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China to get its own official Linux distro called 'Kylin'

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Operating Systems | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 5:27 pm

China is notorious for trying to control every aspect of its citizen's computing lives. It regularly blocks websites, restricts software and cuts internet connection from its people. Surprisingly even with all of that control, the Chinese government seemingly loves Linux.

 

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Most of you will be surprised to hear that China has had open source "Software Promotion Union" since 2004 and the union is teaming up with Canonical to create a better Linux distro just for China. Dubbed Kylin, this version of Linux is designed to replace "Red Flag", the current "Chinese only" Linux based OS.

 

Kylin will support Chinese characters and will link up with Chinese web services for banking, music streaming and local mapping. Reports have us seeing an official release of the distro as early as April. With Ubuntu Founder Mark Shuttleworth heading up the Software Promotion Union, we expect that estimate to be fairly accurate.

More issues arise for EA as security holes are found in Battlefield Play4Free

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 4:26 pm

Whether you love or hate EA, you kind of have to feel sorry for them at this point. After what could be described as one of the worst launches in history, the hits just keep coming for the company behind the Need for Speed, SimCity and Battlefield franchises.

 

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This time the bad news comes out of EA's Battlefield spin-off, Battlefield Play4Free. At the Black Hat security conference last week, crackers demonstrated a proof-of-concept exploit that would allow attackers to execute and run malicious code on systems running Windows XP and Battlefield Play4Free.

 

According to the report, a webpage is used in the exploit, and opens the game on a victim's computer, which it then instructs it to load a malicious "MOD" file used to customize game settings and features. With games that charge for "perks", this malicious software could possibly steal a user's payment information, or hijack the users account altogether. EA is said to be investigating the hole, but no word has been released on a patch.

Facebook to launch VoIP Calling to its Messenger iOS app today for United Kingdom residents

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 3:23 pm

US and Canadian users of Facebook's Messenger App for iOS have had the privilege of VoIP calling since January, but UK users have been left in the dark, while testing was conducted. Today all of that changes as Facebook has released VoIP Calling for Messenger to its UK users.

 

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"From today, VOIP calling for Facebook Messenger on iOS will go live in the UK. This means that you can call friends in Facebook Messenger for free by tapping the 'I' button in an individual conversation and then tapping 'Free Call'."

 

Facebook is said to have begun the world wide VoIP rollout to compete with services such as What's App, IMO, and iCall which see billions of messages and calls sent a day.

Continue reading 'Facebook to launch VoIP Calling to its Messenger iOS app today for United Kingdom residents' (full post)

Sony opens up its high-end Xperia ZL smartphone for pre-order in the US

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 2:15 pm

Another week and another new smartphone for everyone to lust over! This morning Sony announced that its high-end flagship Xperia ZL was now available in the US for pre-order. Unlike most other flagship phones we have covered in the last few months, the Xperia ZL is not attached to any specific carriers and pre-orders go straight through Sony.

 

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The 5-inch class smartphone features Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and sports a 1920x1080 display that is powered by Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2 Technology. A 13-megapixel Exmor RD sensor handles the photographic duties while a smaller front facing camera handles all of your video chatting wants and needs.

 

A 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro powers this beast, while 2GB of RAM keeps things running nice and smooth. Also featured is NFC technology, and a high capacity battery that provides up to 10 hours of talk time and a reported 500 hours of standby time. The unlocked phone is available in both LTE and HSPA+ versions and can be pre-ordered from Sony for $759.99 and $719.99 respectively.

FCC Commissioner calls net neutrality the agency's biggest failure

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 1:20 pm

Last week FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell announced that he would be stepping down from his seat at the FCC. McDowell was one of the biggest opponents to the Net Neutrality rules that were adopted by the FCC in 2010.

 

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In 2010 the FCC approved net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service providers from blocking lawful traffic and banning discrimination against competitive services running over the ISP's networks. This was seen as a major win for internet lovers across the nation.

 

The controversy came when Wireless carriers were deemed to not be subject to those rules. McDowell opposed the net neutrality rules stating "I just think it was needlessly disruptive and a diversion of FCC resources." When asked to elaborate, McDowell had the following to say:

 

First of all, I've been a strong advocate for a free and open Internet. What I opposed really focused on, first of all, there is no market failure that needed to be addressed. Second, the FCC did not have the statutory authority to do what it did. Third, if there had been a problem there were laws already on the books that would have addressed the problem.

 

There wasn't a problem before the rules and there's not a problem with any danger of a closed Internet in this country after the rules. For those who think the rules have preserved an open Internet, that's sort of like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

Steve Kondik, the founder of CyanogenMod departs from Samsung, takes a jab at TouchWiz on his way out

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 12:29 pm

Less than two years after being scooped up by Samsung, CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik has left the company and his role as software engineer behind him. His reason for departure is that he "just decided to try something new."

 

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Despite his departure, Kondik seems to be a big fan of Samsung's latest flagship, the Galaxy S4. He says that the new Galaxy "blows the competition out of the water" and that its specifications are second to none. The new TouchWiz interface, however, is another story. Kondik says that it "feels like it has been sent a few years back in time to the Froyo days."

 

Kondik leaves Samsung on good terms and he stated in a blog post that he might even have another position already lined up. He said to his readers "ask me in a couple of months." Where ever Steve lands, we wish him the best of luck and cannot wait to see the awesome new things he does with CyanogenMod.

Windows Blue build 9364 leaks out, multiple Live Tile sizes, same-width side-by-side apps on offer

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Operating Systems | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 9:09 am

The latest leaked build of Windows Blue has floated out and onto the Internet, with build 9364 of the upcoming updated OS is available in both 32- and 64-bit, and will set you back around 2.63GB as an ISO file.

 

 

This is of course a leaked build, nothing official, so it's only available from the usual file-sharing websites. The latest build shows off some updated larger and smaller Live Tiles, some more Start screen customization as well as updated side-by-side app view which helps multi-tasking quite a bit as you can now display two applications with matching width.

 

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There are some other things included with build 9364, such as a Play option under the Devices panel, a screenshot button on the Share sidebar, as well as Internet Explore 11 which comes included with Windows Blue.

Drones in NYC soon? Mayor Bloomberg says 'get used to it'

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Drones | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 8:19 am

The US skies will be filled with drones in the coming decade (or less at this rate) but it looks like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks that privacy concerns should be pushed to the side. During a radio interview last week, Mayor Bloomberg essentially said that drones are an inevitable part of our future, comparing them to the thousands of cameras around Manhattan already in place. He said:

 

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What's the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? We're going into a different world, uncharted... you can't keep the tide from coming in.

 

Bloomberg continued, saying that our future will see more visibility and less privacy for citizens. Face recognition will be integrated into drone surveillance, where he wondered if a drone is that much more invasive than someone standing outside of your house. Bloomberg did tack on that legislation is needed, but warned against hasty action, saying "these are long-term, serious problems."

Dell receives two or more offers before deal deadline reaches

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 7:13 am

If you thought Dell would just fly off into the night and go public without anyone else bidding, well, you were wrong. The Blackstone Group submitted a preliminary offer before the original deal deadline on Saturday for Dell to go private for $24.4 billion.

 

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Under the terms of the "go shop" clause in the agreement, it allowed Dell to seek other suitors. A second offer was received by investor Carl Icahn who purchased a bunch of shares a couple of weeks ago. There's no concrete details on Blackstone's deal, but they are offering between $13.65 and $15 per share in a deal that will see shareholder participation. Blackstone have invited GE Capital and others in order to help them out with financing the deal.

 

Icahn have previously demanded Dell pay $15.7 billion in special dividends above the buyout price or risk a proxy fight. Icahn's proposed dividend of $9 per share sees a 67% premium to existing shareholders over the current $13.65 offer that is currently at play with the buyout from Michael Dell, Microsoft and investment company Silver Lake.

Lawmakers don't want you to be a glasshole and wear Google Glass on the road

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Wearable Computing | Posted: Mar 25, 2013 6:07 am

Google Glass isn't even here yet and we're already seeing lawmakers make their movies. West Virginia lawmakers are trying to push in a new bill that would make it illegal to drive while "using a wearable computer with head mounted display."

 

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The news comes from CNET, from a piece by Chris Matyszczyk, where he received an e-mail from Gary G. Howell, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature. The e-mail read "your article on Google Glass prompted this bill." Matyszczyk asked Howell how this had all of the sudden transpired, but Howell isn't totally against Glass, telling Matyszczyk:

 

I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension.

Continue reading 'Lawmakers don't want you to be a glasshole and wear Google Glass on the road' (full post)

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