Good news for Google, Yahoo, MSN, and maybe even Cuil – search engine use is on the rise, according to a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. While it may seem like everyone has Googled themselves, Twittered some inane tidbit about their day, or shared a little too much via Facebook status updates, some people apparently only use the Internet to send useless forwards and check the weather. The ranks of the Internet illiterate are dwindling, however. The number of people who regularly use online search engines is up 69 percent from January 2002, the report said. E-mail use increased about 15 percent in the same time period, but e-mail has always been the most popular app on the Internet, wrote report author Deborah Fallows.
Among daily Internet activities, 60 percent use e-mail, 49 percent use online search, 39 percent check news, 30 percent check weather, 29 percent research a hobby, 28 percent surf the Web for fun, and 13 percent use social networking sites. This is the second time Pew has seen a jump in search engine use – the first being a 10 percent increase in late 2005 when there was a lot of media buzz around search engines, including the Google IPO. What accounts for the jump this time around? Fallows suggested that at this point, Internet users can find a high-performing, site-specific search engine on any Web site “that is worth its salt.” Increased access to broadband and the quality of search returns has also contributed to the rise in use, she wrote.
Source: PC Magazine, Martin
It looks like Apple is keeping a closer hold on the iPhone’s apron strings than anyone thought, if information uncovered by Jonathan Zdziarski is to be believed. Speaking on iPhone Atlas on Wednesday, Zdziarski – author of a book on iPhone application development – explained that he was performing “forensic examination of an iPhone 3G” when he discovered a suspicious configuration file in the CoreLocation section of the memory. Upon investigating, he discovered a link to a page on Apple’s website which appears to contain the skeleton for a future application blacklist. The page, called ‘unauthorizedApps’, seems to exist so the iPhone can occasionally download a copy and check the signatures of banned applications against installed applications – if a match is found, the app is disabled immediately. Zdziarski believes that this functionality exists “to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down.”
Clearly, there are legitimate reasons why such functionality should exist – although slightly fewer for why it’s undocumented and downright concealed – including the possibility that Apple can update iPhones with a sort of anti-malware by listing known ‘bricking’ programs in the blacklist. However, it demonstrates that even a ‘jailbroken’ iPhone might not escape Apple’s clutches for long – and how sure can you be that Installer.App or your favourite non-Apple approved software won’t hit the blacklist once it’s activated? Anyone here worried about the possibilities of a hidden remote app killer developed by Apple, or does the Cupertino company just have your best interests at heart?
Source: Bit-tech, Martin
Google Inc. said Wednesday that it has launched a music search service in China that allows users to access music legally online in a forum backed by some record labels and supported by advertising revenue. Paid music downloads in China are virtually nonexistent, and Apple Inc.’s iTunes digital music store is not offered there. Downloadable pirated versions of songs are widely available for free online. Google’s service, called Music Onebox, directs users to Top100.cn, a site that names as an investor basketball star Yao Ming, to download or stream music for free. Users outside China are blocked from accessing the music.
Top100.cn is a Beijing-based Web site that already has licensing agreements with about 100 labels. Talks are ongoing with Sony BMG and Warner Music Group Corp. to become partners. “This legal music service will help users avoid dead links, slow downloads, inaccurate search results, and poor quality or incomplete songs,” Google said in a statement. Google said it is not participating in any of the advertising revenue from the site. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries says more than 99 percent of all music files distributed in China are pirated. It says that despite China’s large potential market, the country’s legitimate sales of $76 million a year account for less than 1 percent of global sales.
Source: Reuters, Martin
Micron is starting production of a new line of solid state drives (SSD) that offer much faster data rates than were previously possible. The new drives are capable of 250MB/s data transfer and come in two lines, an enterprise-class RealSSD P200 and the client-focused RealSSD C200. The company hopes the increased speed and reduced power consumption of the new drives will encourage their adoption by the server market. “We are seeing SSD interest in a variety of applications where historically hard disk drives have reigned,” said Dean Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron.
“For many, the most logical place is in notebook computers, but there is incredible value for SSDs in enterprise server systems.” The P200 range come in sizes from 16GB to 128GB in 2.5 inch modules, with the C200 ranging from 16GB to 256GB, and comes in 2.5 and 1.5 inch modules for better take-up by notebook manufacturers. The company is claiming that the P200 drives are 10 times faster than traditional platter drives, use a tenth of the power and last about four times as long.
Source: Vnunet, Martin
Delta Air Lines said Tuesday that it would offer broadband wireless Internet access on its entire domestic mainline fleet by next summer. Continental Airlines had previously announced plans to offer similar service across a majority of its mainline fleet. everal other airlines either offer or plan to offer a similar service, though on a much more limited number of flights than Delta and Continental. Delta, which is based in Atlanta, said it would sell Wi-Fi service to customers traveling throughout the continental United States. The carrier is working with Aircell, an airborne communications provider, to install the network on Delta’s domestic fleet of more than 330 aircraft.
Fliers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices like laptops, smartphones and personal digital assistants will be able to access the Internet while in flight. The service will cost $9.95 on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 on longer flights. Continental, based in Houston, said on Jan. 29 that it would introduce onboard Wi-Fi services including e-mail and instant messaging connectivity on flights operating within the continental United States at the beginning of next year. American Airlines, a unit of the AMR Corporation, will offer the same Wi-Fi service as Delta through Aircell later this year on 15 of its 767-200 aircraft, which generally fly transcontinental routes, a spokeswoman, September Wade, said.
Source: NY Times, Martin
Intel has unveiled details of the chip that will spearhead its move into computer graphics. It has revealed blueprints for the Larrabee chip that is scheduled to first appear in finished products in late 2009 or early 2010. Larrabee will be a stand-alone graphics processor unlike the onboard chips it produces for many PC makers. The move will bring Intel into direct competition with graphics specialists Nvidia and the ATI division of AMD. Intel is aiming to put Larrabee into graphics cards for PCs that help show games and video in very high detail. Like existing graphics chips from Nvidia and ATI, Larrabee is expected to have many separate processing cores onboard.
So far Intel has not said how many processing cores Larrabee will have onboard at launch or in subsequent generations. Future Nvidia and ATI graphics chips are expected to be made up of several hundred cores. While Intel will initially target the PC graphics card market, it expects the raw computer power in the chip to help with oil and gas exploration, medical imaging and financial services in the future. Many scientists and researchers already use coupled graphics cards as a desktop supercomputer that helps them carry out simulations far faster and cheaper than on a larger dedicated machine. Intel said it would release more details about Larrabee at the upcoming Siggraph computer graphics conference due to be held in Los Angeles from 12-15 August.
Source: BBC, Martin
Not content with taking your shoes and confiscating your water, now the Department of Homeland Security is gunning for your laptops. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Border Patrol and Customs agents can now “detain” laptops “for a reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” They don’t need probable cause under the new policy. Doesn’t matter if you’re a U.S. citizen or foreign visitor. Officials can hold the laptops indefinitely. Or hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes. Ditto papers, documents, books, pamphlets, even litter.
“It’s not our intent to subject legitimate travelers to undue scrutiny, but to ensure the safety of the American public,” wrote Jayson Ahern, U.S. Customs deputy commissioner, in a recent policy paper. Arguing that border searches of laptops have already uncovered intellectual property rights violations, extremist Jihadist literature, video clips of IEDs and child pornography, he pledged the government would never disclose confidential information “without lawful authority.” The policy has been on the books for awhile, but just confirmed under pressure from civil rights and business groups worried about increasing reports of laptop confiscation.
Source: LA Times, Martin
Toyota Motor on Friday showed off a new stand-up scooter that could one day be seen zipping alongside the Segway on the personal-transporter superhighway. The “Winglet” has a body the size of an A3 sheet of paper that houses an electric motor, two wheels, and internal sensors that constantly monitor the rider’s position and make adjustments in power to ensure stability. A parallel link mechanism lets riders go forward, backward, and turn by shifting body weight, making the Winglet potentially useful for maneuvering in tight spaces or crowded urban environments. Riders can cruise around at a leisurely 3.7 mph–not ideal for rushing to a meeting, but nice for scooting around a shopping mall, perhaps. (The Segway, by comparison, can hit 12.5 mph.)
The Winglet comes in small, medium, and large sizes ranging in height from 18 inches to 3 feet 8 inches, with handlebars that also rise to different levels. All three models are about 18 inches wide and 10 inches long. The smallest version weighs 22 pounds, and can be folded and tossed into a (big) bag for optimal shoulder dislocation. All versions of the device take an hour to charge. No word yet on when we might see commuters atop the contraptions. The company will start testing the vehicle this fall at a Japanese airport and a seaside resort. More testing is planned for 2009 at shopping complexes and other bustling locales.
Source: Cnet, Martin
On Thursday, LG Electronics launched the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc player, a DVD player that will play both Blu-ray and standard definition discs. As a bonus, the player will also allow consumers to instantly stream any of the 12,000 movies and TV episodes available to Netflix subscribers. With a wired broadband connection, Netflix members can access their account information and “Queue” via the BD300. Once there, customers can browse movie selections, read synopses, and rate movies. They will also be able to pause, fast forward, and rewind their film choices with the BD300’s remote control.
The player also features LG’s BD Live functionality that provides bonus content, real-time extras, and special picture-in-picture access for selected Blu-ray discs. This is not Netflix’s first foray into the set-top box arena; their streaming capabilities can be found in theNetflix Player by Roku, a product that offers Netflix account access and content streaming without a PC but is not a disc player. The company also recently announced that they will partner with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service for the Xbox 360 this fall. Xbox Live Gold members can already buy and store content on their consoles, but those who also have Netflix accounts will be able to stream Netflix movies to their Xbox as well.
Source: PC Mag, Martin