Here's one you don't see every day, and have probably never seen before: A man with an embedded USB drive in his prosthetic finger.
After being involved in a motorcycle accident last May, Jerry Jalava was half a finger short of having all five digits on his left hand. On the advice of his doctor, who learned that Jalava was "a hacker," Jalava opted to have a USB drive attached to the fingertip of his prosthetic finger, instantly earning himself several hundred geek cred points. And if that weren't enough, Jalava earns a geek merit badge for carrying around a Billix Linux distro and the Freddy Got Fingered movie on his USB key.
On his blog, Jalava clarified that the prosthetic finger is removable, allowing him to detach and "just leave my finger inside the slot" until he's finished.
According to a study conducted by the Leichtman Research Group (LRG), US broadband growth was down 40 percent in 2008. The study surveyed the top 20 US broadband providers -- Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Charter, Verizon, and others -- and found that there were only 5.4 million new broadband customers last year, compared to 8.5 million new customers in 2007. But this was to be expected, said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG.
"The total number of broadband subscribers in the US doubled in the past four years, growing to nearly 68 million at the end of 2008," said Leichtman. "With increased market penetration, growth inevitably had to slow, but there was still room for 5.4 million more broadband subscribers in 2008."
Comcast claimed the most new subscribers in 2008, adding over 1.3 million, with Time Warner not terribly far behind by adding 847,000 new subscribers. The next closest competitor is Cox, who added just 275,000 subscribers.
Despite Leichtman's optimistic outlook, the last time that US broadband subscriber growth was on the rise was 2006, according to ArsTechnica. The average US broadband speed, which checks in at 2.3Mb/s down and 435Kb/s up, also lags behind other parts of the world, such as industrialized Asian nations averaging 63Mb/s down.
MSI adds to its notebook lineup with the decidedly mid-range VX600, a 15.4-inch model the company touts as "the best choice for value and performance."
The 'value and performance' is represented by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of DDR2-533/667 RAM, ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 3410 graphics with 512MB of video RAM, 160/250/320GB hard drive, WiFi, a 4-in-1 media card reader, Super Multi DVD burner, 1.3MP webcam, four "well distributed" USB 2.0 ports, and Windows Vista Home Premium.
The new notebook series also comes equipped with MSI's ECO Engine Power Management, which lets users switch between 5 different modes -- gaming, movie, presentation, office, and turbo battery -- by tapping the touch sensor.
The SSD market is maturing right before our eyes and it seems every new release comes with high read and write speed ratings. Such is the case with A-DATA's newest SSD, the 2.5-inch SATA II SSD 300 Plus. And the company couldn't be more excited about it.
"Adopting the latest breakthroughs in SSD technology and new controller design, the new 300 Plus SSD dramatically increases the performance on data-reading speed by 40 percent while writing 60 percent at least when comparing with a regular SSD!!," A-DATA stated excitedly in a press release.
The new SSD comes rated with a read speed of 250MB/s and write speed of 160MB/s, putting it on par with other recent high performing releases. The company says the 300 Plus SSD makes use of a special mobile SDRAM to reach those speeds by serving as a cache buffer for frequently stored data.
A-DATA's 300 Plus series will be available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities. No word yet on when or for how much.
After several delays, we were beginning to wonder if Firefox 3.1 would ever see the light of day beyond a beta release, and as it turns it out, it's not going to. Instead, Mozilla has renamed the once 'fast-track' update to 3.5 with a fourth beta scheduled for April 14, 2009.
"The increase in scope represented by TraceMonkey and Private Browsing, plus the sheer volume of work that's gone into everything from video and layout to places and the plugin service make it a larger increment than we believe is reasonable to label ".1". 3.5 will help set expectations better about the amount of awesome that's packed into Shiretoko," said Mike Shaver, Mozilla's engineering VP.
Shaver went on to say that the version change to 3.5 is indicative of the current scope and not intended to represent a significant increase 3.5's current make-up.
Still no word on when the next version of Firefox will go Gold, though if we had to guess, we'd say either May or June of this year.
When worlds collide, things tend to end badly. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning tried to send its ragtag, wax-on, wax-off-trained team of novices against WoW’s dojo, and it lost more than a few teeth. And now, Warhammer’s taking one giant leap right into a different world: its own.
Mythic recently announced (and presumably carried out) mergers between 43 servers on the first ever MMO competitor on The Biggest Loser. Characters and items stored on closed servers were apparently transferred to pre-existing, less corpsified servers.
If your old server’s now hosting TF2 matches for angels, note that all of your character’s items, friend lists, guild info, and ignore lists should have transferred to your new server, while items listed for auction, guild alliances, and in-game mail and attachments, unfortunately, will forever languish in the Internet’s lost-and-found box.
(On the bright side, though, we just discovered that "server merger" is really fun to say. Try it. Hey, don't judge us; we're bloggers -- not grief counselors.)
So, for those among you whose entire world was destroyed, how are the new digs looking?
Today, Microsoft released a trio of security bulletins covering all currently-supported Windows versions. Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 (as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008) need to install the update for the critical Windows kernel vulnerability noted in Security Bulletin MS-09-006. The other two bulletins (MS09-007 and MS09-008) solve important vulnerabilities in SChannel (007) and DNS/WINS Server (008); these bulletins apply to Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows XP and Server 2003 only.
Other updates to look for include the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool and the Windows Mail junk email filter. If you're on Automatic Updates, follow instructions to reboot if needed after installation. If you prefer to be in charge, don't forget to download and install these as soon as possible.
Amidst a jungle of ugly cases, iBuyPower has been managing to release some pretty impressive computers as of late. And, on top of offering all the latest processor that AMD and Intel have to offer, it looks like they’re pushing systems with Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision as well.
The Gamer Fire 640 will come with an AMD Phenom X3 720, 4GB DDR3, a 500GB HDD and a GeForce 9800GTX+, while it’s close brother, the Gamer Paladin F830 will come with an Intel Core i7 920, 6GB of memory, and a GTX 260 GPU. Both of these machines will come with Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and both will come with an Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision.
These machines run nearly $1,200 a piece, and are available for order right now. So, if you’re looking to check out the next step in 3D gaming, these guys are offering a pretty reasonable bundle to bring it to you.
Move over Western Digital and make room for Samsung with its new EcoGreen F2EG hard drive. At 1.5TB, Samsung's environmentally conscious hard drive offers high capacity while cutting back on power consumption by almost half over "competitive drives."
"Lower platter count means less power to start the motor, less power to continuously spin the motor and a lighter head-stack which takes less power to seek," said Andy Higginbotham, director of HDD sales and marketing for the Samsung Semiconductor Storage Division. “With fewer heads and disks, the F2EG hard drive has a lower probability of head-disk failures, enabling customers to build more reliable systems."
The EcoGreen F2EG hard drive serves up 500GB on each of its 3 platters. Combined with the company's EcoTriangle "low-power, low-heat, low-noise operating technology," Samsung says the F2EG reduces power consumption by 40 percent in idle mode and 45 percent in reading/writing mode.
In addition to 1.5TB, the EcoGreen series also comes in 500GB and 1TB capacities with both 16MB and 32MB cache.
The F2EG drives are shipping now to "major OEM businesses," with the 1.5TB version priced at $149 MSRP.
How hard is it to take on Google in the search business? Just ask Cuil, the little search engine that couldn't, which was developed by a handful of ex-Google employees. Or chat it up with Microsoft, who tried like Hades to acquire Yahoo for its search business, with or without Yahoo's consent. But whatever you do, don't tell Stephen Wolfram that it can't be done.
Wofram, who received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech in 1979 when he was only 20 years old, plans to unveil a project he calls Wolfram Alpha. Just as the name does not imply, Wolfram Alpha combines his work with Mathematica and NKS (A New Kind of Science) to the voodoo of online search.
"All one needs to be able to do is to take questions people ask in natural language, and represent them in a precise form that fits into the computations one can do," Wolfram said in a recent blog post. "I'm happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we're actually managing to make it work."
At least one other person is convinced Wolfram Alpha has a bright future. Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, says it could be as important to the web as Google, albeit for a different purpose. Spivack viewed a demo of Wolfram Alpha in action and says that the search engine doesn't just parse natural language to retrieve documents, but "actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions."
Whether or not Wolfram Alpha can live up to its billing as a "computational knowledge engine" remains to be seen, and as of right now, we'll get to see in May when the project goes live.