Private spaceflight firm SpaceX received another setback as its Falcon 1 rocket failed to make orbit over the weekend, marking the third time the firm has been unable to reach outer space. The first time came back in March 2006 when a fuel line leak and subsequent fire due to a corroded nut ended the operation. Then again in March 2007, the Falcon 1's second stage engine shut down because of a fuel slosh and roll control issues just before reaching orbit.
This time it was the failure of two rocket stages to separate that ended the mission about two minutes and 20 seconds into launch. The Falcon 1 was attempting to carry a small satellite called Trailblazer for the Pentagon's Operationally Responsive Space Office, as well as two small NASA satellites.
"It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on this Flight 3 of the Falcon 1," said Elon Music, SpaceX chairman and CEO. "On the plus side, the flight of our first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was picture perfect. Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together."
Undeterred by the third failed attempt, Musk promised to move forward with plans for a fourth flight, while also continuing to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon thanks to a recent "major investment."
Homeland Security is once again drawing criticism, this time over a newly disclosed policy that has apparently existed for some time. According to the Washington Post, U.S. agents have (and have had) the authority to seize and retain laptops indefinitely, which as resulted in some travelers reporting not getting them back. And not just laptops, but all kinds of electronic devices, like cell phones, music players, portable hard drives, and more.
While the policy isn't new, it's only now being stated publicly and the contents of the DHS document has civil rights activists and lawmakers up in arms. Not only does it appear that government officials have the power to seize electronic devices, but according to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, customs agents are allowed to analyze the contents of laptops without any suspicion of wrongdoing.
"The policies that have been disclosed are truly alarming," Feingold wrote in a statement.
Are you one of the forlorn Internet Explorer 7 users swept up in the wave of FireFox 3 mania? Do you long to make it cool to use Internet Exploder, umm make that Explorer, again? Do you want to help Microsoft do better with IE8?
Well, rise up and heed the call; Uncle Bill wants you! You can send an email over to IESO@microsoft.com and tell them about yourself and why you’d be a great beta tester. Maybe you’ll make it in and be part of the IE8 Technical Beta program for the second part of beta on Microsoft Connect.
Okay, so maybe AMD/ATI has earned some crowing rights with it’s 4870 Radeon videocard. It’s not on top in terms of pure performance, but its price point is closer to the sweet spot than Nvidia’s top card and the upcoming 4870 X2 will beat out the single GPU GTX 280 for about the same money. AMD however, is choosing to crow about the reliability of its ATI Mobility Radeon saying that it won’t suffer from faulty packaging like the problems Nvidia mobile GPUs suffered from recently.
Xbitlabs quotes a statement they saw from AMD, “In the past couple of weeks there has been considerable media attention regarding product reliability of certain notebook GPU die/packaging material failures. AMD is pleased to reassure our customers that our ATI Mobility Radeon GPUs are not experiencing any such abnormal field failures”
ATI chose eutectic in its ASIC packaging process, because the alternative high-lead bumps were known to be more fragile and subject to field failure issues if not implemented correctly.
“Package reliability is a matter of overall design and implementation. Factors such as the power distribution in the design of the ASIC, bumping process, bumping material and the techniques used to adhere bumps to the wafer all play an important role in the reliability of the packaged part.” AMD’s statement goes on to say.
Nvidia has remained mum on AMD’s statement. Xbitlabs says Nvidia didn’t choose to comment on the story either.
ATI's statement is pretty concerning overall. Is Nvidia still using high-lead bumps and if so, what steps have they taken to ensure that we won't see a repeat of the issue? I hope they will choose to respond to ATI's statements and either own up to the problem and tell us they fixed it, or tell us what is really going on. The ostrich approach of burying their head in the sand and hoping it all goes away is only going to hurt them in the long run.
It’s beginning to sound like Nvidia has a bigger problem on their hands than was first supposed. Can we expect them to make this right for those users with the screwed up GPUs in their laptops or will they put the screws to them and let the users take the hit? Sound off below!
DISH network became the first satellite provider to offer video in a full 1080p or 1920x 1080 progressive resolution on August 1st. The first movie they are offering in 1080p is I Am Legend on their Video On Demand service. DISH will use 1080p in place of 1080i or 720p whenever the content is available. The upgrade in resolution won’t be available for everyone. It will however, be available at no additional cost for any subscriber who has an HD DVR.
DISH will also greatly expand the number of HD channels that it can carry to 150 by this fall.
With cable and satellite companies to begin offering content in the higher resolution 1080p format closes the distance between TV and physical media such as Blu-ray and leaves the competition from download services like Apple TV and Xbox 360 movie rentals out in the cold.
It remains to be seen just how high a resolution do we need to be able to enjoy our movies or TV in. Is 720p really so bad? Many people just cannot see any reason to throw out their old DVD player and movie collection in favor of the slightly sharper picture available on Blu-Ray. The slow adoption of Blu-ray reflects this trend. For truly wide spread adoption to take place rapidly, we will need to see Blu-ray undercut DVD prices across the board. VOD and download services moving to 1080p may only hinder Blu-ray’s already sluggish adoption rate.
Have you already jumped over to 1080p or plan to soon? Sound off and tell us what convinced you to make the switch.
The new technology can replace facial features of a person featured in any image with that of someone else. The software is quite smart and picks features from thousands of images available on sites like Flickr. The USP of this software happens to be its ability to function flawlessly without any human intervention or support. Google can certainly give the face swapping software a thought, as it will not only be a more presentable alternative to obscuring but also bring a bit of comic relief.
When Vista launched over a year ago we had many compelling reasons not to upgrade. But as time progressed and Microsoft silently addressed our woes, it seems clear; the Vista of today could be somewhat misjudged. That doesn’t make it perfect however, and Microsoft has owned up to this by releasing a 14 page guide with tried and tested tweaks that improve overall performance and boost notebook battery life. This free and easy to follow PDF guide walks you through native tools built into the OS which allow you to optimize Vista’s performance.The contents are especially helpful if you are new to Vista, having just come from XP, but even Vista veterans are bound to find a few things of note. If you manage to make your way through the Microsoft guide and are still looking for more, a host of other tweaks and tips can be found in both our online archives and Maximum PCs March 2008 print issue.
Low cost ultraportables are starting to veer out of their budget pricing tier, a trend that will soon include Asus and its Eee PCs, the netbooks many consider to be responsible for popularizing the recent trend.
According to Asus president Jerry Shen, the company will launch more Eee PCs designed to address different market segments, including the high-end. Helping them to do it will be Intel, who Shen said is expected to keep shipping Atom N270 CPUs through the first half of 2009. So much for the Atom shortage.
Adding to the existing lineup of 11 Eee PC models, Asus will introduce two new categories, Ultimate and Pro Fashion, for a 2008 release. Both new models will come equipped with dual-core Atom processors and either a 120GB hard drive or a 32GB SSD. Models equipped with a solid-state drive will also feature a 10.1 inch 16:9 LED backlit panel, 4-5 hours of battery life, and command between $700 and $900, making them the first Eee PCs targeted at the high-end market.
Can netbooks still hold their appeal when approaching the $1,000 mark?
Shawn Fanning, the former Northeastern University student who created Napster and popularized peer-to-peer sharing, could never have imagined all the fuss the technology would create nearly a decade later. Comcast earlier this year drew ire over throttling Bittorrent traffic, and now AT&T is taking a hard lined stance against its wireless customers engaging in P2P activities.
FCC Republican Robert McDowell asked AT&T about its policy regarding P2P traffic over its wireless network, and in a letter, Robert Quinn, AT&T senior VP for regulatory affairs, said in no uncertain terms that its customers are strictly forbidden from usng P2P services.
"AT&T's terms of service for mobile wireless broadband customers prohibit all uses that may cause extreme network capacity issues, and explicitly identify P2P file sharing applications as such a use," Quinn wrote.
Unlike Comcast, who drew criticism both for throttling internet traffic and for initially denying it was doing so, Quinn also wrote in his letter that AT&T does not use network management tools to block the use of P2P applications, and that its customers are warned in writing that they could have their service terminated if caught violating the policy.
Social networking site Facebook finds itself needing to update its data center infrastructure to support new media applications, and Intel will be the one to help them do it. The two companies on Thursday announced a joint agreement that will see Facebook use "thousands" of Xeon 5400 quad-core processors built on a 45nm manufacturing process.
More than just hardware support, Intel will also work with Facebook to optimize its software for use with the bevy of Xeon chips, giving extra focus to making the software take advantage of the additional processor cores. Moreover, Intel will look to send a message that its microarchitecture can support the massive data centers that will support cloud-computing infrastructures.
"It's a big win for Intel in the general category of web infrastructure and by that I mean categories like cloud computing," said John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "Facebook has a large computing infrastructure that delivers these types of web services on demand and it requires the same level of service and infrastructure as a cloud-computing provider."
Facebook wouldn't comment on which OEMs would build the new servers, but according to eWeek, multiple sources have confirmed Dell and HP would be involved.