Election Day wasn't the only event to make history on November 4th - the FCC made its own kind of history on Tuesday in approving the development of wireless devices that can use "white space" (the unused broadcast TV spectrum between broadcast TV channels, which ranges from 512MHz to 698 MHz). Unlike the close race between fellow senators for the US Presidency, the FCC decision to open up unused TV spectrum was unanimous, ZDNet's Sean Portnoy reports, despite lobbying against the rule by 50 members of Congress and a variety of recording artists worried about the effects of the decision on their live performances.
The decision (available here in PDF format) balances the hopes of companies like Microsoft and Google to make wireless Internet-enabled devices even more ubiquitous than now with the fears of the theater industry that exploiting white space will interfere with wireless microphones that use the same spectrum, and the concerns of the National Association of Broadcasters that using "white space" will interfere with TV viewing.
To find out how the FCC plans to make everybody happy in wirelessland, join us after the jump.
As it turns out, YouTube’s recent addition of their theater mode will be used for not only longer high-def videos, but full-length feature films as well. One of Hollywood’s biggest (and still unnamed) movie studios could be adding content to the site as early as next month.
Google has been in talks with major film companies for months about launching ad-supported movies on YouTube, and two unnamed executives stated that the deal wouldn’t be sealed immediately, “But it's going to happen. I would say you can expect to see it, if all goes well, sometime within the next 30 to 90 days.”
Currently Hulu is the leader in online hi-def video and YouTube is hoping to take a shot at the throne. Hulu has found an honorable halfway point between ads and content, but it remains unclear that YouTube will be able to replicate that. Google has yet to disclose any specifics, but a spokeswoman commented, “We are in negotiations with a variety of entertainment companies. Our goal is to offer maximum choice for our users, partners, and advertisers.” While blanket statements are fun, they leave much to be desired.
I suppose, with most deals like this one, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
While the solid state drive market might seem like it’s sprawling, Seagate politely disagrees… for now. The world’s largest hard drive maker is planning to get into the SSD game in mid-2009, when there will be more possibilities to make money.
Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins recently said in an interview, “The problem is you can't make money out of it [mobile flash memory]… I don't need to get into a market I can't make money out of. I can get into that market any time - all I have to do is show up with a product and price it. The problem is, I can't show up with a product that's any better or significantly better than what they're getting now so I have to match their price.” And, according to Watkins both Micron and Samsung (big names in the current SSD industry) are selling at a loss. “To do the product is not a big deal but to make money at it - it's important to us.”
Aside from mentioning Seagate’s will to do well financially in the flash market, some plans were finally outlined by Watkins as to just how they’ll break onto the scene. They plan to do so with a “combo” drive. The Seagate drive will feature both single layer chips and multilayer chips of flash memory. The combination of these two technologies will offset the pros and cons of each, providing both a reliable and reasonably priced drive.
Your eyes are great tools. Currently they’re reading these words on this screen (hi!), and they’re used to watch everything from paint drying to glorious movies. And while the movies are more fun to watch than paint drying, the latter of the two actually provides richer color.
The reason that movies aren’t giving your eyes the rich color that they so desperately crave is because of the range of color produced by current technology. The best digital theaters can only provide 50 percent of the range of color that your eyes can perceive (technical term: the gamut). While traditional film can give 60 percent, its decay makes it less desirable.
But, your eyes are on the verge of feasting on something fresh. New digital cinema projectors based on lasers offer the possibility of providing up to 80 percent of the gamut to your eyes. This is all thanks to a group of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a firm named Phoebus Vision OptoElectronics Technology.
While the concept of lasers being used as a projection source dates all the way back to the 1960’s, the bulk and expense of lasers made them impractical. Laser light of yesteryear also “speckled,” meaning that it would scatter off any rough surface, creating a shimmering and sparkling pattern. Or, in laymen’s terms, it would create a dull image.
Lasers still have a pretty sizeable cost; currently one of these projectors will cost 20 times as much as a normal digital projector. But, as the cost of lasers continues to drop, so will these prices.
Harvard believes that the settlement will lend a commercial shade to the Google Book Search service and that “the settlement contains too many potential limitations on access to and use of the books by members of the higher-education community and by patrons of public libraries.” However, Google can blithely continue to scan Harvard’s out-of-copyright material.
Although the $25 million settlement is yet to be ratified by a judge, the Author’s Guild delightfully labeled it the "the biggest book deal in U.S. publishing history." The deal has opened the floodgates for millions of extra titles to be part of Google Book Search. Users will have the option of purchasing a book – the revenue will be split between Google, the publisher and the author – after previewing it; the service will allow them to preview 20 percent of the pages.
Much to the dismay of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of Amercia (RIAA), BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay continues to grow at what might be a record pace. According to the file sharing site, its global user base now sits at 22 million peers strong, up from 8 million just one year ago.
"We would like to thank all the great and persistent uploaders that dedicate time to share," Pirate Bay writes in its blog. "But most of all, we would like to thank you, you and you! For it is all of you out there that makes this site what it is. Together; uploaders, seeders, leechers, mods and admins, we are The Pirate Bay."
Not stopping at a blog post, the file sharing site has applied to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for its supposed accomplishment. If the number of peers turn out to be real, it would mean that the other legal alternatives -- Hulu, Last.fm, Pandora, and others -- have had little effect on The Pirate Bay.
Seagate earlier this year launched the industry's frist 1.5TB desktop drive, which remains the largest capacity drive available on the market. To accomplish the feat without sacrificing performance, Seagate packed just four platters inside with an areal density of 375GB per platter resulting in what the company claims is a sustained data rate of 120 MB/s. It all sounds great on paper, but could there be something wrong with the high capacity drive?
A jaunt over to Seagate's support forum reveals an 11+ page thread of users complaining that their 1.5TB drives are exhibiting random freezes. Most of the complaints stem from users running a RAID array in Ubuntu, but mixed in are a handful of users claiming the same behavior being displayed in single-drive setups in other operating systems, including Max OS X and Vista.
According to the various comments, support inquiries have ranged from "Unfortunately, we do not support Linux" and "Again, these drives are not meant to be used in a RAID environment so we are not going to be working towards a solution for this environment," to "This is an issue we are currently working on. I know it's a hassle for now, but we're working on it as quickly as we can. As soon as we have information available we'll let you know." Other users claim they're being told a limitation error in Vista might be the culprit and they should try reducing the partition size to 1TB.
Any Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB owners experiencing similar symptoms? Hit the jump and let us know if you're having any issues with your drive.
Will the real Nvidia please stand up? Getting a read on the graphics chip maker is turning out to be nigh impossible. On one hand, Nivida has been hammered over a mobile graphics manufacturing defect that led to an "abnormal failure rate," much negative press, and questions about how widespread the problem might actually be. Then the tide changed as Apple announced it would be outfitting its refreshed MacBook line with Nvidia's 9400M GPU instead of Intel silicon. Is the company poised to fall or on the rebound?
Looking over Nvidia's financial report appears to raise even more questions than answers. For the three months that ended October 26, the company's profits have plummeted 74 percent to $61.7 million, down from $235.7 million one year earlier. But despite the free fall, earnings per share sat at 20 cents, or almost twice as much as the average estimate of 11 cents projected by First Call.
In terms of market share, Nvidia acknowledges losing ground to AMD's ATI unit, but also believes its on the verge of an upswing.
"We were caught flat footed at 65nm and our chip and board solution was just too expensive," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia. "We've made that transition (to 55nm) in Q2. And in Q3 we're through that transition and we're off and running."
Which direction the company is running towards, however, is anyone's guess.
If the Phantom Lapboard sounds familiar, it's because we covered the promising product earlier this year. After spending some hands-on time with the peripheral, it was clear Phantom had a winning design on its hands, provided the company could address the dropout issues with the mouse and other annoyances associated with the rodent. Whether or not the final version represented an improvement over the unit we played with was supposed to have been answered back in June when it was scheduled to be available in limited quantities.
June has come and gone, but the Lapboard is nowhere to be seen. Has it dropped off the face of the earth to become vaporware just as the Phantom Console did over two years ago? Not yet, and maybe not ever. Unlike the Phantom Console, which left Phantom's website as if it never existed, the company is still talking about the Lapboard. In a recent blog post, Phantom Development Consultant John Landino says Phantom has come up with inventory funding and paid for its first shipment of Lapboards, which the company hopes to start shipping in its yet-to-be-opened game store before the end of the year.
It's hard to argue with anyone who might be skeptical about this latest update, but remember that the Optimus Maximus was once well on its way to becoming vaporware before it started shipping.
Tough times continue to plague AMD and its employees. While Intel gears up for its Core i7 launch in just ten days, AMD is busy crunching numbers trying to figure out how to get its finances in order following almost two years of losses. Unfortunately for the chip maker and its employees, the despairing numbers add up to more job cuts.
AMD has already reduced its workforce by 10 percent earlier this year, and now the company says it will be cutting another 500 jobs to reduce costs and be more competitive with Intel. Once the pink slips are handed out, AMD will be left with a global workforce 15,000 strong.
"Today's announced headcount reduction is an unfortunate but necessary part of this process," AMD spokesman Micheal Silverman said, "to help us align our people with the focused programs that achieve our objectives, eliminate duplication of efforts, and allow us to operate more efficiently."
Silverman went on to hint that more job cuts might be forthcoming, saying the chip maker "will continue to assess AMD's programs, activities, and staffing needs" in 2009.