Pro: E3 was tons of fun. Con: It served little-to-no purpose. Sure, the California-based trade show presented journalists with a relaxed pace and a civil atmosphere, but the only thing it served up for lay-gamers was a heaping plate of disappointment. No big announcements, no mind-blowing demos, and only one or two cases of easy fodder for the Internet's flames. We can only hope the show will see a drastic revamp soon, because it's quickly circling the drain.
But let's not dwell on the recent past; today has provided us with plenty of interesting stories, including Peter Molyneux's MMO aspirations, another new Sonic game, and, er, Michael Pachter's damning comments towards E3. Ok, so maybe the past deserves one more quick peek into the rearview mirror.
In your May 2008 issue, you made warm comments about HD Inspector from AltrixSoft. However, the trial version is not really fully featured, as you said, since you can check only the primary drive. All other drives are blocked. Also, these guys charge sales tax on downloaded software. No physical product is delivered, and there’s no way to complain about this. The real issue is the sales tax. This amounts to a 5 to 8 percent surcharge on the price of the product. I live in Boulder, CO. I highly doubt that the company is licensed to collect sales tax in Boulder, or in any other small town in America. This is fraud, and you should look a bit deeper before recommending some of these software vendors.
Well, Tom, the Dog has an answer for you after the jump.
Not a fan of Vista? You're not alone, but you might be outnumbered. Microsoft claims it has sold over 180 million Vista licenses since launch, and while the significance of Vista sales have always been a point of contention, Microsoft has some other numbers it can now throw around that aren't so easily disputed. These include:
$60.42 billion (revenue for fiscal year ended June 30, 2008)
18 percent (revenue growth over one year ago)
$15.84 billion (fiscal fourth quarter revenue)
$5.68 billion (operating income, representing 42 percent growth over same period last year)
$0.46 (operating income, representing 48 percent growth over same period last year)
With Linux making headway as a viable alternative to Windows, it might come as a surprise to see Microsoft doing so well. But not only did Microsoft have a "strong finish in the fourth quarter, which capped off an impressive year for the company," but Chris Liddell, CFO at Microsoft, expects "another year of double-digit revenueand earnings growth in fiscal year 2009."
Instant messaging is a great way to stay in touch, but anybody who uses it extensively knows the pain of having friends spread out over different services. Ever install a bulky and bloated IM client for just one friend? Or wished you could instant message all your groupies without running 5 different chat clients in the system tray? Well IM providers and a handful of crafty open source programmers have listened to our cries. Free browser-based alternatives exist for all the major platforms, and all in one desktop clients are finally able to bring the competing services together.
Yahoo’s CEO Jerry Yang has scored a major victory against corporate raider Carl Icahn ahead of the crucial board election on August 1. Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, who owns a 4.4% stake in the internet company, has vowed his allegiance to Jerry Yang and the current board. Bill Miller’s support is being inferred as a fatal blow for Icahn’s Microsoft-backed proxy war as analysts don’t expect any institutional investors – that hold a stake in Yahoo – to back the boardroom coup.
The only glimmer of hope for Icahn is Gordon Crawford, who controls a substantial 6.5% stake. Gordon has hinted that he can align with Icahn but remains undecided. Yang wants to leave nothing to chance and wants to finalize a deal with AOL before the upcoming board elections, however, the chances of the deal going through ere Aug 1 remain slim.
Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (8.04) operating system has been flapping its wings in full-release form since late April, and now the latest Linux distro lands on pre-configured Dell systems. This isn't the first time Dell has offered Linux as an OS option, but up until now, OEM shoppers looking for a Windows-alternative were stuck using Feisty Fawn (7.04), bugs and all.
So why the nearly three month-long delay? Dell claims it spent that time in development to ensure a smooth rollout with the new OS, as well as testing for peripheral support, including ATI graphics, fingerprint readers, HDMI, and other odds and ends. Linux support has increased leaps and bounds from the pre-Vista days, but the emergence into the mainstream segment has been a relatively recent development, so it comes as little surprise that pre-configured systems using the latest distro release wouldn't be as quick to market as a Windows PC.
Dell currently offers Ubuntu on its Inspiron 530N desktop, Inspiron 1525N laptop, and XPS M1330 laptop machines, and is expected to add its XPS M1530N and new Studio 15N laptops to the lineup by early August.
Social networking colossus MySpace has launched a Pan-Asian game development contest. Developers from China, India, Japan and Korea will square off against each other to develop the best social game. The contest stipulates that developers be legal residents of one of the four countries mentioned above and above the age of 18 years. And no development team should have more than three members. The contest will culminate at the Tokyo Game Show and the winning social game will be plastered all over MySpace after being translated into English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese, besides that, cash and other prizes will be up for grabs. Registrations are open right now.
IBM’s Q2 results paint an idyllic picture as the company not only surpassed financial pundits’ expectations but also defied the gloom that currently shrouds the US economy. The company reported sales worth $26.8 billion in the second quarter and announced a profit of $2.77 billion – up 22%. The better-than-predicted result prompted IBM to revise its financial guidance upwards and now expects to earn $8.75 per share this year. The company has developed a strong immunity against the economic downturn due to the highly consolidated nature of its business and global reach. Its IT service division that caters to disparate businesses remains sturdy as ever.
Few companies wouldn't mind switching places with Google, who posted a $1.25 billion profit, but when you're the undisputed champ of the online world (or if you're Dr. Evil), a measly billion dollars just isn't enough. Along with earnings per share of $3.92, the numbers aren't adding up to what analysts had predicted, leaving many to wonder if the online advertising market might be taking a turn for the worse. Google Cheif Economist Hal Varian sees it differently, saying:
"Consumers are being cautious in their online spending patterns just as they are in the offline spending. Despite the weakness in the economy, advertising seems to be hodling up remarkably well in most sectors. This illustrates the point that we've made several times that during periods of slow economic growth, the last thing an advertiser wants to cut is its spending on search-based advertising."
But Varians comments did little to assuage investors, nor did posting gross sales of $5.37 billion, marking a 39 percent improvement over one year ago and hitting analysts' estimates. The company's shares still managed to drop 10 percent to $479.70 in after-hours trading.
Given the overall growth and $12.7 billion in cash, is the panic justified?
Phoenix Technologies has announced that its Hyperspace firmware will serve as the inviolable bulwark of NEC laptops. Hyperspace is a Linux-based firmware which ensures that indispensable applications like anti-virus and firewall keep on running even if the main OS is dysfunctional. The firmware works in conjunction with Phoneix’s hypervisor called HyperCore.
The Hyperspace firmware is also capable of running other apps ala Asus’ Splashtop instant-on OS but the version running on NEC notebooks will only support core security apps.The introduction of Hyperspace on NEC’s notebooks will guarantee enhanced levels of security to its customers as the core security apps will be immune to even the most sophisticated malware attacks.