Category Archives: News

Microsoft Windows 7 scam

Today I came across this website www.windows7giveaway.com which promises to give away a free copy of windows 7 ultimate if you pay $25 as the shipping cost. This looks like a very attractive deal. One of our friends from Pune startups group took the initiative to verify it from Microsoft and here is what they have to say.

windows 7 scam

“Dear Sir,

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the Microsoft lottery. We would

like to confirm this is a hoax website and did not originate from

Microsoft. Microsoft does not have any connection whatsoever with

this alleged lottery. It’s unfortunate that some people have chosen to

abuse the freedom that the internet offers by conducting fraudulent

activity.

Privacy and security are very important to Microsoft. For more

information please visit the following website:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/lottery/default.mspx

Yours sincerely,

Microsoft UK”

I would recommend everyone to inspect such offers closely as this might make you pocket a few bucks lighter and you would not be getting anything in return except frustration and annoyance.

Moreover any such issues can be reported here http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9661492

Apple Moves up in Greenpeace Rankings

If it’s the first day of October, then it’s time once again for environmental group Greenpeace’s quarterly report card of electronics corporations. The group’slatest regular report places Apple in ninth place, square in the middle of the pack, which also includes competitors like Dell, HP, and Lenovo. That’s up from the 11 spot in last quarter’s rankings, but there’s a catch: the report card doesn’t take into account Apple’s most recent environmental moves.

Last week, the company unveiled a redesigned environmental section, including frank and thorough assessments of its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas production. But Greenpeace’s report was produced before Apple’s changes, and so the company got low marks for both its carbon footprint disclosure and greenhouse gas information (PDF link). Still, Greenhouse didn’t hesitate to attribute Apple’s new openness at least in part to the environmental group’s own Green My Apple campaign.

Apple did score well on the toxin-reduction portion, thanks to its recent efforts at greening its products by eliminating the use of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Of course, that’s not enough to satisfy Greenpeace, which still wants to see progress on Apple’s part in the areas of e-waste and transparency as well as eliminating more toxic substances from its products.

But, just like an over-ambitious parent, will Greenpeace ever truly be satisfied with Apple, or will its continued “disappointment” in Apple’s environmental attitude cause a backlash in which the company decides to join the forces of environmental evil? The power is theirs!

Google wave

Google Wave is “a personal communication and collaboration tool” announced by Google at the Google I/O conference on May 27, 2009. It is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions. It was announced in Google’s official blog on July 20, 2009, that the preview of Google Wave would be extended to about 100,000 users on September 30, 2009.

Its October 2, 09 and I am still waiting for my wave invitation :)

Google Wave is designed as the next generation of Internet communication. It is written in Java using OpenJDK; its web interface uses the Google Web Toolkit. Instead of sending a message and its entire thread of previous messages or requiring all responses to be stored in each user’s inbox for context, objects known as waves contain a complete thread of multimedia messages (blips) and are located on a central server. Waves are shared and collaborators can be added or removed at any point during a wave’s existence.

Waves, described by Google as “equal parts conversation and document”, are hosted XML documents that allow seamless and low latency concurrent modifications. Any participant of a wave can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Users can reply to blips within waves. Recipients are notified of changes/replies in all waves they are active in and then view the changes when they subsequently access a given wave. In addition, waves are live. All replies/edits are seen real-time, letter by letter, as they are typed by the other collaborators. Multiple participants may edit a single wave simultaneously in Google Wave. Thus, waves not only can function as e-mail and threaded conversations but also as an instant messaging service, merging the functions of e-mail and instant messaging. It depends only on whether both users are online at the same time or not, allowing a wave to even shift repeatedly between e-mail and instant messaging depending on the user’s needs. The ability to show messages as they are typed can also be disabled, similar to conventional instant messaging.

The ability to modify a wave at any location lets users create collaborative documents, edited in a manner akin to wikis.

The history of each wave is stored within it. Collaborators may use a playback feature in Google Wave to observe the order which a wave was edited, blips were added, and who was responsible for what in the wave. The history may also be searched by a user to view and/or modify specific changes, such as specific kinds of changes or messages from a single user.

Google Wave is still in active development. It is expected to continue to be so until later in 2009, launching to about 100,000 users on 30th September. Google Wave access can be requested. Developers have been given access to Wave proper, and all wave users invited by Google can invite up to 8 others. Those who receive indirect invitations (were invited by someone who was invited by Google) will not be able to invite others. As of October 1st, Google Wave testers were unable to add extensions because “settings” is under construction.

iPhone 3GS

Speed
The “S” stands for “SPEED!” And according to Apple, it is faster launching applications or rendering Web pages.

• The iPhone 3GS has a new processor built-in. Apple claims that it is up to two times faster than the previous generation: Launching messages is 2.1 faster, load the NY Times in Safari: 2.9 times faster. It also consumes less, which has an impact on the improved battery life.

Camera
This is one of the strong points of the iPhone 3GS, according to Apple. They increased the resolution to 3 megapixels, which—judging from the shots they showed-seems much better quality under all conditions.

• 3 Megapixels sensor.
• New camera, with auto focus, auto exposure, and auto white balance.
• You can also tap to focus, changing white balance in the process. That is really neat, if you ask me.
• Special macro and low light modes.
• The camera also supports photo and video geotagging.
• Any application can access all the camera functions now.

• It supports video, 30 frames per second VGA with auto focus, auto white balance, and auto exposure.
• You can trim the video shot just using your finger, then share it via MMS, email, MobileMe and YouTube.

Connectivity
The other part of the “S” is the support for the faster 7.2 Mbps 3G standard, which in theory will deliver data faster to your iPhone.

• Three band UMTS/HSDPA.
• Four band GSM/EDGE.
• Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.
• Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

Graphics
• The new iPhone 3GS includes new 3D graphics support in hardware. This means faster and more complicated 3D games.
• Same 3.5-inch widescreen multitouch display, but this time it has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. I wonder if it will withstand a full frontal Shake Shack burger attack.

Design

• Same design as before, including the glossy finish of the back (so much for all the rumors about the matte back.)
• Same size as the old iPhone 3G: 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches.
• The weight increases a bit: One ounce to 4.8 ounces (135 grams vs 133 grams).
• Greener materials: Arsenic-free glass, BDF-free, Mercury-free LCD.

New special features

• It has a magnetometer, which works with a Compass application, third parties, and it is integrated into the new Google maps app, showing your orientation with a small semitransparent cone.
• Voice control. You can now talk with your iPhone, Enterprise-style. You can instruct it to play similar songs to the one you are playing, or call people.
• Nike + support built in.
• Supports accessibility features, like zooming on text, inverting video, and voice over when you touch whatever text is on screen.

Battery life
• One of the more important new features is the increased battery life.
• According to Apple, you will get up to 12 hours of talk time on 2G and 5 on 3G, with a up to 300 hour standby time.
• On 3G, it will deliver 5 hours of internet use.
• On Wi-Fi, Internet goes up to 9 hours.
• Video playback is 10 hours vs 30 hours for audio.

Would be available in India in last week of August….

Sony unveils new PSP Go

Sony on Tuesday unveiled a sleek next-generation PSP Go handheld videogame, movie and music gadget in a direct challenge to Nintendo’s freshly-launched DSi devices.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai showed off a new PSP Go at a press conference in the Shrine Auditorium as a major Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) got under way nearby in Los Angeles.

“We call it the worst kept secret of E3,” Hirai quipped, referring to news of Go news leaks more akin to streams.

“There will be more content that is easier to get on your PSP. It’s entertainment everywhere.”

Go is half the size of the original PSP and built to download and store video, pictures and games, according to Hirai. Go devices have built-in wireless Internet and Bluetooth capabilities.

“It’s built for people who live a more digital lifestyle,” Hirai said. “It’s designed to bring all kinds of content to the PSP.”

All future PSP videogame titles will be available for digital download, skipping any need to buy software on disks, according to Sony.

A new Sense Me feature analyzes music stored in Go devices and then creates playlists to suit users’ moods. Go gadgets will also be built with a video delivery service Sony launched last year.

Hot videogame franchises including “Gran Turismo,” “Metal Gear Solid,” and “Resident Evil” are creating new games tailored to Go devices, according to Sony.

“I think the PSP is getting really hotter,” said Hideo Kojima, whose eponymous studio makes the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise whose protagonist is a fearsome soldier called “Snake.”

“And Snake is coming back on the PSP.”

Go devices will be priced at 249 dollars, or 249 Euros respectively, when they are released in the United States and Europe in October, according to Sony. The gadgets will be available in Japan in November, Sony says.

Nintendo reports that it has sold more than a million of its new-generation DSi handheld videogame gadgets in the United States since they became available in April.

Sony PSP go first hands on @ Engadget

Tata nano bookings likely to be cancelled after first lottery.

Auto analysts and business analysts in India fear that Tata Nano may face booking cancellations after the first round of lottery winners is announced. Tata Nano has received about 203,000 bookings for its models but the company has capacity to manufacture on 50,000 cars from its Uttrakhand plant in Pantnagar. The mother plant in Sanand will be completed early next year and is expected to become fully operational by first quarter of 2010.

Tata Nano

The lottery will be completed by the end of the next month when names of first one lakh lucky Nano owners will be announced. Tata Motors will start deliveries from July 2009 and will be able to deliver only 50,000 cars by end of December 2009.

“Bookings beat expectations but the company may not be able to retain orders going ahead,” said Mahantesh Sabarad, an analyst at Centrum Broking in Mumbai. Further the analysts also expect that the pricing is not competitive and expected that nearly one-third of outstanding bookings may be cancelled after the lottery.

Reliance network outage. April 26, 2009

Since late morning there was no signal on my Reliance GSM celphone. No luck making any call or sms and cant even call customer care. I am unware when it all started because I had woke up at 1 pm. Looked on google for some hint and voila… there is this big problem with every one relying on Reliance. Total network down…

It wasn’t until late night at 10 pm when i had those signal back again on my celphone.

Game on for Sony PS3 in Xbox's backyard

Three years into the great console war — the battle for billions of entertainment dollars spent on video gaming — Sony’s PlayStation 3 lags far behind Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s quirky Wii.

Chances of a Sony turnaround seem less likely than ever, given the weak economy and the PS3’s relatively huge price tag — at $400, its entry-level price is double that of the Xbox.

But if it’s going to happen, if the gaming goliath is to regain its footing, it may do so with help from a bunch of engineers in Seattle, many of whom left Microsoft to build their games in studios not far from Xbox headquarters.

It takes more than a few studios to change the game, so to speak, and Sony develops games around the world. But it has high hopes for potential blockbusters to emerge in coming months from the studios in Redmond and Bellevue it has acquired or partnered with in recent years.

“The bottom line is we go where the talent is, and it just so happens that a couple of our big ones are coming out of the Seattle area in the upcoming months,” said Scott Rohde, San Diego-based vice president of studios at Sony Computer Entertainment America.

These game shops have kept a relatively low profile even as the Seattle area’s reputation as a world hub for game development has grown.

It’s a different story in the gaming world, however, where previews of their upcoming titles have won critical acclaim. The excitement comes in part because the studios are creating entirely new games, pushing the technical capabilities of the platform and introducing characters and stories that may become tomorrow’s movies and comic books.

Summer action title

The lineup begins with “inFamous” from Sucker Punch Productions in Bellevue. The game, going on sale May 26, revolves around Cole, a messenger in a gritty metropolis who develops superpowers after a huge explosion. Cole can use electricity like a weapon, shooting bolts of energy from his hands as he battles criminals who overrun the quarantined city.

It’s an “open world” game, meaning players freely roam throughout the crime-infested city, the same model used by the hit “Grand Theft Auto” series.

Coming in the fall is “MAG” — short for “massive action game” — from Zipper Interactive, a Sony-owned studio in Redmond. The military-themed shooting game is played online, with realistic mercenary battles involving up to 256 players at once.

Zipper’s 150 employees include ex-Microsoft talent, but the company was started by Boeing veteran Brian Soderberg, who previously built simulators for the military, and Jim Bosler, whose background includes time at Egghead Software, an early software retailer that had stores across the country.

Then in 2010, the Bellevue studio of Sony’s online entertainment group is scheduled to release “The Agency,” a spy-themed online game that can be played on either a PS3 or a PC. Players assume the identity of a globe-trotting spy and ally themselves with operatives, who continue working on missions even when a player takes a break from the game.

Preview beta versions of “MAG” and “The Agency” could be available sooner. Sony plans to highlight all three, and provide more details, in early June during the industry’s leading trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.

Big bets on innovation

Spending tens of millions on these new entertainment franchises is “a completely gutsy move on Sony’s part,” said Chris Zimmerman, who left Microsoft with three friends in 1997 to start Sucker Punch, whose 60 employees make games exclusively for Sony.

“The easiest thing to do is just turn the crank, create another version of whatever you did last, until people stop buying it,” he explained during a funky Capitol Hill cocktail party thrown last week to showcase “inFamous.”

“Sony’s been really brave in saying that’s not enough … we don’t just want to do the same games over and over again; we want to do some new stuff, and we’re willing to invest to do it,” he said. “It really is cool — a lot of that has come out of Seattle.”

Call it irony or karmic retribution, but this comes as Microsoft has whittled down the once-formidable in-house game studio that it built first to advance PC gaming and then to launch its Xbox business. (A Microsoft spokesman noted the company had a strong lineup the past two years, and said announcements of new games are being held until E3.)

Outsourcing game development has helped the Xbox business finally become profitable, but it gives Sony bragging rights and competitive advantages — theoretically.

Microsoft still has a big lead over Sony. In the U.S., Xbox has outsold the PS3 2-to-1. Through March, according to NPD research, it sold 15 million 360s, compared with 7.5 million PS3s (Nintendo’s Wii, at 19.6 million, leads both). Globally, 21 million PS3s and 28 million Xbox 360s have been sold, according to the companies.

Hard-core hits

One reason for the gap is that Microsoft won over 13- to 24-year-old hard-core gamers with the Xbox and a couple of blockbuster shooting franchises made exclusively for it: “Halo” and “Gears of War.” Microsoft also built a superior online network — Xbox Live — on which Xbox owners spend an average of eight hours a week playing mostly raucous action games.

The Sony games coming out of Seattle are aimed directly at this demographic, and they’re likely to be hits.

But they won’t be enough for Sony to retake its lead of the console business, according to Michael Pachter, research director at Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles.

“They’re not getting it back by launching games that are three years after ‘Gears of War’ and ‘Halo’ — it’s late,” he said.

Pachter thinks Sony should be focusing on the other console maker with offices in Redmond — Nintendo.

“Right now Sony needs to figure out how to get Wii owners to buy a PS3, and Wii owners aren’t waiting for hard-core shooters or ‘Grand Theft Auto’-type games as an excuse to buy a console.”

Spinoff potential

Even if the new Sony games fail to budge the PS3 out of third place, there are other ways they may influence popular culture.

Sucker Punch’s “inFamous,” in particular, seems likely to end up as a movie.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a deal, but I wouldn’t say those conversations haven’t at least gotten somewhere,” said Brian Fleming, another Sucker Punch co-founder.

Technology developed by the local studios also will contribute to future games. Both Sucker Punch and Zipper built new game platforms, or engines, that can be used as the foundation for new titles. The network architecture that Zipper built to support “MAG” is also likely to help Sony develop other massive-scale online games, while “The Agency” team is figuring out how to bridge online play between PCs and the PS3.

“We’re lucky we can continue to do these big titles,” Soderberg said, adding that Sony’s backing “gives us the luxury to continue to dream up new ideas and now and then take a risk and come up with something new and exciting.”

Matt Wilson, a former Microsoft game developer heading Sony Online Entertainment’s 100-person Bellevue studio, said the platform wars are mostly a distraction.

“First and foremost it’s the game — our goal is to make a great game,”‘ he said. “That’s all we should be worried about.”

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company