Google has been a major boon to researchers, with their efforts to scan and index just about everything, but they haven’t exactly endeared themselves to copyright holders, a state of affairs which had cumulated in a lawsuit against the search giant by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. Today, Google announced that they’ve reached an agreement that will allow them to continue their book digitization project with the cooperation of the authors and publishers.
The agreement states that Google will pay a hefty $125 million, mostly to establish a Book Rights Registry. The registry will allow copyright holders to identify themselves and receive royalties.
Under the agreement, users of Google Book Search will be able to view up to 20% of any indexed book for free, a big increase from the “snippets” available before. Users can also view a book in its entirety by paying a fee, which goes to the copyright holder through the Book Rights Registry.
Also, local libraries will be able to offer free access to the entire texts of all of Google’s 7 million (and growing) scanned books.
Right now the settlement will only affect users in the U.S., though Google says they’re attempting to reach similar agreements abroad.
Do you use Google Book Search? How will these changes affect you? Let us know after the jump.
Considering that the use of fossil fuels isn’t getting any more efficient, it’s refreshing to see that solar power has been making some very noticeable advances as of late. Currently it runs about 15-20 cents per kWh, but coal power only costing 1.5-2.5 cents per kWh and nuclear being in the similar range, it’s clear that it still has a ways to go.
Thanks to a milestone announced by UNSW’s ARC Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence this week, it looks like that’s on its way down. They revealed the world’s first 25 percent efficient unconcentrated solar silicon cells, only shortly after they were given the previous record with 24.7 percent efficient silicon cells. Unfortunately, they missed out on the other three tenths due to misunderstandings of sunlight’s effect on silicon.
The Centre’s silicon cell is well on its way to the 29 percent mark, which is the theoretical maximum efficiency for a first generation photovoltaic solar cell. The new research is a huge boost “because our cells push the boundaries of response into the extremities of the spectrum,” according to Dr. Anita Ho-Baillie, head of the Centre’s high efficiency cell research group, “Blue light is absorbed strongly, very close to the cell surface where we go to great pains to make sure it is not wasted. Just the opposite, the red light is only weakly absorbed and we have to use special design features to trap it into the cell.”
Moore’s Law (which states that the maximum number of transistors on a given chip area doubles every one and a half years) has been a driving force in the hardware industry, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change. Some of the industry’s biggest names are dumping money, time and effort with the goal of extending this, with the goal of pumping out some über hardware.
There are concerns already ahead, with companies like IBM, AMD and Intel all looking to move ahead to 32nm, problems with controlling light at ultra low nanometer resolutions are looming ahead. But, thanks to research from the University of California Berkeley that wall could crumble, and usher in a new generation of ultra-tiny transistors, and even a brand new type of drive that could end up replacing Blu-ray.
UC Berkeley’s Xiang Zhang and David Bogy, both professors of mechanical engineering took a new approach that uses a metal arm similar to that of a record turntable or a hard drive, and utilizes a tiny lens that quite literally flies over the chip wafer. This would allow designs that are being made at 80nm wide to become much smaller. And even still, with the wafer being spun at 12 meters per second, production would be fast. "Utilizing this plasmonic nanolithography, we will be able to make current microprocessors more than 10 times smaller, but far more powerful. This technology could also lead to ultra-high density disks that can hold 10 to 100 times more data than disks today," said Professor Zhang.
What’s more, the new tech has the potential of being cheaper than what we’ve got now. 45nm technologies are expensive thanks to complex lens and mirror setups required to concentrate the light that’s required to read data. This new method, called photolithography, would only have one costly component, which would be a plasmonic lens. The rest of the components would be run of the mill, and drop costs dramatically.
It’s expected that you’ll be seeing this breakthrough in your very own drives relatively soon. Professor Zhang states, "I expect in three to five years we could see industrial implementation of this technology. This could be used in microelectronics manufacturing or for optical data storage and provide resolution that is 10 to 20 times higher than current Blu-ray technology."
With a struggling economy and an uncertain market, economic times are tough all around, but not just in the real world. Virtual worlds are feeling the crunch as well, as Second Life netizens are unable to escape their first life financial troubles.
News outlet Silicon Alley Insider reports Second Life's base of paying customers continues to decline. But that's just the beginning. Prices for virtual land have bottomed out, the site says, and Linden Lab hasn't been able to introduce new land into the virtual environment for months.
The inability to sell new land is bad for Linden Lab, who's business model largely revolves around this source of income as opposed to selling advertising. It's also bad for existing players, as Linden Lab just announced a revamped pricing model for its "Openspaces" virtual land. Beginning January 1, 2009, the monthly maintenance fee will increase two-thirds from $75 to $125 per month (those are U.S. dollar signs, and not Linden dollars).
For those not familiar with the game, "unlike normal regions that effectively get a CPU to themselves on the server, there can be up to four Openspaces on a single CPU (so 16 on a quad-core machine), sharing the resource." Linden Lab says that these Openspaces were originally intended for light use - ocean and green spaces - but they're instead being used with more content and heavier traffic than expected, hence the price hike.
Is Linden Lab justified with its price increase, or are existing customers footing the bill in what Silicon Alley Insider says is Linden Lab's Bailout Plan? Hit the jump and sound off.
You might not realize it yet, but we're at war, and the enemy is closer than you think. While you're busy planning your next PC build and which Intel Core i7 processor you're going to pair with that swank X58 motherboard that supports both SLI and CrossFire, there's an entire regime behind the scenes at Apple plotting the company's next move. Will there be another assault of Mac commercials aimed at downplaying the recent "I'm a PC" retorts? Maybe another round of rumors will spark both interest and hype into what life is like on the 'other' side. Or perhaps we should be most fearful of Walter Mossbert of The Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of The New York Times, arguably two of the most influential Apple product testers who always end up playing with new Apple gear before everyone else.
Be warned, the imminent attacks won't come from a single a source, but all of the above and many more. That's the bad news. And the good news? Sister site MacLife.com has already identified the top 10 Apple influencers of 2009 and presented each one's bio in great detail. And as G.I. Joe taught us in multiple PSAs, "knowing is half the battle."
Are you prepared to have your PC allegiance tested? Get familiar with MacLife's list, then hit the jump to post your thoughts.
The online Office apps will be called “Office Web Applications,” and will be available in ad-supported and subscription-based flavors over Office Live. It looks like the apps will work with IE, Firefox, and Safari. Support for Google’s browser has yet to be confirmed.
It’s shaping up to be a big couple of days for cloud computing. We can expect to hear a lot more from Microsoft during the rest of the PDC about what this technology’s going to look like in the future.
What are you the most excited about? Hit the jump and let us know.
According to the U.S. intelligence community, terrorists might be turning to web 2.0 tools for their nefarious plans, including a specific reference to the popular Twitter social messaging service. Most of the report, which was published by the U.S. Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, focuses on cell phone use, but a section titled Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter: A Red Teaming Perspective points out how terrorists could use Twitter to plot their schemes.
"Extremist and terrorist use of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists for surveillance," the report warns. "This could theoretically be combined with targeting."
The reports lays out three different scenarios in which Twitter could be used for evil, including one in which a cyber terrorist operative could find a Twitter account belonging to someone serving in the U.S. Army. Information derived from the hacked account could then be used "for a targeting package (targeting in this sense could be for identity theft, hacking, and/or physical."
Does the report have a legitimate cause for concern? Give it a read, hit the jump, and let us know what you think.
The next time you're out shopping for toilet paper, kitty treats, motor oil, and a gigantic jar of pickles, you can add a G1 Android-powered smartphone to your list and save money on that too, all without ever having to leave the store. That is, provided you're shopping at Wal-Mart.
Starting Wednesday, the mega-chain will begin selling the G1 phone to both new and existing T-Mobile customers in 550 of its stores, but there's more reason to buy the phone at Wal-Mart than just convenience. According to Wal-mart spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien, the G1 will run $149 for new customers, or $31 less than what you'd pay T-Mobile, who's selling the same phone for $180.
For those of you just coming out of a coma, the G1 is the first Google Android-powered smartphone on the market. Demand for the phone with an open-source OS has been high, with an estimated 1.5 million units already sold through pre-order sales.
Plan on picking one up? Hit the jump and sound off.
For the first time in the history of the industry (unless you've been keeping count), there have been more notebook shipments in the U.S. than desktops, according to IDC's U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker. The mobile milestone comes in the third quarter of 2008, in which notebooks grabbed 55.2 percent of the market.
Helping notebooks whiz by desktops was a record volume of shipments to the tune of 9.5 million units, an 18 percent growth over last year. The numbers come as vendors put increased focus on notebooks over their desktop offerings. Toshiba, for example, has put all its efforts into its notebook business, whereas companies like Sony, Acer, and Lenovo each exceeded the 65 percent notebook ratio, according to IDC.
"The consumer market continued to be the top driving factor in the notebook offensive but the commercial sector played a critical role too" says David Daoud, research manager, U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker and Personal Systems at IDC. "The consumer market has long favored notebooks, with mobile ratios exceeding the 70% mark. So it is clear that the small and mid-markets, as well as the enterprise and public sector buyers, are seeing good value in mobility."
What IDC didn't touch on was what effect the booming netbook market has had on notebooks surpassing desktop shipments. It was reported earlier this month that 80.6 million netbooks had been shipped in Q3, a 15 percent jump from one year ago. And the demand for low cost laptops doesn't look to be diminishing anytime soon (just ask Intel, who recently purchased the Netbook.com domain). According to Mika Kitagawa, prinicpal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group, netbooks are actually benefitting from the economic crunch.
The decision to go with a 64-bit version of Vista over its 32-bit counterpart remains a dubious one, but not so as far as netbook vendors are concerned. Most new laptops are now shipping with a 64-bit OS. Take Best Buy's newest shipment of HP laptops, for example, who shows 11 models listed as "new arrivals." All but three come with Vista 64-bit, with the remaining models sporting Windows Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro, also in 64-bit form.
Falling memory prices could be one reason for the sudden push into 64-bit territory. Of the 9 laptops outfitted with Vista, all of them come spec'd with 4GB of RAM. But is a 64-bit OS truly necessary to take advantage of 4GB or more?
"The 64-bit versions of Windows can utilize more memory than 32-bit versions of Windows," Microsofts writes in its FAQ. "This helps minimize the time spent swapping processes in and out of memory by storing more of those processes in Random access memory (RAM) rather than on the hard disk. This, in turn, can increase overall program performance."
Running 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS isn't a complete waste, but because most systems will only show around 3.25GB as being installed, it's easy to see why notebook vendors would opt for a 64-bit OS to avoid customer confusion. Throw into the mix that hardware and peripheral support in Vista 64-bit is very good and it becomes a low risk option.
Hit the jump and tell us what flavor of Vista you'd prefer to have on your notebook: 32-bit or 64-bit?