Mar 17 2011

Netbooks used for On-line Casinos and Social Media

Netbooks have proven to be very popular with consumers, as the price point has dropped to where it’s convenient and affordable for many people to buy a netbook solely for tasks such as checking e-mail and Facebook around the house or when on vacation. With plenty of affordable netbooks under $400, it’s not an either/or situation for consumers when it comes to choosing a desktop PC, laptop, or netbook, but more a both/and situation as more and more people check out netbook reviews and make the leap and purchase one.

Some people believe that you have to sacrifice performance and speed if you purchase a netbook, but the truth is far from that, as most netbooks offer plenty of processing power and punch. You likely won’t want to do any resource-intensive tasks like editing video or playing some high-end games on a netbook but for everyday tasks they’ve got more than enough under the hood. Whether you’re playing at your favorite internet casino, creating and editing spreadsheets, or uploading photos, you’ll find a ton of netbooks that fit the bill perfectly.

Fans of online roulette and other games are especially suited for netbooks, as many online sites offer no-download options that let you access hundreds of casino games from a Web browser, with no software to download or install. Many games also come with a mini-version that is optimized for smaller screens and displays, which is perfect for many netbooks with smaller displays. The lightweight nature of netbooks also make them perfect for online games such as poker, as you can simply take your netbook with you around the house without ever missing a hand.

As far as picking the best netbook for online casino fans, it’s one of those rare cases where they really are no bad options. Whether you buy a Dell, Acer, Asus, or HP netbook you’ll find that nearly every model fits the bill. Most netbooks come with built-in tools for finding and connecting to wireless networks and hotspots, so getting online is a snap as well, and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes and enjoying all your favorite online casino games.

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Apr 28 2010

Apple Acquires Intrinsity

One of Apple’s latest acquisitions is the semiconductor company Intrinsity. Apple, being its usual stealthy self, did not announce this acquisition. Astute observers discovered it by realizing that Intrinsity’s employees started working for Apple in April of this year.

Filings from Apple showed that the company spent around $325 million in business acquisitions: Quattro Wireless, Lala, and Intrinsity. Analysts have estimated that Apple paid less than $50 million for Intrinisty.

Intrinisty was founded in 1997 and initially worked on developing circuit design technologies. Their business started off rather slowly but increased when it began to work with other companies such as ARM (another company who name has been tied, though falsely, to Apple).

The company appeared to be having financial trouble in January 2010 and some analysts speculate that Apple was able to buy it for a relatively low price, which would explain why Intrinsity would not want the price made public.

Via AnandTech, image via Intrinsity.

Apr 4 2010

The Classic Netbook Returns For Business: Simmtronics Simmbook

When Asus brought out the Eee PC in 2007, it had a promise of providing a stripped down laptop with a low cost.  That original vision has all but disappeared in many modern netbooks, as the phrase has become ubiquitous with a portable PC with somewhere between 9-12 inches of screen space. It is not surprising to see $500 netbooks now, competing against budget-friendly 15″ notebooks.

Fortunately for businesses in the developing world, IBM, Canonical, and Simmtronics are working to reverse this trend.  The new Simmbook provides a very spartan last-generation netbook configuration.  You know the drill: Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz, 10″ LCD with 1024×600 resolution, the essentials.  More notably, they will run Ubuntu, presumably to save cost and are being paired up with IBMs productivity suite Lotus, pre-installed.  They are designed to work with IBM’s cloud solutions and are obviously very work-centric.  The most important point, of course, is the price:  starting at $190.  That is  old-school Eee PC cheap.

These are business machines and probably will not be used by many home consumers. Still, it would be nice to see this trend continue back into the general netbook market and keep the netbook from becoming a novelty “toy” computer for those who can afford it.

Via Engadget, image via Simmtronics

Apr 4 2010

JooJoo Tablet Suffers From Some More Bad Mojo

The epic of the JooJoo Tablet continues on, and prospects for the users that have already pre-ordered it are somewhat disappointing.  Fusion Garage had planned on having the JooJoo Tablet shipped by March 29th.  That date has passed, and customers have yet to hear or see their beloved internet slates.  Instead, Fusion Garage says they were stuck in Los Angeles and hope that by April 1st the first batch will reach its respective owners.  However, the more likely date is April 2nd, and this comes after months of delays in this whole crazy saga of CrunchPad to JooJoo Tablet.

Late pre-order deliveries, however, appear only to be Fusion Garage’s last issue.  The number of pre-orders from February 11 are dismal in number.  So far there have only been 90.  At this rate, the JooJoo Tablet will be lucky to become a collector’s item.  And Fusion Garage announced it has made a break from its original merchant, PayPal, for some other more traditional route.  They seem to be suffering from major issues, and all of this may very well kill any prospect for the JooJoo Tablet to become the Linux device that goes mainstream.

Via Engadget

Mar 28 2010

Google’s Ad Network Keeps A Record Of Your History Even If You Don’t Want To

Oh Google, why must you squander away the good faith you had won with the China move?  Google has made public today an advertising plan known as “remarketing” that stores a history of all your visited sites in their ad network, allowing for ads to pop-up on any of the eligible sites targeted to you.  In other words, if you visited product X’s site in the past, you could see an ad for it on completely unrelated web page Y.

Besides adding to the massive number of ads that already lie on the internet, this program raises some thorny questions.  Mainly: is Google completely throwing out whatever shred of privacy they kept for their consumers?  They already had a similar program in place called “interest-based advertising”.  The difference is back then it was just categories and interests that were kept, and now it is specific individual websites that you have visited.

This is being called by some a major privacy risk.  Lawmakers might decide to weigh in on whether or not the practice should be regulated.  Till then, you can hope that opting out of the interest based ad service here will result in you being exempt from “remarketing”.

Via Gizmodo

Mar 8 2010

Poor ID Questions Weaken Security

Most of the time, when we fill out those annoying security questions while creating an online account, we really don’t think about what we’re doing. We don’t think about how secure our questions and answers are (or are not) and whether someone else could easily guess them and be able to hack into our accounts.

According to security researchers, this is a bad thing. It is far too easy to guess the answers to security questions such as someone’s mother’s maiden name (this information could easily be found online by a determined and persevering hacker). Research has shown that if hackers get three chances to guess answers, they could hack into one in eighty accounts.

Guessing the answers to security questions can allow a hacker to overwrite a password without knowing what it is. In most cases, it is not difficult to guess answers—a study conducted by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon showed that seventeen percent of the answers to security questions could be guessed by people who knew the owner of the targeted account.

And there is more at stake when email accounts are hacked: access to a person’s email account can give access to other online accounts that require email registration. Because of this vulnerability, some email providers are trying to make their password reset functions more secure. For example, Google can send reset passwords by text message.

Via BBC News.

Mar 3 2010

AMD and NVIDIA Begin HTPC/Netbook Platform War of 2010

March 2, 2010 – This day marks the dawn of the coming generation of hardware platforms.  Both AMD and NVIDIA unveiled their new platforms today, meaning some exciting GPU integration for future products.

First off is AMD’s 890GX chipset.  This platform is for general motherboard usage across a variety of products.  However, it is poised towards the HTPC market, providing high-quality HD viewing with a not so expensive price.  The 890GX delivers this using the HD 4920 GPU for integrated graphic, which is DirectX 10.1 compliant and rendering 1080p video through MPEG2, VC-1, and H.264. Also look for USB 3.0 on certain motherboards.

On NVIDIA’s side comes the long awaited Next-Generation ION with Optimus technology, formerly known as the ION 2.  The next-gen ION is boasting major gains over the original ION, and NVIDIA claims it will be 10x as powerful as the integrated GPUs supplied by Intel.  It will be able to provide 1080p and 3D gaming to your tiny 10.1” screen.

The ION architecture will vary between 10.1” netbooks and larger 12-inch models, with each respectively getting 8 and 16 CUDA cores.  There are already 30 products lined up for release with the next-gen ION, with the first being the Acer Aspire One 532G.  Look forward to summer where these products should enter the market.

Via DailyTech

Mar 2 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 Joins The Tweetosphere With Gwibber

Ubuntu Linux has strived for years to become everyman’s Linux distro, and with 10.04 it stands one step closer to winning the hearts and minds of the archetypal Web 2.0 resident: the social networker.

Facebook, Twitter, and even the fiasco known as Google Buzz, all are permanent residents of the internet’s lexicon, but for the most part operating systems have taken little notice.  There were little nudges, however, but only one has shown much integration between OS and the social realm.

Behold, Gwibber, GNOME’s microblogging client for your favorite social network.  It provides easy to your desktop updates of all the miniscule details about what your friends are up to, and allows you to change your status across multiple platforms.  Ubuntu approved of the idea, and with their blessing added Gwibber as standard on all Ubuntu ISOs, following 9.04.

Now, there appears to be a greater goal than simply providing their users a convenient program for posting tweets and status updates.  Ubuntu has added a Me Menu in the 10.04 alpha, allowing users to input their current status directly from the OS taskbar.  And their application of choice for handling all this work is tethered to a new and improved Gwibber client.

Still, how serious of a shift is Canonical making in terms of OS-Internet balance?  Given Ubuntu’s market share, probably not that much.  Still, this is a step forward, and it will be interesting to see what will follow.

Via Ars Technica.

Feb 26 2010

Italy Convicts Google Execs Over Video

Italy’s courts have rendered a highly controversial decision against internet search giant Google.  The case was over a video posted on Google Video of an autistic teenager being bullied.  Under Italian law, this is highly illegal, and the executives in question –  Peter Fleischer, David Drummond, George De Los Reyes, and Arvind Desikan – were originally charged with defamation against the teen.

The presiding judge over the case, Oscar Magi, dropped the charges regarding defamation.  However, all but Desikan recieved six-month sentences for privacy violations.  Drummond is the chief legal officer at Google and has stated he was “outraged” by the verdict.  And he makes a valid point with his full statement:

“I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent… If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our position at Google, every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.”

This blogger wholeheartedly agrees.  Google did the right thing; it provides a relatively open hosting space, but the second the video was brought to its attention, the video was removed.  The very openness of the internet is under attack by this verdict and it creates an impossible standard for content providers to live by.

Via BBC News, image via Google.

Feb 14 2010

KDE 4.4 Released With Netbooks In Mind

KDE Plasma Netbook
Since my dad taught me how to dual-boot Mandrake Linux 7 with Windows ME in my early pre-teen years, I have not owned a single computer that hasn’t had a Linux distribution on it.  And for many years, KDE was my desktop manager of choice.   Sometime around KDE 3.4, I deemed KDE too clunky and left it to experiment with other desktop managers.

Still, I never forgot about my roots in the Linux world, and indeed KDE 4 brought KDE significantly forward towards modern desktops.  Now, KDE seems to be turning towards everyone’s favorite rising PC market: netbooks. KDE 4.4 is a massive version release touting 7293 bug fixes and 1433 new feature implementations. The  result is a promised new, cleaner experience, with the majority of the changes relating to the actual Plasma desktop.

Specifically for netbooks, KDE has made this particular announcement:

Plasma Netbook debuts in 4.4.0. Plasma Netbook is an alternative interface to the Plasma Desktop, specifically designed for ergonomic use on netbooks and smaller notebooks. The Plasma framework has been built from the beginning with non-desktop target devices in mind as well. Plasma Netbook shares many components with the Plasma Desktop, but is specifically designed to make good use of the small space, and to be more suitable also for touchscreen input. The Plasma Netbook shell features a full-screen application launcher and search interface, and a Newspaper which offers many widgets to display content from the web and small utilities already known from Plasma Netbook’s sibling.

This means KDE is stepping up to the plate for a true netbook experience.  I tried KDE 4.4 on my laptop, but haven’t used it enough to consider switching away from GNOME.  Still, it is good to see that the Linux community is viewing netbooks as a legitimate shot to enter the mainstream market. And KDE is arguably the most Windows-esque desktop manager providing an easier transition for first time users. If you want to give it a spin, go download any KDE based Linux distribution (i.e. Kubuntu, openSUSE).

Via KDE.

Feb 12 2010

Internet In Space!

Maybe I’m a little behind on the news, but I did not know that the internet is now available in space. TJ Creamer, or @Astro TJ, was the first to make a live-tweet from space on Jan. 22nd saying, “Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from space! :) More soon, send your ?s.”

Creamer and four other astronauts living in the space station can not only post live Twitter updates, but they can surf the internet just as well as the rest of us. They use the station’s high-speed Ku-band antenna, which allows them to control a desktop computer here on Earth via a laptop in the station itself. The desktop is what is actually connected to the interwebs, not the laptop.

The best part is that this makes it possible for the astronauts to call and set up video conferences with their family and friends. The astronauts must get pretty lonely up in space, so I’d imagine a tweet or Skype call now and then would make the isolation much easier to handle.

Via SPACE image via NASA

Feb 11 2010

The Unassuming Power of the Lenovo T410 Laptop

The Lenovo T410 is like that mild-mannered reporter working in Metropolis. Under it’s common, unassuming chassis, the T410 hosts Intel‘s new Core i5 dual-core 2.53 GHz and a chipset that removes speed bottlenecks. When BusinessWeeks’s editor tested this laptop, it “took about half the time to download photos, music, and video as my six-month-old Sony (SNE) laptop, which has a comparable chip clock speed.”

With a 320 GB hard drive, 4 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia 3100M video card, the T410 has impressive hardware in its plain chassis. It comes with 4 USB ports, onboard SmartCard, multi-card, and ExpressCard reader technology, a DisplayPort, a VGA-Out, and a FireWire port, and of course, 802.11n wireless Bluetooth and GPS. All of this in one solid package for $1484 direct.

Via BusinessWeek and PCMag.com

Feb 8 2010

The Solid Steel Vigood U220 Netbook

WARNING: Sarcasm Alert!

Are you tired of having an old plastic netbook? Are you tired of having those flimsy plastic chassi break down on you just when you need them the most? Well worry not! Now you can get a Core Grid Vigood U220!

As a netbook it’s fully functional, and its capabilities include a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard drive, and a 10.2 inch display. Not enough you say? Well I’m not done just yet! It also has 802.11 b/g WiFi, a 1.3 MP webcam, 3 USB ports, VGA output, and a flash card reader!

BUT WAIT! I haven’t even gotten to the best part! That flimsy plastic chassis you hate? Well it’s all gone now. Instead, Vigood made it out of solid metal! You heard me, METAL! It’s not just a netbook, it can double as bookend! A table weight! A door stop! Use it however you would a normal metal block! That’s right, Vigood isn’t just giving you a netbook, it’s also giving you a metal block replacement! They’re saving you all that trouble of getting one for yourself! Vigood U220 going now for $350! Order now!

Note: Vigood is a brand that is relatively unknown outside of China, so we’re not just making this stuff up. Nor is the Core Grid Vigood U220 the only netbook with a metal chassis.

Via Liliputing.

Feb 8 2010

Fewer People Want iPad After Its Announcement

Overall, there does not seem to have been a very positive reaction to Apple’s iPad. A poll conducted by retailer Retrevo has shown that fewer people want the iPad after Apple introduced it on January 27. Before Apple’s iPad announcement, 26 percent of those polled said that they had heard of the iPad but were not interested in buying one. This number jumped to 52 percent after the announcement on January 27.

It is hard to tell if expectations for the iPad were simply too high and people therefore could not be satisfied by anything Apple offered, or if the device was just very disappointing.

There was not a completely negative reaction in the poll. Before the announcement, 3 percent of respondents said that they would like to buy an iPad. 9 percent said they would buy it after the announcement.

Before the announcement, 49 percent said that they did not need an iPad, but 61 percent said this after learning about the features after the announcement.

Though the iPad appears to be disliked by quite a few, only time will tell how it will fare.

Via eWeek, image via Apple.

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Feb 3 2010

Dell’s Latitude 13 – Awesome Netbook, or Weakling Laptop?

Described as “the world’s thinnest 13-inch commercial client” computer, Dell revealed its new Latitude 13 this week. The machine could be described as either a stripped-down laptop or a beefed up netbook, though we’re not entirely sure as to which just yet.

The latest version of the Latitude series comes with a 13.3 inch display screen and weighs a measly 3.3 pounds. Under the full-sized keyboard lies Intel’s low voltage processing technology, set up to run either Windows 7 or XP. Optional additions include upgrading from a traditional hard drive to a solid-state drive with a ceiling of 64 GBs, high-speed WWAN, an integrated Web cam, and an external Blu-ray drive.

While the prices for this lovely machine have not yet been released, things seem to indicate a price under the $1000 mark. Dell begins pre-orders within a few weeks.

Via The Tech Herald, image via Dell.

Feb 3 2010

Alienware’s “Gaming Netbook,” Coming Soon

Dell’s gaming wing is making a big splash into the world of netbooks with its M11x system, which was introduced at CES a couple of weeks ago.

Unfotunately, the M11x won’t be available until March 1, but Dell has decided to let people pre-order from their site. The price starts at $799 for the base configuration, which includes an Intel Pentium SU4100 1.3GHz processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and the new nVidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card with 1GB of graphics memory. It comes running Windows 7 Home Edition on a 11.6-inch LED-backlit display, and Dell claims that the M11x will deliver “the graphics power of a 15-inch laptop in an 11-inch form factor.”

Upgrades for this baby include a beefier Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU, up to 8GB total in RAM, and larger hard drives in the 250GB, 320GB, or 500GB size, or a 256GB solid-state drive for an arm and a leg. You may think I’m joking about that last part, but historically, prices have gotten jacked up for SSD configurations.

Color choices include black or silver, and following Alienware tradition, you can choose different color options for the system’s LED lighting.

Via ZDnet.com

Jan 31 2010

Yahoo and Ubuntu: An Odd Couple

A peculiar announcement came from Ubuntu’s development staff earlier this week.  On Tuesday, Rick Spencer of Canonical posted that it planned on making several minor and ultimately cosmetic changes to Firefox on Ubuntu’s next release.  The first is relatively benign, making the default Firefox homepage be the selected default search engine for Firefox’s search bar. However, the interesting part is that the new default search engine for Ubuntu will no longer be Google, but instead Yahoo!. This also effectively makes Yahoo! the new default home page.

So what’s Canonical’s explanation for this sudden and strange shift? It seems to be that the company has established a new revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! in order to help fund the Ubuntu project.  However, this will undoubtedly be unsavory to much of the original Ubuntu base for a number of reasons.

First of all, it arguably shows  that Canonical is caving into corporatism and losing the puritanical openness it’s known for.  Secondly, Yahoo! is now powered by Bing, which means this effectively becomes a revenue sharing deal between Canonical and Microsoft.

Google already has two distributions of Linux (albeit each is far from traditional distros) in the works –  Android and Chrome OS – and Microsoft has ownership over one of the most major players of Linux, Novell’s SUSE.  Whether or not Microsoft has some sort of interest in Ubuntu is unsure at best, and is probably unlikely.  However one thing is evident: major corporations will play a role in shaping Linux and open-source’s fate, regardless of what its users and adherents would wish.

Via Canonical Development Boards, image via Yahoo!.

Jan 30 2010

ASK NBB #8 Revealed!

It’s been a while, but we’re back at it. ASK NBB #8: Netbooks With Big Batteries And SSDs has been revealed! Check it out here.

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Jan 23 2010

How To Create Memorable Passwords That Won’t Be Hacked

Passwords are perhaps the most vulnerable element of computer security. They are the most commonly used means of protecting data, accounts, and other things you don’t want other people getting their hands on. Because of this, and because people often don’t take the time to create secure passwords, the password is the weak point in a system.

That is why it is very important to create secure passwords. Unfortunately, “secure” usually means “very random” and therefore not easily remembered. Still, there are five important suggestions you can follow to create both secure and memorable passwords.

1. Don’t use personal information in a password. A hacker could easily find out your name and other personal details, so don’t use these details in a password.

2. Don’t use real words. Password software can easily crack a password that has words found in a dictionary.

3. Mix types of characters. Use both uppercase and lowercase letters, and replace some letters in the password with different characters (like @ instead of a, and 0 instead of o).

4. Use a passphrase. Some programs can crack the character substitutions mentioned in point 3, so come up with a memorable sentence (like a quote from a movie) and use the first letter of each word in that sentence for a password.

5. Use tools. There are tools that can generate complex, secure passwords (unfortunately, these are often difficult to remember) and tool that can store complex passwords for you.

The bottom line? Passwords can be annoying, but they are, for now, necessary. So do your best to make passwords that are not completely obvious to guess, or buy a fingerprint reader.

Via PC World.

Dec 27 2009

Panasonic Plans New Lithium Ion Batteries

Panasonic has created two new powerful lithium-ion battery cells that can hold 20-30% more power than the batteries currently on the market.  The new batteries not only will greatly increase the battery life of laptop computers, but are also potent enough to be used in electronic automobiles.

It is rumored that the battery can last up to a week without needing to be recharged. This length is an enormous increase in comparison to current laptop and netbook batteries in the market, which can’t make it through half a day before needing to be charged.

The lithium-ion battery might also play a big part in the green revolution, as they can potentially be used to power an entire house. There are endless possibilities for Panasonic’s technological advancement. It has the chance not only to change our computing experience but more importantly the future of environmentally friendly technology.

Still in development, the battery will not be available to the public until sometime during 2011.

Via TFTS.

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