Just a few months ago, we could have summed up the browser wars in single word: BORING! That's not to say we haven't appreciated the new features that accompany each new release of Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but the results and the competitors always remained the same. It's become far too easy to predict how each new round will go - Firefox will add new features, get a little faster, and inch ever so closer in market share, while each new IE release will suck a little less than the last and continue to be the most widely used browser on the planet. At least in the chip wars, AMD and Intel have taken turns putting the smackdown on one another accompanied by the occasional trash talk.
It took a surprise release by an unlikely newcomer to finally get us excited about the future of browsers again. Google's Chrome seemingly came out of nowhere and has the potential to turn what has been a stale two-man scuffle into a three-way battle royal. Along with greater stability, Chrome's claim to fame is that it can render web pages faster than the competition, and indeed a recent benchmark comparison has pegged Chrome as the new speed king. But in order for anyone to truly take Chrome seriously, Google has to put extension support at the forefront of development, and it appears they're doing exactly that.
Hit the jump to see what Google is doing to add extensions to Chrome, and how it will differ from Firefox.
Straight out of the “yeah, they’re still doing that” file, Greenpeace has released this year’s Guide to Greener Electronics. Since last year there have been plenty of notable changes for the better, but even more for the worse. Nintendo’s score continues to plummet, and Greenpleace’s traditional enemy, Apple, has fallen to 14th.
Nokia comes in at the top spot with some notably high marks in the chemicals department, and sports and overall score of about seven over ten. According to the report, “Nokia scores very well on toxic chemical issues, launching new models free of PVC since the end of 2005 and aiming to have all new models free of brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide by the end of 2009. “
Near the bottom of the scorecard is everyone’s favorite software giant, Microsoft, scoring only about three out of the ten possible points. “Microsoft remains in 17th position with an improved score of 2.9 points, which it earns mainly on the toxic chemicals criteria,” states the Report. “The company has committed to removing PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from its hardware products by or before 2010, and phthalates by the end of 2010.”
While there have been some that have spoken of the absurdity of the report, thanks to Greenpeace’s use of manufacturer information instead of conducting their own research, there are some validity to the numbers (as far as we can tell). Feel free to check out the report and draw your own conclusions.
After a brief look back at the original taskbar in Windows 1.0 (Windows turned 20 this month), the Engineering Windows 7 blog dug deep into the enhanced features of the Windows 7 taskbar in its most recent entry.
A More Visual Taskbar
The Windows 7 taskbar now features large icons, support for Aero Glass, and no text, and when a window is maximized, the taskbar and the window's title bar no longer turn opaque and dark.
Smarter Program Launch Options
Windows 7 no longer has separate taskbar and Quick Launch buttons for applications, avoiding duplications. Right-click a button on the taskbar, and you can open recently-used documents associated with the program. How can you tell which button represents a program that's already running? A new feature called Color Hot-track changes the color of a running program's taskbar icon when you move your mouse over it.
To find out what's new with thumbnails, the notification area, and for your chance to sound off about the changes, join us after the jump.
It's only a matter of time before someone comes up with a Fatal1ty brand energy drink (if it hasn't been done already), but in the meantime, Jonathan Wendel continues to have his gaming moniker marketed on more PC components, the latest being a line of power supplies by OCZ.
"These high-performance power supplies were co-developed with the expertise of Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, 12-time World champion, to meet the specific needs of fellow gamers," OCZ wrote in a press release. "OCZ Fatal1ty Professional Series PSUs feature incredible performance to power the latest graphics cards and hard drives."
The new 'co-developed' Fatal1ty power supplies will come in three configurations to start with, including a non-modular 400W, modular 550W, and non-modular 700W unit with a single +12V rail. All three power supplies are 80-plus certified and sport a red-LED 120mm fan. The 550W and 700W units also boast SLI-certification.
The PSUs are backed by 5-year (700W) and 3-year warranties (400W and 550W). No word yet on pricing or availability.
The new Street View updates allow users to see the streets far easier thanks to a new window that fills the whole screen instead of a small portion. It’s also coupled with higher resolution pictures that give you the chance to zoom in closer than you ever could before (hooray for the prospect of new sightings!)
On top of that, new navigation makes things easier. Pan the view with the A and D keys, and look at your apartment, license plate, social security number and list of fears up and down with the W and S keys.
The kicker? It’s not working with the latest version of Google Chrome. I guess that’s something to pay attention to in the future, huh?
The day that digital music outsells their time-tested physical counterparts is finally upon us. Just this week Atlantic Records announced that more than half of its music sold within the United States was digital, thanks mostly to iTunes and cell phone ringtones.
But sadly, with the lowered amount of in-store copies being bought, there’s ultimately a smaller pie to get a digital piece from. Analysts at Forrester Research are estimating that music sales in the United Sates will go down to $9.2 billion in 2013, from $10.1 billion this year. Compare that to the $14.6 billion in 1999, and there’s a disturbing trend for record execs.
It’s expected that piracy has a good deal to do with the lowering numbers, but the ailing economy could very well be a large factor. The real question though, is how long until an overwhelming majority of music sold is digitally? It can’t be too far off.
We typically recommend that those new to Linux get their feet wet with Ubuntu, but if you think you're ready to explore alternative distros, the Fedora developer community has announced the official release of Fedora 10. The release was originally planned to go live a few weeks ago but suffered a delay as Fedora developers verified its source code had not been compromised following a hacker attack back in August.
Like Ubuntu's recently released Intrepid Ibex (8.10), Fedora 10 is built on the Linux 2.6.27 kernel. The new kernel, which was released last month, offers better webcam support and the new Atheros ath9k wireless drivers, among other goodies. Firefox 3.0.4 also finds its way into Fedora 10's default installation.
ArsTechnica takes an in-depth tour of the distro's several new features, including the glitch-free PulseAudio (PA). In addition to support for controlling the volume of individual audio streams and movie streams between multiple devices, PA also sports some advanced capabilities, such as dynamic volume adjustment and network transparent stream redirection. But perhaps the biggest improvement to the rewritten PA is the significant reduction in the potential for dropped audio.
Other upgrades include a new version of the Network Manager utility, an overhauled RPM package, and a more tightly integrated PackageKit, which is a GUI-based package management frontend.
We've all used the web to research and help diagnose what might be causing that nagging ailment, whether it be related to sudden fatique or a new pain not associated with an obvious injury. But when you use the web in place of a doctor, do you tend to worry that your symptoms are indicative of a worst case scenario? If so, your real ailment might be cyberchondria.
Earlier this week, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study examining health-related web inquiries as well as a survey of the company's employees. The results of the study indicate that people who use search engines as a self-diagnosis tool often conclude the worst about whatever it is that ails them.
"People tend to look at just the first couple of results," said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research. "If they find 'brain tumor' or 'A.L.S.,' that's their launching point."
According to the study conducted by Horvitz, who holds a medical degree, and his fellow investigator Ryen W. White, a specialist in information retrieval technology, web searches for ailments like headaches and chest pain were equally or more likely to land surfers on pages describing dire conditions as benign ones. For someone who is suffering from a headache, search results would link the symptom to brain tumors just as often as they would with caffeine withdrawal, even though the chance of having a brain tumor is highly unlikely.
The researchers suggest that a combination of human nature to jump to worst-case conclusions combined with a reliance on web search rankings contribute to the tendency to be a cyberchondriac.
Does this describe you or anyone you know? Hit the jump and tell us.
In some respects, MySpace, FriendFinder, and every other social networking site could be considered a human flesh search engine. So could Google, Yahoo, and the rest of the online search portals, particularly when combined with incognito-based browsing. But in China, the seemingly sexual term takes on a completely different meaning than the first one that most likely popped into your head.
Instead, the term refers to vigilante cybermobs who collaborate online to hunt down who they perceive as wrongdoers deserving of the cybermobs' own brand of justice. Take for example of the case of Wang Fei, a former advertising executive. His wife posted several blog posts lamenting her husband's alleged infidelity before she committed suicide by jumping out of the couple's 24th--floor apartment. Following her death, cybermobs posted Wang's personal information on several forums, including his phone numbers, address, and national ID number. Someone painted a slogan on his door that read "A blood debt must be repaid with blood." According to Wang's lawyer, the harassment forced him to resign from his job after his workplace became the subject of abuse, and oftentimes strangers in the street would confront him.
Wang's story isn't an isolated one, though according to at least one expert, large-scale human flesh engines do appear to be unique to China, partially as a result of China's "ingrained tradition of 'people's war' tracing back to Mao."
Could you see this becoming a trend in other parts of the world? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Hynix this week double-dipped into the record books by introducing the world's first and fastest 1 Gigabit GDDR5 graphics DRAM operating at 7Gb/s, a 40 percent improvement over 5Gb/s GDDR5. The new memory is built using a 54nm process and can process up to 28GB/s with a 32-bit I/O, the company claims. On a 512-bit memory bus, bandwidth should reach as high as 448GB/s.
In addition to speed, Hynix also emphasized power consumption. The new memory requires just 1.35V as opposed to 1.5V inherent in previous generation GDDR5 memory. This means that the improved GDDR5 not only bodes well for future high performance videocards, but the potential for lower heat and longer battery life could also be a boon for notebooks.
Hynix says its 1Gb GDDR5 graphics memory meets the JEDEC standard and plans to start volume production in the first half of 2009.