Microsoft Windows’ hegemony in the netbook market is currently unimpeachable. Contrary to conjectures and forecasts, Linux has failed to take control of the netbook market, a segment tailor-made for it. But can an entirely new Linux distro reverse the trend?
We expect to hear more than a few expletives being fired off in Microsoft's direction by some of its 1,400 ex-employees that were laid off last month. That's because Microsoft has begun sending letters to some of those that have been let go claiming it overpaid severance and would now like some of the money returned, according to TechCrunch.
"An inadvertent administrative error occurred that resulted in an overpayment in severance pay by Microsoft," the letter states. "We ask that you repay the overpayment and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to you."
CNet says a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the letter but wouldn't comment further, saying it was "a private matter between the company and the affected people." It's also unknown how many of the letters have been sent out, what exactly the "administrative error" was, or what the overpayments add up to, but apparently under-compensation also occurred.
Hit the jump and tell us if you agree with Microsoft asking for the money back.
From the 10-inch floppy disk to Super Talent's ultra-tiny 16GB Pico USB key, storage makers are always looking for ways to shove more storage capacity into smaller mediums. A pair of professors -- Ting Xu at the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Russell at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst -- have come up with a technique they say could stuff up to 10.5 terabits of data, which is the equivalent of 250 DVDs, into a disk no larger than a quarter. That's 15 times more dense than the densest data storage device that currently exists.
"If you can't keep up with Moore's Law, forget it," says Russell. "This is beating Moore's Law by a couple orders of magnitude."
Ping any power user's PC and there's a good chance you'll find he/she is using Google for search queries (who isn't?), Gmail for at least one email account, and maybe even Google Desktop. Throw in Google Apps and all the rest of Google's offerings and it's not hard to see we're living in a GWorld, but at what point does the company become too big?
This is the question raised by CNet, who points out that Google avoided one antitrust lawsuit by abandoning a proposed advertising pact with Yahoo, only to recently be hit with another by TradeComet.com. Such is the price of growth, which has seen Google take a 36.5 percent to 30.5 percent market share advantage over Yahoo in July 2005 and increase it to 63 percent versus 21 percent currently.
"You almost feel sorry for Google," said Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land. "They're doing a good job and people are turning to them. But when they pass 70 percent share, people are going to be uncomfortable about Google becoming a monopoly."
Jeff Atwood, a co-founder of Stack Overflow, says he has no ill feelings toward Google, but is definitely concerned about where the company will be in four years. "A world in which there is no competition strikes me as unhealthy," Atwood said.
Is Google close to becoming a monopoly? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Take two emerging fads -- 3D displays and gesture controls -- mix them together and serve at CeBIT. Fraunofer-Gessellschaft hopes this recipe will cook up interest from consumers, which, incidentally, the company says can even be used for cooking. "Someone kneading pastry in the kitchen, whose hands are covered in dough, can turn down the boiling potatoes by waving a finger without leaving sticky marks on the stove," the company wrote in a press release.
The iPoint 3D doesn't require any 3D glasses or special data gloves, instead utilizing a recognition device Franofer-Gessellschaft says is not much bigger than a keyboard. Two built in cameras detect movement from hands and fingers and transmits the gestures in real-time so that the "system responds instantly."
Beyond gaming and cooking, the company sees its iPoint 3D being used in hospitals, offices, or anywhere else that would benefit from hands-free controls.
Fraunofer-Gessellschaft plans to show off the iPoint 3D at CeBIT, which runs from March 3 through 8.
Adobe’s PDF reader and creator software continues to be under a seemingly endless attack, and a new vulnerability has the security community very worried. A critical flaw in all editions of its PDF reader and creator software will allow attackers to crash the application and gain control of a person’s computer. This vulnerability has been acknowledged by Adobe, but a fix is still rumored to be 2-3 week away. Initially the company will be working to patch version 9, but will eventually include fixes for version’s 7 & 8 as well.
According to the McAfee security blog, malicious PDF documents are already in the wild, and have been appearing across the web since early January. PDF exploits are of significant concern to the security community since the reader software interfaces very closely with web browsers. In many cases PDF documents are opened within a new browser tab, and displayed even with a user’s consent. According to Symantec this attack has primarily been directed towards government agencies and large corporations, it is not widespread as of yet.
The unreleased U2 album "No Line on the Horizon" was leaked onto Bit Torrent last week, and the resulting downloads have sent the RIAA into a frenzied fit. New rumors reported by TechCrunch have revealed that the recording industry might be looking to track down people who downloaded the album using Last.fm’s Scrobbler service. Scrobbler keeps track of songs playing on a user’s computer, regardless of the program used to do so. This information is then shared with Last.fm’s servers which broadcast’s playlists, along with recommending new tracks. According to unconfirmed sources within Last.FM, the RIAA contacted and obtained the logs of users who may have played the leaked U2 tracks. Apparently the logs also contain information that “can be used to identify individuals and will likely be shared with 3rd parties that have relationships with the RIAA.”
Given the fact that that no legal precedent would force Last.fm ito release a user’s personal information, should they be protecting its customers from the RIAA here? Let us know what you think after the jump.
Gadget lovers have a device for everything. We often have 15 different ways to check the weather, 10 for email, and at least 5 with built in cameras. What we don’t have is an unlimited supply of USB ports, and we often struggle to keep our army of doohickey’s charged and ready to go. This can become an even bigger challenge when we’re on the road.
That's why we were so enthusiastic when we stumbled across the Super Travel A/C USB Wall Charger. This $25 adapter can power up to 5 devices at once with the 4 built in female ports, and sports an additional 5 pin male connector for smartphones. I just ordered one for myself, and devices like these remind us why we here at Maximum PC are such big fans of devices that charge via USB.
Videogames? In web browsers? When did this happen? Boy howdy – next thing you know, they’ll be putting those suckers in televisions. What a world.
Fortunately, if you’d like to set up shop on the ground floor of this sure-to-be revolution, you’ll soon have the opportunity to frag a Firefox with Quake Live. Or frag inside a Firefox. We’re not sure which, but both options sound equally awesome.
The free-to-play, browser-based edition of Quake III Arena will flip its window sign around from “Closed” to “Open” on February 24, assuming the above official teaser isn’t some kind of mirage brought on by living in a world without Quake Live for so many years’ worth of when-it’s-dones.
So, who plans on joining us when we christen a very special new browser tab on Tuesday?
The original Mass Effect may still be priming the DLC buffet for one or two more bites, but that isn’t stopping BioWare from slipping gamers a small dose of its sequel.
The trailer in question can be seen here, and – for those who are deathly afraid of even the remote possibility of a Rickroll and would rather not click that link – not-so-vaguely suggests that Commander Shepard (your main guy or gal in Mass Effect) suffered a quick and clean off-screen death. And a permanent one at that – not simply due to bad camera angles.
But, to be honest, we’re thinking the rumors of Shepard’s death have been greatly exaggerated, mostly because the only other tidbit BioWare’s dropped concerning 2Mass2Furious involves reusing save files from Mass Effect – probably for stat boosts, character profiles, and other such pieces of space bling. Otherwise, BioWare could’ve tossed in a few “So, how about that one guy who saved the universe that one time?” questions, ala Knights of the Old Republic 2, and called it a day.