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Netflix launches ISP Speed Index, shows data about various ISPs

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 12:07 am

Netflix has launched a new tool to show what ISPs are best for streaming. Using data collected from its global userbase, Netflix is in a unique position to show which ISPs offer the best streaming speeds...and which offer the worst. The tool shows the data in many different formats, including the chart seen below:




The default tool page shows a quick overview of numerous different countries. The fastest, slowest, and average streaming speed are displayed. Users can then dive into individual country's results and graph how they change over a period of time. The data currently only goes back to November of last year, but the data will be updated each month.


If you want to check out the index for yourself, head on over to Netflix's ISP Speed Index. Currently Google Fiber is the fastest for the United States and has only gotten faster during the time Netflix has data for. Clearwire is the slowest at just under half the average speed.

Upset that you can't play Donkey Kong as a girl? Now you can!

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 11:35 pm

When your daughter approaches you and asks to play Donkey Kong as a female, what do you do? If you're Mike Mika, you hack the ROM so that your wonderful daughter can play as a princess and save Mario for a change.



"Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline," Mika writes. "I'm using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I've redrawn Mario's frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline."


Mika has even gone so far as to release the ROM to the public so that all the little girls in the world are able to play as Mario's girlfriend Pauline. You can download the ROM from CodeMystics' website.

Continue reading 'Upset that you can't play Donkey Kong as a girl? Now you can!' (full post)

Haswell's USB3.0 bug will require a chipset revision to fix

By: Trace Hagan | More News: CPU, APU & Chipsets | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 11:07 pm

Intel has a bit of a problem on its hands. It's probably not as terrible as the Sandy Bridge SATA controller issue, but it could end up being another costly fix for the chip giant. According to Fudzilla, the problem cannot be fixed by a mere software update. Rather, the chipset will require a new revision to take care of the issue.




The bug isn't too major. If a USB 3.0 port is being used when the system is put to sleep (S3 state), the device will need to be reconnected upon waking the machine. It's nothing more than a slight hassle, but this is the second chipset glitch experienced by Intel in less than a year.


Motherboard vendors are saying that June is still the planned introduction for Haswell, so it looks like the first batch of motherboards could possibly be coming with the buggy chipset. We'll know more as the proposed launch period nears.

SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket takes off and lands safely

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 10:37 pm

SpaceX is working on pioneering the exploration of the next frontier: Space. The private company has already had huge successes, winning the contract to deliver payloads to the International Space Station aboard its rockets. Now the company is working on developing a reusable Grasshopper rocket. You can see the latest test below:



It's not clear when SpaceX will make use of this rocket, as it comes with a somewhat peculiar design. The rocket is designed to take off and land vertically on its metal legs. The rocket has been undergoing testing since September 2012 and this latest test saw the rocket climb to 262.8 feet and hover before landing.


The 100-foot-tall rocket has a good distance to go before making it to space, but it seems to be well on its way. "The US is a country of explorers. People need to believe that [space travel] is not going to bankrupt them," stated Musk at his SXSWi keynote.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket takes off and lands safely' (full post)

Check out this 2005 iPhone prototype

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 10:03 pm

One of the engineers who worked on an early iPhone prototype has sent pictures of the massive device to ArsTechnica. Of course, the engineer has asked to remain nameless out of fear of retribution by Apple, but he sent the pictures nonetheless. Take a look for yourself:




This prototype is quite large. It measures 5 inches by 7 inches and is almost 2 inches thick. It also features a compliment of ports that were never going to be included in the final design. Interestingly enough, "at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be," the source said.


We continue to see leaked pictures of Apple "prototypes" pop up online, though none quite as old as the one pictured above. ArsTechnica has some more pictures and details on the device, so hit up source #1 to see the full story.

Continue reading 'Check out this 2005 iPhone prototype' (full post)

EA issues statement that SimCity servers close to fixed, not quite in the clear yet

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 9:02 pm

Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis, posted on EA's website saying that the problems with the SimCity servers are almost resolved. However, she added that she couldn't give the all-clear signal quite yet. "I'm happy to report that the core problem with getting in and having a great SimCity experience is almost behind us."




I had hoped to issue an "All-Clear" tonight, but there are still some elements coming together. Tonight and tomorrow we'll be monitoring each server and gameplay metrics to ensure that the service remains strong and game is playing great. We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent.


The blog post details that players have already been able to log nearly 8 million hours of gameplay time. This has been the result of optimizing server architecture and response times on new and existing servers. Game crashes have reportedly been decreased by 92 percent since the launch last Tuesday.


We'll be sure to bring you news when EA announces that all problems are resolved. In the meantime, you can check out all of our coverage of SimCity by clicking here.

Angry Birds Toons will be available through Rovio games, select video-on-demand providers, Smart TVs, and TV networks worldwide

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Apps | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 8:33 pm

Rovio has announced that the new Angry Birds Toons show will be available through Rovio games on smartphones and tablets. Not only are they using their wide distribution channel, they will also be making the series available from select video-on-demand channel providers, Smart TVs, and select TV networks around the globe.




The first episode of the series will be launching this upcoming weekend. CEO Mikael Hed said the following:


We've long wanted to tell our fans the story of the Angry Birds and the Bad Piggies, to introduce their personalities and their world in detail. We're delighted to introduce all this through our new channel, with easy and instant access to the stories in the palm of your hand. With over 1.7 billion downloads, we can reach a far wider and more engaged global audience than traditional distribution would allow. Launching the channel, and partnering up with some of the best video-on-demand providers and TV networks, is an important milestone for us on our journey towards becoming a fully fledged entertainment powerhouse.


The show will become available on March 16 via broadcast TV stations and March 17 through Rovio's games and video-on-demand providers. There are currently 52 episodes planned, with a new one being released each week. Fans simply need to update to the latest of any version of the Angry Birds game to unlock the new channel button.

Tomb Raider updated to fix issues with NVIDIA GPUs

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 7:43 pm

Steam posted an announcement that Tomb Raider has been updated. While the update should be automatically applied when the game is next started, you may have to restart the Steam client. This update brings with it fixes for some of the problems that were discovered shortly before launch and immediately after.




This means that users with NVIDIA cards should have fewer issues relating to the game. NVIDIA was forced to make a statement last week after many users experienced less-than-optimal gameplay. The update includes the following fixes:


- Addressed some stability and startup issues on machines that have both Intel and NVIDIA graphics hardware.

- Fix for players being unable to progress related to the boat in the beach area.

- Some fixes for crashes on startup and when selecting Options.

- Some small improvements to TressFX hair rendering.

- Fixes for various graphics glitches, including certain effects not being visible in fullscreen mode.

- Fixed a problem that caused some users to not be able to use exclusive fullscreen.

- Added support for separate mouse/gamepad inversion for aiming, as well as support for x-axis inversion.

- Fixes related to the benchmark scene and benchmark mode.

- Various other small fixes.


In interesting move, a "beta" version has been released on steam that carries the build number 716.5.

Continue reading 'Tomb Raider updated to fix issues with NVIDIA GPUs' (full post)

RumorTT: Motorola X Phone to feature quad-core CPU and 16MP camera

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 6:30 pm

Recently I wrote a news post where Google's CTO alluded to the upcoming Motorola X Phone being something special. Today the website Android World is reporting on leaked specs from the upcoming Googlerola flagship smartphone.




Early rumors speculated of features like flexible screens, ultra HD cameras, and even "revolutionary" software updates, and today we are learning that some of those rumors may not be true. The new information says that the X Phone will feature a 4.7-inch full HD screen, quad-core Tegra 4i processor and a 16MP rear camera.


The device is said to also feature a 5MP front facing camera, Android Key Lime Pie and eye scrolling technology. The whole phone should be slightly larger and thicker than the Droid RAZR MAXX HD. With all the new cutting edge smartphones (HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4) releasing, could the Motorola X Phone arrive too late to the party?

Microsoft offering students six months free of Office 365 University, plus 20GB of SkyDrive storage

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Cloud Computing | Posted: Mar 11, 2013 5:25 pm

Microsoft is launching a campaign to get more students using its Office 365 University cloud service by offering up to six months of service plus 20GB of SkyDrive storage for free.




In addition to the six months free, Microsoft has priced a full four year subscription to Office 365 University at just $80 to any student who has an email address ending in .edu. To further sweeten the deal, students can re-up one time for an additional $80, making an eight year subscription to the service cost a mere $160.



Both offers are designed to get more students using the service, but we are betting that the freebie offer is designed to introduce more students to the SkyDrive service, which is more touchscreen friendly. The campaign was kicked off with a new ad featuring the cast of NBC's Parks and Recreation, which can be seen above.