President-elect Barack Obama will have his hands full trying to get the economy back on track once he officially takes office next month, and if the media reform group Free Press has any say in the matter, a major investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure should be high on the list.
In a 30-page reported titled "Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy", the Free Press proposes spending $44 billion in broadband stimulus funds over the next three years. The vast amount of funds would be used to build next-generation broadband networks, connecting rural areas without broadband service, making high speed connections more affordable, providing PCs and training to low income users, promoting children's access to technology at school and at home, and ensuring clear standards of quality, affordability, and competition.
"Promoting the deployment of a national, forward-looking broadband infrastructure will provide substantial short-term and long-term economic benefits," S. Derek Turner, study author and research director of Free Press, wrote in the report (PDF). "This deployment effort will immediately create tens of thousands of new jobs in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors."
The United States ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with over 40 percent of all U.S. homes still without a high speed connection. Obama previously said that investing in computers and broadband for schools and hospitals would be part of his immediate economic recovery plans, but no specific amount was ever mentioned.
Would spending $44 billion be overboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
Most seasoned enthusiasts have at least one fond memory of an Abit motherboard that overclocked like nobody's business, a trait which propelled the company into legendary status. But just as Abit had risen to the top, the company fell even quicker following questionable management decisions, and the Abit brand name was sold to Universal Scientific Industrial (USI) two years ago. Abit's presence has never been the same, and after December 31st, it will no longer exist, says TweakTown.
News and review site TweakTown appears to have intimate knowledge that USI will shut down Abit after next week. The decision follows failed expectations of USI for Abit's business, which reportedly sold between two to three million motherboards last year. This year, sales are even lower.
Old school enthusiasts hoping for a last minute stay of execution may want to keep crossing their fingers. According to Abit's website, the company's "US branch will be shutdown during the Christmas holidays, [and] normal operation will resume on Jan. 5, 2009."
The prevailing zeitgeist has got people adamant upon conserving as much as possible and that obsession manifests in ways you don’t generally expect. A Dutch firm, Spranq, has come up with a font that can save ink consumption by 20%. The secret of the font, aptly titled Ecofont, lies in the fact that every character is pocked with holes galore. And quite obviously, rocket scientists, this implies that less ink is required to print a character compared to a generic font devoid of holes. The innovative font can be downloaded free of cost.
Here’s a curveball for you. According to Gamasutra, Warren Spector -- the man behind mega-tons like Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock – is currently giving Disney’s rodent-king an “epic” makeover. Yep, Spector’s trading guns and leather for hop ‘n’ bop, and Mickey’s trading his steamboat for steampunk.
Gamasutra saw a few illicit pics of this very special episode of trading spaces, and noted that the game is set to feature “cities assembled from junk” and “a surreal seashore invasion scene, in which machines wearing the faces of the Seven Dwarfs deposit old-fashioned renditions of Disney characters onto the beach with mechanical hands.”
We know what we’ll be having nightmares about tonight!
Aside from that, however, little is known about the “distinctly shadowed, steampunk” game. In a Junction Point blog entry, Spector claimed that it's a collaboration between Disney and Pixar, but the information trail smacks into brick wall after that.
If you're of "a certain age," you might remember when "computer literacy" equaled "everyone will be a programmer." Unfortunately, the limitations of BASIC (line numbers leading to incomprehensible "spaghetti code," primitive graphics, and no syntax checking) made most would-be programmers dropouts.
I haven't written a computer program in over 20 years, but Microsoft has introduced a modern, easy-to-use language designed for the masses (and for dropouts like me): Small Basic.
Small Basic, available in pre-release version 0.2, runs on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Vista 64-bit Editions Service Pack 1, Windows XP, Windows XP 64-bit. It relies on .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, which you will need to install if you don't have it already.
This Ain't Your Daddy's BASIC
Microsoft says that Small Basic "is a project that is aimed at making computer programming accessible to beginners. The project comprises a simple programming language that gathers inspiration from the original BASIC programming language; a modern and attractive programming environment; and rich, extensible libraries. Together they make programming fun for kids and adults alike."
So, what's special about Small Basic, and how can you learn more about it? Join us after the jump for all the details.
“Let’s see… I’ll take one copy of Spore – hold the SecuROM DRM, please.”
“Oh, er, sorry. Your order’s already slathered in DRM and, well, we can’t remove it. If you come back in a couple weeks, though, we might be able to scrape off a bit of it. Sound good?”
Has something like this ever happened to you? A pleasant Sunday afternoon installation spoiled by SecuROM’s goon squad? Well, no more. At least, if you ride under Steam’s banner.
“EA is one of the industry’s largest publishers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “The EA titles coming to Steam this holiday include some this year’s top PC titles.”
He’s not kidding, either. Titles like Spore, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover, and FIFA Manager 2009 are already available, with Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3, and Dead Space moving in with the Freeman family in the “coming weeks.” And, of course, these games will conform to Steam’s standards; in other words, no SecuROM whatsoever.
So, does this mean we can all finally kiss and make up with EA, and notice that it’s released some damn good games over the past year? C’mon now; it’s Christmas.
Well, it’s not completely a mystery, but with a tagline like “On the 9th of January you will change the way you look at laptops. Forever,” you can’t help but be a little titillated.
It looks like Sony couldn’t let Dell be the only laptop vendor that had a secret (but not so secret) launch on the horizon. Their latest in the Vaio series was packing its very own launch site with a counter, but it would appear that at time of press they’ve taken it down. Still, the secret lingers.
We’re not sure if the pressure was just too much, or that they’ve mixed up on the release counter somewhere, but it is still expected that at CES 2009 they will announce the new notebook (or netbook?).
If anyone else out there would care to keep the rumor mill going with your own secret launch, do so now. It appears to be the thing to do!
While it’s no secret that the Australian government is a fan of censoring and filtering the country’s Internet, they’re taking a bold new step this time. They’re planning to block BitTorrent completely.
The move comes from the Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy, who wrote in a blog post that he’s planning to oversee a trial if technology could filter data sent directly between computers as opposed to data downloaded from a central server. “Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial,” said Senator Conroy.
“I'm aware that this proposal has attracted significant debate and criticism – on this blog and at other places in the blogosphere,” Senator Conroy wrote. And how does he plan to follow that debate? “I'm following the debate at sites like Whirlpool and GetUp and on Twitter at #nocleanfeed.”
Microsoft recently announced to its system-building partners that they would extend the pull date on Windows XP past the originally announced January 31, 2009.
These system builders are going to be allowed orders of XP all the way up until January 31, and they can ship them until May 30. “This is a good solution to support the customers that are standardized still on XP,” stated Michael Schwab, the co-president of D&H Distributing. “In this case, people contemplated buying in larger quantities [of XP licenses] and holding on to them. But that would have caused a bubble [from] people buying five months of supply in January.”
This appears to be another sign of the market’s resistance to getting Windows Vista. Despite all the clever ads, it still seems that people prefer Windows XP to the pretty new OS.
What about you? Are you still set in your XP ways or have you moved on to Vista? Let us know in the comments.
Depending on the manufacturer of your notebook, finding updated drivers can be somewhat of a pain. After all, we are assuming that searching through a tangled index of cryptic model numbers probably wasn’t the game you intended to play when you bought your gaming notebook. That’s why we are pleased to pass on the contents of a press release we received from Nvidia which is intended to spread the good news. Your laptop’s GPU drivers can now be obtained directly from Nvidia.com. Using a generic driver platform should allow notebook owners to receive much more timely updates similar to their desktop based brethren. As of right now, only owners of 7, 8, and 9 series GeForce chips as well as Quadro qualify for this offer, but it’s a great start.
To further sweeten the pot, owners of 8 and 9 series GeForce chips will be given both PhysX and CUDA support through the beta driver available. A WHQL certified driver is planned for release early next year. This will go a long way towards ensuring better compatibility on gaming laptops and is something I’m sure we would all like to see migrate to other hardware manufacturers.