Personally, I never tend to plug in my headset when I’m playing a multiplayer game on my Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. The sound’s lousy, they tend to be uncomfortable and bulky, and for what? Some 11 year old moistly shrieking racial obscenities into my ear? No thank you.Sony’s new official Bluetooth Headset for the PlayStation 3 obviates all but my last complaint: this is a gorgeous ear piece. It’s not packing in as many new features as you might expect for a device following a two year old accessory, but the new PlayStation 3 Bluetooth Headset improves where it counts.Mostly, the new headset is roughly the same as the previous version, first released back in 2008: dual microphones, automatic pairing with the PlayStation 3, a charging cradle, an easy-to-access mute button and an in-game headset status indicator. What Sony mainly decided to change in the new version is the design: the new Bluetooth Headset is now 30% smaller than the previous iteration, and far sleaker. It also features a High Quality mode for crystal clear audio, as well as noise canceling when paired with a PS3 or mobile phone… and heck, pair it with the latter, and you gain three-way calling and call waiting.Keen. The new Sony PlayStation 3 Bluetooth Headset will be on sale in the next few weeks for $49.99, and will require PlayStation 3 software version 3.50.Read more at PlayStation Blog
It’s Friday, making it much easier to get distracted by something more interesting than work on the Internet. If you’re looking for something great to watch today, then Google has put up a video of Garry Kasparov talking at Google this week.Kasparov was the highest-rated chess champion for more than 22 years. In the chat that lasts just over an hour he discusses how he still feels IBM cheated in his match with Deep Blue. He also says the dismantling of Big Blue right after the match was equivalent to IBM removing the only partial witness to his claims. He hasn’t even got logs of the game from IBM to look at.AdChoices广告It’s a great watch with Kasparov giving some amusing responses to some of the questions asked. For example, when asked how to get better at chess without dedicating your life to it (18 minutes in), he responds by simply saying:If you don’t have time to devote your life for chess, why do you want to improve at the game? via YouTube
It’s turning out to be a pretty rough month for the folks at Skype. First there was that whole major service outage that the service suffered during one it its busiest times of year. And now it seems that the VoIP provider may soon become illegal in the world’s most populous country.Communist Party-run paper The People’s Daily declared all Internet phone services not run by state sanctioned China Telecom and China Unicom to be illegal. The article stated that The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is set to take Skype and other VoIPs out of commission in China.The Ministry reflected the statement in a recent announcement, “Currently, our ministry is working with relevant departments to focus on the crackdown on illegal VoIP [voice over internet protocol calls] and we are now appealing to the public for clues for illegal VoIP cases.”For now, Skype is currently available in the country. Said a spokeswoman, “Users in China currently can access Skype via TOM Online, our majority JV partner. TOM Online offers local versions of Skype for Windows, MAC as well as mobile platforms such as Symbian and Windows Mobile. More details can be found at skype.tom.com.”If Skype is indeed officially made illegal, it will be in good company, joing Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
There’s not a lot of people who manage to remain truly anonymous for very long, but British born street artist Banksy is one of the few people out there this side of Batman and The Residents to pull it off.Who is Banksy? He’s a subversive street artist whose 2010 film Exit Through The Gift Shop was billed as the “world’s first street art disaster movie.” It’s excellent, so you should check it out, but in the meantime, you can see some of Banksy’s more accessible work in this Simpsons intro he did from October.Despite all of Banksy’s success, he has managed to keep his identity a secret up until now, but that may all soon be at an end, as an anonymous eBay seller tries to unmask him on the popular auction site.“I have uncovered [Banksy’s] identity by matching up the prices of his sold pieces to corresponding tax records,” the seller stated on the auction page. “I will reveal no more details… I give you 100 percent assurance that it is most certainly the full name of the street artist known as ‘Banksy.’”Bidding on Banksy’s identity started at $3,000 but quickly ballooned to a million dollars before the auction was pulled for unstated reasons probably involving Banksy’s legal team. Maybe for a million bucks, though, Banksy ought to consider selling his name himself.Read more at Gearlog
The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on July 8 for the last time, marking NASA’s final shuttle launch ever. It’s no question that Americans were sad to see the shuttle program come to an end, but what about the astronauts? How do you think they feel now that many of them are out of jobs? Photographer Neil DaCosta and art director Sara Phillips chose to take a look at the rather depressing idea of a former astronaut who turns suicidal.Though the series of photos, named “Astronaut Suicides,” are definitely darkly comedic, they send a message about not only NASA astronauts who are now out of a job, but also the rest of the country that’s looking for work in a time of economic depression. DaCosta and Phillips staged a series of about 10 different ways of killing oneself.The anonymous astronaut has no NASA logos on his or her suit which was sourced from a Hollywood prop house. So although NASA may not necessarily look kindly on the art piece, we don’t think there’s much the organization can do about it.A visit to the duo’s project website, www.astronautsuicides.com, shows the entire series. There are only two links to click on the page: “Contact” and “About.” The About section is short, listing only one quote from President Barack Obama from April 15, 2010. The quote, which most of us have seen by now, features Obama saying that we’ve been to the surface of the Moon, but that we’ve been there before. Meaning, there’s no need to go back.Phillips said that they hope the project will encourage a younger audience to pay attention to what’s going with the economic downturn that began three years ago. Not only is the project about job loss, but also the loss of a childhood icon which many children growing up today and in the future wont have a chance to experience.via Wired
Microsoft Flight Simulator came to an end in January 2009 when Microsoft closed the ACES Studio. Flight sim fans were understandably upset about losing what was a great gaming series. But in August 2010, it was announced that Microsoft Flight Simulator was making a return under the new name of Microsoft Flight.The name change wasn’t the only difference, though. Microsoft also decided to make it a free-to-play title so as to encourage even more people to have a go playing with the flight simulator. Now some 17 months after the original announcement, as promised Microsoft Flight is available for download. You can start playing right now.The free version of the game includes everything you need to get started. There’s tutorials and missions, and surprisingly Microsoft has allowed you to play in both online and offline modes. There’s a range of aircraft to fly including both historical classics to modern day jets, realistic scenery to fly over and land on, and the ability to do missions, earn points, and build a career if you so wish. Of course, Microsoft also want the game to be profitable, so there’s a Marketplace for buying other aircraft, changing paint schemes, and downloading additional content in the form of packs.Playing the free version requires nothing other than a download of the game client. However, if you want to go beyond the free content you’ll need a Gamertag, which you may have already setup in the past when using Xbox Live, Zune, Windows Phone, or Games for Windows. Read more at Microsoft Flight
Long gone are the days of gaming laptops being relegated to huge space heating blocks that were portable only in the loosest of terms. With advancements in mobile chips, manufacturers have been able to use higher performance chips that use less power and thus fit more ideally into smaller systems.Dell’s Alienware M14x starts with a 14-inch chassis that is a bit more substantial than your average thin & light at 1.49-inches thin and 6.45 lbs, but uses the extra size to stuff in some serious performance. Running the whole show is your choice of 3rd gen Intel Ivy Bridge processors, up to a quad-core Core i7.The heart of this laptop is gaming, so it wouldn’t be complete without some high graphics horsepower like the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, available with 1GB or 2GB of GDDR5 vRAM. Being a modern NVIDIA GPU, it of course has their Optimus automatic graphics switching technology. While graphics switching was hit or miss in its early iterations, these latest technologies result in seamless changes between GPUs that maximize battery life when you don’t need GPU horsepower.The usual set of features you expect in a premium laptop are also found on the M14x, like USB 3.0, Wireless-N, backlit keyboard, available SSD, and the like. The rest of the laptop is pure Alienware with its angular menacing design. LED lighting is abundant and fully customizable, allowing you to choose the light color for individual sections of the laptop, including the keyboard backlight.Being recently refreshed with Intel’s 3rd gen CPUs, we haven’t seen many discounts on this popular performance machine. For a limited time, Dell is offering a $100 discount on all models. The base model with dual-core Core i5 starts at $999, but for a mere $100 you bump up to the quad-core Core i7 at $1,099.This model is fully customizable, so if you choose to add in some extra goodies you can use coupon code BHW1L0MX0D?MCX to get an extra $50 off models priced above $1,499.Click here to start at Dell.com. Customize the laptop as desired, and get a $100 instant savings applied automatically. This deal expires September 20 or sooner.
Firefox is widely regarded as a very secure web browser, and that’s a reputation that Mozilla has worked tirelessly to build over the past eight years — blacklisting extensions, shutting down insecure plug-ins, revoking certificates, and patching holes as quickly as they appear. But even Firefox has some lingering security issues. One of those is the ease with which a third-party application can sneak unwanted (and potentially malicious) extensions into a user’s profile.Researchers at Zscaler have shared a demo that shows just how easy it can be. All an application has to do is to inject a few bits into the Firefox extensions.SQLite database. Normally Firefox checks to see if any extensions have been added from one launch to the next and users are shown an alert if a previously unknown extension is found. The injection neutralizes that check. By flipping the correct values, Firefox can be tricked into thinking that the extension has already been given the green light by a user.That enables a third-party software installer to sneak in something like a moneymaking toolbar or search extension. Those, of course, are comparatively benign examples. It would be just as easy to activate something more malicious — such as a keylogger or a password stealer — without a user ever being alerted.It’s also possible to append malicious code to an existing extension instead of adding a new one. That would keep the malware from showing up in the Add-ons Manager, so even users who are vigilant enough to manually inspect the list from time to time would be none the wiser.What’s the solution? Perhaps it would be a good idea to follow Google’s lead and draw a line in the sand. As of Chrome 25, silent extension installs will be disabled by default and the prompts have been set up in such a way that most users won’t re-enable the offenders.
Typically, if you need fast printing you opt for a laser printer. But then if you need to produce color pages as well, the cost for a color laser printer skyrockets. It’s actually cheaper in a lot of cases to buy a laser and an inkjet printer to sit side-by-side, depending on your color page needs.HP may have solved the problem though, and set a world record in the process by developing the Officejet Pro X inkjet printer.It is being touted as the world’s fastest desktop printer and is capable of printing up to 70 pages per minute. It’s so fast HP holds the world record, as verified by Guinness World Records, for fastest time to print 500 sheets by an office color desktop printer. It was set using the HP Officejet Pro X576dw and X551dw back in April, and stands to this day.In order to print that fast using inkjet technology, HP had to go about printing in a slightly different way. Using its PageWide Technology, the printer head doesn’t actually move. Instead, HP applies four colors of ink at one time on to a moving sheet of paper while keeping the head stationary.Not only is this method fast, it’s also very efficient. HP says the Pro X uses 50 percent less energy than a typical business class laser printer, while at the same time producing half the waste. You can also save paper as every Pro X printer is capable of two-sided printing as standard.The HP Officejet Pro X range is available now with prices starting from $649.99.
Microsoft’s MSN and Bing departments have a history of getting cozy with Mozilla’s web browser. Today, there came a proud announcement that msnNOW is available as a Firefox sidebar.In the past, releases have taken two basic forms. First, there’s the fully-customized Firefox browser — an idea that Ron Burgundy would no doubt find mind-bottling. Second, there’s the customization extension. That allows existing Firefox users to instantly add all the MSN/Bing goodies to their browsers instead of replacing it with the weird Microsoft/Mozilla Frankenbrowser.The new msnNOW add-on is actually a Firefox sidebar. That’s pretty cutting edge stuff, considering that it’s only available in the non-stable Firefox builds right now. MSN is also in pretty select company here. About the only other big-name adopter of the sidebar you’re likely to have heard about is Microsoft’s social networking pal Facebook.Activating the bar is simple enough: just head to this page and turn it on. As soon as you do, you’ll see a stream of trending topics from Facebook, Twitter, and Bing appear on the right edge of your Firefox window. As with the Facebook bar, you can also click the chat bubble icon on the Firefox toolbar to change settings for desktop notifications or to disable the extension completely.As bizarre as it seems for a Microsoft division to be showing some love for a competitor’s browser, there’s certainly a good reason to do it. Firefox has hundreds of millions of users, and that means there’s an opportunity to get MSN and Bing additional face time with folks while they browse.Who knows, one silly cat picture and a convincing banner ad for IE later and Microsoft could pick up a thousand converts. The odds aren’t in Microsoft’s favor, but unlikely things do happen all the time on the Internet.