Absolutely no flatulence jokes will be blasted out in this blog, and while I'll do my best to hold it in, scientists are letting out concerns that a gas used in the making of LCD and plasma screens could be hurting the environment. The news couldn't have come at a worse time; plasmas and LCDs account for almost half of all televisions produced this year, and that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. Almost all of them benefited from nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) during the production process, a potentially harmful gas also used to produce semiconductors and synthetic diamonds.
Exactly how dangerous NF3 might be to the environment remains a mystery, and will likely become a point of contention. Skeptics will point out that NF3 isn't one of the six gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol international climate change agreement, a legaly binding treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but NF3 was only produced in tiny amounts when the treaty was signed over 10 years ago and production has since skyrocketed. Today scientists estimate the gas to be 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide and warn it could cause more global warming than coal-fired power plants.
Find out why the United States should be particularly concerned after the jump.
Recently in both the print and online versions of Maximum PC we looked at Nvidia’s CUDA API and what a GP-GPU future might look like. The one wild card in this equitation is the other big player in the graphics card market, ATI. Will ATI play nice by supporting CUDA and licensing PhysX? Or will it go its own way, a result which may end up killing both companies initiatives.
This holiday weekend many of you will be kicking back with a cold one, firing up the grill, spectating your local fireworks display, and perhaps catching up on a videogame or two when the festivities all come to an end. But while you're busy unwinding, hackers continue to look for ways to distribute malicious code and exploit vulnerabilities. Don't let what's supposed to be a relaxing weekend turn into a hair-pulling experience because you were caught off guard.
Update to Opera 9.5.1
Opera Software unveiled version 9.5 of its flagship browser less than a month ago, and the first major update is now available. Patching Opera to version 9.5.1 addresses several bugs and stability issues, and at least one "highly critical" vulnerability that could be used to execute arbitrary code. And it's not just Windows users that should install the update, but Mac OS X and Linux lovers too. Areas addressed in the update include:
Display and Scripting
View the 9.5.1 changelog for a detailed list of changes, and then hit the jump to see why you should be extra cautious about using the VLC Media Player.
Yahoo has been holding Hack Days since December, 2005 and is steadily increasing the frequency of such events besides taking them to different countries. If last year London and Bangalore played host to the event, it will be Taiwan’s turn in September, 2008. Hack Day participants have to make web apps within 24 hrs using Yahoo’s own homegrown API. Hackers don’t walk away empty-handed as there are various prizes for them. A splendid way of scouring for talent!
Google’s Street View service has already hit a roadblock in the UK, even before its launch across the Atlantic. Google would be hoping that this is just a hurdle and not a dead end for Street View’s UK version. Street View is an extension of Google’s navigational and mapping services that features photographs of locations on Google Maps and Google Earth.
A U.K rights organization, Privacy International, believes that the service violates people’s right to privacy as Street View photographs freely feature passers-by, that too, without their consent. The organization has been in constant touch with Google over the issue but seems unsatisfied with the answers it has received thus far. Google has tried to placate Privacy International with promises of a new technology - which it claims is under trial – that can identify human faces and blur them.
However, every bit the cantankerous and incredulous social rights organizations, Privacy International has asked Google to either furnish more details of the technology within a week or run the risk of being officially referred to the Information Commissioner, who can even gatecrash Google’s ‘Street View’ launch plans.
Privacy International has a plausible reason behind its skepticism. It points to Google’s track record of freely reneging on such promises; as it did with the promise of developing ‘crumbling cookies’ after acquiring DoubleClick.
Open source Gurus, rejoice! OpenMoko has launched the Linux based FreeRunner mobile phone today through OpenMoko's web-based store and will begin shipping it July 7. This new phone utilizes GNU/Linux and comes with core software needed for dialing, SMS and recording contacts. It will supplement these features with periodic downloads. Two versions of the phone will be available: 850MHz or 900 MHz Tri-band GSM to match frequencies in different countries. Black, oval-shaped and weighing 6.5 ounces, it also features a 2.8" 480 x 640 VGA touch screen, Wi-Fi (802.1 1b/g), AGPS, GPRS 2.5G, Bluetooth 2.0, two 3-axis motion sensors and comes with 128MB WSDRAM and 256MB NAND Flash.
Using the Openmoko mobile platform, the Free and Open Source Software community and create unique versions of the FreeRunner phone, modifying the way the phone operates and even the way it looks. They have opened the CAD files under a Creative Commons license to make it easy for industrial designers to change the appearance of the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner and select alternate materials and finishes to tailor the phone's look and feel. The phone’s odd ovoid shape really does not appeal to me and I can imagine might be the first thing to go. Considering it’s somewhat limited specs compared to other phones available today, it looks set to only be a real draw for those into open source software.
If you thought internet metering was taking things too far, try being a Virgin ISP customer. In a joint venture with the British recording industry group BPI, roughly 800 letters have been sent out to file sharers subscribed to Virgin, with thousands more on the way. These aren't 'Thank you for being a customer' notices, and instead the envelopes read "Important: If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected."
Despite the ominous warning and pressure from the BPI to implement a three strikes policy - where users of file sharing networks would be given two warnings and then disconnected on a third offense - Virgin claims the wording was a "mistake," saying:
"It is important to let our customers know that their accounts have been used in a certain way but we are happy to accept it may not be the account holder that's involved. It could be someone else in the family or someone living in a shared house. it could even be someone stealing Wi-Fi. We are not making any form of accusation." - Asam Ahmad from Virgin
Virgin went on to claim that there was "absolutely no possiblity" it would take legal action against its customers under the current campaign, and that it wouldn't hand over user information "under any circumstances." Normally such strong statements would be comforting, but if that's the case, why send out the letters in the first place?
Find out how recipients of the letters have reacted after the jump.
Data Robotics, the creators of Drobo, "The World's First Storage Robot" and DroboShare, which adds network capabilities to Drobo, have taken Drobo to the next level. Endgadget reports that Data Robotics has opened Drobo+DroboShare up to developers through its new Drobo Developer Community (DDC) and SDK program.
To understand why the network media server category has just gotten even bigger, catch me after the break.
As previously rumored, Asus' new Eee PC 904 will sport both a larger keyboard and bigger chassis akin to the Eee PC 1000, while also carrying a comfortable price tag of just £269 when it ships in the UK in mid-July. But in order to reach the low price point (and perhaps cope with Intel's Atom shortage), the new model will feature an Intel Celeron M processor instead of the popular Atom chip. Asus previously indicated the shortage of Atom processors would continue through September, a scenario which has low-cost panel makers more than a little bit nervous.
But the Atom chip isn't the only component playing a disappearing act; Asus plans to go with an 80GB hard drive for storage duties instead of a speedier SSD commonly found on other Eee PCs. Rounding out the spec sheet will be 1GB DDR2 RAM and Windows XP instead of the oft used Linux OS.
No word yet on when U.S. residents can expect to see the 1.4kg ultraportable on store shelves.
Developers concerned about indexing have thus far been hesitant to incorporate Flash into websites because of the challenge involved in making the content searchable. This despite the fact that more than 98 percent of internet-connected computers have Adobe's Flash Player installed. Search engines are able to index static text and lnks within Flash SWF files, but as Adobe points out, "rich internet applications and dynamic Web content have been generally difficult to fully expose to search engines because of their changing states," a problem which also exists in other RIA technologies.
To help get over that hurdle, Adobe announced a new initiative with Google and Yahoo to make Flash files more indexable-friendly by search engines. For its part, Google says it developed an algorithm that explores Flash files in the same way a surfer does, "by clicking buttons, entering input, and so on." Any text visible to a website visitor while interacting with a Flash file is also visible to Google's algorithm. And while Yahoo isn't quite as far along as Google, the collaboration with Adobe means it's now a matter of when, not if, SWF applications become more searchable.
Missing from this latest announcement is any mention of Microsoft and its MSN Search. It remains unclear whether Adobe purposely excluded the Redmond company, which owns Silverlight (a competitng format to Adobe's Flash), or if Microsoft chose not to participate. But regardless of Microsoft's level of involvement, expect to see more Flash content, whether you want it or not.