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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006

At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple® announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh® computers using Intel® microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a version of its critically acclaimed operating system, Mac OS® X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac® to the over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address. Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple’s software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”

“We are thrilled to have the world’s most innovative personal computer company as a customer,” said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. “Apple helped found the PC industry and throughout the years has been known for fresh ideas and new approaches. We look forward to providing advanced chip technologies, and to collaborating on new initiatives, to help Apple continue to deliver innovative products for years to come.”

“We plan to create future versions of Microsoft Office for the Mac that support both PowerPC and Intel processors,” said Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit. “We have a strong relationship with Apple and will work closely with them to continue our long tradition of making great applications for a great platform.”

“We think this is a really smart move on Apple’s part and plan to create future versions of our Creative Suite for Macintosh that support both PowerPC and Intel processors,” said Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe.

The Developer Transition Kit is available starting today for $999 to all Apple Developer Connection Select and Premier members. Further information for Apple Developer Connection members is available at Intel plans to provide industry leading development tools support for Apple later this year, including the Intel C/C++ Compiler for Apple, Intel Fortran Compiler for Apple, Intel Math Kernel Libraries for Apple and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives for Apple.

Intel (, the world’s largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

Crisis Communications Network Criticized

With Hurricane Rita bearing down on the Texas coast, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin said yesterday that the nation's emergency first responders need a mobile, wireless system that allows them to talk to one another in times of crisis anywhere in the country.

The lack of such a system slowed recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Police, fire and rescue personnel struggled to work together after electric power failed and the telecommunications network in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama was extensively damaged.

Yesterday Martin called for developing more rugged first responder networks and making greater use of satellite technology that does not depend on vulnerable ground infrastructure. "When radio towers are knocked down, satellite communications may be the most effective means of communicating," Martin said at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee. "If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, it is that we cannot rely solely on terrestrial communications.",

Telecommunications companies yesterday positioned mobile equipment to be ready for the new storm.

Bethesda-based satellite company Iridium Satellite LLC worked to get 8,000 to 10,000 of its phones delivered after Katrina hit, but this time, the company called FedEx Corp. in advance to distribute phones to areas near Rita's projected path, said Greg Ewert, an executive vice president.

Ewert said that it was difficult to get as many phones to Texas because some are still being used in the New Orleans area and that he hopes many will travel with the emergency workforce into Texas. "It's definitely putting pressure on us," he said. "If it's just as bad as Katrina and it hits Houston, then we'll be strained to get the same amount of phones out there."

Calls by military and emergency workers caused satellite phone traffic to spike to 3,000 percent of usual levels after Katrina, Ewert said. To get more airwave frequency to accommodate that volume, Iridium had to get approval from the FCC and other similar agencies around the world.

Friday, September 23, 2005

More Colleges Offering Video Game Courses

More and more, video game-related courses are being offered in colleges around the country in response to the digital media industry's appetite for skilled workers and the tastes of a new generation of students raised on Game Boy and Xbox.

Animation I, Cognition & Gaming and Computer Music are being offered as part of the year-old minor in game studies at RPI, one of dozens of schools that have added courses or degree programs related to video gaming in recent years.

RPI, which plans to offer a major in the field next year, graduated 27 gaming minors in its first year and expects a jump this year.

From Brooklyn's Pratt Institute to the University of Colorado, at least 50 schools around the country now offer courses in video game study, development or design, according to industry groups.

Some of the schools offer full-blown academic programs. The University of Washington offers a certificate in game design; the Art Institute of Phoenix gives a bachelor of arts in game art and design; and the University of Pennsylvania has a master's in computer graphics and game technology.

Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said the high number of schools adding programs in the past few years shows how the game industry is maturing.

Della Rocca said that in the early "Space Invader" days of game development, one developer could mentor a handful of workers. Now, games can cost $10 million to develop and require 200 workers, making the industry hungrier for specialized skills.

RPI humanities dean John Harrington said the idea of teaching about video games in college "brings out the Puritan in some people," but he said the technology-oriented school can't afford to ignore the booming field of digital media.

Administrators at RPI say they developed a serious academic program that marries technology and creativity.

Marc Destefano, who teaches the psychology of play, system dynamics and game theory in his introductory course, wants students to appreciate the interplay of mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics that he says makes a video game work — be it Pac-Man or Resident Evil.

Microsoft seeks global domination with Xbox 360

The first time around, Microsoft Corp. wanted to establish a beachhead in the video game business. Now, with its much anticipated Xbox 360 console, it wants to rule that $25 billion global market.

The world's largest software company aims to break even in the first year or two after it starts selling the Xbox 360, the successor to the first-generation Xbox, as it tries to knock rival Sony Corp. from its position of market leadership.

Analysts have estimated that Microsoft had operating losses of more than $4 billion from the first Xbox, which it introduced nearly four years ago.

In an interview with Reuters in Tokyo on the eve of one of the industry's biggest trade shows, Microsoft Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach said the advanced console and the lineup of games for it would give the company an edge over Sony.

As of June, Microsoft had sold nearly 22 million of its original Xbox consoles -- fewer than one-fourth the number of PlayStation 2 units sold by Sony. Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s GameCube is the third biggest seller in the console market.

Now Microsoft wants to get many more of its next-generation consoles to market faster, buoyed by a wider selection of titles and an improved ability to keep costs in check.

"We will wind up cost-reducing the product every year," Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president of the Xbox product group, said in a recent interview.

Microsoft is working to break-even on the Xbox 360 hardware in the the first year or two -- roughly the first third in its expected six to seven-year console cycle.

Lifting a page from Sony's PS2 launch, Microsoft plans to have the Xbox 360 on U.S. store shelves November 22 -- months before the upcoming PS3 -- giving it a leg-up in market share and an edge with hard-core gamers willing to pay top dollar for the latest technology. Last time around, Sony beat Microsoft to market by slightly more than a year.

Like Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft will own the intellectual property inside the console -- buying performance and pricing flexibility because it can shop around for chip manufacturers and reduce costs as technology advances.(via by reuters)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Voice Over Internet Both Simple, Complex

We have more ways than ever of communicating, but trying to keep up with family and friends can be exasperating. Our overlapping free time seems to shrink. We constantly play phone and voice mail tag. And e-mail, in its tone-deaf impersonality, barely helps.

One of the most unorthodox and intriguing among 32 new products launched onstage at this week's DEMOfall conference, a showcase of tech innovation, was a Web-based tool with a mission: to encourage emotional connection via audio messages.

Not two-way conversations, mind you. Just me telling you my news. Click, talk and send.

The product is called YackPack because the user creates groups, or packs, of people who can be audio-messaged individually or collectively. Each member of your pack gets an icon with his or her picture on it. An e-mail notification tells you when a Yack has arrived.

"It turns out that asynchronous audio is the secret sauce for what keeps relationships alive and fresh," said B.J. Fogg, the company founder and chief executive. Much of YackPack's recipe came from the year Fogg spent with a focus group of women over age 50.

Unlike Fogg, the typical tech startup CEO will bend your ear with metrics on market potential while spouting technobabble that would befuddle all but us geeks.

Such people abounded at DEMOfall, where other promising products pitched to an elite crowd of investors and press also sought to better manage relationships: by turning a cell phone into a conference-call manager, helping eBay users place bids wirelessly, protecting the privacy of online consumers.

Fogg, on the other hand, was more apt to be accused of psycho-babble. He is, after all, a Stanford psychologist in addition to being a computer scientist.

The company's newly launched DeleteNow product will, for $2.99 per month, remove information about you from more than 100 online sources — search engines and databases including Google Inc. — and check those sites daily to make sure the information stays off.

However, plenty of sites that might contain personal information about you, such as Claria Corp., aren't cooperating, says chief executive Chaz Berman. The more customers UniPrivacy acquires, the more clout it will have, and Berman says it plans to eventually "out" those sites that refuse to cooperate.

After all, "When you join we become your legal agent."

Touche! (via by FRANK BAJAK)

Publishers may throw book at Google

BRITISH book publishers are considering legal action against Google over the search engine company’s plans to create a virtual library by digitising millions of books held in public libraries and universities.

The Publishers Association yesterday refused to rule out taking legal action over Google’s Print Project, saying that it was holding a “full and frank debate” with the company and other parties.

The comments came after it emerged that the Authors Guild, which represents 8,000 authors, has filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the internet company of “massive copyright infringements” at the expense of the rights of individual writers. The suit, filed in a district court in New York, demands damages and an injunction against further alleged infringements.

Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild, said that Google’s library scheme represented a “plain and brazen violation of copyright law . . . It is not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”

Five of the world’s most famous libraries, including the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, have agreed to have books scanned by Google and posted online. However, after complaints from several groups about potential copyright infringement, Google has agreed to stop scanning copyright protected books until November.

Although the Bodleian says that it has chosen 19th-century books to avoid issues over copyright, other participants, including Harvard, plan to provide randomly selected shelves of books for scanning. Some groups fear that Google will be unable to ascertain which books are still copyrighted.

Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, but in Britain new editions of otherwise out-of-copyright works enjoy a further 25-year protection period.

Google said that the scanning break would give publishers time to alert it to books they “prefer we would not scan”. It emphasised that it was respecting copyright.(via by )

Apple, record labels to face off over pricing

The love affair between record labels and Apple Computer Inc. could be headed for the rocks as they bicker over prices ahead of licensing renegotiations set for early next year.

The licensing agreements between Apple, maker of the wildly popular iPod digital music player and operator of the most widely used music download service, and the record labels are set to expire next spring.

Both sides, which have benefited enormously from music sales created by the iPod phenomenon, are jockeying for position.

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs, believed by some to be the savior of the music industry, insists that prices should be uniform at 99 cents a song and $9.99 an album, saying that the buying experience for consumers should be simple.

Record executives, however, are seeking some flexibility in prices, including the ability to charge more for some songs and less for others, the way they do in the traditional retail world.

Hit hard over the past five years by the rapid spread of illegal song copying over the Internet, record companies -- Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Group Plc and Warner Music -- have struggled to revamp their business as sales shift to more legal digital downloads from physical CDs.

The music industry was also aided by key legal victories against so-called peer-to-peer services, which allowed users to use the Internet to download music from one another's computers without permission from artists and labels.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

NASA goes back to the future

NASA has finally unveiled its plans for carrying out the ambitious space exploration program that was announced by President George W. Bush in January 2004 but left vague and undefined ever since. The proposed new space vehicles look like a sensible way to put astronauts and cargo into space after the shuttle fleet is retired and will be built to facilitate landings on both the Moon and Mars. Michael Griffin, the new administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, deserves credit for putting real flesh on what had been little more than an aspiration. Unfortunately, the new plan lacks the pizzazz to inspire public support and will be operating under budget constraints that make delays or overruns likely.

The new crew exploration vehicle will be built around well-known space technologies, with booster rockets and engines derived from the shuttle program and a crew capsule like the one used in the lunar program, only bigger. That has the advantage of letting NASA use much of its current shuttle work force on the new program and the disadvantage of making the technology look retrograde. This approach will not excite those looking for cutting-edge hardware, but it seems reasonable at a time when reliability is the main goal.
The configuration largely eliminates the two hazards that destroyed the Columbia and the Challenger. NASA calculates that the new vehicle should be 10 times safer than the shuttle, with perhaps a 1 in 2,000 chance of a catastrophe.
The plan pays only the barest lip service to international cooperation; Europe, Japan, China and India all have lunar programs of one kind or another under way. Griffin said NASA hoped to send Americans back to the Moon by 2018 under its own program but was open to partnerships on what to do or build on the lunar surface. Given that most experts say international collaboration will be imperative on a high-cost mission to Mars, it would seem desirable to enlist international partners very early.
It is hard to see how NASA can complete all the tasks on its agenda while operating on a constrained budget, which is scheduled to grow only at the rate of inflation. The safety valve is that NASA will carry out the exploration program on a "go as you can afford to pay" basis, without raiding money from other space programs. That means that cost overruns may stretch out the completion dates, and leave the exploration vision a more distant prospect.
(via nyt)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Opera nixes banner ads in free version

The latest free version of Opera Software's namesake browser will be available without an advertising banner.

With version 8.5 of the Opera browser, which was released Tuesday, the company said that it has removed banner ads from its free edition. Until now, Opera customers had the option of paying to eliminate the ads and receive premium support.

With the licensing change, Opera hopes to accelerate uptake of its browser, the company said.

"Removing the ad banner and licensing fee will encourage many new users to discover the speed, security and unmatched usability of the Opera browser," Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software, said in a statement.

Premium support via e-mail is still available from the company for $29 per year.

Version 8.5 also addresses some security vulnerabilities and includes a feature called Browser JavaScript, which automatically fixes out-of-date browser scripts.
(via cnet)

Microsoft to reorg; Allchin to retire

The plan calls for a reorganization of Microsoft into three large divisions led by individual presidents, each reporting to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive.

• Jeff Raikes will head up the company's Business division, which will house Microsoft's Information Worker group (which includes its Office product line), and its Business Solutions packaged applications group.

• Kevin Johnson and Jim Allchin will be co-presidents of the Platform Products and Services division, which will comprise Windows Client, Server and Tools and the MSN division. Microsoft said Allchin will hold that new position until he retires, once the company ships Windows Vista at the end of next year.

• Robbie Bach will be president of the Entertainment and Devices division, which will oversee games and mobile device development.

The huge reorganization is designed to streamline the company's decision-making process and improve product development, Ballmer said in a statement.

"Our goal in making these changes is to enable Microsoft to achieve greater agility in managing the incredible growth ahead and executing our software-based services strategy," Ballmer.

Game Review: '187 Ride or Die' full of stereotypes

You'll find plenty of both in Ubisoft's "187 Ride or Die," a Mature-rated game that fuses urban racing a la Need for Speed with plenty of gang warfare and gunplay found in titles such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

The 187 in the title, by the way, refers to the section of the California penal code relating to homicide.

The paper-thin story surrounds Buck, a youthful black tough guy who is commissioned by Dupree, a portly godfather of sorts, to go after his Mexican mafia nemesis, Cortez.

Buck is given the task to defend Dupree's 'hood against Cortez and his gang by racing and shooting through Los Angeles' busy streets.

As if the premise of this combat racing game isn't lame enough, the dialogue will turn you off before the rubber hits the road.

As Buck, you ride shotgun in a number of vehicles, including muscle cars, vintage roadsters, SUVs and pickup trucks and must blow away the competition. The X button is reserved for shooting weapons forward and B is for aiming behind you (for Xbox version).

Players may also use the right analog stick for a 360-degree range of motion. Weapons, ammo and other power-ups, such as health packs, appear as floating icons on the roads, which must be driven over to access.

The maps twist and turn through urban neighborhoods, each one littered with obstacles including exploding fuel tankers, street signs and strewn boxes.

For better traction, drivers are urged to "skid" with each sharp turn by hitting the brakes while steering. Skidding also adds juice to your boost gauge (the A button) to use when faster speeds are needed to edge closer to the finish line.

Winning races will unlock new locales, cars and story-based missions, such as protecting another car by escorting it and, likely inspired by the action flick "Speed," maintaining a specific speed to avoid a car bomb from going off.

In the game's defense, "187 Ride or Die" does offer a number of game modes.

Along with the single-player story campaign, players can play against one another on the same TV (via horizontal split screen) or online over the Xbox Live service.

Other modes include Death Race (the slowest driver per lap is blown up), The Hit (a target car with an escort of three cars must be destroyed), Po-Po Chase (with indestructible police cars that try to ram you off the road) and a challenging game type that puts minefields on the streets.

The hip-hop soundtrack is quite good as well. But it's not enough to save this offensive racer.

It is as embarrassing in its concept as it is uninspiring in its delivery.
(via cnn)

Google plans WiFi service

Internet search leader Google is preparing to launch its own wireless Internet service, Google WiFi, according to several pages found on the company's Web site on Tuesday.

The launch of a WiFi service would move Google away from its core Internet search service and into the competitive world of Internet service providers and telecommunications giants.

Speculation about a forthcoming Google WiFi service has been rife since August, following an article in Business 2.0 magazine, but the company has refused to discussed its plans.

WiFi is an increasingly popular technology that is used to provide high-speed wireless Internet access in homes, business and public spaces like airports and coffee shops. Google launched a sponsored WiFi "hotspot" in San Francisco's Union Square district in April with a start-up called Feeva.

The FAQ says that the Google Secure Access service is in "beta," meaning that the company does not consider it a fully finished product -- similar to the company's Gmail e-mail service.

Google, which is rapidly expanding beyond its core Internet search service, introduced an instant messaging and telephony service called Google Talk in August.
(via cnn)

Monday, September 19, 2005

U3 Flash Drives Debut, Run Apps As Lilliputian PCs

Startup U3 LLC on Monday launched its smart drive U3 technology that lets USB-based flash drives not only store files, but also run applications.

A pair of U3 partners, Verbatim and Memorex, rolled out Store 'n' Go- and TravelDrive-branded drives, respectively, at the Demo conference, which opened Monday in Huntington Beach, Calif.

The U3 platform is aimed at mobile users or those who frequently share PCs with others, since the resulting drives are touted as complete workspaces on a key fob-sized device.

"This marks the first available plug-and-play way for consumers to carry and access their personal workspace without having to lug a laptop around," said U3 chief executive Kate Purmal in a statement. "Whether on the home or office PC, computer at a family member or a friend's house, hotel business center, print shop or Internet café, consumers will enjoy the ability to check e-mail, edit a document, view photos, play a game, listen to music from their playlist or surf the Web, all in a safe and trusted environment that's completely mobile and all stored in just one place."

Off-the-shelf applications must be modified to run from the USB drives, but on Monday Purmal demonstrated anti-virus, music playing, IM, and VoIP software running from U3-compliant flash drives.

Several USB drive makers, including Memorex, Verbatim, Kingston, and SanDisk, will begin shipping U3 devices Oct. 15, added Purmal. Memorex's drive, for example, will ship in sizes ranging from 256MB ($30) and 1GB ($90) to 2GB ($180).

The U3 platform currently works only on Windows 2000 and Windows XP PCs.
(via TechWeb)

Google Won't Remove "Failure" Link To Bush

Google says it won't manually manipulate its search results, even when pranksters push unwarranted links to the top of the results list with so-called "googlebombing" tactics.

The most recent embarrassment for Google? Type "failure" into the Google search field. The number one result: President George W. Bush's official bio hosted by the White House Web site. "We've received some complaints recently from users who assume that this reflects a political bias on our part," wrote Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer products on the company's blog. "In this case, a number of webmasters use the phrases [failure] and [miserable failure] to describe and link to President Bush's website, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases. We don't condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we're also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up."

Actually, googlebombing Bush is nothing new. In late 2003, for instance, 30 or so sites with the phrase "miserable failure" linked to the same bio page; earlier that year, another googlebomb led searches for the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" to a joke page that read "The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspector mandate."

"Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don't affect the overall quality of our search service," said Google's Mayer.

Google's not the only search service to be hit. Searches on Yahoo and Ask Jeeves using the words "miserable failure" return the same Bush bio in the first spot, while "failure" typed into MSN's search puts the bio as the number two result.(via techWeb)

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