Thursday, August 20, 2009

Razer intros Naga, a 17-button MMO mouse

Razer introduced a 17-button mouse for massively multiplayer online games at the Gamescom expo today. Named Naga, the mouse has a twelve-digit keypad built into the left side of its shell - the perfect spot to keep your thumb busy. It connects via USB and features a 5600dpi 3.5G laser sensor, 1,000Hz ultrapolling / 1ms response time, a maximum tracking speed of 200 inches per second and Teflon feet.

To further expand the Naga's functionality, there are MMO-specific software add-ons, you can have unlimited character profiles, and you can stack commands on any given mouse button by defining a modifier key. For instance, by holding down a keyboard key, you can configure and execute several layers of commands with a single mouse button.

For the curious, the Razer Naga's dimensions in millimeters are 116L x 69W x 41.6H. The company says it will be available online "soon," and will be shipping worldwide for $80.


Import your old mail and contacts to Gmail

lthough Google's web-based mail service rising in popularity, the pain of ditching old mail and contacts deters many who want to make the switch. A few months back, Google eased the pain of parting with your old account by allowing new users to import their previous mail data to Gmail - a welcomed feature.

However, many long-time Gmail users have email accounts lurking from years prior to Gmail's inception. The old accounts often contain dated confirmation emails and other data most people just can't let go. Gmail is now able to import that old data to existing accounts, and users can finally let their antiquated Hotmail account rest in peace.

To use the new feature, simply go to Settings, and then the Accounts & Import tab. Click Import mail and contacts and a follow the prompts from there. According to Google, the entire copy process takes a few days, but eventually everything will arrive to your Gmail account.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Windows 7 RC downloads end Thursday

Following the planned death of Windows 7 Beta, the RC version that has been freely available to anyone to test since May will no longer be downloadable from Microsoft’s servers after Thursday of this week. This means that if you still haven't jumped on the test wagon, you'll have to wait another two months for the final release to get your hands on a copy.

Those of you already running the near-finished version of Windows 7 can continue using it for free. Even if you miss the August 20 deadline Microsoft says they'll keep handing out license keys for a while, so you can always grab a copy from torrent sites – be sure to verify your ISO, though. You'll have until March 2010 before Microsoft starts forcefully shutting your computer down every two hours and then face expiration on June. That'll give you plenty of time to test Microsoft’s upcoming operating system past the official and final release.

One word of caution: As mentioned by Microsoft themselves and in numerous other sources, there's no upgrade path other than a clean install to move from the RC build to the final version, so that may be one reason to hold off and wait for the official release at this point in time. Should you decide to give it a try anyway, we have posted a guide to dual boot Windows 7 RC with XP/Vista in three easy steps, and another one to reverse the process.


More on the PS3 Slim: 250GB model already planned

Sony finally took the wraps off the much-rumored PS3 Slim yesterday and gave it the more affordable $299 price tag consumers had been clamoring for. The new 120GB unit is smaller, lighter, and packs “all the same features” of older models (with the exception of Linux support) while consuming 34 percent less power. It is also a bit quieter than its predecessors, which is good news for people using the console as a Blu-ray player.

At the same time, Sony announced a $100 price cut for current 80GB and 160GB models – now at $300 and $400 – while supplies last. We’re not quite sure why anyone would buy the bulkier and less capacious 80GB console when they can wait a few weeks for the Slim to arrive at the same price. But if that 160GB unit for $400 is starting to sound tempting, get this: recent filings with the FCC suggest a 250GB variant of the PS3 Slim may arrive soon. The question is when will it be released and at what price.

It’s also worth mentioning that the new 3.0 firmware will be released concurrently with the PS3 slim on September 1, which should provide a breath of fresh air for existing machines. The latest update incorporates some usability and cosmetic changes to the UI – full details are available at the PlayStation Blog.


Microsoft fights Word sales injunction

icrosoft has filed an “emergency motion” to stay a judge’s ruling that threatens to prevent the company from selling its widely used word processing application. The issue boils down to a custom XML function in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 that allegedly infringes on a patent held by Canadian firm i4i. Although Redmond claims it is expending enormous human and financial capital to come up with modified versions, failing to do so within the court’s 60-day deadline could potentially keep Word and even Office off the shelves for months.

In its motion, Microsoft asked an appeals court to halt that injunction and also to speedily hear the company's appeal once it is filed. The software giant argues that the patents in question are invalid and furthermore claims the injunction could cause "irreparable harm" to the software giant's business and to its partners.

The stakes are high and alternative productivity suites such as or even Google Docs certainly would love to capitalize on this. There are a few possible outcomes, though, and somehow I doubt Office ceasing to be available is one of them. Microsoft could still buy some time with the appeal to work on non-infringing versions of Word or perhaps reach an out-of-court settlement with i4i.


Windows 7 Product Editions Compared

efore Windows Vista, Microsoft made the sale of its Windows operating system view easy and concise. Windows XP only had Home and Professional editions and the decision was easy because home users used home edition and business users used professional edition. Windows Vista was introduced with six different product editions and made things a little complicated for end users. Some users were unable to differentiate between Vista Home Basic and Home Premium, but the main difference was simply a matter of performance and "eye-candy" between the two versions.

Windows 7 continues the same six product editions but with slightly different names and the ways that they are differentiated. In this article, we will try to break it all down and make it easy to understand because it really isn't that complicated with a little explanation. The chart below is a quick summarization of the various product editions with details and a comparison to a Vista product edition.

Windows 7 Edition Comparable Vista Edition Full / Upgrade Price 32-bit / 64-bit
Starter Home Basic No retail avail. Yes / No
Home Basic Starter No retail avail. Yes / No
Home Premium Home Premium $200 / $120 Yes / Yes
Professional Business $300 / $200 Yes / Yes
Ultimate Ultimate $320 / $220 Yes / Yes
Enterprise Enterprise No retail avail. Yes / Yes

Windows 7 Starter:

Windows 7 Starter:

The lowest-end product edition of Windows 7 is the Starter edition, which will be preinstalled on low-end computers and computers without enough processing power for other editions, such as a netbook. Unlike Windows 7 Home Basic edition, Starter edition will be sold in the United States and other mainstream markets. The system requirements of Windows 7 Starter are the following: a low-end CPU processor, 1GB of RAM, 256GB (max) hard drive, and a 10.2" (or smaller) display.

The interface of Windows 7 Starter is cut down and only includes the Windows Basic interface and not the Windows Aero interface, which is the "glassy" transparent windows. You also do not get Aero Peek and Shake. Windows Media Center is not included, but Windows Media Player is. Users cannot change the desktop wallpaper in this edition, which is a bizarre restriction.

Windows 7 Home Basic:

This Home Basic edition, unlike Starter, will not be sold in mainstream markets, including the United States. It will be installed with low-end PCs in emerging countries, such as India. The system requirements are similar to the Starter edition's requirements above.

Windows 7 Home Premium:

Home Premium will be the edition that an overwhelming majority of computer users in the United States will choose, mostly because it will come pre-installed on new computers after the October 22nd release of Windows 7. This edition comes with all of the desktop enhancements that Windows 7 has to offer, including Windows Aero, Flip 3D, Live Thumbnails, and the ability to customize all aspects of the user interface.

Windows 7 Home Premium comes with all of the multimedia features, such as Windows Media Center, DVD Maker, Windows Media Player, and all of the games that Windows 7 has to offer. Windows Mobility Center is also included, which provides advanced features for laptop and portable devices as well as touch input and multi-touch functionality.

If you are an average to above-average computer user who will use this product in a home or home business setting, this is most likely the edition that you will want. It is priced right at $120 for an upgrade version for current users of Windows XP or Vista and it will definitely run on any computer that decently runs XP and Vista right now.

Windows 7 Professional:

Users of Windows 7 Professional will be small to mid-size businesses and companies who need advanced networking features, such as Active Directory and domain log-in support. Professional also offers network backup, an Encrypting File System (EFS), and the ability to connect to and control a remote PC via Remote Desktop. XP Mode is also available to Professional edition users, which allows users to install and run applications that only work in Windows XP in a seamless Windows 7 environment. Professional edition also supports a larger amount of RAM: 192GB (64-bit) and 16GB (32-bit)

The biggest two questions of whether or not you need Windows 7 Professional are the following: Do you need domain support and do you need seamless backward compatibility for legacy Windows XP applications?

Windows 7 Ultimate:

This edition is for the power-user and computer enthusiast. It includes every single available Windows 7 feature, but is still relatively similar to the Professional edition. Windows 7 Ultimate gives users access to BitLocker and BitLocker To Go, which is a drive encryption system for the system hard drive and portable media, like a USB thumbdrive. Home users will not need any of these more advanced features and the price of $100 extra is most likely not worth spending for it.

32-Bit vs. 64-Bit:

Most of the Windows 7 product editions ship in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors in the retail package. Users purchasing new PCs will be given a choice of either 32 or 64 bit operating systems at their time of purchase. There are no cosmetic or functionality differences between 32 and 64 bit, but there is one small under-the-hood different. The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 support either 16GB or 192GB of RAM, while the 32-bit editions only support a maximum of 4GB. All new and relatively new CPU's are 64-bit compatible and users should almost always choose 64-bit versions of Windows 7.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kmart lists PS3 Slim for $300, announcement imminent?

pdate: Sony has confirmed that the long-rumored PlayStation 3 Slim will be in stores the first week of September, priced at $299.99. It will be 33 percent smaller, 36 percent lighter, and should retain all the features and functions of current PS3 consoles but with a 120GB drive. Check out some images after the break.

Rumors of a slimmed-down, cheaper version of the PlayStation 3 have been all but confirmed today. While Sony has yet to make an official announcement, both and (which are owned by the same company) have begun putting order pages up for the new console priced at an all-time low of $300.

An ad on Kmart’s website states that “the rumors are reality” and proclaims the arrival of a “new low price and a new exciting PlayStation 3.” Furthermore, the preorder page describes a PS3 Slim model with a 120GB hard drive and a Blu-ray player. The release date? Less than a week from now, on August 24. However, given that retailers are probably sitting on a stockpile of current-generation PS3s, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this date pushed back a little bit.

A recently leaked banner ad from entertainment media retailer FYE could be an indication of this. The ad describes a new low price for current models “while supplies last,” cutting the price of the 80GB console to $300 (down from $400) and the 160GB version to $400 (from $500). Whatever the case may be, we’ll probably know for sure later today when Sony is slated to begin its press conference at GamesCom.


Gmail to surpass Hotmail in seven months

Gmail launched as an invitation-only beta in 2004 and has grown a steady following since its release to the general public in 2007. Now, Google's web-based mail service has taken AOL's spot at number three for the most popular online email service and is showing no signs of slowing down. It is poised to overtake Hotmail - which has been around for over a decade.

According to ComScore, Gmail's monthly US visitors swelled from 25.3 million in July 2008 to 36.9 million in July 2009. Other Google services have also experienced a spurt, growing at a 46% rate this year compared to 39% in 2008 - its competitors haven't been as fortunate, though. AOL's monthly visitors have declined from 45.1 million to 36.4 million in the same period.

If Gmail's growth trend continues, the service will trump Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail in about seven months. Hotmail currently caters to about 47.1 million visitors - a number that has remained flat in recent years. The service lost 4% of its total visitors between September 2007 and September 2008, and grew by 3% between July 2008 and 2009.

Yahoo Mail is the leading free web-based mail service, and has seen positive figures of late. Y! Mail grew by 11% in 2008, and 22% between 2008 and 2009. InformationWeek noted that the release of Windows 7 may renew interest in Microsoft services, and that Google has been encouraging businesses to start using Google Apps.


Facebook sued over terms of service changes

If you think it's hard to keep just a small handful of people happy, imagine the monumental work behind keeping 250 million people happy. That's one of the tasks that huge social networking sites face on a daily basis, balancing the needs of tens or hundreds of millions of opinions all at once. Facebook has apparently failed in this, to the point that some users have decided to sue. It doesn't take much thought to stumble upon the reason why: Privacy.

With millions of people dumping very personal information onto the site, it seems many of them have an expectation as to who truly owns this. Due to recent changes to their privacy policy, Facebook seems to be taking the position that anything submitted to their site becomes their own property – a stance that has users in an uproar and has resulted in at least five people filing suit against the service.

Facebook denies the claims and plans to defend themselves against the accusations. The fight itself may not boil down to the wording in Facebook's terms, but rather the process involved in changing it. Part of the suit relies on a claim that Facebook doesn't notify (or notify properly) of changes to the ToS. Though just another suit among many, this is another example of the continuing struggle between users and service providers, battling over who truly owns what.


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