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?
Maybe a plethora of new must-have gaming titles has caused demand to spike, or perhaps the price war between AMD and Nvidia has sparked GPU sales. But whatever the reason, overall GPU shipments in the third quarter reached a staggering 111 million units, according to research and consulting firm Jon Peddie Research (JPR). That's up 22.5 percent from the 91 million units sold this time last year, and 18 percent from the 94 million units sold in the second quarter of this year.
"The third quarter is seasonally up as OEMs place orders for chips to build inventory for the holiday season," said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of JPR. "However, this quarter was up more than any other for some time, and in spite of suggestions of a recession that started from the fourth quarter last year."
The big benefactor in the booming graphics market is Intel, who increased it's overall market share to a dominant 49.4 percent, up from 33.4 percent one year prior. Intel rules both the desktop and notebook sectors with a 43.9 percent share in the former and a 56.2 percent share in the latter.
We can't help but feel for Fallout 3. When it's not having drugs pilfered right from under its nose, it's getting booted out of India. But, as the most oppressed and censored game since Barbie Murder Adventures (later toned down to the more family friendly Manhunt 2), it'd be anticlimactic if Fallout 3's launch week trotted in unhampered. Good thing, then, that Bethesda seems to have made one vocal Washington D.C. resident a little hot under the collar with a series of controversial promotional materials.
However, today's Fallout 3 ad removal is a tad perplexing, as it simply asks websites to cast all official Fallout 3 trailers into their Recycle Bins -- with no explicitly stated relation to the D.C. fiasco. Says the email from Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines:
In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Our guess? Precautionary action -- brushing Fallout 3's "threatening" imagery under the rug to avoid more controversy. Great job on defending Bethesda's interests, though, (ESRB parent organization) ESA! So, who will the ESA tangle with next in its daring and valiant mission to "protect [game companies'] legal rights and legislative interests"? A quardiplegic kitten that licks people when its angry? An ally?
Dell has added the second product to its netbook lineup. The Dell Inspiron Mini 12 is now available in Japan, but will only appear on American store-shelves by the end of next month. The Inspiron Mini 12 is essentially a high-end netbook with its starting price nearly touching $600.
Although its name suggests that it is a netbook, its 12.1” screen – rather expansive for a netbook – tells a different story altogether. The Inspiron Mini 12 features an Intel Atom processor (1.3 GHz Z520 or 1.6GHz Z530), up to 80GB hard drive, 1 GB of RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi. It weighs 2.72 lbs and is less than 1 inch thick.