January 31, 2005

Apple Mac Mini Memory Upgrade Highway Robbery?

I'm happily getting used to my 256 megabyte/1.2 ghz Mac Mini that I bought yesterday at CompUSA. If you're looking to buy a Mac Mini, I heard that there are literally only 3 units in stock in the whole country across the 98 Apple retail stores in addition to the 3-4 week online site waiting list. So if you want one, check the local CompUSA is my advice. I was able to grab the last one at mine.

After 24 hours of usage, the most pressing need is a memory upgrade. Just for kicks I called the Apple Store in San Francisco about how much it would cost to upgrade the memory in my Mac Mini. If it was really cheap, I was considering using them because I'm afraid of damaging my case with non-existent putty knife skills.

The installation fee costs $30 and will be done in 24 hours. That seemed pretty reasonable. The kicker was you have to use Apple memory and can't bring your own. So I waited on hold for 30 seconds to get the Apple memory prices.

512 megabytes - $300.
1 gigabyte - $500.

I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I asked again to confirm, and the person said those were the fees.

Let's see, Newegg charges $60 for 512MB and $150 for a 1 gigabyte stick. I think I'll do my own memory upgrade, thank you. If you were thinking of doing an after market upgrade from the Apple store, DON'T. Unfortunately for those that want more memory, but don't want to open their Mini case, you are forced to wait a month by ordering online.

Someone please confirm this, I'm praying this Apple Store quote was a mistake. I would call again to confirm, but don't want feel like a jerk calling again when I had the person check twice. Can you imagine the poor computer newbie grandmother paying these kind of upgrade prices? Eesh. [Discuss]

Apple Updates PowerBook G4 Line

Apple keeps the new products coming although this latest barrage is bound to disappoint some people. The company unveiled an updated Powerbook G4 line with slightly faster CPU speeds, memory upgrade, and several niche improvements. This however is not the Powerbook G5 line everyone was hoping for. An executive on the last financial conference was quoted to say the G5 notebook is a very difficult "thermal challenge."

The low end 12-inch Powerbook G4 is now 1.5 ghz and the high-end 17-inch comes in at 1.67 ghz. 512 megabytes of RAM is standard as is a new trackpad that lets you scroll through documents with two fingers. Apple also now includes a "Sudden Motion Sensor", which parks the hard-drive heads if you drop your notebook. This helps protect against data loss. IBM had this for their Thinkpad notebooks for over a year. The hard-drives have also been upgraded to 5400 RPM and the SuperDrive DVD re-writeable runs at 8X speed.

The big question is if this update means we won't see a G5 Powerbook anytime soon. My guess is it is at least 6 months away due to the heat problems, which require a die shrink or re-design. Go IBM go, help Apple out why don't you.

Microsoft Windows XP Reduced Media Edition

Microsoft is quite funny with its amazing gall and sense of humor. The European Commision has ruled that Microsoft must sell a version of Windows without their Media Player due to anti-trust reasons. Microsoft's first dab at the name was "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition." For obvious reasons the government decided this wasn't a viable name for the product.

The name "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," which the EC said would prejudice consumers against the software, was only provisional, pending the Commission's approval, Microsoft said on Monday. "Microsoft is absolutely committed to complying fully with the Commission's decision," said a Microsoft spokesman. "Microsoft is currently discussing alternative names."

Fortunately for the Evil Empire, only they have enough money to thumb its nose at the next most powerful government regulator in the world. With billions in cash, most fines would be a slap on the wrist with a wet noodle to Mr. Gates.

January 30, 2005

Link Roundup

A9 Yellow Pages Video - shows how Amazon's A9 took all those local city pictures
Apple Store Genius Bar - NYTimes puff piece for Apple Store tech support
Fat People Should Fidget - annoying habit of fidgeting makes you thin

January 27, 2005

Sonos Digital Music System Launched

Sonos has launched their vaunted Digital Music System today. The sytem lets you play music stored on PC, Mac, or Network Attached Storage boxes beamed to any room in the house controlled by a full color wireless handheld. All the popular formats such as MP3, AAC, WMA, and WAV are supported. The Sonos color wireless controller CR100 goes for $399 and the ZonePlayer ZP100 goes for $499. You can also buy a bundle of 2 ZonePlayers and 1 wireless controller for $1199.

The design of the devices sure looks good and almost iPodish. Time will tell if the user interface is simple and intuitive. Pricing is a bit steep for a $499 50 watt amplifier as you also need to buy speakers for each room too. However for the rich Silicon Valley types who want to have music in up to 32 rooms wirelessly beamed, this product seems like a godsend. Looking forward to the first review. [Discuss]

January 26, 2005

Life Inside Google

An employee of Google gives the inside scoop on working at the company through his blog. Before Google he worked at Microsoft and IBM. Lots of juicy tidbits in there, some of which he was forced to remove when the company found out about the blog. The site was actually down for a couple days, then the internet went wild with rumors he got fired. After the hoopla, the site mysteriously came back. I don't think his comments are helping his career.

On the commute:

google provides a pretty cool service for employees who want to live in san francisco: a free shuttle. not only is the shuttle free, but during your commute, you can connect onto the internet and do work.

Whining about compensation:

lastly, google demands employees that are 90th percentile material, so what's with the 50th percentile compensation? the packages would've been decent when the company was pre-IPO, but let's be honest here... a stock option with a strike price of $188 just doesn't have the same value as the ones of yesteryear. even microsoft adjusted their base salaries to 66th percentile years ago when it was clear that their stock options weren't as much a part of the total compensation package as it used to be. for a post-IPO company like google, it only seems fair that they adjust things accordingly.

On-site benefits:

then look at all these other fringe "benefits": on-site doctor, on-site dentist, on-site car washes... the list goes on and on with one similarity: every "benefit" is on-site so you never leave work. [Discuss]

XM and Sirius Merger Talks

The New York Post is reporting Sirius and XM Radio are in merger talks and according to sources have already met. Executives however are concerned about anti-trust issues as the combined company would create a satellite radio monopoly. As both companies still are unprofitable, a merger would help with cost synergies, lower bidding for content like sports and future Howard Sterns, and pricing power on the consumer end.

But in the wake of Sirius' hiring of former Viacom President Mel Karmazin in November, the issue has gained renewed urgency, sources said. "Mel is a roll-up guy, a deal guy," said one source close to Karmazin. While many people in the media industry say it's inevitable the two companies will eventually merge, sources say a deal could be at least a year away. [Discuss]

UPDATE: The CEO of Sirius has denied any contact with XM's CEO or Chairman in the past few weeks. He said he has no idea where this idea came from.

January 25, 2005

Google Searches TV Shows and Transcripts

Google launched a beta search engine for TV transcripts with screen captures of the programs from Fox, ABC, PBS, C-span, and other channels. The fascinating feature is the search engine actually shows a captured screenshot of the video program, which begs us to imagine if sample video clips will be available in the future. According to published reports, Google has started recording TV programs last month, but has not revealed how many channels they are indexing. Yahoo Video search which came out some time ago only focuses on internet video clips.

Throw caution to the wind Google and give us those internet video clips of TV programs. Even if its 30 seconds and less, that would be a great evolution of the search paradigm. [Discuss]

Sony Playstation 3 CPU Details - 4.6 GHZ

With all the Nintendo hoopla, the rumor mill on the Sony Playstation 3 is also rolling. According to sources, the new "Cell" processor will run at an amazing 4.6 gigahertz. Sony, IBM, and Toshiba will present technical papers at the International Solid State Circuits conference in San Francisco next month.

Sony plans to also use the 64 bit processor for home servers and other consumer electronics devices to power their line of HDTV televisions with content.

Other highlights of the Cell processor design include:
-Multi-thread, multicore architecture.
-Supports multiple operating systems at the same time.
-Substantial bus bandwidth to/from main memory, as well as companion chips.
-Flexible on-chip I/O (input/output) interface.
-Real-time resource management system for real-time applications.
-On-chip hardware in support of security system for intellectual property protection.
-Implemented in 90 nanometer (nm) silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology.

Nintendo Revolution Detail Rumors

With E3 around the corner, the net is filled with new details and rumors about next-generation consoles. The latest say Nintendo's next console called "Revolution" will be online-enabled, have tilt sensing gyroscope controllers, linkup ability to the next-gen Gameboy, 2 CPU processors, HD-DVD format for storage, and a new Mario, Zelda, and Super Smash Bros. titles available at launch.

The last tidbit proves all these details can't be true. When was the last time Nintendo has 3 killer first party licenses available at launch? That's right never and it won't happen this time. [Discuss]

January 24, 2005

Paypal Email Addresses Leaked

Paypal admitted today that a security breach has compromised an unknown amount of email addresses to the internet. I've been getting phishing attacks for eBay recently and I'm ticked off that my private email address is out there for scammers and hackers to spam me. It's an address I've vigorously tried to hide for years.

PayPal spokeswoman Sara Bettencourt said the breach had been fixed and insisted that only a small number of users were affected. However, security experts say a malicious person with the most basic scripting tool could have exploited the bug to hijack a large list of legitimate PayPal e-mail addresses. [Discuss]

World of Warcraft Growing Pains

World of Warcraft has been growing faster than a bad weed in recent weeks. It has gotten so bad that Blizzard has stopped shipping games to stores to deal with overloaded servers. It seems the company expected to hit this target of 600,000 users with 200,000 playing at onces in a year's time, not six weeks. Unfortunately the infrastructure wasn't ready as the game has suffered from major down-time due to bugs and scaling issues.

After playing for a month, I decided not to renew my WOW subscription purely because of productivity issues. Never before in my life have a played such an addictive game for 50-60 hours in a month's time (initial 15 hour marathon Civilization PC game session included), my real life was getting impacted like a bad case of achololic addiction, so I had to cut it off. I didn't want to pay $15 a month to Blizzard to ruin my life. Be careful WOW buyers, don't lose your life to this game. :)

"The success we've been experiencing since launch has been more than even we expected or hoped for," said Blizzard community manager Paul Della Bitta. "Unfortunately, that uncovered a few hardware issues with our infrastructure." "We sort of got enough of a load where we considered it successful," said Blizzard's public relations manager, Gil Shif. "But instead of it happening in a year's time, we got it in six weeks." [Discuss]

Nvidia SLI Marketing Hype - Needs Specific Drivers to Work

Graphics card companies have been known to over-hype the capabilities of their products over the years. Both ATI and Nvidia are culprits. It turns out that SLI, where users can hook up two Nvidia graphics cards for theoretically double the performance, only works if Nvidia develops a specific driver for the game. That is worrisome as many games are currently unsupported and no-one knows how quickly new games will get driver support. What's the point in paying thousands of dollars on an SLI system, if the games don't get the performance boost out of the box?

Out of the twelve games we tested, we know that seven do not support SLI. We know this because SLI gave us no benefits in the benchmarks or real-world gaming whatsoever. That is, there was no difference between single card performance and SLI performance. Interestingly enough, when turning on NVIDIA’s built in HUD SLI Load meter, it was no where to be seen in our games listed above as having no SLI support or benefit. [Discuss]

January 22, 2005

Apple 5G iPod and Next Powerbook Details

Who cares about Apple suing you? ThinkSecret is doing what it does best by dishing out the product leaks. According to sources a 5 gigabyte iPod Mini will be launched as early as February as the company ditches Hitachi for Seagate as a supplier.

The fifth generation iPod is slated to come out mid-year with a spacious 80 gigabyte hard-drive. Apple is also expected to update its Powerbook G4 line from 1.33/1.5 ghz to 1.5/1.67 ghz with faster hard-drives, more video memory, and Bluetooth 2.0.

January 21, 2005

Sirius and NBA Extend Programming and Marketing Agreement

Sirius and the NBA just announced a multi-year extension agreement for programming and joint marketing. Sirius gets expanded trademark marketing rights and will push live official court-side stats to radio text displays. The company already broadcasts up to 40 NBA games each week and will broadcast the playoffs and NBA Finals. It's interesting though the agreement is non-exclusive, which might leave a door open to ?

FCC Chairman Michael Powell to Resign

Reuters is reporting that the Chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, is going to resign later today following his dad's lead. I guess Powell had enough of the famous Howard Stern and Janet Jackson Superbowl antics over the years. I bet Stern will now claim victory in his personal vendetta against the Chairman.

I just hope the next FCC leader will continue to protect VOIP from the local state taxes and regulation. That is probably the key attribute of Powell in his term. He generally kept the money-grubbing local politicians away from internet communications. Let's keep it that way. Just take a look at your landline and wireless phone bill to see what I mean. Taxes galore. [Discuss]

Canon Announces Powershot A510

Canon announced the Powershot A510, which will replace the A75. The camera will be 3.2 megapixels with 4X optical zoom, weigh 6.3 ounces, use SD/MMC memory cards, 2 AA batteries, have 1.8 inch LCD, and have dimensions of 3.6 inches x 2.5 x 1.5. The A510 will be 13% smaller and 20% lighter vs. the A75.

Canon has always been my favorite brand of digital cameras with a great combination of image quality, user interface, features, and performance. The A-line has always been the top value in the budget line and I'm sure the A510 will continue its great heritage. I still love the Canon G4 I have, although it's getting pretty obselete these days. [Discuss]

Cablevision VOOM HDTV Service Shutting Down

Cablevision announced today it will shutdown the VOOM HDTV satellite service and sell most of the assets to Echostar for $200 million in cash. VOOM was the first HDTV focused satellite service, which offered more HDTV programming than any other offering on the market. However due to high initial startup costs and poor marketing, the company was only able to acquire 26,000 subscribers. It is estimated Cablevision spent over $500 million on VOOM before deciding to give up.

Echostar is going to buy VOOM's lone satellite for $200 million, which isn't a bad deal considering it cost $250 million to put it into orbit.

It's a sad day for HDTV fanatics. Although I don't live in an area where satellite usable (too many trees), I sure was looking forward to trying VOOM after I moved. It was the only place to get dozens of HD programming channels. The thing that killed it was the high initial set-top costs (almost $1000) and quality of programming. After they cut the price later on, it was too little too late.

For the time being, the company will continue VOOM service; but subscribers should probably be ready to call DirectTV or Echostar soon to switch. [Discuss]

Firefox Browser Gaining Share vs. Evil Empire

WebSideStory released their latest data on web browser share showing Firefox gaining a full percentage point to 5% from last December. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is down to 90.3% from 91.8% share. Firefox has been downloaded 19 million times since its launch 10 weeks before.

I'm finding myself using Firefox more and more to get away from nasty ActiveX popups and Spyware that affects the vulnerable IE especially for important transactions like online banking. Also the Firefox third party plug-in market is flourishing with neat "download all the images" on a page to a directory type features.

To show how bleeding edge our readers are. The latest breakdown for FirstAdopter.com users is: 34% to Firefox, 52% to Internet Explorer, 4% for Opera, 7% to Safari, and the rest is other. That's freaking amazing. [Discuss]

January 20, 2005

Mac Mini Photos

Tom Bridge posted some nice pictures of the new Mac Mini being unpacked. Take a look. It's small and beautiful indeed.

January 18, 2005

Dell to Launch Ultrasharp 2405FPW? a 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monitor

Thanks to our enterprising moderator CAG, he discovered a Singaporean consumer safety page that lists the 2405FPW model number with registration date. Supposedly the 2001FP and 2005FPW were listed on this site before they were released. Can you imagine 24 inches of widescreen LCD monitor gaming goodness? I can! Please Dell, keep it under $1000. Please! [Discuss]

January 11, 2005

Apple Launches Mac Mini for $499

With typical Steve Jobs flair, Apple launched a new low-end PC called the Mac Mini today. Two SKUs will go on sale on January 22nd at the price of $499 and $599. Women will love the size at 6.5 inches wide and only 2 inches tall. Specs include 1.25 to 1.4 ghz G4 processor, 256 megabytes of memory expandable to 1 gigabyte, a 40-80GB hard-drive, combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, ATI 9200 graphics processor, builtin 10/100T ethernet, V.92 56k modem, OS X 10.3, iLife '05, and DVI monitor output. No mouse, keyboard, or monitor is included, but all the better as cheaper ones are available out there in PC land.

This is a killer 2nd PC box for your iPod or even a home entertainment system in the living room with the DVI connector to a HDTV display. Imagine playing DVD movies, iPhoto slide-shows, and iTunes music on your plasma and stereo. Not too shabby. [DISCUSS]

Apple iPod Shuffle for $99

After all the leaks in the past few weeks, the newest entry in iPod's product line was finally unveiled today. The iPod Shuffle will come out in 2 SKUs, a 512MB memory version for $99 and a 1 gigabyte memory version for $149. To make it smaller than a pack of gum and weigh less than one ounce (.78 to be exact), Apple got rid of the display and focused on the "Life is Random" shuffle motto. Frankly I'm going to miss choosing what song I can play next, but at this tiny size and form factor they didn't have a choice. Battery life is up to 12 hours, connectivity is USB 1.1 or 2.0, charge time is 4 hours, and size is an amazing 3.3 x 0.98 x 0.33 inches.

UPDATE: I just ordered the 1 gig version. Review coming here ASAP.

UPDATE2: I just noticed the iPod shuffle doesn't play Apple Lossless, WAV, or AIFF files, so for you loss-less only audiophiles that is a bummer. I don't mind though as I don't go nuts over audio quality when I'm jogging or doing dishes. I have to re-rip my whole collection though. It gives me something to do while I wait to get it. [DISCUSS]

January 09, 2005

SBC Sees Internet TV on its Phone Lines

SBC plans to launch internet TV over its phone lines using IPTV, television-over-internet-protocol service. It's an ironic strike back as the cable companies attacking the phone companies' cash cow with VOIP phone service.

The company says it can offer unlimited channels and multiple camera angles for sports games. It intends to receive about $60 per month per customer. To build out for it, SBC will spend $5 billion over the next 3 years for the high speed internet network.

Currently however SBC offers a bundle TV package with satellite TV vendor Echostar. Echostar says they want to renegotiate their deal, but still want to continue the partnership even if SBC launches the TV service.

Sandisk SD Card with built-in USB Port

Sandisk announced an SD card at CES that flips open and has a USB port to instantly become a USB 2.0 flash drive. No more need to carry around annoying flash memory card readers. A brillant idea indeed. Capacities are expected to range up to 1 gigabyte and will be available in Q1 2005.

January 06, 2005

Sony Pushing the Cyber-shot DSC-M1 Camera

With a full page ad in today's Wall Street Journal, Sony is really doing the full court press for their new 5.1 megapixel hybrid digital picture and video camera. It has a unique feature of recording a few seconds of video right before and right after each picture shot for a better memorable experience. Specs include:

-Imaging Device: 1/2.4" 5.1 Megapixel Effective Super HAD™ CCD
-Recording Media: Memory Stick Duo™ Media, Memory Stick PRO Duo™ Media
-Zoom: 3X Optical, 2X Digital, 6X Total Zoom
-Color LCD: 2.5" 123K TFT Pixels Hybrid LCD Screen
-Audio/Video Output: Yes, by Supplied Multi-connector Cable
-Hybrid Record Mode: Continuously accumulates 320x240 15fps video with sound, and records 5 seconds before still image capture and 3 seconds after
-MPEG Movie Mode1: MPEGMOVIE 4TV (MPEG4) with Stereo Audio (640 x 480, 30 fps/2.88 Mbps Bit Rate)

With up to an hour of 30 fps of full motion video at VGA resolution, this may be a nice stop gap solution for people who don't want to buy a big bulkly camcorder. The camera goes for around $600 and is available now.

CES Innovations 2005 Awards Honorees

CES honored the most innovative products of this year's show. They include:

NevoSL for Best Accessory - a powerful universal remote controller that intuitively delivers complete audio visual and digital media control for the networked home.

Sonos Digital Music System for Best Audio - the only multi-room Digital Music System with a wireless, full-color LCD screen controller that lets you play all your digital music, all over your house.

Krell Trio for Best Audio Component - The first high-end, networked tuner, the Trio combines Krell build-quality with an AM/FM, and XM satellite radio tuner and the ability to stream Internet radio over a wireless network.

LG Faltron 1730 for Best Computer Component - new realism to gaming experience, computing and video applications. With integrated F-Engine and its super-fast 12ms response time, viewing is a pleasure, not work.

Sony HD DVR for Best Home Theater - Sony's DHG-HDD500 is a high definition tuner and high capacity (500 GB) digital video recorder with no recording subscription fees and no equipment rental.

Motorola Razr V3 for Best Wireless - Utilize the Motorola Razr V3 across the globe for Bluetooth connectivity, to take photos and view on the 2.2" display and to impress all with its sleek, ultra thin style.

Apple iPod Flash Details

Think Secret is at its very best again with the flash-based iPod scoop. According to their sources, Apple will announce a 1 and 2 gigabyte version at Macworld Expo. The estimated pricing is $149 for 1 GB and $199 for the 2 GB player. Asustek is manufacturing the product and Sigmatel is supplying the chipset. It will have a screen similar in size to the iPod Mini, but two lines shorter. Sources however are not sure on the interface as the click-wheel may be taken out. To widen the gap between product lines, Apple will also boost the iPod Mini storage capacity to 5 gigabytes to guard against cannibalization.

Nokia Announces the 6822 Smartphone

Nokia announced the 6822 smartphone. It has a interesting fold out keyboard design and will be available in Q1 2005. However I’m a bit surprised at its paltry internal memory of 3.5 megabytes. That’s not a lot room for many emails and picture files. Specs include:

-fold out QWERTY keyboard
-EGSM Tri-band network compatibility
-65k hi-res display, 128x128 pixels
-5 way joystick
-100 grams in weight
-106 x 46 x 21mm in size
-Series 40 user interface
-Support Blackberry email with extra service subscription
-VGA camera 640x480 pixels
-3.5 megabytes of internal memory
-Lithium Ion battery with 3-8 hours of talk time
-7-14 days of standby time

UTStarcom Announces CD-180 Cellphone

UTStarcom (formerly known as Audiovox) announced the CDM-180 at CES. A unique feature is the landscape oriented display. Otherwise the phone looks kind of clunky. Specs include:

-Java/Brew 2.0 enabled clamshell with dual LCD screens
-Tri-Mode CDMA network compatible
-1.8" TFT display with 262K colors
-3"x2.1"x0.9" size
-3.7 ounces
-330k pixel digital camera
-32 polyphonic ringers
-built-in speakerphone [Via Mobiletracker]

Industry Looks for a Higher Speed Wireless Standard

Wall Street Journal reports (sub required) 26 wireless companies are working on a study together to figure out a new high speed wireless standard. The study will be finished by mid-2006 and specifications due by mid-2007. Commercial availablity can then come as early as 2009. The performance goal is an amazing 100 megabits per second. The consortium includes Cingular, Vodafone, Qualcomm, Lucent, and Motorola.

January 05, 2005

Engadget Heckles XM Satellite Radio CEO

A reporter from Engadget heckled the CEO of XM Satellite Radio at CES. He accused the company of having racists and bigots on their network for broadcasting Dr. Laura who believes homosexuality is wrong. The video is here.

The reporter goes on and blasts the CEO, "any plans to have other racists like KKK on the network" over and over again. I thought this was in poor taste and the CEO handled it as best he could. He said they broadcast a variety of viewpoints from liberal and conservative sides, which is the way it should be. As the leading tech news blog, it is sad to see them waste a chance to ask the CEO of most successful satellite radio company a substantive question.

Frankly the reporter could of heckled any executive in media using his standard litmus test of any company broadcasting a hard right conservative view point. It's not fair to bash the XM CEO specifically. Free speech is free speech. That is why the ACLU supports a wide range of unappetizing folks. I love Engadget, I love Peter Rojas, but I think this reporter went over the line. [DISCUSS]

Canon Launches New DV Camcorders, Compact Photo Printers, and Color Flatbed Scanner

Canon announced a flurry of new products at CES. The mini DV camcorders starting at $349 are going to be hot products in 2005. Here are the press release quotes:

Elura 90, Elura 85 and Elura 80 Mini DV Camcorders — The Elura 80 (estimated selling price of $549*), Elura 85 (estimated selling price of $599*) and Elura 90 (estimated selling price of $699*) combine Canon's optics, video and camera technology in one dynamic product. The new models incorporate Canon's DV Photo Plus system, the integration of Canon's world-renowned optics and the company's exclusive DIGIC DV image processor with a 1.33 megapixel CCD image sensor and the Print-And-Share feature that accelerates image transfer from Canon camcorders to a compatible computer or printer. The result is video and still pictures and prints of spectacular color, clarity and detail.

ZR300, ZR200 and ZR100 Mini DV Camcorders — Canon's ZR series of Mini DV camcorders have been designed as an entry-level line of camcorders that deliver a practical and affordable solution for consumer video recording needs. These easy to use models — the ZR100 (estimated selling price of $349*), ZR200 (estimated selling price of $399*), and ZR300 (estimated selling price of $499*) — are the right choice for first time users.

Compact Photo Printer SELPHY CP-400 — Replacing the popular CP-220 compact photo printer, Canon's new Compact Photo Printer SELPHY CP-400 allows consumers to make beautiful photos and postcards in approximately 81 seconds **. This portable new dye sublimation device creates water and fade resistant prints that last up to 100 years***.

PIXMA iP90 Mobile Printer — Based on the award-winning Canon i80 printer, the PIXMA iP90 mobile printer is loaded with new features including faster text and graphics printing speeds, new Save Black Ink Mode printing mode and a new Use Composite Black Mode. The new PIXMA iP90 printer will be available in January for an estimated selling price of $249.99*.

CanoScan LiDE 500F Color Image Scanner — The CanoScan LiDE 500F Color Image Scanner features unique 3-way design, high-resolution, USB 2.0 bus-powered interface and ability to scan positive and negative 35mm film in a futuristic-looking high-tech design. The LiDE 500F will be available in January for an estimated selling price of $129.99*.

HD Radio Signs up 2000 More Stations

Traditional radio stations are fighting back against satellite radio by expanding HD Radio distribution to 2000 more stations across the country. HD Radio lets radio stations broadcast CD quality digitial signals without any static or hiss along with digital text data like song titles. However the initiative doesn't get at the crux of the problem. The main driver for satellite radio is commercial free music, not sound quality. Unfortunately for these 2000 HD stations, with no subscription revenue they still need to broadcast those annoying ads. The second problem is you need a new radio to receive these HD broadcasts. With only 3 products on the market, they have a long way to go.

Sirius to Lauch Video Channel Service in 2006

Sirius satellite radio announced at CES today they are going to use Microsoft Media Video 9 to support 2-3 premium video channels starting in the second half of 2006. The company wants to focus this premium service on children programming to quiet down the "are we there yet?" mantras during car road-trips.

"We will take the DVD experience to the next level, offering the best content easily available to families and consumers," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS. "Working together with Microsoft will help ensure the exciting development of a solid and user friendly video platform for SIRIUS for years to come."

This Mel guy sure hits the ground running. First the Ford deal, now satellite video.

Fossil Releases Palm OS PDA Watch

Fossil has released the Palm OS PDA watch they announced in 2002. It was one of the prime examples of gadget vaporware until today. Although it is quite tiny, the watch still runs a full version of Palm OS 4.1 on a 66mhz Motorola Dragonball processor with 8 megabytes of RAM. It runs for 3-4 days without recharging and will cost $249. Specs include:

-160x160 pixel 16 grey level screen
-EL backlight
-Typical Palm OS apps like address book, date book, to do list, memo pad
-IRDA v1.2a wireless connection to beam apps and data
-internal lithium ion battery

January 04, 2005

Vonage to Launch F-1000 Wi-Fi Phone

According to USA Today, Vonage will announce a Wi-fi phone that can make calls on any Wi-Fi wireless network. Pricing will be around $100 per handset and it will come out between April and June. UTStarcom will manufacture them. Vonage now has 400,000 subscribers that pay $24.99 a month for unlimited local and long distance phone calls. With this phone, people can use their account anywhere there is a wireless network. Theoretically a family can give their son or daughter one of these phones for free calls in a college dorm.

The phone is called the F-1000. It will have 80 hours of standby time and 4 hours of talk time. It will only work with Vonage initially, but UTStarcom plans to offer it to other providers.

As soon as I move or get local number portability, I'm switching to Vonage. All my friends who have tried it, love it especially for its added features like voice mail emails.

Sirius Signs up Ford

Sirius Satellite Radio announced that Ford will install Sirius as a factory installed option this summer for up to 21 vehicle lines. Ford expects to add 1 million Sirius subscribers in the 2006 and 2007 model year periods. Each car will come with a 6 month or longer subscription and pricing will be given at a later date. Ford also plans to add 17 more vehicle lines in 2006 to 2007. This means 80% of Ford and Lincoln Mercury vehicles will have Sirius as a factory installed option. This is the first coup for the new CEO Mel Karmazin, who used to run Viacom. I believe this is the biggest factory installed deal yet for satellite radio.

More Movie Piracy Tidbits

Associated Press also looks under the covers of movie piracy culture. Sounds like virtual gangs who are ruffling up their pride feathers to me.

For these online bootleggers, who authorities say represent the top of a distribution pyramid for pirated movies, software and music, it's all about the bragging rights for being first to copy a hot title or releasing the best-quality replica... there are a lot of similarities with the drug war," said David Israelite, chairman of the U.S. Justice Department's Intellectual Property Task Force."You never really are going to eliminate the problem, but what you hope to do is stop its growth." [Thanks Russell]

Apple to Launch new Productivity Suite - iWork '05

Think Secret has learned Apple plans to launch a new productivity suite called iWork '05 at MacWorld Expo. iWork will require OS X 10.3.5 and a 500mhz CPU. Sources say it will come bundled with all of Apple's computers to further attract PC switchers. This is definitely important as MS Office for OS X is slow and buggy. Mac users need a cheaper alternative to work on office documents at home.

Walmart Hits the High end of its December Forecast

After a bad start to the holiday shopping season, Walmart announced it will hit the high end of its Decemeber sales forecast thanks to a nice post-Christmas shopping rush. The company expects to hit 3% same-store growth vs. the 1-3% guidance they had given. Analysts say the surge came as people wanted to use their gift cards and take advantage of big markdowns.

Justin Frankel, Founder of WinAmp, Interview

Betanews has the first interview with Justin Frankel, the founder of WinAmp, after he left AOL. Frankel is back up to his revolutionary antics starting a new company called Cockos.

There were a few little pieces of software that I worked on for a bit, getting to the point of usability, and then haven't really touched in a while. Primarily these are a program called Assniffer (which is a HTTP sniffing program that logs the actual files transferred), and PathSync (which I use to interactively synchronize directories on different computers/drives)... The Jesusonic is a tool for real-time effects processing of audio (which can be used on many different sources, such as vocals, guitars, basses, etc).

Cool projects indeed. Nothing earth shattering like WinAmp though. On that topic:

I'm always hoping that they will come around and realize that they're killing it and find a better way, but AOL always seems too bogged down with all of their internal politics to get anything done. [Sighs] I suppose it doesn't help that I pissed them off so bad, so I should take part of the blame. I'd love to see Winamp back in the hands of people who really care about it.

Once again the familar story of a big corporation buying something innovative and squashing it.

January 03, 2005

Underground Pirate Scene

Wired covers the underground pirate scene from the release of Halflife 2 source code to plain old new release movies. The culture and organization of these modern day pirates is shown in vivid detail.

The upper reaches of the network are a "darknet," hidden behind layers of security. The sites use a "bounce" to hide their IP address, and members can log in only from trusted IP addresses already on file. Most transmissions between sites use heavy-duty encryption. Finally, they continually change the usernames and passwords required to log in..."Half the kids in the scene work at Best Buy or Blockbuster to get their hands on stuff they can release," says Frank. "At the factory, maybe 15 percent of CDs and DVDs are defective," says Forest, "usually just because the label is off a little bit." They're dumped into a rubbish bin, ripe for the picking.

It's going to be difficult for the authorities to close this leak down as these kids probably get paid minimum wage.

Toby is a master ripper. At 22, he's got a big man's frame but looks malnourished, like he doesn't get enough vegetables. He spends most of his time preparing movies for the Netflix Project. Started by an anonymous donor - again, an angel investor willing to devote money but not time to media piracy - the Netflix Project aims to archive every film offered by the subscription service. "Netflix offers about 25,000 movies," says Toby. "We've got maybe half of them." Each time Toby finishes condensing and packaging a movie, it gets placed on a central server. The archive is free for members who score a password and can get through the encryption. (Asked for comment, Netflix politely declined.)

Netflix project? This sounds like the build up of the Netflix Tivo video-on-demand project. It seems a few lucky insiders already have free access to this movie archive. Naughty, naughty Netflix. I bet Toby is in a deep doo-doo for telling the reporter about this.

TivoToGo Up and Running

Tivo launched TivoToGo today, which lets Tivo users transfer their shows onto PCs or laptops for "on the go" viewing. In the future, the company plans to offer viewing on other gadgets like perhaps a video iPod or PDA/smartphones. The feature will be automatically installed on stand-alone Series 2 recorders. It will not work on Direct TV Tivo boxes and Series 1 recorders. Moreover there are restrictions on Pay Per View and video on demand content.

SBC Announces new PVR, Satellite TV, VOD, and Internet Set-top Box with 2Wire Inc.

SBC, America's second largest phone company, announced today they are forming a joint venture with 2Wire Inc. to deliver an integrated home entertainment service to its customers through a set-top box. The service will include satellite television, digital video recording, video on demand, and internet content including Yahoo Photos and music. It is scheduled to roll out in mid 2005 over high-speed DSL or fiber for customers that have SBC, Dish Network, and Yahoo DSL services. Looks like everyone and their grandmother is going for the integrated entertainment model. No word on pricing.

UPDATE: The link to the set-top box is here. Pretty nifty specs. 250 gigabytes of storage space, HDTV recording, DVD ripping, and built-in DVD/CD player. This might out-moxi Tivo and Moxi. Pun intended.

Tivoli Model Three Review

Spiffle has a good review of the Tivoli Model Three Clock radio. He likes the balanced rich ranged sound quality and the beautiful design which is a "work of art." On the downside is the hefty pricing of $200 plus $100 for stereo/clock add-on and weak FM signal reception. I've heard one of these things and I'll say it blows the doors off the Bose clock radios you hear see on television. [Via Gizmodo]

January 01, 2005

Samsung Guarantees No Dead Pixels on LCD Monitors

According to a Korean newspaper, Samsung Electronics announced that from January 1, 2005 customers are guaranteed for six months to have no dead pixels on their monitors. If one does, you will get a new monitor free. However this does not apply to current owners who bought Samsung before January 1st. [Thanks Silo]

UPDATE: Unfortunately this policy is as of now only for South Korea. Oh well.

Happy New Year

I want to wish all our readers a Happy New Year. May all your dreams come true this coming year. Sit back and relax on our discussion forum as we will begin our 2005 publishing schedule on Monday.