New DVD Drive: DG-16D5S

/* Posted July 8th, 2011 at 3:08am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Uncategorized    */


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Google Map downloads cut the data cord

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:09pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Web    */

Offline download in Google Maps 5.7 for Android(Credit:
Google)

Google Maps has received a new experimental Labs add-on today that may simplify your life in areas with little to no Wi-Fi or data.

The “Download map area” add-on in the new Google Maps 5.7 for Android will store a map for a specific area you’re trying to visit. You’ll have to plan in advance with this tool, and downloading a map will take some time and storage space, but it beats lugging around a guide book, or worrying about getting enough signal in a trouble spot.

If you’ve got an
Android phone running version 2.1 or higher, and the latest version of Maps 5.7, you can get started by opening the menu, tapping More, then Labs, and selecting the download feature. Later when you search for a Place, for instance, going into the More menu will show you an option for downloading the area map while you’re still online.

Be forewarned that the feature won’t show you directions, Places, satellite view, or 3D buildings.

Since you may not want downloaded maps sticking around too long, you can view or delete them from the cache settings (get to it from Menu, then More). After 30 days, Google will delete them by default.

After playing around with the map downloads, we like what we see so far. The real test will be seeing how easy or useful the feature is in areas that are truly data-starved.

Vulkano Flow: A Capable Sub-$100 HDTV Place-Shifter With Direct-to-Mobile Recording, Too

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:09pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under News    */

If you’ve ever spent any time channel surfing in a hotel room, chances are you’ll immediately see the appeal of place-shifting technology, which allows you to watch your home TV programs remotely by streaming them over the Internet to a PC, Mac, or smartphone. One of Monsoon Multimedia’s latest offerings in this category, the Vulkano Flow, costs about $100 (as of 7/7/2011), supports high-def video, and works pretty well if your remote broadband connection meets its modest bandwidth demands. But you have to accept some image quality compromises, and its controls for remote access generally work extremely slowly.

Like the more full-featured (and pricey) Vulkano Deluxe I reviewed earlier this year, the Flow works by intercepting the video stream that travels between your cable or satellite box and your HDTV, and making it available via the Internet to player software that you can download and install on a PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet. The Mac and PC players are free, but you have to pay $13 for the mobile device apps, which previously were also free and apparently now subsidize the low price of the Flow.

The main drawback of this scheme is that most current HD cable or satellite boxes connect to HDTVs via an HDMI cable, which securely delivers both high-def digital video and 5.1 or 7.1 audio, too. Copy-protection technology doesn’t allow an unauthorized third-party device such as a Vulkano to grab a copy of the digital signal en route to your set. So the best a Vulkano can do is to use the set-top box’s analog outputs, which don’t have those security issues but also can’t deliver the pristine quality of the digital video signal. For audio, meanwhile, the Vulkano can only use the box’s analog stereo outputs–forget 5.1, let alone 7.1.

This isn’t ideal, but on a small smartphone or notebook display, the video quality issues are less apparent than they would be on a big HDTV screen.

Like its predecessors, the Vulkano Flow is a black, keyboard-sized slab. It comes with cables to connect to a set-top box’s analog outputs for either component or composite video, and for stereo audio. Component video, which uses three separate cables, delivers the best quality analog connection; composite video carries all the image info on a single cable and isn’t quite as good.

You must provide your own cables for connecting the Flow to the HDTV. The quick setup guide blithely declares that you can use the same cables you previously used to connect the set-top box directly to the TV, but if you have been using an HDMI cable, you can’t do this–the Flow has no HDMI port (as did the Deluxe). So you’re on your own for finding another set of analog cables that match the ones you use to connect the Flow to the set-top box (the instructions say the two sets of cables must be the same).

Aside from the setup guide’s failure to address this issue, however, the lack of a second set of analog cables may not be as stingy as it sounds: Many HDTVs do come with component cables that sit unused because HDMI does deliver superior quality. Check your set’s manual to see if there should be one kicking around someplace, or pay a few dollars to get the second set of cables. Also, you can still enjoy the superior quality of digital video once you finish the setup routine: Simply keep the HDMI connection between the set-top box and the TV, and use the HDMI input as the TV’s video source.

You must also connect the Vulkano Flow to your home network. I ran an ethernet cable between its gigabit ethernet port and a free port on a HomePlug AV switch, but the Flow also has integrated support for 802.11n Wi-Fi. However, I experienced problems trying to watch TV remotely over a Wi-Fi connection, especially when the remote connection also used Wi-Fi. In general, I strongly recommend using a wired connection for streaming media.

Once all the connections are in place and you’ve pugged the Flow’s AC cord into a wall outlet, you must switch the TV to the input the Flow uses, and then complete setup through either the PC or Mac software player. The player detects the presence of a Flow on the network and prompts you to give it a name and a password. You must also enter your location and cable or satellite service provider, so that the unit can download the appropriate electronic program guide.

You must specify the brand and model of your set-top box so that the software players can control the set through virtual remotes that prompt the Flow to send commands via infrared, the same way an actual remote does. The Vulkano Flow can emit infrared signals on its own, but if the box doesn’t respond to them (mine didn’t), you can plug in an included infrared blaster cable to focus the signals more precisely.

With the blaster connected, my set-top box responded accurately to all commands sent from my players. But several seconds of lag always occur, during which the player screen blacks out as it processes the command and buffers content. This can be particularly annoying when you are using a virtual jog wheel to scroll through menus embedded in other menus. You have to wait several seconds for each and every scrolling operation, so it can take half a minute or more to get to a program choice, for example.

Once video playback began, however, the quality was quite good on the shows I watched on a notebook PC and on my iPad over hotel Wi-Fi. With my iPhone, quality varied widely depending on the quality of my data connection. It was generally good with Wi-Fi, but over ATT’s 3G network, I sometimes got messages saying there wasn’t enough bandwidth for video (in which case the player simply provided audio without images until it was able to add the video). The players show you what sort of speed they’re getting, and when the video can play at roughly 400 kpbs or faster, it was at least watchable if not surprisingly good.

The player app now allows recording directly to a mobile device. This is available first on the iPhone and iPad, and is coming soon for Android. The app adds full DVR capabilities, so you can pause, rewind, and fast-forward through video you’ve recorded. On iOS, it records as an H.264+AAC MP4 file, at either 640 by 480 or 352 by 240 resolution. If you get record-happy, don’t worry–you’ll get a warning that you have insufficient memory.

What I really like about the Vulkano system is that it lets you watch pretty much anything you could see sitting in front of your TV. Using the virtual remote, you can not only change channels but access shows recorded on the integrated DVR, or even Comcast’s on-demand content. I was able, for example, to watch the first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones in a Seattle hotel room with no real problem. The quality certainly fell short of the digital version on my 42-inch 1080p plasma (resolution tops out at 720 by 480, and Monsoon recommends using lower resolutions when outside your home network), but I encountered practically no skips or stutters.

The experience was best on my notebook PC because the player includes an actual visual replica of the Comcast remote I use at home, complete with some (but not all) clickable buttons. On the iPad and iPhone players, you get generic remote menus that don’t provide all the controls available on the PC player’s remote. On the mobile devices, for example, I wasn’t able to figure out how to pause and restart or rewind a recorded or on-demand program.

The players give you some context-sensitive settings options, including screen resolution and aspect ratio. Although the Flow lacks built-in storage (which was included in the earlier model I tested), the players can still record programs while you’re watching them and save them to the hard drive or flash memory of the device running the player. However you cannot schedule recordings using the electronic programming guide, so the DVR capability is more like a backup for when you have to walk away from a show in progress.

Overall, I enjoyed watching my TV remotely using the Flow and various software players. The quality was better than I’d experienced with older versions, and I particularly liked being able to access my DVR recordings and on-demand content, since that’s the content I watch most frequently (I rarely watch live TV at home). The only thing that really can be irritating is having to wait for the remote to get through menus that at home you’d be able to navigate in a few seconds.

Of course, audio and video quality takes a hit (and I’d highly recommend listening to the audio with a headset since the volume through speakers tends to be rather low, even when turned up all the way). But that hit is not big enough to preclude enjoyment, especially when your only other options are the generally limited TV lineups you get when you travel. Also, when I’m at home, I can still watch the best quality HDTV using the HDMI input from my HD cable box–there’s no reason to disconnect it, and you really only need to tune to the analog input from the Flow during setup. The only conceivable problem that might arise is if two people attempt to control the set-top box simultaneously, one at home and one using a Vulkano player remotely.

Monsoon’s decision to drop some features (most notably the more elaborate DVR functionality and built-in storage) and market a lower-priced unit seems like a good one. When I’m on the road, a price of $100 (with no service charges) seems like a bargain for a product that allows you to watch pretty good versions of the programs I enjoy at home.

POPS Loader Patch for 6.39 ME-8

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:08pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under PSP    */

As I noticed already before in the 6.39 ME-8 release thread; has released a for 6.39 ME-8 which makes the PRO POPSLoader compatible with his new Custom Firmware!

Note: You need the “New popsloader for PRO” which you can find here!

Developers notes:

popsloader patch for 639ME-8– What is this? –
This is a patch plugin for ME.
It allow to use “New popsloader for PRO” on ME.– How to install? –
1.Install “New popsloader for PRO” in your Memory stick.
2.Copy pops_bridge.prx at memory stick and add plugin path at pops.txt .ex:

ms0:/seplugins/pops_bridge.prx 1
ms0:/seplugins/popsloader/popsloader.prx 1

3.enjoy

Download

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Combine Google Docs with Microsoft Office, Courtesy of SyncDocs

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:09am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under News    */

I’m finally starting to use Google Docs for word processing and creating spreadsheets on a regular basis. Like a lot of users, however, I’m still more comfortable working in Microsoft Office on my desktop. Google Docs however, provides a very handy service in that you can sign in from any computer anywhere in the world and access all your files. So how can you get the best of both worlds–comfortable desktop editing and the convenience of having your files in the cloud? A program called Syncdocs (free) has the solution.

Combine Google Docs with Microsoft Office, Courtesy of SyncDocsSyncdocs keeps your documents and spreadsheets up-to-date without lifting a finger.Like the popular applications Dropbox and SugarSync, Syncdocs quietly uploads and downloads your files in the background. Whether you’re editing an existing file or creating a new one, Syncdocs keeps a watchful eye on your folders and springs into action whenever a change is detected.

The setup process is very simple, with little more to do than clicking a few “next” buttons. You’ll need a Google account, of course–which you can sign up for on this page. Microsoft’s .NET 3.5 Framework is also required, but Syncdocs will automatically perform the installation if your computer doesn’t already have it.

Once Syncdocs is installed, you’ll be asked to enter your username and password. Once your credentials have been verified by Google’s server, any files you current have stored on Google Docs will be downloaded to the folder Syncdocs creates on your hard drive (you can customize its location at any time). You’ll also notice a new drive letter on your My Computer screen (usually G:) which provides quick access to your newly-attached Google Docs cloud storage.

If you collaborate with other users on your documents, Syncdocs can process revision history and keep files and folders others share with you synchronized as well. You can even tell the program to open supported file types stored on your computer (such as those in your My Documents folder) using Google Docs in your Web browser for viewing or editing. If you’re trying to break completely free of desktop office applications, it’s a feature that will certainly help you make the move.

There’s an awful lot to like about Syncdocs. In fact, the only thing I don’t like about it has nothing to do with the program itself. As with any synchronization program, you’re at the mercy of your Internet provider when it comes to uploading–and my ISP greatly restricts upload speeds. That can make for some lengthy transfer times, but it’s worth being patient if it means I know my files are up-to-date both offline and online.

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PoV: New PSN redesign in the works?

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:09am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

According to Reghardware, Sony is working to revamp the PlayStation Network. The report claims that the PSN redesign will “transform the online environment into a more image-driven layout along the lines of Xbox Live and Steam.”

psn

 

The new design will primary focus on “aesthetic layout with logically marked sections and rolodex lists.” It is said to feature less heavy text and more images, giving users a new, “live search method with results appearing as users enter characters rather than head off to a separate text-entry page.”

Games and movie listings on the PlayStation Store will also see a major make-over, with an IMDB-style database, as well as the planned addition of the a new ‘deals of the week’ section. The current blue color scheme may also changed in favor of a more brighter colors on a black background.

 

With all the problems the PlayStation Network has gone through in the past few months, I would mind seeing a new redesign of the service. Cross game chat anyone?

 

Now, how about you guys? What features would you like to see added to PSN? Share your thoughts below or continue the discussion at the forums.

 

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Google+ (Plus) Open Registration (No Invite Required)

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:08am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Gadgets    */

Delicious Delicious

Google+ (Google Plus) is a new social networking service from Google which competes head-to-head with insanely popular Facebook. Google+ was launced on June 28, 2011 as an invite-only testing phase. Initially, existing users were allowed to invite friends, though the ability to invite friends was quickly suspended due to “insane demand”.

But how can a social networking service be a success if people who wants to use it has no way to sign up for the service, and cannot invite their friends to the same network? In fact, Google has failed to deliver in their previous social networking initiatives, including Google Buzz and Orket.

Join Google+ without Invite

Google seems to have a change of heart on Google+’s invite-only model though, as Google+ appears to be now on “open sign up” mode. It means that you just need to head to http://plus.google.com/ to join and activate Google+ account with a Google account. No invite is required. You need a Google Account (or Gmail account) to join, but you can easily create a Google account at https://www.google.com/accounts/, even though there is no link to sign up for new Google account from Google + homepage.

A public profile will be created in order to join Google+.

Google+ Open Registration

And of course, existing Google+ users are now also having plenty of invites to send from their account, and thus regain the ability to invite their friends to Google+ network too.

Note that you may or may not see the Google+ open sign up page (where you continue to see the web page with link to “Keep Me Posted” to send update when available). It’s probably a way by Google to offer sign up randomly to avoid sudden influx of registrations. So good luck and keep trying.

Tip: You may need to logout from your Google account first before visiting plus.google.com to view the Sign In button. Else, just ask somebody who manage to register to send you an invite.

Google+ has a few unique features which set it apart from other social network networks. Google+ features include “Circles” for organizing contacts into groups for sharing, “Huddle” for communicating through instant messaging within circles, “Hangouts” as places for facilitating group video chat, “Instant Upload” for storing photos or video from Android in a private album for sharing later, “Sparks” for searching, and “Streams”, which similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Wall for seeing updates from friends.

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Study: iPhone Users Spend 14 Hours a Month Gaming

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:08am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

Image: Wired.com

The average iPhone owner spends twice the average amount of time playing mobile games, according to a recent study done by Nielsen.


arstechnica
The study also notes that 93 percent of customers who download apps have shelled out cash in the last 30 days to get their hands on a game, indicating that games are likely the most lucrative app category for a developer to pursue — and that iOS may have the most engaged gaming audience.

According to the study, iPhone owners are, by a large margin, most interested in quality gaming time on their smartphones. The average iPhone owner spent 14.7 hours playing mobile games over a 30 day period, while the average Android owner spent only 9.3 hours. The overall average for smartphone gamers, which includes platforms like Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry, is 7.8 hours per month.

Of course, the study doesn’t control for the selection size or quality of games, which is no doubt a factor for some platforms. But games are still making the biggest impact of all the application varieties: they are the most popular category of app, with 64 percent of downloaders grabbing a game in the last 30 days. Weather apps (60 percent) and social networking apps (56 percent) aren’t trailing far behind.

However, other types of apps aren’t as proficient as games at enticing consumers to spend money. Only 76 percent of downloaders would spend money on a news app, for instance. Customers are most willing to spend money on games (93 percent) and “entertainment” apps (87 percent).

And when it comes to popularity, smartphone gaming beats smartphone learning: While 64 percent of app downloaders picked up games, only 11 percent got themselves an “education/learning” app.

XexTool GUI v1.6 beta

/* Posted July 7th, 2011 at 3:08am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Xbox    */


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Localizer ™ v1.1 r4 – Translate your XMB!

/* Posted July 6th, 2011 at 9:08pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under PSP    */

From the hands of the developer Draan comes a new version of ™, a plugin which aims to translate XMB into not included languages ??for the PSP.

Note: that there are about 6,800 different languages ??and the PSP only supports 12, only 0.2% of total ..

It works on: 5.00 cfw, 5.03 cfw, 5.50 cfw, 6.20 hen/cfw, 6.35, and 6.39.

Changelog:

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