Dec 24, 2008

PS3 to turn 3D in 2009?

Geeky glasses for all!

At last year’s CES, 3D HD displays and projectors were making their grand debut. At this year’s event, we’re expecting even more impressive hardware and a lot more content to take advantage of it. Even so, 3D runs the risk of remaining a niche market – seeing as it requires a special kind of display, highly unfashionable specs AND an appropriate player. What 3D really needs is to find a home inside a commonplace entertainment hub of some description. A games console maybe?

And would you believe it, that’s exactly what is being planned. According to one reputable source - Neil Schneider, President and CEO of Meant to be Seen – Sony “fully intends” to introduce stereoscopic 3D technology to PS3 next year. This info comes from Blitz Games Studios, whose Blitz Tech engine is going to make it happen.

“The best part is console support will only need a bios upgrade to work,” said Schneider. “We are told that the ability to add this capability via bios may be unique to Sony PS3 versus the other console solutions.”

In fact, the PS3 may not be the only console to get a bit of 3D gaming goodness – given that there were 3D demos of Xbox 360 games on show at CES last year, it’s perfectly possible for developers on other consoles to make it work. However, although visually impressive, it still requires extra work on the part of the developer, and that effort will only be seen by a fraction of players. However, if Sony can introduce it as a standard and make 3D gaming more accessible and ubiquitous, it could dramatically help the uptake of the technology.

Now then, about those glasses...

Sources : Playstation3,

Dec 17, 2008

RIM BlackBerry Storm (Verizon Wireless)


The RIM BlackBerry Storm features an innovative touch screen that provides tactile feedback to confirm your selection. The Storm offers dual-mode functionality for world-roaming capabilities as well as EV-DO Rev. A and UMTS/HSDPA support. Other highlights include GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

The Storm's SurePress touch-screen takes some acclimation and the onscreen keyboard is a bit cramped. The smartphone can be sluggish and buggy even after the firmware update.. Speakerphone quality was a bit choppy

The RIM BlackBerry Storm may blow in a frenzy for Verizon Wireless subscribers wanting a touch screen similar to the Apple iPhone. However, there are bugs and performance issues that prevent the Storm from delivering its full potential.

Source :

A $2,000 Motorola Phone (Sapphire Crystal Display Included)

Would you pay $250 for a sandwich? Are you the sort who buys clothes, cars and electronics at full price, and considers sales to be a form of cheating? Do you wish your blender had gold plating?

Motorola has your new phone.

It’s called the Aura, and oh how it makes the iPhone, the Storm and other assorted smart phones look — what’s the word I’m looking for here — affordable? Reasonable? Sane?

The Aura, which was announced in October and went on sale Tuesday, costs $2,000. For that, you get a phone that has some new features, none of which cures major diseases or painful inflammation. But they do sound fancy:

- Chemically etched textures and patterns
- Three tungsten-carbon-carbide-coated main gears
- The main bearing is Swiss-made
- Protective PVD coating and mirror polish finish, same as used on luxury watches
- 130 precision ball bearings
- Scratch-resistant, 62-carat, grade 1 sapphire crystal display

I know what you’re thinking: Why doesn’t my cruddy old Nokia have more ball bearings? Well, who knows — maybe it’s got plenty. You’re still able to talk on it. But is that really enough to have you feeling up-to-date when everyone whips out their phone at a cocktail party and starts bragging about whose gears have more carbide coating?

I suppose this is what happens when touch screens and smartphones and embedded music players become the norm. This is what happens when entry-level phones have GPS, and WalMart starts to contemplate carrying the iPhone.

The ante has been raised, people. The chemically etched bar is higher than ever.

Oh, and here’s something else the Motorola Aura offers: a 2-megapixel camera. Seriously. That’s what you get. Two megapixels. Sure, you could get that same quality with a $59 phone. But why bother? That would be cheating.

Source :

Nokia Continues to Dominate Global Cellphone Market

The latest data arrived from iSuppli looking at the worldwide cellphone market. Nokia is nearing 40 percent market share, more than the next three rivals combined. Nokia alone sold more than 111 million phones in the third quarter.

For what its worth, that is 100 times more phones than Apple sold iPhones in the same period.

Nokia was particularly successful with what it terms “convergence” phones which combine smart phones and media-playing features. Its sales in this category grew by 54 percent.

Motorola meanwhile fell out of its long-standing No.2 rank, as Samsung surged ahead with a 13.9 percent sales gain. LG Electronics, the other large Korean handset maker, grew at an even faster rate of 14.7 percent. Unlike Samsung, which concentrates on more expensive handsets, LG largely sells lower-priced phones in emerging markets.

The full chart runs after the jump.

Third Quarter Sales (Thousands)

Market Share

Growth from Second Quarter













Sony Ericsson




LG Electronics












Source: iSuppli Corp. October 2007

*Motorola’s shipments are preliminary until the company announces its results.

Source :

Dec 16, 2008

Rumor: New Mac Mini Coming to Macworld 2009

Apple will launch an upgrade to its low-end desktop, the Mac Mini, at January's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, according to an Apple corporate employee who contacted

The source, who wished to remain anonymous (to keep his job), could not disclose details about the Mac Mini other than its upcoming announcement at Macworld Expo, which begins Jan. 5. That's where CEO Steve Jobs traditionally launches major products during his famous keynotes (assuming he does indeed show up).

An upgrade to the Mac Mini is long overdue: The product hasn't seen a refresh since August 2007, and Apple computers normally have a life cycle of roughly six months. This long period of silence led many to speculate that Apple was going to drop the Mac Mini from its product line. However, Apple has shown no signs of discontinuing the product. It's also noteworthy that although Apple has been quiet about Mac Mini sales numbers, the diminutive desktop appears to be selling quite well. For example, the Mac Mini has been among the top 5 of Amazon's best selling desktops; it currently stands at No. 3.

Though our source confirms there will be a new Mac Mini announced January, it's unlikely this will be Apple's big product launch at the show. (Last year's major Macworld announcement was the MacBook Air; the year before that was the iPhone.) However, speculation about Apple's next major Macworld launch has been surprisingly quiet, so word about the Mac Mini is the most we have so far.

Here's what believes will be in the next Mac Mini, based on trends seen in Apple's latest products:

  • Similar to the MacBooks, the Mac Mini will sport a silver enclosure composed of a block of aluminum.
  • Some internal parts will be PVC-free, and combined with its size and low power requirements, Apple will tout this as the "greenest Mac ever."
  • For video output, the Mac Mini will use the DRM-crippled DisplayPort for connectivity, which Apple is offering to manufacturers for a no-fee license.
  • It'll have a CD-DVD slot loader (i.e. Super Drive). There will be no Blu-ray player, because Steve Jobs believes the format is a "bag of hurt."
  • It'll ship with 2 GB of RAM, expandable to 4 GB — up from the current 1 GB, expandable to 2 GB. (The aluminum case should make expanding RAM easier than in the original Mini.)
  • It'll ship with at least a 160-GB hard drive.
  • The Mac Mini will come in two options with different processor speeds: a 2.0-GHz Core 2 Duo and a 2.3-GHz Core 2 Duo (up from 1.83 GHz and 2.0 GHz).
  • Like the higher-end MacBook and MacBook Pro, the 2.3-GHz Mac Mini will ship with an Nvidia video card, making this higher-end model a decent gaming device.
  • The 2.0G-Hz Mac Mini will ship with an Intel video card, perhaps the GMA X3100 graphics card found in the low-end, white MacBook.
  • The slower model will cost $500, and the faster model will cost $700 ($100 less than the current Mac Minis), in light of the recession.
Source :

Dec 3, 2008

Dead Space: Downfall

All that good stuff that made Dead Space - a completely new horror franchise - find a spot in the hearts of the many horror game fanatics out there, has been carried forward to the game's animated movie prequel - Dead Space: Downfall.

Dead Space took place aboard a mining ship - the Ishimura - which was torn asunder by a mysterious alien presence that revealed itself during the course of the game. Downfall takes place on the same ship, and covers the events that lead up to the devastation of the Ishimura.

The movie's protagonist is the ship's chief security officer - Alissa Vincent - who's completely dedicated to her job and would give her life for the ship's crew in the blink of an eye. The movie starts off with a video log of a distressed Vincent, talking of the outbreak and how the 'artifact' shouldn't reach earth. Then the movie moves back to where it all started - with the Ishimura going on an illegal mining mission, where they discover an alien artifact that's supposed to prove the existence of God. The relic awakens a slumbering race of malevolent alien beings, that gets aboard the Ishimura and lays waste to its crew.

The movie boasts of some of the most stylish brutal action out there, that's sure to satisfy those gore pangs. There's ample dismemberment, decapitation, evisceration, gibbage and enough blood to fill up an ocean. The movie's dark visual style goes really well with the grim and gruesome setting aboard the isolated vessel. With petrified crew-members running helter-skelter for their lives through corridors bathed in human organs and limbs, the film captures both the hopelessness and the chaos of the alien intrusion in all its menacing glory.

While it doesn't offer closure to many questions of the game's storyline, Dead Space: Downfall is one of the best pieces of game-inspired animated entertainment I've seen in a long time. The production values are really high, with 74 minutes of some really crisp 2D animation and an intense background score that's sure to keep you at the edge of your seat. If you've got a good TV and a great sound system, this movie's surely one of the best mature animated flicks out there. Unfortunately, the game isn't available in retail in India so if you're a fan of the franchise I recommend that you buy the game online. Just ensure that you watch it after you've played the entire game, else it may spoil the experience of the game a bit (with a few spoilers). The DVD packs a few extra goodies too, like some of the game's artwork, and the incredibly eerie, atmospheric 'Isolation' soundtrack that's sure to give you goose-bumps!

Source :

Need for Speed Undercover

The Need for Speed series has been going through a pretty rough patch in recent times. Ever since Most Wanted, EA has failed to live up to the standards set by themselves as a result of which, every Need for Speed game from then on has been utterly disappointing. Need for Speed Undercover, pegged to be a spiritual successor to Most Wanted, was to redeem this series but all it’s done is made sure you never want to play another Need for Speed game ever again. Undercover is such a terrible game you’ll either slit your wrists or sit in a corner and weep or you’ll slit your wrists while weeping in a corner wondering what EA was thinking when they wasted time, energy and money on this garbage.

As the name suggests Undercover has you playing an undercover agent tasked with infiltrating an illegal street racing syndicate guided by your “handler”, Maggie Q (Balls of Fury, Live Free Die Hard). Now I know Need for Speed games are well known for their cheesy acting but this one takes the cake, the bakery and the entire block (where the bakery was located). In Undercover you’ll witness some of the worst acting you’ve seen in recent times across any media and not even Maggie Q’s hotness can salvage it. Each and every actor associated with this project should be lined up outside his/her house and shot so that we’re never subjected to their annoyingly painful hamming ever again.

Terrible acting aside this game is a technical nightmare and the first time you boot up the game you’ll literally be shell shocked not because it looks phenomenal but because you’ll wonder how Black Box actually managed to make a game that looks worse than Most Wanted - a three year old title. In recent times I have yet to come across such an ugly and a lifeless game that literally made me wanna tear my eyes out. Buildings are just plain blocky structures with no detail whatsoever, roads have absolutely no textures, car detail is appalling and I’ve seen better scenery in Burnout Revenge – the PS2 version mind you. To blind your eyes from the terrible visuals on screen EA has conveniently bumped up the bloom to insane levels but all the bloom in the world cannot hide the fact that this game is just plain hideous.

Source :

Dec 2, 2008

Nokia Unveils The N97

Nokia has unveiled the Nokia N97 calling it the world's most advanced mobile computer.

Designed for Internet-savvy consumers, the Nokia N97 features a large 3.5" touch display with a full QWERTY keypad.

"From the desktop to the laptop and now to your pocket, the Nokia N97 is the most powerful, multi-sensory mobile computer in existence," said Jonas Geust, Vice President, heading Nokia Nseries. "Together with the Ovi services announced today, the Nokia N97 mobile computer adjusts to the world around us, helping stay connected to the people and things that matter most. With the Nokia N97, Nseries leads the charge in helping to transform the Internet into your Internet".
With the new concept of 'social location', the N97 with integrated A-GPS sensors and an electronic compass, intuitively understands where it is. The Nokia N97 makes it easy to update social networks automatically with real-time information, giving users the ability to update their 'status' and share their 'social location' as well as related pictures or videos.

The N97 features both physical QWERTY and virtual touch input and its 16:9 widescreen display can be fully personalized with frequently updated widgets of favorite web services and social networking sites while.

The Nokia N97 supports up to 48 GB of storage, including 32 GB of on-board memory, expandable with a 16 GB microSD card, has full support for the Nokia Music Store and features continuous playback time of up to 1.5 days. The Nokia N97 also has a 5-Megapixel camera with high-quality Carl Zeiss optics, 16:9 and DVD quality video capture, and support for services like Share on Ovi for immediate sharing over HSDPA and WLAN.

The Nokia N97 is expected to begin shipping in the first half of 2009 at an estimated retail price of EUR 550 before taxes or subsidies.

Source :

Game Consoles, The War for the Living Room

Choosing a video game console means carefully weighing a wide variety of factors. Controller style, available titles, downloadable content and disc format support all come into play -- and don't forget price, of course. Here's what the big three -- the Wii, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 -- have to offer.

In the contest to dominate the video gaming landscape, there are three powerful players, each with a magic weapon: Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) with its Xbox 360 , Nintendo with its Wii, and Sony (NYSE: SNE) with its PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Like any great heroes, they each have their strengths and weaknesses, though none, it turns out, has a fatal flaw. For those hapless consumers who haven't already made a choice, the differences between the three consoles offers up a wild list of pros and cons, and it's confusing enough to make any gaming newbie give up and start rolling the dice.

To help, we've broken out the consoles, what's going on in the industry, and the key decision points that can shed light into the deepest doubts of this year's video game console season.
Popularity Contest

In some respects, the best video game console to buy is the one with the largest base of consumers. Why? Because it presumably gives the video game publishing industry a bigger audience to sell new game titles to, which in turn encourages them to create the best games for that particular platform for years to come. Popularity, however, isn't always a good barometer these days.

In an effort to deliver its latest generation gaming platform first, Microsoft introduced the Xbox 360 in November 2005 -- an entire year earlier than Nintendo's and Sony's consoles. Did that year give Microsoft a big head start? Yes and no.

In the United States, The NPD Group reports that life-to-date retail sales of the Xbox 360 stand at 11.6 million units. The PS3 comes in at 5.7 million, while the Wii blows both out of the water with 13.4 million units sold. So in that regard, the Wii has the undeniable lead.

"Given the last several months' sales trends, I would expect that to continue for some time," Anita Frazier, a video game industry analyst for the NPD Group, told TechNewsWorld.

However, in different parts of the world, some consoles are more popular than others. Worldwide, the Wii extends its commanding lead to 37.26 million, while the Xbox comes in at 23.17 million, trailed by PS3 with 17.04 million in unit sales, according to Video Game Chartz. Either way, all three consoles have healthy sales numbers, virtually guaranteeing a solid foundation for a great gaming experience for years to come.
The Experience

There are lots of ways to describe the differences between the three consoles, but the surfaces will suffice for now. The 360 and PS3 are similar in that they use traditional, boomerang-shaped controllers with vibration feedback, and they have extensive libraries of diverse game titles for a range of users, including both young children and mature, blood-and-gore-lovin' gamers.

The Wii, on the other hand, uses a motion-sensitive dual controller system that features a remote control-shaped controller and a so-called Nunchuk that plugs into the remote controller. So how is this different from the 360 and PS3?

Other than shape, the entire function with the Wii controller system is opened up by using the controller with motion. For example, to swing a bat in a Wii baseball game, you swing the Wii controller as if you were swinging a bat. Or, to hit a golf ball, you swing the Wii controller as you would a golf club. Early adopters got all sweaty doing this in their living rooms, and some lost control of their Wii remotes, which broke more than a few big screen TVs. Nintendo quickly added extra-strength wrist straps to combat the slippery palms.

The net effect of the Wii system has been to attract non-traditional gamers and engage families with lightweight games that remain surprisingly fun. Hardcore gamers, however, have been mostly disinterested in the Wii games, which are often somewhat cartoonish.

On the inside, the Wii processor isn't as capable of handling intense graphics as the high-definition-capable 360 and PS3. Its supported resolution is limited to standard definition (480p), though it does have a widescreen mode.
The Game Titles

"In general, the most compelling reason a consumer purchases a hardware system is that it has the ability to play the games they want to play," Frazier noted.

Some game manufacturers deliver titles for multiple consoles, but the console manufacturers also work hard to create killer titles that are exclusive their own platform. For instance, Microsoft has its "Halo" franchise, which started with "Halo" and "Halo 2" on the original Xbox. Last year, "Halo 3" proved to be a blockbuster, and Xbox 360 reaped the rewards. Sony has its own exclusives, like "Resistance 2," "Metal Gear Solid 4" and "Little Big Planet," though none have defined the platform buying decision like Microsoft's "Halo 3."

Wii, on the other hand, ships with bundled-in Wii Sports titles -- Boxing, Baseball, Tennis, Bowling, and Golf.

"Game titles are important drivers for consoles, especially for the 360 and PS3. The Wii, although software is important, the Wii 'experience' seems to be the driver -- not necessarily particular titles," Ben Bajarin, director of the consumer technology practice for Creative Strategies, told TechNewsWorld.

"That being said, consumers are definitely beginning to view their hardware as investments as well, and they are looking for the right investment to fit their lifestyle," he added.
Beyond the Games

Still, all three consoles have their angles beyond games. "Wii Fit," which uses an exercise board peripheral, has transformed the Wii game console into a workout partner. The Xbox 360 has Microsoft's online Xbox Live experience, which provides movie downloads and even Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) movie streaming. The PS3 comes with a built-in Blu-ray disc players, letting owners enjoy the best possible high-definition movie experience on their 1080p flat-screen TVs.

When it first designed the 360, Microsoft put its money on HD DVD and offered an external disc player for watching movies. The format has since gone belly-up, though the Xbox does have an online marketplace for buying video content, as does the PS3.

"The Xbox 360, and to a lesser extent, the PlayStation 3, have the potential to emerge as dominant entertainment hubs in gamer households," Van Baker, a vice president of media industry research for Gartner (NYSE: IT) , told TechNewsWorld.

"The availability of multiple forms of media, such as TV shows and movies, enhance the position of these consoles significantly over time," he added.

Because the consoles are essentially computers capable of Internet connections, they can be updated to offer new software-based features. The Xbox 360, for instance, just got a new interface facelift with snazzy new avatars that Microsoft hopes will generate more 360 love.

Sony has been adding video content to its own online service, while the Wii Menu offers weather forecasts and news feeds.

"For all three consoles, it is the online experience dimension that consumers have been picking up on," Bajarin noted.
Price Wars

Despite all the different features of the three consoles, price is an important decision-making factor, as always.

"We have seen an uptick in sales when price moves are implemented by the manufacturers, which speaks to the impact of that marketing lever," Frazier said.

The Wii was for long regarded as the least expensive console, coming in with a base price of US$249, though Microsoft's low-end Xbox 360 Arcade model is now down to $199. It's Pro and Elite packages cost $299 and $399, and awireless network adapter for wireless Internet access costs another $80-plus. The PS3 starts at $399 and ramps up to $499.

This holiday season, the big three manufacturers will likely look to spur sales through special deals.

"Bundles will be the biggest promos," Bajarin said, though he noted that he didn't think any particular bundles were hot enough to tip the popularity scales.

Source :

Nov 25, 2008

101 Steps to Becoming a Better Blogger

If you are new to blogging and looking for a help, then “101 Steps to Becoming a Better" Blogger by Ellie Harrison e-book is the one you were waiting for. It’s really easy to follow and things are explained in simple words.
The book contains links to the contents, plug-ins you need as a blogger. And remember IT’S FREE. NO SUBSCRIPTION or EMAIL ADDRESS at all. To download the e-book click here.

Nov 21, 2008

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009

Wrestling game fans need no introduction to the Smackdown vs. Raw (SVR) franchise. After all, it's been the definitive game in the genre for many a generation. Over the years there have been a number of improvements to the visuals and the gameplay, but at first look you can't help but feel that you're playing the same SVR that you completed last year. So my main motive in playing through SVR 2009 was to see what's new and if it's worth a purchase if you already own SVR 2008.

When it comes to the player roster, nothing beats SVR 2009. There are over 60 playable wrestlers on first boot, with options for two costumes for almost all of them. Plus there are unlockable characters that you will get access to as you play through different game modes. If there's a wrestler you love to play as that's not featured in the game roster, there's always the industry's best Create a Wrestler option, which is hands-down the biggest character customizable tool in the history of video games. You won't have to worry about the gameplay going stale with this at your disposal, especially considering that THQ has promised downloadable content on Xbox Live in the near future.

The control system has made a comeback from SVR 2008. In all honesty, it was the right thing to do, considering that the last game had pretty much perfected that comfort-plus-accessibility ratio. The only issue I have with the control scheme is that running towards an opponent is still not very accurate or as comfortable as I would have liked it to be.

The best part about SVR 2009 is the Road to Wrestlemania mode, which captures the kind of drama you'd expect from WWE. You get to select one of seven available superstars to play through (no Khali unfortunately), each with their own storylines, complete with real voice acting and the drama that gets you playing through just to reach the ending. That's not to say the stories penned for each of these superstars is a masterpiece, but they do have a quality about them that gets fans of wrestling charged enough to support their superstars in the main events.

Read the full article here

Source :

Internet Startups Face a Change of Plan

Internet firms are looking down the barrel, in terms of the financial crisis. Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), for instance, faces a 64 percent drop in net profits, as 1,500 employees are scheduled to lose jobs and the stock price touches $12. (Some investors think Jerry Yang’s decision to turn down Microsoft for $33 was a huge mistake.) Even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) stock has fallen (in spite of strong financial performance) from a 52-week high of $747 to a recent new low of $310.

As the overall bailout and new stimulus packages from the U.S. Fed take effect, the scene will get tighter for Silicon Valley firms of all sizes, including startups, as VCs revise their investment plans.

So, how does the situation affect the lifecycle of an Internet startup?

Up to now, the philosophy for new companies has been: Get an idea, bootstrap a company, show that your model works, get seed funding, show some scaling in terms of traffic, and then get proper VC funding to build the traffic. Revenue will come once the traffic is there (the Google way). Funding is based largely on revenue “potential.”

This philosophy will be tested in the worldwide severe economic downturn. “R.I.P. Good Times” is Sequoia Capital 's response to the current situation, in a leaked presentation that is proof -- if any were needed -- that startups should expect a lifecyle plan more like: Get an idea, bootstrap a company, show that your model works, make some money in a short amount of time, demonstrate your viability, then seek VC funding with some running cashflow at decent burn rates.

It hasn’t helped that a lot of funding for the Web 2.0 bandwagon has been quite unworthy. There are tons of social networks and video publishing sites that have been funded in arenas where even leading lights don't have revenue plans. Example: Twitter is still undecided on revenue channels. Bijan Sabet, board member of Twitter, says: “Stay tuned, they are working on it.”

Startups interested in making it in the present environment could benefit from the following tips:

  • Get costs down. Burn rates must get lower in order to justify startup expenses, period. “Time is money," after all.
  • Get cashflows higher. Don’t expect to get funding unless you can generate revenue.
  • “Get Real or Go Home.” This admonition from the Sequoia Capital presentation tells it like it is -- and will be -- for those seeking VC funds. Companies without a demonstrable product or service with a robust revenue model can’t expect much in the way of financial assistance.
  • Expect high expectations. In today’s startup market, VCs will focus on better apples in the portfolio and quickly drop the rotten ones. A viable exit is the way VCs and angels make money, and in these tough times, it’s going to be difficult. Startups will need solid key metrics to keep themselves saleable.

There is some good news: Since this isn’t the first economic crisis Internet startups have faced, some firms are better prepared this time with lessons from the dotcom bust eight years back. Also, Internet penetration is far higher than it was in the year 2000. Web sites today have solid traffic with high user involvement -- giving TV viewership a run for advertising dollars. The SME segment and other ROI advertisers are getting more direct purchases from the Internet than from any other medium. Vertical startups have strong niche traffic, which is useful in targeted advertising.

Still, most funding will dry up for the next two or three quarters -- during which time robust business models will be promoted, while frivolous copycats will meet their demise.

Written by Sandeep Amar

Oct 26, 2008

Silicon Valley Legends Tackle Internet Switching

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley may be pressed by the economic climate, but at least one Valley legend has made his reputation -- and a sizeable fortune -- by zigging when everyone else is zagging. And it looks as though he is doing it again.

Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA) and an early investor in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), is once again putting his large brain to work on the hardware that makes the Web run.

Bechtolsheim has just announced that he is leaving Sun -- where he has been chief systems architect ever since the company bought his last startup in 2004 -- to focus on an Ethernet hardware maker known as Arista Networks Inc. The company's main product is a 10-Gigabit switch, which puts it in direct competition with networking-equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), as well as a couple of smaller players.

If you're going to go up against a company like Cisco, it helps to have someone who knows the opponent on your side. Arista has just that: The company's new CEO is Jayshree Ullal, the former head of Cisco's corporate data center unit and an engineer with a background in highspeed Ethernet switches. (She wrote about her new job here.)

The company's new chief scientist is Stanford University computer-science professor David Cheriton, who has been involved in two previous startups with Bechtolsheim and was also an early backer of Google.

According to a report in The New York Times, Cheriton and Bechtolsheim are financing the company themselves -- which probably isn't surprising, considering each has a net worth that is estimated in the billions.

Cheriton, a Canadian, helped to connect Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with the venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers , while Bechtolsheim provided the very first $100,000 angel investment to Google, at a time when the company was still based in a garage and hadn't even been legally incorporated.

Bechtolsheim and Cheriton co-founded two other networking equipment companies that were later acquired: Gigabit Ethernet company Granite Systems was bought by Cisco for $220 million in 1996, and Kealia was acquired by Sun in 2004 for an undisclosed sum.

Although Arista is a hardware maker, Bechtolsheim has said the company has an edge over other high-speed networking equipment providers in the software that runs the switch. The Sun co-founder says too many switches use what amounts to slow, outdated software routines that don't take advantage of the speeds available within a network. He says they also don't allow for rapid prototyping and customization the way most Web-programming software does.

Arista touts its systems as more easily updatable, and the firm says it will even offer users a form of open API that will allow them to add their own features. Arista is also reportedly aiming to price its wares lower than its competitors.

As venture capitalists and investors of all kinds question the benefits of pure Web 2.0 services -- the ones that have managed to survive until now despite a lack of a revenue model, based on the "build it and they will come" philosophy -- it's likely that many of them will turn toward solutions that are rooted in hardware, as Arista's is. The benefits of a faster switch are not only more tangible, but more immediately obvious for companies that spend millions on their networks.

As usual, Andy Bechtolsheim is ahead of the curve.

Written by Mathew Ingram

Oct 10, 2008

World's Fastest Cars


Ultima GTR

9.9secs @143mph

Bugatti Veyron


Ferrari Enzo


Porsche Carrera GT


McLaren F1


Saleen S7


Porsche Ruf R Turbo


Lamborghini Murcielago


Ford GT40


Lamborghini Gallardo


Porsche 996 Turbo


Porsche 911 GT3


Ferrari 360


Corvette C5


Honda NSX


Porsche Boxster S


Oct 7, 2008

Top 100 Hotels of 2007 from

Top 100 Hotels of 2007 from

Asian hotels have consistently received high marks, but this year, for the first time, an Indian property—Oberoi Udaivilas—has grabbed the No. 1 spot. The Udaipur property also tops our lists for best small hotel and best hotel in Asia.

Top 100 Hotels Overall

Rank 2006 Name Score
1 3Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India 94.36
2 1Singita Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa94.30
3 9The Oriental, Bangkok 94.23
4 48Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet93.55
5n/aMilestone Hotel, London93.06
6n/aRelais Il Falconiere, Cortona, Italy92.97
7 97Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa 92.81
8n/aMandarin Oriental, Munich 92.73
9 12Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii 92.65
10 54Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India 92.56
11 6Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India 92.50
12 4The Peninsula, Bangkok92.41
13 18Château Les Crayères, Reims, France 92.39
14n/aJumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort, Antigua92.24
15 14Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest 92.15
16 24Mombo Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana 92.08
18n/aFour Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza92.00
19 11Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand 91.90
20 52Cape Grace, Cape Town 91.52
21 32MalaMala Game Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa91.38
22 27Ladera, St. Lucia 91.34
23 28La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo, Mexico 91.28
24 35Kichwa Tembo, Masai Mara, Kenya 91.25
25n/aLe Sirenuse, Positano, Italy 91.18
26n/aNgorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania 91.11
27n/aWoodlands Resort & Inn, Summerville, South Carolina91.09
28 43Four Seasons Hotel, Prague 91.07
29 69Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris 91.05
30n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Amman, Jordan 90.95
31n/a41, London90.68
32n/aPost Hotel & Spa, Lake Louise, Alberta 90.61
33n/aRitz-Carlton, Millenia, Singapore90.59
34n/aThe Strand, Yangon, Myanmar 90.56

35n/aSweetwaters Tented Camp, Sweetwaters Game Reserve, Kenya90.50
36n/aBlantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts 90.43
37 20The Peninsula, Hong Kong 90.37
38 19Halekulani, Honolulu90.29
39n/aLondolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa 90.19
40 60Raffles Hotel, Singapore 90.15
41n/aFour Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence, Cairo90.14
42 78Four Seasons Hotel, Buenos Aires 90.12
43n/aSanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina 90.07
44n/aTortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park, Kenya90.00
45 57The Peninsula, Beverly Hills 89.99
46n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Bangkok89.93
47 39Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 89.92
48n/aFairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya89.87
49n/aJamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica 89.78
50 91Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea89.72
51n/aEsperanza, Los Cabos, Mexico 89.68
52n/aIl Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy89.64
53n/aPlanters Inn, Charleston, South Carolina89.64
54n/aInn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, California 89.63
55 37Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming 89.50
56n/aJao Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana89.47
57n/aHôtel d'Europe, Avignon, France89.42
58 38Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand 89.38
59n/aChâteau de la Chèvre d’Or, Èze Village, France89.35
60 44Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele89.29
61n/aTable Bay Hotel, Cape Town 89.23
62n/aHôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo 89.14
63n/aMadrona Manor, Healdsburg, California 89.09
64n/aLa Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers-Ste.-Marie, France 89.04
65n/aDomaine des Hauts de Loire, Onzain, France 89.00
65n/aLe Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa89.00
67n/aHôtel du Cap Eden-Roc, Antibes, France88.89
68 25Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, Chile 88.86
69n/aMalliouhana Hotel & Spa, Anguilla 88.86
70n/aFour Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
*Formerly Manele Bay Hotel, Lanai
71 5Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay88.83
72n/aIl San Pietro, Positano, Italy88.82
73n/aHotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, St. Bart’s 88.81
74n/aEden Rock, St. Bart’s 88.70
75n/aThe Westcliff, Johannesburg88.68
76 82Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee 88.62
77n/aFullerton Hotel, Singapore 88.61
78n/aRitz-Carlton, Istanbul88.60
79n/aShangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei 88.59
80n/aBeau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland 88.57
80n/aWillows Lodge, Woodinville, Washington88.57
82 10Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India 88.55
83n/aHorned Dorset Primavera, Rincón, Puerto Rico88.54
84n/aAuberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City88.52
85 34Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong 88.50
86 59The Peninsula, Chicago 88.38
87n/aBernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, California 88.37
88100One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico 88.32
89n/aShangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 88.28
90 29Hotel Villa Cipriani, Asolo, Italy 88.27
91 51Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore 88.24
92n/aHotel Hassler, Rome88.18
93n/aGleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Scotland88.18
94n/aKatikies Hotel, Santorini, Greece88.17
95n/aRitz-Carlton, Berlin88.17
96n/aFour Seasons Resort, Nevis 88.10
97n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Shanghai 88.08
98 63Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago 88.03
99n/aMount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town 87.94
100n/aGravetye Manor Hotel, West Sussex, England87.92

Oct 5, 2008

The 53 Places to Go in 2008

New York Times has published the best 53 places to visit in 2008. Here 20 places are mentioned. If you want to see all the selected places and read the full article click here
Vietnam and Cambodia are so 2007. Now, Laos is shaping up to be Indochina's next hot spot. Ancient sites like the Wat Phou temple complex and the capital city of Vientiane are drawing culture seekers. Luxury teak houseboats are cruising down the Mekong. And global nomads are heading to Luang Prabang to sample the Laotian tasting menu at 3 Nagas ( or hang out by the infinity pool at the seriously upscale Résidence Phou Vao (
Bargain-seeking tourists have long flocked to Lisbon, typically among the most affordable of European cities. But now the Portuguese capital is also emerging as a cultural force. The new Berardo Collection Museum (, in the historic Belem district, boasts a major trove of modern and contemporary art. Designer hotels like Fontana Park ( and Jerónimos 8 ( are attracting style-savvy travelers. And the Design and Fashion Museum, scheduled to open in late 2008, will go a long way toward cementing the city's avant-garde status.
Tunisia is undergoing a Morocco-like luxury makeover. A new wave of stylish boutique hotels, often in historic town houses, has cropped up alongside this North African country's white-sand beaches and age-old medinas, drawing increasing numbers of well-heeled travelers. The Villa Didon ( in Carthage, for one, has a restaurant originally run by Alain Ducasse. Indeed, TripAdvisor ranks Jerba, a resort island off Tunisia's southern coast, as the No. 1 emerging spot in 2008.
Flying to the sugar-white shores of Mauritius is about to get easier. Virgin Atlantic just began nonstop flights from London to this tiny coral-ringed island off the coast of Madagascar, and it also recently became a hub port for Indian Ocean excursions by the Italy-based Costa Cruises. Meanwhile, new hotels are opening up, including a Four Seasons resort, Anahita Mauritius (, that features four restaurants, three beaches and an ayurveda spa.
Move over South Beach. The iconic Eden Roc Resort ( and Fontainebleau Miami Beach ( — faded glitterati hangouts designed by Morris Lapidus — will reopen in 2008 after multimillion-dollar renovations, returning Mid-Beach to its former glory. Future neighbors include Gansevoort South, a W Hotel and a Mid-Beach outpost of the members-only Soho House.
Not to be outdone, South Beach will also welcome a red carpet of designer hotels: the Angler's Boutique Resort ( by Gianni Versace's former decorator Wallace Tutt; the Tides South Beach (, revamped by the design star Kelly Wearstler; and the Mondrian South Beach ( by the Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders. Meanwhile, Nicky Hilton's much-hyped dreams of running a hotel has ended up in bankruptcy court — and the auction block.
The 2004 tsunami, a fragile ecology and a recent bombing have done little to dampen a hotel boom in this island-nation of about 1,192 coral islets in the Indian Ocean. Among the high-end hotels expected to open next year is a Regent Hotels & Resorts ( with 50 villas, many set over the water, allowing guests to observe the rich marine life while still lying in bed.
It's too early to predict, but recent heavy rains have some flower bloggers already speculating about a dazzling spring bloom in Death Valley next year. Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 species of wildflower, and in that special spring after a wet fall and winter, the brown desert landscape is carpeted with Technicolor fields of blossoms.
The ultra-exclusive French skiing village of Courchevel may be overrun by Russian billionaires these days, but that has only fueled the resort's consumption of Cristal jeroboams and high-ticket hotels. The sumptuous Hotel de Charme Les Airelles ( reopens this month following a $31 million renovation, and, late next year, Le Padisha ups the ante with rustic-chic apartments starting at 1.3 million euros, or $1.95 million at $1.50 to the euro.
It's on and off (and on again) for Libya. Four years after the United States government lifted a ban on American travel, this socialist North African nation is going green. The eldest son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, is developing a carbon-neutral resort along the country's pristine Mediterranean coastline, home to stellar Greek and Roman ruins and endangered seals. Luxury hotels and golf courses are planned, as well as a new airport in Tripoli. But red tape remains. Tour operators have canceled trips because of visa holdups, and last month planeloads of European tourists were turned away under an odd rule that requires foreign passports to be translated into Arabic.
11. HVAR
As Croatia's Dalmatian Coast has become a new Riviera, Hvar has become its St.-Tropez: a tiny village that fills with yachts and international partyers over the summer. While the waterfront Carpe Diem ( remains the island's night-life center, narrow stone alleys are lined with chic cocktail lounges and hotel terraces, including the rooftop pool at the new Adriana hotel, Croatia's first Leading Small Hotels of the World member (
Maybe it is the lasting memory of the gay icon Elizabeth Taylor's scandalous affair with Richard Burton during his filming of “Night of the Iguana” in the early 60's, but Puerto Vallarta is becoming gayer by the year and is now poised to overtake Acapulco as Mexico's leading gay beach. There are now some dozen gay-friendly hotels ( and a glut of bars and clubs clustered along the aptly named Zona Romantica.
13. SYLT
With a nickname like the “Hamptons of Germany,” it's only a matter of time before jet-setters discover the North Sea island of Sylt. Known for its nudist beaches, reed-thatched houses and designer stores, the T-shaped island has long been popular with German celebrities, particularly television stars and sports figures. But now getting there is a simple hop from London and a dozen other European cities, thanks to the low-cost carrier Air Berlin.
The verdict is in. The Next Prague is ... Prague. Stag parties have moved on, bohemians have left for cheaper rents, and youth hostels are being squeezed by luxe hotels. Joining a new Mandarin Oriental next year is the Augustine, converted from a monastery and other buildings into a Rocco Forte hotel (, and the just-refurbished Hilton Prague Old Town (, with a buzzing restaurant opened by Gordon Ramsay.
If you've been to Quito, Ecuador, there's a good chance you were heading to the Galápagos. But Quito, the colonial capital perched 9,200 feet up in the Andes, is no longer just a whistle stop. The city's crumbling historic center, one of Latin America's least altered, has been reborn after a seven-year, $200 million renovation. And a crop of upscale hotels has arrived, including a JW Marriott (, making Quito a glorious new center in the so-called Middle of the World.
There's more to Liverpool than just the Beatles. Next year, this industrial city celebrates its 800th birthday (and its designation as European Capital of Culture), as it trots out everything and everyone, from Turner Prize artists to young emerging bands like the Zutons. But make no mistake: The headliner is Paul McCartney, who is returning to play the “Liverpool Sound” concert at Anfield Stadium on June 1 (
Wi-Fi beer gardens, lederhosen-wearing hipsters, hybrid Mercedes-Benz taxis. No wonder Monocle magazine recently named Munich the world's most livable city. The Bavarian capital might get shortchanged when compared with Berlin in terms of liberalism and creativity, but Munich has a robust economy that stimulates high fashion, cutting-edge cuisine and cushy living — not to mention a new Jewish Museum (, 79 years in the making, and a posh new hotel in the heart of the city, the Charles, from hotelier Rocco Forte (
18. IRAN
What Axis of Evil? Upscale tour operators are tiptoeing into Iran next year, offering trips that explore the ancient country's Persian treasures and olive-green desert plains. Next spring, the luxury cruise liner Silversea will make stops in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on its Dubai to Dubai cruise. And California-based Distant Horizons ( is organizing two 18-day trips that start in Tehran and then weave through the once-forbidden countryside, including stops in Shiraz and Isfahan. Prices start at $5,390 per person.
All those rolling fields of green. The cypress-lined fairways. It's surprising that there aren't more golf links in Tuscany. For better or worse, a new course has just opened for guests at the Terme di Saturnia resort ( ) in southern Tuscany. The nine-hole course covers 247 acres surrounded by wheat, sunflowers, oats and olive groves — that is, until the next nine holes go in.

Just when you thought the Caribbean island of Anguilla couldn't get any fancier, the Kor Hotel Group is opening the Viceroy Anguilla — the latest offshoot of its Viceroy brand ( — in the spring. The hotel will have 172 luxury accommodations, a 15,000-square-foot spa and beach clubs set along 3,200 feet of private waterfront.

Sep 30, 2008

The Best Travel Tips Come From Other Travelers

This is why Lonely Planet and sites like it are so popular. Travelers want to know where to go and stay mainly from those who have been there because fellow travelers usually do not have an agenda. Some think hotels or discounters and their sites have an agenda and certainly won't tell you the WHOLE truth. While this may well be true, it does not mean hotel review sites are to be ignored. In fact, they should be used BEFORE you choose a property or lock yourself into a choice without doing research.
The reason for this is to get a more comprehensive overview of a property. If you combine a hotels own internet site (where understandably they are intent on putting their best foot forward) with other neutral sources, you should be able to piece together a commendable part of the travel puzzle - choosing where to stay.
For instance, some people choose by price - some by location, some by amenities and some by intangibles like highly rated properties or personally recommended hotels. But what is a personal recommendation worth anyway? It is nothing more than an opinion, albeit a valued one of you know the person well. Buit let me ask you this: If you knew the exact perfect place you wanted to stay in
Hawaii because it was recommended by others and had everything you wanted including price and location, would you NOT stay there because a good friend had a horrible billing experience at the same place?
This is the problem with hotel reviews - they can be personal yet useless. A tremendous help or a rant to be ignored. What is needed is for you the traveler to clearly DECIPHER what reviewers are saying and then make a logical determination from them. Some people do not want to take the time to search for reviews so they go with the 'numbers'. Discount sites use a 1-5 system with 5 being fantastic. So what if you find a property with a 4.3 but they only have 3 reviews? Is that an enough of a sample from which to really form an opinion? What if a property has 25 reviews but the average is 3.1 - just a little over the average mark. This obviously means as many people liked the property as didn't like it. Does this help a lot?

There is an art to travel if you look at it from the standpoint of making it as easy on yourself as possible. Reviews do this but the fact remains that not all review sites are equal and neither are all reviews. In the end, it can simply come down to numbers (which is a valid criteria) or gut feelings. I tend to use both in my analysis but then I realize the more research you do up front, the more enjoyable your trip usually turns out to be.
David C. Reynolds is a longtime veteran of the Hotel business who offers common sense, money saving advice on how to find rooms, booking hotels as cheap as possible, travel and ground transportation tips, understanding hotel reviews and occasional destination 'specials'.
He is the author of three travel tips books as well as a blog devoted to travel. If you would like more information about understanding reviews,
visit his blog at
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