Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Even a pirate has his price (and apparently it’s not much); Pirate Bay sold

First, the short version: The Pirate Bay has been acquired by Global Gaming Factory X AB for $7.7 million. Now the even shorter version: WTF?! We don’t know where to start with this one. The ridiculously low acquisition price? The fact that this politically active, anti-establishment, controversial, torrent-loving site was acquired at all? A blog post on the site this morning states:

The profits from the sale will go into a foundation that is going to help with projects about freedom of speech, freedom of information and the openess [SIC] of the nets.

Fair enough. The deal is expected to be completed in August and whatever the case, expect The Pirate Bay to undergo some pretty big changes moving forward. If you’re a pirate, expect The Pirate Bay also to become infinitely less useful moving forward. Apparently those legal fees add up pretty fast.

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Mobinnova élan revisited, UI examined, lust factor increased exponentially

For those wondering why Windows CE is the OS of choice for the upcoming Mobinnova élan, observe. We got our first dose of élan love sans-trade show floor chaos yesterday from the team at netbooknews.com and as promised, today we get a look at the software side of things. One word: Sick. Mobinnova’s Henry Lin drops by this time to help show off the ridiculously sexy 3D UI the company slapped together for this little guy and we have to say, we’re impressed. NVIDIA’s Tegra processor facilitates very smooth transitions for a graphics-heavy UI — and all this on software that isn’t yet in its release state. We said it about ASUS’ Eee Keyboard and we’ll say it about the élan; we want 10 of them and we want them now. As a side note, a quick tip for the camera operator on this vid: Next time try to hit an angle from the get go so your reflection doesn’t bounce back every time the screen goes dark. It’s ok though, we still love you for bringing us some solid élan goodness… And for sticking out your tongue. Hit the jump for the vid and get ready to want this bad boy even more than you did yesterday.

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MyDeskFriend Little Robotic Penguin Adds Fun To Facebook

To make your social networking site, Facebook, more interactive and to add a personal touch, Arimaz has brought to Facebook enthusiasts a tiny adorable robot penguin, MyDeskFriend. Complimented as a “social-media companion”, the Arimaz’s MyDeskFriend little robot penguin can be integrated into users’ Facebook profile and communicate with users on Facebook. For instance, this adorable penguin will alert users when there are friends logged in, to read messages and emails, poke friends, alerts users for notification, etc.

The cutie MyDeskFriend penguin has five different moods and the mood is indicated by the color of the penguin’s eye. If the eyes turn red, it means the little one is getting pissed off because you do not treat it properly. You can play with the little penguin to keep it in a happy mood. To add fun to it, users’ other Facebook friends also can take part and play with the little penguin via a Facebook gameplay interface. This little penguin can roll around on users’ desk. Users do not need to worry the little gadget will fall off from the desk as it comes with infrared sensors to prevent it from falling.

Generally MyDeskFriend penguin provides more fun to Facebook users when they are accessing their account. Apart from that, it doesn’t really have any other practical functions. Facebook enthusiasts can look forward to this tiny device which will be launched in September at the price of $99.

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How to Display and List All Network Interfaces and Devices in Linux

In Linux, network interfaces are software-based configuration which can be activated or deactivated, while network devices are physical networking card or adapter connected to the system. All network communications occur between configured network interfaces and physical network devices before the data packets are sent or transmitted.

System administrators may occasionally want to display or get a list of all network interfaces and/or network devices in Linux operating system. There are plenty of ways to retrieve network interfaces and network devices information in Linux or Unix system, the most common of it is “ifconfig”.

ifconfig command is useful for administrator who only want to know which network interfaces, e.g. eth0, eth1, lo, wlan0, venet0, venet1 or rausb0, that are currently configured. To use ifconfig command to display network interfaces, just type ifconfig into the console or command-line shell.

An output that similar to format below with configuration details, IP address, MAC address and other information, including ip-aliasing.
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:1E:FF:FF:FF:FF
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::21e:2aff:8888:8888/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:105 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:3817 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:6318 (6.1 KiB) TX bytes:234216 (228.7 KiB)
Interrupt:177 Base address:0xe000

eth1 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:1C:FF:FF:FF:FF
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::21c:c0ff:8888:8888/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:747061040 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:947783149 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
RX bytes:3475826459 (3.2 GiB) TX bytes:2684871507 (2.5 GiB)

Linux can support multiple physical network devices, compounding multiple network interfaces that can be configured for each network cards. For user who wants to view information about physical network devices, a tool named “lshw” can be used. lshw (Hardware Lister) is a small tool to provide detailed information on the hardware configuration of the machine. On some flavors or distributions of Linux, lshw is installed by default, or can be downloaded or installed easily with command such as “yum install lshw”.

Once lshw is enabled on the system, just enter the following command into the console to get a list of all attached physical network devices on the system.

lshw -class network

Example of output are:

description: Ethernet interface
product: VT6105 [Rhine-III]
vendor: VIA Technologies, Inc.
physical id: 7
bus info: pci@03:07.0
logical name: eth0
version: 9a
serial: 00:88:88
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: bus_master cap_list ethernet physical
configuration: broadcast=yes driver=via-rhine driverversion=2.6.22-14-generic latency=32 maxlatency=8 mingnt=3 multicast=yes
resources: ioport=d300-d3ff iomemory:d8883888-d88838ff

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Donate to Feeding America for Free By Downloading IE8 Browser for the Better

Want to do some monetary donation charity, but feel that there you’re strapped of cash and not deep pocket enough? Why not let Microsoft does the donation for you? If you’re intending to download Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), why not do the charity at the same time, where Microsoft will donate $1.15 per download to Feeding America, provided you’re download IE8 through “Browser for the Better” website before August 8, 2009.

From June 8, 2008 through August 8, 2009, Microsoft will donate $1.15 Feeding America for every completed download of Windows Internet Explorer 8 through browserforthebetter.com. $1.15 is financial equivalent of eight meals to Feeding America’s network of 206 local food banks, according to Microsoft’s press release. Up to a maximum of $1,000,000 can be donated, with mean conversion effective until June 30th, 2010.

Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity in the United States, providing free or reduced-price food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors. More than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products are secured and distributed by the Feeding America network annually, which works with approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies that distribute food directly to Americans in need.

Important thing to note is that, to qualify for the donation, download of IE8 must be initiated from http://www.browserforthebetter.com/download.html.

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MSN Web Messenger Closure with Windows Live Messenger Unblock Alternative

MSN Web Messenger is the online web-based messenger client for Windows Live Messenger, which previously known as MSN Messenger. MSN Web Messenger is probably the last service by Microsoft that still carry the MSN brand name. However, MSN Web Messenger, which was introduced in August, 2004, will be terminated and became unavailable from June 30, 2009.

MSN Web Messenger has been popular with users who access to Windows Live Messenger service or server been blocked when using Windows Live Messenger desktop client, or been assigned a standard user account that cannot install or restricted from installing Windows Live Messenger client onto the computer. When connection to Windows Live Messenger is blocked, MSN Web Messenger, which solely relies on HTTP protocol, is used as a workaround to unblock messenger blockage, be it firewall rules or policy restrictions.

As an alternative to MSN Web Messenger, user can login to Windows Live Hotmail or Windows Live People (both tightly integrated) instead. A similar Windows Live Messenger (Web) has been integrated as part of Windows Live Hotmail as the replacement IM service.

Windows Live Hotmail and People built-in Messenger (Web) features integration of email and chat interface, and integration of contacts between Messenger contacts and profile contacts in Windows Live People. Once signed in, user can see if the contacts is online or offline, including directly from a status icon on email message to see if sender available for chat. The web messenger service within Windows Live service also supports multiple points of presence (MPOP) feature, which allows user to sign in or out of Windows Live Messenger from multiple places or devices at the same time, without having to sign out on the first computer.

Microsoft recommends users of MSN Web Messenger to switch to Windows Live People to continue using the web version of Messenger, especially for users with Windows Live IDs that do not use a Hotmail account as its email address. However, for most people, sign in through Windows Live Hotmail is the most convenient.

The Windows Live Web Messenger service is available on the top right corner (beside Options) after signing into Windows Live Hotmail or Windows Live People.

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AgfaPhoto DC-600uw Rugged Camera With 6.1-Megapixel CCD

The European photographic company, AgfaPhoto has unveiled its new rugged DC-600uw camera. The DC-600uw camera has been designed for resistant to dust, shock and underwater submersion of up to 30 feet deep. The phone is featured with hot key button for users to toggle between land and underwater mode easily.

Featured with a 2.4-inch LCD display, DC-600uw is also equipped a 6.1-megapixel CCD with 5x digital zoom with face recognition focus function. It also supports YouTube video recoding and has built-in 32MB of internal memory. In addition, it supports up to 8GB SDHC memory card and comes with two AA batteries.

Available in blue, the Agfaphoto DC-600uw is priced at 149 euros in Europe. The camera is also available in US via Plawa for the price of $199.

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Firefox 3.5 Final Free Download

Firefox 3.5, codenamed Shiretoko, is a major development milestone in Mozilla Firefox web browser development, where developers decided to skip Firefox 3.1 Moniker (Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 been changed to Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 directly). After 4 betas and 3 release candidates (RC), Firefox 3.5 has been finalized.

Firefox 3.5 includes the following new features:

* Firefox now available in more than 70 languages.
* Improved tools for controlling your private data, including a Private Browsing Mode.
* Better performance and stability with the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine.
* The ability to provide Location Aware Browsing using web standards for geolocation.
* Support for native JSON, and web worker threads.
* Improvements to the Gecko layout engine, including speculative parsing for faster content rendering.
* Support for new web technologies such as: HTML5

There is also a rather technical features list for Mozilla Firefox 3.5 at Mozilla Wiki, or what’s new in Firefox 3.5.

Firefox 3.5 is scheduled to officially release to the web for general public download on June 30, 2008. The new version is currently distributed to all official mirror websites. Although the official announcement of the Firefox 3.5 release is not now up on the Firefox homepage yet, but that does not mean you can’t download Firefox 3.5 from the official source. Just head to the following URL to access official Firefox 3.5 download page:

Firefox 3.5 (English US) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=en-US
Firefox 3.5 (English US) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=en-US
Firefox 3.5 (English US) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=en-US

Firefox 3.5 (English UK) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=en-GB
Firefox 3.5 (English UK) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=en-GB
Firefox 3.5 (English UK) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=en-US

Firefox 3.5 (German) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=de
Firefox 3.5 (German) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=de
Firefox 3.5 (German) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=de

Firefox 3.5 (French) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=fr
Firefox 3.5 (French) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=fr
Firefox 3.5 (French) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=fr

Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Argentina) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=es-AR
Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Argentina) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=es-AR
Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Argentina) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=es-AR

Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Spain) for Windows: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=win&lang=es-ES
Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Spain) for Mac OS X: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=osx&lang=es-ES
Firefox 3.5 (Spanish Spain) for Linux: http://www.mozilla.com/products/download.html?product=firefox-3.5&os=linux&lang=es-ES

Once Firefox 3.5 is officially announced, the web browser can also be upgraded via the built-in update checked in the web browser. To do so, just go to Help -> Check for updates.

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Make International Calls At Reduce Rates With iPhone Via TEL3Dialer App (Free 60 Minutes Trial)

TEL3 has launched its iPhone App which called as TEL3Dialer. The TEL3Dialer has been designed specifically for those who frequently make international calls. With this application, the users can enjoy lower call rates and with improved call quality.

“TEL3 has been one of the most innovative and technology driven brand name for more than a decade and because of our reach across the prepaid market, we have a unique perspective on the industry that no other company can match. TEL3 continues to offer services that allow customers to easily communicate with anybody in the world from any phone at lower costs. The introduction of TEL3Dialer App is another example of TEL3’s commitment to our customers and we will continue making distance local for them with convenient and affordable services. We are proud to provide connectivity without boundaries,” stated Burak Ozan, VP of Marketing and Business Development at TEL3.

Besides, the company also offers a free trial version for their new customers with up to 60 minutes free international call. The free trial does not require any commitment or credit card. With this application, the users will be able to make International calls that will be debited from their prepaid TEL3 balance while using only regular domestic airtime with their existing wireless provider. However, this prepared service is only available in US and Canada.

The TEL3Dialer is currently downloadable on iPhone through the Apple Store.

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Beta Version Of AdSense For Mobile Applications

Nowadays, the mobile applications have been growing rapidly and widely downloaded and installed on mobile devices. To capture the market of mobile apps, the popular search giant, Google has launched its beta version of AdSense for Mobile applications. According to the company, Adsense for Mobile Applications beta version has been preceded with a successful trial which involved a small number of partners like Backgrounds, Sega, Shazam and Urbanspoon, and is now open to a much broader group of developers.

According to the official Google AdSense blog, “Mobile applications are now widely accepted. They assist users to find music, make restaurant reservations or check bank balances from their phone. Advertisers are always finding out means to reach out to their potential customers; whereas application developers are looking for ways to demonstrate the best ads to the users. AdSense for Mobile Applications facilitates developers to earn revenue by presenting text and image ads into their iPhone and Android applications”.

Along with the beta launched, it also incorporated with a site which provides information about the Adsense for mobile applications at http://www.google.com/ads/mobileapps/. It allows the developers to view the answer to FAQs or sign up to participate in the beta.

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New Cooler Master SNA 95 Notebook Universal Mobile Power Adapter

One of the leading providers of power supplies in desktop computing, Cooler Master has launched its new SNA (Slim Notebook Adapter) 95, which the company claims as the slimmest 95W notebook power adapter on the market. In addition to laptop, the SNA 95 universal mobile power adapter also can provide power solution to most of USB devices, including mobile phones, MP3 and MP4 players, iPod, PDA as well as GPS, ideal for business travelers who carry a notebook and other USB charging devices.

Key Features Of Cooler Master SNA 95:

* Unique removable H-shape reel base for easy cable management and dustproof function
* USB port supports most USB charged electronic devices
* Smart LED identification – white for power-on, while blue for USB charge
* Delicate surface pattern and texture
* 9 different tips for universal application, compatible with most laptops

The new Cooler Master SNA 95 notebook power adapter which measures 75 x 17 x 145 mm is now available for around $70.

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How to Change Default Web Browser with Single Click

There are quite a number of great and free web browsers being offered to the market such as Firefox, Opera and Safari and if you only have one web browser installed, you might encounter some display issues or even not able to access to the webpage. Different browsers perform differently and are very much depending on what you are doing with them, therefore install multiple web browsers has became a norm nowadays. If you would like to change default browser to another from time to time based on the need, instead of looking around to change the default setting manually, now there is a free utility, named as BrowserTraySwitch that is able to help you to perform the switching easily.

BrowserTraySwitcher is a free and tiny utility that allows you to change your default web browser with just a single click. Once you install and run it, it doesn’t launch with any interface but instead will just sit at system tray silently. It will detect and add all web browsers that have been installed in your computer to the system tray context menu list automatically. To change default web browser, just click on the system tray icon and select any web browsers from the context menu list.

You probably wonder what the advantage of changing default browser is. When you make the web browser as default, any links you click will be automatically launched by using the default web browser, that makes it one of the useful utilities in your PC system.

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Motorola Clutch i465 Push-To-Talk Phone To Hit Sprint Stores

The leading provider of wireless and wireline communications services, Sprint has announced that consumers will be able to get Motorola Clutch i465 push-to-talk phone in all Sprint sales channels later this summer. It’s the tough, rugged handset which claims as the first Nextel Direct Connect messaging-centric device that brings the strength of a full QWERTY keyboard to iDEN family.

“Sprint Nextel Direct Connect customers are used to the immediate communications offered by push-to-talk devices, but Motorola Clutch i465 with a QWERTY keyboard gives those customers a better way to instantly communicate with friends, family and colleagues,” said Danny Bowman, president of Sprint’s iDEN Business Unit. “By combining Nextel Direct Connect with text messaging, Sprint customers have two of the most efficient ways to get business done wirelessly.”

The Java-enabled Motorola Clutch i465 meets Military Specification 810F for low pressure, high and low temperatures, dust, shock, vibration and even solar radiation, featuring VGA camera, 1.8-inch screen with 128 x 160 pixels resolution, GPS, Bluetooth, and Group Messaging that allows for instant text communications with a large group of up to 20 people.

“Motorola Clutch was designed to give serious texters and talkers multiple ways to get the word out,” said Rick Gadd, vice president for Motorola Mobile Devices. “With a full QWERTY keyboard featuring shortcut keys, IM-style texting and push-to-talk technology which works like a verbal IM, Sprint customers are able to keep in constant contact, no matter how they prefer to communicate.”

“During these cost-cutting times, Motorola Clutch i465 is a dependable and durable handset perfect for those who require a messaging handset at a good price,” added by Bowman. “Nextel Direct Connect customers recognize the value of instant communications in the form of push-to-talk offers, and mobile messaging extends the ability of our customers to reach the people they need to when time matters most.”

The new Motorola Clutch i465 will hit Sprint stores this summer for $39.99, after $20 instant rebate and $50 mail-in rebate, as well as a new 2-year service contract.

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Apple Earns $400 or More for Each 3G S iPhone Sold in Market

Previously we mentioned about the tear down analysis done by iSuppli that disclosed the iPhone BOM (Bill of Material) and manufacturing cost to be around 178.96, how much do you think Apple Inc is actually making profit for each of the new iPhone 3G S sold in the market? You may be surprised to hear that it could earn more than $400 for each 16GB or 32GB 3G S iPhone that being pushed to the market.

Although the selling price is just $199 for a 16GB 3G S iPhone, but it is common practice for service provider to subsidize some of the mobile devices’ cost upfront and then only earn from subsequent subscription plan. Similar to AT&T, it is expected to have subsidized quite a huge portion especially for this branded device from Apple Inc that makes it so affordable with condition that the end users subscribe to its data plan for 2 years. According to reliable source, Apple is believed to be selling its latest iPhone devices to AT&T at around $600 per unit, which equals to a total profit of around $422 per unit.

However, this doesn’t include some of its cost in R&D, marketing programs, after sales services which could slightly cut down the amount depending on the manufacturing volumes as well as the units sold to market. Best still, a 32GB version model is claimed to have extra $80 margin, with its selling price of $699 while the extra capacity NAND chip only costs $20 more as compared to 16GB model.

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This week in game releases: June 29-July 5, 2009

The year of the 2D fighter continues with the release of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Also coming out this week: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, Street Fighter IV on the PC, and a whole lot of Harry Potter and Ice Age.

Pick of the week: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (360, PS3)
2009 has been a great year for fans of 2D fighting games. Not only have we seen the resurrection of the Street Fighter franchise with Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, but we're also getting games like King of Fighters XII, which embrace a beautiful hand-drawn art style. Joining that list this week is BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, developed by the same team behind the Guilty Gear franchise. Like its predecessor, BlazBlue will feature beautiful 2D sprites and animations, as well as some crazy character designs. The console versions will also include the addition of online multiplayer and a story mode not found in the arcade version.

Also hitting store shelves this week: summer's Hollywood blockbusters are upon us, as both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs are released to pretty much every platform out there; Street Fighter IV makes its much belated PC debut; and the sequel to Western themed FPS Call of Juarez hits the PC, PS3, and 360. Read on for the complete list.


* Street Fighter IV
* Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
* Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs
* Grand Theft Auto PC Trilogy

Nintendo DS

* Mega Man Star Force 3 Red Dragon
* Mega Man Star Force 3 Black Ace
* Treasure World
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
* Ice Age: Dawn of DInosaurs
* Roogoo Attack


* Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
* Roogoo Twisted Towers

PlayStation Portable

* Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

PlayStation 2

* Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

PlayStation 3

* BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
* Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
* Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs

Xbox 360

* BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
* Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
* Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs
* Infernal: Hell's Vengance
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
For Latest game downloads visit Linkengine.

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New details, gameplay elements of StarCraft 2 revealed

A huge rush of news about StarCraft 2 has hit the gaming blogs today. We break down the news reports and bring you the surprises, the oddities, and the pleasant surprises. The takeaway? The game looks great.

Blizzard is on full publicity mode today, with a number of sites posting preview stories and interviews with the people behind the game. StarCraft 2 is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and with Blizzard promising a new version of Battle.net launching alongside the game and three single-player full-game releases instead of one game with three campaigns, there are many questions gamers have about the product. We've scoured everyone's coverage to try to pick out the surprising, the odd, and the downright cool details from each one, bringing you a gaggle of StarCraft news. Let's get started.
There may not be LAN play, and don't expect a console port

Rob Pardo is the VP of Game Design, and he had strong words for LAN play when he spoke with IncGamers. "We don't have any plans to support LAN," he told the site, also saying, "We will not support it."

The issue of a console port also came up. "We have tried in the past, we actually tried the original StarCraft on Nintendo 64. It works, it's playable, it's just such a different playability gameplay experience than on PC and we really don't want to have it be that different," they said. Pardo said the chances of the game coming to a console are "zero percent."

A lack of LAN play would be a serious omission to fans of the series; StarCraft is still a popular choice at LAN parties and gaming cafes around the world. There has to be some way to link up computers and play against each other without being online... right? StarCraft II lead producer Chris Sigaty and lead designer, Dustin Browder said they were still discussing it. That's not the most reassuring answer.
Expect huge, almost cinematic battles in single-player

"We have missions where the lowest level of the terrain gets flooded by lava every five minutes—if you don't get off low ground, you die. We've got missions where hordes of infested Terrans attack, but only at night," Browder told Destructoid. "You have to hold off at night, and then during the day, it's 'EVERYONE GO OUT AND KILL 'EM WHILE THEY SLEEP!' We've got missions where you're trying to defend an infested colony. We've got missions where you control a single Ghost, trying to change the tide of a war."

Even the units are different in the single player. "Like Medics? I've got a couple upgrades to the Medics that would blow them off the charts," Browder explained. "They'd never last in multiplayer—like it's way too powerful, so we could never do it. But in solo play, we can. That's why we don't have Medics in multiplayer, but we do in solo."

The goal is to use each level as a way to explore the game's mechanics, to create something almost like a minigame, and to feature things you won't see in multiplayer or in skirmish mode. It's this sort of dedication and creativity that will make players more forgiving of the three-game strategy when it comes to the single-player, although there are almost no details about the Zerg or Protoss campaigns yet.
The game will be noob-friendly
"We expect a lot of casual WOW players to go, 'Hmm, I want to check out StarCraft 2,' and we want to help those players." Chris Sigaty told 1up. "We want to cut down on the amount of newbies jumping into a match and getting their asses handed to them as their initial online experience." So what steps have they made to make that happen? The tech tree can now be viewed from within the game, and includes information about what units are used to counter each character or vehicle, as well as what units it's strong against.

Replays will include much more information, with players being able to toggle overlays that detail actions per minute, number of units created, number of units killed, and much more information about how each player is performing. Every time you play a game the replay is automatically saved as a tiny file, so you'll be able to save a huge number of matches and take a look at your performance.

There will also be Challenges that explain certain concepts to players through in-game scenarios, such as how to effectively counter certain units, how to efficiently gather resources, that sort of thing. By playing Challenges, gamers will be able to get their heads around higher-level tactics and strategies, making them better equipped to play online. There will also be casual leagues for those who want a friendly game online.
It's most likely going to completely awesome

With this new rush of information available, it seems as if Blizzard has upped the quality and number of features on damn near every aspect of the game. While there are still more questions than answers when it comes to the new Battle.net system, we're getting close to learning more as the beta looks to be getting closer. Blizzard has promised us four beta keys so we can play inter-office Ars Technica 2v2, so you can expect more coverage as soon as the beta hits. Until then, fiendish anticipation.

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BlackBerry Tour officially hitting Verizon on July 12th

We’re not sure how much doubt a person could have had before, but in the interest of being crystal clear, Verizon Wireless will make the BlackBerry Tour available online and in stores on July 12th for $199 with a two year agreement. You can preorder the device starting from this moment on.

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Toyota’s Mind-Controlled Wheelchair

The mind is the most mysterious and powerful part of our body which can inflict awesome power and influences beyond our expectations. That is the reason many scientists, researchers, etc have been constantly striving to develop devices or gadgets controlled by mind power. The Japanese car maker, Toyota, via its Toyota Collaboration Center has collaborated with researchers in Japan to develop a unique wheelchair which can be controlled by the mind.

This innovative wheelchair from Toyota can interact with users’ thoughts via a Brain Machine Interface (BMI). The working concept behind the device is the brain wave-detecting technology or electroencephalography (EEG). EEG is not a brand new technology but it has been developed and applied in various areas by researchers. With this technology, the sensors will detect human’s brain waves and the wave patterns will be analyzed and translated by a computer and converted into instructions/messages for activities to be carried out.

Even though EEG technology has existed for quite some time, scientists still have difficulty controlling it and achieving shorter response time from brain waves for analysis. The new Toyota mind-controlled wheelchair somehow can be claimed to be a breakthrough as the wheelchair is able to respond within 125 milliseconds. In other words, users on the wheelchair can use their mind to control the device’s movement almost instantly. Toyota also claimed the new invention can achieve up to 95% accuracy.

If the mind controlled wheelchair is successfully developed, it will be an amazing device to assist in the rehabilitation of patients who are paralyzed or unable to control muscle movement and stroke sufferers.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Now available: Motorola Karma QA1 from AT&T and HTC Ozone from Verizon Wireless

Two new low cost handsets are now available for your budget-minded buying pleasure. This weekend AT&T debuted its teen and tween texting machine, the Motorola Karma QA1. The quad-band EDGE/dual-band HSDPA handset features a sliding QWERTY keyboard, 2.5-inch QVGA display, 2 megapixel camera, aGPS, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSDHC expansion and, most important for socializing t(w)eens, Facebook, MySpace, IM, MMS and threaded SMS support. The Karma is available now for $79.99 with a $50 mail in rebate and a 2-year contract.

On the CDMA side of things, we find the HTC Ozone. The Ozone is a Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard handset with dual-band 1xRTT/EV-DO Rev. A, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE for international roaming, 2.4-inch QVGA display, QWERTY keyboard with 5-way navigation key, 2 megapixel camera w/ auto-focus and video capture, 256MB ROM/128MB RAM, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and microSD expansion (up to 16GB). The Ozone is available now for $49.99 after $70 mail-in rebate and 2-year contract via Web, telesales and B2B channels with in-store availability expected on July 13th.

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Comparing apples to apples: two year smartphone cost examined

Over the past few month, we’ve seen several sites run cost comparisons on the latest and greatest smartphones from each of the top four carriers in the US. Good — presenting readers with cost analysis is always a good idea. We’re finding that just about all of these comparisons do so on the high end of the spectrum however, comparing the cost of owning each of these great smartphones along with the most expensive plans available from their respective carrier. Fair enough, we suppose. The simple fact of the matter is that not everyone is interested in an expensive unlimited plan though. For these people, comparing the maximum possible cost of several smartphones definitely makes for an exciting read, but we don’t know how useful it really is.

Unlimited plans continue to gain popularity as cost is driven down but the fact of the matter is that they’re just not for everyone. As such, rather than compare the highest possible cost of four popular smartphones maybe it makes a bit more sense to compare their relative entry-level costs — the base price, where most comparisons happen. Yeah, let’s give that a shot…

T-Mobile G1

Handset: $149.99
Monthly cost [UPDATED]: $29.99 voice plan (300 minutes, unlimited weekends), $24.99 T-Mobile G1 Unlimited Web (unlimited Web/email/data, 400 SMS/MMS)

$54.98/month — $1,319.52 over 2 years + $149.99 for the phone

Total: $1,469.51

Sprint, Palm Pre

Handset: $199.99 (after $100 rebate)
Monthly cost: $69.99 Everything Data Plan (450 minutes, unlimited nights/weekends, unlimited Web/email/data/SMS/MMS)

$69.99/month — $1,679.76 over 2 years + $199.99 for the phone (after $100 mail-in rebate)

Total: $1,897.75 (after $100 mail-in rebate)

Verizon Wireless, BlackBerry Storm

Handset: $149.99
Monthly cost: $39.99 voice plan (400 minutes, unlimited nights/weekends), $29.99 Email and Web for BlackBerry (BIS, Web)

$69.98/month — $1,679.52 over 2 years (excluding SMS/MMS) + $149.99 for the phone

Total: $1,829.51 (excludes SMS/MMS, starting at $5/month)

AT&T, Apple iPhone 3GS 16GB

Handset : $199
Activation fee: $36
Monthly cost: $39.99 Nation 450 w/Rollover (450 minutes, 5000 night/weekend minutes), $30 Data Plan for iPhone (unlimited Web/email/data)

$69.99/month — $1,679.76 over 2 years + $235 for the phone plus activation.

Total: $1,914.76 (excludes SMS/MMS, starting at $5/month)


So what have we learned here? Look at your potential purchases from your own unique perspective. Wireless plans are complicated and should not be handled on an even playing field; each carrier has similarly priced plan options that feature both high and low points. For example, the bare-bones entry G1 reduces the two-year cost of the handset dramatically compared to the three other handseys but it only affords the user 300 minutes each month and doesn’t include free nights as other plans do. Most importantly perhaps, don’t go to an AT&T/Sprint/T-Mobile/Verizon Wireless shop and expect to get help that is in your best interest. Determine what matters most to you — whether it’s more minutes, unlimited messaging, etc — and do your own research with those things in mind. It’s all about give and take… An educated consumer is a happy consumer.

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Palm releases webOS 1.0.4 update for Pre

We just got a couple tips that Palm has released webOS version 1.0.4 as an OTA update for the Palm Pre. This is rumored to address some corporate Exchange issues and hopefully some other bugs. Let us know the results once you upgrade!

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Remove or Hide MySpace and Orkut Ads (Advertising Banners) with Firefox Add-On

Ads or advertisements has been main money and income earner for many websites to cover costs of maintaining a site and providing service and bandwidth. So do Orkut and MySpace. In fact, Orkut has recently added an advertising banner on right sidebar to replace the original Friends’ list.

Orkut is a popular social networking site by Google, which especially common in Brazil and India, while MySpace, which although its shine has been surpassed by Facebook recently, remains a popular social networking service in US.

Ads may be annoying for frequent Orkut and MySpace users, and potentially slow down the page loading too. Although it may be unethical to remove and hide ads for free service that one enjoys, as it potentially hampers the ability for the free service to be continuously provided, but for users who want to remove the pesky ads from the MySpace and Orkut websites, it can be easily done with Orkut & MySpace Advertising Remover add-on for Firefox.

To use the plugin, user must use Firefox web browser. Orkut & MySpace Advertising Remover, currently at version 1.0, is an ultra-light plugin removes that advertising banner from Orkut and MySpace.

Download and install Orkut & MySpace Advertising Remover! 1.0 add-on for Firefox.

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How to Disable Linux and Unix Cron Jobs (Crontab) Email Sending

Cron jobs in Unix, Linux, Solar, BSD or other Unix-like operating system is similar to scheduled tasks in Windows OS. Cron utility allows tasks (aka cron jobs) to be automatically run in the background at regular intervals or preset and predetermined time by the cron daemon. All cron jobs or tasks are defined in crontab (cron table) file, which contains the schedule and specified times of the cron entries to be run.

When an cron job runs, cron daemon will send an email to the user account that executing the cronjob. The notification or result mail messages normally contains output result or respond of the task or command executed by the cron job.

Administrator or cron jobs schedulers who do not want to receive any email every time cron jobs are run can easily turn off and disable the email sending by crontab. To disable email delivery on execution of cron jobs, just append the following command to the end of the cron job line in crontab. Each cron job that does not need email sending will have to be added.
> /dev/null 2>&1
For example,

30 8 * * * command > /dev/null 2>&1

Tip: To edit cron jobs, type “crontab -e” in most system.

Restart cron jobs deamon when done.

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Start, Stop and Restart Crond Daemon in Linux

Cron jobs in Linux and its variants such as FreeBSD or CentOS which commonly used on web hosts due to popularity of cPanel web server control panel system, is important time based scheduled tasks and commands that perform various functions such as log rotation, updates checking, system maintenance, file system cleaning, backup, service restart and etc.

Cron jobs are managed by a daemon named crond. When cron schedules are added, deleted or modified by crontab, any changes are enacted by the crond daemon. Crond daemon runs constantly in the background and checks once a minute to see if any of the scheduled jobs need to be executed. If any, crond will execute the commands. If crond process is not running, no cron jobs will be executed.

Thus, it’s important to ensure that crond daemon is running and not hanged in the system. To manage crond daemon in Linux, we can make use of “service” command.

To check the status of crond daemon:

service crond status

To stop and terminate crond process:

service crond stop

To start and run crond daemon:

service crond start

To restart crond service:

service crond restart

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Garmin Dakota (10 and 20) Handheld GPS Navigation With 2.6″ Touchscreen Display

The global leader in satellite navigation, Garmin Ltd has announced its two new handheld GPS navigation device – Dakotas 10 and 20, which is waterproof, rugged and lightweight. The Garmin Dakota navigation handhelds are equipped with 850MB of internal memory which can store store up to 2,000 geocaches, 1,000 waypoints, 50 routes and an active GPS tracklog of up to 10,000 points and 200 saved tracks. In addition, the devices also come with 2.6-inch LCD color touchscreen display, support up to 20 hours battery life with two AA batteries, and high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix. Furthermore, the new GPS navigation devices also come with preloaded worldwide basemap and compatible with Garmin City Navigator NT for turn-by-turn directions on city streets, Blue Chart g2 for marine charting, and TOPO U.S. 24K and 100K map software.

Features of Garmin Dakota 10 and 20

* 2.6-inch LCD color touchscreen display
* Store up to 200 tracks
* Micro SD card slot
* Packing a high-sensitivity GPS receiver
* Worldwide base map
* Wireless connectivity
* USB port
* Battery life can extended up to 20 hours

“As families and friends explore the outdoors – from an exotic locale to the local park – Dakota helps keep their adventures affordable and enjoyable,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales.

The new Garmin Dakota 10 and 20 weighs only 6.75 Ounces(191g). The GPS navigation device will be available in August through leading retailer from starting price of $299.99 for the Dakota 10 and $349.99 for Dakota 20.

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Apogee One: Portable Sound Studio

Apogee Electronics is the name synonymous with award-winning recording equipment. Recording artistes around the world have stamped their approval on Apogee recording gear. Now Apogee has expanded its range to include a pocket-sized device for professional recording and quality sounds for users on the move.

Apogee’s ONE features a built-in mic, preamp, and dedicated input/output. It offers 24-bit audio at sample rates of 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz. ONE is designed to be compatible with Apple’s iTunes, GarageBand, Logic, Final Cut, or any Core Audio compliant application. It comes equipped with a stand and functions like a handheld microphone. For $250, one can have the recording studio in one’s hands.

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Sending Emails Securely with Secrets

Sending emails in public WiFi spots can be risky if they are not encrypted in secured channel. When you send them over a WiFi network, it creates the opportunity for hacker to grab your valuable data. This is understadable since public WiFi spots are built for convenience, not for security. If you are looking for a solution to send your data securely, Secrets is probably great solution for you.

Secrets is a free online service that allows you to send emails with encryption. In order to use this service, you must register and login by using Gmail account. Once you have login to this service, you can compose an email by clicking on Compose button, then type the recipient email address and message, follow by click on Encrypt & Send button. A window will be popped up asking you to set a password to decrypt the message. You must remember this password correctly as it will not be saved in the database. To acknowledge the recipient of this password, you need to share it via instant messenger, voice, SMS and etc. The recipient will get an email notification and he needs to click the link as specified in the email in order to retrieve the message. The retrieved message is in encryption format and to decrypt it, the recipient must enter the password as provided by sender.

Secrets uses DES encryption algorithm with keys at 64bit by default. However, it provides few other algorithms such as Triple DES (128 bit), AES-Rijndael (up to 256 bit), Blowfish (up to 448 bit) and ArcFour (up to 2048 bit). You can choose either one of these algorithms as your preference for a secured mean of sending email especially in public hotspots.

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Motorola Plans for First Android-based IDEN Phone on 2010

We have been seeing new gadgets such as netbooks, nettops, smartphones being powered by Android OS (Operating System), but seems that Motorola, the famous 2-ways radios manufacturer is also interested to let his iDEN phones preloaded with Android OS. Named as Opus 1, it is the first Android-based iDEN phone that will be manufactured by Mirs, an Israel-based subsidiary targeted for niche commercial market.

Opus 1 will be supporting data and Internet access through WiFi connectivity and voice call through its IDEN infrastructure networks. Although it seems to be weird to have this OS installed in its iDEN technology handsets at the first place, but this will definitely help to trigger some volume boost since Android has becomes one of the preferred OS in smartphone market.

No official details on it yet, the Android based device is expected to reach Israel commercial market by early of 2010, which will be slightly behind Samsung’s plan to push its Android-based i7500 to the market by September time frame. Apparently, Google’s Android OS can be fitted well in various market segments without being limited by only smartphone and netbook usages.

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Apple iPhone 3G S Overheated When Running CPU-Intensive Applications

Apple’s 3G S iPhone is known for its speedy and high performance with more powerful processor embedded into it as a differentiation feature set compared to its predecessor. Not long after the Apple’s 3G S iPhone being released to market, there are already a mixture of good and bad news about the powerful devices. Just recently, some users have started to complaint about the devices that get heated up when running with different applications.

The overheat symptom would happen especially when users tried to run certain CPU intensive applications such as gaming as well as GPS (Global Positioning System). Although it is quite subjective on how to quantify the amount of heat dissipation but those users that compliant used to have experience in using its previous generation iPhone as a benchmarking and comparison standard.

There is no official response from Apple Inc if this is related to their handsets’ firmware or hardware issues but according to some reliable sources, this could be due to its powerful CPU that consumes much higher current and power dissipation as compared to its predecessor. Besides, its new OS 3.0 is also being blamed for not able to perform proper power management especially when some existing iPod Touch users claimed that they experience hotter iPod device after upgrading to version 3.0 OS.

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ASUS Eee Keyboard now slated for an August release

Aww, crap. Just when we thought we were finally going to be able to get our hands on the ASUS Eee Keyboard, an ASUS marketing executive had to go and ruin the fun. Apparently the Eee Keyboard will not be launching by the end of this month as expected, but sometime in August instead. The reason for the delay? ASUS has yet to fully work out how it is going to market the mind-numbingly cool computer, which is more or less a positive way to say that its scared that one wrong decision will jeopardize its potential for success. Regardless, we want 10 and we want them now.

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Android-powered Nokia netbook to hit carriers next year

While less-than-popular crossover devices like the Internet Tablet line and the E90 pictured above might not be overly pleased by the news, Android fans may be excited to learn that Nokia is reportedly eying Google’s OS for a next-gen product. While Bloomberg is fairly certain that the outcome of Nokia and Intel’s efforts will be a new line of netbooks and/or smartbooks, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Daniel Amir takes things in a slightly different direction with the following statement:

In our conversations with ODMs, we have confirmed that Nokia is planning to enter the netbook market with a Google Android, ARM-based netbook that would be sold at carriers. Considering this market is dominated by the PC players, we believe Nokia could face an uphill battle to succeed in this market.

Considering we know for a fact that Nokia and Intel have been working on some new products, it seems odd that Nokia would enter uncharted territory with ARM as well. So yeah, we’re going to go ahead and keep the rumor tag on this one despite claims of confirmation because, well, you know. Stranger things have certainly happened however, especially where our friends in Finland are concerned, so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. Could Nokia be preparing to enter an already-cluttered netbook market with multiple Intel devices and one or more ARM devices?

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Bring the noise: Jawbone’s NoiseAssassin 2.0 vs. Jabra’s Noise Blackout

Since the introduction of its first Bluetooth headset, Aliph has set a new standard where background noise reduction and cancellation are concerned. The California-based start up dropped the Jawbone in December of 2006 and almost instantly, long-standing giants in the Bluetooth headset game found themselves in a game of catch-up. It’s been about two-and-a-half years since then and in the world of consumer electronics that’s about seven lifetimes (ok, maybe two). Aliph has released two more Jawbone headsets with last month’s Jawbone PRIME launch being its latest feat, and the competition continues to rain new models all over the marketplace. Now that noise cancellation has taken center stage as the main differentiating factor in separating the men from the boys, is Aliph still the undisputed champ or has the competition caught up? Hit the jump as we pit Jawbone’s latest against one of the hottest headsets of recent history, the Jabra BT530.

Jawbone PRIME:

Kicking things off with our general impressions of the Jawbone PRIME, it’s awesome. No, seriously. The size and weight are ideal and the look of the handset has finally been toned down to our liking — it’s actually pretty elegant now where headsets are concerned, as opposed to odd and ostentatious as with the first Jawbone. The sleek look of the handset is not without sacrifice however, as Aliph was only able to fit two buttons in the design: an on/off/send/end button hidden beneath the pattern on the side of the headset and a NoiseAssassin/volume button on the back. You read that right; one button for volume control. It’s not the worst thing in the world but it does take a bit of getting used to. Rather than having the ability to raise and lower volume on the headset, repeated presses of the sole volume button cycle the audio incrementally from lowest to highest and then back to lowest.

Beyond the less-than-perfect button situation, the only two remaining complaints are depicted in the two images above. First, the rubber compound Aliph chose for its PRIME earbuds. A) It can be a bit uncomfortable after wearing the headset without the optional ear loop for a long period of time. B) It attracts and holds onto dust like no other earbud we’ve ever used. Second, Aliph still insists on a proprietary power connector. It’s great for maintaining fluid lines on the headset but terrible when you lose your charger.

Jabra BT530:

Jabra’s BT530 is without question one of our favorite bluetooth headsets of all time. It’s small, light, well-designed and has a great look to it. The BT530 is also insanely comfortable to wear and seemingly lasts forever on a single charge. All of the buttons are well placed and we love the presence of a small sliding power switch on the bottom of the device that is quick and easy compared to holding a button down for X seconds. Lastly, while it might not be quite as pretty, the BT530 uses the standard microUSB port we all know and love to take a charge.

NoiseAssassin 2.0 vs. Noise Blackout

Noise Blackout is Jabra’s catchy name for a great little dual mic system designed to eliminate background noise while using its headset. Anne Rasmussen, VP of Mobile at GN Netcom — the company behind Noise Blackout — says of the technology, “Our Noise Blackout technology is a completely new and proprietary technology that not only allows crystal clear sound but eliminates the ‘tinny’ sound that many noise cancellation headsets are plagued with.” The system basically uses a unique directional technology to differentiate and eliminate sounds coming from around the headset while allowing sounds from in front of the headset (the user’s mouth) to pass through.

NoiseAssassin 2.0 on the other hand, uses a completely different method to eliminate background noise. Using a small white Voice Activity Sensor (VAS) that touches the wearer’s face coupled with two electret mics, the Jawbone PRIME combines audio from various sources to assemble the single stream of speech it delivers. The VAS also allows the headset to accurately distinguish between background noise and speech to provide extremely effective noise cancellation. The system worked quite well in Aliph’s first two Jawbone headsets and this latest iteration seems to work even better in the PRIME.

During our tests, the Jawbone PRIME was the clear winner where noise cancellation performance is concerned. It was able to completely eliminate low to moderate background noise and dull louder background noises to the point where they did not interrupt conversations at all. Where the PRIME shines even brighter however, is in the wind. Jabra’s BT530 performed very well in low and moderate noise but it seems the wind is its weakness as it does little or even nothing to dispel wind noise while on the street or in a car with the AC on.

As much emphasis is put on noise cancellation these days however, we found that the PRIME’s terrific performance in that department didn’t necessarily translate to a better overall user experience. Where the BT530 really set itself apart from the PRIME in fact, was audio quality. On the recipient’s end, we got no complaints about either headset where audio quality is concerned. Both headsets managed to deliver great speech, though the PRIME was better at filtering out everything else as we mentioned. On our end however, we found the audio on the PRIME to be very tinny despite the company’s claim to the contrary. Yes, compared to older Jawbone models and even other noise canceling headsets, the quality is much improved on the PRIME. Compared to the BT530 however… Treble city. Jabra’s headset delivers terrific, well rounded sound to the wearer. Audio is deep and crisp as opposed to thin and tinny.

So which would we recommend? Both, actually. For users who commute or are constantly in situations with high levels of background noise, the Jawbone PRIME is the clear choice — provided the $115-$130 price tag doesn’t scare you away. For users who want good noise cancellation but are more concerned with great sound and affordability, the $45-$70 Jabra BT530 can’t be beat.

Jawbone PRIME product page
Jabra BT530 product page (page is down right now; main headsets page)

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Sony to take on the iPhone; envisions a gaming device/mobile phone hybrid

Sony is reportedly considering (yet again) the development of a new hybrid device that will combine the gaming features of its popular PlayStation portable gaming device with the functionality of a Sony Ericsson mobile phone. According to Nikkei Daily, the quintessential PlayStation phone will be developed by a new project team to be assembled in July. Rumors of a “PlayStation phone” have come and gone for more than two years now… Maybe Sony is so tired of hearing them that it will finally churn out a PS phone to shut everyone up.

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iPhone 3GS jailbreak imminent; first image unveiled

Ahhh, the Dev Team — where would we be without them? Just last week the crew issued ultrasn0w, making jailbreaking and unlocking your iPhone 3G as easy as finding a farting app in the App Store. But what about 3GS owners? As fast as the Dev Team works, a separate hacker by the name of “geohot” (the guy who made the first iPhone unlock as well as the injection vector for the first iPhone 3G unlock) has made a major breakthrough with the help of his friends at Chronic Dev. A little before 4:00AM this morning, George Hotz became the first person in the world to have a fully jailbroken iPhone 3GS (picture above). Now of course this doesn’t mean it will be released to the masses just yet, but it does mean we’re unbelievably close to lift off. Geohot ftw! Hit the jump for one more shot.

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Fennec Alpha 2 now available for Windows Mobile

We’re getting closer, WinMo fans. Mozilla has just released the second Alpha build of its highly, highly anticipated mobile version of Firefox. Still dubbed Fennec for the time being, Windows Mobile users who aren’t infatuated with Skyfire can now head over to Mozilla’s website and download the official Alpha 2 version of the browser. This latest version is still a testing version as the name might suggest, and it’s quite rough around the edges. Nonetheless, progress is steady and this latest version includes the following improvements:

* Improved panning performance
* Newly designed theme
* JavaScript error console is now built in
* Improved add-on support
* Numerous bug fixes
* Improved UI polish

This release is available for anyone running Windows Mobile 6 — not just HTC Touch Pro users like the last release. Woo hoo! If anyone takes the plunge and installs this alpha version, hit us in the comments section with your first impressions.

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Samsung unveils four entry-level handsets

Despite it being another sleepy Sunday, yesterday Samsung decided it was good timeto announce four new entry-level handsets that it hopes will prove popular with the average consumer. Starting off with the S6700 that Samsung has previously shown off at various trade shows, we find a dual-band HSDPA slider with a 2.4-inch QVGA display, 3 megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual-LED flash, GPS and 120MB of internal memory plus microSDHC support. Next up we have the C5510 with its basic 2 megapixel shooter, smaller 2.2-inch QVGA display and microSDHC support. Taking a more music-centric approach is the M2510, which has dedicated music keys, a 3.5mm headphone jack, DNSe audio enhancement, FM radio tuner with RDS and a 1.3 megapixel camera. Finally we have the M2310, the only clam shell device in the bunch and easily the most underwhelming handset we’ve seen in quite some time. It has a VGA camera, 9MB of internal memory, 8GB microSD support and quad-band EDGE connectivity. Pricing and availability for the S6700, C5510, M2510 and M2310 have yet to be announced.

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MiLi Pro Pocket Projector For iPhone and iPod Touch

If Aipek’s Pico projectors are too old-fashioned or the Lancer iJector is too expensive for you, the joint effort of the UK manufacturer, Beambox, and the iPhone accessories maker, MiLi, might strike your fancy. The MiLi Evolution Mini Power Projector (MiLi Pro) is perhaps something you can look forward to. The new charming and stylish mini projector is designed particularly for iPhone or iPod touch users. No cables are required for the connection; users can just plug their iPhone or iPod touch to the dock connector of the projector and do the projection conveniently. Of course this pocket size projector also supports other mobiles via the AV input/output. The projector is able to provide up to 640 x 480 resolution with 10 lumens of brightness.

Besides functioning as a projector, the MiLi Pro also can be used as an external power bank to charge iPhone, iPod, mobile phone, etc. Other come-along features include a 2W built-in speaker for high quality audio output, a standard mini-USB cable to charge and sync your iPhone / iPod and MiLi Pro and a high quality lithium-polymer rechargeable battery pack to power the mini device.

The MiLi Pro can be considered a breakthrough in iPhone and iPod accessory technology. It conveniently allows users to do projection on their iPhone and iPod content whenever they are. The indicative price for this unique device is about $255 but it will only be released in September 2009.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The 50 most-anticipated video games

OTX GamePlan has released its list of the top 50 upcoming games, and each of the three main console platforms — Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony — has a game in one of the top three spots.

Microsoft’s Halo 3: ODST ranks first; Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii ranks second; and Sony’s God of War III ranks third. The results are based on purchase intent surveys.

The data was collected from polls taken after the E3 video game conference at the beginning of June. E3 is where all of the upcoming industry games are displayed for the first time.

Nick Williams, head of the OTX GamePlan service, said the chart tracks three key measures: aided awareness of a game, the intent to purchase it, and the intent to pre-order the game from retailers. The data was collected during the last two weeks from a representative sample of about 1,000 U.S. gamers between the ages of 13 and 59. The company conducts the surveys via web offers.

The average score for all three metrics is 100. Since Halo 3: ODST has a purchase index rating of 828, that means the intent to purchase it is eight times higher than it is for an average game. The survey is about as scientific as you can get when it comes to data about what games are going to be popular.

Here are Williams’ comments about one particular game, Activision Blizzard’s Modern Warfare 2.

No matter how you slice it, Modern Warfare 2 is poised to be a massive holiday hit. But just how critical is the Call of Duty brand association for consumers? Up until the beginning of May, OTX had been tracking the title as “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.” More specifically, we asked a representative group of gamers in the U.S. whether or not they had heard of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.” At that time, approximately 40% of all gamers in the US claimed that they had heard of this title. However, once it became clear that Activision was positioning the title as “Modern Warfare 2”, OTX removed “Call of Duty” from the consumer survey, and the awareness levels dropped to 20%. In other words, the Call of Duty brand association essentially doubles the awareness for the game. That is quite a remarkable statistic.

Despite this dramatic drop in awareness, the purchase intent for Modern Warfare 2 remains very strong. In our latest charts based on the last 4 weeks of data, Modern Warfare 2 for the Xbox 360 ranks as the 6th most anticipated title. While there is no denying the extensive reach of the Call of Duty brand, Modern Warfare has a passionate following of its own. The intensity of the purchase intent is particularly impressive, as illustrated by the high levels of Pre-Order Intent, which is the highest of any title currently being tracked.

This data offers up compelling evidence for the importance of the Call of Duty moniker, and also demonstrates the challenge Activision faces as it looks to put together the biggest entertainment launch of all time. That said, there is a passionate and vocal audience eagerly awaiting the Modern Warfare sequel, and even without the Call of Duty association, it is still perceived as a must have title.

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Glu to launch mobile versions of 5 popular Activision games

Glu Mobile said today it will launch five new mobile titles as part of the company’s expanded partnership with Activision Publishing.

The new titles include a mobile version of Modern Warfare 2, Activision’s flagship game coming this fall. The console version of the game (pictured) is considered to be one of the most anticipated games of the year, so the mobile version will likely be a hot seller.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Glu is essentially contracting with Activision to convert several of its popular console game titles to mobile games. The games will be published on the Android, Blackberry, Brew, J2ME and Windows Mobile platforms.

While the iPhone is noticeably absent, the list of platforms shows that Glu is pushing heavily into the smart phone space, growing beyond its focus on traditional mobile phones. Besides Modern Warfare 2, the titles it’s working with include Crash Mutant Island, which will be available in the third quarter, and Blur, Guitar Hero 5, and Tony Hawk Ride, all to be published in the fourth quarter.

Glu Mobile said in January that roughly 30 percent of its resources will be devoted to making games for smartphones. The big challenge for Glu is to continue to maintain its leadership in mobile games even as much of the market shifts toward the iPhone.

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World of Warcraft faces rocky transition to new operator in China

If you take away the drug of the people, you should expect dire consequences. In China, World of Warcraft has been inoperative since June 7. That means that WoW addicts haven’t had their fix for 18 days.

Activision Blizzard announced that it was transitioning WoW to a new operator in China, moving from The9 to Netease. The American game company needs a partner in China because of government regulations that require some kind of locally-based Chinese partner, but also because it helps to have a local operator.

The9 had apparently been making a ton of money from its deal with Activision Blizzard, and the American company apparently made the move becasue Netease was willing to get by with a smaller cut of the pie, according to analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities. But so far the consequences of that decision aren’t looking pretty. WoW players usually pay by the hour at Internet cafes in China. So all of the downtime means lost revenue.

This represents a golden opportunity for rivals to pick off some of WoW’s customers. Blizzard Entertainment said in a statement that the downtime was expected and players were warned. The companies are still working on getting the game up, but they say they are operating on the schedule that they had anticipated.

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