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Friday, August 19, 2005

Photos: Space station needs help from friends | CNET

Photos: Space station needs help from friends | CNET News.comSpace station needs help from friends

The International Space Station has been in orbit since its construction began in 1998. It may never be completed if NASA shuttle missions experience further delays. The station is 240 feet by 146 feet and 90 feet tall.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

SpotStop.Com > Fossil to Exit SPOT Market, MSN Direct Update

Fossil to Exit SPOT Market, MSN Direct UpdateFossil has made their last MSN Direct watch, at least for the foreseeable future. Coco and Glam were made in a tiny batch and sold to Tiger Direct. However we hear Fossil is no longer going to make new watches and will re-direct their technology efforts after current inventory is sold through. Microsoft has recently pulled the SPOT initiative back into R&D and appears intent on pushing the technology into other products like the weather clocks and integration with the PC and other Microsoft products.

With SPOT going back into the garage for a re-tooling, the hope is that it will emerge with more stability and functionality. Indeed, the commitment from Microsoft over the past several months has been just that, though any improvements are difficult for end users to see. In a recent post in our forums, a Microsoft representative disclosed they have been working on infrastructure improvements to make the network more reliable and efficient in bandwidth usage.

Along with behind the scenes improvements, we're getting renewed enthusiasm for the development of the traffic channel, which has hit a significant development milestone. The weather clocks also appear on target, after that front had been silent since January.

With the exit of Fossil, Microsoft is going to be hard pressed to continue the technology in watches unless a major new player comes into the mix. Suunto and Swatch are good partners, but both have poor product distribution. Almost all SPOT watch purchases need to be made online now, unless you live in a city with a Swatch store.

While the future of SPOT is no more certain than it was a few months ago, the signs seem to indicate that Microsoft is still committed to the platform. The unknown at this point, is which direction it will go.

Apple to intro dual-core PowerMacs, new G4 Powerbooks and a G5 Mac mini? - Engadget -

Apple to intro dual-core PowerMacs, new G4 Powerbooks and a G5 Mac mini? - Engadget - Apple to intro dual-core PowerMacs, new G4 Powerbooks and a G5 Mac mini?

Posted Aug 17, 2005, 8:40 AM ET by Barb Dybwad
Related entries: Desktops, Laptops

A G5 Mac mini would sure make a mighty mini, and that’s what the word on the street predicts, along with the advent of dual-core G5 PowerMacs and a G4 Powerbook bump to be unveiled at the September 20 Apple Expo 2005 in Paris. Analyst Mark Stahlman of Caris & Co. reports they believe the new Powerbook line will see 2GHz speeds and may add high-definition screens (it is the Year of HD, after all). The dual-core PowerMacs are expected to use IBM’s 970 PPC processor and likely come in dual-processor configurations, making 4x CPU Macs or “dual dual” machines. If all this comes to pass, at least Apple will be ringing out its partnership with IBM in style.

Dell satisfaction rating slips, still better than HP, Compaq, Gateway - Engadget -

Dell satisfaction rating slips, still better than HP, Compaq, Gateway - Engadget - www.engadget.comDell satisfaction rating slips, still better than HP, Compaq, Gateway

Posted Aug 17, 2005, 3:30 AM ET by Marc Perton
Related entries: Desktops, Laptops

It hasn’t been a good week for Dell. First, the company’s quarterly earnings were off, and now its customer satisfaction numbers have plummeted as well. According to the latest University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index, Dell’s satisfaction numbers dropped by 6.3% to a level of 74 (out of 100). Of course, it could be worse. Dell’s numbers are still better than HP (73), Gateway (72) and HP’s Compaq brand (67). The leader? Apple, with a rating of 81 — though we assume those numbers would drop if the disgruntled customers caught in the $50 iBook riot were surveyed.

Switched On: The musical mesh for the moneyed - Engadget -

Switched On: The musical mesh for the moneyed - Engadget - www.engadget.comSwitched On: The musical mesh for the moneyed

Posted Aug 17, 2005, 2:50 PM ET by Peter Rojas
Related entries: Features, Home Entertainment

Every Wednesday Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, an opinion column about consumer technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:

Over the past few years, more than 20 products have sought to bridge the gap between the growing libraries of PC-based music and the rest of the home. Most of these have been point solutions that lump music in with photos and videos for delivery from computer “A” to television “B”. Some, like Slim Devices’ SqueezeBox, focus only on music and even come with server software that can serve the same music to multiple devices simultaneously. But the Sonos Digital Music System takes a fundamentally different approach, using a mesh network to deliver music to multiple rooms. Sonos does this using shoebox-sized receivers called ZonePlayers that connect to off-the-bookshelf speakers.

The hallmark of the Sonos system is simplicity. Music can be stored on a PC, Mac, or – since the system doesn’t require any server software — network-attached storage volume. Setup is straightforward, although you may have to do some running back and forth between the hefty (they include an amplifier) white ZonePlayers if you’re doing it alone. Once it is up and running, the Sonos system is surprisingly responsive. Music starts playing instantly, even faster than it would from a local CD that required spin-up time.

The star of the Sonos system is its wireless remote controller, which acts as just another node on the Sonos network. Its illuminated buttons and large color LCD display steals attention from just about anything else on your coffee table while its white scroll wheel steals from something else. Unfortunately, the scroll wheel doesn’t have the same acceleration sensitivity as Apple’s, but it improves upon the iPod’s interface with dedicated volume buttons.

Because the remote is a full peer in the network, you can do anything with it that you can do with the PC or Mac software, including updating the entire system. Indeed, after identifying an update from the remote, the Sonos system downloaded it and in turn seamlessly updated both ZonePlayers in sequence without intervention. This demonstrated Sonos’s hassle-free and network-centric design impressively.

Keeping the control of music close by is a hands-down improvement over the limited LED and TV-based displays of many less-expensive competitors. However, using the remote is a two-handed commitment, queue management is a bit Paleolithic (and by that I don’t mean that it excels with rock music), and the system could do a better job of providing more context around songs in a playlsit.

There are other Sonos “Oh no’s”. Because the company uses a proprietary wireless networking technology, the first ZonePlayer is supposed to be connected to your router or a PC via a wired connection. For those without twisted-pair Ethernet running through their walls, that’s a waste of a $500 component. Sonos could rectify this by creating a less expensive proprietary wireless bridge between the router and other ZonePlayers. While Sonos hosts a Web forum in which to discuss various third-party Ethernet bridges as workarounds, none are officially supported.

Second, the ZonePlayer doesn’t support powered audio. At one time, this would have been a non-issue with the low quality of many multimedia speakers. However, today’s high–end offerings now include such products as Logitech’s 200-watt THX-certified Z-300, which would make a compact companion for a ZonePlayer in many a bedroom. Unfortunately, this is probably the kind of revision that would require upgrading hardware, but Sonos says it is very high on the priority list.

Finally, when it comes to remote controls, one is the orneriest number. Wireless remotes can easily get misplaced or spark family feuds that would frighten Richard Karn more than a visit from the ghost of Ray Combs. Sonos should consider creating stationary remotes that could offer a simplified interface; these could accommodate other family members or provide a backup while the wireless remote was charging.

Despite these Version 1.0 gaps, Sonos’ approach offers many lessons for a flagging home audio market that has lost its midrange support like a broken speaker. At $1,200 for a bundle that includes two ZonePlayers and a wireless remote, it is hardly a budget offering and over time the advantages offered by a proprietary network may be outweighed by liabilities. However, Sonos has executed very well in its first offering with a philosophy and focus that is turning the company’s customers into fans.
Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis at NPD Techworld, a division of market research and analysis provider The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On, however, are his own. Feedback is welcome at

Pocket PC magazine Renamed @ Dave's iPAQ

Pocket PC magazine Renamed @ Dave's iPAQ
Pocket PC magazine Renamed

By David Ciccone, posted 13 hours ago
Reader Comments: 2

Pocket PC is changing its name to Smartphone & Pocket PC starting this November.

The publication, originally launched in 1997 by Thaddeus Computing as Handheld PC Magazine, was created to help users get the most out of Microsoft Windows CE based handheld computers. In 2000 the magazine changed its name to Pocket PC to reflect Microsoft's new direction for Windows CE based handhelds.

Now once again in 2005, because of projections for explosive Smartphone growth, a major market shift has taken place. The newest incarnation of the Windows CE based handheld operating system called Windows Mobile 5 provides PDAs and Smartphones a similar look and functionality. Therefore, starting with the 2006 Buyer’s Guide on newsstands in November, Pocket PC becomes Smartphone & Pocket PC.

Publisher and Executive Editor, Hal Goldstein says “the change of name reflects the evolution of the market and of the Windows Mobile operating system. The new name, Smartphone & Pocket PC, more accurately reflects the editorial content and direction of the magazine. The tagline for Pocket PC was ‘For users of Windows Mobile' Smartphones & PDAs.’ The new tagline for Smartphone & Pocket PC will now simply be ‘For users of Windows Mobile'’.”

Published bi-monthly, Smartphone & Pocket PC and its bonus Buyer’s Guide will continue to focus on all things Windows Mobile. Editorial includes device and software reviews, tips and how-tos, profiles of individual users, and an Enterprise section focused on business solutions. will continue to compliment the magazine with its reference library of past magazine articles, a 3500 product Encyclopedia of Software and Accessories, active support forums, and regularly updated links to the best Windows Mobile sites.

Jason Langridge's WebLog - MR Mobile! : Universal (ly acclaimed)

Jason Langridge's WebLog - MR Mobile! : Universal (ly acclaimed)
Universal (ly acclaimed)

Well I promised it… I've had lots of email on the theme of 'lucky devil' as I declared I'd got an HTC universal device. I wanted to share my initial thoughts on the device and my experiences over the last few days. I'll focus on the Universal as a Phone/Data device initially and expand over the coming days….

Form Factor and Device Build

The Universal is a BIG device - no question. I've referred to it with colleagues as re-assuringly big! It is however packed with features and technology.

The Combination of the VGA Screen, Wifi and 3G make it unique in the Market for Windows Mobile devices. I have found myself spending a lot of time browsing the web marvelling at the gorgeous screen which seems to render web pages (especially with Windows Mobile 5.0) incredibly well.

The swivel screen like a Tablet PC allows you to close the screen and protect it when it isn't in use and also is really handy if like me you listen to music on the device as you can close the screen preserving battery life whilst also allowing the Music to play on! The screen also switches neatly between landscape and portrait which is great for Word Documents and Spreadsheets alike.

The device has an SD card slot (which currently holds my 1GB card full of apps and music) . It also has a mini-usb sync/charge slot which allows me to charge the device from my laptop and also use a small usb charger cord. The Headphone socket is at last 3.5mm which means I can use my decent headphones to listen to music!

With the Soft keys and Windows Mobile 5.0 I've found myself pulling out the stylus much less frequently and actually driving the whole UI with my finger.

It is a really well built device and feels very solid.


The Keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard and has keys for commonly used items such as making calls, Internet Explorer, Email and Contacts. The Keyboard interestingly can either be used whilst holding in your hand or placing it onto a hard surface. It reminds me of my old Psion 5 (which I loved!)

I've been responding to emails pretty rapidly and even drafting this blog entry on the device so it's certainly good for long documents, emails or instant messenger conversations.

Battery Life

My tests are completely unscientific and I'll leave those to other people. My tests are simple:

1) Does it last all day for all my voice calls, email access and other activities.

2) Will it last all weekend without a charge.

3) Will I leave the power charger at home.

The Universal passes all three of my tests. I haven't yet seen the battery low warning even after a long day of customer and conference calls. With persistent storage (in Windows Mobile 5.0) means I can run the battery and I don't event take the power charger because ultimately if it does run out…. Who cares! I won't lose my data! [:)]


The Phone application in Windows Mobile 5.0 is much improved and I've been using the Universal device with a BT headset which paired simply - it also paired seamlessly with my BMW Bluetooth Car Kit - something which challenges many mobile devices today.

The large size of the device means I do prefer using the Bluetooth headset much more than holding the device up - it's not a problem - just for long calls it is quite heavy. The bundled headset is also an option but I prefer to confuse people by wandering the corridors talking to myself (with my BT headset hidden in my ear)


What is ultimately the coolest feature is simultaneous 3G and Voice capability - that is I can use my Universal as a 3G data modem whilst also talking on the telephone.

A little U for UMTS appears on the connectivity icon which tells me I have 3G data capability when it's available - browsing the Web whilst mobile with 3G is superb. The Universal is switching between 3G and GPRS seamlessly and I've yet to experience an issue.

WiFi connectivity is also enhanced in Windows Mobile 5.0 so I can really easily connect to both corporate and my home network and synchronise email as well as browse the Internet and Intranet.

Conclusions so far…..

So that's where I am so far with my usage/testing. When I met with Guy Kewney ( ) recently he shared with me his one rule of Mobile which is (and I paraphrase) - if a device/technology is really useful/amazing…. Then you won't leave home without it. If it isn't in your bag or on you… it doesn't count.

So far the Universal hasn't left my side.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ABC News: Computer Virus Hits U.S Media Outlets

ABC News: Computer Virus Hits U.S Media OutletsComputer Virus Hits U.S Media Outlets

Aug. 16, 2005 - An unidentified software virus was being blamed for computer system outages on Tuesday at ABC News, CNN and The New York Times, as computer security companies tried to pin down the cause of the disruption.

CNN, breaking into regular programming, reported on air that personal computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system at the cable news network were affected by a worm that caused them to restart repeatedly.

Over the last week, Microsoft and security companies warned of a new worm, called "Zotob", that could allow an attacker to access PCs by exploiting a recently discovered flaw in Windows 2000.

But security software company McAfee Inc. and Microsoft said that they did not see any heightened activity from Zotob or any indication that the worm caused outages at U.S. media outlets on Tuesday.

The New York Times said it had faced internal systems computer outages earlier in the day.

"We just don't have a lot of details," said Catherine Mathis, spokeswoman for the New York Times Co. "It was earlier today. We're fully operational and we don't expect (the outage) to affect the production of the paper."

Officials at ABC News also reported system outages.

"We haven't seen any huge uptick or impact today," said a spokeswoman with Microsoft's security unit, "a fairly small number of customers are being impacted."

McAfee, the world's second largest security software maker, said that it is investigating whether there was a new worm or virus circulating on the Internet.

"Globally, it doesn't look like there is anything going on," said Lysa Myers, an engineer at McAfee's anti-virus emergency response group.

Myers said that the company had no indication that any Internet virus was wreaking havoc around the world and that apparent problems at television networks like CNN could be something more specific to their networks.

CNN , a division of Time Warner Inc., said that computer systems at General Electric Co., United Parcel Service Inc. and Caterpillar Inc. were affected by system outages as well.

A GE spokesman said that there appeared to be no problems with GE's internal network, while UPS said that only a small number of its computers were affected by a worm or system outage.

"There is no impact whatsoever on operations, customer-facing computer systems, service or delivery," said UPS spokesman Norman Black.

Caterpillar officials were not immediately available for comment.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Brother MFC-420cn review by PC Magazine

Brother MFC-420cn review by PC Magazine
Multi-function Printers

Brother MFC-420cn
REVIEW DATE: 08.12.05

By M. David Stone

If you don't print, copy, or fax enough in your home or small office to justify an expensive, full-function all-in-one (AIO), but you want one with an automatic document feeder (ADF), standalone fax and copier features, and a network connector, take a look at the Brother MFC-420cn. For just $150 (street), the 420cn will give you all this and more, including the ability to print photos directly from memory cards and to scan to and fax from your PC over a network. (If you don't need the ADF or network connection, check out the MFC-210c, which is otherwise essentially identical.)

The 420cn's combination of features and compact design—at 6.5 by 15.3 by 17.8 inches (HWD)—makes it a good fit for most home and small offices. One potential issue, however, is the limited paper handling (only a 100-sheet capacity maximum). If you print and copy more than about 30 pages per day, continually refilling the tray can turn into an annoying chore. Similarly, the ADF holds only about 10 pages. That limit could also become annoying if you often need to copy or fax longer documents.

Setup is typical for an ink jet–based AIO, with a separate ink cartridge for each of the four colors. More important, network setup is fully automated; tell the setup routine that the printer is on the network and it handles everything for you.

We rated the output quality for text and graphics as good, which in both cases is at the low end of the midrange for ink jets in general. Text is acceptable for most purposes but may be a problem for documents using small type or unusual fonts. More than half our test fonts were easily readable at 5 points and below, but two highly stylized fonts needed 12 points.

Graphics were a mixed bag. Most of the individual graphics pages were very good or excellent. On full-page graphics, however, we saw light bands where the ink simply didn't cover the area fully. The bands were most obvious on two images with dark backgrounds, but a close look showed the same problem on other pages as well. Graphics overall are good enough for internal business use, but the occasional severe banding on a dark background makes them unsuitable for handing out to anyone you want to impress with your professionalism.

Photos earned a rating at the high end of very good, just missing out on excellent. The only issue worth mentioning is that some similar colors blended into each other instead of standing out as different colors.

Performance is the 420cn's most notable weakness. The total time on our business applications suite was 48 minutes 22 seconds, compared with, for example, 21:13 for the Lexmark X3350. For photos, the average time for a 4-by-6 was well over 9 minutes. Even so, performance for most of our test files was in the tolerable range, with a 12-page text file, for example, printing in 4:04.

Call this the wrong AIO for the impatient. But if you print only a few pages a day, you probably won't mind the speed. And, as of this writing at least, you won't find another AIO with this many features at anything like this price.