Microsoft's not exactly a new kid on the software block, but it's also never been part of the 'in-crowd' either, which makes its latest experiment that much more interesting. While services like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace dominate the social networking landscape, Microsoft will try to take a different approach with a new web service called Vine.
The service debuted in beta form today in Seattle and serves as a dashboard for users to stay connected with family, friends, and community events. True to Microsoft form, Vine makes its way onto desktops as a widget. On the main screen sits a map of the user's community and contacts status. But the real potential, says Microsoft, is in promoting Vine as a type of emergency broadcast system, both for emergency management officials and for family and friends to update their status during a disaster.
"I think long-term this is probably going to be a very valuable tool to help people keep connected, not only during times of crisis but on a daily basis," said Hillman Mitchell, the city of Tukwila's emergency management coordinator.
Vine, which is being made available to more than 10,000 testers from the outset before expanding into other test markets, is debuting with more than 20,000 media sources and public safety organizations, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Microsoft has posted a video demo of the service, which you can view here before hitting the jump and telling us what kind of future you see for Vine.
The ambitious One Laptop Per Child project was started with high hopes of bringing low-cost connected laptops to children in developing countries, an idea that so far has struggled to spread the way it was originally conceived. Giving the project a big boost, the government of India plans to purchase 250,000 of OLPC's XO laptops.
The big order comes as somewhat of a surprise. OLPC had once before tried to win favor in India with a pilot program that saw 20 XO laptops distributed to students in Khairat-Dhangarwada village in the state of Maharashtra, Arstechnica reports. Despite being a success, the country's Ministry of Human Resource Development raised concerns about what adverse health effects might arise from prolonged laptop use.
This time around, the 250,000 laptops will be sent to 1,500 schools, and that might be only the tip of the iceberg. OLPC India CEO Satish Jha said he hopes to ship 3 million laptops in India this year.
Ignoring the absolutely, hilariously awful second movie, the universe of Vin Diesel vehicle Richard B. Riddick is undeniably fascinating. Each of its good entries dishes out only as much juicy info as Riddick and a small cast of supporting characters see fit, creating a potentially infinite playground for Diesel’s be-goggled antihero to bully around. And, as with any well-constructed sci-fi setting, no trip to Riddick’s take on the final frontier is complete without a liberal helping of the four W’s. What’s the deal with this planet? Why is Riddick performing fistic genocide on half of its population? Who made these totally rad mechs? And where can I get one?
The answer to all of these questions is simple in Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena -- explore.
Or at least, that’s the logical solution, and in a universe where even a quick moment of hesitation is liable to end with someone on the receiving end of a knife to the eye socket, it’s probably best to avoid asking too many questions. So, during my still in-progress playthrough, I’ve been plumbing the grimy depths of Alcatraz’s out-of-this-world cousin, Butcher Bay. Unfortunately, as of now, the only reward I’ve received for all my exploration is a pack of smokes. And by “a pack,” I mean somewhere in the upper double digits. Suffice it to say, it’s a good thing Riddick doesn’t use the same cigarette storage methods as Solid Snake.
But for me, this literal smoke stack still presents a problem. Sure, I’m being rewarded for my constant exploration, and yeah, the Special Surprises inside each carton – ranging from concept art to behind-the-scenes tech demos – are pretty neat, but after a while, everything just becomes so predictable. Under those crates? A cigarette carton. On that ledge? A cigarette carton. Behind your ear? Well, you get the idea. And really, isn’t the main appeal of exploration – and, to an extent, gaming in general – discovery and subsequent mastery of the unknown? Why take a hike off the beaten path when I already know what lies just around the corner – especially when, in all likelihood, said main path will provide me with far more varied rewards for my trouble?
No more than a couple months ago Toshiba showed off the first 32 nanometer NAND flash chips, and soon they’ll be the first company to ship them as well.
According to a press release from Toshiba, they’ll begin mass production of 32Gb (gigabit) NAND flash chips in July 2009, and 16Gb products will begin to ship Q3 of this very year.
So, what does all this mean for you, as a consumer? Sooner rather than later, manufacturers will be able to start packing more memory into smaller places. This translates to bigger SSDs, and even more internal memory for your smartphone and other mobile devices. Ahh, progress!
Once Windows 7 ships, Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate edition users will be able to download a free Windows XP Mode upgrade from Microsoft, WinSuperSite's Paul Thurrott reports. What Thurrott calls XP Mode will enable these versions of Windows 7 to be almost perfectly compatible with Windows XP applications. Essentially, Windows 7 will have "Windows XP inside" when XP Mode is installed.
What is XP Mode? Officially known as Virtual Windows XP, it combines a hardware-accelerated host virtualizer based on Virtual PC with a fully licensed copy of Windows XP Professional SP3 which the user must supply [updated 4-29-09]. While, at first glance, this might sound like little more than a more convenient replacement for downloading a copy of Virtual PC 2007 and scrounging up a Windows XP Pro disc and license from a dead PC, there's a lot more to Virtual Windows XP.
As the WinSuperSite screenshow reveals, Virtual Windows XP will be able to share your system's USB drives, and when you install apps to Virtual Windows XP, your Windows 7 menu will automatically be updated with shortcuts, enabling you to run Windows XP programs in separate virtualized windows on your desktop. Although the virtualizer used by Virtual Windows XP is a host-based virtualizer, these features put it miles ahead in usability compared to Virtual PC 2007 plus Windows XP. And, because Virtual Windows XP's virtualizer requires hardware virtualization support, it won't bog down your system the way an unaccelerated virtualization host will do.
Are there any downsides? For a couple of potential gotchas, and for your chance to sound off, join us after the jump.
Back in September of this year Google launched their Mobile Search with My Location service, which allowed users of mobile devices to quickly and easily find nearby points of interest. And now, it looks like that very same functionality is making its way to your computer.
Google’s Toolbar will now feature My Location. This addition will allow Google Maps and their own Maps gadget to automatically close in on your location, allowing you to type less into your search box when tracking down the closest pizza place. “You can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results,” wrote Aseem Sood and Susan Ting, members of the Toolbar Product Team at Google. “This feature is similar to IP-based local search results announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user's Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.”
Unfortunately, the Google Toolbar will continue to be available only for Internet Explorer (someone should let these guys know that they have their very own browser too!), and there’s no word on an official release date. But, according to the official Google Blog, they “hope to bring you the next batch soon.”
Earlier this month the traffic monitoring service comScore released their global numbers for March of 2009. And, with those results came some astonishing numbers for everyone’s favorite compulsive microblogging service, Twitter.
Twitter.com’s worldwide visitors increased a whopping 95 percent in March from 9.8 million to 19.1 million, according to the report. It’s expected that Ashton Kutcher’s race with CNN to one million followers and Oprah’s introduction were both large parts of the traffic increase.
It should be noted though, that this is only traffic on Twitter’s site, not an actual tally of active users. And it doesn’t track users that use the service by means of desktop or mobile client. All things considered, these are still some pretty impressive numbers.
Most parts of the country aren't expected to see any more snowfall until next winter, but the relationship between Nvidia and Intel couldn't be any more chilly. At odds with each other over Nehalem licensing, netbook platforms, and other tech related spats, the two sides seem all to happy to take digs at one another when the opportunity arises. For Nvidia, that means calling to question Intel's claim that its Core i7 processor can improve game performance by up to 80 percent.
"I have a copy of Intel’s latest deck that they share with press and customers, and on there they have a slide that is called The Intel Core i7 920 Processor, where they claim that gaming performance goes up by 80 percent when you use a Core i7, said Tom Peterson, Nvidia's technical marketing director. "Now, I was impressed by that claim, and I was trying to figure out how they could possibly say such a thing, and it turns out that Intel is basing that claim on only 3DMark Vantage’s CPU test."
Peterson went on to point out that the synthetic benchmark's CPU test doesn't actually measure game performance, and to say otherwise would be disingenuous. To drive his point home, Peterson showed Nvidia's own benchmarks of a Core 2 Duo E8400 machine outfitted with a GeForce GTS 250 videocard. The PC averaged 41.6 FPS in Nvidia's testing, and only increased to 42.4 FPS after upgrading to a Core i7 965. But after upgrading to a pair of GeForce GTX 260 videocards, that number jumped to 59.4 FPS.
"In real gaming, there's no difference between a Core i7 and a Core 2 Duo," Peterson concluded.
Still like the Boston Celtics' chances of winning the NBA championship despite the likelihood of Kevin Garnett missing the entire playoffs? No matter who you think will win, if you're looking to place a bet online, you'll need to trust an overseas gambling site in order to put your money where your mouth is. That's because the U.S. Congress chased away U.S.-based online gambling outlets several years ago as part of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, a law which some say may be overturned, according to a report in The New York Times.
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, is expected to lead the charge at overturning the 2006 bill in matter of days.
"He supports the repeal and wants to move forward on it," said Steve Adamske, communications director for the House Financial Services Committe.
Despite the 2006 Act, online gambling generated revenue of $6 billion last year in North America, or more than a quarter of the global total of $22.6 billion. That's a $5 billion increase from 2006. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, if the ban is overturned, the U.S. government could potentially pocket more than $50 billion over the next 10 years.
Those who oppose overturning the ban point out that online gambling makes it too easy to get in over your head and can break up families. Some sports leagues also voiced concern that online betting could increase the risk of game-fixing.
Should the ban be repealed? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Green. It's all the rage in the technology world nowadays. You've got green hard drives. Green laptops. Green desktops. Green printers (with soy ink!). Green displays. Green power strips. Louis Armstrong saw skies of blue and clouds of white, but any geek worth his electric bill sees nothing but green. It's the color of the environment, and it's the color of all the cash you'll be saving by using green-themed applications to curtail your out-of-control PC habits. Or normal PC habits, because anyone can benefit from the open-source and freeware applications we're profiling in this week's software roundup. Best of all, most of these applications automatically take care of your green actions for you--set them up to run, and you won't have to lift a finger to tap into increased savings and Captain Planet-style goodwill.