Friday, December 23, 2011

3 Technology Link

3 Technology Link

Report: Nintendo 3DS Sales In Japan To Pass The 4 Million Mark Earlier Than Expected

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 08:00 AM PST

Report: Nintendo 3DS Sales In Japan To Pass The 4 Million Mark Earlier Than Expected

Report: Nintendo 3DS Sales In Japan To Pass The 4 Million Mark Earlier Than Expected

It's a common platitude in the gaming industry: it's the killer titles that make or break a video game system. One case in point is Nintendo whose3DS sales in Japan, one of the biggest video game markets in the world, are expected to cross the four million mark two months earlier than expected.

Just two weeks ago, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said this will happen "in February next year", but Japanese business daily The Nikkei is now reporting that cumulative domestic sales of the 3DS will reach four million before year-end. The newspaper is referring to stats from Tokyo-based market research company Enterbrain, which says Nintendo managed to sell a weekly record of 390,000 systems between December 12-18 (and 380,000 units between December 5 and 11).

Enterbrain reports that Nintendo has sold 3.6 million 3DS in Japan so far and projects that sales in the Christmas week will lift big N over the 4 million mark.

Sales were fueled by the recent launches of Monster Hunter 3G, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7. The holiday season sure did its part as well, but the recent numbers from Nintendo are especially impressive when you take into account that Sony launched its Vita in Japan just last week, too.

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Facebook Opens Mobile News Feed As Viral Channel For Games

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 07:54 AM PST

Facebook Opens Mobile News Feed As Viral Channel For Games

Facebook Opens Mobile News Feed As Viral Channel For Games

Once upon a time, Facebook game companies like Zynga fattened up their user counts thanks to viral distribution to non-gamers through the news feed. Facebook later curtailed this channel, forcing developers to concentrate on paid marketing and true word of mouth to grow. A new boom period could be coming, this time for mobile developers, as Facebookannounced today that it is testing game stories in the mobile news feed. This could attract devs to its recently launched HTML5 mobile gaming platform with bait of reaching hundreds of millions of daily active Facebook mobile users.

Facebook learned a lot about balancing developer success with user experience during that first boom period, often called the wild west days. Game spam such as users asking all their friends to install and give them virtual good overran the news feed, making it a bore to non-gamers. Facebook will surely be monitoring the volume of mobile news feed game stories to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Rather than pepper the feed with individual stories, Facebook is using aggregated stories that read like "Rose Yao and 9 other people recently played games". Below users see a few friends names and links to the games they played, and can tap to expand to see the whole list. Tapping a game will launch its HTML5 version, or that native app if already installed. The aggregated stories give users control, so those that want to discover something to play can, while those uninterested can breeze by.

Earned viral channels also democratize the Facebook platform, as they provide exposure to small developers without big marketing budgets. Facebook launched the HTML5 platform to make sure Apple and Google weren't the only ones making money off mobile games. Developer adoption of the channel has been a bit sluggish so far, though. The opening of this viral channel could convince developers to experiment with Facebook mobile.

Facebook Opens Mobile News Feed As Viral Channel For Games

Facebook also made a few other announcements to the benefit of web Facebook game developers. Users will now see 6 bookmarks instead of 4 while playing games, which should boost retention and re-engagement. Home page bookmark notifications will now clear when clicked, making the arrival of new alerts more noticeable.  The separate Games & Apps dashboards have been combined so users don't have to check two places, and game categories have been refined so Facebook can more accurately feature high quality developers. Finally, the company launched a Games Tutorial to ease the path to developing games for its platform.

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US Internet users not as scam-savvy as they think

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 07:47 AM PST

US Internet users not as scam-savvy as they think

US Internet users not as scam savvy as they thinkUS Internet users are continuing to fall for online scams, especially if the promised prize is a chance at a hip new gadget such as a tablet computer, according to a new study.

More than half of those surveyed in a Ponemon study backed by Internetsecurity firm PC Tools indicated they would reveal mobile phone numbers, email addresses or other information when told they might get something for nothing.

"Even in scenarios where people realize it is too good to be true, they are falling for it," said PC Tools senior manager of online strategy Eric Klein.

Cyber crooks have long exploited human nature with scams relying on "social engineering" to get people to reveal secrets such as passwords or unwittingly install computer viruses.

Manipulations can range from telling people they will be entered in prize drawings after filling out detailed surveys or getting them to open booby-trapped files said to contain sexy or pornographic imagery.

"The results found a clear difference between how aware consumers think they are of scams and how likely they are to be taken in by the given scenarios," Ponemon Institute researchers concluded.

"It is clear from the findings that the threat posed by scams is still being underestimated."

Scenarios people fell for included offers of supposed free anti-virus computer software and get-rich-quick opportunities, according to Ponemon.

People were particularly susceptible when ploys were baited with promises of chances to win tech prizes such as mobile phone ringtones or tablet computers.

"People in the United States were, frankly, more cheap and looking for something to get out of it," Klein said.

"The idea of getting rich made them more likely to put security aside," he continued.

Versions of the study were also done in Australia and Britain; with Australians being unlikely to fall for ploys while British Internet users were more susceptible but far more wary than those in the United States.

Tablet computers made particularly strong lures in all three countries, according to surveys.

"Whenever those gadgets are being hyped they are trendy things to have," Klein said. "People interpret it as status, so they will go to great lengths to get one."

The holiday season brings with it increased chances for online scams as people hunt for gift bargains and cyber crooks expand arsenals to include false offers of tremendous deals on hot items.

"It is really about tricking people into giving up information," Klein said. "Some of the data is pretty alarming."

People were advised to check for secure "https" website addresses for transactions and to watch for misspellings that could signal a ruse.

Klein recommended avoiding websites with addresses in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia, due to the number of scams originating there.

"Take your time, double check what site you are on and look for hints they are not legit," he said.

"Before you give out any personal details make sure it is a real offer."

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VW gives employees break from their Blackberry

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 07:43 AM PST

VW gives employees break from their Blackberry

Are you fed up with your Blackberry because it effectively puts you on call for your employer 24/7? Are you a slave to its blinking red light and the vibrating alarm that tells you you have a new email?

Well, if you're an employee at German car maker Volkswagen, you will now be officially released from the tyranny of the little electronic ball and chain in future, at least during after-work hours and at weekends.

"A deal has been reached" with labour representatives and the mighty IG Metall union under which the carmaker's server will no longer transmit emails to thousands of employees' company Blackberrys between 6:15 pm and 7:00 am, a spokesman told AFP.

The "truce" was "already in force," the spokesman said.

"As a company, we need and make use of up-to-date means of communication. But we realise that a balance needs to be struck. We feel this deal strikes such a balance," he said.

Last month, household chemicals specialist Henkel, maker of Persil washing powder, similarly declared an email "amnesty" for its employees between Christmas and New Year.

"The message is: only send an email in case of an emergency. That goes for all employees," Henkel chief Kasper Rorsted told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Rorsted said he had made it a habit never to read his messages at the weekend.

"I take a last look at my Blackberry on Saturday morning. And then I put it aside for the rest of the weekend. I spend time with my children," the chief executive said.

"I don't have to read my emails simply because someone somewhere is bored and sending me them," he continued. "It shows a lack of respect to pester people like that."

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Self-healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 07:40 AM PST

Self-healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste

Self healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste

This shows self-healing electronics. Microcapsules full of liquid metal sit atop a gold circuit. (Top) When the circuit is broken, the microcapsules rupture (center), filling in the crack and restoring the circuit (bottom). Credit: Scott R. White

When one tiny circuit within an integrated chip cracks or fails, the whole chip – or even the whole device – is a loss. But what if it could fix itself, and fix itself so fast that the user never knew there was a problem?

A team of University of Illinois engineers has developed a self-healing system that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink. Led by aerospace engineering professor Scott White and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos, the researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Materials.

"It simplifies the system," said chemistry professor Jeffrey Moore, a co-author of the paper. "Rather than having to build in redundancies or to build in a sensory diagnostics system, this material is designed to take care of the problem itself."

As electronic devices are evolving to perform more sophisticated tasks, manufacturers are packing as much density onto a chip as possible. However, such density compounds reliability problems, such as failure stemming from fluctuating temperature cycles as the device operates or fatigue. A failure at any point in the circuit can shut down the whole device.

"In general there's not much avenue for manual repair," Sottos said. "Sometimes you just can't get to the inside. In a multilayer integrated circuit, there's no opening it up. Normally you just replace the whole chip. It's true for a battery too. You can't pull a battery apart and try to find the source of the failure."

Most consumer devices are meant to be replaced with some frequency, adding to electronic waste issues, but in many important applications – such as instruments or vehicles for space or military functions – electrical failures cannot be replaced or repaired.

The Illinois team previously developed a system for self-healing polymer materials and decided to adapt their technique for conductive systems. They dispersed tiny microcapsules, as small as 10 microns in diameter, on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit. As a crack propagates, the microcapsules break open and release the liquid metal contained inside. The liquid metal fills in the gap in the circuit, restoring electrical flow.


"What's really cool about this paper is it's the first example of taking the microcapsule-based healing approach and applying it to a new function," White said. "Everything prior to this has been on structural repair. This is on conductivity restoration. It shows the concept translates to other things as well."

A failure interrupts current for mere microseconds as the liquid metal immediately fills the crack. The researchers demonstrated that 90 percent of their samples healed to 99 percent of original conductivity, even with a small amount of microcapsules.

The self-healing system also has the advantages of being localized and autonomous. Only the microcapsules that a crack intercepts are opened, so repair only takes place at the point of damage. Furthermore, it requires no human intervention or diagnostics, a boon for applications where accessing a break for repair is impossible, such as a battery, or finding the source of a failure is difficult, such as an air- or spacecraft.

"In an aircraft, especially a defense-based aircraft, there are miles and miles of conductive wire," Sottos said. "You don't often know where the break occurs. The autonomous part is nice – it knows where it broke, even if we don't."

Next, the researchers plan to further refine their system and explore other possibilities for using microcapsules to control conductivity. They are particularly interested in applying the microcapsule-based self-healing system to batteries, improving their safety and longevity.

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