Microsoft has released a free iPhone app called TagReader. It happens to be the software bellwether’s second iPhone app after SeaDragon Mobile. Using TagReader, iPhone users can photograph a tag (Microsoft’s vivid version of barcodes) to search for information related to that particular tag without having to type in anything.
If you snap a tag on a person’s visiting card using the TagReader iPhone app, then your search will, in all likelihood, yield results related to that person. The app sounds fun from the off, but its usefulness is contingent upon the success of Microsoft Tag, which is currently in beta. You can create your own tags here and eventually test the usefulness of TagReader by snapping them.
According to Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, the International Revenue Service should start taxing the economies of Second Life, World of Warcraft and other virtual worlds. In an annual report posted on the IRS website, Olsen has stated that there are a number of issues that the IRS should address before they get out of control.
"Economic activities associated with virtual worlds may present an emerging area of noncompliance, in part, because the IRS has not issued guidance about whether and how taxpayers should report such activities," Olson writes in her report. Alongside that, she identifies that almost all income is subject to taxation, even prizes and winnings.
This isn’t the first time this issue has been mentioned, though. Since 2003 people both on and offline have looked ad the taxation of virtual economies and Dan Miller, a senior economist for the congressional Joint Economic Committee, has started playing with the idea of taxing MMORPGs after he’d taken a step into online gaming.
With any luck, this won’t come full circle. It would be a huge burden on taxpayers, having to report their every move in World of Warcraft to Uncle Sam, but who would really want to get caught up in paperwork just to play a video game?
Marvell’s ambitions have gotten pretty substantial as of late, as they’re currently placing claim on the ability to pack a 1GHz processor into a cell phone. Using their Sheeva Technology, their PXA168 is looking to change the way that consumer electronics operate.
"Marvell prides itself on being at the forefront of innovation, and developing products that give consumers what they want before they even know it can exist," stated Roawen Chen, vice president and general manager of Communications and Computing Business Group at Marvell. "For the first time, consumers can utilize the processing power of Marvell's Sheeva technology in their low-power digital devices. With the Marvell PXA168 they get gigahertz plus processor speeds, coupled with a WMMX2 SIMD co-processor, creating the opportunity for whole new markets such as low-cost mobile computing devices."
While the first device that this seems it would impact would be Apple’s iPhone, the PXA168 currently only supports Linux and Windows CE (as well as all standard audio and video codecs and Adobe Flash). It hasn’t been mentioned when we can expect to see the chip in consumer devices, but it is said that Marvell is already working with third-party developers to port their applications.
Nvidia stands at a crossroads, with two closed, proprietary APIs that have mainstream potential: the general-purpose computing CUDA API, and the PhysX physics-acceleration API, which sits on top of CUDA. These are both promising technologies, but only owners of Nvidia hardware can harness their power. Meanwhile, there are two emerging open standards that mirror what Nvidia is doing with its proprietary development. One is OpenCL 1.0, and the other is a general-purpose GPU computing API, which Microsoft will include in DirectX 11. There are a relatively small number of consumer applications that use CUDA, PhysX, or OpenCL right now, but the possible applications for the tech are endless—grossly simplified, these APIs let graphics chips perform CPU-like functions.
The question Nvidia needs to be asking is simple: Will developers write their general-purpose GPU computing apps using a proprietary API that works on only a subset of PCs—those stuffed with Nvidia hardware—or will they use an open API that will work on every PC on the market?
QNAP is a company that hasn’t had a release in some time, but it’s clear they weren’t up to nothing. Their latest release, the TS-639 Pro Turbo NAS has had plenty of time spent on it, evident by just how much has been packed under the hood.
What is the TS-639 Pro Turbo NAS, you ask? Well, in short, it’s network storage that packs six bays, a 1.6GHZ Intel CPU, 1GB of DDR RAM, gigabit Ethernet and support for just about every type of RAID under the sun (0/1/5/6/5+spare). Match all that up with built-in iSCSI target service with Thin Provisioning, and you’ve got one heck of a NAS.
Still, there’s no mention yet on pricing or availability.
Look out AMD, you're not the only one with an eye on ultra-thin notebooks. AMD last week officially launched its Athlon Neo chip, which the company says will fulfill "a significant market opportunity that lies between the less-capable mininotebook and higher-priced ultraportable notebook segment." That strategy could work in AMD's favor if Intel would be contend to ride the success its Atom processor in the netbook market, but Intel has no such plans to lie dormant.
Citing Intel sources at CES, CNet says the chip maker plans to release new processors based on the Core architecture for lower cost ultraportables sometime this year. These chips won't compete with the Atom line, and like AMD's Neo, will target ultra-thin laptops in the $700 to $900 range. The new CPUs will essentially be tweaks of Intel's existing ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) processors, CNet reports, such as the SU9300 and SU9400, both with a TDP of just 10 watts.
Could ultra-thin laptops be the next 'big' thin in mobile computing? Hit the jump and sound off.
With CES being known for showcasing 100+ inch displays, a 50-inch screen seems hardly worth a mention. Throw a multitouch interface into the mix, however, and suddenly that same 50-inch display starts to tickle our geek fancy.
Engadget posted a video showing attendees playing with the swank display, which looks as though someone hung a Microsoft Surface tabletop on the wall. Not a whole lot is known about the display, other than it belongs to Samsung, but we imagine it will cost a pretty penny should it ever see the light of day.
No matter how fast or reliable solid state drives become, there will be some who will continue to scoff at the price per gigabyte ratio, particularly as SSDs breach the 256GB mark. That could change if we start to see significant capacity increases in upcoming SSDs, such as the 1TB SSD Pure Silicon was showing off at CES.
Hold your excitement, however, as there's a major rub. While a 1TB SSD sounds like a tantalizing option, pureSilicon doesn't have you, the consumer, in mind. Instead, when the Nitro drives become available in Q3 2009, they will be used for industrial applications, including military, medical, and other such uses. Drats!
Even still, if pureSilicon paves the way to 1TB, it's likely other manufacturers would soon follow. And when they do, it doesn't appear performance will have to be sacrificed to reach higher capacities. The company rates its entire Nitro line, including the 1TB model, at 240MB/s and 215MB/s sustained read and write speeds, respectively, placing it in line with higher performing consumer SSDs.
As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.