Texting while driving is some pretty dangerous bloodsport. Knowing that still isn’t going to change the behavior of an insolent teen. So why not take matters into your own hands, parents, and install a mini cellphone jammer in the family car? TxtStopper, a professionally installed 12 volt device, will apparently shut down all communications on any US cellphones operating in the car — yes, including the non-driving passengers — when the car is on and in gear. Unfortunately, TxtStopper’s site chooses to prey on consumer fears rather than offer up any real technical details so we’ll just trust them that it works as advertised, ok? For $200, maybe not.
As an aside, the image above was grabbed from Microsoft’s promotional video for its new Windows Live Messenger beta. A touch irresponsible to be promoting its mobile Messaging app for smartphones in this way don’t you think? Skip ahead to the 1 minute 55 second mark of the embedded video if you need an outlet for your Monday morning angst.
Source and read more . . .
We knew Google had the power to remotely remove Android apps — Microsoft and Apple have backdoors into their mobile operating systems, too — but it’s always a little disconcerting to see a kill switch used. Such is the case today, as we’ve just heard Google unleashed the hounds this week, siccing bits and bytes of remote deletion power on a pair of “practically useless” but still Terms of Service-infringing apps. Curiously enough, Google admits that most who’d downloaded these programs had deleted them already, and that this “exercise” of the remote application removal feature was merely a cleanup operation. Google says users will get a notification beamed to their phone if an app is removed, however — so as Big Brother as that all sounds, at least the company’s being nice and transparent about the whole matter, eh?
Update: To be clear, the developers of the offending apps had already removed them from the Android Market, so this was technically a cleanup. The only question is why Google would go out of its way to mop up an app that absolutely no one would miss.
Thought Microsoft had come up with Project Natal for Xbox 360 all by themselves? Not a chance; the company has pulled back the curtain and it turns out the 3D optical-tracking wizard is actually PrimeSense, whose PrimeSensor system the Xbox 360 engineering team adapted for Microsoft’s gaming needs.
“The Reference Design generates realtime depth, color and audio data of the living room scene. It works in all room lighting conditions (whether in complete darkness or in a fully lit room). It does not require the user to wear or hold anything, does not require calibration and does not require computational resources from the host’s processor” PrimeSense
Inside Project Natal – and the PrimeSensor reference design – is PrimeSense’s PS1080 SoC, with an integrated USB 2.0 controller, and takes infrared input from the standard CMOS sensor, together with audio, and processes it on-chip rather than relying on the console’s CPU. The image analysed is VGA 640 x 480 resolution at 60fps, and according to the technical specs will track people between 0.8m and 3.5m away.
Of course there’s no telling how much modification the Xbox team made, nor how long – if at all – Microsoft have any exclusive on the PrimeSense system. There’s also still no specific release dates, beyond the existing “holiday 2010″ window and the promise that Natal will make its world premiere on June 13th at E3 2010.
Continue reading PrimeSense confirmed as Project Natal hardware source
No matter how many monitors you have or how large they are, you’re going to run out of desktop space eventually – or even now. Desktops enables you to create up to four desktops with different running programs and switch between them easily.
You can switch by using keystrokes, or by opening the Desktops icon in the Taskbar and selecting the appropriate desktop. Each window can have different programs running, and, on Windows 7, different programs in the Taskbar’s jump list.
If you’re on a tight budget, out of desk space, or just want to make your desktop do more, Desktops could be the answer.
Download Desktops here!
If you like informative wallpaper, BGInfo’s the program for you. It replaces the normal wallpaper on the system with a complete summary of the computer’s hardware, memory, operating system, network, and drives.
If you’d prefer less information, want to display the information in a pop-up window instead of on the desktop, saved to a database for capture and analysis, or run automatically, BGInfo offers extensive customization, including command-line options.
BGInfo’s a great tool when you’re setting up a network or want to provide non-technical users with an easy way to find system information they can provide in case of a network or system problem.
Download BgInfo here!
Sigcheck is an “old-school” (command-line) utility designed to sniff out file and digital signature information for programs and drivers. If you’re having problems with particular programs or hardware, use Sigcheck to find out if you have outdated versions or unsigned drivers. To check for unsigned executable files, use the –u and –e options as shown in this example: sigcheck –u –e c:\windows\system32
You can run sigcheck.exe without options to see a complete list of options. In this example, we found that the 64-bit version of FRAPS DirectX screen capture is unsigned.
Download Sigcheck here!
Process Monitor provides a continuously-updated look at the programs and services running in your system. As you open and close programs, search the web, print documents, and perform other activities, Process Monitor tracks every activity.
To learn more about a particular event, double-click it to open its properties sheet. Click the Process tab to see the file name, version, path, modules, and other information.
Once you open the properties sheet, use the up and down arrows at the bottom of each tab to move to the next or previous entry in the main window. Summaries available from the Tools menu provide condensed information about file usage, network usage, and other categories.
Download Process Monitor here!
It is perhaps the unlikeliest scenario any technologist could imagine as recently as two years ago: Microsoft evangelizing developers to embrace Web standards by helping it to build its Web browser. Although one of the first browsers to be distributed for free, Internet Explorer has never been open source. Historically, it’s always been ready when it’s ready; its value proposition has been to the consumer who prefers convenience over adaptability; and when the fact that it was dirt slow was pointed out, the response typically was, the consumer isn’t going to care.
Today, the value proposition started to take shape for IE9, the browser that in an earlier era didn’t need a value proposition. Microsoft’s strategy, which premiered today at MIX 10, was to seize control of tomorrow’s key talking point, HTML 5 compliance and compatibility — to make HTML 5 identifiable with Internet Explorer. In fact, IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch’s greeting sentence to MIX 10 attendees this morning wasn’t without the term “HTML 5.”
Oh yeah baby, Qualcomm’s finally shipping its first dual-core Snapdragons. To whom, is the big question. Its third-generation Mobile Station Modem MSM8260 and MSM8660 Snapdragon chipsets for high-end smartphones — originally announced in February 2009 — are now sampling and capable of running at up to 1.2GHz. The MSM8260 supports HSPA+, while the MSM8660 brings support for multi-mode HSPA+ and 1xEV-DO Rev. B. Both integrate GPS, a GPU with 2D / 3D acceleration engines for Open GL ES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1, 1080p video encoding and decoding, a dedicated low-power audio engine, and support for 24-bit WXGA 1,280 x 800 pixel displays. Anybody at Computex care to step forward with a reference design?
Update: We just spoke with company representatives here at the show, and try as we may, we couldn’t convince anyone at the company to show off a dual-core reference design. We were flat-out told that the only people at Computex getting a glimpse at the new silicon were prospective customers, though we did manage to pry out a few interesting details about the chip itself and the future of the line. For one, these new chips have two application cores and a single modem core, whereas existing chips have a single application core alongside a single modem core. We were also told in no uncertain terms that an even quicker version of the Snapdragon would be launched before the year’s end, and as you’d likely surmise, it’ll be aimed at “larger screen” devices — you know, like slates and tablet PCs.