Marketing

BobbyeM71hxwGoogle mulls stand-alone version of Buzz

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Google may create a stand-alone version of its Buzz social networking product but won’t separate Buzz from its Gmail service, a linkup that has spurred controversy over privacy, said the company.

The world’s No.1 Internet search engine, Google has launched Buzz earlier this week in a bid to tap into the fast growing social networking market dominated by companies like Facebook and Twitter.

Similar to Twitter and Facebook, Buzz allows users to broadcast messages and share photos and videos with friends and colleagues online. But unlike those services, Buzz is built directly into Google’s Gmail and the product automatically creates each user’s social network based on the person’s most-frequently emailed contacts.

According to Google spokeswoman Victoria Katsarou, they have considered among all other features that they add to Buzz in the future, to create a stand-alone experience in addition to it being in Gmail.

In the days since the product launch, a number of online blogs and publications have argued that the Buzz-Gmail link creates a privacy problem since the Buzz contact network is publicly viewable by default and could expose people’s private contacts.

Google announced Thursday, a couple of changes on its corporate blog designed to address some of the concerns, including making it easier for Buzz users to keep their contacts list private.

The blog Search Engine Land quoted Google Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz as saying the company was considering removing Buzz from Gmail, but Google’s Katsarou said that that was not the case and the blog later reported that Buzz would remain in Gmail.

In the blogs posted, Google said that more than 9 million posts and comments have been created on Buzz since its launch and that tens of millions of people have “checked Buzz out.”

Gmail is the world’s third most popular Web email service, with 176.5 million unique visitors in December, according to comScore, behind Microsoft Corp’s Windows Web email services and Yahoo Inc’s email.

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Posted in Marketing, New Product Release, Technical News

BobbyeM71hxwRogue Antivirus Program Comes With Tech Support

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

In order to boost sales, sellers of a fake antivirus product known as Live PC Care are offering their victims live technical support.

Once users have installed the program, they see a screen, falsely informing them that their PC is infected with several types of malware, according to researchers at Symantec. That’s typical of this type of program. What’s unusual, however, is the fact that the free trial version of Live PC Care includes a big yellow “online support” button.

Clicking the button connects the victim with an agent, who will answer questions about the product via instant message.

According to Symantec, the agent is no automated script, but in fact a live person. This lends an “air of legitimacy” to the program, said Marc Fossi, a manager of development with Symantec Security Response.

The tech support doesn’t help much, though, said Symantec, the support staff simply tries to convince victims to shell out between US$30 and $100 for the product.

This isn’t the first time a fake security product has been spotted offering tech support. Another company called Innovative Marketing operated a call center to support its security products, including a program called WinFixer. According to security experts, Innovative Marketing’s tech support technicians acted in the same way as Live PC Care’s, trying to reassure victims that they were buying a legitimate product.

Rogue antivirus products can, sometimes, lower security settings on a victim’s computer. At best, they offer a false sense of security because the products never protect computers from the latest security threats.

Over the past year, rogue antivirus has been a major headache for users. It is often installed via annoying pop-up ads that try to convince the victim that something is wrong with their PC. Symantec tracked 43 million rogue AV installation attempts between July 2008 and July 2009.

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BobbyeM71hxwLG, Samsung Go Social with Latest Handsets

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

On Tuesday, the two South Korea’s biggest cell phone makers previewed handsets that they plan to unveil at next week’s Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona.

Both phones feature full-screen touch panels on their face, Wi-Fi and close links with social networking services.

The Samsung Monte is an extension of the company’s S-series of phones and includes applications for Facebook and MySpace, and widgets for access to Twitter, Bebo and several instant messaging networks.

The front of the phone is dominated by a 3-inch display with full-screen touch panel through which all the main user interaction takes place.

A GPS receiver hooks into Google Latitude, which allows you to share your position with friends on a map, and provides location data that is embedded with photos taken with the phone’s 3.2-megapixel camera. Two applications, Exchange ActiveSync and Google Sync, are included to synchronize e-mail, contacts and other data with a PC.

LG’s new handset, the GD880 Mini, connects to Facebook and Twitter and a social network feed function combines updates from different services in a single stream.

In some areas the LG Mini outpaces the Samsung Monte: the screen is slightly bigger at 3.2 inches and the camera offers a higher resolution of 5 megapixels. Other features include high-speed HSDPA networking and A-GPS (assisted GPS).

According to LG, the Mini will be launched in Europe in March and later in other markets. Samsung didn’t provide launch details for the Monte.

Both the companies are yet to announce prices for the new handsets.

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BobbyeM71hxwApple vs Flash and E-Book Overload on PCWorld Podcast 64

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

For online video streaming, Adobe Flash has become the overwhelming leader, but Apple’s recent announcement of the iPad has cast a shadow over Adobe’s technology and led many to wonder whether Flash is on its last legs.

PCWorld editors Ed Albro, Jason Cross, Robert Strohmeyer, and Nick Mediati take a look at the facts surrounding Flash and HTML5. Is HTML5 almost ready for prime time, or is this just more posturing from Apple?

Meanwhile, the sudden rise of e-book readers may now be threatened by the upcoming crop of tablets. Is it time for Amazon to give up on the Kindle and shift its focus back to content?

You can also stream the podcast via QuickTime: Subscribe to the PC World Podcast on iTunes or via the PC World Podcast RSS feed.

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BobbyeM71hxwS. Korea, Japan have world’s fastest web links

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

A recent report has found that the East Asian countries led by South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan are the best wired in the world with the highest number of fast broadband connections to the Internet.

South Korea boasts the world’s highest average connection speed at 14.6 Megabytes per second (Mbps) and also has six of Asia’s 10 cities with the fastest link-ups, all with average speeds above 15 Mbps.

According to the report by US-based network provider Akamai Technologies, Japan had the second highest average connection speed of 7.9 Mbps, followed by the Chinese territory of Hong Kong with 7.6 Mbps.

The other countries in the top ten are Romania, followed by Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and the Czech Republic, with the United States at 18th place, with an average speed of 3.9 Mbps.

The survey classifies “broadband” connections as those of two Mbps or more, and “high broadband” as five Mbps or over, while link-ups at 20 Mbps and better were categorized as “extremely high speed connectivity.”

The report said, South Korea, 74 percent of connections were “high broadband,” the world’s top rate, while the figure was 60 percent in Japan, followed by Hong Kong with 46 percent.

The United States came 12th, with just 24 percent of its connections at five Mbps or more. Worldwide, the high broadband percentage was 19 percent.

Akamai’s ‘State of the Internet’ report for the third quarter of 2009, said the growing demand for online high-definition video content is driving demand for faster connections.

As the quantity of HD-quality media increases over time and the consumption of that media increases, end users are likely to require ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth, said the report.

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BobbyeM71hxwJooJoo Tablet PC Promised by End of February

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

By the end of February, Fusion Garage’s JooJoo tablet PC is expected to be in consumer hands when it will likely give some indication as to the public’s interest in tablets such as the Apple iPad.

Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan says that not only have the preorders for the JooJoo tablet exceeded expectations, but there has been an increase in inquiries since the debut of the iPad–so it looks like the public may be ready for tablet computers after all, according to Venture Beat.

The JooJoo tablet, which began its life as the TechCrunch Crunch Pad, was announced in December 2009. The 2.4-pound touch screen tablet has a 12-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel display, 1GB of memory, and a 4GB Solid State Drive (used to store the OS and cache data). It also features a USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth support, built-in speakers, Wi-Fi, and a Webcam with a mic. The JooJoo tablet also features a fun (and potentially incredibly annoying) color-tinted screen–but don’t worry, the color can be changed.

The JooJoo tablet uses the web as its primary platform instead of custom-built apps. It also supports Flash and reportedly plays 1080p YouTube streaming videos fairly well. The JooJoo tablet’s price point is close to that of the iPad’s, at $499.

While the JooJoo tablet does beat the iPad in a few ways, it also falls short in some pretty major areas. It has a 4GB SSD, but users cannot directly save files to said drive–it’s purely an internet tablet. The problem with this, of course, is that the JooJoo has Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi only–there is no 3G option, though Fusion Garage is “not ruling out the possibility of 3G in the near future.” Here’s a tip, guys–the “near future” had better come pretty soon or people are going to start wondering what the point is of a big Internet-only-device that you can’t store music on.

Because the JooJoo tablet uses the Internet as its platform, the lack of an “App Store” is another downside. Sure, you don’t really need a Facebook app when you can just go to Facebook itself, but the Apple App Store is definitely a benefit of having an Apple product. Though some are critical of Apple’s extreme vigilance when it comes to apps, recent influxes of malware into other, similar app stores suggest that perhaps Apple is merely being alert. Not only will JooJoo’s lack of an app store make it harder for users to use the platform, but the openness may leave the JooJoo vulnerable to outside attacks.

Simply, the JooJoo tablet is just an internet in your hands, but if Rathakrishnan’s report of increased interest in the JooJoo after the announcement of the iPad is true, perhaps there is a big market for tablet PCs, regardless of what they do (or don’t).

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BobbyeM71hxwNew PlayStation 3 show pits gamer against gamer

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

“The Tester” is a reality show in which the top prize will be a job at Sony.

Sony Corp. is launching the show on its PlayStation 3 on Feb. 18. The premise? Pit a broad swath of video game fans against one another to see who’s the best at testing out the games.

The winner will get a job as a real game tester at Sony. It’s an entry-level job, a way to get a start in the industry. The show will have 11 contestants, which include a writer from Ohio, a cheerleading coach from California and a used car salesman from Maryland.

According to Sony, the show is part of its strategy to provide content beyond games on the PlayStation. This includes music, movies and TV episodes.

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BobbyeM71hxwPearson, Nokia form English teaching JV in China

Monday, February 1st, 2010

On Monday, the two companies said the publishing group Pearson and phone maker Nokia have formed a joint venture to deliver English-language learning materials to mobile phone users in China.

More English learners-based country, China is playing an increasingly important role for UK-based Pearson, which owns the world’s largest education publishing business as well as the Financial Times and Penguin books.

Last year, it bought Wall Street English for $145 million in cash, giving it a leading position in China’s English-language teaching market.

The new joint venture, named Beijing Mobiledu Technologies, builds on a service that Nokia launched in 2007, providing content from a variety of publishers, which so far has about 20 million subscribers and 1.5 million active users each month.

Customers can access the content through an application preloaded on new Nokia handsets, or by visiting the service’s mobile website.

In order to access the information in China, mobile phones are crucial that has at least 720 million mobile subscribers, double the amount of Internet users it has.

Nokia, the world’s biggest handset maker, sold almost 18 million phones in China last quarter, 36 percent more than a year earlier.

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adminXbox Live points system draws lawsuit

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Xbox fans are fanatical about their console of choice, but there’s one thing they almost universally agree on: The “Points” system for buying content absolutely sucks.

In order to purchase a game or other content on Xbox Live, you have to first use your credit card to buy points. Only then can those points be exchanged for content. What peeves people so badly is that Microsoft sets the value of these points at 800 for $10 instead of something more immediately and easily convertible, like, oh, 1000 for $10. This makes everything on the Xbox Marketplace seem cheaper than it is: Shelling out 200 points feels like a $2 expenditure, but in reality it’s $2.50, a solid 25 percent bonus for Microsoft. Over time that adds up… and you’re invariably left with leftover points, since you have to buy points in bulk.

Reportedly, Microsoft is got tired due to consumer complaints that it may scrap points and go to a straight cash system — a move that it can’t undertake too soon, in my opinion. However, the botched method for points valuation isn’t the reason why attorney Samuel Lassoff is suing Microsoft. He is alleging that the company engaged in “fraudulent handling” of his account, and that he and other users of the system have been overcharged for products which were ultimately not provided.

While Lassoff mainly seems to be alleging that the points system is buggy and error-prone, more vocal complaints come from those who have alleged that their accounts have been victimized by hackers who have absconded with the balances in their accounts and even their gaming identities.

Still, don’t weep for Microsoft quite yet. Lassoff may just be looking for a quick handout, with a history of lawsuits against Google and Bally’s Casino over various wrongs committed against him.

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BobbyeM71hxwFirefox 3.6 released

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Firefox 3.6, the latest version of Mozilla’s popular browser, was released Thursday, featuring a 20 percent speed improvement over version 3.5, Mozilla said.

The browser includes improvements to boost performance for everyday Web tasks like e-mail, uploading of photos, and social networking. JavaScript performance is improved, as are overall browser responsiveness and startup time.

“Firefox 3.6 is built on Mozilla’s Gecko 1.9.2 Web rendering platform, which has been under development since early 2009 and contains many improvements for Web developers, add-on developers, and users,” according to the Firefox 3.6 Web page. “This version is also faster and more responsive than previous versions and has been optimized to run on small device operating systems such as Maemo.”

Other key capabilities include:

• Open audio and video, via an implementation of HTML 5 audio and video; video can be displayed full-screen, and poster frames are supported
• Personas, to personalize the look of Firefox
• Plugin Updater, offering protection against vulnerabilities; out-of-date plug-ins will be detected
• Stability improvements to decrease crashes caused by third-party software
• Form Complete, in which the browser suggests information for form fields based on common answers in a similar field

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