one of the biggest contributions to an open community ever made. Nokia is a strong supporter of open platforms and technologies as they give the freedom to build, maintain and evolve applications and services across device segments and offer by far the largest ecosystem, enabling rapid innovation. Today's announcement is a major milestone in our devices software strategy."Sony Ericsson and Motorola have agreed to contribute technology from UIQ and DOCOMO has also agreed to contribute its MOAP(S) assets to the foundation.
So, is this really a strike at Android? Well, the Foundation does say on their home page that the idea is
to create an unparalleled open software platform for converged mobile devices, enabling the whole mobile ecosystem to accelerate innovation.Hmmm. Sounds vaguely Android-ish. At the same time however, bringing the software in-house makes the device more iPhone-ish, with Nokia controlling both sides of the device - though you'd never see Apple go open source.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
According to News.com, Microsoft is looking at sweetening the deal for Yahoo!'s search technology, according to a "major investor who has been in contact with both parties."
It was just about 1 1/2 weeks ago that Microsoft said any such deal over Yahoo!'s search technology was off for good, however. At the same time, Yahoo! announced its ad team-up with Google.
The blog TechCrunch said a deal for the full company is back on the table, citing "multiple sources at both Yahoo and Microsoft."
And finally, CNBC says "There is no deal for the whole company, and nothing has changed as of today," according to a source close to Microsoft.
Yahoo! shares were up as much to as much as $23.71 (from yesterday's $20.60 close) but then dropped back down, presumably after the CNBC story, and currently sits up about 1.5% at $21.77.
Personally, it's hard to figure out exactly what's going on. It is clear that both Google and Yahoo! put several clauses into their ad agreement which cover such possible deals, so it seems like everyone involved feels there's still some chance of a deal happening. What's unclear is the probability - and how Carl Icahn will react.
GameStop, Circuit City, EBGames and Best Buy all list the game with a release date of 12/3/2008. Of course, if you want the best price, don't go to Best Buy: it lists the game with a price of $59.99 while the other three list a price of $49.99.
Of course, if you want to get your hopes up for an earlier release, hmv.com lists it as releasing in the U.K. on 11/14/2008.
Nah, we've got a 4 - 1 skewing toward 12/3.
However, let me just say: hey, Blizzard, I'm still waiting to hear about Diablo 3. Oh, and a confirmation of these dates could set Asia on fire!
The letter (.PDF), from Bill Veghte, senior vice president of the Online Services & Windows Business group, re-affirms that after June 30th Microsoft will suspend OEM distribution of Windows XP.
Of course, we know that low-cost desktops and laptops (nettops and netbooks) will continue to be shipped with Windows XP. We also know that buyers of Windows Vista Ultimate and Business will continue to get "downgrade rights," which gives them a copy of XP that they can downgrade their PCs to.
We also know that some OEMs, such as HP and Dell, will allow customers to exercise those rights prior to acquiring the computer. Veghte's letter even outlined those programs (though I'm sure Microsoft wishes they would go away):
In addition, some of our OEM partners are planning to offer services designed to help business customers that buy these versions of Windows Vista on new PCs to exercise their downgrade rights. This is a great value because it lets you use Windows XP on new PCs today if you need it and then make the move to take advantage of the additional capabilities of Windows Vista when you are ready, without having to pay for an upgrade.Naturally, many businesses have custom images for their PCs and laptops anyway, and re-image any they purchase, so you can expect corporations to keep rolling out XP computers for some time to come - perhaps until Windows 7.
The letter also outlines one of the biggest issues with Windows Vista: compatibility - in two different places.
... some small business customers may have applications that aren’t compatible with Windows Vista. In most cases, your software vendor should have an updated version of these applications. In the case that you still need Windows XP Professional as noted above, you can purchase Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate on a new PC and then use downgrade rights until you are ready to upgrade to Windows Vista.
The architectural changes that improved security and resilience in Windows Vista led to compatibility issues with existing hardware and applications. Many hardware drivers and applications needed to be updated, and while the majority worked well when we launched Windows Vista, some key applications and drivers were not yet available. Since then, Microsoft and its industry partners have been hard at work to address compatibility issues and now the situation is fundamentally different.If you say so, yeah.
One week to go until the XP era comes to an end (more or less).
Obviously, the legal issue still lies in the background, which is that since Psystar is hacking the Mac OS to get it to run on non-Apple hardware, it's actually violating the end-user licensing agreement for Mac OS X - a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
Psystar has unveiled a pair of OpenServ computers, squarely aimed at Apple's Xserve systems. Their servers are offered in 1U (OpenServ 1100) or 2U (OpenServ 2400) rack-mount versions.
Specifications for the OpenServ 1100 ($1,599) are:
- Intel Xeon E5420 Harpertown 2.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
- 4GB of fully-buffered DDR2 667 RAM
- one 750GB 7200RPM SATA drive
- Dual Gigabit LAN
- Integrated Graphics
- Intel Xeon E5420 Harpertown 2.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
- 4GB of fully-buffered DDR2 667 RAM
- one 750GB 7200RPM SATA drive
- Dual Gigabit LAN
- Integrated Graphics
- Is compatible with low-profile expansion cards
And, while the OpenServ has double the RAM (4 GB vs. 2GB), it comes with a slower CPU.
Despite all this, Psystar has won some fans. And while it's never going to grab the following Apple has, at least until Apple lays down the "law" (literally), quite a few reviewers would be willing to state that its offerings, although somewhat boring and dowdy, do work, and offer an affordable alternative.
On Monday NBC announced a workaround for many. No, they're not changing the time of events to suit Americans, but they and Wavexpress announced "Olympics on the Go," a free service that will allow you to select the sports you're interested in. The content is automatically downloaded once the coverage is available. Users can then watch the events without being online.
The bad news for XP users: it's only available on Windows Vista (bleh).
In a press release, Perkins Miller, Senior Vice President, Digital Media, NBC Sports and Olympics, and Michael Sprague, President of Wavexpress announced the initiative.
"This service will provide a fantastic viewing experience for Olympic fans with Windows Vista Media Center," said Sprague. "They can choose their favorite sports, from diving to water polo to gymnastics, and extended coverage is automatically synchronized to their PC in the middle of the night. With a laptop, they will get a high-quality video experience to view on the train, the plane, or in the college quad."The service will be free. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad, will be run from August 8, 2008, to August 24, 2008, with the opening ceremony beginning on August 8th at 08:08:08 pm CST (12:08:08 UTC).
"As we prepare to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games, we are committed to reaching as many viewers as possible," said Miller. "Our partnership with Wavexpress will enable us to reach viewers seeking high-quality in-depth coverage of the wide range of sports that make up the Olympics. The service will especially appeal to fast-paced fans who want to catch up on their favorite sports offline."
Monday, June 23, 2008
Russert collapsed from a heart attack in NBC’s Washington newsroom around 1:40 PM EDT; he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a hospital at 2:23. The network announced the news at 3:39.
The first edits into Wikipedia, however, went in at 3:01 PM EDT. Several other edits went in, which changed things into "past tense" as well as adding his date of death. The IP address revealed that the changes came from Internet Broadcasting (IB). IB is a company based in St. Paul, Minn., that provides Web services to a variety of companies - including NBC, according to their client list.
If you look at the Wikipedia records still further, you can see that the edits were rolled back to a pre-obituary state about 11 minutes after the first edits. Those edits also came from IB.
According to the New York Times, a spokeswoman for IB said on Friday that
"a junior-level employee made updates to the Wikipedia page upon learning of Mr. Russert’s passing, thinking it was public record." She added that the company had "taken the necessary measures with the employee and apologized to NBC." NBC News said it was told the employee was fired.However, other reports are that the employee was merely suspended.
If the employee learned of Russert's death via a confidential NBC communication, then indeed, perhaps suspension or firing may have been warranted. It could also be said that he probably should have been working instead of updating Wikipedia.
On the other hand, should mainstream media just admit to itself that the ability to delay news is simply gone in this day and age of instant updates, Twitter and Wikipedia? What do you readers think?
In a blog post on Friday, in fact, Matt McCormack of Microsoft indicated that Win32/Taterf, just one example of many such malware which targets passwords for online games, had been removed from 700,000 PCs - in just the first day of the distribution of June's MSRT alone.
An analysis of the first week's data showed the following:
Online game PWS family
The numbers are actually staggering, and since the majority of malware these days is targeted at making a profit, it also shows just how big a business gaming has become.
McCormack went on to speculate that the high infection rate was due to some gamers not wanting to degrade the performance of their machines with AV software. While there are some CPU hogs out there among AV software (Symantec comes to mind), there are also quite a few that don't impact your system performance much at all (NOD32, for example).
BTW, if you don't know, the MSRT, when downloaded on Patch Tuesday, just runs and then disappears from your system; if it doesn't find anything, you won't see any indication it's even run. It's worth it to make sure it runs on Patch Tuesday, and also to keep some sort of AV product on yours system, even a free one.
Sony apparently agrees about the upcoming demise of optical media, at least in terms of the delivery of gaming software.
While giving the keynote at the Devstation conference in London, David Reeves, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) said:
"The key to the future is the PlayStation Network, Games put straight onto PSN are the big opportunity. We do believe that the disc-based delivery system will fall as the power of the network base rises. At the same time, the overall industry growth will continue to go upwards as we push out into emerging markets."Of course, while Reeves is speaking specifically about console games, it's clear that delivery systems such as Steam have gained popularity for PCs as well. And while this is still about software, streaming of movies from such companies as Disney and Netflix continues to pick up.
Will optical media for movies and other entertainment content also die out?
Well, without limitations placed on such distribution by tiered plans and throttling, it likely will. However, that will take some time, as I indicated previously.
One question I have for Reeves: how will the PS3's hard drive handle downloading the equivalent of a Blu-ray game (and still have room for say, a second game and more)? Video streaming is one thing, but storage of the entire game? That's a question Reeves didn't answer at the conference.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
But also on Friday, the MPAA filed its own brief, one which basically says it feels evidence isn't necessary in the case of one of its copyright infringement trials.
The MPAA's brief (.PDF) is
in support of Jury Instruction No. 15 that "the act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network, without license from the copyright owners, violates the copyright owners' exclusive right of distribution, regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."Further, it states the following:
It is often very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modem forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement. Mandating that proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances.In other words, it's hard to provide proof in copyright infringement cases, and if we have to provide such evidence, it'll make it difficult for them to convict people. Hmmm ... since I was just on a jury trial, I'd like to point this one thing out to the MPAA: reasonable doubt. If you can't come up with the evidence, why should anyone come up with a guilty verdict?
The MPAA and RIAA have both argued that keeping files in a “shared folder” is the same as distribution. At the same time, of course, the EFF's own Amicus brief (I think) has a good chance of winning a new trial for Jammie Thomas. Time will tell.
Update: it was pointed out to me that naturally this is a civil case, therefore what is needed is a "preponderance of evidence" rather than "evidence beyond a resonable doubt." Of course, without evidence, neither standard is met. You still need evidence, right?