Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials, A First Look

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Microsoft has officially made good and released their free Anti-Virus/Spyware/Other Malware codenamed Morrow. Released as Microsoft Security Essentials protection is very basic, probably to avoid anti-trust cries from vendors of the behemoth security packages such as Symantec and MacAfee.

After uninstalling AVG 8.5 and installing Security Essentials was quicker that I have ever seen a Anti-Virus program install. After a reboot and updating the definition file Security Essentials is working, no other configuration needed. Security Essentials is very light weight so much it even makes AVG look somewhat bloated. On a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 with 1 GB of RAM Windows startup is quicker programs load faster even iTunes loads in about half the time.

In my attempts to bring viruses or other nasties into my computer Security Essentials stopped me everytime. Which is a good sign, given how notorious Windows Live One Care was at missing viruses.

Microsoft Security Essentials promises to be a very good solution for home PC users. It just maybe what the makers of the bloated security suites may need to get their acts together or it just may make them cry 'unfair dumping' to the feds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

False Advertising Comes From SaskTel

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One of the most deceptive things about how cell phone service is offered in Canada is what prices that rate plans cost, pile up the extra fees and that 25 dollar a month plan is more like 40 dollars. Now a cell carrier has gone from questionable advertising to deceptive false advertising. SaskTel in attempt to prop up their struggling prepaid service has put out their latest saturation advertising blitz promoting their prepaid cell service as having no hidden fees, but looking closer reveals that SaskTel still charges the 59 cent per month "911 fee" on prepaid service, which makes their claim that their prepaid service has "No Hidden Fees" a straight out lie.

It's rather fitting that it's the "911 fee" that they choose to keep, since it's the most deceptive fee that telcos charge. Funding for 911 service in just about every community comes from municipal taxes, not this bogus fee that comes attached to every cellular and wireline telephone account.

On the Prepaid cell service home page repeats the "No Hidden Fees" claim but looking on the pages for the various prepaid plans shows the "911 fee" will be applied to all prepaid accounts. If there is any truth in advertising legislation that any teeth left in this country, let's see SaskTel try to explain this one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

iPod Tax Showing Its Ugly Head Again

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In the latest consultation on upcoming copyright legislation representatives from the recording industry and the Canadian Private Copying Collective told the government panel that a levy on iPods and other portable media players is needed. This comes despite the levy that they advocate was enacted in 2003 and struck down by Canadian courts in 2005. The Recording industry claims that because of portable media players people are not burning as many CD's and the pool of funds created by the current levy of 29 cents per CD-R will dry up is the levy isn't put back on to portable media players.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective has made applications to the Copyright Board to raise the CD levy as high as 54 cents per CD-R, enact levies on flash memory products and hard drives. Those applications were rejected by the Copyright Board. Since the inception of the CPCC in 1999 about 180 million from the CD levies have been collected but only 130 million dollars have been distributed to musicians, songwriters and other rights holders.

Why does an agency that is currently holding 50 million dollars in their own pocket should collect levies on portable media players? How much of the levy on portable media players will just sit in the bank account of the CPCC? Most people with iPod are buying their music on iTunes, this kind of double dipping on the part of the Big Music cannot be allowed to proceed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Microsoft Plans to Offer Windows 7 Students For Cheap

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For many years Microsoft has offered a reduced version of Office to students for a much lower price than the full versions of Office that Microsoft offers. Microsoft has announced that a similar student discount offer on operating systems when Windows 7 arrives in October. Instead of a reduced version at a reduced price, Microsoft will be selling the full version of Windows 7 Home Premium but the purchasers will have to provide proof that they are qualified college/university students. For 30 dollars students will get to directly download Windows 7 and burn their own installation DVD.

On the surface Microsoft makes the discount program as a way of providing cash strapped students a cheap way to get away from Windows Vista, but then again Microsoft chose a date to ship Windows 7 that's about month after college and university students hit the books for another year. Microsoft, more than any other software publisher knows how much software piracy happens on college and university campuses. Many of the hacks to circumvent the Digital Rights Management that Microsoft has built in to prevent piracy of the Windows operating system such as Product Activation and Windows Genuine Advantage came from computer science students.

Rock bottom academic pricing on operating system software has worked well for Apple in the past, somethine tells me that it won't work so well for Microsoft.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Motorola Cliq, Coming To Canada On Rogers, As Expected

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Just days after Motorola announced the launch of their new smartphone called the Cliq running Google's Android operating system based on the prototype code named 'Morrison' word comes from Rogers Wireless that they will be launching the Cliq on their network in early 2010. This comes as very little surprise that Rogers would pick up Motorola's Andorid phone and launch it about the time that competing GSM carriers are due to launch in Canada.

Many are wondering why the prototype CDMA models were left out of Motorola's announcement on the 10th, both the 'Sholes' and 'Calgary' prototypes carry the Verizon logo, It makes one wonder if a deal with a Canadian carrier will be coming right after the official launch announcements that are expected in October. Android based smartphones are exactly what Telus would need to gain market share in Ontario and Eastern Canada it would be foolish to bet that Telus would not get an Android based phone from Motorola or some other vendor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gears Of War 3 to Support Project Natal

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According to an anonymous sources inside Epic Games stated that work is in progress to support Microsoft's new motion capture camera called 'Project Natal' in the upcoming Gears of War 3. Gears 3 is expected to be released towards the end of 2010 which is when the Project Natal camera is expected to hit store shelves.

To play the third and final installment in the Gears of War trilogy players make a gun with their right hand with their forefinger pointing forward and thumb pointing upward. When the enemy is in the sight players yell 'bang' to shoot. To reload just rest the "handgun" up against the forehead. The rest of the actions have yet to determined according to the source.

This is your weapon, This is your gun in Gears of War 3
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Google Android To Coming To CDMA

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Google's Android the operating system for smartphones that is often considered to be the closest challenger to Apple's iPhone has been struggling for support from handset manufacturers and cellular carriers is finally expanding from it's current homes, T-Mobile in the US and Rogers Wireless in Canada. HTC currently the only manufacturer currently shipping handsets with Android installed is launching the first Android based smartphone on a CDMA network when model called the HTC Hero launches on Sprint in October.

Google's Android will also be available on smartphones other than those offered by HTC for the first time. September 10th Motorola will be announcing Android based smartphones, one phone code named 'Morrison' that will run on the T-Mobile network. The other Android phone is code named 'Sholes' which will be running on Verizon's network.

Now the question for Canadian CDMA subscribers is which Android phone on which network? The trend is that Sprint phones usually get picked up by Bell and Verizon phones are picked up by Telus. If that trend holds, the HTC Hero will be on Bell and the Motorola Sholes will be available on Telus. It could very well be that Bell will pass on Google Android in order to protect their Palm Pre sales. Of course if Sprint was so worried about cannibalizing their Palm Pre sales they wouldn't be carrying the Hero. Of course I predicted that Rogers was going to pass on Android to protect the iPhone, and that didn't happen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is the PS3 The Next Super Nintendo?

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In a previous blog entry I made a comparison between Sony's Playstation 3 and the demise of Sega's console business. Since then Sony has brought out a new PS3 at a lower price in an effort to reclaim some of the market share that they have lost in few years since introducing the PS3. Such a turn around hasn't been seen Nintendo clawed back from the brink to beat the Sega Genesis back in the mid 1990's just before the 16 bit era gave way to the 32 bit era.

Back in 1989 Sega introduced the Genesis to replace the Master System that was so badly beaten by the original NES during the 8 bit console war. Sega's 16 bit system started off slowly but eventually gained market share. By the end of 1990 Nintendo still didn't have a 16 bit system on the market and video game industry observers at the time were starting to predict the end of Nintendo within a year and a half.

Nintendo brought out the Super Nintendo just before the end of 1991, but by then the Genesis was cheaper, had more games and had so much more market share, similar to the current era in console gaming, The Xbox 360 had a one year head start, the 360 is cheaper, and has more games. Nindendo got their game back making deals with game publishers to get exclusive games on Super Nintendo and some games that would have Genesis exclusives became multiplatform. In 1994 Nintendo brought out a mass marketing campaign along with a price cut. By the end of the 16 bit console war a year later Nintendo dominated selling 49 million Super Nintendos in just 4 years by comparison Sega sold 29 million Genesis consoles in the six years it was on the market.

Sony's price cut is seen by many as the first step towards turning the tide in it's war against Microsoft. Sony has made head way with game developers in getting more games for the Playstation 3. Saint's Row launched in 2006 as an exclusive for the Xbox 360, The sequel which hit store shelves three years later is multiplatform. Bioshock another 360 exclusive hit store shelves in 2007. A year a version of Bioshock for the Playstation 3 arrived in stores. When Bioshock 2 arrives by the end of the year it too will launch on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Game developers are taking advantage of the more advanced technology in the Playstation 3. The recent release Batman: Arkam Asylum has a play as the Joker mode which is absent from the Xbox 360 version. The reason for this is because of the greater storage capacity of the BluRay media used by the Playstation 3. The Dual Layer DVD media used on the Xbox 360 is showing it's age, The game Star Ocean: The Last Hope required 3 DVD disks, and the upcoming Forza Motorsport will be coming on two disks.

Super Nintendo proved that a console maker can pull itself from the brink of extinction speculated by industry analysts to win a console war. Sony has been seen as a dark horse in the race but definitely not one that should not be bet against. Microsoft may have been able to use the library of games available on the 360 to attract gamers, then use this massive installed base to sway game developers, but these advantages are quickly disappearing. This is what will make a comeback for Sony more and more certain.

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