Unlike its predecessors, Street Fighter 4 boasts "all new environments, new gameplay elements, and more." Gameplay footage after the break. Click here for first picture in gallery.

This game has been confirmed as a project in development at Capcom, but official platform plans have not yet been confirmed -- plans may include an arcade release as well as release on next-generation gaming platforms.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/video-first-street-fighter-4-gameplay-footage
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Microsoft Xbox motion sensitiveWebsite XboxFamily.com dropped a rumor this week that peripheral maker Gyration is developing a motion-sensitive add-on for the existing Xbox 360 controller. Microsoft has yet to utter a word regarding this rumor, but could the Big N have finally ruffled Microsoft's feathers?

Source- http://gizmodo.com/338868/microsoft-working-on-motion-sensitive-controller-for-xbox-360
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The Masks Zune Arts Commercial Microsoft has just released a new Zune commercial, titled: "The Masks". Though it may be creative, the player itself is nowhere to be found.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/video-microsoft-releases-the-masks-zune-commercial-battle-scenes-included
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OLPC XO image Don't adjust your screens folks, as this actually isn't a year-end case of déjà vu. Rather, we're looking to give you an(other) imaginary shot at tweaking the OLPC XO now that it has moved beyond the initiative phase and been productized for the general consumer. In case you've been parked squarely under a rock for the last few months, you should know that the XO's journey through production has been quite a lengthy one, and while a few countries have made substantial bulk purchases to inject these machines into their respective school systems, we're interested in seeing how the average joe / jane located in a developed nation sees things.

Needless to say, One Laptop Per Child's "Give One, Get One" program has been quite the success, and by now, we're confident that some of you have already received your own. 'Course, we're sure there's at least a few of you that chose this over that other low-cost laptop (and many that chose it over this), and we're curious to know how you'd improve the newly commercialized XO now that it actually has a rival. Yeah, we too would love an even skimpier price tag, but beyond that, what hardware / software changes would you like to see on the next version? Could you stand to have a few more megabytes of RAM? Still yearning for dual-boot capability out of the box? How's about a design scheme that doesn't involve opaque white and bright green? As stated, we're well aware that these things weren't designed with LAN partiers in mind, but now that NickNeg is offering 'em up to these very citizens -- not to mention every other type of user in North America -- why not toss out a few suggestions for making it more suitable for you?

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/28/how-would-you-change-the-olpc-xo/
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American wired media surveyAbout 38% of U.S. consumers are watching TV shows online, 36% use their cell phones as entertainment devices and 45% are creating online content like Web sites, music, videos and blogs for others, according to a new-media survey from Deloitte & Touche.

The findings of the online survey of 2,081 Americans, conducted October 25-31, were provided to The Hollywood Reporter before their official release next month.

The "State of the Media Democracy" notes that in Deloitte's first edition of the survey just eight months earlier, 24% of consumers used their cell phones as entertainment devices, meaning that usage has soared 50%.

About 62% of "millennials" (consumers 13-to-24-years-old) are using their cell phones as entertainment devices, up from 46% in the previous study conducted February 23-March 6, 2007. And among Generation X consumers (25-to-41-year-olds), the number grew to 47% from 29% in the earlier survey.

About 20% of consumers said they are viewing video content on their cell phones daily or almost daily.

The%age of consumers watching TV online jumped from the 23% figure reported in the previous study. Roughly 54% of those surveyed said they are making their own entertainment content through editing photos, videos or music, 45% said they are producing that content for others to see, and 32% said they consider themselves to be "broadcasters" of their own media.

"I think for advertisers one of the conclusions is you don't make decisions to advertise either on television or the Internet when you want to hit all the demographics, but rather you need to have a multiplatform strategy," said Ken August, vice chairman and national sector leader for Deloitte & Touche's media and entertainment practice, which commissioned the study. "It shouldn't be an either or proposition."

Among the study's other findings:

-- 54% of consumers said they socialize via social networking sites, chat rooms or message boards, and 45% said they maintain a profile on a social networking site.

-- 85% of consumers still find TV advertising to have the most impact on their buying habits, but online ads are second best, with 65% of consumers saying they have the most impact, beating out magazines at 63%.

Source- http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071228/wr_nm/media_survey_dc;_ylt=Av2nEU6lyi1RqHrCukLnQwMjtBAF
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iPhone Babe  Celebrate Holi tainJust passing the time during the "holi-tain'ts" ('tain't this holiday, 'tain't that holiday)? The guys at I4U News really know how to commemorate gadgets, and can help you celebrate these in-between touchy-feely times with their I4U Apple iPhone Babe. She's billed as a tribute to touchscreens, and we might add she's a tribute to touching anything else within your reach, as well.

More Pics, Check it out--

Apple iPhone Babe Celebrates the Holi-tainsOne more pics of Apple iPhone Babe Celebrating Holi-tain's
Source- http://gizmodo.com/338146/apple-iphone-babe-celebrates-the-holi+taints
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Obama girl Britney boy Youtube popularityVideos by a self-styled Obama Girl, a fan's tearful defense of Britney Spears and an attack by a herd of buffaloes on a pride of lions, were among the most popular clips on YouTube.com in 2007.

But the videos were not just popular because of the millions of times they were seen on the YouTube.com Web site, which allows users to post their homemade videos. The rankings, released by YouTube on Thursday, took into account the most shared, most discussed, top rated and general popularity of clips to determine which ones people were thinking and talking about most.

Among the year's favorites were the Obama Girl video, created by Barely Political, featuring an attractive young singer professing her love for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. It has been viewed more than 4 million times and many more times on television after being featured on news and talk shows.

While it was clear Barely Political was producing political satire in the name of entertainment, Internet surfers might initially have been less certain what Chris Crocker was trying to do in his "Leave Britney Alone" clip in September.

The clip is a close-up of Crocker breaking down in tears as he berates the media and paparazzi for hounding pop singer Spears as she lurched from one tabloid scandal to another.

YouTube said the melodramatic two-minute clip made Crocker an instant YouTube star, has been watched more than 14 million times and is the fourth most-commented-on video in YouTube's history.

In terms of sheer viewer numbers it was an unlikely combination of amateur production values, patience and timing that made an eight-minute video titled "Battle at Kruger" so compelling it has been watched more than 21 million times on YouTube.

The video captured the battle between a herd of water buffaloes, a pride of lions and a crocodile over a young calf.

The clip, filmed by Jason Schlosberg on safari in South Africa's Kruger National Park, has been featured on ABC News and Time magazine. Schlosberg has a documentary coming on the National Geographic Channel next spring based around his original film.

Other popular videos included performances by up and coming singers in their bedrooms, including Esmee Denters from the Netherlands, singing Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around" or Tay Zonday singing an original composition "Chocolate Rain."

A piano playing cat named Nora and otters holding hands also were among the favorites on YouTube, which is owned by search engine company Google Inc.

Source- http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071228/wr_nm/youtube_popular_dc;_ylt=AmruY.kcBdqRpTkWLcgz50IjtBAF
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Phone book instead of PS3 for XmasIt's certainly not the first time we've seen someone open the box to a pricey gadget only to find their hopes and dreams dashed by some unscrupulous individual that's swiped the device and replaced it by something similarly weighted but decidedly cheaper, but it just wouldn't be the holidays if we didn't bring you another account of the same wrong-doings happening again.

This latest one comes to us from Thousand Oaks, California where one kid opened the box to the PlayStation 3 he got for Christmas and found a phone book in its place of his desired console. What's more, the PS3 wasn't bought on eBay or out of someone's trunk as you might expect, but at the local EB Games, where the kid's parents are apparently now doing their best to get things sorted out.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/27/kid-gets-phone-book-instead-of-ps3-for-xmas/
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According to MobilecityOnline, they're getting shipments of the North American 8GB Nokia N95 on February 15.

N95 8GB North American versionWhy's this notable? Because the North American Model includes support for our 3G, which is much better than not having support for our 3G. Pre-order now, but be aware that MCO has pushed their launch dates back before.

Source- http://gizmodo.com/338180/n95-8gb-north-american-version-coming-feb-15
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First Street Fighter 4 GameplayCapcom has been hush about its latest Street Fighter game, but a few gameplay screenshots still managed to leak out.

SFIV is easy enough for casual players to just start jumping around, punching, kicking, and tossing the occasional fireball. This is thanks to the super-responsive joystick controls and six-button layout. But the game is also conducive to deliberate, strategic, hardcore battles that tournament-level players will undoubtedly produce once the game comes out.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/pictures-first-street-fighter-4-gameplay-screenshots-video-
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Crystal island- World biggest buildingChristmas may be over, but if designer Sir Norman Foster has his way, everyone in Moscow will be staring at a 1500ft tall, 27 million square foot, $4 billion dollar Christmas tree every day of the year. The structure, dubbed "Crystal Island" is being described as a "city within a building" and will feature 900 apartments, 3000 hotel rooms, an international school for 500 students, cinemas, a theater, a sports complex and more.

Crystal island world's biggest buildingAnd because the developers are obviously all about being economical and eco-friendly, the building will generate electricity using exterior solar panels and wind turbines. It will also save money on heating using dynamic enclosure panels that can be adjusted to allow sunlight to enter deep into the structure.

Source- http://gizmodo.com/337853/worlds-biggest-building-coming-to-moscow-looks-like-it-will-be-christmas-year+round
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Amazon views about  2007 holiday seasonShares of online U.S. retailer Amazon.com rose more than 2% on Wednesday after the online retailer said the 2007 holiday season was its strongest since it opened in 1994.

On December 10, its busiest day during the current season, Amazon said shoppers ordered more than 5.4 million items, or 62.5 items per second.

By comparison, the busiest day of the holiday season in 2006 was December 11, when customers ordered more than 4 million items, according to its Web site.

This year, top sellers included toys such as the Jakks EyeClops Bionic Eye, video games including Nintendo's Wii video game systems and Super Mario Galaxy, and consumer electronics products like the Garmin GPS and Samsung LCD high definition TVs.

Other popular items, based on items ordered between November 15 and December 19, ranged from Black & Decker's auto wrench to Kenneth Cole Reaction men's wool pea coat. The company also said it sold about 17 Nintendo Wii systems per second when they had them in stock.

Shares of Amazon closed up $1.84, or 2.02%, to $92.85 on the Nasdaq, above its 50-day moving average of $87.58, but below its 52-week high of $101.09 set October 23.

Source- http://www.news.com/Amazon-says-2007-holiday-season-strongest-ever/2100-1041_3-6224033.html?tag=nefd.top
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Microsoft Vista vs Microsoft Vista SP1Microsoft just rolled out the first publicly available release candidate for Service Pack 1 of Windows Vista, and we snapped it up, eager to see if it's faster than the currently shipping version of Vista.

To test its speed, we ran a series of benchmarks on exactly the same machine, first with the original version of Vista, and then with Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of the upcoming Service Pack 1 (SP1). For comparison, on exactly the same machine and on an identical hard disk, we also tested those benchmarks using Windows XP. From the perspective of sheer speed, has Microsoft improved Vista with this first iteration of a service pack? Yes and no.

First, we'll briefly describe the monster machine we used for testing. We'll give you the full scoop with pics of this machine tomorrow, but for now, salivate over these specs for a while: It's a dual quad-core Penryn HP xw8600 PC with workstation-class NVidia Quadro FX 4600 graphics, all eight processor cores running at 3.16GHz, a 15,000rpm SAS hard drive and 4GB of RAM. For our testing we had an identical 15,000rpm disk at the ready, that one with Windows XP loaded, which we swapped out and plugged into the same SATA port to compare the two OSes. Anyway, I guess you could say this well-equipped workstation will qualify to run Windows Vista. It's probably the fastest production PC you can get your hands on, and we'll show you pics, compare it to its predecessors with more benchmarks, and describe its superb goodness tomorrow.

Did Vista have speed trouble? Well, yes and no. When we ran the industry-standard PCMark05 benchmark on both Windows XP (SP2, we hear SP3 will be faster) and Vista, Vista came out ahead by a sizable margin on exactly the same machine, scoring a 10,403, compared to XP's score of 9024, a 15.28% speed increase for Windows Vista. That's a noticeable difference. How did Vista feel, speed-wise? We immediately realized we were dealing with increased speed over XP, over a long weekend of mousing around the PC, running Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, running benchmarks and browsing websites.

The only downside we noticed with Windows Vista was when we tried to transfer a large folder full of files over our 100Base-T network. While XP was able to transfer the 1.37GB folder containing 2606 items in a quick 3:37 (minutes/seconds), the Vista transfer seemed to hesitate at the end, taking a leisurely 12:58 to perform exactly the same copy from one PC to another over our network.

Then when we compared the current shipping version of Vista with its upcoming service pack, there wasn't much difference, with the Service Pack speeding things up by 0.865% in the PCMark tests. The only part of it that's bugging us is the network file transfer speed got even slower in the SP1 release candidate. Also continuing that bothersome disk speed problem is the way Vista couldn't read and write on that speedy 15,000rpm SAS drive anywhere near as fast as XP did.

Comparison between Vista vs Vista SP1Source- http://gizmodo.com/337768/battlemodo-windows-vista-service-pack-1-rc1-vs-shipping-vista
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JR Tokai maglev railwayCentral Japan Railway Company (JR Tokai) has announced its intentions to construct a swank maglev railway in Japan. The bad news? It's not scheduled to open until 2025. Reportedly, JR Tokai will be coughing up around ¥5.1 trillion ($44 billion, give or take a few mil) of its own change to build the system that will stretch between the "Tokyo metropolitan area and the Chukyo region, with Nagoya at the center." Of course, we're all going to be cruising around in personal flying saucers in a decade anyway, so we wouldn't be too worried about the wait.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/26/jr-tokai-plans-maglev-railway-for-japan-wont-open-until-2025/
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AMD-logo-imageEarlier this year, we heard that AMD would be unleashing a few triple-core Phenoms in Q1 of next year, and now DigiTimes has a few more details surrounding the forthcoming launch.

Reportedly, the B2 stepping Phenom 8400 (2.1GHz) and 8600 (2.3GHz) will be hitting shelves in March, while the B3 stepping 8700 (2.4GHz), 8650 (2.3GHz) and 8450 (2.1GHz) will be loosed sometime in Q2 2008.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/26/amds-triple-core-phenoms-to-launch-in-march/
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Chainsaw Powered MotorcycleFor motorcycle enthusiasts who want it all, their collection isn't complete until this monstrosity makes it into the garage. It's powered by 24 chainsaw engines (170ps / 400Nm), mated to a 5-speed Harley-Davidson gearbox using a series of 12 toothed belts.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/feature-chainsaw-powered-motorcycle-is-functional-pretty-fast-video-
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6 Legged Robot CrawlerThe iC Hexapod robot, powered by a 16-bit PIC processor (59MHz) connected to 3 servos, sports a CCD camera that tracks faces and interacts by snapping pictures once it locks in. With its snazzy 6-legged design, and shiny CNC machines 6082 aluminum parts, the Hexapod strives to be an interactive experience for the geeky set.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/feature-6-legged-robot-crawler-tracks-and-interacts-video-
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Xbox live trouble status picsWe hear a lot of people are having problems with Xbox Live today (we're not, for the record), but if you're feeling a bit sheepish about giving the gift of a 360 + Live service to a loved one, just imagine how Microsoft must feel.

The service -- which we'd like to remind everyone is paid, unlike the competition's -- has been up and down since Christmas weekend. And it's not some surprise that there would be an influx of users today, nor is it any mystery to Microsoft how many Live accounts and Xboxes were sold over the past couple of weeks -- which is precisely why this kind of thing is so annoying.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/25/xbox-live-having-trouble-again-on-christmas-day/
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Wall mounted device electric meterIn addition to its futuristic looks, this wall-mounted device provides you with energy usage stats on the fly, as well as "calculating your current electric bill."

Designer Delroy Dennisur could have stopped right there but he decided to take it a step further and give you a purdy visual cue. The front panel is laden with LEDs forming a floral pattern. The more energy you use, the more light is emitted as if the florals are growing.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/pictures-wall-mounted-device-shows-power-usage-on-the-fly
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The iPhone may have made the biggest tech splash in 2007, but a lot of other cannonballs hit the water as well: The year saw the hatching of Google's Android, a number of exploding laptops, and even a new tech-related ailment called "Acute Wiiitis."

What follows is a roundup of 2007's top tech news highlights, from Windows Vista to data breaches to a digital green movement that inspired a company called NHC to make an environmentally responsible MP3 player that Al Gore might jam out to.

Vista Follies-

For many people, 2007 kicked off with a disappointment--Microsoft's much-anticipated release of Windows Vista. The OS itself wasn't bad--in fact, we gave Vista a positive review--but upgrading from an XP environment proved nightmarish for a lot of users.

Starting in January,consumers could purchase Windows Vista. But anyone who bought a laptop or desktop PC in late 2006 was automatically enrolled in the Express Upgrade to Windows Vista coupon program, entitling them to a free upgrade from XP to Vista.

Unfortunately, many Express customers discovered that there was nothing "express" about the upgrade. Consumers who tried to redeem their coupons ran into delays when the companies responsible for processing the Vista coupons were overwhelmed by demand and ill-equipped to deal with it. Many people had to wait months to get their Vista upgrade disc.

But consumers' Vista woes didn't stop there: Some people who upgraded from XP decided that Vista wasn't all that Microsoft made it out to be. By the summer, Vista was facing the prospect of mounting consumer defections, as major computer vendors told customers that they would help them get rid of Vista and revert to XP.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire-

Many laptop users who managed to steer clear of Vista problems ran into a completely different source of trouble: Laptop battery woes that surfaced in 2006 developed into a horror show in 2007. Bad batteries dominated events in the laptop industry, and eventually nearly 10 million notebook PCs from Acer, Apple, Dell, Lenova, and Sony were recalled.

Music Tracks Get Cheaper and Finally Go Free-

By all accounts it was a good year for music fans--especially cheapskates. The year in digital music started off promisingly when iTunes began dropping copy protection from many of the songs in its catalog.

Also in 2007, iTunes drew some serious competition in the digital download arena, with Sprint, and others selling digital downloads--sans the requirement by Apple to use its iTunes software.

Skinflints, who rejoiced when iTunes' prices for DRM-free tracks dropped from $1.29 to $.99, got even better news when Radiohead and other rock bands embraced a pay-what-you-want model for record albums and began selling music directly to fans though their own Web sites.

About the only music enthusiast who wasn't happy in 2007 was Jammie Thomas of Minnesota, who was found liable for damages amounting to $222,000 for illegally sharing music files on Kazaa. In this civil suit, the Recording Industry Association of America had sued Thomas for copyright infringement in connection with downloads of 24 songs--and the jury found in the RIAA's favor.

Web Video Shake Up: Networks Put Shows Online-

2007 was a watershed year for fans of the broadcast TV shows CSI, Family Guy, Lost, and Heroes (among others). If they happened to miss an episode of these or many other programs, they could turn to the Internet to view the unseen action. Previously the networks had dabbled with putting prime-time shows online, but in 2007 they embraced the Web in earnest.

After NBC got in a spat with Apple entire library of John Stewart's Daily Show online for anyone to search and watch.

Television fans liked the idea of catching episodes online. But writers involved in creating and scripting the shows were irate--and went on strike--when broadcasters declined to share the extra online ad revenue with them.

Web Radio Sour Notes-

While Web video blossomed in 2007, Web radio encountered some turbulence. For several weeks last summer, small Webcasters were on the verge of shutting down after the XCopyright Royalty Board imposed steep new royalty fees that had been requested by SoundExchange, the performance rights organization responsible for collecting and distributing royalties for digital transmission of music. Because the fees were based on "performances"--which on the Internet translates into the number of custom channels that the user maintains, rather than into the revenue that results from use--they would have bankrupted most Internet broadcasters.

In August, large Webcasters reached an agreement with SoundExchange to allow them to continue operating The deal established a $50,000 cap on royalty fees for large Webcasters that may stream thousands of channels (the CRB's per-channel minimum of $500 would have far exceeded the cap for major Internet radio sites). SoundExchange also offered smaller Webcasters the option of paying royalties based on their revenue rather than on their number of channels, provided that the revenue from the site involved did not exceed $1.2 million a year.

The future of Internet radio is by no means settled yet. Webcasters continue to appeal the CRB's ruling in the courts, and Congress may intervene with legislation specifically designed for Internet radio.

Bandwidth Blues-

You need a lot of bandwidth to download and stream TV shows and music over the Internet, which is why many ISPs began to doubt whether allowing customers to use unlimited amounts of bandwidth was a wise business strategy.

In 2007 Comcast decided to act, booting some customers who violated the ISP's acceptable-use policy, which allows Comcast to cut off service to customers who "download too much" off the Internet. In other cases, Comcast dealt with customers who used specific, bandwidth-intensive applications such as peer-to-peer file-sharing programs Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at Macworld Expo, and then steadily gained momentum until, on June 29, Seagate announced its Barracuda 7200.11 in June, and then Western Digital joined the 1TB fraternity with its retailers sold off old stock of Toshiba's HD-A2 at a new low price of $100.

Rival backers of the two formats tried to entice customers with price drops and free movie deals. But as 2008 arrives, it is still anyone's guess as to which format will prevail.

Still Looking for a Wii-

On the gaming front this year, short supply of Wii units.

While fans of the Wii searched for game consoles, latest installment in Microsoft's hit Halo series, and retailers reportedly collected buy an XO laptop for $200--as long as they paid another $200 for a second unit to be given away to a child in the developing world.

Google's Growth Spurts-

Google continued its rapid expansion in 2007. Besides rolling out the OpenSocial application platform for social network services, and Knol, a competitor to Wikipedia. What's next, a Google automobile?

My personal favorite Google newcomer of 2007 was an MP3 maker called NHC went green in 2007. Google set out to decrease dependency on coal with its Climate Savers Computing Initiative, whose mandate is to increase the energy efficiency of computer and server equipment.

Hackers Enjoy Success in 2007-

Let's hope that 2007 marked the high tide for hackers and that 2008 will produce a downturn in their fortunes. Yeah, just call me Pollyanna.

Data thieves and botnet czars dispensed plenty of misery in 2007. Among other things, the year witnessed one of the largest digital data thefts ever: Hackers stole the names and credit card information of an estimated 45.6 to 94 million customers of department store owner TJX. The hackers gained access to TJX's computer systems by eavesdropping on the department stores' poorly protected Wi-Fi networks. The breach prompted numerous calls for stronger data-protection laws.

Also in 2007, things went from bad to worse for victims of so-called bot networks. In January, the Storm Worm emerged; it went on to become 2007's biggest PC security threat. The name "Storm Worm" is a bit of a misnomer because the malware is actually bot software that corrals infected computers into a botnet--a network that executes commands issued by a central criminal controller.

Law enforcement agencies broke up many botnets this year. But security experts warn that for every individual arrested for running a botnet, a dozen more likely remain at large.

Looking Ahead to 2008-

If 2007 is any indicator of what the tech world has in store for us in 2008, here are a few words of advice: Keep your virus definitions up-to-date, start saving for cool new gear (some of which we expect to see at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January), and consider waiting until Vista SP2 (or until you buy a new PC) before upgrading from XP.

Source- http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20071226/tc_pcworld/140753;_ylt=Akn2o8njpMUu6eniU7E.50UjtBAF
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Guitar Hero 3 Controller
"Blue Star", creator of this incredible device, unveils his latest creation: a fully-functional Guitar Hero 3 controller made from LEGO -- modeled after the Fender Geddy Lee jazz bass guitar.

Source- http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/feature-lego-artist-creates-fully-functional-guitar-hero-3-controller
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The nation's shoppers — taking advantage of deep discounts and expanded hours — jammed stores over the last weekend before Christmas to try to grab a hard-to-find Wii or scoop up bargains on other items. But the spending surge may not be enough to offset what is shaping up to be a mediocre December for some retailers.

Based on early reports on Sunday, mall operators including Macerich Co. said they were pleased with the spending spree over the weekend, but they were still counting on Christmas Eve and post-Christmas business to meet holiday sales goals in what has turned out to be a nail biter of a season.

Meanwhile, even as shoppers continued to snap up flat-screen TVs, video game software and other gadgets, benefiting stores like Best Buy Co., the apparel business remains challenging, analysts said.

Ed Schmults, chief executive of toy merchant FAO Schwarz, which operates stores in Chicago and New York, said Sunday that pre-Christmas business is below expectations despite a sales surge this weekend.

"It's almost kind of worth waiting and shifting through the hustle and bustle," said Carly Moore, of Chicago, who was heading to Macy's on the city's State Street shopping corridor to scoop up some discounted clothing. But she was still frustrated that she couldn't find Nintendo's Wii game console, after trying at least five stores.

Valerie Glodowski of Stevens Point, Wis., who was with her boyfriend at Wisconsin's Wausau Center Mall, said she started holiday shopping two weeks ago and waited until the last weekend to finish out of sheer laziness.

"I am just winging it," she said.

Many merchants, which had struggled through a sluggish December after a strong start to the season, are counting even more on the final days before Christmas to make their holiday goals. With the three days prior to Christmas accounting for as much as 15% of holiday sales, there's a lot of business left on the table.

Macy's Inc. is keeping several of its stores in the New York metropolitan area, including its flagship store in Herald Square, open until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. About 1,000 of Sears Holdings Corp.'s 1,387 Kmart stores are open for 64 hours straight, beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday and ending at 10 p.m. on Dec. 24, for the first time since 2002.

With Christmas falling on a Tuesday, shoppers were enticed to wait even longer this season to finish their holiday shopping. A challenging economy — higher gas prices and a housing slump — also made some shoppers hold off until the final days before the holiday. Retailers routinely discount items deeper as Christmas draws nearer.

"The gas prices and car insurance ... is up. I would say I'm spending less and worrying more about it," said Sondra Newton, of Warren, Mich., who was at Oakland Mall in Troy, Mich., a suburb outside of Detroit on Friday. "I used to just take their (her children's) list and get the top ones on it. Now I have to think about 'what can I get at the best deal.'"

Nevertheless, Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at International Council of Shopping Centers, is sticking with his December forecast for a 1.5% gain in same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year. That would mean same-stores sales for the November-December period would be up 2.5% from a year ago.

"I think when the dust settles, stores will have met expectations, though they are modest," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets. He said he is still sticking with his 3.6% forecast for the November and December period, though he added, "some retailers will do OK, and others won't."

ShopperTrak is expected to release total sales for the week ended Saturday late on Monday.

Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys "R" Us Inc., said the past weekend was strong, and that people were buying "everything," from video-game software to games. He noted that shipments of Wii are selling out as fast as Toys "R" Us gets them, while the retailer is running out of Fisher-Price's Smart Cycle, a stationary bike that plugs into the TV. The season's hot video game, "Guitar Hero 3," is also hard to find.

Karen MacDonald, spokeswoman at mall operator Taubman Center Inc., noted that on Saturday business was up in the mid-single digits based on a spot-check of malls. Gift card sales are up in the double digits, and "more men are out buying fragrance gift sets and jewelry," she said.

Ken Gillette, senior vice president of operations at Macerich, noted that the weekend was "very busy," with traffic on Saturday up 20% from the previous Saturday. He said while the day after Black Friday starts off the season, the most intense sales volume comes in the few days before Christmas.

Still, overall holiday sales gains could come at a cost for retailers, says Sherif Mityas, partner and central region leader at consultancy A.T. Kearney, noting that stores discounted heavily at the expense of margins. He believes that apparel merchants will see their fourth-quarter profits most hurt.

For many shoppers, it paid to wait given the plentiful offerings and good deals. The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. was offering three graphic T-shirts for a total of $20. Pier 1 Imports Inc., which has been hit hard along with other home furnishings stores by the housing slump, was offering 50 percent discounts on candle gift sets and 35% price cuts on holiday potpourri.

"I got very good deals," said Nichelle Jones, of Chicago who had purchased two shirts at Lady Foot Locker, owned by Foot Locker Inc., winter boots and an iPod at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Edison Alberto of Miami Beach, Fla., got all of his shopping done in about an hour and a half on Friday night. He had about a dozen gifts to buy and found them all at a mall near Miami. His best deals, he said, were sneakers he bought for two cousins at Champs Sports.

"I thought they were going to be $80 or up," he said. "They were $55 each."

Source- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071224/ap_on_bi_ge/holiday_last_minute_shopping;_ylt=AtxdpYZ02tkgYrPaKEnQsYgjtBAF
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First African satellite imageIn a landmark launch that will supposedly "contribute to bridging the digital divide within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world," the continent's first satellite successfully made it into orbit aboard a French-made rocket last night.

The so-called RASCOM-QAF1 -- named after the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization which is funding the venture -- lifted off from the European space base in Kourou, French Guiana stowed inside an Ariane 5, the sixth such launch this year and 36th overall of that particular model, manufactured by Paris-based Arianespace. The new 3.2-tonne (7,055-pound) satellite is set to serve the large African rural market neglected by traditional cellphone carriers, and will allegedly save hundred of millions of dollars a year currently being paid to foreign operators.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/23/first-african-satellite-launched/Read more on "First African satellite launched"!
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Katherine Heigl with engagement ringActress Katherine Heigl, an Emmy-winning star of medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," married her musician boyfriend in Utah on Sunday, US Weekly magazine reported on its Web site.

Heigl, 29, and Josh Kelley, 27, tied the knot under a marquee at a resort in Park City, Utah. Among the guests at the black-tie ceremony were Heigl's co-stars Sandra Oh, Kate Walsh and T.R. Knight, the magazine said.

Heigl won an Emmy in September for her role as an adulterous medic in the ABC network's "Grey's Anatomy," which follows the lives and loves of physicians at a Seattle hospital. She met Kelley in 2005, when she was cast in a music video, and they were engaged the following year after Heigl forced the issue.

Kelley, a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, is due to release a new album in February.

Source- http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071224/en_nm/heigl_married_dc;_ylt=Ajr5pwkb3cYA5539jHZXuDojtBAF
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Earlier this year, Disneyland got a little more zany with the Muppet Mobile Laboratory, but as soon as the park opens up early next year, guests should notice a bit of an upgrade on the monorail.

Disneyland getting new monorailsReportedly, the famed park will be running its first all new monorail car in a score, and while details are scant on the actual engineering upgrades, we do know that the electric cars will sport all new hues. The first in line will feature blue glass and red stripes that "change color in the sunlight," while the next two will be blue with purple glass and orange with blue glass. So yeah, it's probably not enough to make a special trip out to Anaheim for, but if you needed just one more excuse to don those iconic black ears and pretend you're young again, you've got it.

Source- http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/23/disneyland-getting-all-new-monorails/
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The Christianity 2.0 movement continues in South Florida, where the town of Bal Harbour received a GPS-equipped Baby Jesus statue to replace a previously stolen Baby Jesus staute. A Cincinnati lawyer donated the statue after hearing about the theft in early December.

Baby Jesus GPS Super PowerIn addition, Mary and Joseph were equipped with GPS and the entire family was encased in plexiglass to avoid future theft by godless heathens. Now Ricky Bobby can rest easy knowing that little baby Jesus is safe in his manger watchin' the Baby Einstein videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors.

Source- http://gizmodo.com/337177/baby-jesus-now-with-gps-super-powers
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