Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Microsoft's 30GB Zune Fix is Coming; You Just Need to Wait for It

Think of it as the Zune version of Y2K. As it was dubbed earlier, Z2K. 30GB Zunes globally froze on startup as the device entered Dec. 31st locally. Microsoft announced they were working on it earlier today, and the fix is already ready. You just have to wait for it.

That's right, as I posited earlier today, this is a leap year problem. What I wasn't sure of was if the problem would resolve itself on January 1st, 2009. According to Microsoft, it will. And that's Microsoft's "quick fix."

Hey, since the device wouldn't boot, it would have been hard to apply a firmware fix anyway. Here's what they say (emphasis mine):
The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009. We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on. If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.

Customers can continue to stay informed via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support).

We know this has been a big inconvenience to our customers and we are sorry for that, and want to thank them for their patience.
It won't affect any other Zune models, BTW, the issue is related to a part that is only used in 30GB Zune devices. Microsoft also said they would release a permanent fix before the next leap year in 2012, but seriously, by then we'll all have moved on to the iPod micron or whatever.



Large Screen iPod Touch Coming in 2009?

A report indicates that Apple is working on a large format iPod Touch which will be released in the fall of 2009. Screen size would be 7 - 9", putting it in the netbook or tablet PC range.

According to TechCrunch, it has received info from three independent sources, one of which has handled prototypes.

Just as with current rumors about a so-called iPhone nano, rumors about a Tablet Mac have been around for years, off-and-on, and hot-and-cold.

Still, one can imagine, now that Apple has an effective online store with the App Store, such a device being a success. Add a slider keyboard, with a 9" screen, and you've got the Apple netbook.

Tablet PCs haven't been big sellers, but netbooks? Those are hot. What do you readers think? Would you buy a netbook based on the iPod Touch?



RIAA Loses Jammie Thomas Mistrial Appeal

You'll probably recall that earlier this year the judge in the RIAA v. Jammie Thomas declared a mistrial in the case, setting aside the original verdict. A retrial date has already been set, but the RIAA had a chance to appeal the mistrial ruling. It has lost that appeal, and the retrial will apparently go on.

Jammie Thomas is the only target of the RIAA to take her case to trial. In October of last year the trial ended in an RIAA victory, with a $222,000 penalty assessed against her --- $9,250 for each of the 24 music tracks she allegedly made publicly available on the Kazaa P2P network.

However, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minnesota, ruled that he had erred in his jury instructions. Thus, the mistrial.

Recently, the RIAA stated that it will give up on threats and lawsuits, instead opting to work with ISPs to institute a "Three Strikes" rule that will result in terminating broadband for a user caught downloading. However, cases already underway are continuing.

Additionally, at least one ISP, admittedly a small one, has stated that if the RIAA wants it to "play cop," it will have to pay the ISP.



Z2K: 30GB Zunes Across the World are Frozen

30GB Zunes across the world seem to be failing, frozen on startup, in what some have snarkily called Z2K or Z2K9. The device can't be reset, and the best efforts at troubleshooting seem to point to an issue with the latest firmware.

Reports of resets, and then the Zune being frozen on startup, started surfacing overnight. You can find threads in several forums, here, here, and here. Note that all the forums are busy, and slooooow to load, at best.

I have to emphasize, this appears to only be occurring on the first-gen, 30GB Zune. It seems the issue started to happen as devices passed midnight locally across the world, though times don't seem to be exactly synchronized. One can imagine a "wave" frozen Zunes moving across the planet.

Z2K makes sense as a moniker for this: the theory that immediately came to my mind because of the seeming synchronization with midnight was that this was the first leap year since the 30GB Zune was introduced. Others have come up with that idea as well. It has also been reported, though unconfirmed, that older firmware does not have the issue.

BTW, some are suggesting taking apart the device and trying some procedures to fix it. I would recommend against that. If for some reason Microsoft needs these devices back to fix them (hopefully a software fix will work), it may not look too kindly on a Zune that's been previously disassembled.

Due to the timezone differences, there's no official word from Microsoft yet on why Zunes with the newest firmware have frozen. Let's be honest though: the Zune has had enough problems trying to gain market share against the iPod. This can only hurt.

I'll update this as the day progresses. 'Til then, watch a frozen Zune trailer.

Update: Microsoft says they are aware of the issue, and are looking into it.


Online Holiday Shopping Declines by 3 Percent: comScore

It was expected, and now it's been quantified. Holiday shopping was expected be dismal this season, what with the recession and all, and online shopping is no different. According to comScore, online retail spending for the holiday shopping season (Nov. 1st - Dec. 23rd, the last day to purchase online with the possibility of delivery by Christmas Eve) dropped 3% from 2007.

Despite a 15% rise in sales on Cyber Monday, sales dropped from $26.3 billion to $25.5 billion. According to comScore, the comparable days last year were Oct. 27th through Dec. 18th.

comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said:
"The 2008 online holiday shopping season has declined 3 percent versus year ago, falling behind our expectation of flat sales this year. This marks the first time we’ve seen negative growth rates for the holiday season since we began tracking e-commerce in 2001. The combination of having five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the severe economic headwinds faced by consumers has made this a really tough season for retailers, both offline and online."
It's worse if you look at Q4 as a whole, according to comScore. It will be the first full quarter to report negative growth since comScore began tracking e-commerce, down 4% to $36.8 billion from $38.4 billion.

While sales were down, traffic was up, by 5%. Of course, traffic is not the same as sales.

Winners in terms of traffic among individual e-tailers: Hewlett-Packard, with a 28% jump from last year; Apple (19%); Wal-Mart, (4%), and Amazon.com which, as I wrote earlier, said it had the best holiday season ever, with a 7% increase. Best Buy was flat from 2007.

All the other sites had drops in traffic, some major, like Circuit City which dropped 21% from 2007. Small wonder as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November; many simply didn't want to take a chance on buying from Circuit City.

But other traffic losers were Dell (17%), and even eBay (4%). Just wait until we see overall retail numbers; I'm sure that will be far worse than this.


Nokia Cell Phones with Stalin Wallpaper Show Up in Russia

I'm not sure why this is such a surprise. In a recent poll Josef Stalin was deemed the third-greatest Russian of all time. Based on that, why wouldn't Russians want cell phones with Stalin wallpaper?

Yes, we know that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviets in labor camps and purges, but he led that poll, run by state-run TV station Rossiya nearly the entire way. It took a plea by the station manager that viewers vote for "someone else" for Stalin to fall to third.

Still, Nokia wants to be absolutely sure that consumers know that they had nothing to do with this "promotion." They said:
“Even if Nokia was on the brink of ruin and release phones or panel with a portrait of Stalin was the only chance to save our business, Nokia [would not do] that.”
Since the wallpaper is obviously being post-loaded on these phones, any buyers should probably ask for a discount, as they are technically used. Don't expect the warranty to be honored, either. Photobucket



Dell's Claim of Carbon Neutrality More PR Than Green: Report

I had my doubts about Dell's claim of carbon neutrality, when they trumpeted it in August, and it appears I was right. However, I may have been wrong when I said I felt they had made some major strides in that direction. At least, I get that feeling after reading a Tuesday Wall Street Journal report.

The report notes that by Dell's definition, it has reached carbon neutrality. The problem is that there is no standard for what a carbon footprint should include, and so every company calculates its differently.

Dell's definition of their footprint excludes resources used to make their computers, transport them to customers, and the like. It only includes the emissions "produced by its boilers and company-owned cars, its buildings' electricity use, and its employees' business air travel."

According to the WSJ, that amounts to about 5% of Dell's actual footprint. Additionally, Dell is neutralizing that 5% mostly by purchasing carbon credits. While it's no secret that many companies are doing so, the word "mostly" is unsettling.

In terms of positives for Dell, they recently took a swing at Apple's "green laptop" claims. The WSJ also ran a similar story about Apple on Tuesday. Apple's claims of greenness appear to be as much about marketing as Dell's. So perhaps Dell doesn't have to feel quite so bad.



Apple Stock Drops After Another Steve Jobs "Poor Health" Rumor

You can predict it: anything negative about Steve Jobs, whether its his health, or (sometime) in the future, his retirement, and Apple stock tanks. There was yet another ill health rumor today, and you can probably see from the intraday stock graph above exactly when it hit the wire.

This rumor, from Gizmodo, stated that the reason Steve Jobs dropped out of Macworld was his declining health.
Steves health is rapidly declining. Apple is choosing to remove the hype factor strategically vs letting the hype destroy apple when the inevitable news comes later this spring.

This strategic loss will be less of a bang with investors. This is why Macworld is a no-go anymore. No more Steve means no more hype. Saying they are no longer needing [Macworld] is the cover designed by the worldwide "loyalty" department.
Actually, I in terms of Macworld, tended to believe the prior reason given, that Apple had plenty of other routes to highlight its announcements than trade shows. After all, Apple and IDG, who runs Macworld, have had a contentious relationship for some time.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs' health is a different matter. I don't necessarily believe Apple is being 100% up-front on that issue.

Now, according to Gizmodo, this source had been 100% reliable in the past. However, even they hedged their bets, saying:
This source has repeatedly been 100% correct before. Those times, however, were always related to news and images of unreleased Apple products.
Later in the day, Jim Goldman from CNBC checked with Apple, saying:

I was told two weeks ago by sources inside Apple that the decision had nothing to do with Jobs' health. I got the same message today. Period.

I will say again: if Apple is lying, holding some truth back, manipulating its own stock by manipulating the truth, someone — indeed a lot of people — could be going to jail. Do I like the way Apple has handled this ongoing story? No. But do I traffic in rumors to fill the void the company has created by not choosing to be more forthcoming about Jobs' health? Absolutely not.
While certainly not the sort of irresponsible behavior as exhibited in the iReport story which falsely claimed Steve Jobs had a heart attack, causing Apple stock to plummet, it's clear what CNBC thought of the rumor.

A commenter at Gizmodo called it irresponsible journalism, and to watch for a lawsuit. Now, the drop wasn't that drastic, but still. What do you readers think?

One thing's for sure: when a story about a tech CEO makes Perez Hilton's site, you know that CEO is the "rock star" that many claim him to be.



Don't Panic, But SSL is Broken

Don't panic, the "tubes" are still flowing and the Internet is not broken. What is broken is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the technology that's supposed to protect web users against spoofed and malicious sites.

Whenever you browse to a site whose URL starts with https:// (bsides getting a little padlock symbol in your browser, as above), you assume the site is safe, that the connection is encrypted, and that you're really at Amazon.com's site, and not fake-Amazon.com.

Researchers on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 presented their findings at the 25th Annual Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, which showed that they could create a rogue Certificate Authority and issue fake digital certificates, thus circumventing SSL.

This weakness is only exploitable with regards to digital certificates created using the MD5 cryptographic algorithm. However, the researchers (Alexander Sotirov, Marc Stevens, Jacob Appelbaum, Arjen Lenstra, David Molnar, Dag Arne Osvik, Benne de Weger) determined there are at least six CAs still using MD5. They are:
  • RapidSSL
  • FreeSSL
  • TrustCenter
  • RSA Data Security
  • Thawte
  • verisign.co.jp
While researchers were able to create the fake certificate (you can try it out yourself here if you set your system date to August 2004; researchers made the expiration date September 2004 a precaution against misuse in case their CA ever "falls into the wrong hands."

It's not something the common hacker will be able to reproduce easily, which should ease any worries. It took researchers approximately two weeks of computing time on a cluster of 200 PlayStation 3 consoles. Additionally, a hacker would need a way to route traffic from a legitimate site to a malicious one; not impossible, of course.

Of course, rather than MD5, CAs could, and should be using at least SHA-1, or preferably SHA-2. And while that's the case, one of the researchers, Jacob Appelbaum told C|Net that as many as 30 - 35% of the SSL certificates in use may have an MD5 signature in their authentication chain. He said:
"The CAs should contact every customer that currently uses an MD5-signed certificate and offer a free replacement."
The presentation given Tuesday (.PPT) and a detailed explanation of the hack are available from the researchers.



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MSI Intros Wind U115 Hybrid Netbook, with Both SSD and HDD

MSI has introduced the Wind U115 Hybrid Netbook (risking, apparently, the wrath of Psion) which uses both solid-state and hard-disk drives, making it the first netbook to do so.

The SSD is used for most of the U115's operations, while the HDD is used for storage. The netbook has a "ECO on" mode which "temporarily disengages the hard drive." According to their press release, this results in "super long" battery life, which they quantify as 12 hours on their product page.

Aside from the hybrid storage system, it's pretty standard fare for a netbook. No word on pricing or availability yet.
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor Z530 (1.60GHz)
  • Windows® XP Home
  • Intel® Poulsbo US15W
  • Up to 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 10" 1024x600 LCD Panel
  • 8GB SSD / 120GB HDD or 16GB SSD / 160Gb HDD
  • 4 in 1 Card Reader
  • 1.3 or 2.0 MP Webcam
  • D-sub x 1 , USB 2.0 x 3 , Mic-in , Headphone, RJ45
  • 3 / 6 cell battery
  • 802.11b/g/n, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth V2.0EDR (option)
  • 2 speakers
  • 260 x 180 x 19-31.5mm
  • ~1.0 Kg (with 3 cells battery)



More Teasing From Sony About Its P-Series

Sony, at least on its Japanese site, continues to tease site visitors about the P-series of notebooks that it either keeps leaking accidentally --- or on purpose.

Now if you go to the web page on Sony Japan's site where you can register for email updates on this new device, you get to watch a woman walking out her front door, interspersed with some images of a keyboard.

The darn animation flashes the "scenes" by pretty fast, but I captured what looks to be the keyboard and a tracking nub.

I wonder just how many more teasers will be revealed before CES, where Sony will probably unveil this device.



New Netflix Shipping Procedure May Net You a Freebie

Netflix has announced a new shipping procedure which if the movie you’ve requested isn’t available from your local distribution center, may net you a freebie in the form of the next highest up movie in your queue.

Netflix says they have 55 shipping centers across the country, so if your choice is not available in your local shipping center, they'll send it from another, and to make up for the inconvenience of a shipping delay, send you a freebie as well. When I say freebie, what I mean is it does not count against your monthly allotment. Netflix's original blog post is a bit fuzzy on the matter, but they cleared it up in the comments (emphasis mine):
Now, if your first choice is not available in your local shipping center, we immediately send the next locally available movie in your Queue, and whenever possible, we also send your first choice from another part of the country.

We want you to receive DVDs as quickly as possible, so we’re taking this extra step to ensure you have another movie to enjoy as a complimentary extra DVD rental if your first choice will be delayed.
And just to be clear, in the comments, they said:
That is correct - the complimentary DVD does not count toward your disc plan allotment. If you are on a 2-disc plan, this new process temporarily provides you with 3 discs.
Nice move by Netflix. As they said, the old procedure was "especially inconvenient for our members on 1-disc plans."

The new policy took effect Dec. 11 and applies to all Netflix members.


AnyDVD Again Cracks the Latest BD+ Copy Protection

On Monday Slysoft released version 6.5.0.3 of AnyDVD HD, which now cracks the latest iteration of BD+. Slysoft, based in Antigua, generally thumbs its nose at organizations like the MPAA and says it is promoting "Fair Use Rights."

The only slightly embarassing part of this story is that they first made that claim with version 6.5.0.2, then had to quickly release 6.5.0.3 to add "more support" for the latest BD+ copy protection.

BD+ had been designed to be extensible as they were sure the the original protection scheme would be cracked (shows just how confident they were). Although considered by many to be one of the key differentiating features of Blu-ray, which led to its adoption by more studios, BD+ was not released until late 2007. After Slysoft cracked the first iteration, Macrovision came out with a new release, but now the ball is back in Macrovision's court.

For those who don't know, AnyDVD can be used two ways: it can sit between your DVD and software like Nero, making it believe the DVD is unprotected, or it can rip the DVD to your hard drive itself. There are two versions of AnyDVD, an HD and a non-HD version.

In their press release, Slysoft decided to not be too modest (emphasis and comments mine):
Although newer BD+ decryption wasn't expected until February 2009, today's AnyDVD HD 6.5.0.2 (yes, yes, it's now 6.5.0.3) release decrypts copy protection on all current Blu-ray movies and, in turn, ensures that consumers may continue to backup and enjoy their Blu-ray movie purchases even when using computer monitors that are not HDCP compliant. In fact, Anydvd HD remains the only program that can decrypt all commercial Blu-ray releases, and this incredible magic is, as per usual with Anydvd HD, performed on the fly without requiring users to rip first to their hard drives.
The changelist for 6.5.0.2 / 3 is as follows:

6.5.0.3 2008 12 29
  • New (Blu-ray): More support for new version of the BD+ copy protection
6.5.0.2 2008 12 28
  • New (Blu-ray): Added support for new version of the BD+ copy protection
  • New (Blu-ray): Improved region code removal
  • Fix: Bug introduced in 6.4.9.2, MyMovies could hang
  • Fix (HD DVD & Blu-ray): Bug introduced in 6.4.9.2, retrieving disc information with DVD Profiler for HD DVD and Blu-ray discs did not work while AnyDVD was running
  • Some minor fixes and improvements
  • Updated languages
Of course, a program like this should only be used for archival backups. Photobucket Also, anyone considering buying this program should note that as of January 1, 2009, Slysoft will no longer have a free lifetime upgrade program, but instead an annual subscription. However, this means that if you buy before January 1st, you can still get into that program.

I hate to say it, but the subscription model makes sense, as they have to constantly update the program, much as an antivirus vendor must.

Start your downloading engines.

Update: Slysoft apparently keeps finding edge cases. They've updated the software yet again, to 6.5.0.7, as of 12/31.

Release notes:

6.5.0.7 2008 12 31
  • New (Blu-ray): More support for new version of the BD+ copy protection. All remaining discs with the new BD+ protection should work now, e.g. "X-Files 2 - I Want to Believe", US ; "In the Name of the King", US; "Meet Dave", US
  • Some minor fixes and improvements


Monday, December 29, 2008

New HP MediaSmart Server Adds MacOS Time Machine Support

HP announced new versions of its MediaSmart Server on Monday which, acknowledging the inroads Mac OS X has made in market share, adds better support for Mac OS X, including support for OS X's Time Machine backup feature. This makes it the first 3rd-party hardware to support Time Machine.

Time Machine was one of the key features introduced in October 2007 with OS 10.5 Leopard. Of course, Apple had problems getting its own Airport Disk to work with Time Machine; let's hope HP has made a better first attempt.

HP's MediaSmart Servers run Microsoft's Windows Home Server operating system. The internals of the new ex485 (750GB) / ex487 (1.5TB) have been upgraded to Intel Celeron 2.0GHz CPUs and 2GB of DDR2 RAM from HP's original ex470 (500GB) /ex475 (1.5TB), which had AMD Sempron 1.8GHz CPUs and 512MB of RAM.

Compared to ordinary NAS devices which simply add storage to your network, these HP Servers come at a premium, there's no doubt about that. The ex485 is $599 and the ex487 is $749. In other words, you pay for all the functionality that you could, in fact, perform manually (or have other software perform automatically, rather than the server software).

In addition to Time Machine functionality, HP has also teamed with Amazon to provide an Amazon S3 managed online backup service. Of course, you could easily use a service like Mozy for your PCs, but most of those services don't work with NAS.

However, this is another way to suck the life out of any broadband caps you may (or may not) run up against.

HP has also added a free 5-year SSL certificate when you activate the remote access using the HP Personal option, eliminating the warning messages you used to see in your browser.

Finally, another feature of MediaSmart is remote MP3 streaming. However, when streaming over the web, the software transcodes MP3s at a 128kbps bitrate, to minimize any potential for choppiness.

BTW, if you run over to HP's site and check out their whitepapers, you might get confused. They haven't updated them and the information (like no Time Machine support) is old.

Features of note in the HP press release:
  • HP Media Collector: conveniently schedules the MediaSmart Server to copy and centralize digital files and libraries from networked PCs
  • Media Streaming: remotely streams photos and music to any Internet-connected PC or Mac
  • Server for iTunes: centralizes iTunes music libraries on the server for playback to any networked Mac or PC running iTunes
  • HP Photo Publisher: easily upload photos to Facebook®, Picasa™ Web Albums and Snapfish
  • HP Photo Viewer: allows easy sharing of photos with friends and family
  • PC Hard Drive Backup: backs up networked PCs via the Windows Home Server backup feature
  • Mac Hard Drive Backup: backs up Macs running Leopard using Apple Time Machine software
  • Server Backup: duplicates designated shared folders to a separate hard disk drive
  • Online Backup: duplicates designated folders to Amazon’s S3 online backup service for an additional layer of protection
  • Smart Power Management: can schedule times for server to go to “sleep” and “wake up,” saving on energy costs
  • Processor: Intel® Celeron®, 2.0 GHz 64-bit. Two gigabytes (GB) of 800-MHz DDR2 DRAM now standard on MediaSmart Server
  • Expandability: additional drives can be added for up to 9 terabytes (TB)
The HP MediaSmart Server can be pre-ordered beginning Jan. 5, 2009, from Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Buy.com, Frys.com and NewEgg.com; it is expected to ship in February.



Acer Plugs Intel's New Q9000 Quad-Core CPU Into the Aspire

On Sunday, Intel introduced the Q9000, a surprisingly affordable ($348, quantity 1,000) quad-core CPU, and on Monday, Acer jumped on it, announcing the Aspire 8930G-7665 notebook, including that processor.

The Q9000 is certainly a bargain compared to the other Q9x00 CPUs, such as the QX9300, which lists at $1,038, and the Q9100, listed at $851, but part of that price difference is attributable to the size of its L2 cache: 6MB, rather than the 12MB in the other processors.

Still, the 8930G-7665 is definitely performance and multimedia-oriented. It comes with an 18.4" WUXGA LCD (1920 x 1080), the aforementioned Q9000 running at 2.0GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, Blu-ray, and more.

Sumit Agnihotry, vice president of product marketing for Acer America said:
"By incorporating the latest capabilities of Intel’s Core™ 2 Quad mobile processors into the Aspire 8930G-7665, Acer is delivering a perfect combination of mobility, innovation and extreme gaming capabilities. Gamers and enthusiasts who enjoy HD multimedia entertainment will find the performance benefits of quad core mobile performance in the Aspire 8930G unrivalled (sic) to other multimedia notebooks on the market."
I wouldn't necessarily say it was unrivaled, though at its price, that might be true. If you want to empty your wallet you could get a Sager with dual 9800GTX GPUs in SLI, but that would be nearly twice the price.

The specs of the Aspire 8930G-7665:
  • Intel® Core™2 Quad Mobile Processor Q9000 (6MB L2 Cache | 2.0 GHz | 1066MHz FSB)
  • 18.4" WUXGA Acer CrystalBrite™ TFT LCD (1920 x 1080)
  • 4GB DDR3 1066 MHz Dual Channel Memory
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 9700M GT with 512MB dedicated video memory
  • 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • Blu-ray Disc™/DVD-Super Multi double-layer drive
  • 6-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
  • 802.11a/g/Draft-N Wi-Fi CERTIFIED®
  • Acer Crystal Eye Webcam
  • Dolby Home Theater®
  • Windows Vista® Premium 64-bit
  • MSRP $1799.99
According to the press release, it's already available via Acer’s authorized resellers and at select major retailers nationwide. It's not yet on Acer's site, however.


Well-Known Case Maker Advertises iPhone nano Cases

It's one thing when a relatively unknown case maker advertises an iPhone nano case. It's something completely different when a well-known case maker does. Vaja has added an iPhone nano link on their site, leading to still more speculation over a possible Macworld iPhone nano announcement.

Vaja is a relatively well-known maker of cases for anything from notebooks to PDAs. The link above simply takes you to a form where you can sign up for an email alert about the future iPhone nano cases coming from Vaja.

To be honest, simply shrinking down the iPhone to a smaller phone factor doesn't really make any sense. But these multiple leaks from different places, as well as this particular one from a reputable manufacturer, makes one wonder.

What do you readers think? Is Apple working on an iPhone nano, which is simply a downsized iPhone? And would you buy one, if the only difference was size?



Facebook's War Against Lactivists

As a new father, I have to admit, watching my wife breastfeeding our daughter brings on feelings in me, but not sexual ones, rather sweet ones, as I find the interaction between mother and daughter beautiful. Facebook, on the other hand seems to think breastfeeding is obscene, having removed many photos from its site, citing violation of its terms of use.

It has resulted in the creation of a Facebook group, Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!. At the time of this writing, the group has about 78,000 members. This actually was first reported as an issue in 2007, but has really come to a head of late.

On December 27th, the group held its first Mothers International Lactation Campaign (MILC) virtual event, with 11,000 Facebook users posting breastfeeding pictures (some of which were removed), as well as an actual sit-in (or, I guess, a nurse-in) at Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters.

According to the Washington Post, the above image (which I wouldn't have posted if I felt it was obscene) resulted in Kelli Roman being warned that her account might be suspended, as well as having the picture taken down. Is that really obscene? I mean, really?

On the other hand, one might wonder just why a nursing mother would want their picture posted at Facebook. There's no way my wife will let me take such a picture, no matter how modest the pose.

It should be noted that Facebook has said it only removes pictures with a visible nipple or areola, and only when they are flagged by other users. While a protest against Facebook is probably called for, perhaps users should be also protesting against the close-minded people who report such images.



MP3 Player Leads to Skiers' Rescue

Swiss air rescue organization Rega says that an MP3 player was the key to locating two lost French tourists.

No, the two weren't found by rescuers listening for music. Rather, the light from the display of the MP3 player was enough for rescues to home in on.

Rega said it received a distress call from the French tourists late Friday. Unfortunately, the phone battery went dead before they could be located.

The tourists, one a skier and one a snowboarder, got themselves lost late Friday outside marked runs near the resort of Savognin in southeast Switzerland. According to Gery Baumann, Rega spokesman:
"The two winter sports enthusiasts were found by the crew of the Rega helicopter shortly after midnight -- thanks to the faint light of their MP3 player."
It's unclear which brand of MP3 player was used by the tourists; we slapped a Zune picture into this article to give Microsoft some air time, considering the iPod's market share.



Psion and Its netBook Trademark Battle: "Only Going After Those Profiting From the Term"

Earlier last week jkOnTheRun broke the story that Psion Teklogix, a Canadian firm, had been sending cease-and-desist letters to tech bloggers telling them to stop using the term "netbook." The reason: it's a Psion trademark from an old, discountinued product. Since then, the company's legal team has clarified the situation, indicating they are only going after those "making a direct, financial profit from use of the 'Netbook' trademark."

It should be noted that the Psion product was actually called the netBook (above). It ran a version of Psion's EPOC OS, which later became the basis of the Symbian OS.

Origin, the the legal firm representing Psion clarified their position as follows:
We have sent letters out solely to those making a direct, financial profit from use of the ‘Netbook’ trademark.

95% of all letters have been sent to retailers and manufacturers using the ‘Netbook’ trademark.

5% have been sent to websites that have sponsored advertising or other for-profit links that include the prominent use of the ‘Netbook’ trademark and a link to a retailer or manufacturer using the ‘Netbook’ trademark.

0% have been sent to straight blogs, tech enthusiasts sites or review sites – i.e. with no prominent ‘Netbook’ related sponsored advertising or other ‘Netbook’ related for-profit links.
Now, it seems that the 5% could actually become a much larger percentage, since any site which has affiliate advertising, perhaps from Amazon.com or Overstock.com, could become a target of their C&D order. Frequently the retailer determines the advertising on the site (e.g., Amazon's Omakase).

In reality, Origin clarified that site which use such advertising simply need let them know, and they will focus on the retailer rather than the site. At least they are open in that regard.

Much of the criticism around the C&D order is the fact that Psion is basically a nobody now. Others bring up the fact that sometimes trademarks become common-use terms, such as Kleenex or Xerox.

One also has to wonder why they bother with all the cost and effort here. While they are indeed protecting a trademark that is still in use with regards to accessories and supplies they still sell for their netBook PDA, if they're not getting anything asides from a takedown, why bother?

Corporations, after all, are in the business of making money, not throwing it to their lawyers to protect a trademark that's of little use to them. Is there something I'm missing? At any rate, we haven't heard the end of this.

Check out a video demo of the Psion netBook (from someone who was selling it on eBay):



Text Messaging: Yes, It's a Rip-Off

I've written before about the high cost of text messaging versus the actual bandwidth used (wireless carriers even encourage users to SMS, rather than call in the event of an emergency, because there is so little bandwidth used). The New York Times recently posted an excellent story about just how much of a rip-off text messaging charges are.

Earlier this year, the relatively high cost of SMS caught the attention of Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and chairman of the Senate's antitrust panel. He sent a letter to the big four U.S. cell carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) asking just why SMS rates have doubled since 2005.

The obvious answer is: because they could. The answers he received, according to the New York Times, just danced around the issue.

Part of Kohl's letter, excerpted below (emphasis mine):
Text messages were commonly priced at 10 cents per message sent or received in 2005. As of the end of the month, the rate per text message will have increased to 20 cents on all four wireless carriers. Sprint was the first carrier to increase the text message rate to 20 cents last Fall, and now all of its three main competitors have matched this price increase. What is particularly alarming about this industry-wide rate increase is that it does not appear to be justified by rising costs in delivering text messages.
According to the NYT, T-Mobile made one point, that it's revenue per text message has dropped by 50% since 2005. But, if you recall the Nielsen Mobile report I wrote about earlier, text messaging has risen more than 5x since 2006, much less 2005. Thus, even if carriers are making less per SMS, they are making way more overall.

As I previously indicated also, text messages piggyback on the "control channel," and thus, as the NYT notes:
But text messages are not just tiny; they are also free riders, tucked into what’s called a control channel, space reserved for operation of the wireless network. That’s why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted.
So they're charging us for stuff that's essentially free --- once storage requirements for the text messages and maintenance costs are taken into account.

A rip-off or not? Probably not a 100% rip-off, but since they charge for incoming (including text message spam) as well as outgoing text messages, it's definitely a cash cow. Readers?


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Intel Denies Trying to Kill NVIDIA's Ion Platform

A report last week that stated that Intel would not unbundle the Atom CPU from its 945GSE and 945GC chipsets. If true, it would have been a major blow to NVIDIA's recently announced Ion platform, which combines the GeForce 9400 GPU with the Intel Atom CPU. However, a response from an Intel spokesman denies that assertion.

The rumor was started by DigiTimes, who said that it had been told by OEMs that Atom CPUs were only available bundled with Intel chipsets. However, InternetNews.com received an email from Bill Calder, an Intel spokesman:
"There is nothing preventing vendors from using the Ion platform. We sell Atom as a stand-alone processor, or as package with chipset."
Ion is obviously aimed at the netbook market and would compete directly with Intel's above-mentioned chipsets. The proof will be when we see the Ion platform in an announced product, I suppose.



Video Games Can Influence Body-Image Self-Esteem: Study

A pair of studies has concluded that much like the effect images of super-thin supermodels have on teenage girls, images of overly-muscled male figures and overly-skinny females in video games can have much the same effect on the body-image self-esteem of gamers.

My psychologist wife has called this a "Grandmother Conclusion," regarding studies done which come up with answers your grandmother could have come up with. Personally, I prefer a female avatar in a MMORPG (like City of Heroes) because a third-person view of a guy isn't really something I enjoy all that much.

The studies, by Richard Harris, Kansas State professor of psychology, and Christopher Barlett, a former Kansas State graduate student in psychology, were detailed in the paper "The Impact of Body Emphasizing Video Games on Body Image Concerns in Men and Women."

According to the Kansas State press release, the men played "WWF Wrestlemania 2000," while the women played a beach volleyball game. It's unclear what the age of the beach volleyball game was, but that WWF game was an N64 game. Looking at the graphics in it, the male participants must have had some serious self-esteem issues from the get-go.

It only took 15 minutes of gameplay to affect their self-image scores, determined by a series of questions. Harris said:
"The results really weren't surprising; they were kind of what we were expecting and fulfilled one of our hypotheses. I'm not going to say that we were happy about that, to see such an effect. It was kind of sobering that it did have such a short-term effect.

There's been a lot of interest for a long time on the unrealistic supermodel image in advertising. What isn't as well known is that idealized masculine image is becoming so much more muscular and is just as unrealistic as the supermodel image.

While Harris added that not everyone who plays video games has body-image problems, the studies do emphasize that there is more to be concerned about in terms of video games than just violence.

Future studies, Harris said, could include studies on whether video games increase objectification of women, the long-term effects of video games on body image and how video games affect the body-image views of the opposite gender.

A previous study ran by Harris in 2006 determined that watching a scary movie on a date reinforces stereotypical gender roles and that men actually enjoy "chick flicks," at least while on a date.



Surprise! Men Love Video Games Because of Their Drive to Win

File this as another one of those studies that probably didn't need to be done to come to the conclusion they did. According to a study, gaming activates parts of the male brain which are linked to rewarding feelings and addiction. It does so to a much lesser extent among women (no!).

Professor Allan Reiss of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University led the research, published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. He said that while women understood computer games as well as men, they did not have the same neurological drive to win.

Like I said, did we really need this study? I guess it validates what most wives and girlfriends probably already know.

Professor Reiss told the Telegraph:
"These gender differences may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become 'hooked' on video games than females. I think it's fair to say that males tend to be more intrinsically territorial. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who historically are the conquerors and tyrants of our species – they're the males. Most of the computer games that are really popular with males are territory and aggression-type games."
Interesting that Reiss would say that one of the parts of the brain most stimulated by games affects addiction; after all, last year the AMA backed off calling video game addiction a disorder akin to alcoholism.



The Pentagon's Latest Universal Translator: an iPod Touch

Believe it or not, there's a Pentagon News Channel, and recently one of their reports had a segment on a high-tech translation device. Not really all that exciting, except for the fact that the device is actually an iPod Touch.

They call it a VCOM, and as they reported, you simply have to choose the language, and then the combat scenario you are in, such as a raid (as demo'ed on the video), and then select what you might want said like "Drop the weapon" or whatever.

After you do that, an avatar shows up on the screen and verbalizes the phrase, which is then said through the iPod Touch's speaker. It's pretty cool, but I wonder how they got it onto the iPod Touch without passing it through the App Store.

Watch the segment (the full episode is available on the Pentagon's News Site linked above):
video


Imagine: John Lennon Pitching OLPC Laptops 28 Years After His Death

On December 8th, 1980, Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon. But with the approval of his widow Yoko Ono, Lennon lives on again, sort of, in an One Laptop Per Child ad pitching the organization's XO-1 laptop.

The OLPC program, the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte, is been about getting laptops into the hands of underprivileged children around the world. In the digitally produced ad, Lennon is portrayed as saying:
"Imagine every child no matter where in the world they were could access a universe of knowledge. They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want. I tried to do it through my music, but now you can do it in a very different way. You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine, you can change the world."
The OLPC's second annual "Give One, Get One" campaign, in which you pay for one XO-1 laptop for yourself and one for a child in a developing nation, is currently in progress and runs through Dec. 31st.

If you prefer, you can simply donate a laptop for a child, without paying for one for yourself.

The commercial went life on Christmas eve, and can be viewed below:



Saturday, December 27, 2008

CastleCops: In Memorium

CastleCops, the volunteer-run website and organization famous for fighting phishing, highly recommended by many, has gone offline. The site had reached its five-year anniversary in 2007.

CastleCops had made many enemies among the malware community, who used DDOS attacks on the site as well as PayPal donations from compromised accounts to ruin the site's PayPal reputation.

In June, founder Paul Laudanski announced in June that he had been hired by Microsoft to work on phishing and spam investigations, and said that he hoped to find someone else to run the site.

On their site, CastleCops said:
You have arrived at the CastleCops website, which is currently offline. It has been our pleasure to investigate online crime and volunteer with our virtual family to assist with your computer needs and make the Internet a safer place. Unfortunately, all things come to an end. Keep up the good fight folks, for the spirit of this community lies within each of us. We are empowered to improve the safety and security of the Internet in our own way. Let us feel blessed for the impact we made and the relationships created.
CastleCops said they will try to return any donations made for their "server marathon," but those made by check will be donated to the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC.org), as CastleCops does not have the donators' addresses.

SecurityFocus said that some of CastleCops' data has moved to the System Lookup site. This closure isn't really a surprise, but CastleCops' Phishing Incident Reporting & Termination Squad (PIRT) and Malware Incident Reporting & Termination Squad (MIRT) will be missed.



More Dell Adamo Rumors: DisplayPort, Blu-ray

Rumors keep flying about the Dell Adamo. It's already pretty much certain details abou the MacBook Air competitor will be announced at CES, we don't have long to wait, but even that seems too long. Meanwhile, more details continue to leak out about possible specifications for the laptop.

A Google cache of Dell accessories from Dell's site shows that the Adamo will have DisplayPort for video-out, and will at least have the option for a Blu-ray drive.

Aside from that the largest internal drive I see is 250GB; I also saw an external 500GB hard drive, but the external interface isn't listed; some have noted eSATA support but it appears they confused the internal SATA interface with the unlisted external interface (more likely USB 2.0, but eSATA would be cool).

A recent DigiTimes article said the Adamo could be priced as high as $3,000, which would significantly higher than the lowest-priced MacBook Air, but of course, it all depends on what's "in" the $3,000 Adamo, if that's its price. A new story today said the pricing could be as low as $1,500, which would be more like it, if Dell really wants to "take on" the MBA.



Teenagers Spoof Speed Cams, Prank "Enemies" and Teachers

When I was a teenager, we might TP the house of someone we disliked. Some Maryland teenagers instead have figured out how to fool speed cameras by spoofing the license plates of their "enemies," resulting in those spoofed receiving unwarranted speeding tickets.

Students have dubbed the prank the "Speed Camera Pimping Game." Originating from Wootton High School, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts that are similar to those on Maryland license plates. They then run by a speed camera, so that those they feel have "wronged them" receive a citation in the mail.

Students are even going so far as to use vehicles that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to a parent.

Ironically, this school says it is a "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence." Excellence at pranking, apparently.

Unsurprisingly, the Montgomery County Police say they are unaware of this prank.said they have not seen or heard of this prank. However, they said they will keep an eye out for it.

Montgomery County Council President Phil Andrews said that the issue is troubling, in more than one way:
"I am concerned that someone could get hurt, first of all, because they are speeding in areas where they know speeding is a problem. It will cause potential problems for the Speed Camera Program in terms of the confidence in it."
Too late for that, I think.

The speed cameras in Montgomery County haven't been warmly received. One person even went so far as to create a Google Earth KML file mapping the locations of the cameras.



Despite Recession, Amazon.com Has a Record Holiday Season

Despite the recession, Amazon.com has announced that its 14th holiday season was the best ever. Of course, while it listed numbers of items sold, it didn't list any revenue or profit figures. That, in fact, was the big question for all retailers this holiday season: would they make any money?

In other words, it was Amazon.com's best holiday season ever, but was that in terms of items sold, revenue, or profit, or what? At any rate, Amazon.com said its peak day was Dec. 15th, with 6.3 million items ordered worldwide, a record-breaking 72.9 items per second.

Once again, no deals in terms of money. And in the rest of the press release, Amazon.com emphasized a set of factoids:
  • Top sellers in consumer electronics included Samsung's 52-inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV with RED Touch of Color, the Apple iPod touch 8 GB (2nd Generation) and the Acer Aspire One 8.9-inch netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive, XP Home, 6 cell battery), sapphire blue.
  • During the period from Nov. 15 - Dec. 10, Amazon sold one copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 every 2.5 minutes.
  • The weight of all GPS devices sold from Black Friday through December equals the combined weight of 151 Mini Coopers.
  • Amazon sold enough high-performance headphones that everyone attending the last three Super Bowls could grab a set and rock out.
  • Amazon Grocery sold enough coffee to give each resident of the highly caffeinated city of Seattle a cup per day for two months.
  • Amazon sold enough Casio G-Shock watches to outfit every Kanye West fan attending the 2008 Glow in the Dark Tour concert at Madison Square Garden, N.Y.
  • Amazon sold enough Coldplay CDs that laid side by side they'd stretch from Seattle to Violet Hill (a street in London and the album's first single) and more than halfway back.
  • In DVDs, top sellers included "Wall-E," "The Dark Knight" for Blu-ray and "The Dark Knight."
Unsurprisingly, the Nintendo Wii dominated the top sellers in video games and hardware including the Wii console, the Wii remote controller and the Wii nunchuk controller.

Interestingly, buyers who used Amazon's new TextBuyIt and Mobile Web services were fans of Monopoly Here and Now World, the Nintendo Wii and "Wall-E" (three-disc special edition + digital copy and BD Live) for Blu-ray.



Get Your $99 iPhones (Not at Wal-Mart, and Refurbished, Though)

Well, there are no $99 iPhone 3Gs at Wal-Mart --- yet --- but if you want a $99 iPhone, and you don't mind a refurbished one, you can get them straight from AT&T, but only until 12/31.

I noticed the refurbished iPhone 3Gs at AT&T earlier, but they were priced at $149 for the 8GB model and $249 for the 16GB model. Now, as the site says, they're marked down another $50, to $99 / $199, until 12/31 (while supplies last).

Details on refurbished iPhones (emphasis mine):
Refurbished phones are previously owned devices that have been unused or lightly used and returned during the 30-day trial period. Each refurbished phone is independently quality tested and loaded with the latest software to meet current factory standards. Some refurbished iPhone 3G devices will have minor scratches.

Refurbished iPhone 3G devices carry a warranty of 90 days or more. For details about the warranty on your refurbished iPhone 3G go to www.apple.com/support/oss/.
They also say you'll get free two-day shipping.

Whenever AT&T has refurbished iPhones, they usually go quickly, so if you want one, you'd better head over to the site fast.



Friday, December 26, 2008

Yes, Virginia, Wal-Mart to Start Selling iPhones on Sunday

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, although he's coming to Wal-Mart a bit late. Confirming what I and many other sites have been saying for quite some time, Wal-Mart has finally announced that sales of the iPhone 3G will begin on Dec. 28th, Sunday.

Of course, since some stores had been putting out in-store displays, it wasn't really all that much of a secret.

As expected, there's only going to be a slight $2 discount, with 8GB models selling for $197 and 16GB models for $297 (new customer or qualified for an upgrade, and a two-year contract). Wal-Mart does have a price match policy, and Best Buy is currently selling iPhones at a $10 discount, until Dec. 31st, so don't forget that.

And no, no $99 iPhone anywhere in sight.

Gary Severson, senior vice president, Entertainment, Walmart said:
"We are delighted to bring customers this ground-breaking mobile technology. Our electronics associates have been preparing for many weeks for the arrival of iPhone 3G. We are excited to now help new customers learn more about the features and services that make the iPhone unique."
The press release also noted that the iPhone has "3G networking that is twice as fast" but added the caveat "*Based on 3G and EDGE testing. Actual speeds vary by site conditions." Nice CYA.



The Vatican Approves an iPhone App

Don't get worried; it's not necessary for the Vatican to approve iPhone apps nowadays (it's tough enough to get through the App Store process without that added hurdle). But on Monday the Vatican approved this app, an electronic version of the Breviary, designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

iBreviary was created by Rev. Paolo Padrini and Italian Web designer Dimitri Giani. The app is available in the App Store for $0.99. With the latest version of the app, users can view not just the Breviary, but the Mass and other prayers.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told the AP that the Church is:
"learning to use the new technologies primarily as a tool or as a mean of evangelizing, as a way of being able to share its own message with the world."
You can switch between English, Italian, French, Spanish, Latin and the Rite Ambrosiano in the App. You can check out the developers website (Italian) for more details on the app.



The Internet Overtakes Newspapers as a News Source

As newspapers struggle to stay in business while revenue declines, a Pew Research Center study released on Tuesday confirms what most of us already figured: those eyeballs are now viewing the Internet, rather than newspaper print.

These findings are based on a recent installment of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' weekly News Interest Index. This survey was conducted Dec. 3 - 7
among 1,489 adults.

The survey (.PDF) notes that 40% pf those surveyed say they get most of their news about national and international news from the Internet, up from 24% in September 2007. Meanwhile only 35% cite newspapers, while television, at 70% continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for news.

Totals can exceed 100% as those surveyed could cite more than one source.

For those between 18 and 29, 59%, equal to the number who cite television as a major source, use the Internet for news. In September 2007, things were quite different, with 68% saying the relied mostly on TV, vs. 34% using the Internet.

The trend among the younger respondents has to worry the newspaper industry; that's the future, of course. So the future is, as is obvious to most, a dire one for newspapers.

At the same time, however, where do people get their news online? That's not made clear by the survey. But as News.com notes, much of the content that Internet "viewers" read are from sites such as the New York Times or MSNBC. The problem, as with much of the Web, is monetization, not something easily solved.

Other interesting conclusions from the survey were the the top stories of 2008:
  1. Conditions of U.S. economy (Sept 22-28) 70%
  2. Rising price of gasoline (June 2-8) 66%
  3. Debate over Wall St. bailout (Sept 29-Oct 5) 62%
The presidential election fell in at #4, with 61% of respondents mentioning it.

And despite what Fox News would like you to believe, the survey showed that CNN is still the most widely watched TV news source, 23% to 17% (Fox News is #2).



USA Today Joins List of Amazon Kindle Newspapers

The USA Today is joining the list of other newspapers Kindle owners can subscribe to. The USA Today is the nation's top-selling newspaper, and joins other such newspapers as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

An email to Kindle owners tells it all:
Dear Amazon.com Customer,

USA TODAY, the nation’s top selling newspaper, will be available on Kindle starting December 26, 2008. From world news to the daily Sports report, USA TODAY provides 3.6 million readers with the information they need to manage and enjoy their busy lives.

As a gift to you, December 26th only, get the Kindle edition of USA Today wirelessly delivered to your device for free.

It's interesting that they say "December 26th only" as all the other subscriptions available on their newspaper page have a two-week free trial anyway.

There's no info on pricing yet, but the highest priced papers go for $14.99 a month, and the NY Times goes for $13.99. I'd expect pricing to be in the above $10 range.

Don't expect to see a huge uptick in Kindle sales because of this; for one, the darned thing is backordered again, with an 8 -10 week wait for the device. It's somewhat hard to understand, as in March, when founder and CEO Jeff Bezos apologized for the shortage, he said their goal to was to get Kindle inventory to the point where it was order one day, shipped that day.

Obviously that's still not the case.



Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sony's P-Series Notebook Leaked --- by Sony

Sony on Christmas Day appears to have given us a Christmas present, although probably temporarily, with an accidental entry at their online store for a P-series notebook. It looks like this might be the designation for the "revolutionary new VAIO" that has been teased, intentionally or not, at the Sony Japan and Sony New Zealand sites.

The Sony site doesn't have all the details. For example, the notebook weighs x.xx lbs., up to an x-hour battery, and costs $NaN.00. But some things are filled in (though not the photo; it looks to be a TT filler). Such as:
  • 1.33GHz Intel CPU
  • 32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium or Home Basic
  • Up to 60GB hard drive, available 128GB SSD
  • 8" LED backlit 1600 x 768 display
  • Colors: Crimson Red, Champagne Gold, Black Silk
Not sure how many people would use an 8" screen with that resolution without a magnifying glass.

No launch date is given, but all signs point to a Jan. 9th announcement, based on the earlier teasers. Oh, and if you're curious, clicking on Shop Now doesn't work, so don't even bother.



Wii Video Service Coming in 2009: Report

According to a report in Japan's Nikkei business daily newspaper (subscription required), the Nintendo Wii will get its own video distribution service in 2009.

Unlike the services offered on the PS3 or Xbox 360, which offer existing movies or TV programming, Nintendo is going to create original programming, cartoons and family-oriented programming, for its video service.

Nintendo will team with Dentsu Inc, Japan's largest ad agency, with some of the programming free and some of it ad-supported.

According to the Nikkei, the service will launch in Japan in the spring. It will expand worldwide "later." I wonder how much anime we'll see on that service? Hey, how about some new Inuyasha episodes, Nintendo?



iPhone nano Concept Photos, Case Photos Emerge

On Monday, continuing the stream of iPhone nano rumors of late, a concept photo of the iPhone nano showed up (above) at MacRumors. I didn't even bother covering it, because it was, well, a concept photo. But remember XSKN, the case manufacturer who listed the iPhone nano on their site, sans details? Well now they have pictures of their cases, not just a blank listing.

The cases run from $24.95 to $26.95, and are similar to many other iPhone cases, not just by XSKN, though naturally smaller. One example is shown below.

Naturally it would be wonderful if they added dimensions, but that would make our lives way too easy, wouldn't it?

It should be noted that XSKN leaked accurate designs for the iPhone 3G and iPod nano 4G before their release; despite that, these designs have been met with doubt.



Microsoft Launches "Vista Answers" Site

Microsoft, possibly expecting some computers with Windows Vista to be delivered by Santa, has unveiled Microsoft Answers (beta). Don't worry Yahoo! Answers or Mahalo Answers, this is not a general answers site. It's strictly for questions about Windows Vista, at least for now.

Some might wonder (I do) why Microsoft took so long to roll this out, particularly since they launched the Windows Vista Compatibility Center in July. Why not add this functionality to that site then, or launch them together?

Time's apparently rapidly running out on Windows Vista, with Windows 7 heading for launch in late 2009 or early 2010, and with Windows XP still highly desired by many OEMs, system builders, and consumers.

At the site, you can Search for answers, Browse for answers, or Ask the Community, meaning other users as well as "Microsoft Answers Team," for help.

Now, while there are many who complain about Windows Vista, sometimes I wonder if that's just people seeing someone down and trying to pile on. If you have a state-of-the-art or at least decent PC, it runs just fine. I hate UAC, but that's just one part of it. Other than that, while I constantly say it's evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, when compared to XP, it works just fine for me.

So my question to Microsoft is, what are you going to do with this site when Windows 7 releases? Move to Windows 7 only questions (there is no XP coverage on the site)? Or split the site? Or what?