Sunday, 29 July 2007

Sky TV Coming To The PSP

Are you one of the 2.3 million PSP owners in the UK and Ireland? If so, you might be happy to know that you’ll soon be able to view Sky TV on your little handheld buddy. The Sony-built one, that is. On top of recent launch of the new PSP, this is a clever expansion of the PSP's capabilities.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Sky have announced plans to create a joint-venture company to bring a broad mix of downloadable content to the PSP, ranging from movies and sports to high profile TV shows like Lost and Weeds. The content can be downloaded via Wi-Fi or PC but there’s no news yet on pricing. That’s right, this is Sky after all so no freebies here. According to the press release:

“The Joint Venture company, with equal Board level representation from Sky and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe will draw on the unrivalled entertainment aggregation expertise and technical leadership of SKY, and the handheld entertainment knowledge and brand power of PlayStation. The company will establish PSP and the new ground breaking video download service as the natural partners for those seeking the ultimate choice of portable entertainment content.”

Could this be the money-spinning movie success that the annoying, and doomed, UMD movie format wasn’t?

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Big Brother UK - Chanelle Walks

Chanelle has left the Big Brother House...

Chanelle has left the Big Brother House.

"You have got to have your freedom," cried Gerry as she said her goodbyes to her pals.

After an emotional exchange between Ziggy and Chanelle in the caravan where Ziggy said: "I do care for you. You have to understand that I didn't mean it to happen. You look amazing," the posh housemate stood fast on her resolution to leave.

A short while later she gave Ziggy a final kiss goodbye leaving Ziggy in the garden sighing "I feel like s**t" but Chanelle had gone straight to Diary Room. With one last glance she emotionally declared "It's not a goodbye, it's a see you later" Moments later, she was gone.

The girl who put the "Ch" in "Chiggy" has taken her style, class and panache out of the House and back into the outside world.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Alternating rock layers in Utah form a "bull's eye" 5.5km across

"Upheaval Dome" could have been caused by a rising plug of salt pushing up overlying rocks, or by a space rock striking Earth.


IRVINE, Calif. – July 24, 2007 – Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has reached a new milestone, with a player base now totaling more than 9 million subscribers worldwide. The company is currently working with its partner for World of Warcraft in China, The9, to prepare the game's first expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade™, for launch in mainland China and anticipates an influx of new and returning subscribers in conjunction with that event.

"We're thrilled that gamers around the world have continued to embrace World of Warcraft so enthusiastically," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment®. "We've worked hard to provide a compelling experience for our players, and we plan to continue updating the game with exciting new content for them to enjoy for many years to come."

Since debuting in North America on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006* and has remained at or near the top of the weekly PC-game sales charts for much of 2007 as well. Blizzard's Burning Crusade expansion released to critical acclaim in several regions earlier this year and shattered PC-game sales records in North America and Europe, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of release and approximately 3.5 million in its first month. World of Warcraft is available in seven different languages and, in addition to North America and Europe, is played in mainland China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

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World of Warcraft Reaches New Milestone

The World of Warcraft subscriber base has continued to grow this year as new and returning players have signed up to explore Azeroth and check out all of the content added with the Burning Crusade expansion. Worldwide, the game's community now numbers more than 9 million subscribers. In the midst of preparations for BlizzCon and the upcoming launch of the expansion in mainland China, we wanted to take a moment to share the news and thank everyone for continuing to support the game.

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Introducing World of Warcraft, the Comic

This fall, DC Comics's WildStorm imprint is creating a new comic book series based on World of Warcraft. The series will be written by industry vet Walter Simonson (Superman, Elric) and feature art by Ludo Lullabi and inker Sandra Hope (Justice League of America). Each of the issues in the first six issue arc will have two different covers: one by notable comic book artist Jim Lee and a second by our very own senior art director, Samwise Didier.

Check out the official World of Warcraft comic Here

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Surf the Internet while Flying

Those already giddy about their 2008 trip to Down Under should now pick up the phone and do whatever it takes to get on one of Qantas' forthcoming A380s or revamped 747-400s, as both planes will reportedly feature in-flight WiFi and laptop power. As if that weren't enough, the new A380s will even dole out power sockets to those in economy class, and while the in-flight entertainment system may be preferred by your offspring, we know you'll greatly appreciate the internet access and seat-mounted USB / Ethernet ports. Currently, Qantas has yet to divulge exactly how much these luxuries will run you per flight, and while there's still a few months remaining before any passengers are faced with such comforts while flying Qantas, we can't help but yearn for a first-class ticket complete with a 17-inch widescreen LCD. Hit the read link for a few more snapshots and the full rundown of extras.

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Symantec warns of new exploit with Flash technology

Yesterday, Symantec warned of a security exploit that can crash Nintendo's Wii gaming console. The problem concerns the use of Flash files on the game console. Adobe patched the Flash flaw on July 12, but the Opera browser used by the Wii is still vulnerable and can cause severe problems. Liam O'Murchu of Symantec's Security Response team said "the most interesting thing is that it is a cross-platform vulnerability."

O'Murchu added that "due to the fact that Flash can run in different browsers and on different platforms, the discovery of this single security vulnerability could leave all Flash-enabled operating systems and devices open to the attack, including some advanced smartphones."

"The vulnerability has already been tested on Windows, Apple Mac OSX, and some Linux distributions, but many other devices that are Flash-enabled could also be affected by the problem as well," said O'Murchu.

The malware to exploit the flaw in a Windows environment has been posted on a popular exploit web site and makes use of specially crafted .FLV Flash files.

Such files can be uploaded to popular video sharing sites and the Symantec team has warned such sites to begin scanning for corrupted files.

As a matter of fact, a video of the security flaw in action has been posted on the YouTube site.

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PlayStation 3 sales boost in US

Sales of Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console in the US rose by 21% in June, analyst figures show, but the machine still trails the Wii and Xbox 360.
Tracking firm NPD Group reported that 98,500 PS3s were sold, compared to 198,400 Xbox 360s (up 28%) and 381,800 Wiis (up 13%).

Sony said that the $100 (£50) price cut to the 60GB PS3 led to a 135% sales rise over the last two weeks.

Independent figures for sales of the cheaper PS3 are not yet available.
"This jump in sales bodes very well for us heading into the fall as we launch an impressive arsenal of hardware and software," Jack Tretton, head of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in a statement.

Leading firms
Nintendo's DS handheld sold 561,900 units , while Sony's PSP, which has been boosted by an April price cut, sold 230,100 units, NPD reported.
Software sales in the US are 31% higher than the same time last year, the market research showed, buoyed by new consoles from all three firms.
Last month's sales topped $1.1bn (£550m), the data revealed.
"The industry continues to realise substantial gains, month after month, and on all fronts it's great growth," NPD analyst Anita Frazier told Reuters news agency.
Nintendo said the sales showed that the firm was reaching a new gaming audience.
"We are delivering on our message of reaching out to new gamers," said Nintendo spokeswoman Beth Llewellyn.

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Monday, 23 July 2007

Latest unpopular Facebook move is apparently a glitch

If anyone's added you as a friend on Facebook recently, you may notice something different: previously, upon confirming a friend request, you were redirected to a separate page that asked you to check a few boxes and fill out a text field or two describing your relationship with the person in question. The options range from "Went to school together" to "In my family" to "We hooked up." The Facebook member on the other end of the "relationship" must then confirm the detail before it becomes visible to anyone who's sifting through either of their friends lists. Kind of cute, especially when you fill it out with something funny that isn't true ("They were members of Wu-Tang Clan from 1895 to 1901"), but many Facebook users have typically skipped it altogether, seeing it as a bit unnecessary or annoying. A button called "Skip This Step" provided an easy way out of it.

But that's changed. Now, the "How do you know this person?" prompt is in the form of an Ajax pop-up box, not a separate page, but something else is different. You now no longer have the ability to skip the step where you describe the relationship you have with your new Facebook friend, making friend adds with ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, former high school enemies, and Craigslist Missed Connection hook-ups potentially very awkward. It's unclear as to exactly when this change came about, but it appears to have happened this weekend.

Facebook's 'Request Confirmation' option, now with no way out

(Aside: I noticed this when another blogger added me as a friend on Facebook. After racking my brains over exactly what kind of relationship connection to use, I finally chose "From an organization or team" and typed in "The blogosphere." Sorry for using that overexposed term.)

Facebook users--judging by blog posts and Twitter updates--don't appear to be happy. And the last time Facebook users got really ticked over an update to the site that they perceived as a step down in privacy and control functionality (remember the early days of the News Feed?) things got a little ugly. The "Skip This Step" issue has shown early signs of also becoming a headache for the company: social-networking blog Mashable even tossed up a makeshift "petition" to bring back the "Skip This Step" option.

But according to a new high-profile Facebook employee, it's a glitch. A comment on the Mashable post Sunday night from Blake Ross, co-founder of recent Facebook acquisition Parakey, explained, "This is a bug that will be fixed soon. Trust me, we find this as annoying as you do," Ross wrote. (Thanks to Eric Skiff for pointing this out.)

We've e-mailed Facebook for confirmation and will keep you posted when we hear back.

So, ultimately it looks like we can learn an interesting tidbit from this whole mini-debacle: if the Parakey co-founder is chipping in on something pertaining to friend request confirmation, that could be a cool peek into what's to come from Facebook's new buy. Parakey, as you may know already, specializes in bridging the gap between offline desktop applications and Web services. Total speculation here (and I'm not a code guru by any means), but perhaps some kind of desktop-accessible alert system is in the works?

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Wii Blaster Zeroes In On Wii Zapper

Just after Nintendo took the wraps off its Star-Trek-themed Wii Zapper gun appendage for the Wii console, another firm has nipped in early with its own offering.

Owing more to the Wild West choice of weapon, this long-barrelled add-on is the Wii Blaster and it does look sweet indeed. With a price $16.58 [£8+] is also a few quid cheaper than the forthcoming Zapper. According to the marketing info you get:

Comfortable single banded trigger grip or combines with dual handed barrel grip
Lock & load
Ergonomically balanced and weighted Blaster control system
Complete-range motion detection for Wii Remote
Maintains natural Wii innovation motion
Made with hard plastics of high quality

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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Greenbox converts carbon emissions into biofuel

A breakthrough technology developed by three engineering lads in Wales could hold the key to converting carbon emissions into beneficial substances such as biodiesel, methane gas, and fertilizer. The cleverly-dubbed Greenbox was designed to be fixed underneath one's vehicle where it could gobble up carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide until the next fill up, at which point the box would be switched out for a new one while the filled canister headed to a bioreactor for processing.

Sounds complicated, we know, but strapping these bad boys beneath every gasoline-powered vehicle in a given nation could boost its biofuel production exponentially -- all without spending another penny (or pence) on research. Unsurprisingly, the trio of inventors are staying mum until they (hopefully) convince the government or a private company to grab ahold, but unless these boxes learn to swap themselves, we can't imagine too many individuals bustin' out the creeper for underbody work at each fuel stop.

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Should Google Buy Yahoo?

Robert Young at Publishing 2.0 argues that Google needs to face facts and finally kick down for Yahoo. Why would Google pay for a second rate search engine and a bunch of Web 1.0 apps?

Because Yahoo has a lot more on the ball than just a bunch of outdated applications, like Yahoo Mail. While Google continues to dominate search, Yahoo has won a significant number of online battles with the search king:

* Yahoo! Mail, which accounts for almost 50% of the free email market, has more than 10 times the market share of Gmail;

* Yahoo! Answers is a major hit… Google Answers failed;

* Yahoo’s Flickr is a runaway hit… far outpacing Google’s Picasa photo site;

* In critical verticals, like finance, Yahoo remains the clear leader despite much effort by Google;

* Both Yahoo! and Google are cozying up to the newspaper industry with their respective efforts. Combine the two efforts and a successful outcome for all parties is almost guaranteed;

* Want to acquire display/brand ad expertise? Forget DoubleClick — Yahoo’s ad sales expertise and relationships with big Madison Ave brands and agencies are far superior. Besides, as long as Google’s going to get scrutinized under federal antitrust regulators, and now Congress, might as well go through all that headache with the promise of a much bigger catch at the end.

In short, Young's argument is that Google's search and AdWords juggernauts would only serve to propel Yahoo's strengths, while pushing Yahoo's inferior search platform out of the picture.

My biggest beef with Young's argument is the threat of regulatory backlash. Right now Google looks like it could face a fight to finalize its deal for DoubleClick. If Google faces this much resistance to buying DoubleClick, how much more friction would a deal for Yahoo create? I think this proposed deal could be the first major acquisition in the last few years to actually face the threat regulatory intervention, which is probably a sign that it makes great business sense.

What do you think? Should Google just buy Yahoo? Or is this deal impossible in the current regulatory and business environments?

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Net criminals shun virus attacks

Hi-tech criminals have found novel ways to carry out web-based attacks that are much harder to spot and stop, warn security experts.

Some cyber criminals have exploited file-sharing networks and popular webpages to attack targets.

The malicious hackers have turned to these methods instead of going to the trouble of hijacking home PCs.

Using these methods the hi-tech criminals have staged some of the biggest attacks security experts have

ever seen.

Attack pattern

For some time the tool of choice for hi-tech criminals has been a botnets of hijacked home PCs.

Botnets are collections of computers under the remote control of a hi-tech criminal.

Botnets are used to relay junk e-mail or spam and as a resource to mine for saleable information such as logins or credit card numbers.

Many botnets are also used to attack other computers in denial of service attacks which try to overwhelm the target server with huge amounts of data.

Computers, usually Windows machines, get enrolled in a botnet when their owners open an e-mail bearing a virus or visit a booby-trapped webpage.

But, said Paul Sop, chief technology officer of security firm Prolexic, some creative criminals have found a way to mount denial of service attacks without hijacking any PCs.

Gambling sites were the first targets of web extortionists
One attack seen by Prolexic in May exploited a popular peer-to-peer or file-sharing network.

Many file-sharing systems use hubs or servers that point people to the right place to download the movies, music and other media they are interested in.

"If a hub was going down for maintenance it would tell people to connect to another one," said Mr Sop.

By exploiting this administrative foible, an attacker was able to bombard a server with traffic from tens of thousands of file-sharers none of whom knew they were taking part in the denial of service attack.

"There's no malware on any of those computers," said Mr Sop which meant the attacks were hard to stop and to defend against.

He added that the file-sharing network attack was one of the biggest and involved gigabits of traffic every second.

Prolexic had also seen attacks that exploit the popularity of a webpage to attack another site or server. On the popular page attackers placed a chunk of Javascript code which told the computers of visitors to bounce data off the target site.

Again, said Mr Sop, no virus or worm was involved but a target site could be saturated with the traffic.

Andre' M. Di Mino, administrator for the Shadowserver Foundation which tracks botnets, said the development was one of many it had seen as malicious hackers sought innovative ways to set up botnets or mount attacks.

"The topologies are varying as we see more P2P and http nets each day," he said. "This is a very growing and troubling trend."

The Shadowserver group had also seen increasing attacks on servers so attackers can booby-trap them to catch out visitors.

"As the servers themselves are compromised, even the most careful end-user is now more vulnerable for infection," he said.

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Weekend Racing Betting Tips

2.20 – This looks a crackerjack of a renewal of this race with last year’s top sprinter Reverence set to take on a good class field. Eric Alston’s charge will have come on a bundle for his run at Sandown where he looked rather gross in the paddock and didn’t really get the give underfoot that served him so well last season. There could well be a chance that he will be withdrawn here, but if Alston does let him take his chance then expect a decent run without perhaps a victory!

However, even on good ground I suspect others will have a better turn of foot. Wi Dud, second in that Esher race is the most obvious alternative and looks sure to run well. I actually thought he looked a bit ‘light’ at Sandown.

As long as he doesn’t miss the break then a big race is on the cards again, but he is hardly well drawn in stall one.

Like Reverence, Bygone Days possibly needs more rain but has not been disgraced on his two outings to date this season and will relish this relative drop in grade, but while the ground is still on the fast side I prefer the claims of ASSERTIVE as long as the ground stays dry.

He hated the going at Royal Ascot and has been aimed at this race ever since and is sure to stay on when others have cried enough.

Baltic King is also a danger on fast ground, while Sonny Red is interestingly dropped back to six furlongs after being far from disgraced behind impressive Jersey winner Tariq.

2.50 – The question is how many more chances can we give Pride of Nation after his dismal failure at Royal Ascot and then Sandown this season. He is still feasibly rated on the best of his form from last year, but maybe his yard and the media have just over rated him.

Whatever the case this looks an easier contest, and as long as there is no sting in the ground he looks sure to go very well.

However, the percentage call is once again to oppose him and the vote, albeit a tentative one in such a competitive event goes to bottom weight HARARE (NAP).

This six-year-old normally operates at a slightly lower level, but one thing we do know, and it is a negative about several of his opponents is that he stays the mile well and acts on fastish ground.

Stall one is hardly a benefit, but he has to be held up off a strong pace so will probably be brought in behind the field to settle and just needs some luck in running to make his presence felt.

Of course there are numerous dangers in such a big field and the likes of Newmarket winner Third Set, one of the few progressive in the field, along with Count Trevisio and Prince of Elegance are feared.

3.25 – A always, Richard Hannon is the man to watch in this event and with each horse’s weight based on their purchase price there are some anomalies in the line-up.

Without a doubt the best ‘handicapped’ horse has to be Cake, only a length and a quarter off Elletelle in the Queen Mary after getting a far from clear run. The winner has of course gone on to run a cracking race in the Cherry Hinton since, so the form looks absolutely rock solid to me.

The negative is obviously the price and at around the 5/2 marker value she is not! FANATICAL was only a length and a half behind in eighth place that day and maybe appeals as an each-way selection. I have to say she is hardly solid to reverse the form, but will be staying on very well (really needs six) and is therefore put up as an each-way alternative.

Cracking and Miss Versatile are others that could fill the frame, but Cake should be hard to beat here and I have only put up the selection as a value alternative.

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South Park’s Warcraft Episode Up For Emmy

Dwarven champions and South Park fans are united in general glee this week after South Park’s ‘Make Love, Not Warcraft’ was nominated for an Emmy TV award.

The hilarious – yet affectionate – send-up of World of Warcraft, its crack-like addiction qualities and the repercussions are brilliantly brought to cartoon life.

If Cartman taking a dump into a bedpan held by his mother because he can’t be arsed [sorry] to stop playing WoW doesn’t bring a tear of mirth to your eye, you’re already dead.

You can watch the whole episode online by going to, clicking on Season 10 and choosing episode 1008. Have a good weekend.

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Saturday, 21 July 2007

Harry Potter Revealed

IN possibly a world record-breaking 4244 words-per-minute, six-time world speed reading champion ANNE JONES has read the final instalment of J.K. Rowling’s monumental, spellbinding epic series.

Taking just 47 minutes 1 second to read the 759-page book Anne delivers the first review of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows since it went on sale at midnight.

So is the seventh instalment worth the wait?

The final showdown between Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, and his arch-enemy Lord Voldemort, He Who Must Not Be Named, is a classic good-versus-evil tale on a par with Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy.The book is very dark — right from the start there is fighting. In the opening chapter, we are faced not with Harry and the gang, but to Voldemort massing his forces, so you know trouble is afoot.The first scene of action and danger is gripping, where 15 of the good guys are in mortal danger.Well-known characters start falling left, right and centre - every casualty is heart-rending, so readers will need nerves of steel for this first part.
However, there are some lighter moments too.

There is a lot of background detail delving into Dumbledore’s murky past, with his family members playing a vital part in this finale.

And the Ministry is infiltrated by Voldemort's warriors — bringing to mind Nazi Germany.

Final instalment ... what happens to Harry?The actual confrontation with Voldemort will satisfy fans — it is superb. The plot takes up the mission started by Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where he tries to find and destroy the remaining five Horcruxes, magical items containing Voldemort's lifeforce and the reason why he can't be killed.And in this seventh book, as the title suggests Harry concerns himself with the “Hallows,” which are three magical objects said to make the possessor the Master of Death.As the battle draws closer, Harry's turmoil is heightened as he has to make a tough decision which could affect the outcome of the battle - should he follow the path of the Hallows or the Horcruxes?Readers are kept on the edge of their seats.

There are many surprises, one of the biggest being Snape, who it would seem is working for Voldemort but then saves the day by giving Harry crucial information. But does he live or die as a consequence?

Harry's best friends Ron and Hermione prove to be formidable foes to Voldemort's army but is there any truth to internet rumours that one of them meets their demise at his hands?

The book, in parts, is frightening but when all is said and done, J.K. Rowling has left an ending fans will be very happy with.

The final chapter fast forwards 19 years to the future and is an epilogue of what happens to the main characters.

Without being too critical, the plot does seem to be a bit complicated — but I would not change a word.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is a real page-turner (literally).

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