iPods rule the roost on Amazon

iPods rule the roost on Amazon

Apple’s iPod family remains the best-selling consumer electronic device on Amazon US, for the third year runnning.

Various iPod varieties were named as the year’s best-selling devices by Amazon yesterday.

The 30GB video iPod was named as the most frequently purchased electronics gift in 2006, with the black model being the “most wished-for” gift, appearing the most often on customer Wish Lists.

Apple’s 2GB black iPod nano was the most frequently-purchased electronics gift in last year’s list.

Macs also dominate Amazon’s list of top selling computers, holding first an second place on that list.

In the UK, Amazon has declared Christmas 2006 its most succesful yet, with almost nine orders per second. iPod was the second biggest-selling consumer electronics device, just behind the Kingston Technology 1GB Data Traveller USB Flash Pen Drive. The iPod is presently the biggest-selling device in Amazon UK’s ‘electronics and photo’ category.

Windows worm strikes 250,000 PCs

Windows worm strikes 250,000 PCs

The new breed of Windows 2000 worms that emerged Tuesday have spread fast and have now infected an estimated 250,000 systems, security experts claim.

Infections are primarily of Windows 2000 systems being run in corporate environments, according to security vendor Computer Associates International. (CA).

The worms received widespread media attention after CNN reported that it had been affected by the problem, but on Wednesday representatives from companies that had been affected downplayed the level of disruption.

Worms aim at corporates

Because of the design of the worms, they have largely left home users unaffected and have instead focused on spreading within corporate networks, according to security experts interviewed Wednesday.

An undisclosed number of internal systems at telecommunications provider SBC Communications were affected by the worms, beginning late Tuesday, said Wes Warnock, an SBC spokesman, but the outages had no effect on the company’s voice or data networks, he added.

American Express was also hit, according to company spokeswoman Judy Tenzer. “We did experience some issues with some of our computer desktops and much of that has now been resolved,” she said.

The New York Times confirmed Wednesday that some of its systems had been infected, and ABC television network, a unit of Walt Disney, is also reported to have been hit.

Media frenzy as systems fail

While CA estimates over 250,000 systems have been affected by different variants of the plug-and-play worms, these attacks have received special attention because they have hit media outlets, according to Sam Curry, vice president of CA’s eTrust Security Management division. In the past, lesser-reported attacks have hit similar numbers of computers, he said. “We see numbers climb out into the hundreds of thousands and it never gets attention,” he said. “Who gets affected will influence how much publicity this gets.”

CA is rating the viruses as a low to medium threat and most of its customers have not generally been widely affected by them, Curry said. “We have little to no escalations from customers that have been affected by it,” Curry said. “We have no one saying, ‘Oh my God I’m in trouble,’ but we do have customers calling up and saying what do I need to know?”

However, McAfee Inc.’s antivirus response team raised its risk assessment to “high” for one worm variant, called IRCBot worm. Late Tuesday it said it had received more than 150 reports of the worm either being stopped or infecting users’ PCs, mostly in the US but also from Europe and Asia.

By Wednesday, Symantec customers had reported just over 230 instances of the worms, the company said. This was far less than the thousands of reports that the company had received on highly publicized worm outbreaks such as last year’s Sasser worm, Symantec said.

Patch those leaky Windows

It’s certainly not a Sasser; it’s certainly not a Slammer,” said Russ Cooper, senior information security analyst for Cybertrust. “Our recommendation to our customers is to get patches applied within 90 days, because the normal mechanisms should prevent this from getting to your organization.”

According to Cooper, the best way for corporations to protect themselves from these attacks is to ensure that they secure all the devices that connect to their networks. “These things are getting in through VPN (virtual private network) users or though home or travelling users,” he said. “This is a common failing in organizations they have protection at a gateway, but meanwhile they let their home users connect via VPN.”

The worms all stem from a vulnerability reported August 9 in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Plug and Play service. They will cause infected systems to reboot and infected systems are then instructed to download a variety of malicious software that is then used to attack other systems, antivirus vendors said.

Microsoft’s Web page, “What you should know about Zotob”, includes links to the patch and was updated Tuesday.

League of Legends European LCS Round Robin Qualifier Completed! | League of Legends

League of Legends European LCS Round Robin Qualifier Completed! | League of Legends

The round robin tourney is complete, with Ninjas in Pyjamas being disqualified for being unprepared and Supa Hot Crew taking the win.

The absence of Lemondogs left a void in the League of Legends European League Championship Series, which Riot Games moved immediately to try and fill.  Holding an online 3-team round robin tournament, either Ninjas in Pyjamas, Meet Your Makers, or Supa Hot Crew was going to have the chance to take the spot vacated by the no-longer qualifying Lemondogs.

It started with a disqualification.

The tourney was taking place online, due to the hurried nature of it, so the three teams were given certain guidelines to follow to be prepared and ready to go when their names got called, including applying a new patch.

Ninjas in Pyjamas did not get patched before the tournament.  They were given fifteen minutes to get into the game lobby, losing a ban every five minutes of time they used up.  In the end, with fifteen minutes wasted, probably the favorite team to win the round robin tournament was still not ready to play, resulting in a disqualification from the tournament.

This left Supa Hot Crew and Meet Your Makers to face each other in a best of three series, and with the new patch active and the changes in the meta, it was guaranteed to be quite a show.

Meet Your Makers managed to out-farm SHC in the first game, despite giving up first blood to MrRalleZ’s Lucian. But MYM were unable to hold that lead after several well-executed teamfights by SHC overcame and passed the farm disparity, resulting in a solid win for the Supa Hot Crew in game one.

Game two started a bit slower, with first blood taking longer to earn, but ultimately swung even more heavily in Supa Hot Crew’s favor, ending in a surrender vote from MYM to seal the ultimate victory!

The round robin may not have gone as expected, but it was nonetheless exciting to watch once it actually got started.  As a prelude to Season 4’s League of Legends League Championship Series, it did exactly what I had hoped it would do…

It left me wanting to see more!

Shadowrun: Hong Kong releases for PC, Mac, Linux | Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Shadowrun: Hong Kong releases for PC, Mac, Linux | Shadowrun: Hong Kong

The latest installment of the Shadowrun franchise brings the dark and gritty, magic-meets-tech world to life in a new city – Hong Kong.

After a hugely-successful Kickstarter campaign, Harebrained Schemes has finally released their latest installment in the Shadowrun series – Shadowrun: Hong Kong.

With a new crew, this latest PC title once again brings to life the seedy, cyber-fantasy future that the original tabletop RPG has always been known for: this time in the magically-awakened city of Hong Kong in the year 2056. 

Like Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall before it, Shadowrun: Hong Kong promises a rich and diverse narrative that has the feel of a gritty cyberpunk novel and beautiful, highly immersive cityscapes.

Also like in previous games, you command a crew with a diverse array of skills, strengths and weaknesses. You can guide their stories by following up on their personal challenges, or leave them be in favor of pursuing the game’s main story goals.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong brings another thrilling cyber-fantasy future to life on your PC.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong brings new elements to the series as well with expanded magic and cyberware, a completely revamped Matrix, and an upgraded release of the Shadowrun editor.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is currently $19.99 on Steam, GOG, and Humble. If you’re willing to shell out an extra $9.99, you can get the deluxe edition, which offers the game’s soundtrack and a PDF of the game’s artbook.

Are you a fan of the Shadowrun tabletop or computer RPGs? Are you already enjoying the latest game? Let us know in the comments!

Next iPhone rumours: New report backs up analyst’s claims that ‘iPhone 5S production begins this month’

Next iPhone rumours: New report backs up analyst’s claims that ‘iPhone 5S production begins this month’

This week, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has said that Apple is set to begin mass production of its next generation iPhone this month, ahead of an autumn launch. Now, further reports have backed up the analyst’s claims, citing Apple insiders who are familiar with the company’s plans.

The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D claims that “sources familiar with the company’s plans” have agreed that Apple’s manufacturing partners will soon begin production of a new iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5S or iPhone 6.

Misek also suggested that the rumoured low-cost iPhone is already in production, but All Things D’s sources didn’t provide any feedback about that claim.

Despite these reports, the Commercial Times (via Bloomberg) has suggested that Apple will delay the launch of the next iPhone until the end of the year, rather than the September/October timeframe Misek has predicted, due to the introduction of a 4.3in screen.

See: Should I buy an iPhone 5 or wait for iPhone 5S, iPhone 6?

We’re not convinced that Apple will be making the iPhone 5’s screen bigger, though. It’s widely expected that the next iPhone will look almost identical to the iPhone 5, with internal improvements acting as the main selling point for the new smartphone.

Additionally, another report this week, this time from DigiTimes, claims that the next iPhone could be delayed due to poor yield rates of the rumoured fingerprint sensor.

See also:

Forget iPhone 6: iOS 7 is what will transform your user experience

New iPhone launching soon? Apple asks own staff for sales ideas

New iPad 5 release date, rumours and leaked images

Bye Bye Flappy Bird: Dev Removing App From iOS App Store & Play Store | Flappy Bird

Bye Bye Flappy Bird: Dev Removing App From iOS App Store & Play Store | Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen admitted today that he’s removing the game from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

Coming tomorrow, the hit mobile game Flappy Bird will no longer be available for download on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. If you don’t know what Flappy Bird is (which is highly unlikely), it’s a simplistic game featuring 8-bit graphics where the main goal is to keep your bird alive by flying between pipes. The game is often frustrating and highly addictive.

But, just two hours ago, Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen posted on Twitter that he is taking the game down off of both mobile platforms. In a recent interview with Dong Nguyen, he admitted that he makes over $50,000 in ad revenue every day thanks to the game.Here’s what he said on Twitter:

“I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.”

Two more tweets were made after that stating that he won’t be selling Flappy Bird to any other companies, and that he will still continue to make games. Because Dong is taking Flappy Bird down from both platforms, it is extremely unlikely that we will ever see it release on Windows Phone. Fans are extremely unhappy about Dong’s choice, but there are plenty of alternatives to choose from on both the App Store and Play Store. 

Even though Dong is removing Flappy Bird from both stores, he still has other mobile games (in the same graphical design as Flappy Bird) on the App Store and Google Play Store.

How do you feel about the downfall of Flappy Bird? Leave a comment below telling us what you think!

4G turning into meaningless moniker

4G turning into meaningless moniker

The term 4G wireless literally refers to fourth-generation wireless technology, but apparently there’s not much else that buyers can count on when it comes to the 4G label .

T-Mobile USA this month reignited the debate over the definition of a 4G network when it launched TV ads claiming that it operates “America’s largest 4G network.”

Competitors said that T-Mobile’s High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) network shouldn’t be described as either “next generation” or 4G at all. In fact, T-Mobile last summer was calling basically the same HSPA+ network “the fastest 3G network.”

“I’m afraid that carriers desperate for one-upmanship will make 4G a meaningless technical term,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney. “All it’s going to mean is that it’s faster than the last network you were on.”

T-Mobile defended its use of the term 4G. “What we’re selling today is clearly the equivalent or the better of what’s being marketed today as 4G,” said Mark McDiarmid, senior director of engineering at T-Mobile. The HSPA+ network delivers, on average, 5Mbit/sec. downstream to smartphones and 12Mbit/sec. to laptop dongles, he said.

Until recently, 4G referred to cellular networks using either WiMax or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies.

But the International Telecommunication Union ruled on Oct. 21 that WiMax and LTE in their current forms don’t qualify as 4G. The ITU reserves that moniker for networks that achieve speeds of 100Mbit/sec., or about 10 times the performance that any carrier, including T-Mobile, can offer today.

The ITU said that the only technologies that will qualify as 4G are a future version of LTE to be called LTE-Advanced, and the next generation of WiMax, officially known as IEEE 802.16m or WirelessMAN-Advanced. Neither is expected to go live commercially until 2014 or 2015.

Mac sales offset slowing iPod growth

Mac sales offset slowing iPod growth

Analysts expect Apple to deliver another great quarter, observing the company is selling more Macs to offset slightly slower iPod sales.

Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research rates the company’s stock as a ‘Buy’.

Following recent checks, the analyst raised his Mac unit shipments forecast to 1.2 million from 1.13 million – but reduced his iPod sales forecast to 8.3 million from 8.5 million. He expects Apple to deliver $4.4 billion in revenue in its current quarter.

The analyst observes that Apple’s: “Mac business appears ahead of plan with the Intel transition mostly complete, and with Boot Camp helping drive switchers and Mac users to upgrade.”

Wu warns that his checks indicate iPod sales are slightly weaker than planned, “despite a strong reception from its recent back-to-school promotion”.

He said: “We are seeing weaker iPod nano shipments (we believe in part due to Apple drawing down inventory) offset by strength in vPods and shuffles.”

“We continue to believe the iPod nano is in need of a refresh and will likely see one in the September quarter,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch analyst Richard Farmer also reduced his iPod estimate from 9.2 to 8.1 million sales. He also lowered his full-year sales estimates to 39.4 million from 43.4 million units.

Find – or begin – a discussion of this story in Macworld UK’s busy Forums.

Apple finally awarded patent for iPhone interface

Apple finally awarded patent for iPhone interface

When Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone at Macworld Expo 2007, he lauded its multitouch interface. “And boy, have we patented it,” he added. It seems that now, four and a half years after Jobs declared the iPhone’s innovations worth protecting, that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has agreed.

On Tuesday, Apple was awarded U.S. Patent 7,966,578, for a “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content.” In other words, Apple received a patent on the basic behaviors of the iPhone.

The patent application was first filed back on December 19, 2007. In its patent-ese, the application laid out a description of the iPhone’s general function, with an emphasis on its multitouch interface:

An N-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display. In response, the page content, including the displayed portion of the frame content and the other content of the page, is translated to display a new portion of page content on the touch screen display. An M-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display, where M is a different number than N. In response, the frame content is translated to display a new portion of frame content on the touch screen display, without translating the other content of the page.

There’s no denying that Apple revolutionized the smartphone industry with the launch of the first iPhone. There’s similarly no denying that the iPhone’s interface spawned a slew of competitors who, shall we say, seemed to pay the iPhone the sincerest form of flattery. What might Apple’s newly-awarded patent mean for the Android and Windows 7 smartphones of the world?

Via an email to Macworld, patent expert Florian Muller–a vocal critic of software patents–described Patent 7,966,578 to as “excessively broad.” Though Muller acknowledged “that Apple is a truly innovative company,” he suggested that Apple–like other large companies–“understand[s] the name of the patent game,” and thus aimed for a broader patent that could theoretically give it more legal muscle to exert over potential competitors.

“Unless this patent is invalidated or at least narrowed, it will be a potential impediment to innovation until December 2027,” Muller said. “I don’t see any innovative achievement disclosed in that patent document that would justify a monopoly of that breadth and duration. Apple could use it in various ways throughout that period, including some that would be highly undesirable.”

The “highly undesirable” action to which Muller alludes is that, armed with its new patent, Apple now has new legal means by which to go after its rivals in the smartphone market. Apple could, in theory, demand high patent licensing fees from Google, Microsoft, and other multitouch mobile OS developers–or seek to prevent the sale of infringing devices in the U.S.

Matt Schruers, the vice president for law and policy with the non-profit Computer and Communications Industry Association concurred with Muller’s conclusions. “This seems to be a very broad patent,” he told Macworld. But, Schruers added that it’s hard to know just what would happen with Apple’s new patent were it tested in court. “The length and impenetrability of [the patent’s] claims will ultimately dictate the patent’s scope,” he said.

“Whether a court is going to uphold a patent of that kind of breadth is impossible to say… It’s hard to predict how a patent will be construed by an individual judge,” Schruers added.

According to Spyros J. Lazaris, a patent attorney with Los Angeles-based Lazaris Intellectual Property, “It could cover any mobile device with a screen capable of accessing the web and showing web pages, including tablet computers and smartphones.”

Added Muller: “This patent is so broad that I can’t see any alternative [technical] implementation that wouldn’t be found to infringe it.” That is, the patent seems to cover the breadth of multitouch support on mobile devices; even if a company achieved the same effect using a different technological approach, in Muller’s view, that approach would still violate Apple’s patent.

And how might Apple leverage its new patent, based on how the company has handled its patents historically? According to Muller: “In the smartphone patent wars no other company seeks to drive competitors out of business the way Apple does. The only way companies can deal with Apple is if they bring patents to the table that Apple needs. In that case, there can be a cross-license. If you don’t have that bargaining power, tough luck.”

Schruers was equally blunt. “Patents like this create uncertainty, which generally leads to negotiations. Patent lawyers for Apple show up with a big stack of accordion files, Google’s lawyers come with their stack, and back-room patent cross-licensing begins.” He described the process as “a cold war of mutually assured destruction of your opponent’s patent portfolio.”

Apple has a long history of pursuing legal protection for its user interfaces. The company sued companies that attempted to emulate its iPod interface on Microsoft Pocket PCs, threatened companies offering Aqua-style themes for Windows, and–most famously–fought (and lost) a drawn-out “look and feel” case against Microsoft over Windows’s own attempts to emulate the Mac’s visuals.

More recently, Apple has sued Samsung, claiming the company copied various elements of the iPad.

How Apple chooses to wield its new iPhone patent, of course, is entirely up to Apple. The company didn’t respond to Macworld’s request for comment on how it intends to leverage the patent. One suspects, however, that Google and Microsoft are asking, too.

DJ Hero 2 new DLC announced, feature Jaylib, RJD2 and Atmosphere

DJ Hero 2 new DLC announced, feature Jaylib, RJD2 and Atmosphere

Activision has revealed the details regarding the next round of DLC for DJ Hero 2. This new DLC for the game will feature underground hip hoppers Jaylib, RJD2 and Atmosphere.

DJ Hero 2

Check out the details below:

  • “My World Premiere” by Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf Mixed With “The Red (Instrumental)” by Jaylib
  • “Party Hard” by The Perceptionists ft. Guru & Camu Tao Mixed With “Ghostwriter” by RJD2
  • “The Best Day” by Atmosphere (Remix by FSG)

For Xbox 360 gamers all these three tracks will cost 640 MSP, whereas for PS3 it will be available for $7.99. Wii gamers can purchase individual track for 300 points each.