As Engadget puts it, the Windows Mobile news coming out of this week's CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show can be summed up in two words: "pretty" and "support" (for the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system).
Want a phone where "pretty" is more than case-deep? Designer Isaac Mizrahi, Design Museum London, and the Council of Fashion Designers are teaming up with Redmond to create fashionable wallpapers for the 6.5 version of Windows Mobile. On the support side, Microsoft announced support from over 25 companies for its Windows Mobile Marketplace (Word 2003 DOC link).
For more about what Redmond put on display, join us after the jump.
A-Data's newest external hard drives employ you to "enjoy technology with a touch of style." And by that, A-Data means you should decide between rolling with sweet pink, sapphire blue, purple, or a white color scheme for your portable storage needs.
The color selection comes courtesy of A-Data's CH91 external HDD line. Coated in a metal-like paint spray, the new drives are available in capacities up to 500GB (250GB and 320GB also available) and support Microsoft's ReadyBoost technology. The USB powered drives measure 134mm x 82mm x 16.7mm, feature a blinking LED to indicate power and activity, and comes with a USB Y cable, suede pouch, and backup software.
Dell’s business oriented notebook line of Vostros haven’t seen an update in quite some time, but the long awaited upgrades are admittedly worth the wait.
The new and improved notebooks include the 13.3-inch Vostro 1320, the 15.4-inch Vostro 1520 and the granddaddy of them all, the 17-inch Vostro 1720. These will all come with video conferencing software installed, if you include the built-in webcam and microphone, and feature the option of an SSD. And, those looking for extra security can take note of a fingerprint reader and an encrypted HDD option with Wave Systems software.
They’re available now for $619 (1520), $679 (1320), and $699 (1720) on Dell’s website.
No rest for the weary, especially Windows users. Following the Conficker.c scare that, up to this point, hasn't lived up to the hype, a Microsoft Security Advisory (969136) warns of a newly discovered vulnerability in PowerPoint.
"Microsoft is investigating new reports of a vulnerability in Microsoft Office PowerPoint that could allow remote code execution if user opens a specially crafted PowerPoint file," said the advisory. "At this time, we are aware only of limited and targeted attacks that attempt to use this vulnerability."
Microsoft said the vulnerability is caused when PowerPoint accesses an invalid object in memory when parsing a specially crafted PowerPoint file. The security hole makes it possible for attackers to gain the same user rights as the local user.
No fix is currently in place, however Microsoft indicated it may release a patch before the next monthly security update. In the meantime, PowerPoint users are advised not to open or save Office files from un-trusted sources (thanks for that gem, MS!).
As if the semiconductor market needed any more bad news, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) released a statement showing how bad worldwide sales of semiconductors have fallen in the past year, while warning that the industry has yet to hit rock bottom.
"The global semiconductor industry is going through one of the steepest corrections in its history," said SIA President George Scalise. "While it would be premature to conclude that the sales decline has hit bottom, there are some indications that the rate of decline has moderated from the final quarter of 2008. The industry responded quickly to the changing market environment by curtailing production and reducing inventory as demand slowed in late 2008. The world’s two largest foundry manufacturers have recently reported slight improvements in factory utilization rates, albeit at levels well below those of a year ago," Scalise continued.
According to SIA, worldwide semiconductor sales sat at just $14.2 billion in February 2009, a decline of a little more than 30 percent over February 2008 when sales reached 20.3 billion. It also represents a 7.6 percent drop from one month ago when sales were $15.3 billion in January.
Scalise warned that sales are expected to keep falling "well below 2008 levels" for the foreseeable future.
Maybe the world has gone topsy-turvy on us, but Biostar, the company best known for its budget motherboards, has set another overclocking world record, this time on AMD's Phenom platform. Say what?
Using Biostar's recently released TA790GX A3+ motherboard, Japanese overclocker "PcCI2iminal" and his team (Yoko) pushed AMD's Phenom II 955 processor to 6.16GHz and 6.20GHz, respectively, claiming the top and third spots for highest OC for that processor. In both cases, liquid nitrogen cooling was used to push the processor nearly 94 percent higher than its stock speed. The fourth highest OC sits at a distant 4.09GHz using air cooling.
Last summer, a Biostar board was used to set the frontside bus world record when an overclocker who goes by the name Youngpro manged to maneuver the Biostar I45 board's FSB to 725MHz (2,900MHz quad-pumped).
Good news for Digital Rights Management fans, and particularly for those who take masochistic pleasure in filling their machines with SecuROM-protected titles. Electronic Arts, the company who caused an internet uproar over its custom SecuROM implementation on Spore, has released a SecuROM de-authorization tool.
"Certain EA PC games with SecuROM digital rights management technology allow users to concurrently 'authorize' up to five computers at the same time to play the games, EA states. "Users can then play the game on any authorized computer they choose. If your EA PC game was released after May 2008 and has a machine authorization limit, you can now manage your computer authorizations using EA De-Authorization Tools!"
The De-Authorization Management Tool scans your PC to automatically detect games released after May 2008 with machine authorization limits. You can then download the game-specific de-authorization tool(s) to de-authorize your PC and free up a slot. Alternately, you can skip the scanning and jump straight to the appropriate tool if you already know which games are eligible (see list here).
Thoughts on EA's new tool? Hit the jump and sound off.
Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI), the company responsible for helping create Terminator 2, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park, agreed to sell itself to Fremont-based Rackable Systems for $25 million. At one point, Silicon Graphics had been worth $3.66 billion in 1997, but has fallen on hard times, seeking bankruptcy protection two times in the past three years.
"It's kind of sad," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group in San Jose. "At one time, SGI was really though to be where much of the creativity was going to occur in Silicon Valley. They were the guys kind of on the forefront of virtual reality."
SGI's fall from prominence can be traced back to around 1999. The company had started laying off hundreds of employees, its newly hired CEO resigned shortly after taking the job, and many of its customers turned to less expensive computer systems made by SGI's competitors.
Assuming the bankruptcy judge approves the sale, it's unclear whether Rackable will retain the corporate name of SGI or what it plans to do with SGI's 1,169 employees.
Many venture capitalists have drawn in their horns and are biding their time – waiting for the financial tempest to make way, but Google is unfazed. It has setup a new venture fund called Google Ventures. The group will invest up to $100 million in businesses that catch its attention. David Drummond, William Maris and Rich Miner are the people in charge of Google Ventures.
According to William Maris, an entrepreneur and investor brought in to oversee the fund, the fund will make full use of the company's links to search for startups. The fund will focus on startups in sectors like the internet, green technology and life sciences. The fund might be in its youth but it has already invested in two companies. One of them, Silver Spring Networks, develops electric grid management system and the other, Pixazza, is an internet company.
An Android-based netbook now seems a near certainty. Asustek’s Samson Hu, who heads the Eee PC business, had told Bloomberg that the company has begun work on an Android-based netbook, but did not promise a commercial version. But Asus isn’t the only one allured by the distinctive price advantage offered by Google’s Android OS. HP has confirmed that it, too, is deliberating upon the use of Android netbooks as an alternative to Windows in netbooks.
Though Asus and HP are only testing waters, Android-based netbooks may become a reality in the near future – perhaps as early as next year. All said, challenging Windows’ ascendancy in the netbook segment won’t be easy for Android.