Microsoft to offer Zune Originals

Microsoft is about to launch some new Zune portable music players that will be available in customised form via https://zuneoriginals.net/. Microsoft says:

Consumers no longer need to settle for the same portable media player as everybody else. The new Zune Originals online store will let people make a unique statement by customizing their Zune with laser-engraved art or personal text. Zune worked with 18 accomplished artists from all over the world to create a collection of 27 different designs, called the Artist Series, which will be available exclusively through Zune Originals. In addition to the Artist Series, a separate Tattoo Series will feature 20 graphics that consumers can have laser-engraved on their Zune with up to three lines of text. Alternatively, people can choose to engrave up to five lines of text in place of a design. On the Zune Originals Web site, customers can choose their Zune (Zune 80GB, Zune 8GB or Zune 4GB), pick a color and then select a design and their desired text.

The Cool Hunting site has an interview with Microsoft’s general manager of global marketing, Chris Stephenson, on the background, plus "all 27 of the illustrations and the artist bios".

Update: Here’s a round-up of some early reviews….

Syria web crackdown using Euro spyware, King Crimson at war with Grooveshark, and more

A quick burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Open Source Procurement Toolkit >> Cabinet Office

"The Government first set out its policy on the use of open source in 2004. This was restated in both 2009 and 2010. The Government ICT Strategy states that "Where appropriate, Government will procure open source solutions." To support this, Action 3 of the Strategy says that "To create a level playing field for the use of innovative ICT solutions, the Government will publish a toolkit for procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open source solutions." "The following set of documents make up that toolkit…The purpose of this toolkit is to ensure that there is a level playing field for open source and proprietary software and that some of the myths associated with open source are dispelled. "It is intended for those who need to consider, evaluate or procure open source solutions as well as anyone just wanting to know more about open source." We strongly suspect this is the work of Liam Maxwell. In which case he has moved fast. This bodes well.

Steve Jobs: What an Asshole… >> Digital Music News

One of the "hot debates" at Digital Music News. Oh, why?

Syria crackdown gets Italy firm’s aid with US-Europe spy gear >> Bloomberg

"As Syria’s crackdown on protests has claimed more than 3,000 lives since March, Italian technicians in telecom offices from Damascus to Aleppo have been busy equipping President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with the power to intercept, scan and catalog virtually every e-mail that flows through the country. "Employees of Area SpA, a surveillance company based outside Milan, are installing the system under the direction of Syrian intelligence agents, who’ve pushed the Italians to finish, saying they urgently need to track people, a person familiar with the project says." The new arms traders: but it’s online arms.

King Crimson can’t get their music off Grooveshark. So they cc’d Digital Music News… >> Digital Music News

Fascinating. Robert Fripp isn’t the sort to give any quarter and he clearly does not live Grooveshark. And Grooveshark clearly isn’t as artist-friendly as it suggests, judging by the comments.

Motorola Xoom 2 pictures and hands-on >> Pocket-lint

"The Xoom 2 in the UK is being sold as Wi-Fi only, but interestingly the pre-production device we saw today had both a SIM and microSD card slot under a flap on the bottom. A Moto Agent told us that these were disabled, the 3G radio not included, but there could be potential to activate the microSD card slot down the line. "We got the impression that that wasn’t on the immediate agenda, so you’ll be looking at 16GB of internal storage. Motorola told us they were looking towards cloud solutions via MotoCast, rather than seeing users fill the device with lots of content." Our article suggested that Xoom sales will fall to zero sometime in the next month or so. This would be why, then. Not sure about Goog… Motorola’s idea that MotoCast will succeed in attracting anyone: why would you buy a Xoom before a Kindle Fire?

IE9 Share on Windows 7 keeps moving along – nearly 35% in the US >> Windows Team blog

The worldwide browser share on Windows 7 is interesting: a three-way split between Chrome, Firefox and IE9. Of course, Windows 7 isn’t the whole of Windows, so this is an intriguingly skewed version of the Windows world. We await the Google Chrome team’s version.

Adding responses to comments >> Inside Guardian blog

"Today we have added a new feature to the Guardian’s commenting system – the ability to respond directly to a comment, and to let that commenter know that you have replied." Yeah, yeah, we hear you – no post-facto editing. It’s possible that the heat death of the universe will precede that function’s availability.

How a Javascript upgrade brought down our commenting platform >> Guardian developer blog

"It can’t hurt if we put ‘attr(disabled) in can it?"

"You should have your tongue ripped out": the reality of sexist abuse online >> New Statesman

Important problem. What on earth do we do with the online mysogynists? Helen Lewis writes: "What does it feel like to be subjected to regular rape threats or death threats? To have people send you emails quoting your address, or outlining their sexual fantasies about you? That’s the reality of what many female bloggers experience. It’s my belief that "normal" net users simply don’t realise what it feels like to open the front door to a chorus of commenters howling at you about your opinions, your name, your appearance, your sexuality. If they did, we might all have a little less tolerance, be a little less ready to excuse sexist abuse as part of the "rough and tumble" of blogging."

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on delicious

Billion-pixel Mars view, Microsofts Amazon-killer, Apples games console plans and more

A quick burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

NASA Billion-Pixel View from Curiosity at Rocknest

Mars in close-up:

A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.

The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover’s route.

Stunning scenes, and the perfect opportunity to go pixel-hunting for some more alien lizards.

Microsoft Explored Plans to Build Amazon Rival >> Wall Street Journal

Greg Bensinger and Shira Ovide:

Microsoft Corp. recently explored rolling out an e-commerce marketplace aimed at taking on heavyweights Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., according to people briefed on the company’s plans.

The software giant held discussions with retailers and technology companies about a marketplace, proposing to equip it with an array of merchants, as well as a unified shopping cart and broad shipping options, according to these people. To lure shoppers, Microsoft was considering subsidizing the price of goods on its e-commerce service using a portion of advertising dollars merchants spend on Microsoft’s Bing Web-search engine or elsewhere, said the people.

The scheme has apparently been shelved, for now, with Microsoft describing Project Brazil (as it was known) as "an incubation to enable a more direct commerce model between customers and brands and merchants" that would be available on Xbox consoles, smartphones and tablets as well as computers.

Reveal Labs launches a $20k crowdfunding campaign for its Tile Bluetooth device to find lost items >> The Next Web

Ken Yeung:

Reveal Labs today launched a crowdfunding campaign in search of $20,000 to fund its Tile Bluetooth device. The company hopes that money raised will help show if people are interested and to get it closer to production. Tile aims to be that device people place on things such as wallets, keys, luggage, phones, or anything else to help you find it no matter where it is.

I’m all over this one, it’s a fantastic idea. I’m going to back it. Now, where’s my wall… Oh.

Apple Gaming Strategy Analysis: Apple’s plan to Crush Microsoft, Sony >> Boy Genius Report

Jonathan S. Geller:

Let’s just be honest… we are at the absolute end of the road for gaming consoles. There is no reason that you are going to need a dedicated gaming machine in the next year or two — you probably don’t even need one now. What makes this more troubling for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 is that this big, heavy, bulky, hot and loud gaming consoles have to last for an extremely long time in order for them to be profitable for each company. We have been on a 7 to 8-year life cycle for game consoles for the last couple decades, and that model isn’t going to be sustainable going into the future.

You can predict the tone of many of the comments on this piece before reading them. RAGE. Which is exactly what the writer was hoping for, of course.

But there’s an important point in this piece about Apple setting out standards for physical game controllers for iOS devices, and thus positioning Apple TV as a console-in-waiting. "Soon, you are going to be able to play a console-quality game on your iPhone or iPad with a game controller, and you’re going to be able to see it on your big screen television without any effort…"

Pirate Bay cofounder gets two years in prison for IT firm hack | Ars Technica

Cyrus Farivar:

As his defense attorney expected, a Swedish court has found Gottfrid "anakata" Svartholm Warg guilty of "invasion of Nordea’s mainframe," aggravated fraud, and attempted aggravated fraud. He was sentenced (Swedish) to two years in prison.

The Pirate Bay cofounder will also likely have to face related charges in a high-profile hacking case in neighboring Denmark, but the Swedish and Danish legal systems have not yet determined if or when he will be extradited.

Warg was deported from Cambodia last year, where he’d been living since disappearing amid a trial of three Pirate Bay co-founders and one of its financial backers for copyright infringement.

Netflix’s decision to renew Hemlock Grove shows its algorithms are working >> paidContent

Janko Roettgers:

Netflix announced this week that it is renewing its original horror series Hemlock Grove for a second season, with 10 new episodes set to premiere in 2014. The news may come as a surprise to some: Netflix has spent a lot of effort promoting Arrested Development and House of Cards, but hasn’t made a big fuss about Hemlock. Critics who watched the show hated it, calling it a dud, a flop and "the company’s first truly bad series."

And if you’re anything like me, then you have never seen Hemlock Grove pop up in your Netflix recommendations. Heck, chances are, you may have never heard about Hemlock before reading this article. But that’s OK; Netflix didn’t make the show for us. It’s aimed at an audience of teenage horror fans. And Netflix had the numbers to know that this audience was engaged enough on the streaming service to make a title like Hemlock Grove succeed.

Hemlock Grove is the 13-episode horror show made by Hostel director Eli Roth. What’s interesting here is Netflix’s data-driven commissioning. It knew a lot of its users watched horror films, with Roth the most popular director. So it went out and commissioned him, then promoted his series to those people through its recommendation algorithms.

Finally, something has united Americans: We’re not cool with killer robots >> GigaOm

Signe Brewster:

Of the 1,000 people surveyed by University of Massachusetts-Amherst researchers, 55 percent said they oppose autonomous weapons, with most answering "strongly opposed." Almost 20 percent answered "not sure." Answers were consistent across political affiliations, ages, genders, regions, education and income levels, but not service status: 73 percent of active military personnel responded with disapproval. Language such as "stopping killer robots" and "banning fully autonomous weapons" garnered similar responses.

Asking people if they want to stop killer robots is a bit of a leading question. But researcher Charli Carpenter says "people are scared by the idea of removing humans from the loop, not simply scared of the label". Although in the who’s-killed-most-people league table, humans are still well ahead of robots…

Narcissism in motion: Instagram’s new video features are a vanity mirror, not a communications tool >> PandoDaily

Nathaniel Mott:

Instagram remains one of the best-designed photo-sharing applications. But the new video tools aren’t nearly as intuitive as, say, the double-tap gesture Instagram invented to allow users to "like" a photo. Recording a video is a buggy mess. The "stand-out" features — filters, a video stabilizer, and the ability to choose which frame represents the video in your friends’ Instagram feeds — are lackluster at best. The entire thing feels like something that should have been introduced a year ago.

There was lots of praise in the tech blogosphere last night for Instagram’s move into video, but this offers a different take.

Google Glass: facial recognition blocking technology developed >> Boy Genius Report

Brad Reed:

If you’re freaked out about the thought of Google Glass users one day being able to use facial recognition technology that’s capable of spotting you wherever you go, then some researchers in Japan may have a solution for you. Engadget reports that researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics have designed a pair of glasses that obscure your face to prevent facial recognition algorithms from locking onto it.

If this turns into a tit-for-tat war of facial recognition versus facial-recognition blocking, we’ll all end up wearing robot helmets. Daft Punk are onto something…

Twitter + GNIP >> Mapbox

Fascinating map using 280m tweets posted from mobile devices, broken down by Android/iPhone/BlackBerry/"Other" (ouch, Windows Phone). The geographical differences are remarkable.

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on Pinboard. To suggest a link, either add it below or tag it with @gdntech on the free Delicious service.

Welcome to the eBay wiki (beta)

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this before, but eBay’s 200 million members are probably the world’s biggest expert group. Its online auctions bring together the people who are among most knowledgeable about every type of product — not just Beanie Babies and Pez dispensers — because many of them are obsessive collectors, and they are willing to back their knowledge with cash.

eBay is now providing a home for this expertise with a community-written wiki based on innovative technology from JotSpot. You may as well start with the second article, Welcome to the eBay Wiki. (The first is Reviews & Guides – An Overview.)

A good example of a guide is For Baby: If the Shoe Fits, It Must Be Soft-Soled! This explains the basics of buying shoes for small children, comments on sizes, and provides pictures, specs, comments and prices for some of the main brands. It’s great information if you’re shopping, and not the sort of info you get on Wikipedia.

Most of the early content is, naturally, about buying and selling things on eBay — setting up a store, account management, seller tools etc. Most of it seems to have been posted by eBay staff, just to get the thing going.

This is, of course, a baby step into the wiki world. There is no guarantee it will grow and thrive. But it could turn into a really valuable resource.

Stuxnet virus an Israeli-American project, Universal and Sony team up, and more Media The Guardian

A quick burst of five links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Universal and Sony Music plan ‘instant pop’ to beat piracy >> Guardian

"Ten years after piracy first began to ravage the music industry, Britain’s two biggest record labels will finally try to play their part in stopping it, by making new singles available for sale on the day they first hit the airwaves." Good luck.

Is the removal of H.264 from Chrome a step backward for openness? >> My Opera

Haarvard, of Opera Software, on the necessity of Flash: "If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don’t have a choice. Flash is needed." Uhhh? Spot the iOS-shaped flaw.

Stuxnet Worm Used Against Iran Was Tested in Israel >> NYTimes.com

"Though American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at [the Israeli base] Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the [Stuxnet] virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program."

Microsoft to halve school licence fees – 1/14/2011 – Computer Weekly

"Many schools will have their software licence fees cut by more than half as Microsoft changes its method for calculating payment. "From 1 March, Microsoft will calculate fees based on the number of teachers working at schools, rather than the number of computer units used. "||Alan Richards, IT manager at West Hatch High School in Essex, has piloted the scheme and estimates it has cut licensing costs by 50%." Great! Wait – what’s the correlation between teachers and needing a Microsoft licence? The more you think about this one, the less sense it makes.

How Much Revenue Does Flickr Make From Paid Pro Accounts, My Guess? $50 Million Per Year >> THomas Hawk

Hawk (who has been very critical of Carol Bartz’s tenure as CEO) puts his thumb in the air and pulls out a few plums about the possible numbers.

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on delicious

Would you buy a Chumby

"The chumby is a low-cost, wifi-enabled information delivery device that’s so appealing you’ll want to keep one close," reports Christine Herron.

Chumby’s team of hardware hackers wanted this device to be fun and open, the anti-iPod. While iPod has a clean look and expensive molded plastic, it’s not very accessible. The Chumby is meant to be personalized. If you’re crafty, you can redesign it with a seam ripper; if you’re a hacker, it’s all open source inside.

One you’ve plugged in your chumby, it connects to your home network via wifi. Select "Trust the chumby" and it will autodiscover. Once you’ve registered online and picked from a selection of free widgets, the chumby displays a Flash stream of whatever you’ve configured – weather, news feeds, alarm clock, movies, pictures, stock tickers, etc.

See Christine.net for more technical details. The official Chumby site appears to be down at the moment.

So what has been going on with iTunes and PayPal

Comments on the earlier article from (indignant) users say that they’re sure they haven’t been phished for the details of their PayPal accounts – and that someone has somehow been making unauthorised (by them, at least) purchases from the iTunes Store.

In the previous post, I pointed to the greater likelihood that this was the result of a phishing scam; wrongly, I thought that there wasn’t a product in the iTunes Store with the given name. Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch, who wrote the original post there this morning, points out though that there is indeed a product called "CastleCraft, Dragon Crystals (10000 Pack)": it doesn’t show up in a search on the store because it’s an in-game purchase.

Schonfeld also says that one of the people affected had both the emails from PayPal and the confirmation email from Apple of the purchases.

Here’s what’s odd about this transaction: who needs (or even wants) $4,700 worth of an in-game purchase for CastleCraft? A few possibilities: (1) kids who just like the idea of being able to mess around, who have iPod Touches/iPhones and want to play (2) people getting kickbacks in some way from the purchase [suspicion would immediately fall on the game maker] (3) some very subtle chargeback method that makes money for scammers (4) a botnet test searching for PayPal accounts linked to iTunes which went a bit wrong. You may be able to think of others.

What’s interesting is that this has distinct echoes of the case back in July where 400 people saw their iTunes accounts hacked – by Thuat Nguyen, who has since been removed from the App Store for violating of the developer terms after his Vietnamese book apps mysteriously skyrocketed up the iTunes charts while people’s credit cards were mysteriously billed. At the time, TheNextWeb pointed out that "the Apple App store is filled with App Farms being used to steal."

However, the developer behind CastleCraft is Freeverse, a New York-based company that one wouldn’t think of as being in any way linked to an "app farm".

Now on to the comments – but first, the suggestion by Bert9000 about how one might get access to an iTunes or PayPal account.

People and websites are so lax with personal details, and many do silly things like use the same password for everything.

So here’s a scenario:

You have email account x@y.com, which is your main email. You have the password XYZ, which you use for everything. You register at paypal with your email address x@y.com and use your normal password. You then register at some obscure webforum using your normal email and password.

Obscure webforum keeps new member details in plain text on their site. Hacker hits obscure webforum and takes thousands of email addresses and site passwords. Hacker then feeds these emails and passwords into paypal, a good proportion of which will actually work.

That’s a very good description of the sort of weakness that crops up all the time in how we use passwords and websites. (If you’ve been affected by this iTunes hack, does that scenario fit you?)

Dr The0p0lis wrote:

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a few emails from PayPal re iTunes purchases. Looking at one, I saw that it was for $211.00. Upon checking my iTunes account (via my desktop iTunes client) I found that a number of purchases had been made. All of them were legitimate apps, but not ones I had purchased. Another charge came through for approximately $50 in apps, and another one for a similar amount. All of them registered as purchases under my iTunes account. All of them were for legitimate apps. Upon alerting PayPal, deautorizing/suspending my iTunes account, and asking my bank to refuse all PayPal charges until it was straightened out, the purchases stopped. So no, these were not spoofed to look like iTunes purchases. They were iTunes purchases.

Similar for SusanMiniCooper: "This occurred after I had hooked my itunes over to paypal. I got two transactions that I did not make. I have now reset my account and removed all automatic payment options." (That’s very wise.)

Can’t argue with that; at the time of writing the first blogpost, that level of detail wasn’t available.

But the twin puzzles remain: where did the details come from? And what were the fake buyers after? In the case of Dr The0p0lis, who saw different purchases, the latter question seems easily answered: they wanted some apps. (You don’t have to authorise your iPhone/iPod Touch against a computer for over-the-air purchases; the apps might get deleted the next time the person synchronised their machine, but as they cost them nothing, they probably wouldn’t care.) His suggestion that the people behind this are griefers might be close to the truth.

And the other one: how are they getting at peoples’ iTunes accounts? Has a giant security hole opened up in the iTunes Store? This still looks hugely unlikely. The PayPal element in common here is intriguing – though possibly that’s now the simplest line of attack, because credit card purchases over a certain value might require the card verification number (which the scammer won’t have), whereas the PayPal purchase is automatic.

One other point: Jared Earle has checked and verified that iTunes authentication uses HTTPS (which means that even if you accessed the iTunes Store via a fake Wi-Fi setup using a man-in-the-middle attack, the attacker wouldn’t get any of your details – sorry @hellroy, but your account was hacked some other way).

The question thus remains of how the scammers got the login details. There we can only ask you, if you were affected: is your iTunes login and password unique? Ever used it anywhere else?

The solid conclusion: it’s a really, really good idea to prevent automatic payments using your iTunes account – and other accounts, come to that – to Paypal or other payment systems.

Monday competition Games we miss

Fever pitch: Sensible Soccer

Over the years, I’ve played many football games on computers, consoles and arcade machines. I like most of them, and love a few: they’re the one place that I can *actually* be a god on the pitch, rather than just wanting to be one.

Right now, there’s no beating Pro Evolution Soccer 4, where my beloved Chelsea are currently on top of the world – holders of the Konami versions of the Champions League, Premier League and the League Cup.

But it brought a nostalgic tear to my eye when this week’s games reviews looked at Sensible Soccer: one of my favourite games of all time. I’ve already drooled on about how much I loved my Amiga, but Sensi Soccer was the best game on that lovely little machine. It was fantastic: a bizarre mixture of football, ping pong and hilariously-named players.

So, a stand-alone console just for playing Sensi? Beautiful.

In honour of this momentous remembrance, then, here’s this week’s competition. The prize is, of course, an Arcade Legends: Sensible Soccer Plus console courtesy of Radica (which also contains Cannon Fodder and Mega-Lo-Mania for good measure).

Q: What’s the game you miss most, and why?

Leave a comment and let us know.

tablets in India, iPhone in CSS3, Google+s influence, movie pricing and more

A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

I am done with the Freemium Business Model >> Tyler Nichols

"I am done with "free". I have come to the realization that most people who want something for free will never, ever think of paying you, no matter how valuable they find your service."

He’s converting his site to paid-only.

Report: Analysis of the Stratfor Password List >> Tech Herald

"Just before the holiday weekend, as their final act of defiance in 2011, AntiSec supporters published nearly a million records taken during the Christmas Eve attack on Strategic Forecasting Inc. The Tech Herald has examined the list of 860,160 passwords hashes that were leaked, and the results of our tests were both expected and pitiful.<br />"We’re sorry to report that the state of password management and creation is still living in the Dark Ages."

This story never changes. Why are we surprised any more? Are we surprised any more? The more worrying aspect is "password recycling" where people use the same password in multiple places.

[Overhyped] Indians on Tablet Spree. 14Lakh Aakash Tablets Pre-booked, RIM Sells 12000 Playbooks >> Asia 2.0 blog

"If 2011 was the year of smartphones, 2012 is surely turning into a year of tablets for the Indian market."

Turns out that India, with more than 100m internet users, is getting interested in tablets too. But is it just a bubble? [Corrected with link to originating site.]

Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking >> ZDNet

James Kendrick: "I strongly urge the folks at Redmond to remember the big advantage over the competition in the tablet space, and work the pen and OneNote into the forefront of Windows 8 tablet design.
"This insight came to me out of the blue when I recently received a phone call asking for my help. A former client of mine needed information about a project I handled for his company years ago, and while he figured I had no memory of the work after all this time he had to ask. Fortunately for him Microsoft and OneNote came to the rescue."

OneNote looks fantastic. And it could be the thing that makes Windows 8 tablets (Intel ones? ARM ones? Both?) really desirable.

Why do all movie tickets Cost the same? >> The Atlantic

"Like tens of millions of Americans, I have paid money to see Mission: Impossible, which made $130 million in the last two weeks, and I have not paid any money to see Young Adult, which has made less than $10 million over the same span. Nobody is surprised or impressed by the discrepancy. The real question is: If demand is supposed to move prices, why isn’t seeing Young Adult much cheaper than seeing Mission: Impossible?"

We seem to remember Stelios trying to use his "book early" system for cinemas and being completely frozen out a couple of years ago.

Spam Finds a New Target >> WSJ.com

"Spam, one of the Internet’s oldest annoyances, is gearing up for a second act. Unlike traditional email spam, which usually comes from strangers, this new form—dubbed "social" spam—often appears to be from a friend. Criminals find social networks alluring because they can spread messages though a chain of trusted sources.<br />"Such spam puts the usefulness of social networking at risk. Facebook says less than 4% of the content shared on its site is spam and Twitter says just 1.5% of all tweets were "spammy" in 2010. But Facebook adds that the volume is growing faster than its user base. On any given day, spam hits less than 0.5% of Facebook users, or some four million people."

Spam is the E.coli of the internet.

Google+ is going to mess up the internet >> ReadWriteWeb

Jon Mitchell, who is responsible for reporting on Google+ at RWW, doesn’t like the way it lets people snarf entire articles to repost them (even seen Facebook, Jon?), the lack of permalinks, the shoehorning of Google+ profile pictures into search results, the shoehorning of Google+ posts into search results, and… quite a long list, actually.

Refresh and reset your PC >> Microsoft: Building Windows 8

Steve Sinofsky, head of Windows: "Many consumer electronic devices these days provide a way for customers to get back to some predefined "good" state. This ranges from the hardware reset button on the back of a wireless network router, to the software reset option on a smartphone. We’ve built two new features in Windows 8 that can help you get your PCs back to a "good state" when they’re not working their best, or back to the "factory state" when you’re about to give them to someone else or decommission them."

The settings are called "PC Reset" and "PC Refresh", and Paul Thurrott thinks they’re two of the best features in Windows 8. We’d have put more money on Picture Password as the most fun feature, but we include this for completeness.

iPhone 4 in pure CSS3 >> TJRus

"This rendering of iPhone 4 and its icons was made in pure CSS3. No images, no base64, no SVG, no canvas, just 3395 lines of CSS code and 335 lines of Javascript code (with jQuery, of course)."

You can unlock it, turn it on or off, and use the Home button. Does this count as skeumorphism, though?

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on Pinboard

To suggest links, tag articles on Pinboard.in with "guardiantech"

Sony could lose $1 billion on the PS3

"Merrill Lynch Japan predicts Sony will lose more than $1 billion on hardware during its next-gen console’s first year on the market–a sum it may not be able to recoup. According to the latest issue of Japanese magazine Toyo Keizai, Merrill Lynch Japan Securities has recently calculated an analysis that the production of a single PlayStation 3 console will cost Sony approximately 54,000 yen to make ($494), as of its initial release in 2006," reports Gamespot.

"Under the assumption that the Xbox 360 is expected to sell at around $299, Merrill Lynch Japan predicts that Sony will sell each PS3 at the price of 44,800 yen ($410) in Japan and $399 in America. That would mean Sony would suffer a loss of more than 130 billion yen ($1.18 billion) during the first year of the PS3’s release."

This compares with a first year loss of $458 million when the PS2 was launched.

Toyo Keizai goes on to interview Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi, who seems confident the PS3 will sell even if it’smuch more expensive than the Xbox 360. Kutaragi says:

The Game Boy Advance is a same handheld gaming machine, and it costs less than 10 thousand yen ($91). On the other hand, our PSP had cost 25,000 yen ($229). But people lined up overnight to buy it, and it sold out on the day of its launch. It all depends on whether people want it. Of course, I’m confident that the PS3 is a product that people will definitely want.