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Skype 5.0 for Windows busts out of beta, integrates your Facebook friends

Posted by yoMcLovin on October 14, 2010

Nope, it’s not a Facebook “phone,” but it’s probably the closest you’re gonna get to one right now. Skype has just unleashed the no-longer-in-beta version of its 5.0 Windows software, and not only has it drastically tided up the interface, but just like the rumor said, it’s taken advantage of Facebook Connect in a big way. The new version, still has a familiar look and feel, but the most noticeable changes are the addition of photos to the contacts list and the new Facebook tab. Logging into your Facebook account within the program populates your regular News Feed, but also attaches Skype call / SMS buttons next to friends that have either their Skype handles or mobile phone numbers listed on Facebook. Hit one of the buttons and you’re, well, connected! There’s also an option to view your Facebook Phonebook, which basically lists all your contacts’ mobile phone numbers — though, oddly, it doesn’t list Skype handles within that area. Of course, the final version still allows for 10-way video calls and includes the automatic call recovery feature, which brilliantly reconnects dropped calls as if the drop didn’t really happen. If and when these features will hit Skype’s mobile version, your guess is as good as ours — a company spokesperson told us there’s nothing to talk about on that end right now. Of course, we could go on and on about the new software, or you could hit the source link, download it yourself, and let us know what you think about it below.

Update: Skype says the source link should work — even though it says it’s Skype 4.2, the software is 5.0.

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The World’s Most Expensive Diamond Covered iPhone 4

Posted by yoMcLovin on October 14, 2010

We’ve already established that if you’re filthy rich, you probably don’t want the same cell phone as “US” common folk. No, if you’re looking for something higher end, you’ll probably end up talking to Stuart Hughes, who customizes electronics by plating them in gold and diamonds. We’ve already seen his work on a $20,000 iPhone 4, but his latest achievement is downright ridiculous. Called the “world’s most expensive phone” (we’ll see how long that lasts), Hughes made two identical models for an Australian client. Each handset includes over 500 diamonds and totals over 100 karats, and comes in its own special granite box. Its total cost is £5 million — nearly 8 million dollars. Just don’t bother crying when you leave it on the seat of a cab.

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Scientist find Earth-Like Planet in the “Goldilocks Zone” not too hot and not too cold juusst right!!

Posted by yoMcLovin on September 30, 2010

Scientist find another planet just outside of our solar system that could be habitable. Interesting!!!

WASHINGTON – Astronomers say they have for the first time spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone for life: Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuust right.

Not too far from its star, not too close. So it could contain liquid water. The planet itself is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere.

It’s just right. Just like Earth.

“This really is the first Goldilocks planet,” said co-discoverer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The new planet sits smack in the middle of what astronomers refer to as the habitable zone, unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside our solar system. And it is in our galactic neighborhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars.

Finding a planet that could potentially support life is a major step toward answering the timeless question: Are we alone?

Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life. But this one is so clearly in the right zone that five outside astronomers told The Associated Press it seems to be the real thing.

“This is the first one I’m truly excited about,” said Penn State University’s Jim Kasting. He said this planet is a “pretty prime candidate” for harboring life.

Life on other planets doesn’t mean E.T. Even a simple single-cell bacteria or the equivalent of shower mold would shake perceptions about the uniqueness of life on Earth.

But there are still many unanswered questions about this strange planet. It is about three times the mass of Earth, slightly larger in width and much closer to its star — 14 million miles away versus 93 million. It’s so close to its version of the sun that it orbits every 37 days. And it doesn’t rotate much, so one side is almost always bright, the other dark.

Temperatures can be as hot as 160 degrees or as frigid as 25 degrees below zero, but in between — in the land of constant sunrise — it would be “shirt-sleeve weather,” said co-discoverer Steven Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

It’s unknown whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere it has. But because conditions are ideal for liquid water, and because there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water, Vogt believes “that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.”

The astronomers’ findings are being published in Astrophysical Journal and were announced by the National Science Foundation on Wednesday.

The planet circles a star called Gliese 581. It’s about 120 trillion miles away, so it would take several generations for a spaceship to get there. It may seem like a long distance, but in the scheme of the vast universe, this planet is “like right in our face, right next door to us,” Vogt said in an interview.

That close proximity and the way it was found so early in astronomers’ search for habitable planets hints to scientists that planets like Earth are probably not that rare.

Vogt and Butler ran some calculations, with giant fudge factors built in, and figured that as much as one out of five to 10 stars in the universe have planets that are Earth-sized and in the habitable zone.

With an estimated 200 billion stars in the universe, that means maybe 40 billion planets that have the potential for life, Vogt said. However, Ohio State University’s Scott Gaudi cautioned that is too speculative about how common these planets are.

Vogt and Butler used ground-based telescopes to track the star’s precise movements over 11 years and watch for wobbles that indicate planets are circling it. The newly discovered planet is actually the sixth found circling Gliese 581. Two looked promising for habitability for a while, another turned out to be too hot and the fifth is likely too cold. This sixth one bracketed right in the sweet spot in between, Vogt said.

With the star designated “a,” its sixth planet is called Gliese 581g.

“It’s not a very interesting name and it’s a beautiful planet,” Vogt said. Unofficially, he’s named it after his wife: “I call it Zarmina’s World.”

The star Gliese 581 is a dwarf, about one-third the strength of our sun. Because of that, it can’t be seen without a telescope from Earth, although it is in the Libra constellation, Vogt said.

But if you were standing on this new planet, you could easily see our sun, Butler said.

The low-energy dwarf star will live on for billions of years, much longer than our sun, he said. And that just increases the likelihood of life developing on the planet, the discoverers said.

“It’s pretty hard to stop life once you give it the right conditions,” Vogt said.

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Apple introduces new Apple TV and iPods

Posted by yoMcLovin on September 2, 2010

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced a revamped Apple TV device, a new iPod line, an iTunes social network and updates to the operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad at Apple’s highly anticipated product launch event on Wednesday.

Apple TV, which hasn’t sold well and which Jobs has referred to as a “hobby,” got a major revision. The new device is a quarter the size of the current model, fits in the palm of your hand, and sells for just $99 — much less than the $229 of the current model. (Read Fortune.com’s live blog of the event here.)

It’s so small because Apple ditched the prior device’s video purchase model, dramatically reducing Apple TV’s storage requirements. The gadget will now instead be for movie and TV show rentals. Movies can be rented the same day the DVDs go on sale for $4.99, and TV shows are available for 99 cents each.

“Our users want Hollywood movies and TV shows, cheaper; they don’t want amateur hour,” Jobs said. “They don’t want another computer. They don’t want to manage storage. They want it to be silent, cool and small.”

Jobs promised that the device would have the largest library of movies in the world available for rental on the first day of purchase. As for TV shows, Apple was able to strike a deal with Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS, Fortune 500) ABC and News Corp.’s (NWS, Fortune 500) Fox for TV shows, but Jobs said he believes more networks will soon follow suit.

“We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast,” Jobs said.

The new Apple TV will also be able to connect to users’ Netflix (NFLX) accounts, YouTube, and Flickr. The device can link to users’ home computers as well, so they can play their iTunes music and video libraries over Wi-Fi.

New iPods

The iPod line got its annual upgrade as well. The flashiest new iPod was the iPod Touch, which starts at $229 and has become the best-selling iPod. The new iPod Touch is thinner and adds many of the new iPhone 4’s features, including a front and rear facing camera, “Retina Display,” and FaceTime, which allows users to make video calls over Wi-Fi.

The iPod Touch is also the best selling portable game player, outselling Nintendo and Sony’s portable game players combined, Jobs said.

The $149 iPod Nano also got a significant upgrade. The tiny device lost its click wheel and will feature a multi-touch screen and a clip on the back. Apple made it almost half the size of the current iPod Nano model and 42% lighter.

Apple went back to the past for its newest $49 iPod Shuffle: After users lamented loss of the buttons Apple took away on last year’s model, the company is putting them back on the new one. The new Shuffle keeps the features of the latest one, including the ability to play custom playlists.

The only iPod that didn’t get an update is the iPod Classic. All of the new iPods will be available next week.

ITunes 10

Apple also unveiled iTunes 10, complete with a new logo. Jobs said that since iTunes sales have long eclipsed CD sales, it was appropriate that the new icon ditch the CD image. It now features just a blue circle and a musical note.

ITunes 10, which launches on Wednesday, has a slightly new interface, with album art now available to view in list mode. But the major new feature was “Ping,” a social network based right in iTunes. People can follow both friends and artists to comment on songs, albums and bands. They can also post videos, and find concert dates.

As always, privacy is a concern with new social networks, but Jobs was quick to say that the settings are “super-simple to set up,” and the feature “is as public or private as you like.”

The iTunes update didn’t include the cloud-based service that many had hoped for. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) is building a data center in North Carolina, which many believe will be used to give customers the ability to access their iTunes library anywhere.

IOS 4.1

Jobs unveiled bug fixes and minor performance upgrades for Apple’s mobile device operating system. Jobs said that the new iOS 4.1 offers improved photo-taking capabilities, the ability to upload high definition video over Wi-Fi and a new collaborative game playing community called Game Center. The new OS will be available for download in November.

The next update, iOS 4.2, was also previewed. It will feature wireless printing for the iPad and the ability to connect an iPad to Apple TV devices.

Jobs said that 120 million devices with iOS have shipped, dating back to the original iPhone in 2007. Apple is activating 230,000 iOS devices a day, including the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and the iPod Touch. There are now 250,000 apps in the App Store, including 25,000 iPad apps. To top of page

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New controller for Xbox 360 unveiled

Posted by yoMcLovin on September 2, 2010

(CNN) — Microsoft will be offering up a new Xbox 360 wireless controller starting this fall that features an adjustable directional-control pad (D-pad).

Larry Hryb, programming director for Xbox Live, revealed the new controller Tuesday on his blog.

Hryb, known more commonly by his gamer tag, Major Nelson, shows in a video how the adjustable D-pad will work.

With a twist of the wrist, the D-pad goes from flat to a raised plus controller.

Hryb said the design was in response to many gamers who didn’t like the feel of theXbox’s current D-pad. Engineers came up with a solution that was designed to give options for those who wanted a better feel, he said.

The controller’s colored buttons also are gone in favor of gray A, B, X and Y buttons.

Concave analog sticks and a matte silver finish complete the transformation for the new wireless controller.

The new device will not be included in console sales and is only available with the new Play & Charge Kit that will launch on November 9 for $64.99.

The Play & Charge Kit includes a rechargeable battery pack, which allows gamers to lose disposable batteries currently used to power the controllers.

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