Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yahoo Takes Top Spot From Google

Yahoo Inc. captured the top spot from rival Google Inc. for the first time in the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index report on electronic-business Web sites.

Yahoo's customer satisfaction score of 79 on the ACSI's 100-point scale rose almost 4% this year, while Google slipped 3.7% to 78, its second yearly decline in a row.

Ask.com, with a score of 75, posted this year's biggest increase and AOL.com the biggest decline, down more than 9% to 67. MSN.com, with a 75 score, is up only one point this year.

The annual ACSI e-business report includes customer-satisfaction measurements of search engines and portals as well as online news and information sites.

"Even more important than Yahoo's first lead over Google is the trend of their scores moving in opposite directions," said Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee Results, which sponsors the ACSI e-business report. "Since the ACSI is a leading indicator of financial performance on the macro scale and at the company level, we may see a real turnaround for Yahoo in the next year."

Source: http://online.wsj.com

Google Pack gets free Star Orifice

GOOGLE HAS included Sun's Star Office amongst its free recommended software packages.

Star Office 8, which is flogged by Sun for $70, is apparently available for free in Google Pack. We say apparently, because Google Pack only works in Windows and since I don't, I can't check it.

However the "fully featured" office suite that contains a word processor, a spreadsheet tool, applications for presentations, databases, math formulas and drawing is actually listed in the Google pack here.

Source: www.theinquirer.net

AMD floats parallelism accelerator

AMD has released the first specifications for a set of future chip enhancements designed to speed up parallel applications.

The new Light-Weight Profiling (LWP) applies to multi-core processors and aims to reduce the number of conflicts between processes. It will especially benefit relatively simple applications executed on multiple cores, such as Java applications.

"[LWP] is a new ability for software to retrieve performance data from the hardware and to act on it to optimise itself," Earl Stahl, a vice president of software engineering at AMD, told vnunet.com.

"It is a new mechanism that is available to add a bit of runtime intelligence into the software."

Source: www.vnunet.com

Intel Launches Two Xeon Processors For Virtualization

Intel on Monday introduced a couple of quad-core Xeon processors with improved virtualization capabilities.

The X5365 and L5335 are for running server and workstation applications. The former is a 3.0 GHz chip that fits inside a 120-watt envelope. The L5335 has a clock speed of 2.0 GHz within a 50-watt envelope. Each chip has a 1333 MHz front-side bus.

Both processors include Intel's Virtualization Technology, which enables third-party virtualization software, such as VMware, to offload workload to the system hardware to boost performance. VT offers 64-bit guest operating system support.

The processors also include new VT extensions for better interrupt handling in virtualization of 32-bit Microsoft Windows. For energy efficiency, the chips have Intel's new "energy smart" technology that lower power use while the chip is idle.

In quantities of 1,000, the X5365 sells for $1172 apiece, and the L5335 sells for $380 each.

Intel in July slashed prices on its four-way processors to less that what customers had paid for high-end dual-core products. Rival Advanced Micro Devices(AMD) is scheduled to ship this year its first quad-core server and desktop products, codenamed Barcelona and Phenom, respectively. Intel has more than 20 four-way chips.

Source: www.informationweek.com

Microsoft Questions FCC's 'White Spaces' Decision

A prototype wireless device intended to share radio spectrum with television channels was malfunctioning when staff at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission tested it, Microsoft Corp. said Monday.

The FCC on July 31 said a wireless prototype submitted by Microsoft and other members of the White Spaces Coalition interfered with cable television channels and therefore would not be licensed for use. The White Spaces Coalition, including Google Inc., Dell Inc., Intel Corp. and other tech vendors, wants the FCC to approve wireless devices that operate in the so-called spectrum white spaces between TV channels.

Microsoft, in a letter to the FCC Monday, said the scanner in of one two prototypes submitted was damaged and "operated at a severely degraded level." The scanner in the wireless device is supposed to sniff for broadcasts in spectrum before transmitting in the band and switch to another band if the first one is occupied. The FCC found that the prototype did not consistently detect TV broadcast signals and could cause interference.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Big Win for Microsoft in Alcatel-Lucent Patent Case

A federal judge Monday effectively reversed a US$1.5 billion patent-infringement award against Microsoft Corp. in a case involving MP3 technology.

Ruling on post-trial motions in a lawsuit by Alcatel-Lucent SA, Judge Rudi Brewster of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego said one patent in the case wasn't infringed by Microsoft. On the other patent, the court couldn't didn't have jurisdiction because a co-owner of the patent didn't join in the suit.

In February, a jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion in damages for infringement of two of its patents covering MP3 audio technology. It was one of six cases involving a series of patent disputes between the two companies. Lucent Technologies Inc. had brought the suit in 2003 before it merged with Alcatel SA.

On Monday, Judge Brewster ruled that Microsoft had not infringed one of the two patents. On the other patent, the judge found that Fraunhofer, a research organization based in Europe, was a co-owner of the patent with Alcatel-Lucent. Because Fraunhofer didn't join in the suit, Brewster's court didn't have jurisdiction over the suit on that patent. Microsoft already licenses the MP3 patents from Fraunhofer, said Microsoft spokesman Guy Esnouf.

Alcatel-Lucent said Monday it will appeal the rulings at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Washington, D.C.

"This reversal of the judge's own pre-trial and post-trial rulings is shocking and disturbing, especially since -- after a three-week trial and four days of careful deliberation -- the jury unanimously agreed with us, and we believe their decision should stand," Alcatel-Lucent said in a statement.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Novell CEO: Linux needs work to move to next level

In order for Linux to prosper it needs to develop a broader base of applications, avoid fragmentation, address data center needs and expand its market, according to Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian.

In addition, Hovsepian said Novell would support GPLv3 in future versions of SUSE Linux and would honor coupons for those versions of the operating system as part of Novell's partnership with Microsoft.

The Novell leader made the remarks during his keynote address to open the third day of the LinuxWorld conference.

Hovsepian started out by declaring that Linux is mainstream.

"Make no mistake about that. We all see that, we are all experiencing that," he said. He thanked the Linux kernel team, the community and the Free Software Foundation for its work on the GPL, including the new Version 3.

Hovsepian then said Novell would be shipping GPLv3 components in upcoming packages of SUSE Linux Enterprise as they are released. Currently there are no components in SUSE Linux licensed under the GPLv3.

In response to a question from the audience, Hovsepian said Novell will redeem Microsoft-issued coupons for software that is licensed under GPLv3.

"Customers will redeem the coupons and we will deliver the latest version of our distribution. It is that straightforward," he said.

As part of an interoperability and cross-licensing patent deal signed in November between the two vendors, Microsoft promised to distribute 70,000 coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support. But on July 5, Microsoft issued a statement saying it had no legal obligations under GPLv3, which forbids the type of patent deal Microsoft and Novell signed.

Hovsepian then moved on, saying the Linux community needs to look forward because there is work to do if people believe Linux is going to replace every Unix server and challenge Microsoft on the desktop.

He said the Linux community needs to progress in unison to obtain a dominant position in the market, and needs to focus on three areas: the ecosystem, the data center and expanding its market reach.

Source: www.computerpartner.nl

Leaked Vista Hotfix Packs Now Official

Microsoft Corp. Tuesday released the two Windows Vista updates that had leaked to the Internet at the end of July, but won't say when it will begin pushing them to users via Windows Update.

Pegged as performance and reliability packs, the pair install a long list of non-security bug fixes, among them speed improvements to wake-from-hibernation, a patch that eliminates the long wait to calculate the time it will take to copy or move large directories, and several that target compatibility glitches with video drivers.

Microsoft even described one of the quashed bugs with the vague but ominous-sounding: "The computer stops responding or restarts unexpectedly when you play video games or perform desktop operations."

All of the fixes, said the company, are new to Vista, and do not replace any existing updates. Users must restart their computer after each update is installed.

The performance update, designated KB938979, weighs in at nearly 10MB, and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. The accompanying support document is also available.

Vista's reliability update, KB938194, is petite by comparison -- just 2.1MB. It's also now available for downloading, and has a KnowledgeBase document that spells out changes.

Previews of the now-official updates had leaked to the Web at the end of July, fueling speculation that they were connected to the highly-anticipated Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), and might even be harbingers of SP1's release. A day later, July 31, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the hotfix packs would end up in user's hands "in the near future," but declined to answer questions about any link to SP1.

The company did recently confirm, however, that it has released preview code for Vista SP1 -- as well as the same for the long-delayed Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) -- to small invite-only groups of testers. But it would not say when the updates to each operating system will release in final versions.

Vista SP1, which Microsoft has so far committed only to provide in beta "sometime this year," has consistently been downplayed by the company, to the point of stifling talk of the security rollup. Many corporations, on the other hand, appear to be waiting for SP1 before deploying the new OS.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

LinuxWorld: Partnership Love Is In The Air

Moscone Center, home of the LinuxWorld conference, felt like a Las Vegas wedding chapel this week as vendors rushed into each others' arms, throwing proclamations of joyful unions around like confetti. Red Hat struck a bundling deal with Dell, while Novell hooked up with everyone in sight, striking SUSE alliances with IBM, Dell and Lenovo.

Lenovo dominated headlines with its announcement yesterday that it will soon begin selling ThinkPads preloaded with Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Slated for availability in the fourth quarter, the Linux laptops will make Lenovo the second major PC vendor to offer Linux as a preloaded Windows alternative available to individual buyers, following the path Dell blazed in May with its decision to offer machines loaded with the Ubuntu Linux operating system.

Lenovo's Novell deal sprang from the increased customer demand it sees for laptops running an open-source stack, especially in the education and government sectors, according to Lenovo executive Sam Dusi, the company's vice president of product marketing for notebooks.

Determined not to be upstaged, Dell said it has expanded its Linux distribution outside the U.S., offering preloaded Ubuntu machines in Europe and laying down plans to sell Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on consumer notebooks and desktops in China.

Linux fans are very vocal about their desire for more preloaded distribution options, Dell CTO Kevin Kettler said in a Tuesday afternoon keynote at LinuxWorld.

"By far the biggest thing we heard with IdeaStorm was preinstalling Linux on our consumer boxes," Kettler said, referring to the consumer feedback Web site Dell launched in February. "We responded to that by adding Ubuntu to our consumer line."

Novell also struck a deal with IBM this week, announcing plans to bundle IBM's open-source, entry-level WebSphere Application Server Community Edition with its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. IBM hopes the alliance will woo customers away from Red Hat's rival JBoss application server.

But Red Hat countered with its own application server bundling deal: It's deepening its ties with Dell and announcing the first official package deal for PowerEdge systems preloaded with the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, which includes JBoss's application server, Seam and Hibernate. Customers will also have the option of buying an integrated stack of Dell hardware with the Red Hat Application Stack, which adds Red Hat Enterprise Linux to the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform bundle.

Source: www.crn.com

Microsoft Releases Service Packs for Vista, XP to Testers

Microsoft is hard at work on Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows Vista. Microsoft's latest consumer operating system launched in November and is expected to be used by over 200 million people before the end of 2007.

As is the case with any operating system, Vista is far from perfect. There have been issues with ReadyBoost, copying/moving large files, resuming from sleep/hibernate and Blu-ray playback on numerous systems.

Microsoft addressed a number of these problems in late July through the release of the "938979 Vista Performance and Reliability Pack" and "938194 Vista Compatibility and Reliability Pack." The software packs were originally issued only to Vista beta testers, but are now available to the general public.

Those fixes along with a host of other updates are expected to make their way into SP1. A private beta of SP1 was issued in early July and testers have been pinging ZDNET's Mary Jo Foley regarding the latest builds. According to Foley, each tester that contacted her had a different build number.

"My first guess was the secrecy-obsessed Windows Vista team might be providing different testers with different build numbers in order to trace leaks," said Foley.

This move isn't too surprising considering that the folks at Microsoft weren't too happy with Foley's report on the SP1 beta.

According to AeroXperience, the latest build of SP1 sent to testers was labeled 6001.16549. In addition, WinBeta claims to have screenshots of SP1 which was distributed via an ISO -- 3.07GB for the 32-bit version and 4.3GB for the 64-bit version.

In addition to the SP1 information, AeroXperience also reports that Windows XP SP3 was released to testers (Build 5.1.2600.3180). The download weighs in at 350MB and supposedly fixes over 900 issues with the operating system.

Source: www.dailytech.com

Eight more parties join YouTube class action case

Yesterday, the FA Premier League and independent music publisher Bourne Co. revealed that eight more parties joined the copyright lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company Google.

The new parties that have recently joined the suit includes the National Music Publishers’ Association – the largest music publishing trade association in the US.

Other parties that have joined the fight against YouTube include the Rugby Football League, the Finnish Football League, Knockout Entertainment, Siminole Warriors Boxing, X-Ray Dog Music, author Daniel Quinn and LA journalist Bob Tur.

Tur was the first to file a copyright case against YouTube last year, but has decided to drop his individual suit to join the suit led by the Premier League. “After careful analysis and consideration, I have concluded that the class action is the most effective way for independent copyright holders to secure the judicial remedies that I am seeking,” said Tur in a statement.

Viacom also filed its own case against YouTube, but the two cases were combined for trial purposes. Collectively, the parties have charged YouTube and Google with deliberately encouraging copyright infringement to generate public attention and to increase the video sharing site’s traffic.

“We are pleased to see so many other copyright holders joining us in what we are trying to achieve,” said a Premier League spokesman yesterday. “The clear and growing message to YouTube and Google is simple: their callous and opportunistic business model is contrary to right, contrary to law, and must and will be stopped.”

A Google spokesman returned fire though, claiming that the lawsuit misunderstood Internet copyright laws. “We are disappointed with this lawsuit, as we have great partnerships with the Premier League’s own Chelsea FC, as well as major football clubs such as Barcelona FC, AC Milan, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, who understand the benefit of using YouTube as another way to communicate with their fans.

“The lawsuit simply misunderstands the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which balances the rights of copyright holders against the need to protect Internet communications and content. As a result, it threatens the way people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression over the Internet.

The spokesman went on to say that “Most content owners understand that we respect copyrights, we work every day to help them manage their content, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better.”

One of the state-of-the-art tools that the spokesman refers to is the new piracy prevention system we reported last week.

Source: www.bit-tech.net

The new Apple iMac: thin, silver – and green

Reminding customers that it doesn't just make shiny, white devices that fit in your pocket, Apple yesterday announced a revamp of the iMac, its flagship home computer.

Out is the white, plastic casing that characterised iMacs past, and in its place is a thinner, brushed aluminium shell which is reminscient of the MacBook Pro line, and an "even thinner" keyboard.

Accompanying the new machines are overhauled versions of the company's consumer software suites, iLife and iWork, including, among other new features, a spreadsheet program called Numbers designed to lure users from Microsoft's Excel.

Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said the new iMac was "the most incredible desktop computer we've ever made," an announcement that excited bloggers, though many were quick to zero on the minutiae of the upgrade, such as that the 'open apple' key has been renamed the 'command' key – apparently to avoid confusion.

The new iMacs, which go on sale in the UK today, come in two sizes – with 20 and 24-inch screens – and will cost $1,199 (£590) and $1,799 (£885) respectively.

Among the other features of the upgrade are:

– an update to iPhoto called Event, which organises photo libraries into events, each containing a day's worth of pictures which are represented by a single photo;

– a spreadsheet program, called Numbers, which comes with templates for the most common types of graphs and charts and into which users can drag and drop photos;

– a ten-fold increase in .Mac storage to 10Gb;

– a new .Mac feature called Web Gallery, which enables immediate sharing of photos and movies from iLife with Mac, PC or iPhone owners; and

– the ability to incorporate live web widgets, such as Google Maps, into websites created using iWeb.

Mr Jobs also made a point of emphasising the new machines' environmental qualities, saying they were made out of 'highly recyclable' materials.

In recent months, news of Apple has been dominated by the launch of the iPhone, but computers accounted for $2.5 billion - or 60 per cent of the company's total revenues - in the quarter to June.

According to analysts, the growth in Apple computer shipments outpaced that of PCs in the quarter by nearly three times in the quarter, though the company still controls only 5 per cent of the market as a whole.

Source: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pre-loaded Linux to be option on Lenovo notebooks

Lenovo, the world's third-largest personal computer manufacturer, announced Monday it will begin offering users the option of pre-loading a Linux-based operating system on some of its notebook computers, joining the ranks of other computer manufacturers in moving toward a growing open-source market.

A spokesperson for Dell, which had begun offering factory-installed Linux on select desktop and notebook lines to U.S. users in May, confirmed it will expand its Linux offerings outside the United States. Dell's Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Kettler, is expected to make the announcement when he delivers a keynote presentation at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco this afternoon.

The decision from Lenovo, a Chinese company which acquired IBM's PC division in 2005, to allow factory-installation of Novell's SUSE operating system on its Thinkpad T Series highlights the growing awareness among computer manufacturers about the potential of the open-source market.

"One of the primary reasons is the tremendous state of Linux today," Kevan Barney, a spokesman for Novell, said of the Lenovo announcement. "As the software advances, it becomes more of an alternative to the proprietary operating systems people have been using."

But while Linux enjoys a sizable share of the market for server software, it still lags behind Microsoft in the desktop and notebook sector.

Source: www.mercurynews.com

DVDs to help babies learn 'may hinder skills'

EDUCATIONAL DVDs and videos which claim to enhance the cognitive development of infants may hinder rather than help their language skills, according to a study published today.

The DVDs, widely available in stores such as Mothercare, often claim to aid the development of babies' speech and vocabulary, but parents have been warned that if they want to improve their infant's ability to learn, they should limit the amount of time they spend using such products.

The study highlights products such as the Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby DVD ranges, and suggests overexposing children aged eight to 16 months to them may slow their ability to acquire a vocabulary.

Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and video - which often feature disconnected images and scarce dialogue - infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. Baby DVDs and videos were found to have no effect on the vocabularies of children aged 17 to 24 months.

Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study and an associate professor of health services at the university, said of the paper, published today in the Journal of Pediatrics: "There is no clear evidence of a benefit from baby DVDs and videos and there is some suggestion of harm. The more a child watches baby DVDs and videos, the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter."

Previous research has shown that by three months of age, 40 per cent of infants are regular viewers of television, DVDs or videos and, by the age of two, this number jumps to 90 per cent.

The new study found no positive or negative effects on infants of either age group from viewing educational and non-educational media or adult television programmes.

On the UK website of Brainy Baby, one of the brands singled out in the study, the manufacturers claim the DVDs are "an entertaining way to help little ones learn educational basics, stimulate cognitive development and gain a start to learning."

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland said:

"While we would not wish to comment on the suitability of any individual learning aid product, the EIS would support the view that there is no better method than interaction with parents or other carers in assisting young children in language acquisition.

Source: http://news.scotsman.com

Apple Releases Updated iMacs, .Mac, Mac Mini, iLife '08

On Tuesday, Apple brought out a slew of new products in its summer dog and pony show at company headquarters in Cupertino. Taking the stage, CEO Steve Jobs brought out the following:
iMac:

-The new iMac is thinner and now features aluminum and class:

-Revised iMac comes in 20 and 24 inch screen sizes. The unit features an audio input and output, three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400 and 800 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and video out. Apple has retained the slot-loading drive along with the built-in iSight and internal microphone.

-The displays apparently have a glossy sheen to them with Jobs claiming the new design is better for displaying photos and movies.

-Apple has released a new keyboard to complement the iMac. The new device appears to have special dedicated keys such as brightness controls, Expost, Dashboard and media controls.

-The new iMac ad can be seen here.

-A new wireless keyboard and "Mighty Mouse" are also available. Both devices operate on the Bluetooth 2.0 protocol.

-The new iMacs are now based on upgraded Intel Core 2 Duo processors and are clocked from 2.4 to 2.8 GHz. Apple has also upgraded RAM support up to 4 gigabytes and included ATI Radeon HD 2400XT graphics systems. Users can now install internal hard disk drives up to 1 terabyte . The new iMacs feature built-in 802.11n wireless networking.

-The new iMacs are available in a US$1,199 configuration (20" display, 2.0 GHz processor, 250 GB hard drive), a US$1,499 configuration (20" display, 2.4 GHZ, processor and 320 GB hard drive) and a US$1,799 configuration (24" display, 2.8 GHz, unsure of the hard drive size).

-All models are immediately available.

Jobs then went on to his next marquee presentation, iLife 2008:
iPhoto '08:
-The new iPhoto supports an Events feature in which pictures can be tagged to an event. For example, a birthday can incorporate a given set of photos and an image library can be split into events such as a wedding and a birthday. Users can also browse by event.

-Users now have the ability to Hide photos. This removes given images from view while keeping them out of the trash. The new iPhoto sports a Unified search as well as additional edit tools such as the ability to copy and paste edits from one photo to another. New features also include Theme-based home printing for making prints for framing as well as new Photobook options.

-iPhoto now offers a Skimming option in which the user can drag a mouse over an Event thumbnail and see all the images in the given Event in a thumbnail space.

-Double-clicking an Event's thumbnail brings up an enlarged image without moving into an editing window. Events can also be split and merged together.

-.Mac now features one button photo sharing to the Web.

-Other users can now publish to a photo gallery through e-mail links that are sent to them. This action both adds their photos to your gallery, but syncs them to your local iPhoto library.

-Albums can now be set up in a .Mac Web Gallery. Users can also use the Skim feature to quickly glance through the album in thumbnail mode. The albums allow you to resize the thumbnails, get info on images, view the photos in a grid, mosaic, Coverflow "carousel" or slideshow.

Source: www.powerpage.org

Judge Saves Microsoft $1.5B

A San Diego judge overturned Monday a record-breaking $1.52 billion patent-infringement judgment against Microsoft. The decision reverses a jury determination that Microsoft infringed on Alcatel-Lucent's MP3 patents.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster ruled that, of the two patents in question, Microsoft properly obtained a license to use the technology covered by one patent and that there was no proof of infringement on the second patent.

"The court finds that the jury's verdict was against the clear weight of the evidence," Brewster wrote in his 43-page decision.

Microsoft and scores of other technology companies license the MP3 player technology from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. The German research institute helped develop the MP3 audio compression technology along with Bell Labs, once a part of Lucent Technologies, which, in turn, later merged with the French networking powerhouse Alcatel.

Brewster ruled Fraunhofer and Lucent-Alcatel jointly own the licensing rights to the MP3 compression technology and since Fraunhofer was not a party to the suit, Microsoft was not liable for infringement. Microsoft paid Fraunhofer $16 million for the licensing rights.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, called the decision a "victory for consumers of digital music and a triumph for common sense in the patent system. For the hundreds of companies large and small that rely on MP3 technology, the court's ruling clarifies that these companies have properly licensed the technology."

Source: www.internetnews.com