Google releases open-source WebM web based video format

Steve Dougherty | Software & Apps | May 20, 2010 4:30 AM CDT

After acquiring On2 in the second half of last year, maker of the VP8 video codec, Googles plans were to open-source this codec eventually and they've done just that today with an official launch.

Google has announced the VP8 codec as part of a new format it calls WebM, which is a container (based on Matroska) that includes both VP8 video and Ogg Vorbis audio streams.

The format has been designed so that it'll run well on low-power devices like netbooks, tablets and handhelds; it'll also be an option for YouTube playback which will push the adoption rate much faster. H.264 patent licensing issues aren't of concern with this as WebM is open-source and licensed royalty free under a BSD-style license.

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Official Twitter app for iPhone released

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | May 19, 2010 4:40 PM CDT

Twitter has been a popular application for a while now both for those sitting at a computer or on the go. Until now, there has been no official app released by Twitter for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users. This has been changed as Twitter has officially released a Twitter app that can be downloaded for free from the iTunes App Store.

The mobile team at Twitter has put in quite a bit of work making this app easy to use on the device and you do not even need a Twitter account to use the app. Functions include checking out Top Tweets, finding popular users, and locating tweets by geographic region are included as well as a streamlined signup process to get your own account started on Twitter.

As someone who has only recently jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, I found myself surprised that this is something that is only now coming to fruition, as seeing people tweeting from their mobile devices is becoming pretty standard fare these days with the popularity of the site. Twitter's user experience analyzers obviously found this out as users have been clamoring for this for a while now and now that it's here, Apple and Twitter fans can rejoice and tweet on!

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PowerColor putting finishing touches on Eyefinity12 HD 5970

Steve Dougherty | Video Cards & GPUs | May 19, 2010 6:35 AM CDT

Remember that modified HD 5970 from Power Color we first heard about back in April which gave not six, not eight, not even 10, but 12 mini-Display ports for 'Eyefinity12' lovin' ? - A bunch of new images released from PowerColor themselves today let us know it's definitely a reality and is coming to market very soon; most likely being prepared for launch during Computex early next month.

These new pictures show the card for the first time with its cooler assembly mounted and a large and proud "12" stickered on it, of which it deserves to scream out loudly and proudly given its the first of its kind to give this level of extended multi-monitor support.

In confirming its specs, being based on the HD 5970 it uses a couple Cypress 40nm GPUs and features a 2x256-bit memory interface with 4GB of GDDR5 memory onboard. In order to give enough room for all the connections on the I/O as well as providing an exhaust for heat buildup, the card will take up three slots. However, if you won't initially be using more than six monitors, PowerColor has designed this monstrous card so that you can easily remove the daughter board with the other six mini-DisplayPorts on it.

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ASUS ENGTX465/2DI/1GD5 sighted

Steve Dougherty | Video Cards & GPUs | May 19, 2010 4:49 AM CDT

The third and cheapest member of the GTX 400 series of top-end graphics cards from NVIDIA is launching when Computex gets underway; that being the GTX 465.

The first images of a final retail version of the card have leaked out from ASUS, including a box shot and also confirmation of specs. NVIDIA were quick to have the information and images pulled by the source, but thankfully other sites got hold of the good stuff before this occured.

Being one of the first GTX 465's out of the gate, the ENGTX465/2DI/1GD5 is of course a referenced designed card. It uses a quiet carbon fibre theme with a basic ASUS logo stamped on it. The card is said to be about 10 inches long, which would make it slightly longer than the GTX 470 which seems a bit odd, but it may use a different circuit board. Time will give the answer on that one.

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KeySonic launches another HTPC friendly wireless keyboard w/ trackball

Steve Dougherty | Peripherals | May 19, 2010 3:54 AM CDT

PC peripheral maker KeySonic has just added the KSK-5200 RFM wireless keyboard into its lineup this week which will attract many HTPC owners looking for a compact keyboard/mouse solution in the lounge.

This unit includes a scroll wheel and couple mouse buttons on the left, whilst on the right is a trackball, doing away with the need for a separate mouse.

Measurements of the keyboard come in at a tidy 388 x 42 x 185 mm, quite a good size considering the additional mouse functions on the sides. KeySonic has also implemented its SoftTouch membrane technology to give silent strokes on all keys. There are 12 hotkeys on the keyboard for multimedia and internet related tasks. It uses 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, working at a range of up to 10 metres and requires four AA sized batteries.

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New HD 5670 cards coming with more stream processors

Steve Dougherty | Video Cards & GPUs | May 19, 2010 2:28 AM CDT

A chinese website has leaked details of a significantly revised version of AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics card coming out very soon. Whilst existing HD 5670's are based on the 40nm redwood core, the new ones will use the larger Juniper core that is used on the faster HD 5750 and HD 5770 cards. It's anyones guess at this stage as to why AMD felt the need to do this to an existing model in its HD 5000 series lineup rather than making it a separate SKU. Too many defective Juniper cores, perhaps?

Juniper gives up to 800 stream processors, but these will be cut back to 640 for the new HD 5670s. That's still a good jump on the 400 available in the redwood core, though. The memory and its interface will remain unchanged; 128-bit GDDR5 running at 4GHz effective, whilst the core will be clocked in at 750MHz. Pricing is expected to stay at the same level; around $90 for the 512MB variant and $110 for the 1GB model.

As seen above, chinese website Inpai.com has pics of both Sapphire and PowerColor versions of the new Juniper powered HD 5670s and they look much the same as their Radeon HD 5700 series models.

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Visa introduces case that turns iPhone into credit card

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | May 18, 2010 9:57 PM CDT

Visa and DeviceFidelity originally announced a couple of weeks ago that they were partnering up to build an iPhone case that would allow the iPhone to be used as a credit card at retailers that support no-swipe payment systems. This release was quickly pulled, but has resurfaced and been made official with pictures and an official release.

DeviceFidelity released a near field communications chip last year that was put into a micro-SD card that could be used in compatible phones to let them act as contactless credit cards. Unfortunately, there are no current iPhones with microSD slots. The new case, named "In2Pay", plugs into the dock connector at the bottom of the iPhone and provides the power and interface for DeviceFidelity's microSD card and the communications chip. Connect the case, download the corresponding app, and you're paying with just a wave of your phone.

This is an interesting development that expands your iPhone's usefulness. I wonder if this paves the way for other microSD cards to transfer other types of files and storage to the iPhone. It seems a logical step and not out of the realm of possibility. The case seems slick and small enough to keep on your phone all the time and not just during a shopping spree. Support is only for Visa cards at this time, so don't throw away your Mastercards or American Express just yet.

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Android 2.2 update to end with a link to Flash enabled sites

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | May 18, 2010 8:05 PM CDT

Android users everywhere are pretty fired up about all of the capabilities being brought to their phones with the "Froyo" update, Android 2.2. Speedier performance, WiFi hotspot capabilities, and tethering are just the tip of the iceberg. Now it is being reported that Android is taking a direct shot at Apple's list of "iPad optimized" (read: Adobe Flash-free) sites with a link to an Adobe Mobile website after the upgrade is completed.

This link is said to take Android users to a page that gives an option to either receive a full list of sites that are Flash 10.1 enabled or visit the Adobe site to receive Flash products. The list of sites is already live for the Droid and Nexus One products and seem to change according to the device that is being used, which is a bit odd but may change in the future after 2.2 is officially launched.

Flash capability is obviously something that Android is banking on to increase their market share over Apple products. With Adobe and Google working together to connect Flash with all of their products including their Chrome browser and upcoming Chrome OS, lines seem to be drawn in the sand in the mobile device wars between these two heavyweights.

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Microsoft polishes off Office 2010 with GPU acceleration abilities

Steve Dougherty | Software & Apps | May 18, 2010 10:24 AM CDT

GPU acceleration is one of the biggest talks of the town when focusing on ways to go beyond the limitations of older, traditional computational methods and we're seeing it being harnessed in more and exciting ways as time goes on.

One of the biggest software makers of all, Microsoft is now taking it on for use in their latest Office 2010 product suite with the help of AMD and their supporting Radeon HD 3000, 4000 and 5000 series graphics cards. PowerPoint users in particular will be able to benefit in several ways if running one of these graphics cards in their system. But there's also many other new capabilities and benefits across the board when making use of graphics acceleration versus earlier Office releases.

AMD Product Manager, Andrew Dodd has constructed a blog posting that explains many reasons why GPU acceleration in MS' Office is something to really get excited about if you're a regular Office user (and there's so many of us that are). Here's an extract of some of the new features in Office 2010 that will be able to make good use of GPU acceleration :-

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Seagate confirms development of 3TB hard drives

Steve Dougherty | Storage | May 18, 2010 9:52 AM CDT

We first heard a whisper about a week ago that Seagate have apparently been working hard at pushing the capacity barrier further with the 3.5-inch form factor and are looking to bring out a new enterprise level Constellation ES series of drives later this year with a whopping 3TB capacity.

Confirmation from Seagate themselves has now been given that the company is in fact developing 3TB drives for launch later this year. But as is the case with 2TB drives currently, being the top capacity model means a much less attractive GB per dollar ratio.

Another issue of the increased capacity has been mentioned as well; the need for a system that is able to fully understand the Long LBA (logical block addressing) standard. The requirements for that included the use of new supporting drivers, updated BIOS and a 64-bit copy of Vista, Windows 7 or modified versions of Linux. 32-bit users will be out in the cold.

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