The online music industry has always been a touchy one, but today the world came a step closer to ending online royalty disputes. An agreement that’s being called a “breakthrough that will facilitate new ways to offer music to consumers online,” songwriters, music publishers, record labels and digital music websites have concluded a seven year dispute over mechanical royalties and limited music downloads.
Mechanical royalties are the fees paid to songwriters, composers and publishers of music, not the person that only preformed it or the record company that produced the recording. Limited music downloads are downloads with restrictions attached, such as the model used by Napster To Go. iTunes, however isn’t considered limited use because you can listen to your songs as often as you want, without a monthly fee.
As landmark as this settlement is, it still leaves a big hole on the controversial topic of Internet radio. Sites such as Pandora and Live365 remain in a high-stakes standoff with SoundExchange, the company in charge of collecting the fees for artists and record companies. The reason that sites such as these were left out from the normal Internet radio agreement is because they allow users to select the music that they want to listen to, as opposed to simply listening to a pre-determined stream of songs.
This past Tuesday Yahoo released the latest version of their instant messaging program, Messenger 9.0. With the release, they’ve introduced a slew of new features including a brand new interface, chat window, improved spam control, and the Yahoo Messenger Pingbox.
The new interface is more spread out than previous versions, allowing for larger avatars and the ability to post status messages. Also included in the new interface is the ability to import your contacts in bulk from your e-mail, IM, or Facebook contact lists using third party operator TrueSwitch. TrueSwitch will search through your address books and find users already on Yahoo and shoot them a friend invite on your behalf.
The new chat window ups the ease-of-use factor, allowing users to drop maps, images, videos or links directly into the chat box when you want to share them with your friends. Being able to check out videos and images without even leaving your IM client is mighty convenient. Yahoo also made a reversal from their dime-sized emoticons, scaling them down to give them a much cleaner look.
The final big feature is the Yahoo Messenger Pingbox, which is brand new with this release. It allows for web site owners (such as bloggers, eBay sellers, and social networking power users) to chat in real time with anyone visiting their site. This is a step up over lurking your inbox, waiting for a reply e-mail from the site owner that you’re trying to get in contact with. For the owner of the site these Pingboxes are simple to use, and highly customizable. Everything from the aesthetics of the window, to sending out a broadcast message to your site’s users, you’ll be given lots of control.
Holy high core-count Batman, just imagine how many Chrome tabs you could have open with a 36-core Nehalem! But before you get too excited, this isn't some secret project Intel has been working on. The feat comes courtesy of Tilera, a small start-up from 2004 and self-proclaimed "industry leader in highly scalable multi-core embedded processor design." And with a 36-core chip, who's to argue?
This isn't even Tilera's highest cored processor, as the company introduced a 64-core CPU last year. This time around, the scaled down TilePro36 is being marketed as a midrange part suitable for devices like high-end video conferencing, according to Bob Doud, Tilera's director of marketing.
Intel and AMD needn't be worried though, as the Tilera doesn't target servers and home PCs, as the architecture would get summarily thumped by today's fastest chips. But for its targeted applications, the tiled RISC processing core puts out a bit of pep when configured in a distributed network, and the new 36-core version only sips between 10 to 16 watts.
As if college students didn't already have enough studying to do, it appears they made need to brush up on the fundamentals of PC security. For example, when presented with a popup, do you:
A: Click it, because what company would lie about promising to remove all your adware?
B: Click it, because in your hungover state you can't read what it says anyway
C: Click it, because that's how you assert your independence
D: Close it out
The answer's obvious for Maximum PC readers, but not so for those who reside on a college campus. The Psychology Department of North Carolina State University concocted a series of four fake popup dialogs, with one warning: "The instruction at '0x77f41d24 referenced memory at '0x595c2a4c.' The memory could not be 'read.' Click OK to terminate program." Only one of the warnings blended in with XP, and the others were designed to be easy to spot as adware.
Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), 25 students out of a panel of 42 clicked the button for two of the fake alerts, and 23 hit OK on the third. Only 9 of them closed the window.
So why'd they do it? Nearly half of the students said that their main concern was getting rid of the dialogs and the distraction they presented. Time to add Computers for Dummies for next semester's textbook shopping list.
Believe it or not, there are security options out there other than AVG. McAfee, being one of them (surely you've run across McAfee on an OEM rig or two), announced plans to acquire network security vendor Secure Computing for around $465 million. The move, according to McAfee, is intended to beef up the company's network security portfolio.
"Today's announcement of this pending acquisition is a natural extension of McAfee's security-only focus," Dave DeWalt, CEO and president of McAfee, said in a statement. "We expect the pending combination of McAfee and Secure Computing will create an annual projected combined revenue of just under $500 million in the network security segment of our SRM (security risk management) portfolio."
Before the acquisition can go through, it must first pass regulatory approvals and get the green light from Secure Computing's stockholders, all of which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
If you were raised on Far Cry, Athlon 64s, and Britney Spears, you probably never heard of Packard Bell. But for the slightly more ripened generation, we can remember PB as a prominent OEM up until it packed its bags and skipped out of the U.S. market nearly a decade ago.
But the company didn't disappear, and instead has maintained a presence in Europe. And like everyone else that manufacturers PCs, Packard Bell is prepping a jump onto the increasingly crowded netbook bandwagon. PB's calling its entry the "dot," which will be an 8.9-inch ultraportable with a full install of XP.
At its core, the dot comes built around an Intel Atom processor. Storage duties will be handled by a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of memory. Optional add-ons include a 6-cell battery, webcam, and a 3G module. After plugging in the exchange rate, the dot looks to sell for $584 USD in Europe this November.
Any guesses as to who will be next to offer up a netbook?
The timing couldn't be worse on this one for ATI, who has crawled its way back into contention with Nvidia's best silicon, and received a further consumer boost while enthusiasts remain weary over Nvidia's GPU problems. Now the rumor mill is spinning in ATI's direction, and citing "industry sources," TG Daily says that Diamond Multimedia have have shipped upwards of 20,000 defective HD 3800 series videocards. That's a lot of GPUS.
But it gets even worse. According to the rumor, Diamond Multimedia knew about the problem all along but decided not to pull the faulty cards from store shelves. Allegedly all HD 3850 512MB cards shipped between January and July suffer the manufacturing defect, while a "substantial number" of HD 3870 512MB and X2 videocards also show signs of poor soldering and integrated memory problems.
The issue supposedly came to light when Alienware returned its graphics cards it had purchased from Diamond Multimedia after finding failure rates to the tune of 10 percent, or so the sources say. Seemingly giving the rumor some merit, TG Daily claims Bruce Zaman, CEO of Diamond Multimedia, confirmed that there has been an isolated issue "with one vendor."
Perhaps the death knell for Blu-ray among sub 17-inch notebooks isn't yet ringing, even if Asus and Acer are reluctant to keep forging ahead. Or maybe Sony is intent on not letting Blu-ray drives fade from the mobile scene anytime soon. But whatever the state of the high-definition format, expect to see it in Sony's new wicked thin VAIO TT series of notebooks.
As is becoming trend of late, the VAIO TT sports a sleek looking carbon-fiber shell, underneath which sits a modest 11.1-inch XBRITE-DuraView screen capable of a 1366x768 resolution. The small stature and ultra thin frame helps the new notebook boast a manageable 2.87 pounds and a thickness of just 1 inch.
The new notebook will be based around Intel's Centrino 2 platform, with a Core 2 Duo SU9400 clocked at 1.4GHz and 4GB of DDR3-800 RAM providing the horsepower. For home theater buffs, the VAIO TT can be outfitted with an optional Blu-ray drive, and then beamed to an HDTV via an integrated HDMI port. Also erring on the higher end, Sony says users can stuff dual 128GB SSDs in RAID-0 array - oh my!
Pricing starts at $2,000, though the cost of entry jumps to $2,700 for the model touting a Blu-ray player.
WiMax has been heavily touted for its ability to provide last mile connectivity. As a result people have been keenly awaiting the advent of WiMax, the technology that is capable of sustaining wireless broadband networks spanning entire cities. But the wait for WiMax in the U.S has constantly been elongated for the past few years and the technology has never arrived.
However, Sprint is finally going to put an end to the wait. Baltimore will become the first U.S city to have a WiMax network in October. Sprint has scheduled a launch event on October 8, 2008 in Baltimore. Some other major cities including Chicago and Washington, D.C., are also expected to jump onto the WiMax bandwagon this year.
Leading internet research firm Net Applications has revealed that many early Chrome adopters are now reverting back to Internet Explorer and Firefox. User comfort is finally overcoming the curiosity that the browser initially educed.