Archive for June, 2008



Nokia “Symbian belong to us”

Nokia Corp. is buying the consortium that makes the software for its phones and making it available for free to other manufacturers, in hopes of blunting the influence of competing software providers.

Nokia said Tuesday that it is offering to buy the 52 per cent of Britain’s Symbian Ltd. that it doesn’t already own for about US$410 million. Symbian’s software is the most widely used on high-end phones.

Nokia will then establish a foundation with handset makers Sony Ericsson and Motorola Inc. and Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo to make the software available royalty-free. They will combine their three different versions of the Symbian software for advanced, data-enabled phones into one open platform. (link)

Windows 7 set to launch Jan. 2010

Microsoft will ship Windows 7 sometime in or near Jan. 2010, according to a letter company senior vice president Bill Veghte sent to Microsoft customers Tuesday.

The letter, sent to enterprise and business customers, will eventually be publicly posted on Microsoft’s Web site.
In the letter sent to “Windows Customers” and titled “An Update on the Windows Roadmap,” Veghte said “our plan is to deliver Windows 7 approximately three years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista.”

Veghte wrote, “You have told us you want a more regular, predictable Windows release schedule” and he said that was the impetus for setting the 2010 the ship date.

Vista has been slowly gaining steam, but is still drawing fire from critics who say it has not lived up to promises. (link)

Hard drive tech: even more storage?

One of the cool things about hard drive technology is how it has actually kept pace with computer needs. The basic mechanism for hard drive storage, however, does have some fundamental limitations, which manufacturers will have to deal with fairly soon. Bits are currently stored in the orientation of tiny magnets, called ferromagnetic domains, on a hard drive platter. The smaller the domain, the easier it is for that orientation to be scrambled by temperature or stray electromagnetic fields. At a certain size, thermal photons (e.g., heat energy from the surrounding case or the underlying disk) have enough energy to flip a domain’s orientation. Manufacturers will have to keep their domain sizes significantly bigger than that threshold size to ensure data integrity, which puts a ceiling on storage density, one we’re rapidly approaching.

An alternative is to use ferroelectric domains. Unlike ferromagnetic domains, ferroelectric domains have a natural electric field with an orientation that can be used to represent data. Until recently, these haven’t looked that attractive because they have pretty much the same limitations that ferromagnetic domains have, but they lack the cool read-out tricks. Ferroelectric materials, however, do have one big advantage over ferromagnetic materials: they can be used to make really good capacitors. This is exactly what the latest research, published in Nature Nanotechnology, is about. (link)

Game legislation, government wasting your tax money

Trying to pass legislation that impacts how games can be sold or what has to be put on them is a popular and expensive way of sending the message that you’re concerned about the issues that affect the youth of today. Although every law attempted has gone down in flames, and has cost taxpayers at least $1 million through the years, politicians continue to line up to give it a go. The newest bill is A11717, proposed by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and it has already passed through the New York State Assembly. Now it’s on to the State Senate. It’s a familiar story, but in this case the New York government is asking for things the industry is already doing.

The legislation would require game consoles to include parental locks for mature content but, while this sounds good on paper, every current-generation console already has parental controls. Not only that, but the ESRB has done a great job of getting the word out on how to use said controls. The bill also wants to force games to show their ESRB ratings on the cover of the title, which is also something that is done industry-wide. Every game sold at retail has the ESRB rating on the front cover, with more detailed information on what content the game includes on the back of the box. Given that industry compliance on showing the ratings on games is already at 100 percent, it’s unclear what the law would achieve. (link)

Canadian iPhone only available with 3 year contract

Rogers Communications Inc. announced earlier this month that it will bring the iPhone to Canada on July 11 at the same prices as AT&T, but it will require customers to sign three-year contracts. The company sells a number of phones with the option of one-, two- or three-year contracts, where the shorter the deal is, the more the customer pays for the device up front. The iPhone, however, will be the only device with just the three-year option.

A spokesperson for Rogers declined to comment as to why Canadian customers will have longer contracts than their counterparts in other countries.

“While I won’t speak to our contractual agreement, all carriers are different,” Elizabeth Hamilton said.

While it is possible another carrier elsewhere in the world could announce it will sell the iPhone under a three-year contract, a longer term than that is unheard of, making Rogers’ plans the longest. (link)

Logitech develops sexy quick cam, but only for Mac

To help you stay close to those who matter most, Logitech, the world’s leading manufacturer of webcams, today unveiled its first Mac®-compatible webcam with premium autofocus technology and Carl Zeiss® optics: the Logitech® QuickCam® Vision Pro webcam for Mac. The new Logitech webcam delivers image-perfect detail and clarity, and exceptional video calling with iChat® and Skype®.

“With this new webcam for Mac computers, we’ve integrated our most advanced video technologies to truly enrich your video-calling experience,” said Gina Clark, general manager and vice president of Logitech’s Internet Communications business unit. “The lens and autofocus, the sensor and the lighting software all contribute to create image-perfect detail and clarity. Whether you’ve used a standalone or an embedded webcam in the past, you’ll be amazed at the difference in quality our new webcam makes.” (link)

Typhoon sues everyone

Typhoon Touch Technologies, which claims to own foundational intellectual property covering touch-screen computing, has filed suit against Apple, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Lenovo, Panasonic, HTC, Palm, Samsung, Nokia and LG alleging patent infringements.

The move represents the extension of a suit filed by Typhoon and its licensee and co-plaintiff, Nova Mobility Systems, against Dell in December 2007. Craig Weiner, a lawyer with New York based Hofheimer, Gartlir & Gross who acts as director of legal affairs and licensing for Typhoon, said: “Typhoon believes that numerous defendants are selling and/or offering for sale – what could be millions of devices – which may infringe Typhoon’s patents.” (link)


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