The Voice over IP market just got a little bit bigger. AOL has launched its VoIP service at a promotional rate of $29.99 a month for non-AOL users and $13.99 a month for AOL users. The service includes standard features found in most calling plans such as voicemail, 3-way calling, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. AOL’s new VoIP service also includes “advanced AOL features” such as AOL voicemail, AOL call alert and AOLbyPhone. The company is trying to offer competitive prices by bundling some its services with their VoIP package. What stands out in AOL’s package is that they provide enhanced 911 service, which delivers the caller’s address to dispatchers when in case of emergency. This is something other companies have not been able to implement or offer as an included service. AOL is promising to make VoIP easy to install and use just like the rest of its services so that mass-market consumers may take advantage of this technology.
We knew it would happen at E3, but according to the game guru at CNN’s Game Over, Chris Morris, Microsoft will unveil the next Xbox on Monday, May 16. That’s two days before the E3 Expo officially begins. According to Morris, the name Xbox 360 is pretty much a shoe-in. Rumor has it that they are still debating the hard drive issue and are working hard on backwards compatibility. A foreshadowing fact is that Microsoft recently acquired silicon graphics patents. The CPU is rumored to be capable of decoding and executing in Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) while at the same time being able to run x86 code for backwards compatibility with the current Xbox library. We will soon have all the info - it is now only a matter of time.
Read More | CNN - Game Over
We may be close to the day where cars won’t require steering wheels, at least according to Milan-based Parodia Electronica. They have developed a satellite navigation system on test vehicles which responds to data generated from dGPS (differential GPS). Simply put, the software can determine the position of the test vehicles to within +/- 50 centimeters. It uses servo commands from the navigation system to actuate an electro-hydraulic steering mechanism. They have successfully navigated on public roads in Southern Italy between a set of fixed points without any steering input from the driver, as they only control the brake and accelerator. Parodia’s technical director said, “The steering wheels are for show only.” Sounds like in years to come, we may be able to snooze all the way to work.
Read More | Transport Trends
Chalk one up for the people. The Connecticut Supreme Court has proclaimed that a $150 “excessive wear and tear” penalty charged by Acme ‘American Rental’ is illegal. Acme outfitted their vehicles with GPS systems and set them up to rat you out if you drive at least 80mph for over two minutes at a time. Of course, details were buried deep within the fine print, and the GPS devices was never mentioned. The contract simply stated “Vehicles driven in excess of the posted speed limit will be charged $150 per occurrence.” Some customers were fined more than once on the same rental.
Justice David M. Borden wrote, “Using the [consumer department] hearing officer’s calculation, a customer would have to travel more than 1,070 miles at high speeds, without decelerating below 80 miles per hour, to cause $150 of excess wear on the vehicle.” Unfortunately the ruling is in regards to the excessive fine, stating that there really was no extreme wear on the vehicle. The companies’ use of GPS to track a customer’s actions was not touched. So, we won this battle but we have no precedent for our coming war.
Read More | ArsTechnica
Physicists Dr. Tammy Humphrey and Dr. Heiner Linke have discovered that a particular structure and configuration of nanowires can have remarkable thermoelectric properties. Meaning that electricity can be generated from heat differentials across materials. Even better, the thermoelectric effect is reversible. This means that the nanomaterial could operate as a heat pump, in essence transferring heat. What does this all mean? There are a few things this can bring to the table - processors that don’t require fans, precise control over temperature for labs and sensors, and refrigeration without pumps or chemicals. They also say it could have significant uses in energy production and transportation such as transferring engine heat to electricity for hybrid vehicles.
Read More | World Changing
In an interview with the official Xbox magazine of Japan, Mr. Yoshiki Okamoto says there are many other ‘big name’ game developers getting behind the next gen Xbox. He said, “When announced, the lineup of launch games for the console may shock the industry.” Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Space Channel 5), and Yoshiki Okamoto are all legendary game creators in Japan. This is just one of the ways Microsoft is committed to winning the hearts and minds of Japanese gamers while wowing their American audience too. Okamoto said that if the current lineup of launch games in development for the next gen Xbox was revealed, there probably wouldn’t be anyone in Japan who would be uninterested in buying one. Those are big words, but aren’t they always before a launch?
Then there’s Shane Kim who took over as head of Microsoft Game Studios (MGS). He has led some of the largest and most successful game launches in the publisher’s history, including Fable and Halo 2. In an interview on xbox.com, he says “We’ve also built some great franchises that customers love and look forward to playing for many generations of Xbox, like Halo, Fable, Project Gotham Racing, and the upcoming Jade Empire and Forza Motorsport.” Obviously, these games will continue to live their life on the next Xbox.
On Friday, April 1, Google announced their “Infinity+1” plan for Gmail accounts. The first day, we lucky Gmail account holders gained about 1MB. The second day, the gains appeared to slow down somewhat. We weren’t holding our breath, considering the announcement was made on April Fool’s Day - and sounded pretty foolish to boot. Here are the details of the Google storage algorithm:
- Gmail is currently rising at 1/1000 MB every 25 seconds
- A 1MB increase takes a little over 6 hours and 56 minutes
- Every day storage increases by 3.456 MB
- By April 1, 2006, Gmail accounts will be up to about 3300MB
- It takes 289 days to increase 1 gigabyte
So is Google really going to just continue to increase storage infinitely? A look at the source code indicates that the madness will end when mailboxes reach 2075 gigs:
That only applies until it reaches 2075 MB. Check the source:
var CP = [
[ 1112331600000, 1025 ],
[ 1112439600000, 2050 ],
[ 1113062400000, 2075 ]
Read More | Wesbran.com
Okay, so you want to play a PSP game against a friend or two and you only have one copy of the game. On Sahas Katta’s blog, he tells how he and a friend played Twisted Metal multiplayer with only one copy. Basically, it involves starting a multiplayer Ad-Hoc game with an unlimited amount of time. After the game has booted up on a system, you remove the game disc and place it into the next PSP. That next PSP joins the Ad-Hoc game set up by the first, and they are set. You can continue this with as many PSP’s as are allowed to play the multiplayer game. There are a few other intricacies to making it work nicely, so check it out. This one is just too cool.
Read More | Sahas Katta
What the heck? Apparently this thing has been around for a while, but it’s news to me. Basically, the Thermaltake Xray fits into a 5.25” drive bay, and provides a bit of comfort for chain smoking, beer-swilling computer users. You see, the Xray provides both a beverage tray and a cigarette lighter. The light can be removed, and you can use the port to charge in-car accessories like a cell phone. Now you can finally be the envy of the LAN party - it’s just sad that it took this to get you there.
Read More | ThermalTake Xray Product Page
For those of you looking to blur the line of fantasy and reality even more, check out the PistolMouse FPS. Basically, this is a gun shaped mouse meant to be used in computer first person shooters. Rather than using your mouse to frag others with a quick left-click, you can now actually pull the trigger to take down your foes. Don’t know how comfortable this would be, or how accurate - the manufacturer, MonsterGecko, says it increases accuracy, but that is what they are supposed to say, right? Nonetheless, it costs $39.95 with a 30-day money back guarantee. It works via USB on Windows, Mac, and Linux boxes.
Read More | MonsterGecko
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