Cnet reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be using January's CES trade show to spread the good news about Windows 7. Ballmer is one of the keynote speakers, along with the CEOs of Ford and Sony, for the annual electronics extravaganza. The Windows 7 push is expected, but some observers think that Microsoft might have really big news in store for CES - perhaps, a Zune-based phone.
While Cnet's sources deny that a ZunePhone will be on tap for CES, it's a hard rumor to kill. Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry claimed recently, in a posting at Barron's Tech Trader Daily blog, that Microsoft would be rolling out a phone combining the features of the Zune and the Danger Sidekick handheld.
So, will early January see a new convergence device from the folks in Redmond, or just the expected emphasis on Windows 7, Xbox 360, and the like? Talk amongst yourselves, and we'll all find out in about three weeks.
According to a new study by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana, senior citizens should trade in their Bingo nights and fire up an RTS game instead. By doing so, over-60 seniors have a good chance of improving their cognitive functions.
The test consisted of 40 seniors playing Rise of Nations, a turn-based real-time strategy game with a heavy focus on building cities. Half of the test group received 23.5 hours of training in the game, while the other half did not. Each participant was assessed before and after playing on a variety of tests designed to "measure executive control functions," such as the ability to switch tasks, short-term memory, and other cognitive functions.
Senior gamers who underwent a training session were found to be "significantly better -- and faster -- at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group" with no training. Working memory, short-term memory of visual cues, reasoning abilities, and the ability to identify rotated objects was also improved after playing Rise of Nations.
Now you know what to buy your grandparents for Christmas if you're having trouble coming up with a gift idea.
The CherryPal could computer has been in and out of the ether for the past months, but finally the folks over at TG Daily can confirm that it exists. Sadly, while there were some good impressions, it’s clear that there’s plenty of work left to be done on this little black box.
First, let’s start with the good. The machine’s size is diminutive; they compare it to the size of an iPod. And what’s better is that it has zero moving parts, making it entirely silent. The default ports on the back of the box are a VGA monitor port, Ethernet, two USB ports and a headphone/speaker jack. Inside, it’s also got built in wireless card that picked up on their present wireless network effortlessly.
Now, it’s time for the all too dreaded bad. While the box is tiny, it’s also flimsy. The enclosure is nothing to be impressed with, and gave pretty cheap feel. And while this machine is meant for simple desktop functions, the Freescale 400MHz processor under the hood was barely able to do so. Firefox was consistently struggling to load, and it’d really only be manageable as a word processing machine . Also, you should note that you get zero extras with a machine of this size. No analog microphone port, no CD/DVD drive, and the two USB ports fill up pretty quick.
Overall, it sounds like a nice idea, but it looks very much like a rushed product. If you want to read the whole preview, be sure to check it out here!
Rumors that XFX might be defecting from Nvidia have been stirring for months now, and at the time, Evga was also being mentioned. More recently, it's just been XFX at the center of speculation, and according to Fudzilla, it's a done deal.
"We've managed to confirm that XFX will join the ATI camp at the start of the new year," Fudzilla writes. "XFX won't drop Nvidia products either, but obviously, Nvidia won't be thrilled by this turn of events."
Nvidia might not be thrilled at losing an exclusive add-in-board (AIB) partner, but AMD should be, and rightfully so. While AMD's graphics division has finally caught up with Nvidia in terms of performance, some enthusiasts found their buying decision coming down to brand. XFX, Evga, and BFG all offer lifetime warranties and other end-user perks, and all have been exclusive to Nvidia. If Fudzilla's confirmation turns out to be correct, AMD gains a major player for its graphics division, and one has to wonder how long it would be until Evga and BFG start playing both sides as well.
Sony BMG has agreed to pay $1 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges claiming Sony violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While $1 million might seem a drop in the bucket to a company like Sony, the FTC points out the $1 million penalty matches the largest ever paid in a COPPA case.
The suit, which was filed just yesterday, alleged that Sony managed to collect personal information on roughly 30,000 users under the age of 13, including full names, gender, birth date, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and in some cases, full mailing addresses. According to the FTC, the information was obtained through various Sony-owned websites designed to promote and advertise the company's music offerings, but didn't restrict visitors under the age of 13 from registering.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC Chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."
In addition to the $1 million penalty, Sony must also delete all personal information it had collected from those under 13 years old, and must also distribute the FTC's "How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule" to all of its employees. In addition, Sony's also required to link to the children's privacy section of the FTC's website for five years.
The promise of in-game physics has yet to be fully realized, but the technology doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Leading the charge is Nvidia, who has a vested interest with its acquired PhysX technology. But in an interview with Bit-Tech, Godfrey Cheng, Director of Technical Marketing in AMD's Graphics Product Group, downplayed the proprietary standard.
"There is no plan for closed and proprietary standards like PhysX," said Cheng. "As we have emphasized with our support for OpenCL and DX11, closed and proprietary standards will die."
The comment came in response to questions about EA's and 2K's decision to license Nvidia's PhysX technology across all of their worldwide studios. And while Cheng said he can't comment on competitor's business models, he did say that AMD views "Havok technologies and products to be the leaders in physics simulation," pointing out that game developers share that same view. If true, it would be reasonable to assume EA and 2K have gone against their development studios' wishes by adopting PhysX.
"People need to scrutinize various announcements on what is beling 'licensed,'" Cheng pointed out. "Is it to replace the whole physics simulation / tool stack within a game or within the whole studio? Is it for a specific physics simulation product or just a couple of titles? Remember PhysX also has game physics libraries in addition to its new GPU based products."
Cheng went on to say that Havok physics on Radeon videocards is still forthcoming, possibly by early 2009, but noted that this is just the beginning of in-game physics.
Research in transparent electronic devices isn't anything new, but for the first time (that we're aware of), a group of scientists have created what they say is an "almost completely clear" computer chip. Credit goes to the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) team responsible for creating the see-through transparent resistive random access memory (TRRAM) based on maturing RRAM technology. RRAM technology is currently being developed by companies like Fujitsu, Samsung, Micron, and Spansion as a non-volatile memory technology that will attempt to replace flash, TGDaily says.
The KAIST team said its TRRAM device is based on an ITO (indium tim oxide)/ZnO/ITO capacitor structure with a transmittance of 81 percent in the visible region of the chip. Creating the chip consisted of essentially sandwiching the RRAM's metal oxide materials between equally transparent electrodes and substrates, which gives the chip its transparency. According to the researchers, the chip is capable of retaining data for 10 years.
There hasn't been a ton of interest in clear electronics up to this point, but the KAIST team is hopeful their discovery might change that. Eventually, the technology could enable the development of clear computer monitors and TVs that are embedded inside glass.
The number of available OLED keyboards has just doubled with the release of the United Keys OLED Display Keyboard. Unlike the Optimus Maximus, United Keys' plank doesn't sport a fancy name or boast 16-bit color support, nor does it cost a small fortune. What you do get are nine monochrome OLED display keys slapped onto an otherwise standard keyboard.
The USB-powered keyboard measures about 20.5 inches long by 7.25 inches wide and emits a blue glow on each side. Each of the 64 x 64 resolution OLED keys can be mapped to a command and customized with an image (.png) or text, and the included software, which is pre-loaded in flash memory, works on both Windows XP and Vista.
For those unwilling to give up their favorite plank, United Keys also offers a separate nine-key OLED keypad with the same feature-set for $60 less. Both the keyboard and keypad and manufactured by Foxconn and carry and 1-year warranty through United Keys.
The United Keys OLED keyboard and keypad are available now for $260 and $200 respectively.
Call of Duty: World at War, Spore, and Fallout 3 definitely got in a few chomps before getting turned to paste under the weight of WoW's millions, though. Left 4 Dead also made the "November Top Ten" page of 2008's gaming yearbook, though in a somewhat unspectacular fashion -- probably because NPD figures only cover retail sales.
Check out the full list below:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
So, did you pre-pay your respects to a game retailer's barely breathing form last month? And if so, what'd you buy?
The Free Software Foundation filed suit in U.S. District Court today, alleging that networking giant Cisco violated FSF copyrights by not giving its users the ability to share and modify the open-source software it uses as the basis for some of its hardware. That's a mouthful, so here's what happened: According FSF, the company found that Cisco was using a GNU-licensed version of Linux to power its firmware. Only, Cisco wasn't giving its customers the full access to the source code that the GNU license specifies as a condition of use!