There’s a rumour swirling around that Apple is cherry-picking an elite fighting force of engineers and people who know all there is to know about semiconductors to create a computer chip business of its very own.
Almost everything that the company makes relies on a chip of some sort, so bringing the manufacturing process in-house would help them reduce costs and build to its own specifications. Unfortunately, it would also set back the ‘compatibility’ factor of Apple products.
What many expect Apple to do, at least in the short term, is create iPhone chips, so that the devices can be created with greater performance and battery life. The company recently appointed former AMD executives to senior positions within its own organisation. Apple, as always, has declined to comment on the rumours.
What would you do if you woke up half-way across the world with no clothes on, and just a mining pick in your possession? That was the virtual reality that faced Luke Maskell when he logged into his World of Warcraft character, Häwk, one morning. His character had been hacked into and everything of value had been removed and sold.
“They must have stolen around ten to fifteen thousand gold worth of goods and cash,” says Luke, “they probably would have earned around £50-£80”. That might not sound like much, but for his character it represents months and months of play in the massively-multiplayer online world where one of the most controversial topics is that of gold farmers and selling equipment for real cash.
But is it a crime? Well, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told us that it was a very tricky one – it would need a test case to be determined, and it would depend on many factors. Complicating the matter is the fact that the virtual thief might not be resident in the UK, and Blizzard’s servers might be sitting in yet another country again. I put this to the Police spokesperson who sucked his teeth and told me that a court-case spanning three countries would be “absolute madness”.
“I certainly see it as a crime,” states Luke, defiantly, “the online assets are in the end, property of Blizzard, and someone is selling this property for real-world money without permission, they should be treated as any other criminal.”
It’s not completely clear how the attacker managed to gain access to Luke’s characters: “Virus scanners and anti malware software found a few stray cookies from websites I was unsure about, but nothing major like a trojan or virus. I don’t think I’ll ever find out how my details were stolen.”
Blizzard, for their part, offer plenty of advice on how to keep accounts secure. On their compromised accounts page they recommend you change passwords regularly and warn against installing dodgy-looking game modifications or using power-levelling services.
They also sell a device called an ‘authenticator’, which hooks up with your account and generates a second password that operates alongside your main one. This password changes every five minutes, so it’s impossible to log in if the authenticator isn’t in your possession.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending for Luke: “Blizzard were great with the issue. I went through both the in-game ticketing system and their online support site to get my items and account back under my control, and they responded quickly and professionally.”
“They advised me on steps to take to prevent any further hacks, fully restored all my items and gold, and even gave everything that was taken from the guild bank back, all within 3 days of the hack occuring. I was very impressed.”
His guild – a group of players that he plays with on a regular basis – were also very supportive, too: “From my guild, I got a general response of sympathy and people wishing me luck in getting all my items and money back from the game moderators. I had a lot of people in the guild offering me some cash to get me back on my feet and replace my items”
If you’re a player of World of Warcraft, or any other online game, put yourself in Luke’s shoes for a minute. Think about how long it took you to acquire the items that you’re using in-game, and how long it would take to replace them. Then go change your account password and buy an authenticator – in the long run, you’ll be very pleased you did.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your browsers. The release candidate for Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7, is now available. Well, available to MSDN and Technet subscribers, anyway. If you’re not one of them, then you’ll have to wait till next Tuesday, May 5th.
The release candidate is what Microsoft hopes to release commercially in a few months time. They claim they’re still aiming at a January 2010 release, but they’ve been running ahead of schedule up to this point, so it’s entirely possibly that’ll be brought forward a couple of months to hit the holiday season if there are no major issues with the OS between now and then.
The release candidate will be available from now until the release of the OS, and it’ll work until June 1st 2010. Microsoft’s basically giving you 12 months of a free operating system, in exchange for you letting them know when you have difficulties with it.
The company has seen well over a million downloads of the Windows 7 beta, and over 100,000 of those in the UK. They’re hoping that demand for the release candidate will be even higher.
If you’ve been running the Windows 7 beta, then you’ll already know about what it gives you over Vista or XP – considerably improved performance, security, usability and support for touchscreens and internet-enabled appliances, so that you can right-click files to send them to your television, for example.
Since the beta was released, Microsoft’s made more than thirty major changes to the OS. There’s changes to taskbar scaling, improved driver support, remote media streaming and more gestures for users of touchscreens, but the biggest addition is a virtual machine running Windows XP. This’ll be available to small businesses who might be running software that has trouble with Windows 7 in the ‘Professional’ edition of the OS,
Microsoft has also removed a couple of bits of functionality from the beta. They’ve taken out Bluetooth audio support, as well as the ability for people to log on as a ‘guest’ to the computer. Interestingly, they’ve also taken out the ability for USB sticks to autorun programs when they’re inserted. This is to help guard against virus infection by rogue USB sticks.
If you want to give it a shot, then keep an eye on this website on May 5th. When we get a proper download link, we’ll update this post.
Are you a filthy voyeur? When you travel by plane, do you look at other people’s luggage and wish you could see what was inside? Are you envious of the x-ray machine operators?
Well, isthisyourluggage.com has you sorted. It’s a bloke that buys up old unclaimed luggage at auction and photographs its contents. Yes, including the pants. It’s an interesting look into the kind of stuff people take on holiday.
So go have a perve. And if you recognise any of it, then let the site’s creator know – he’s happy to reunite people with their lost luggage.
An interesting nugget of info popped up on the web this morning about Palm’s Pre and the company’s plans after the device is launched. It looks like they’re “very far along” in the development of a second Pre-like device that’ll be smaller and lighter.
There’s not much in the way of details just yet, except that this will most likely be targeting a completely different sector of the market to the Pre. There’s no word on whether it’ll have a physical keyboard like its big brother – the smaller devices get, the more uncomfortable physical keyboards are.
It looks like the device will be out in late 2009, possibly as soon as Autumn. We’ll have to wait and see whether it gets showed off at IFA in late August, but they’re unlikely to officially unveil it there.
Make-your-own-download-store service People’s Music Store announced yesterday that it’s managed to convince Universal to part with the licenses necessary to allow people to sell its music for them. It expands the catalogue to include artists such as Amy Winehouse, Girls Aloud, U2, Kanye West, James Morrison.
You would have though major labels would be gagging for other people to start selling their MP3s for them, but it appears not to be the case. Only Universal have so far signed a deal with the revolutionary People’s Music Store service, and that’s led to a slow takeup from users – only 1,000 people have so far created stores, which allow people to keep 10% of the profits earnt.
For digital music services to survive, they really need to concentrate wholly on getting the catalogue present – something that Spotify has excelled with. If People’s Music Store can sign up the other majors quickly, then it has a chance to do well, otherwise it’s likely headed for the internet graveyard – and that won’t be its fault, it’ll be the fault of the major labels.
If you want an antivirus product, but you’re not keen on having a weighty product bogging down your system, you might be interested in taking a peek at a new beta release from Panda Antivirus.
It uses proprietary technology that’s been developed over three years to identify new malware applications in as little as six minutes from their release into the wild. It also handles nearly 50,000 new samples a day. To improve performance, it scans executable files immediately, but the rest of your PC when it’s idle.
It’s free because Panda wants to use data from your computer to identify new threats. What Panda hopes will be ‘millions of users’ will send heuristics info to a central server that can crunch all the data nearly in real-time.
The program takes up 50MB on your hard disk, and just 17MB of RAM when in use. Panda hopes to get this down to 12MB by the time it’s officially released. Of course, if you’re not connected to the internet, you lose a certain amount of protection, but given that the internet is the source of most virus activity, that’s not such a big issue, really.
Panda Cloud Antivirus (via Cnet)
LG, maker of many a quality display, has turned its attention to a range of “television monitors” called the M7WD series. These TV monitors are aimed at people that want to do multiple things with one display, including television, PC usage, high-def content and radio.
The M7WD range has a whopping contrast ratio of 20,000:1, and packs SCART, DVI and HDMI. It’s also got stereo 3W speakers, though if you’re serious about your home entertainment then you’ll almost certainly want to replace these with external speakers. There’s a 5ms response time, and 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is higher than most displays this size.
The displays are available in 19″ and 22″ sizes, feature a 170 degree viewing angle and are in stores right now.
We don’t often do printers round these parts any more, being total converts to the paperless office. In fact, it’s been ages since I physically wrote something on paper. Occasionally, though, you do have to print something out, so you’ll need a printer.
When you do, you don’t want to be hanging around, so I thought I’d share the news that Samsung has invented its fastest ever colour printer – the CLP-770ND. This baby can pump out 32 pages per minute, with the first one showing up just 11 seconds after you hit the ‘print’ button.
You’re unlikely to want this thing in your house – it’s aimed more at the corporate world – but it packs an 80GB hard drive and 720MHz processor, if high specs are what you want from a printer. It comes with 256MB of memory onboard, expandable to 1GB if you want things even faster.
The CLP-770ND will be out in June, and cost an unannounced amount. Expect the toner cartridges to cost you a vast amount more.
Panasonic might have a 37″ HDTV with us in 18 months, if its senior executives can be believed. The company hasn’t previously made much in the way of OLED announcements because it hasn’t been convinced by the lifespan of Sony’s OLED range.
Now, however, they’ve managed to use a new metal membrane inside a panel to move light more efficiently. That means that the screen’s lifespan is extended from 30,000 hours to 50,000 hours, which is nearly six years of being left on continuously. Much more impressive. Current plasma offerings from Panasonic last in the region of 60,000 hours.
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, and it’s a technology which displays a much better picture for a considerably reduced energy cost. As a result, it’s being pursued agressively by television manufacturers, but the price is still an issue – with even tiny OLED screens costing thousands of pounds.