Microsoft to launch new MSN Toolbar beta – Powered by Silverlight

Later today we should see the reincarnation of MSN Toolbar in beta form (codename Salsa). Like many older MSN products, it migrated over to the new Windows Live brand early 2007, however as part of the gradual drift back, its been revamped with a new look.

So what’s new apart from the Vista styled UI? Well perhaps the biggest thing is that the toolbar is powered by Silverlight, which adds an extra dimension to the features on offer. This enables the drop-down MSN chanel previews, showing the latest content from within the MSN portal without requiring the user to move from the internet page they are currently browsing. From the same preview pane users can also chose to search that part of the site, which brings us onto the 2nd main feature – Live Search.

Although web search and toolbars have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember, the new MSN Toolbar beta adds a few twists. Firstly, and definitely most controversially, when you perform a search query on another search engine, the toolbar search box will auto-populate itself should you wish to view results from Live Search. This seems like a bit of a grey area in terms of user privacy, so I’m sure we’ll inevitably hear complaints about it soon enough. As mentioned above, the toolbar also allows users to tailor their search to specific MSN channels using the preview panes.

Finally there’s a breaking news feature, bringing the latest news direct to your browser. At the end of the day though, a toolbar is a toolbar, so there’s not a huge amount to get excited about – what is exciting is seeing just how much Silverlight could be used for. Of course there is the added bonus for Microsoft in that requiring users to install Silverlight for core products such as this will increase penetration into the mass-market. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Users who want to participate in the managed beta on Connect will be able to sign up soon through the Available Connections page. The toolbar homepage is also up, however there is no download available yet.

[original url]

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UBS: Next-generation iPhone to use 3G Infineon chipset in mid-2008

via IntoMobile by willpark on 2/28/08

3G iPhone coming

What’s that you say? The next-generation iPhone is a-coming? According to a note from UBS global equity research analyst Nicolas Gaudois, Apple has tapped German chip-maker Infineon to outfit the guts of the next-gen 3G iPhone. The chipset, which includes a digital baseband controller, power management unit (PMU), and radio frequency (RF) module, will finally bring a 3G HSDPA-enabled iPhone to market – bringing faster data speeds to the web-surfing iPhone-masses.

More encouraging than the confirmation that Infineon will be providing the 3G hardware for the 3G iPhone is the expectation that the next-generation of iPhone could be upon us quite soon. Gaudois said that, “Consistent with these checks, our Apple analyst Ben Reitzes believes that 3G iPhones will be released by mid-year.” That belief is in line with CNBC’s Jim Goldman’s report that we’ll have a 3G iPhone in-hand by late May or early June 2008.

What’s more, Gaudois mentioned that Infineon is slowing production of the EDGE baseband hardware that is used in the current iPhone. The ramp-down in production is seen as a move to clear out EDGE chipset inventory ahead of the 3G iPhone’s entry into the HSDPA landscape.

Bring on the 3G iPhone!

[Via: CNN Money]

Minimal dual clock is overly simple, overly amazing

via DVICE by Travis Hudson on 2/28/08

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We’ve seen some pretty spectacular alarm clocks around these parts, but the Minimal Dual Digital Analog Alarm Clock concept by Daniel Jarr has to take the cake. Sure, it may not tell you the weather or other goods, but it does look simply beautiful with the dual faced analog and digital displays.

The pivoting nature of the clock allows for more unique functionality as well. Pushing down on the right side of the clock sets the alarm while pushing down on the left side would act as a snooze. Pushing down on the frame of the analog clock would also provide a light. I never thought I could get this excited about an alarm clock, but this minimal design dual-function clock from Jarr has done it. Timex? Sony? Anybody out there interested in getting it off the drawing board?

Via TFTS

Microsoft Doesn’t Know Why You Can’t Access Any Of Your Saved Games

via Consumerist by Meg Marco on 2/28/08

xboxcontroller.jpg

Reader Brad took his XBOX Live Gamertag to a friend’s house. When he got home, he realized that he’d forgotten his memory card (with the Gamertag on it) at his friend’s place.

He used the “recovery” service to get the tag back, but when he got access to his tag he realized that he could no longer use any of his saved games.

That was about a month ago and Microsoft still has no solution for his problem. Frustrated with losing all the games he’s saved, Brad filed a complaint with the BBB.

Microsoft responded:

We are unable to comply with your request to provide a free Memory Unit. Accessories such as that may be purchased from a retail location.

Brad doesn’t want a free memory unit. He wants his saved games back.

Brad writes:

After using the account recovery service on my 360 to recover my gamertag after using it on a friends 360, I found that I could no longer access ANY of my saved games. I contacted 18004MYXBOX four times about this issue, each time, receiving the same script and run-around. I finally escalated the issue, and Jeff from the Xbox Live division called me back to discuss it. He acknowledged that there was an issue with their account recovery service, but that there was nothing they could do, and offered me no compensation. Unfortunately, MS decided to use their DRM system on the saved games as well. When my gamertag account became partially corrupted on their server, it no longer allowed linked to my saved games. And of course, MS does not know how to fix their own system.

Thank you for using the Better Business Bureau’s Online Complaint System.
Your complaint has been assigned case # *NUMBERDELETED*.
Correspondence regarding this complaint will be emailed to : *EMAILDELETED*
Please print a copy of this for your records.

Filed on : January 24 2008

Filed by :
*MyNameDeleted*
*MyAddressDeleted*
*MyLocationDeleted*

Filed against :
Xbox
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond WA 98052

Complaint Description:
When moving my Xbox Live! gamertag from a friends Xbox 360 console back to my own console, I lost the ability to access my saved games, even though they are still present on my 360’s hard drive. Moving the gamertag to play in different locations is how the Xbox Live! service is intended to be used, there is some error causing my gamertag to not recognize my saved games. This occured Thurday, January 17th. I placed calls to 1800MYXBOX on 3 separate occasions: January 18th, January 19th, and January 20th about this issue. Customer service did not offer any solutions which worked, and failed to put me in contact with someone who had expertise in the area. My 1800MYXBOX reference number regarding this issue is 1056102591. These saved games are my personal data, and represent 2 years of my time and effort. Microsoft’s Xbox live service, either intentionally or unintentionally, has caused damage to my gamertag and/or my personal saved game files. I have documented my issues and experience on the Xbox Forums here: http://forums.xbox.com/18015242/ShowPost.aspx#18015242 . Other Xbox Live! and 360 uses have had identical or similar issues as shown by the following forum posts: http://forums.xbox.com/17067018/ShowPost.aspx , http://forums.xbox.com/18049832/ShowPost.aspx#18049832 . I have been in contact with several other Live! users that have experienced the same problem. Their Live! gamertags are: ‘klamath xor’, ‘JigSaw XV’, ‘d3adpoetic’, and ‘XCALIBUR18’. ‘klamath xor’ has also filed a complaint with the BBB regarding this issue here: http://app.alaskaoregonwesternwashington.bbb.org/complaint/view/*NUMBERDELETED*.

Your Desired Resolution:
I would like Microsoft to acknowledge the problem and fix it, allowing me and the other affected to use their saved games again. If this is not technically possible, I would like Microsoft to prevent the issue from occurring in the future, and offer a formal apology. If that is not technically possible, I would like to be offered a full refund on my Xbox 360, Live! service, and all of my games and accessories. It is unacceptable for Microsoft to provide a game console/service that destroys users data, and I cannot support such a system/service.

Microsoft responded:

RE: Your complaint to the Better Business Bureau

Case Number: 22146246

Dear Brad,

A copy of your report filed with the Better Business Bureau of Oregon & Western Washington regarding your Xbox Video Game System has been forwarded to Microsoft.

Our records indicate, that we contacted you by phone on the 7th of January in regards to your Xbox console.

We are unable to comply with your request to provide a free Memory Unit. Accessories such as that may be purchased from a retail location.

Thank you for your continued support of Microsoft Xbox gaming platform.

If you have any further concerns regarding this issue, please contact 1-800-4MY-XBOX and use ticket number: 1053326815. Otherwise we will consider this issue closed.

Sincerely,

Kevin Lamb
Xbox Customer Support
Microsoft Corporation

cc: Better Business Bureau of Oregon and Western Washington

Brad pointed us to a forum thread where he details the steps he took to recover his saved games, etc. You can read that here.


After recovering my gamertag I can no longer access my saved games!
[XBOX Forums]
(Photo:louder)

Wow! All Gmail Users Are Given Two Separate Email Addresses

gmail-address-multiple

You probably know how to create multiple email aliases in Gmail by adding the plus symbol and dots to your Gmail username but there’s something more interesting.

When you create a Gmail account, you actually get two email addresses – one is the regular @gmail.com while the second email address has @googlemail.com in the domain.

That means if your email address in Gmail is something like billgates@gmail.com, all email messages that are sent to billgates@googlemail.com will also be delivered to your own Gmail account. That’s two for the price of one.

Like the Gmail plus trick, you can take advantage of these two domains so that less spam reaches your Gmail Inbox.

Give the @googlemail.com address to your close contacts (put that in the visiting card) while keep the @gmail.com address for public (put it on your blog). Then set a Gmail filter such that all email messages with @googlemail.com in the header go a special folder so you will never miss important email from close friends.

Ulysses Spacecraft Dying Alone in Space

via Gizmodo by Haroon Malik on 2/23/08

UL%20GI.jpg

The Ulysses spacecraft, which was launched way back in 1990, has been visiting the planets of the solar system for some 17-years, but now the Ulysses looks like it is doomed. A critical error has occurred in the mechanism that prevents the fuel from freezing, and that means the Ulysses is soon to be heading to spacecraft heaven.

The Ulysses was the first spacecraft to ever pass over the north and south poles of the Sun, but amazing feats of pole to pole traveling were nothing compared to the three comet tails it successfully navigated. The lessons scientists have learnt regarding solar wind and interstellar dust have proven to be invaluable. Unfortunately then, the circuitry has now become defective, which means there is no way to supply power to the machinery that prevents the hydrazine power source from freezing. Once the hydrazine falls below the 2° Celsius freezing point, it’s going to be game over for old Ulysses, as there will be no way to control the sky skipper. We imagine it’s showing a RROD as we speak, which makes us unbearably sad. We just wanted to say thanks for all the indispensable scientific information, great times, good laughs and the terrific name. Cheers, you will be missed, Ulysses.

[New Scientist]

Firefox Passes 500 Million Downloads, Celebrates With a Lot of Rice

via Gizmodo by Haroon Malik on 2/23/08

FFox%20500mi%20GI.jpg

Firefox has just hit 500 million downloads worldwide; it is an impressive statistic and we think everyone who works on the project should get a pat on the back. As if their contribution in creating a kick-ass browser was not enough to the world, the Mozilla team is celebrating by raising funds for 500 million grains of rice, which they will give away to poverty stricken nations.

To be completely honest with you guys, I did kind of download Firefox twice when I was installing it. I threw the extra .dmg file right in the trash, which obviously means they are still on 499,999,999 downloads. What the heck, what’s one download between friends, apart from a heap of rice goodness? Jump in and let the Mozilla team know how much you appreciate not having to choose between IE or Safari.

[Spreadfirefox]