In between the ultra-high frequency television channels sits a spectrum of TV "white space," and as U.S. broadcasters transition from analog to digital transmission in time to meet the Federal Trade Commission's February 2009 deadline, these vacant bands are becoming a point of contention.
Google, Motorola, Microsoft, Philips, and others envision these vacant bands being used for universal wireless internet, and to plead its case to the FCC (and apply some pressure), Google has setup a website called FreeTheAirwaves.com with a four minute YouTube video outlining why opening up the spectrum would be a good thing.
But not everyone is in agreement with Google and Co.'s semi-Utopian vision. According to audio industry professionals, opening up the spectrum could be disastrous. Why? Because wireless audio equipment could suddenly find itself facing significant interference from electronic devices searching for wireless connectivity.
"The radio frequency environment is going to become more crowded and more difficult to use," says Mike Torlone, director of marketing services at AKG Acoustics, a division of audio-equipment manufacturer Harman International.
The fear is that everything from celebrity concerts to the local church sermon could potentially be affected, but Google thinks there are ways around the problem, such as using a geolocation database to ensure no white space device could transmit without first getting the all-clear from the database.
What's your take? Should the FCC open up the spectrum, or will doing so cause more problems than it purports to solve?
Lest there be any lingering doubt that everything in the free world can be patented, Microsoft has managed to add 'Page Up / Page Down' to its portfolio. Specifically, US Patent 7,415,666 states:
A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.
We're computer enthusiasts and not legal beagles, but that sure sounds like Microsoft owns the Page Up and Page Down functionality on your keyboard, perhaps paving the way for some interesting royalty demands if the patent goes unchallenged. Think about the number of keyboards, both already sold and those currently being manufactured, and it's easy to see why granting such an obvious patent is troublesome.
Anyone know if the arrow keys have been patented yet?
Nvidia contnues to feel the pressure from a suddenly competitive ATI and will once again tweak one of its mainstream videocards. Back in June, Nvidia took its 9800GTX card based on the immensely popular G92 core and shrank the core from 65nm to 55nm, pushed the core, memory, and shader clockspeeds, and dubbed the resulting product the 9800GTX+. This time around its the GTX 260 that will undergo a revision.
Citing an un-named source, Expreview reports Nvidia will add another Texture Processing Cluster (TPC) to its GTX 260, bringing the total up from 8 to 9. By doing so, the revised card will sport 216 shader processors instead of the 192 found in the original GTX 260. As far as Expreview knows, core, shader, and memory clockspeeds will remain the same.
If the report holds true, look for the updated card to arrive in September.
Join Nathan Grayson in His "Free From WoW for a Whole Year" Bash!
August 22, 2008 (Dallas, Texas) -- Nathan Grayson, a Maximum PC freelancer and unanimously-voted "snappy dresser," has, on this day, officially avoided Blizzard's World of Warcraft MMORPG for an entire year.
"It's been great finally living life on my own terms," said Nathan, flashing a gloriously bright smile. "To mark the occasion, I'll be canceling my WoW subscription tomorrow. What? Oh sure, I could do it today, but, uh, tomorrow for sure. No problem."
To be sure, the journey from his luxurious armchair into the comforting grip of real life wasn't an easy one.
"Oh, it's been a wild ride," he quipped. "On cold, lonely nights, my mind used to slip back into Azeroth, and I'd dream of raids, epics -- legendaries, even! But it's been, er, I've -- I mean, whew. Anyone have a PC handy? I, uh, just need to check on some things. Sure, I'll follow the cue cards again afterwards."
Nathan Grayson's soul is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com, NASDAQ: ATVID). Nathan is a great guy -- single, too. Really, he's one in approximately 10 million. Among other things, he's well known for posing the following question: Have you ever found your claws locked into your keyboard, signifying your irrevocable addiction to a game? Sound off in the comments section. Passers-by don't really know what to make of it.
He also runs Maximum PC's Gaming Roundup, available every week day. Peep today's edition for all of the latest World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King news and info. Oh, there's some other stuff too -- something about how suing file-sharers is a bad idea -- but that's not really important. The phony PR-speak ends after the break.
Kevin Martin, chairman of Federal Communications Commission, is doing his best to sell his free, porn-free internet dream. The plan is – if you were on an intergalactic voyage all this while - to auction AWS-3 spectrum to a company willing to provide nationwide wireless broadband internet for free and sans pornographic content. “More and more people expect and demand to have access to the Internet and new wireless technologies,” Martin apprised USA Today about the increasingly insatiable thirst for broadband.
He rests his case on the absolute necessity of broadband and compares it to copper lines as the most prominent means of communication. His plan hasn’t gone down well with T-Mobile which believes that wireless services in the AWS-3 spectrum will interfere with its own services in the AWS-1 range. But Martin tried to allay such fears by telling USA Today that engineers are busy finding a solution.
There is certainly a case for free wireless broadband if one considers the abject rate of broadband penetration in the U.S with only 38% of rural America enjoying broadband, according to a report by Communications Workers of America. Furthermore, the percentage of broadband homes is only 25% amongst households with annual incomes of $20,000 or below.
What the MPC Readers Are Saying: But T-Mobile is not the only one frowning. Many people, including a few MPC readers, don’t like the porn-free part of the proposal. “I would rather see nationwide free internet fail completely than to see our government actively "filtering" the net. Leave net censorship to the Chinese,” wrote a charged up MPC reader; and “porn drives innovation,” according to another.
We've already had some hands-on time with Bloomfield, Intel's high-end Nehalem part (officially named Core i7). But we know that not everyone's going to make the jump on board this new platform when it's released later this year. Bloomfield pricing hasn't been announced yet, but we expect it to be in the high-end enthusiast range -- ie. only affordable for price un-conscious buyers.
For mainstream system builders, Intel's solution will be Lynnfield, a socket 1160 CPU that'll have its own motherboard configuration. Lynnfield processors will be incompatible with X58 motherboards sporting socket 1366 -- though Intel assured us that they won't phase out the Bloomfield platform once Lynnfield is released in Q1 of next year (unlike what happened with AMD's socket 940 platform). Another difference: Lynnfield's motherboard will run two-channel DDR 3 memory, as opposed to the highly-touted tri-channel setup in Bloomfield.
We were lucky enough to snap up a few spy shots of an early Lynnfield motherboard, shown below:
Can you spot the differences between a Lynnfield and Bloomfield motherboard? Take a closer look after the jump.
Intel is currently busy renovating its Classmate notebook by adding a few cool features. The diminutive notebook will receive more than a trivial facelift as the revamped version will feature a touch-screen and tablet functionality. That is not all, the notebook will now feature an Intel Atom – it currently employs a Celeron M with a primeval clock speed of 900 MHz. The Classmate PC is primarily designed for students, especially in emerging countries. The Classmate PCs that run on different Linux versions or Windows XP Professional are produced and marketed by OEMs and not Intel.
Rockville-based B2B firm Hillcrest Labs, which licenses its technologies to major CE companies, has filed a complaint against Nintendo with the U.S. International Trade Commission and a patent infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in Maryland. Hillcrest Labs alleges that the motion-sensitive Wii Remote and the console’s navigational interface display system are in violation of four of its patents. The company is praying for an embargo on the import of Nintendo Wii in the U.S. The Wii is so much fun that it would be a cardinal sin to even consider the possibility of it being banned anywhere. But the possibility exists as the jury is now quite literally out on the veracity of the allegations. Let’s see how this pans out.
We don't know what it is about the year 2012 that has the technological world gunning for it, but we've heard predictions ranging from Linux losing it's command line, to mini-notebooks exploding onto the market with 50 million units expected to ship. There's even talk of being able to book 3-night getaways in outer space, and humans turning into robots! But if we had to pick one prediction most likely to come true, it would be that mobile broadband will hit 100Mbps by 2012, beating fixed line broadband to the punch.
According to the GSM Association (GSMA), demand for faster data speeds in Asian markets is pushing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that could deliver speeds up to 186Mbps in the not too distant future.
"The places we expect to see it first are Japan and South Korea in early 2010 and [former Vodafone chief] Arun Sarin said he expects to see the technology in the European market by 2012," said Dan Warren, GMSA director of technology.
Despite the strides being made, Warren doesn't see mobile networks completely replacing fixed lines anytime soon. Of course, none of this will matter if the other predictions come true and we all become half-human, half-robots living in outer space by 2012.
More than just the light of the future, LEDs are emerging in the here and now, and not just small markets either. New York City's Department of Transportation has contracted with the Office for Visual Interaction (OVI), a lighting design group, to test pilot LED street lighting. If the test goes well, it could lead to all 300,000 of NYC's street lamps being replaced with LED versions.
But it's not just the lamps that are getting overhauled, but the pole design as well. The OVI contract calls for a complete redesign, one which will like take on a sleek look with dedicated channels to hang various decorations.
The $1.175 million contract is expected to result in a payback period of two to three years for each pole replaced, along with a 25 to 30 percent power reduction. But the real savings will only come if the test proves successful. The initial demonstration will replace just six street lamps, with the testing period lasting until fall of next year.