Saturday, June 30, 2007

WWE’s chairman calls Benoit a ‘monster’

In an exclusive interview on TODAY, WWE chairman Vince McMahon backed off claims by his organization that steroids had nothing to do with the murder-suicide of wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old son.

“Steroids may or may not have had anything to do with this,” McMahon told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira. “It’s all speculation until the toxicology reports come back.”

That was a retreat from a statement World Wrestling Entertainment, based in Stamford, Conn., had put out earlier, in which the organization said “steroids were not and could not be related” to the deaths.

Confronted with that statement by Vieira, McMahon said, “We didn’t say that. Our reaction was reacting to the hysteria of the media.”

McMahon explained that he and the WWE were reacting to suggestions that the phenomenon known as “'roid rage” may have led to the killings. Among the potential side effects of steroid use are depression, paranoia and episodes of rage.

The slayings of Benoit’s wife, Nancy, and their child were carried out last weekend. Authorities say that Benoit may have remained in the house with the bodies as long as another day before hanging himself, using the rope and pulleys from a weight machine. His wife had been strangled. Sometime after she was killed, the couple’s son was smothered. Bibles were placed next to the bodies.

‘This man was a monster’
“This is not an act of rage,” McMahon said. “This is an act of deliberation.” He added that investigators also found prescription medications in the house that may have played a role.

“This is a horrific tragedy,” he said. “It happened in pro wrestling. There’s a rush to judgment. There’s almost a hysteria around us.”
McMahon said that Benoit was known to the organization as “a mild-mannered individual,” adding, “there was no way of telling this man was a monster.”

Benoit married Nancy, who also worked for WWE, in 2000. Three years later, she filed for divorce, claiming that her husband “lost his temper and threatened to strike the petitioner and cause extensive damage to the home.”

They reconciled three months later. But there have been reports that the marriage had been under pressure recently, and Nancy had demanded that Benoit spend more time at home helping to care for their son, who was developmentally disabled.

McMahon built the WWE into a thriving force in entertainment, creating characters and building story lines that ran like violent soap operas from one big pay-per-view show to the next. The outcomes of the matches are scripted, but the wrestlers travel as much as 300 days a year, putting on shows in cities across the country on an almost nightly basis.

While the action may be staged, the wrestlers take a pounding in the ring and injuries are frequent. So is the use of pain medications. In an earlier taped interview with NBC News, former wrestler Lex Lugar, who battled addiction to prescription drugs, said that drug use is rampant in the sport.

Benoit, known as the “Canadian Crippler,” had failed to show up for two WWE events. When WWE employees reported receiving puzzling text messages from Benoit early Sunday morning and were unable to contact Benoit in his suburban Atlanta home, WWE officials called law-enforcement authorities, who entered the house on Monday and found the bodies.

Police reported finding anabolic steroids in the home along with prescription drugs. Sports columnists and commentators have attacked McMahon and professional wrestling for failing to control the use of drugs, which have been implicated in a number of deaths. After Benoit's suicide and the slaying of his family, those criticisms intensified.

On Monday, WWE replaced its “Monday Night Raw” television show with a three-hour tribute to Benoit. Shortly afterward, when it became public knowledge that he had killed his wife and child, it pulled a tribute to him from its Web site. The organization also released the statement in which it said steroids were not to blame for the tragedy.

McMahon’s steroid charge
Vieira cited statistics showing that 60 wrestlers have died before the age of 65 since 1985 and said, “It seems like early death is almost an occupational hazard.”

McMahon questioned that number and said that he can speak only to five wrestlers who have died while under contract to the WWE or its predecessor, the WWF.

Among those who have died were Eddie Guerrero, who succumbed in 2005 to heart failure linked to steroid use. Curt “Mr. Perfect” Henning died of a drug overdose in 2003, and Davey Boy Smith, the “British Bulldog,” died in 2002 of heart failure, also linked to steroids.

McMahon referred several times to the WWE’s “wellness program,” which the organization began in February. The WWE claims to test its athletes for steroids and other drugs and says that Benoit was last tested in April. The results were negative, the WWE says.

Two weeks ago, McMahon had staged his own death in a spectacular car explosion and had not been seen since. WWE publicists claimed that the FBI was working on the case. But when Benoit and his family were found, McMahon re-emerged to fight off the attacks on his business.

Born Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the 61-year-old got involved in professional wrestling through his father, Vincent J. McMahon, a wrestling promoter, whom McMahon did not meet until he was 12 years old. The family business was originally called the World Wide Wrestling Federation. McMahon later changed that to the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF, but when the World Wildlife Fund objected in court to McMahon's use of those initials, he changed the name again to World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE.

Under McMahon, professional wrestling underwent a renaissance during the 1980s that saw the creation of the "Wrestlemania" pay-per-view extravaganzas that began in 1985.

In 1994, McMahon stood trial on charges of providing his wrestlers with steroids. He admitted to taking the drugs himself during the 1980s but denied providing them to his wrestlers or ordering them to take them. He was acquitted of the charges.

Mr. McMahon ‘presumed dead’
In WWE shows, McMahon plays a character called “Mr. McMahon” who is seen as an evil overlord. Donald Trump once joined the antics, participating in a staged feud with McMahon.

But on June 11, after a Monday Night Raw broadcast, cameras followed “Mr. McMahon” out of the arena and into his limousine, which was then shown exploding. The WWE said that Mr. McMahon was “presumed dead,” and claimed that the FBI was investigating.

Monday night’s edition of “Raw” was supposed to include a tribute to “Mr. McMahon,” but when news broke that day that Benoit was dead, Vince McMahon reappeared and a tribute to Benoit aired.

“Everybody in this organization, to my knowledge, is well-adjusted family people,” McMahon said. “They go to work like everybody else. They’re performers. We put smiles on faces. That’s our job description, not to be tainted and smeared by this.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

YouTube makes international move

YouTube has announced international versions of its web video service.

The video site, owned by Google, has launched nine versions across Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.

Each site is translated into local languages and has country-specific video rankings and comments.

"Video is universal and allows people around the world to communicate and exchange ideas," said Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder.

We want to create a YouTube experience that is a local experience
Steve Chen, YouTube co-founder

"Our mission is to entertain, inform and empower the world through video."

More localised versions of YouTube will be rolled out this year.

More than half of all viewers on YouTube were now from outside the US, Mr Hurley added.

YouTube has also unveiled content partners around the world, including deals with France 24, Antena 3 in Spain, European football clubs such as AC Milan, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

"We want to create a YouTube experience that is a local experience," said Steve Chen, the service's other co-founder.

"It's not just about translating, it also about creating content unique to certain countries."

Legal threats

YouTube is now stressing its credentials as a platform not just for user-generated content but also for professional broadcaster and advertisers.

The company says it has more than 1,000 global partners, with more than 150 deals signed in Europe since March.

Mr Hurley said: "We respect copyright and we want to create new revenue streams to create opportunities.

"We have been working with rights holders to help them leverage new audiences."

Despite the assurances, YouTube is facing widespread legal action from copyright holders over the use of material that is being uploaded by the site's users without permission.

Mr Hurley said only a small amount of material on YouTube was being shared without approval.

He added: "The majority is original created work. We are also working on tools to help stop this happen."

He declined to say, when asked, how much money Google had set aside to fight or settle pending and future legal battles.

Paedophile ring smashed by police

Police have smashed a global child abuse network which was co-ordinated through a UK-based internet site.

Global agencies, led by UK investigators, examined more than 700 suspects, including 200 in the UK.

The ring was run by Timothy Cox, 28, of Buxhall, Suffolk, who admitted nine offences and has been handed a sentence which could mean he dies in jail.

A judge at Ipswich Crown Court told Cox: "You are obsessed with images of children being sexually abused."

Chatroom infiltration

Cox ran a website called "Kids the Light of Our Lives" which let users exchange abuse images, the court heard.

Judge Peter Thompson told Cox: "These are shocking images which involve very young children - in the worst cases being subjected to sadistic, painful abuse which you, for some distorted reason, appear to take enjoyment from."

Anybody who thinks they can carry out such horrific activities undetected is in for a rude awakening
Jim Gamble

More than 75,000 indecent and explicit images were found on Cox's computer and there was evidence that he had supplied more than 11,000 images to other site users.

Cox pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing indecent images of children at an earlier hearing and was handed an indeterminate sentence.

Cox posed "significant risks", the judge said, and had to be imprisoned for "for public protection".

Under the terms of his sentence, he must satisfy the authorities that he is fit for release and does not pose any threat to the community before he can ever be set free.

Ian Robertson, of the UK-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), told BBC News 24 that the ages of the children whose images were exchanged on the site ranged from babies to teenagers.

After he was arrested in September 2006, undercover officers spent 10 days infiltrating the chatroom, assuming his identity to collect evidence about other users.

When Cox was arrested, undercover officers placed a message online saying he had gone for his tea and would be back in half an hour to avoid raising suspicions.

As many as 70 online paedophiles were waiting to download images of abuse.

Investigators from the Australian Federal Police, the US Department of Homeland Security and Toronto Police took part in the online surveillance operation.

In total, 31 children were saved as a result of the investigation, CEOP said.

Cox lived with his parents, sister and 26-year-old girlfriend in a large farmhouse and worked at the family's micro-brewery. The website was operated from his bedroom.

CEOP said Cox hosted the website using the pseudonym "Son of God" - a reference to "G.O.D", the online identity of the owner of another paedophile site shut down by police last year.

The court heard Cox spotted a "gap in the market" after the other site was closed.

Simon Spence, prosecuting, told the court: "For what must have been hours at a time he was online either viewing these images of children, arranging the chat room or communicating with other paedophiles."

'Horrific activities'
Jim Gamble of CEOP said his capture "sends a powerful warning to those using the internet to facilitate the sexual exploitation of children".

He added: "From the apparent 'safety' of his home, Cox spent hours each day planning, promoting and encouraging the abuse and exploitation of children.

"In doing so he provided a service to hundreds of like-minded individuals, enabling those with a sexual interest in children to share indecent images and discuss further plans for abuse.

"Anybody who thinks they can carry out such horrific activities undetected is in for a rude awakening."

Cox had been identified after intelligence connecting the site to the UK was passed to CEOP by Canadian investigators.

Detective Constable Stefan Jochan said: "He doesn't fit any kind of traditional image of paedophile. He had a veneer of respectability."

The investigation uncovered another member of the same ring, Gordon Mackintosh from Hertfordshire, who attempted to keep the website going after Cox was arrested.

Mackintosh, 33, used the names "silentblackheart" and "lust4skoolgurls". More than 5,000 images were found on his computer as well as 392 indecent movie files.

He pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing the material and is due to be sentenced on June 29.

Blackberry ban for French elite

French government officials have been ordered not to use handheld Blackberry devices because of fears that the US could spy on them, reports say.

Workers in the French president's and prime minister's office have been told their e-mails risk falling into foreign hands, Le Monde newspaper reports.

France's SGDN security service is worried because Blackberries use US- and UK-based servers, the paper says.

But some officials are flouting the ban and using them in secret, it adds.

"They tried to offer us something else to replace our Blackberries but it doesn't work," one unnamed official told the paper.

More than seven million people around the world now use the Blackberry, which is made by Canadian firm Research In Motion (RIM).

A member of France's governing UMP party in the National Assembly, Jacques Myard, said French politicians needed to be aware that Blackberries were not secure devices.

"It's very good to say 'be careful', because we don't live in an ordinary world in which you can talk on your mobile or private line without any warning, without caution," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

Monday, June 18, 2007

GP02 Skyline GTR Red Pull Back

Always innovating, Tomy introduces a new series of Micro Racers called the Bit CharG Pullback Collection. Each model comes with its own windup, pullback motor and chassis. Just Pull Back and let these 1 1/4 inch cars go!! They scoot along the floor on their spring power, no batteries needed ( do not over wind as spring can become damaged )

What�s really great about each Bit Char G Pull Back Collection is that the body can snap off the pullback chassis and snap onto your battery operated R/C Bit CharG chassis!

Now you can collect, mix and match with the Tomy Bit CharG Pullback Collection.

Pen not included

Armored Core Crest CR-C75U2 Close Combat 1/72nd Scale Model Kit

Armored Core video games are third-person shooters, in which the player pilots a large mecha ( mechanical robot armor ) called an Armored Core, or AC for short. The player builds their AC from parts which can be bought, scavenged or earned by fulfilling mission requirements.

Typically, in each game, the player is a 'Raven', a member of a mercenary organization, and is hired by corporations to do various missions.

The best part of the ARMORED CORE game series is customizing your mech - and KOTOBUKIYA's Fine Scale Model Kits are no exception!

The Crest CR-C75U2 Close Combat robot model kit offers Armored Core players a way to build and refine powerful mecha warriors from the PS2 games in a highly detailed, 1/72nd scale.

You can swap parts with other Armored Core kits as well as use the accessories in various manners. This kit features 347 snap together parts and stands approximately 6 inches tall when assembled. With 24 points of articulation, it as poseable as an action figure!

Japanese packaging and instructions. Exploded View instruction sheet visually aids assembly.

Height: 6 inches
Points of Articulation: 24

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Warnings of 'internet overload'

As the flood of data across the internet continues to increase, there are those that say sometime soon it is going to collapse under its own weight. But that is what they said last year.
Back in the early 90s, those of us that were online were just sending text e-mails of a few bytes each, traffic across the main US data lines was estimated at a few terabytes a month, steadily doubling every year.

But the mid 90s saw the arrival of picture-rich websites, and the invention of the MP3. Suddenly each net user wanted megabytes of pictures and music, and the monthly traffic figure exploded.

For the next few years we saw more steady growth with traffic again roughly doubling every year.

But since 2003, we have seen another change in the way we use the net. The YouTube generation want to stream video, and download gigabytes of data in one go.

"In one day YouTube sends data equivalent to 75 billion e-mails, so it's clearly very different," said Phil Smith, head of technology and corporate marketing at Cisco Systems.

"The network is growing up, is starting to get more capacity than it ever had, but it is a challenge.

"Video is real-time, it needs to not have mistakes or errors. E-mail can be a little slow. You wouldn't notice if it was 11 seconds rather than ten, but you would notice that on a video."

Spending our inheritance

Perhaps unsurprisingly, every year someone says the internet is going to collapse under the weight of the traffic.
Looking at the figures, that seems a reasonable prediction.

"Back in the days of the dotcom boom in the late 90s, billions of dollars were invested around the world in laying cables," said net expert Bill Thompson.

"Then there was the crash of 2000 and since then we've been spending that inheritance, using that capacity, growing services to fill the space that was left over by all those companies that went out of business."

Router reliability

Much more high-speed optic fibre has been laid than we currently need, and scientists are confident that each strand can be pushed to carry almost limitless amounts of data in the form of light.

But long before a backbone wire itself gets overloaded, the strain may begin to show on the devices at either end - the routers.

"If we take a backbone link across the Atlantic, there's billions of bits of data arriving every second and it's all got to go to different destinations," explained Mr Thompson.

The real issue that people are going to face, and are already noticing at home, is that ISPs are starting to cut back on the bandwidth that is available to people in their homes
Bill Thompson, net expert

"The router sits at the end of that very high speed link and decides where each small piece of data has to go. That's not a difficult computational task, but it has to make millions of decisions a second."

The manufacturer of most of the world's routers is Cisco. When I pushed them on the subject of router overload, they were understandably confident.

"Routers have come a long way since they started," said Mr Smith. "The routers we're talking about now can handle 92 terabits per second.

"We have enough capacity to do that and drive a billion phone calls from those same people who are playing a video game at the same time they're having a text chat."


Even if the routers can continue to take what the fibre delivers, there is another problem - the internet is not all fibre.

A lot of the end connections, the ones that go to our individual home computers, are made of decades-old copper.

"The real issue that people are going to face, and are already noticing at home, is that ISPs are starting to cut back on the bandwidth that is available to people in their homes," said Mr Thompson. "They call it bandwidth shaping."

"They do this because they have a limited capacity to deliver to 100 or 200 homes, and if everybody's using the internet at the same time then the whole thing starts to get congested. Before that happens they cut back on the heavy users."


But digital meltdown is not the only threat facing the net. There are other, more sudden, real world hazards which the net has to protect against.

Anything from terror attacks to, would you believe it shark bites, can and have taken out major links and routers.

It only takes an earthquake, as we saw at the end of last year, to take out a significant segment of internet infrastructure
Paul Wood, MessageLabs

"There's a perception that the internet is very resilient," said Paul Wood, senior analyst of security firm MessageLabs. "The way it was designed means that if any particular part of it is disrupted then the traffic will find another route.

"It only takes an earthquake, as we saw at the end of last year, to take out a significant segment of internet infrastructure. Then the traffic finds another route, but it goes over a very slow route, which then becomes saturated and can't handle the bandwidth. Then you lose the traffic and that part of the world goes dark for a while."

For decades the internet has kept pace with our demands on it. And demand continues to grow.

And the service providers will continue to insist that the net will survive, and the doomsayers will continue to insist that it is just about to collapse.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ethernet Crossover Adapter

You never know when you might need to crossover
There's this little series of numbers that goes something like "1, 2, 3, 6" to which the audience responds "3, 6, 1, 2". Sure, it's not exactly the most exciting call and response game ever devised, but it will help you remember the pattern for making an ethernet crossover cable.

Or you could just carry the Ethernet Crossover Adapter on your keyring and forget about those stupid numbers. Along with our Ethernet Loopback Jack, the crossover adapter could just help you out of a tight network jam. And besides, having this adapter on your keyring quietly shows the world your status as a prepared geek.

Also has these features.

  • Connect this directly to a standard network cable to convert to a crossover cable
  • Carry fewer cables and save space
  • Comes with small chain for connecting to your keyring, backpack, tool bag, etc.
  • Handy for network maintenance and testing
  • Small, very portable, easy to use
  • Compatible with Gigabit and 10/100 ethernet

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sony Ericsson to unveil 9GB Walkman mobile phone

Sony Ericsson will launch late Thursday in Berlin six new phones, including a high-end Walkman-branded handset with around 9GB of internal Flash memory, according to a company spokeswoman.
The music-centric Walkman will more than double the internal memory of previous models and will feature a newly designed media player and large-touch display for easy navigating. But, unlike Apple’s planned iPhone, the new Walkman will include a keyboard.

“Our new Walkman mobile phone isn’t designed as a response to the iPhone but as a further development of the Walkman,” the Sony Ericsson spokeswoman said.

Sony Ericsson will also unveil the latest in its line of Cybershot camera phones, a 5-megapixel device.

Several new accessories will be introduced in Berlin, including a GPS (global positioning system) unit that can be connected to a mobile phone and new Bluetooth headsets.

What the Japanese-Swedish joint venture will not be announcing in Berlin is a new video game-mobile phone based on Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld device, the spokeswoman said.

The blogosphere was full of rumors of a new PSP mobile phone after Japanese employees of Sony Ericsson last month filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a mobile phone with video game features.

“The patent is registered; we register many patents,” the spokeswoman said. “But we don’t have a PSP mobile phone in the planning. I can’t say that we won’t see such a device in 10 years but there are no plans to build one at the present time.”

The spokeswoman said that the company’s current focus is on music, imaging and the Web, but not on the PSP.

Which isn’t to say that PSP owners won’t be able to make calls soon.

Last month, British Telecommunications (BT) announced its work on a software-based Internet telephony package for the portable device. The system will allow PSP users to make voice and video calls across a Wi-Fi network. Later it will be extended to cover calls and messages to PCs, fixed-line phones and cell phones.

Review: i199 full of playback options

NEW YORK - As more and more tech toys evolve to include music-playing capabilities, gadget lovers face an increasingly common problem: How can you amplify them all without buying five different speaker docks?
Lately, this has been a problem for me, so when I first spotted iLuv's i199 multimedia system — promising to play music from all these sources while also letting you transmit and receive music — I was optimistic, though admittedly skeptical.

The $250 i199 is $50 cheaper and purports to do much more than Bose's excellent-sounding SoundDock for the iPod. And although some other systems offer multiple playback options, users are still hard-pressed to find one that promises the level of interoperability found in the i199.

The i199 does all that it claims — and much of it well enough to make it worth the price of a video iPod.

The iLuv dock comes in black or white and is about the size of a sleek desktop computer. Various controls on top let you toggle between functions, manipulate playback and volume and control features like the clock and alarm. A hinged panel opens to reveal an iPod dock, USB port and a port for iLuv's Bluetooth implementation.

The front of the iLuv is mostly speaker grill, obstructed by a slot-loading CD player and a central, adjustable LCD that glows bright blue.

When I started testing the iLuv, I wasn't sure where to start. With plenty of playback possibilities, I was briefly tempted to connect all my gadgets at once.

But I decided to ease my way in instead.

First, I docked my video iPod and found that it was typically easy to control with the iLuv's small, slightly awkward-feeling remote. The speakers also sounded good, though not incredible.

Soon, I moved on to CDs by popping in an old "No Doubt" disc. The CD slid smoothly into the unit, and, again, playback was steady and simple.

I began turning up the volume and found the sound good and clear until a little more than two-thirds of the way up. At full blast, the music began sounding a little distorted, but definitely loud enough to support a nice-sized party.

Of course, a good party demands a steady flow of solid tunes, and some of these are stored on stereo Bluetooth-enabled devices like cell phones.

As noted, the i199 has a port for Bluetooth devices. The gadget comes with a tiny "BluePin" audio transmitter and receiver, which you plug into the port. The i199 can now wirelessly play music from any stereo Bluetooth-enabled device and can send sounds for listening on similarly enabled headsets.

I did just that, but couldn't get music from my phone to play at first. Only then did I notice a tiny switch that had to be moved from "transmit" to "receive." Other than that, it was easy to set up. However, I found playback often noticeably choppy, especially when moving the phone.

I called a friend as music blared to see what would happen. As with a stereo Bluetooth headset, the music automatically paused once I hit the "call" button on my phone, resuming again after I hung up. The same thing happened when a friend called me.

I was more impressed with listening to music on a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Living with two roommates, all on different schedules, I like being able to rock out without annoying them.

It was fun to wander my two rooms in our apartment while tracks blasted into my ears alone. On a hot night, I took my headphones into my bedroom and chilled out (literally) to Stereo Total with the air conditioning on high and the stereo unit sweltering a room away.

Although being wireless is fun, the i199's USB port is also a good way to gain access to tunes. I plugged in an old USB memory stick I had lying around. The unit's LCD flashed song names and band titles as songs played.

With all the buttons and options on the i199's top, it's easy to forget about the back. There, you'd find an FM antenna wire, a jack for an AM antenna that is included, an input jack for attaching another audio source and an AV jack for watching videos and images stored on your iPod.

Using a cord that was included, I connected the i199 to my TV and played an episode of "Law & Order" stored on my docked iPod. Doing so allowed me to control the video's playback from the i199's remote, so I didn't have to keep the iPod nearby while watching on the (relatively) big screen.

I did notice, though, that hitting the rewind or fast-forward buttons on the remote quickly would cause the video to go out, thus requiring a trip to the iPod to restart the episode.

My last adventure with the i199 involved its alarm function. The unit has two alarms, and I set one to wake me up early for work by playing a tune from my iPod. The next day I was awoken by an Aimee Mann song and realized that although I wasn't thrilled to be up, for once I didn't want to break my alarm clock.

That's probably for the best with this stereo, because if I did I'd be out a kitchen sink's worth of playback functions, too.

The i199, of course, isn't perfect. It would be well-served by better-working and integrated Bluetooth capabilities, as well as slightly better sound quality. But given its current configuration and price tag, it's still a worthy do-it-all system.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Some latest Gadgets:

Some latest Gadgets:

HP Color LaserJet 2600n

This is one of the best sellers in printer PC industry,so I decided to have a review of it for my users.
With a lower price than some ink jet printers, the HP Color LaserJet 2600n ($400 street) is well positioned to take over the ink jet slot on desktops and small networks. It's ideal for SOHO users wanting to move up to a laser, as well as anyone who has a personal printer in his or her office to augment the network printer down the hall.

The 2600n's most direct competition is the similarly priced Konica Minolta magicolor 2400W ($399 list). Compared with the 2400W, the 2600n is a touch smaller and lighter, at 16 by 14.6 by 17.8 inches (HWD) and 40.5 pounds. That makes finding room for it and moving it into position easier. But the actual setup is marginally more work, since you have to remove each of the four toner cartridges, pull out the restraining tape, and reinsert the cartridge--something you don't have to do with the 2400W. One of the extras in the 2600n is a network connection. Fully automated setup makes it as easy to install the 2600n on a network as it is to install the 2400W with its USB connection.

Output quality is more than acceptable, with an excellent rating for text, and ratings for graphics and photos just below the best available for color lasers. (All three ratings are the same for the 2400W.) Text quality is good enough for any purpose, with more than half of our test fonts easily readable at 4 points, and only one highly stylized font requiring 8 points. Graphics earned a rating at the high end of good, making them just good enough to use for potential clients you want to impress. The only problem worth mentioning is a tendency for white lines to show at the edges of objects, such as the slices in a pie chart.

Photos earned a good rating, with some qualifying as near photo quality. In one case, however, we saw obvious posterization (a tendency for sudden changes in gradients that should change gradually). We also saw a slight green shift in some photos and a reddish-brown tint in a monochrome photo. Overall quality is good enough for things like client newsletters, but the 2600n won't replace your ink jet for printing high-quality photos.

Performance is reasonably good for the price. Comparisons are complicated, however, by the fact that the 2600n is the first low-price single-pass color laser, meaning that it prints all four colors at once instead of one at a time. That gives it the same 8-page-per-minute (ppm) rating for both monochrome and color. By comparison, the 2400W has a tremendous advantage for monochrome output, with a 20-ppm rating. But for color, it's at a disadvantage, rated at only 5 ppm.

On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software,, the 2400W left the 2600n far behind on the 50-page monochrome text file, at 2 minutes 40 seconds, compared with 6:06. But most of our test pages include color, so the 2600n beat, or effectively tied, the 2400W on 11 of the 13 individual tests. Total time on our print suite for the 2600n was 21:09, compared with 19:52 for the 2400W.

Which printer would be faster on your desk depends entirely on what you print. And given the equal quality ratings, either one could win out, depending on your mix of output. Even so, the included network connector on the 2600n gives it a slight edge, making it new Editors' Choice.
You are out of ink! Click here for Great FREE SHIIPPING Offers on Inkjet Cartridges, Laser Toners & more.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wireless power charges gadgets

You could soon be saying goodbye to having several different chargers for all your handheld gadgets like your mobile phone or MP3 player.
A British start-up called SplashPower has come up with technology that can charge all of them at once, without having to plug any of them into the mains.

The system is based around a small flat mat that plugs into the main electricity supply and a special module inside a gadget.

"You pick up your phone, drop it on the pad and it charges. The pad does all the thinking for you," explained David Whitewood, Vice President of Business Development for SplashPower.

The technology developed by SplashPower is based on the principle of magnetic inductive power transfer.

Inductive charging systems are already used in products like rechargeable electric toothbrushes.

"That technology had a lot of limitations," said Mr Whitewood, "and SplashPower have come up with a solution that works for mobile electronic equipment."

'Green pay-off'

"The cost to add SplashPower technology to phones or MP3 players is very low and very affordable"
David Whitewood, SplashPower

The system works by generating a magnetic field which transfers the energy into a gadget with a Splash module. This in turn transforms the energy into the direct current that the battery uses to recharge.

The company says the system is perfectly safe and will not even wipe credit cards if you accidentally put one on the pad.

The Cambridge-based company is talking to the big electronics manufacturers about integrating the technology into their products.

"The cost to add the SplashPower technology to phones or MP3 players is very low and very affordable," said Mr Whitewood.

The company says the technology will only add 25 cents to the cost of a device and the module itself is less than a millimetre thick.

The system could hold added benefits for businesses such as mobile phone manufacturers as it could help them cut costs.

"You don't have to put a charger in every box if you implement splashpower in your products," said Mr Whitewood, "and there's a green pay-off in that.

"Every time you change your mobile phone, you perhaps keep your charger in a drawer or throw it away. With SplashPower, you wouldn't have to do that."

The company hopes to see the first pads on sale by the end of the year, costing between $25 and $50

Google ranked 'worst' on privacy

Google has the worst privacy policy of popular net firms, says a report.

Rights group Privacy International rated the search giant as "hostile" to privacy in a report ranking web firms by how they handle personal data.

The group said Google was leading a "race to the bottom" among net firms many of whom had policies that did little to substantially protect users.

In response Google said the report was mistaken and that it worked hard to keep user data confidential.

Hostile approach

The report by the veteran cyber rights group is the result of six months' research which scrutinised 20 popular net firms to find out how they handle the personal information users gave up when they started using such services.

None of the firms featured in the report got a "privacy friendly" rating.

Yahoo and AOL were said to have "substantial threats" to privacy as were Facebook and Hi5 for the allegedly poor way they dealt with user data.

Microsoft, one place higher in the rankings than these four firms, was described as having "serious lapses" in its privacy policy.

Other net sites, such as, eBay and were described in the report as "generally privacy aware but in need of improvement".

But Privacy International singled put Google at the bottom of its rankings for what the group called its "numerous deficiencies and hostilities" to privacy.

"We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial," the group said in the report.

Privacy International placed Google at the bottom of its ranking because of the sheer amount of data it gathers about users and their activities; because its privacy policies are incomplete and for its poor record of responding to complaints.

"While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy," read the report.

Responding to the report Nicole Wong, general counsel for Google, said in a statement: "We are disappointed with Privacy International's report which is based on numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about our services."

Ms Wong added: "We recognise that user trust is central to our business and Google aggressively protects our users' privacy."

Privacy International said it planned to release a more detailed report in September produced after detailed consultation with the firms covered in the first draft.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Singer Michael avoids jail term

George Michael has been sentenced to 100 hours of community service and banned from driving for two years at Brent Magistrates court, north London.

The 43-year-old had pleaded guilty to driving while unfit, blaming "tiredness and prescribed drugs" for the offence.

He was arrested in October last year after being found slumped at the steering wheel of his car.

The pop star, who performs at Wembley Stadium this weekend, has expressed regret over the incident.

"I was ashamed I had done something really wrong in putting other people at risk," he told the court.

Following sentencing, the singer was in a bullish mood outside the court, smiling and laughing with fans.

Reading from a prepared statement, he called the media coverage of the case "farcical" and said reporters had concentrated on the prosecution's case.

"I'm glad to put this behind me," he added. "Now I'm off to do the biggest show of my life."

Paris Hilton is sent back to jail

Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton has been taken screaming from a Los Angeles court after being told to return to jail to serve out her sentence.

The celebrity heiress was ordered to attend the hearing rather than listen to the proceeding by telephone.

Hilton left jail on Thursday, just three days into a 45-day sentence for violating probation on a driving ban.

Her release from detention, on unspecified medical grounds, had sparked widespread criticism.

Hilton attended court to hear the case for her "reassignment" to house arrest.

I'm just going to keep [Hilton] in a better facility for her condition, meaning one that has a more intense form of medical support
Lee Baca
LA county sheriff

She arrived in handcuffs and cried throughout the court session.

The judge said that she would have to serve her full 45-day sentence.

"It's not right!" she shouted in response, before calling out to her mother, who was at the court.

'Severe problems'

Hilton will stay for a few days at a treatment centre at Twin Towers jail in LA for medical and psychiatric examination to determine which jail she will be sent to, sheriff spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

LA county sheriff Lee Baca defended his earlier decision to release Hilton on medical grounds, saying "this lady has some severe problems".

He suggested that her problems were psychological.

"I'm just going to keep her in a better facility for her condition, meaning one that has a more intense form of medical support, and will watch her behaviour so there isn't anything that is harmfully done to herself by herself," Mr Baca said.

She had been held at the Century Regional Detention Centre in Lynwood, California, in a special unit for celebrities, public officials, police officers and other high-profile inmates, and has so far served five days of her sentence.

Specific details of her medical problem have been withheld for "privacy reasons".

Friday, June 08, 2007

Google moves to take on Microsoft

Google will announce an initiative on Thursday that will take its applications beyond the web and challenge Microsoft on its home turf of the computer hard-drive.

The internet company is launching Google Gears, an open-source technology for creating offline web applications.

A key differentiator of Microsoft applications is that they can be used without an internet connection. They are launched from the computer’s hard drive and files created can be stored and accessed on that drive.

Google Gears will enable its own applications to have the same capabilities. Google Reader, a news reader, will be offline-enabled from today and other applications would be expected to follow.

“With Google Gears, we’re tackling a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications,” said Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive.

Google says Gears will work with all main browsers on all main platforms – Windows, Mac and Linux. But while it says the Firefox and Opera browsers welcome Gears, it made no mention of Microsoft or its Internet Explorer web browser.

Of additional concern to Microsoft will be Google’s decision to “open source” its technology. Google hopes Gears will move the industry towards a single standard for offline capabilities, potentially enabling thousands of applications to compete with Microsoft software.

“Microsoft is either going to have to support this or do something like it,” says David Mitchell Smith, analyst with the Gartner research firm.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Dell plans purchases to build services

Michael Dell is planning a series of acquisitions to turn Dell into more of a computer services business, as he struggles to boost sales and margins at the world’s second-biggest personal computer maker.

Mr Dell, co-founder and chief executive, on Tuesday told the Financial Times that the company’s services business was growing faster than sales of computer equipment, and represented a “huge opportunity”.

“That growth will come not just from organic growth but also partnerships and acquisitions. We made a small acquisition in Scotland, which has worked out quite well, and I think you will see some more acquisitions to add capability to our services team,” he said.

The comments came days after Dell announced it was slashing 10 per cent of its workforce in a cost-cutting drive designed to help put the company back on track after a string of missteps.

“Michael Dell knows the company has got to change,” said Martin Reynolds, an analyst at Gartner. “[Using] services to sell hardware is something that makes a lot of sense for Dell.”

Services offered by Dell could include helping companies install new equipment and running an IT helpdesk for staff.

Mr Dell said only about $6bn of Dell’s $60bn annual revenues came from services.

Rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM have spent the past several years building up their services businesses to serve the computing needs of big companies. Many companies find services attractive because they are more profitable than hardware sales.

Mr Reynolds said Dell was more likely to begin making small acquisitions to grow its existing services portfolio, rather than attempt the acquisition of a more specialised computer services company such as Accenture.

But Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies, said Dell might be interested in a bigger deal.

“In the past, Dell has wanted to remain lean and mean,” said Mr Kay. “Now they’re looking at it differently and saying: ‘We need to get this capability under our roof’.”

Dell said recently it would begin selling through Wal-Mart stores and third-party resellers in addition to its direct sales over the telephone and internet. Mr Dell also indicated that the company could be expanding its range of own-branded stores beyond two experimental US outlets.

Dell is also thought to be winding down a foray into Dell-branded televisions that began in 2003. The Bloomberg news service reported on Tuesday that Dell could stop selling its televisions as early as this month. A Dell spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Qualcomm loses ruling on 3G phones

A US federal agency Thursday banned the import of new models of third-generation mobile phones using chips made by Qualcomm, the world’s second-largest supplier.

The International Trade Commission’s decision increased considerably the pressure on the San Diego company to settle with rival chipmaker Broadcom.

The commission had found in favour of Broadcom that Qualcomm’s chips infringed its patent relating to power management – a battery-saving feature on mobile devices.

The six-member ITC’s 4-2 vote follows a federal jury in Santa Ana, California, finding last week that Qualcomm had infringed three other patents owned by Broadcom.

“This is certainly an order that will complicate Qualcomm’s life and make it very uncomfortable for its customers,” said Smith Brittingham, a lawyer at Finnegan Henderson and a former ITC senior investigative attorney.

“In the light of this and the jury’s verdict, there’s a ball starting to roll down a hill that could make it end up considering a settlement.”

Qualcomm’s key role in 3G technologies has put it at the centre of a series of legal disputes over what intellectual property it owns and how much in royalties it is entitled to charge.

Nokia, the biggest handset maker, has balked at renewing a patent licensing agreement with the chipmaker this year, arguing its royalties are too high.

“Qualcomm’s wilful and widespread patent infringement is particularly egregious and ironic in light of its historic practice of seeking unfair compensation for its own patent portfolio,” said David Dull, Broadcom’s general counsel, Thursday.

The ITC decided on a limited exclusion order that would apply only to new models of phones imported from Friday. This compromise decision would “reduce the burden on third parties while affording meaningful relief to the patent holder”, it said.

Its order becomes final after 60 days, giving time for review by the Bush administration.

Qualcomm anticipated a ruling against it last week when it pre-emptively moved for the ITC to stay any order.

Mr Brittingham said the agency had never stayed an exclusion order previously and Qualcomm’s probable next step would be to ask a federal circuit judge to issue a stay so that the ban could not go into effect until an appeal had been heard. An appeal could take up to two years.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Lithium-Ion Batteries That Don't Explode

A new material prevents overheating, making lithium-ion batteries safer for use in vehicles.
A new polymer material could prevent the type of battery explosions that led to last year's massive recalls of lithium-ion laptop batteries. By making such batteries safer, the new material could help clear the way for the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in laptops because they're small and light compared with the alternatives. In cars they could replace the nickel metal hydride batteries used in hybrids now, saving room and improving fuel economy by reducing weight. But so far they haven't been used extensively in cars, in part because of safety concerns.
The batteries can explode and burst into flame when they overheat--a result of overcharging or of the electrodes inside the battery coming into contact, causing an electrical short. While a laptop fire can be dangerous, batteries for such devices only involve a few cells. A fire caused by thousands of cells in a battery pack for cars could be much worse.

Last year, millions of laptops were recalled by such major companies as Apple and Dell because metal particles were accidentally incorporated into battery cells during manufacturing. In rare cases, these particles could penetrate a plastic sheet called a separator that ordinarily prevents the positive and negative electrodes within a cell from touching. Such an event can generate heat, which can cause the separator to break down further, resulting in more shorting and more heating. At high enough temperatures, the electrode materials decompose, releasing oxygen and leading to more-rapid heating and, ultimately, an explosion and fire.

Researchers at Tonen Chemical, an affiliate of ExxonMobil Chemical based in Tokyo, Japan, have developed a new separator that plays an active role in keeping batteries from overheating. The material could make it possible to slow the reactions, allowing the battery to cool off rather than bursting into flame, says Peter Roth, program manager for advanced technology development at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, NM. Sandia is now testing the safety features of the new separator.

Separators are electrically insulating materials that have been engineered to have pores that allow lithium ions to shuttle back and forth between a battery's electrodes while the battery is being charged and discharged. A new generation of separators are designed to soften when they reach a certain temperature, about 130 ºC. That closes the pores, shutting off the current flow. In some cases, this will stop the overheating. But if the temperature continues to rise in the cell, these materials melt completely, breaking down and causing massive electrical shorts that can accelerate heating. If the cell tops 180 ºC, the electrode materials can decompose, releasing oxygen that allows the battery's electrolyte to catch fire and the battery to explode.

Unlike these separators, which break down at a little above 150 ºC, the new Tonen material stays intact up to 190 ºC. By preventing massive electrical shorting, the new separator could prevent the accelerated heating that leads to explosions, Roth says.

The performance of the separator is due to the fact that it incorporates more than one polymer: one that softens at 130 ºC to shut down current, and another to keep the separator intact to prevent shorting. Since the material can be made by modifying existing manufacturing equipment, it could quickly be available in large amounts, according to Koichi Kono, Tonen's R&D manager. "Commercially, we are ready," he says.

Other companies have developed alternative approaches to making lithium-ion batteries safer, including using different electrode materials or nonflammable electrolytes, or adding a thin layer of ceramic material to keep the electrodes separated. While the ceramics can survive very high temperatures, questions remain about how well they can be incorporated into manufacturing processes and whether they will be too expensive, Roth says. "The goal is to have batteries that fail gracefully rather than explosively."

Solar Power at Half the Cost

A new roof-mounted system that concentrates sunlight could cut the price of photovoltaics.
A new mechanism for focusing light on small areas of photovoltaic material could make solar power in residential and commercial applications cheaper than electricity from the grid in most markets in the next few years. Initial systems, which can be made at half the cost of conventional solar panels, are set to start shipping later this year, says Brad Hines, CTO and founder of Soliant Energy, a startup based in Pasadena, CA, that has developed the new modules.

Concentrating sunlight with mirrors or lenses on a small area cuts the costs of solar power in part by reducing the amount of expensive photovoltaic material needed. But while concentrated solar photovoltaic systems are attractive for large-scale, ground-based solar farms for utilities, conventional designs are difficult to mount on rooftops, where most residential and commercial customers have space for solar panels. The systems are typically large and heavy, and they're mounted on posts so that they can move to track the sun, which makes them more vulnerable to gusts of wind than ordinary flat solar panels are.

Soliant has designed a solar concentrator that tracks the sun throughout the day but is lighter and not pole-mounted. The system fits in a rectangular frame and is mounted to the roof with the same hardware that's used for conventional flat solar panels. Yet the devices will likely cost half as much as a conventional solar panel, says Hines. A second-generation design, which concentrates light more and uses better photovoltaics, could cost a quarter as much. He says that a more advanced design should be ready by 2010.

The Soliant design combines both lenses and mirrors to create a more compact system. Each module is made of rows of aluminum troughs, each about the width and depth of a gutter. These troughs are mounted inside a rectangular frame and can tilt in unison from side to side to follow the sun. Each trough is enclosed on top with a clear acrylic lid. Inside each trough, a strip of silicon photovoltaic material runs along the bottom. As light enters, some of it reflects off the inside surface of the trough and reaches the strip of silicon. The rest of the incoming light is focused on the strip by a lens incorporated into the acrylic lid.

As a solar concentrating system, this design has a few drawbacks. Because the troughs are mounted close together, they shade each other during parts of the day, decreasing the total amount of electricity produced. They can also only track from side to side, which makes it impossible for them to follow exactly the arc of the sun across the sky. This second problem will be addressed in the second-generation design, in which each trough will be divided into sections, each of which can pivot from side to side and also up and down.

But the ease of installation could help convince solar installers to use the technology, says Craig Cornelius, the technology manager for the Department of Energy's (DOE) solar-energy technology program. DOE recently announced $168 million in funding for 13 solar projects, under which Soliant will receive up to $4 million. Cornelius says that the lower installation costs will help reduce the overall costs of solar power from the modules.

Cornelius thinks that some customers, such as those with plenty of roof space, will opt for cheaper, thin-film solar panels, which in some cases can double as shingles, but are less efficient than conventional solar panels. But for those who need more power for the space they have, Cornelius says that Soliant's approach may prove the best option. Its modules produce as much power as conventional flat panels but are less expensive, using 88 percent less silicon. The company's next-generation system would be even better, producing three times as much power per area.

To test the panels, Soliant is working with DOE and Sun Edison, an established solar-system installer and operator based in Beltsville, MD. The second-generation system will be even more challenging to develop because light will be focused on a smaller area, requiring better tracking of the sun. Soliant will also be working with Emanuel Sachs, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, to improve manufacturing techniques and the system for aiming the concentrators.

"In some ways, what's interesting about [Soliant's] approach is [that] the engineering issues they have to solve are relatively mundane," Cornelius says. "This is one of the projects that I'm most excited about in our whole portfolio."

Supplying the World's Energy Needs with Light and Water

A leading chemist says that a better understanding of photosynthesis could lead to cheap ways to store solar energy as chemical fuel.
While researchers and technologists around the world scramble to find cleaner sources of energy, some chemists are turning to nature's own elegant solution: photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, green plants use the energy in sunlight to break down water and carbon dioxide. By manipulating electrons and hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms in a series of complex chemical reactions, the process ultimately produces the cellulose and lignin that form the structure of the plant, as well as stored energy in the form of sugar. Understanding how this process works, thinks Daniel Nocera, professor of chemistry at MIT, could lead to ways to produce and store solar energy in forms that are practical for powering cars and providing electricity even when the sun isn't shining.

What's needed are breakthroughs in our understanding of the fundamental chemical processes that make photosynthesis possible, according to Nocera, a recognized photosynthesis expert. He is studying the principles behind photosynthesis and applying what he learns to making catalysts that use solar energy to create hydrogen gas for fuel cells. Nocera's goal: a world powered by light and water.

Technology Review: What's the biggest challenge related to energy right now?

Daniel Nocera: The real challenge with energy is the scaling problem. We're going to have this huge energy need, and when you start looking at all the numbers, there's only one supply that has scale, and it's the sun. But it's still a research problem. Technologies all follow lines; then there's a discovery and a new line that's better. We're on a very predictable line now in solar. Most things you hear about are incremental advances.

TR: You're studying photosynthesis to get ideas for how to convert sunlight into a chemical fuel--hydrogen--for use when the sun isn't shining or in powering fuel-cell vehicles.

DN: You can use the electricity directly when the sun is out, in places that have sun. [But] you need storage. There's absolutely no way around it. I am distilling the essence of photosynthesis down to be able to use it.

TR: Why is photosynthesis attractive in finding a source of clean energy?

DN: [Photosynthesis] does three things. It captures sunlight, and [second,] it converts it into a wireless current--leaves are buzzing with electricity. And third, it does storage. It stores the converted light energy in chemical energy. And it uses that chemical energy for its life process, and then it stores a little.

It turns out [that] photosynthesis is one of the most efficient machines in the world for energy conversion. But it's not great for storing energy because that's not what [a plant] was built to do. It was built to live and grow and reproduce.

And so that's the approach we take. Can we now do what the leaf is doing artificially, which is the capture, conversion, and storage in chemical bonds? But my device doesn't have to live: it can take a lot more of that energy and put it into chemical bonds.

Your Coffee Table as a Computer

Microsoft has announced a touch-screen table that interacts with gadgets placed on its surface.
Today Microsoft unveiled a new addition to computing: a coffee table that doubles as a computer for viewing photos, videos, maps, or Web pages, for instance. The electronic furniture, called Microsoft Surface, lets users manipulating these objects directly with their fingers--to resize a picture or rotate it so that someone across the table can look at it.

The table's surface is a multitouch screen, which means that it can accommodate the input from a number of different points of contact at once, not unlike Apple's forthcoming iPhone.

Surface is also similar to technology created by a startup called Perceptive Pixel, founded by Jeff Han, a researcher at New York University. (See "Touch Screens for Many Fingers.")

Microsoft's technology distinguishes itself from that of other touch screens by wirelessly interacting with gadgets on the tabletop. The table is optimized to accommodate up to 52 points of contact, which could mean, for example, all the fingers on 4 people's hands and 12 devices sitting on the surface. A user can set her camera on the tabletop, and cameras inside the table's thick base will detect its presence (as well as the presence of other objects and fingers). Then software that leverages Bluetooth short-range wireless signals uploads the pictures from the user's camera to the tabletop screen. The user can flip, crop, resize, and organize the pictures using her fingers. To transfer a picture to another device on the table, such as a cell phone, she simply flicks the photos toward the gadget. This Popular Mechanics video offers a nice demonstration of the table in action.

The tables are expected to appear in hotels, casinos, and retail stores by the end of this year.