Wi-Fi is fast emerging as the most popular technology for wireless communication between disparate gadgets, but security remains a major concern. However, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering are working on an alternative way of connecting devices that will be innately more secure than Wi-Fi.
Moreover, an LED-based communication technology will enjoy a distinct security advantage. It will be more secure compared to Wi-Fi due to the inability of light to penetrate through opaque surfaces like walls.
“Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires,” said an ebullient Thomas Little, a BU engineering professor, about the idea. Soon, our networks will quite literally “light up”.
Just as we nerds have overhyped some technologies, we've also overlooked some even better alternatives. PC World has put on its thinking cap and posted its picks for the ten most overrated technology products and services - and alternatives that deserve a closer look.
So, How Would You Rate These Contenders?
Ultra-portable laptops versus mini-laptops
Microsoft Zune versus Apple iPod Touch
Windows XP versus Windows Vista
To discover which ones get the overrated razz, and which ones deserve some unexpected love, join us after the break.
Now that the possibility of Microsoft acquiring Yahoo has been wiped out, Microsoft is steadily trying to improve its standing amongst search engines through strategic acquisitions and deals. To this end, its Live search service has now been integrated into Facebook. Users can now search the web using Live search from the familiar search bar on the top right corner of the popular social networking website.
The search results are displayed within Facebook and are accompanied by advertisements on the right side - as is the norm with search ads. This particular move is being viewed as a giant stride – at least potentially - for Live search, although Facebook will still has to convince users to use the search feature.
Yahoo has single-handedly disproved Moore’s law, by finally updating their online calendar after 10 long, tech rich years. Tonight they will be rolling out a new drag-and-drop Ajax based calendar in a closed beta to Yahoo Mail users in the U.S., UK, India, Taiwan and Brazil (sign ups can be found here).
The upgraded calendar doesn’t do much that Google’s isn’t already capable of, but it does play nice with iCal and CalDAV and has a slew of new features, including; layering (viewing multiple calendars in different colors or subscribing to someone else’s calendar), zooming in when adding an appointment, integration with Flickr, setting email or SMS reminders, and a to-do list.
With this addition to their juggernaut of offerings, Yahoo should increase their market share in online calendars, despite already being the leader. Of their 285 million Yahoo Mail users, 8.1 million use the calendar compared to the 5 million that use Google’s.
It’s no secret that YouTube has yet to turn a profit. Despite steadily growing advertising revenue, the massive bandwidth costs required to stream a bazillion videos a day has kept the video giant out of the black. However, the company has announced an ambitious plan to monetize all those page-views by embedding their watch pages with “click-to-buy” links to retailers offering products related to the video.
YouTube is starting small, with iTunes and Amazon links on videos posted by certain record labels and trailers from Electronic Arts, but it plans to “slowly but surely expand the program to additional content and product partners.” They also plan to allow their advertising partners the opportunity to attach retail links to copyright-infringing videos posted by users, as long as they allow the video to remain on the site.
The program will initially only effect viewers in the United States, but if you live elsewhere and feel like you’re not seeing enough advertising in your daily life, don’t worry; YouTube plans to expand to other markets soon.
We’re in the midst of one of the worst economic meltdowns in recent history. Stock prices are plummeting, banks are failing, and the cost of food and gas is skyrocketing. So what are people doing to survive this crisis? Buying flat-panel TVs, apparently.
And not just TVs, either. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, sales of videogames, cell phones, laptops and GPS units are thriving, despite the nasty economic climate. The CEA suggests that this is a result of people spending less on travel and other luxuries and more on gadgets, which provide longer-lasting entertainment.
“Consumers are cocooning; hunkering down,” according the Shawn DuBravac, a CEA economist, “and since they are not traveling to see grandma this holiday season, they might as well be able to talk to her on the mobile telephone of their choice.”
So how about it? Has the economy affected your gadget-buying habits, or are you one of the iPhone-buying, grandma-neglecting masses? Let us know after the break.
Asus has recently admitted that some of their Eee Box desktop PC’s have shipped with a virus. While they’ve claimed that they’ve only sent boxes with viruses to Japan, it can be confirmed that other territories have received units as well.
As stated by an email sent out by Asus, the Eee Box’s 80GB hard drive has the “recycled.exe” virus files hidden in the drive’s D: partition. Once the drive is opened, the virus activates and infects the C: drive, as well as any removable drives connected to the system. Symantec states that the malware is likely to be a W32/Usbalex worm, which creates an “autorun.inf” file to trigger “recycled.exe” from D:.
With any luck, Asus will have this under control before they send out their next shipments. Until then though, be sure to look out for any of these new boxes shipping to a desk near you, they could be waiting to take all of your precious information.
Despite all the recent buzz surrounding solid state storage (SSD), it's the clear the technology still has a ways to go before challenging mechanical hard drives in performance superiority. The latest issue of Maximum PC (November 2008, pg. 40) pits several different SSDs against Western Digital's Velociraptor and Samsung's 1TB HD103UJ, and for the most part, the represented SSDs showed they're more suitable for notebooks than a desktop environment. And that's exactly the sector Super Talent is targeting with its newest batch of flash media.
Super Talent announced three new mini PCI-E SSDs it says have been designed specifically for the Asus Eee PC. The three drives - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB - each boast maximum read and write speeds of 40MB/s and 15MB/s.
"It's a natural extension of our SSD product range to offer SSDs for popular netbook brands," said Super Talent director of marketing Joe James in a press release. "Solid state storage is ideal for entry level mobile PCs."
Super Talent says the new lineup will go in mass product next month with expected street pricing for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models at $53, $79, and $149 respectively.
We'd venture to guess that most Maximum PC readers use Firefox as their primary browser, but when it comes to alternative browsers (those not developed by Microsoft or Mozilla), Opera remains a popular choice due to its feature-set and speed. For fans of the Opera browser, the good gets even better with the latest release, version 9.6.
Among the changes, the new magazine-style RSS feeds are sure to be a hit. The new feature converts any RSS feed into a magazine-like page with the articles laid out in columns, making them more accessible for casual readers to view content before subscribing or bookmarking it.
Other changes include speed enhancements for faster page load times, optimized Opera Mail with a 'low bandwidth mode' to retrieve emails faster when bandwidth is limited, and expansions to Opera Link which now include custom search engines and typed history.
Grab the new download here, hit the jump, and let us know what you think.
The era of quad-core mobile gaming draws closer as Asus gears up to release its G71 gaming notebook. Quad-core processors in notebooks are nothing new, but the G71 will use a true mobile quad-core CPU, specifically the Intel QX9300.
The 17-inch notebook uses a GeForce 9700M GT videocard with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM to push gaming pixels on the display's 1920x1200 resolution. Users can configure up to 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory, and on the non-volatile storage front, up to two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB. In other words, it will be a long time before you have to decide between installing a new game or storing porn.
Other features include a 2MP webcam, secondary keyboard display so you can keep an eye on your MSN Messenger IMs while gaming, optional Blu-ray drive, HDMI, eSATA, and everything else you'd expect to find on a modern high-end laptop.
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but did we mention it comes with a quad-core processor?