Can anyone challenge Google's dominance in the search arena? Right now the answer is 'no,' but don't tell that the Ask.com. The search site that started out as a verb (as opposed to Google, whose overwhelming popularity in pop culture forced it to be officially recognized in the English language) has gone back to the drawing board, much like Wile E. Coyote did time and again in vain attempts to catch up to the Road Runner.
Starting today, Ask.com will roll out a completely revamped version of its search engine, which is the first time it has been rebuilt since Jim Safka took over Jim Lanzone's position as chief executive in January (Safka previously held the same position at Match.com).
Ask.com's makeover includes search results from "structured" sources of data. For example look up Cops and you'll find not only the typical bevy of URLs, but also TV listings for when the next episode will air. Search results also come faster than they did before.
But is a faster, smarter search engine enough to propel Ask.com out of its position as the fourth most popular search?
Hear that noise? It's the sound of DirectX 10 (and 10.1) failing to make much of an impact on the PC gaming scene. The slow adoption of DX10 can't be blamed on a lack of hype or anticipation, and gamers might need to prepare themselves for round 2. ATI, stil the only videocard manufacturer to offer DX10.1 compliant silicon, is casting an eye towards 2009 and telling whoever will listen that DirectX 11 is on the horizon.
Currently showing off next-generation technologies at Ceatec, ATI said it expects to launch DX11 GPUs within the next 12-14 months. It's far too early to tell what impact that will having on the gaming community, but on the plus side, DX11 is expected to raise the bar in terms of GPGPU functions and multithreading, as well as bringing support for hardware tessellation for the first time.
ATI also says its on track to release GPUs based on a 40nm manufacturing process, though the company stopped short of offering a specific time frame.
Speculation regarding Amazon's Kindle 2.0 has been spreading since at least July, but it appears we might finally know exactly what the redesigned eBook reader will look like. The spy shots come courtesy of BoyGeniusReport.com, which shows a gadget that is "a little wider and a little longer" than the first generation Kindle.
Assuming the snapshots turn out to be legit, Kindle 2.0 will come with smaller buttons to help avoid inadvertent page turns. The scroll wheel gets whisked away in favor of a joystick, and the new Kindle also eschews its own charger in favor of a miniUSB cable. What you won't find is a touchscreen or an SD card slot, and according to BoyGenius this second run Kindle will use EVDO for downloads.
Thoughts on the new Kindle? Hit the jump and let us know.
Evga, the company best know for its position as a top-tier Nvidia partner, continues to try and build a reputation as the go-to vendor for overclocking enthusiasts. The videocard manufacturer was the first to officially support overclocking its GPUs without invalidating the warranty (only XFX has since followed suit), and Evga's FTW branded motherboards look to live up to the three-letter moniker with all the right marketing bullets.
Adding to the FTW series, and specifically the 790i SLI FTW, Evga has announced the 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM designed for aggressive overclocking. In addition to the usual assortment of high end goodies (1600MHz frontside bus support, DDR3 2000MHz support, SLI certified, PCI-E 2.0), the long-winded FTW Digital PWM edition bumps up the reference design from a 6-phase to an 8-phase design. The board also comes with 100 percent solid state capacitors and ferrite core chokes, both of which purport to offer improved signal-to-noise ratios and ultimately lead to a higher overclocking ceiling.
Overclockers comfortable mucking around with advanced voltage controls will have the ability to disable Vdroop in the "enhanced" BIOS and avoid sagging voltage at higher overclocks. And for those that are more apprehensive when it comes to advanced level tweaks, Evga's BIOS will include several pre-validated voltage settings.
PC World’s Paul McNamara contacted Google last week to see if the cloud computing titan would clarify its use of the word “beta”. Sadly from those who read the response, they clearly intend to continue bending the term to their own use. This on the other hand leads to a great community conversation starter. Currently 22 out of 49 non Google Labs services carry the beta tag, including popular and widely used services such as Gmail and Google Docs. Google’s official response to the question is as follows: "We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product. On the Web, you don't have to wait for the next version to be on the shelf or an update to become available. Improvements are rolled out as they're developed." If I’m interpreting my corporate double speak correctly, it seems clear that Google intends to continue using the beta tag to represent constantly evolving products. This makes me wonder, is it fair to use such a widely understood version label and turn it into a marketing term? Now it’s your turn to chime in. Do you like Google’s new definition of the beta tag? Or would you prefer they get off the fence and better distinguish new products from the old.
Open Office has been around in one form or another for over nine years now. But the once little known productivity suite known back then as StarOffice has evolved considerably over the years. Today the Sun Microsystems freebee is admittedly a fairly full featured alternative to Microsoft Office. Open Office in fact has become so useful that Maximum PC Editor and Chief Will Smith has admitted its open source charm (and free price tag) has finally won over his home PC for casual word processing. Fans of the platform have another reason to get excited these days with the impending launch of version 3.0. The new version will further improve compatibility when working with Microsoft Office files and will include additional support for the open file format OpenDocument which is to be integrated into Office 2007. For those looking to give version 3 a try, a public beta is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. But for corporate users looking to implement Open Office you should follow the links instead to the version named StarOffice. The retail version will cost you about $69.95, but it includes technical support and intellectual property indemnification. For those keeping track Open Office 2 launched on October 20th 2005 and the latest stable version is 2.4.1 which was released in June.
For Android to be a force to be reckoned with, the first Android-based phone has to be a success. T-Mobile is very optimistic about the sales prospects of its upcoming G1 - the maiden Android phone - which will become available on October 22, 2008. The service provider expects the Android-based G1 to take the market by storm.
Many Windows users have been running Picasa 3 for the past several weeks now, but Picasa development for Linux has always seemly lagged behind.This all changed on Thursday with a public beta release of Picasa 3 with support for all the major Linux distributions. According to the feature overview, the new version includes many of the new editing and retouching features missing in the previous version as well as a tighter integration with Picasa Web. For Linux users looking to further automate the process of importing photos you will also appreciate the auto detect feature that runs each time you plug in your camera. In a blog post by Google Software Engineer Lei Zhang he reminds the Linux community of Google’s commitment to their platform. Some of its largest contributions have been in the form of patches for the open source WINE project with over 2700 fixes. WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) is an application for Linux which allows users to execute programs written for Microsoft Windows. Want to learn more? Check out the November print edition of Maximum PC on sale now for an excellent how to guide on using WINE for gaming in Linux.
The phone is rumored to be headed to European store shelves first and might make an appearance there in about two month’s time. The new iPaq will feature a touchscreen, keypad and Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1.
A phone aimed at ordinary consumers might increase the popularity of the iPaq brand amongst plebeians, which in turn might have a positive impact on its market share.
TOM-Skype, the Chinese chapter of Skype, has been caught filtering and archiving text messages. The Chinese VoIP service provider has eight dedicated servers for storing messages that contain certain politically contentious keywords, according to a report published by The Information War Monitor, a Canadian organization that monitors internet censorship.
Tom-Skype, a joint venture between eBay and China’s TOM Online, also stores the usernames of all those people that exchange messages containing such sensitive keywords. Also, the service provider actively censors any politically sensitive keywords - some as harmless as “milk powder” - in messages. TOM-Skype doesn’t restrict itself to Chinese users but freely records messages and usernames of other Skype users from across the world as well (only those users that exchange "obnoxious" messages with Chinese users). To top it all, all the private data is available publicly as it is hosted on unencrypted web servers.