[04.09.2010 Update] Hey all. Just wanted to chime in real quick and note that Blizzard has caved in and reversed its "First Name Last Name" forum policy as of 9:47 a.m. (PST) today. That's Murphy's Law: 1. Blizzard: 0...
Ugh. I was all set to write this totally awesome column about how World of Warcraft's latest Real ID measures are The Lich King's gift to proper forum management, and it's just one more reflection of much of what I talk about in this weekly column--the idea that the walls are slowly lowering between our various online identities as we transition our lives into a tell-all kind of digital tale.
Of course, resident Maximum PC gaming pundit Nathan Grayson beat me to the punch. With respect to Mr. Grayson, however, I don't think that he's really covered enough ground in regards to Blizzard's announcement that any World of Warcraft players seeking to post on the company's forums will now be identified by their first and last names--the "Real ID" I speak of.
What I find most curious is that this situation blows open the various degrees of user permissibility in an open world of data. What does that mean? Simply put, there are varying levels of sharing that people are comfortable with in the digital age, and it's funny that so many are complaining about an unsheltered digital lifestyle that we're headed toward anyhow.
A company called Software Development Solutions (SDS) announced the launch of Jamcast on Tuesday, which promises effortless streaming of your music collection from your PC to any network connected source, including your Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles.
The magic happens with Jamcast's Virtual Soundcard, a software module capable of capturing any audio playing on a PC and then transmitting it over a wireless network to DLNA and UPnP-compliant devices. This not only includes other PCs and gaming devices, but smartphones, HDTVs, media adapters, home theater components, and more.
"Jamcast has really caught the attention of consumers looking to enjoy their favorite music from popular streaming services like Pandora and Spotify away from their PC, in the living room or elsewhere," said SDS CEO Scott Streaker. "Jamcast's Virtual Soundcard makes this easy when no solution from the device manufacturer or content provider is otherwise available," he added.
A wide range of media is supported, including MP3, FLAC, OGG, ALAC, AAC, WMA, WMA Lossless, WMA Pro, WMA Voice, WAV, AIFF, SHN, and PCM. There's also Playlist support for iTunes libraries, Windows Media (WPL), PLS, and M3U.
Intrigued? There's a 14-day free trial available, after which time you'll need to shell out $30 for a full license.
LaCie this week unveiled its Network Space MAX, a dual-disk Gigabit network storage and media server intended for home users. Extra focus was put on making the MAX easily accessible, regardless of skill level.
"Even for networking beginners, LaCie Network hardware drives offer a simple way to share one's media between multiple computers in the home," said Patrick Salin, LaCie Digital Home Business Unit Manager. "The RAID 1 capability of LaCie's Network Space MAX means users can be assured their valuable data is always safe and accessible."
LaCie's MAX solution comes equipped with two "large-capacity" hard drives that can be configured in either a RAID 1 or RAID 0 array, depending on whether you value security or performance. It also supports, UPnPTM/DLNA and iTunes.
Pricing starts at $280 for 2TB and is available now.
Juniper, a multinational company specializing in information technology and computer networking products, has unveiled new software, services, systems, and partnerships the company claims will help enterprise IT "dramatically" cut back on costs and reduce data center complexity.
"Today's announcements overcome the 'old network' approach to adding more boxes to boost performance, which adds cost and complexity to the data center," Juniper said. "Alternatively, optimizing for economics has typically required sacrificing speed, scalability and other performance needs. Juniper has now created a "new network" alternative for customers by delivering a cloud-ready data center architecture that eliminates trade-offs between experience and economics."
Part of the announcement includes new switches and routers that Juniper says will yield up to a five-fold and eight-fold improvement in performance, respectively. The other part involves new capabilities, including a new network application platform and Juniper Care Plus services portfolio.
"It's time for a fundamental change in the data center — one that opens up the network, makes it much easier to manage, and delivers the right experiences without sacrificing economics," said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Juniper Networks.
Anonymous BitTorrent? Sign me up! Literally--a new-to-the-popular-vernacular freeware application called BitBlinder is making waves for its ability to conceal your BitTorrent downloading behind a Tor-styled "onion proxy." What you sacrifice in download speeds, you make up for in raw anonymity. Simply put, you'll have a host of new protections in place that will bounce your location from system to system, creating a giant, untraceable mesh that routes your Linux downloads from an exit node all the way back to your lil' system at-home.
Seems like a flawless solution for limitless, untraceable downloads, eh?
You're not paranoid. Repeat it with me: "I. Am not. Paranoid." There' s nothing wrong with wanting to know just who accessed your shared network files, how long they accessed them, what they did, and when this all went down.
I commend you for being an altruistic Windows user and opening up your public folders for all to visit. But just because you're feeling friendly with your files doesn't mean that you need to throw away the keys to the kingdom--system security should always be in the forefront of your mind no matter how much you trust you've placed through the access rights for those in your personal network.
That's where a little application called ShareMonitor comes center-stage. This portable app, when loaded, begins monitoring Windows 7's public folders for any and all connections. And if you think this is just your average, "someone just logged into my network share, oh gee!" application... you're dead wrong.
Oh, Cisco. What a tease you are! The company's been pumping up the general Internet crowd for a game-changing announcement, one that would--and I quote--"forever change the Internet." I was honestly hoping that said unveiled device would be like, a super-crazy consumer router that would... well. I'm not really sure what it would do. Gigabit speeds are more than sufficient for anyone's home networking needs right now (when I'm looking for this column on a terabit connection in five years, I'll have a hearty laugh.) And it's not like we have a new wireless draft on the way any time soon.
It would have been nice and revolutionary for Cisco to embrace--you guessed it--a more open-source platform for its hardware devices. One, it's what I write about and, two, we're kind of in a hardware lull, don't you think? When it comes to consumer routing and switching devices, there's only so much one can do. Aside from adding on new antennas, shifting antennas around in new ways, or adding more ports to the back of a device, what's really propelling router technology forward nowadays?
Life, it seems, is never fair for any developer. Just ask the gurus behind Valve's Steam service. For the past many years, Steam has existed as the dominant digital-download platform of choice for gamers worldwide. While a few improvements have been built into the actual application one uses to access the Steam service, the program in question has remained relatively unchanged in its design for a good chunk of its recent existence. Which, in itself, is a polite way to say that it's been ages since an actual upgrade brought a new look, feel, and functionality to the Steam client.
As I think of the many different "platforms" on the Internet, I'm reminded of just how closed-off the Steam application is for conventional tweaking. Some of this is mandatory--there's only so much Valve wants you to be able to access for fear of somehow disrupting Steam's security techniques and gaining access to the vault of unlocked, free-to-download titles. Take a moment to wipe the drool off your keyboard; I'll wait.
What's stopping Valve from incorporating other open architectures into its service, however? What about Web-wide login protocols? Authentication for third-party services that could offer spin-offs of Steam's built-in stats-tracking? Heck, what about some customized user interface support?
Some might say Steam is too big to be able to successfully navigate open-source and open frameworks. To that, I say hogwash: If Facebook can do it, so can Valve!
Here's a fun fact - since 2003, the IBM Software Group has made over 50 acquisitions, which so far works out to about 7 per year. The latest of those was announced on Tuesday when IBM said it had scooped up Intelliden Inc., a privately held firm specializing in intelligent network automation software.
"Networks have become a critical part of the overall IT fabric, and organizations are demanding tighter integration and management of the entire infrastructure including applications, storage, servers and networks," said Alan Black, president and CEO of Intelliden. "Intelliden provides leading open, scalable and comprehensive network automation solutions, and this acquisition opens a world of new opportunities for our customers, partners and employees."
According to IBM, some 60 percent of network outages are caused by manual configuration errors. The company hopes its latest acquisition will help its customers avoid becoming one of those statistics, as well as improve staff efficiency.
IBM plans to integrate Intelliden's technology into its Tivoli Software.
How many YouTube videos do you watch on a daily basis? Worse, how many YouTube videos do you send to your friends on a daily basis? If the answer is anywhere near "one or more," and I bet it is, then I've found the perfect Web app for you. Because one of the tough things about forwarding along a funny YouTube video is that you're forced to watch said person enjoy the experience at their leisure. You can't force them to click play, nor can you really appreciate their laughter and enjoyment as it happens in real-time: You don't know how far along they are in the video, after all.
To address this grave concern, some enterprising folk have come up with a Web App that's one part chat-room, two-parts edit bay. It's called Synchtube, and I bet you can guess exactly what it does by the name alone. Don't let that dissuade you from clicking the jump, however. I'll explore Synchtube's many (two) features and tell you exactly why this little Web app is the future of multi-person video viewing and hilarity preservation.