Thursday, September 29, 2011

Microsoft looking into Xbox TV service

Microsoft is said to be planning a Web-based pay-TV service that it can build onto its Xbox Live platform.

The software company is in talks with two dozen content companies, as well as Comcast and Verizon Communications, according to a Bloomberg report. The menu of programming will include music, movies, sports, and TV shows.

Last week, the blog Digiday, citing anonymous sources, reported that Microsoft was nearing a deal with Comcast that would allow Xbox 360 owners to sign up for the cable provider's service and watch its programming from the game console. CNET blogger Don Reisinger wrote, "Microsoft unveiled its live-television service at the E3 gaming expo in June. Although the company provided few details on the service at the time, Microsoft said that it would 'partner with TV providers' for its offering."

The Hollywood studios have long tried to persuade Microsoft to use Xbox Live and the company's successful Xbox video game console into taking a larger role in distributing content. Xbox Live already offers movies and TV shows for rent and purchase.

Bloomberg wrote that Microsoft also expects to sign licensing deals with Time Warner's HBO cable channel, Sony Pictures' Crackle streaming service, and NBC Universal's Bravo network.

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iPhone 5 to get larger screen, HSPA+

A new pair of reports suggest that changes are headed to Apple's next iPhone in the form of a bigger screen and a considerably faster data connection.

The first comes from Japanese outlet PC Watch, (via Mac blog Macotakara), which reported on a slide shown by carrier China Unicom at this week's Macworld Asia, suggesting that the iPhone 5 will add support for HSPA+ technology. HSPA+ is the standard that has a theoretical download speed of 21Mbps, up from the 7.2Mbps HSDPA/HSUPA 3G hardware that ships in the iPhone 4. In the United States, both AT&T and T-Mobile support HSPA+ on their networks.

This is not the first mention of faster networking technology making it into Apple's next iPhone, but it's of special interest, given that the slide came from a carrier. An analyst note from Jefferies in May suggested that Apple's next iPhone would be a modest update but that it would be getting a speed boost in processing power and with support for HSPA+. A report last month also suggested that Apple was in the process of carrier-testing devices with support for LTE, the high-speed technology used by Verizon Wireless in the U.S.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Facebook app for iPad to make debut at iPhone event

According to Mashable, Facebook is expected to finally unveil an app for Apple's iPad tablet.

So what has taken so long for the social network to make its iPad debut? Citing "two sources familiar with the situation," Mashable reports it was due to "a combination of timing and a strained relationship with Apple." The blog notes Facebook's decision to pull Connect from the iTunes social feature Ping as an example.

In July, the blog TechCrunch claimed to have Facebook's iPad app up and running after discovering it hidden inside code for the iPhone version.
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Amazon is applying real heat on Apple

Even before CEO Jeff Bezos announced the Kindle Fire tablet at a packed press conference here Wednesday, the market for slate-style computers was on fire. Practically every tech manufacturer under the sun has brought out a tablet. Yet only the Apple iPad has been a piping hot bestseller, dousing the tablet dreams for companies ranging from Research In Motion to Hewlett-Packard.

Amazon could change that. On the surface, and up in the Internet cloud where the tech battle rages on, the outlook for the new Fire tablet, which ships Nov. 15, would appear promising.

One reason that some companies have not succeeded in the marketplace is "because they built tablets instead of services," Bezos said in an interview following the press conference. "The hardware tablet is (only) a piece of that service. The end-to-end service is what customers really want, the deep integration with all of Amazon's media."

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conficker: Worm That Could Bring Down The Internet

For the past three years, a highly encrypted computer worm called Conficker has been spreading rapidly around the world. As many as 12 million computers have been infected with the self-updating worm, a type of malware that can get inside computers and operate without their permission.

The gigantic networked system created by the Conficker worm is what's known as a "botnet." The Conficker botnet is powerful enough to take over computer networks that control banking, telephones, security systems, air traffic control and even the Internet itself, says Bowden. His new book, Worm: The First Digital World War, details how Conficker was discovered, how it works, and the ongoing programming battle to bring down the Conficker worm, which he says could have widespread consequences if used nefariously.

The Conficker worm can also be used to steal things like your passwords and codes for any accounts you use online. Officials in Ukraine recently arrested a group of people who were leasing a portion of the Conficker worm's computers to drain millions of dollars from bank accounts in the United States.

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iPhone5 Rumored to Offer 1GB RAM and Voice Control

Apple's iPhone 5 will include a whopping 1GB of RAM and a voice-control system known as the Assistant, according to the latest reports hopping onboard the iPhone rumor mill.

Word of these potential new features was apparently leaked to TUAW by an unnamed but "reliable source" last week. However, the tech news site said it was hesitant to publish the details without corroboration.

But yesterday 9to5Mac said it received the same information from a "source familiar with the SOC's manufacturing," which refers to the phone's expected A5 processor, or system-on-a-chip.

Based on details revealed by the source or sources, the new iPhone will come equipped with the A5 chip, 1GB of internal memory, and an 8-megapixel camera. The phone will also include a Qualcomm Gobi Baseband chipset that will allow it to run on both CDMA and GSM networks, claims 9to5Mac's source.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Frictionless Sharing

Should you be concerned about your privacy on Facebook's recently announced "frictionless sharing" plan that lets online sites and services automatically share your activity with your Facebook friends?

The basic idea behind Facebook's new sharing system is that clicking a "Like" button is too burdensome. So why not let a news site do the sharing for you, with almost no action on your part?

All you have to do is authorize a new Facebook application such as The Washington Post Social Reader, The Guardian's new Facebook app, or Yahoo news. Then every time you read a news article online, your activity will automatically be shared with your friends.

So, now everywhere you go, everything you do is being sent back to your Facebook friends and stored on company servers. Creepy, right? Maybe. But if you don't want your friends to know you love to read news stories about Lindsay Lohan or that you follow the details of every gruesome murder across the country, here's my advice: authorize wisely.

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4G wireless network with double the speed

Australian mobile internet downloads will today at least double in speed as Telstra officially launches the country's first 4G network.

The speedy service will offer downloads as fast as 70 megabits per second - fast enough to deliver a high-definition movie in less than a minute.

The catch? It's only available within 5km of the GPO in each Australian capital city and it won't work on your phone.

Telstra's 4G mobile service will only be available to computers however, and the company says only speeds of up to 40 megabits per second will be "typical" using the new network.

Telstra wireless director Anthony Goonan said the company would not promote the network's top speeds to prevent unrealistic expectations.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Could Facebook Changes Lead to a Google+ Boom?

Could changes on Facebook become a crucial business opportunity for Google+?

With previous site changes, users did not have as many well-known options to fight the company's decisions. MySpace was dying out, which meant people either accepted the changes or left the social-media scene (more chose the former).

But now, Google may have the answer to some people's prayers. On message boards, blogs and even Facebook profiles, those upset with Facebook's new changes have said they are off to Google+.

With over 750 million accounts, Facebook has dominated the social media scene for years. Robert Drew, a professor of communication at Saginaw Valley State University, told the Midland Daily News that Facebook's dominance may make it difficult for a company such as Google to compete.

Google +, launched in the summer, saw quick growth at its start, although its estimated 25 million users is merely a small fraction of Facebook's community. The service was originally by invitation only; however, Google announced last week that it is now open to the Internet public.

The International Business Times reported Saturday that in a survey of over 1,000 people conducted by social-voting-based site Sodahead, about 86 percent of the Facebook audience said they disapproved of the changes of Facebook. That number included 91 percent of teenagers, 89 percent of women and 78 percent of young adults.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, at the recent F8 Developers conference in San Francisco, said he was aware of the dissent and that user opinions were always welcome. However, he told reporters that the site had been tested by those inside and outside of the company and they had no plans at the time to change.

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Motorola Xoom 2 leaks

Motorola, now with the backing of prospective new owner Google, may have a worthy competitor to the iPad 2 on the way, according to a report. And another, smaller model may be coming too.

Those deets include a 9mm thickness (the iPad 2 is 8.8mm) and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. This time it may be a Texas Instruments ARM chip variant, according to speculation. The Xoom currently sports a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2. The ability to record 1080p video is also expected.

Tablets and smartphones pouring out of Motorola Mobility over the next 12 months should be compelling considering that well-heeled Google--the provider of the Android software that runs on Motorola's consumer devices--is expected to absorb the company. Perish the thought that this would give Motorola a leg up over rivals in the Android ecosystem!

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