Archive for the ‘Tech Soup’ Category

Make Your Santa Video Message

December 9, 2010

A great way to send a unique online Christmas message to loved ones

Christmas is fast approaching, so if  you are looking for a new way to get a personalized online video message from Santa to a loved one of any age, then check out

It takes less than ten minutes to select from messages and wishes that are inserted into a vido clip of Santa talking to the recipient. You can even include a personal picture which is included in the video. It’s cleverly done and looks seamless with a real nice looking and genuine Santa.

There’s also daily  weather and news updates from the North Pole, sent to you or the recipient.

It’s free but there is a marketing catch, like all things free, from  and which you can opt in or out for future updates. But during the composing process – it asks for your Postal Code – you are presented with a list of suitably smart shops, nearby, for unique gift buying…online or with an analog address to shop for your loved one the old fashioned way.

It’s kinda cool to have a video message from the jolly old man himself (you can also download it for posterity for $4.99) and share it with others.


Five-week Prize Giveaway Ends With Sharp 3D TV

November 29, 2010

Technologist Steve Makris and Co-host Mike Sobel in the Edmonton GlobalTV new HD studio with the Sharp 3D TV

GlobalTV  Edmonton Morning News second annual Global Great Gadget Giveaway just ended today with the Grand Prize giveaway, a 60-inch Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D LED LCD TV with a Sharp 3D Blu ray player. If you are not familiar with this cutting edge TV, with unique RGBYscreen, check it out:

The GGGG started five weeks ago with daily prizes like the Tom Tom Ease, Telus BlackBerry Torch, Panasonic Lumix ZS7, Sony S Frame and Epson WorkForce 633 totalling more than $9,000. The GGGG ran with a weekly introduction of each prize on my Monday live Tech Talk segment on Edmonton Morning News, with co-host Mike Sobel.

Thousands of contestants entered online on GlobalTV with a chance to win the high tech prizes. Susanne Rude of Camrose Alberta won the the Sharp TV worth more than $5,000.

60-inch Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D LCD LED TV boasts 8,000,000:1 contrast ratio thanks to LED sidelighting and a fourth yellow sub pixel to the traditional RGB screen.

PayPal wants your smartphone to be your wallet

October 28, 2010

Third party developers will play a big role in PayPal's expansion in the moble commerce world. Steve Makris Photo

I just had an interesting two days at PayPal’s second annual X Innovate Developers Conference in San Francisco.
PayPal is making your smartphone smarter, at home, work and play in new ways.
iPhones, Androids and BlackBerries are taking on serious digital wallet duties, literally shaking the way you pay for online services.
Here are some cool working examples shown by attending developers eager to put their innovative ideas into play.
-Want to pay back or burrow money to and from your friend standing next to you? A couple of clicks and a final real “bump” of your phone-clasping hands confirms the friendly transaction. Call it the new deal-making digital handshake.
-You are at a hockey game, in the nosebleed section and are hungry and thirsty. But you don’t want to miss on the game action. Fire up on your iPhone and see the available arena concession shops on screen. Choose from the menus and after a couple of phone clicks, have your coke and hotdog delivered right to your seat at half the average time it takes to walk down to the food stand. You can even buy a souveneir jersey to celebrate the winning goal!
-Feeling charitable and want to donate to your favourite cause? Just Tweet the amount of the site’s Tweeter link on your smartphone using TweetDonate. The app, which got a special recognition award at the conference closing awards tonight, was created by second year Toronto law student, Addy Cameron-Huff. He said it only cost him nine bucks for the URL domain name registration. PayPal’s app development software is free – developers make their cut on merchant transactions, or extra fees like the 99 cents iConcessionStand charges for the seat delivery service.
And PayPal software developers now get their share of consumer transactions, in almost real time.
These cool apps and dozens more, shown at the X Innovate Conference let consumers easily pay with their PayPal account without leaving the merchant’s web site and allowing them to continue on to other transactions, even on smartphones, without having to log on PayPal again.
Some of these apps optionally let you choose a direct credit card transaction.
But the idea of letting PayPal look after multiple credit card transactions, including bank account money transfers, seems so convenient, and as proven, safe. PayPal’s buying power also translates into lower credit card fees for merchants.
The conference, attended by international media and developers, was PayPal’s coming out of sorts. The company is introducing new ways to make financial transactions, beyond their original eBay home turf, from anywhere, anytime with wireless laptops and smartphones.
This includes a competitive fee structure for under $12 micro payments.
PayPal started out as a conduit between eBay buyers and sellers, allowing them to use their already registered credit cards for online purchases.
The company is betting big on doing away with traditional payment methods. “We have already seen the death of cheques,” said PayPal Canada GM Darrell MacMullin.
This week PayPal also announced their expansion into building tools for third party developers to make creative software online applications for mobile smartphones like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
Many of these new apps only work in the U.S., but will soon proliferate into the some 190 PayPal countries worldwide.
For more information go to:

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Hands-on the Kinect, PS3 and Samsung Tab

October 8, 2010
By John Makris and Stevoid
During a whirlwind 24-hour Toronto tech tour earlier this
week, we got hands-on time with Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect
game controller systems as well as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Pad.
How do the Kinect and PS3 Move controlling systems compare
with the Wii remote?
They all use different technologies to wirelessly control the console
content on your TV screen.
Here are our first impressions:
PS3 Move
The PS3 Move resembles the Wii controller but uses different
technology, including a video camera in the sensor that sits close to the
console and TV. It also allows for Wii-like nunchuk controller options for
boxin for shooting a bow and arrow and can accommodate a maximum
of two players.
Move was quite sensitive and responsive when playing several
new demo games at Sony PlayStation 3 Holiday Preview event at the
Sony Centre in Toronto. One thing the Move has over Wii are the HD
graphics which bring on a more realistic experience. Playing Sega’s Virtual
Tennis 4 was a blast althoughmore forgiving in bad returns than we would
have liked. But CTA’s Boxing Gloves was an energy-drenching workout
and felt quite realistic. But those glowing large rubber spherical orb  ends
were annoying.
They kind of look like protectors for out-of-control flying objects when
things heat up in some games. Setting was easy and didn’t need any
more adjustment once each game game got going. On the plus side, the
Move controller is much lighter than the Wii remote and the sub-controller
connects wirelessly compared to the tethered Wii Nunchuck. It also comes
with a rechargeable battery.  But the Wii remote buttons are better laid
out and its system is cheaper that the Move’s $100 start-up kit.
The sign at the newly opened Kinect for Xbox 360 Experience
on Young Street across the Eaton Centre in Toronto says it all.  “If you
can shake, speak, tap, sway, wave, point, walk, spin, reach, turn, run
or jog, you can play with the new Xbox Kinect.”
Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360, out in Canada and the U.S.
November 3, was as impressive as it was fun. There is no controller to
hold in Kinect…your body, hands and feet control the game’s movements
as well as setting up a new game or additional players – a maximum of
four for games that allow it. It’s easy to use requiring a minimum setup
by simply moving your hand so its image goes over onscreen selection
buttons…keeping your hand over a button more than one second simply
selects it.
What amazed us was the selectionand variety of games and activities you
can play with Kinect. You can’t play Halo but there is Kinect Sports which
include table tennis, a gruelling beach volley ball and bowling including
spin throws. Kinect Adventures includes a mad water raft ride that left us
gasping for air as we leaned our bodies left andright, jumping over logs
and flying in the air to pick up more points.
The boxing-like exercise in Ubisoft’s Your Shape Fitness Evolved is a
real workout while the Yoga portion uses the Kinect cameras to show
and help correct your body posture on screen. There’s a personal trainer
and more.
The immersive Kinectimals for kids was so realistic one forgets it’s a
game. Petting a cute lion cub by waving your handsin the air felt so real,
especially watching it react to a gentle tickle under its chin. The cub
prods for more if you stop (see our YouTube vids below).
The Kinect’s three camera sensors also shoot pictures of you and fellow
players during games for sharing on Xbox Live. The future is bright for
the Kinect for Xbox 360, a come-from-behind gaming system for all
ages that is now also taking thelead with futuristic controller technologies.

Samsung Canada's Vlastimir Lalovic holds the graspable, lighter and smaller than the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab which looks like a giant cellphone screen on steroids running Android 2.2. Photo by Stevoid

We stopped at Samsung Canada on the way to the airport and
spent about an hour with the much anticipated Galaxy Tablet,
out in November with two Cellcos, one of whom we know will
be Rogers. Like all new technology form factours, you gotta be
there to touch and feel these new products. The 7-inch
graspable  Galaxy Tab seems to be just the right size for
holding firmly with one hand (as in curling your fingers
around both edges) compared to the 9.7-inch iPad that needs
a stand for long trips. It easily fits in large pockets and the ultra
bright screen seems to be just the right size for what is basically
a giant cellphone (minus the phone part) running on Android
2.2. It’s responsive, has two video cameras and uses a Micro
SD card.  It auto orienting touchscreen was fast too. It doesn’t
do voice but Vlastimir Lalovic, Director of Samsung Canada’s
Product Realization Wireless Terminals Division said there are
a dozen Android apps, including Skype, that can handle voice
call duties on the Tab. How will the Galaxy Tab compete with
the recently announced RIM BlackBerry Playbook?  Lalovic
thinks the two tabs are for different
demographics. Think of it this way: if you like using today’s
Android-based smart phones, you will love the larger-screen Galaxy
Tab for online reading and office work. One disappointment though
was the relatively small 3 megapixel camera which on a 7-inch
screen begs for more detail. What excited us is Samsung’s
aggressiveness in going out and hustling it’s iTunes like online media
service including millions of unlocked song purchases on Samsung
devices. More on that and reviews once the ready-for-shipping
product is out.
Check out stevoidstickcam for Kinect and Move vids at:

Canon’s new DSLR sets new performance level for the buck

August 30, 2010

Canon Canada’s new EOS 60D is an affordable DSLR on steroids, perfect for photo enthusiasts.

Check it out:

The new EOS 60D DSLR is full of pro features and more. For the first time on an EOS camera, the EOS 60D DSLR boasts a three-inch Vari-Angle Clear View LCD screen, EOS Full HD video recording with manual overrides including audio level control, and in-camera functionality for RAW image processing plus Creative Filters to manipulate images after taking them. Designed primarily for advanced amateurs, the EOS 60D replaces the EOS 50D and boasts a broad array of new features that make it easier for photographers to add personal creativity to their images. Whether it’s capturing an overhead shot on the Vari-Angle screen at a graduation ceremony, or converting a colour image to black and white for a nostalgic look, Canon is delivering in-camera features and functions that empower advanced photographers to capture, display and print the images they want.

“The EOS 60D has been designed to offer the image-capture and the Full HD video features customers are looking for as they continue to expand their photographic skills. The exciting new features of the EOS 60D make using a DSLR camera more attractive and easier than ever before.  We want everyone to experience the great image quality a Canon DSLR can offer with features and functions that they will appreciate and use,” stated Ian Macfarlane, Vice President of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Exciting EOS “Firsts”

For the first time in the history of the Canon EOS System, the new 60D camera features a large Vari-Angle 3-inch (7.6-centimetre) Clear View LCD screen with 1,040,000 dot/VGA resolution plus anti-reflective and smudge-resistant coatings for bright clear viewing from any angle. The new LCD screen is ideal for composing low-angle or overhead shots whether capturing still images or Full HD video clips. 

Another first for the EOS system is the EOS 60D camera’s new Multi-Control Dial, which places a Multi-Controller and Set button inside the Quick Control Dial. This new control layout streamlines camera navigation for vertical as well as horizontal shooting and enables a cleaner camera design.  Responding to customer requests, the EOS 60D also features a locking mode dial, which makes camera operation more secure by preventing inadvertent changes to the photographer’s selected shooting mode.

While the photography mantra of  “get it right in the camera” still stands true, Canon’s new EOS 60D gives advanced photographers an edge with new in-camera features that enable users to enhance their images without a computer even after they have been shot.  For the first time ever in an EOS camera, the EOS 60D features in-camera processing of RAW image files, new reduced resolution image copies, and post-processing creative image filters for exceptional flexibility in digital image rendering. 

•             In-camera RAW image processing features include Picture Style, White Balance (WB), Colour Space, High-ISO Noise Reduction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, linear distortion correction and chromatic aberration correction.  These powerful in-camera editing tools will allow photographers in the field to produce optimized images on the spot and generate JPEG files at various resolution and compression settings for immediate sharing, without affecting the original RAW data.

•             Another great new feature for photographers-on-the-go is Canon’s new image resizing function. After capturing full resolution or smaller JPEG images, the camera can generate lower-resolution copies using menu commands.  New lower-resolution settings include 1920 x 1280 for optimal display on HD televisions, or 720 x 480, ideal for immediate uploading to social networking and other photo sharing web sites. The original high resolution files remain unaffected by the image resizing function.

•             Available for the first time in an EOS camera are Canon’s new creative image filters.  Familiar to Canon PowerShot users, these fun photo effects help make a great image more dynamic, even after it has been shot.  Canon provides four artistic filters that allow photographers to capture an image and then create and manipulate a digital copy of it. 

o             The Soft Focus effect filter helps dramatize an image and smooth over shiny reflections.

o             The Grainy Black and White filter can give a different nostalgic perspective to any shot. 

o             Canon’s “Toy Camera” filter deliberately adds vignetting and colour shift for a creative option when shooting a colourful scene. 

o             Users can also make a scene appear like a small-scale model, simulating the look from a tilt-shift lens, with Canon’s Miniature Effect filter, great when shooting any scene from a high vantage point. 

Each of these filters can be applied to a captured still image in-camera to create a second “filtered” JPEG version, leaving the original RAW or JPEG file unaffected.

Another addition to the camera’s Live View function is Canon’s new Aspect Ratio feature whereby the Live View screen can display cropping lines for 1:1, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios in addition to the standard 3:2 ratio. These cropping lines make it easier to compose images in Live View, and they can help to expedite printing when using Canon’s supplied Digital Photo Professional software. Custom aspect ratios are also applied to JPEG images whether captured directly in-camera or created with the EOS 60D’s in-camera RAW image processing function.

For more info, go to:

The new iPad is like magic, but not perfect

May 31, 2010

OK, folks, I had a weekend immersion with the just-released iPad in Canada. I must say, it’s one thing to listen to all the hype on Apple’s newest personal device and another to use it, for three days like I did.

You can go online and read about all it does at:

What I will share with you are my personal thoughts on the functionality and usefulness of the iPad, a cross between the iPod Touch, iPhone and a regular laptop.

Pundits are arguing how good the iPad is, what’s missing and what the next version (I assure you, there will be a next version) might be like.

So here goes:


-Blazingly fast and responsive. It feels like my Intel 6-core desktop on all the stuff it’s designed to do.. including wake up after you temporarily turn it off. Great battery life.

-Even though it’s not multi-tasking – you have to close each program to start another – its speed makes up for that, so it feels like you are switching between programs, some of which open up to where they were.

-The auto-screen rotation works all the way around, so you have a choice of where the Spartan buttons are when you hold it, and it’s great for simply flipping the screen to the person sitting across you.

-Its minimalist in navigation, nothing new to Mac users, but Windows users (it works through iTunes on Windows PCs) will take a few tries to get the idea. Try Real Racing HD, $9.99 from the App Store…it’s a blast using the screen orientation to drive your car.  

-I was pleasantly surprised on how good the iPad Mail program is. I was able to set up three Microsoft MSN/Hotmail/Live account with just two minor setup items like Pop3 and SMTP. The iPad had Microsoft Exchange, Apple’s mobileme, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL ready to go. Nice.

-Calendaring is nice and well thought out. I like the 24-hour layout…let’s face it our lives today are 24/7 so shouldn’t the calendar be too.

-The App Store rocks more than ever, because of the larger 9.7-inch screen. It won’t take long before your expandable desktop screen fills up with apps, some of are free and great to try out. In fact, any Internet experience is great, with full screen views and off course, the smooth finger pinching.

-YouTube rocks, as it does on all Apple portable devices.

-It’s unlocked so you can put any micro SIMM card from any carrier worldwide and it simply works with reasonable data plans from local carriers like Bell, Telus and Rogers…with no contract. In fact most are monthly plans. Kudos to Rogers, for having the easiest “on-device” SIMM setup compared to the more cumbersome dance for the other cellcos. But since it easy to switch carriers, every month if you like, try out the Bell/Telus versus Rogers connections to find the best cellular coverage for you.


– The iPad is an engineering marvel and belongs in an art museum, but it’s not easy to physically handle. It’s heavier than it looks and the bevelled metallic back makes it difficult to hold. It’s a slate, so you quickly get tired of holding it upright, whether standing or sitting. I recommend the simple charge dock to hold it upright on your desk. I predict many dropped units, so stock up on parts Apple. I often fall asleep with my BlackBerry in my hands, no harm there. But dosing off with the discus-shapped, densly packed and slippery  iPad is not a good idea.

-I can live without a mouse, after all, it’s a slate. The keyboard dock is nice, but by the time you buy that, the much-needed longer power cord extension and USB/SD reader combo pack, you are spending $150 more.  

-By biggest beef…no web-cam, a must tool for a go-anywhere personal tablet. All the money in the world can’t buy you one of those. Maybe the next version…I would gladly pay for the difference.

-An eBook reader it’s not. This is still an LCD screen, and yes a nice size, but can’t match the mage-like screens of dedicated e-book readers.

-Having a choice between WiFi and paid-for data plans is nice. But I was disappointed with Bell’s initially cool Mobile TV. Sure, it works great on the soon-to-comeI larger screen iPad version, but the catch is it costs eight bucks a month for either the live NHL hockey channel, or another eight bucks for half a dozen live stations like weather, CBC news, comedy channel and more. I am sure folks who don’t have access to a real TV can live with that. But why can’t I access the TV service from my WiFi connection like all other apps?  I now have to pay (after the free data trial is over July 31) for the streaming data…yikes! I have a love-hate relationship with Bell.

Keep an eye on this page as I will frequently add more comments.

Sanyo Shrinks Cameras One More Time

April 1, 2010

Sanyo's Dual 2010 VPC CS1P is tiny, with reasonable quality and mega features found in larger Dual still/HD video models.

Sanyo Canada invited a small group of influential journalists in Toronto to show off its new line of super slim full HD Dual cameras. We got to play with the new product and meet with Sanyo Canada’s General Manager, Digital Imaging, Bryan Asa and Sanyo’s specialist for corporate communications Aaron Fowles. They also showed us some interesting eneloop products, one of which being the two sided hand warmer and battery charger, a gem of an accessory.

You might have noticed an increased market presence of Sanyo cameras in the Canadian market.

It’s about time. Although niche stores have carried Sanyo, now Future Shop is also stocking these smartly designed and engineered cameras. I have been using Sanyo for several years now; my world-wide tech travel videos have been shot on Sanyo’s workhorse HD1010 and now on the HD2000.

But let’s talk about the new camera line. These new Dual function cameras all shoot Full HD1080 / 60i  and feature varying degrees of impressive smallness, still keeping the big picture in mind. I have attached the press release in the bottom for you perusal.

Let’s take a closer look at the VPC-CS1 model I took back from Toronto and have been playing with for the past several days. This is an unbelievably tiny camcorder/camera, the size of today’s popular pocket cams, but much better quality in stills and video, not to mention extensive menu features like onboard editing and splicing, image stabilization and more. The CS1 features a generous 2.7-inch LCD multi-swivel screen, 8 megapixel stills (4 MP interpolated to 8 MP) 10X Advanced zoom and a “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on.

Can a camera this small compete with the rest? At $439, you are paying for tiny. Like tiny buttons that take some getting used to, when in the middle of a shoot. Performance was sometimes slightly under par with the rest of the Sanyo camera clan. Not that the camera doesn’t meet the specs. It’s just so small and light, you have to be extra careful when shooting in anything but perfect light conditions.

I had mixed feelings with my first try…more “bad” still pictures than I would care for, but the HD video was surprisingly acceptable from the get go.  Once I got used to the camera’s delicate personality it came through. Its biggest Achilles Heel is the LED light, replacing traditional flash, due to the cameras small size. It’s only good for up to one meter so if you plan to do lots of indoor family stills, look into one of the other Sanyo real-flash models.

The processing, like on-camera edit and splice functions where faster than the Sanyo semi-pro HD2000 and the almost endless control of image and video exposure settings make up for the camera’s awkward personality. The Zoom-Sound definitely adds to the overall video shooting impression, but is awkward to get to in the menu.

Bottom line? A good average-quality camera, easily runs circles on past DVD cams, with occasional mood swings, but small, small, small and a real looker, especially the hot pink version.

For more information, please go to:

Press Release:

SANYO Canada brings super slim, full HD Dual Cameras to market 

Woodbridge, ON, March 30, 2010 SANYO Canada Inc. (SANYO) today announced it has shipped to stores five new Full HD Dual Cameras that also offer between eight and 14 megapixel still image capability, in an affordable, stylish slim body.

Truly fitting into small pockets or purses, the super slim (27 mm) vertically formatted VPC-CS1 boasts Full HD1080 / 60i video, 8 megapixel stills, 10X Advanced zoom, a 2.7 inch LCD screen and iFrame compatibility. Its horizontally formatted sister, the VPC-SH1, sports Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 30X Advanced zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, iFrame, and a thinness of 43mm. Both cameras also feature a new “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on, or clear channel separation to record the ambient environment being filmed in. MSRP on these two models are $439 and $549 respectively.

High resolution product images are available at 

SANYO is also offering three new compact, affordable HD dual cameras. The VPC-CG102 offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 14 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X Double Range zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and is compatible with Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card that offers a way to quickly and easily upload images to a computer. Its horizontally formatted sister is the VPC-GH2, which offers the same features. Both have an MSRP of $329. Finally, the SANYO Dual Camera VPC-CG20, in vertical format only, offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X double video zoom 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and Eye-Fi compatibility. MSRP is $299.

“These cameras offer an awful lot of technology in beautifully designed bodies for an affordable price,” says Bryan Asa, General Manager, Digital Imaging, SANYO Canada Inc. “The fact that these cameras offer 1920 x 1080 Full HD video as well as super high resolution for photos, means you can record high quality photos and videos using only one small camera that is both lightweight and easy to carry in a pocket, purse or wear simply on your belt.”

All of the new models output seamlessly to Windows 7, which recognizes MPEG4s without the need for conversion. All models store the video and images onto SD flash memory cards.

These five new models join four of SANYO’s previous models that will continue into the second half of 2010. They either offer high performance (the HD2000A and FH1A) or full waterproof functionality (the CA9 and WH1).

These new cameras are available now at Canadian retailers including Centre HiFi, Henry’s, Bay Bloor Radio, Brentview Electronics, Golden electronics, Audio Warehouse, Krazy Kiley’s, PA Soundworks, The Camera Store, Best Buy, Black’s Photo,, Future Shop, and other selected retailers. 

*About SANYO *

SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. is a global, multi-billion dollar leading

company for energy and environment, providing solutions for environment,

energy and for lifestyle applications. SANYO Canada Inc. (a subsidiary

of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.), is based in Woodbridge, Ontario (a suburb

north of Toronto). SANYO Canada is a service and sales company that

markets and sells a variety of commercial and consumer solutions

including rechargeable batteries, solar modules, HVAC, digital

projectors, dual cameras, digital still cameras, home appliances,

security video equipment, audio systems, portable and mobile

electronics, and weatherproof monitors. For more information, please

visit or

One Hot Intel Chip

March 11, 2010


In my work, computer chips come and go, but occasionally, new technology throws a nice bone our way.

Case in point, Intel’s upcoming processor, code-named Gulftown will be available in a few weeks officially, as the Intel Core i7-980X Processor Extreme Edition.

I have been testing it for the past month and I can tell you it simply impresses.

What’s special about it?  

-It’s almost 50 per cent faster than previous Intel chips, sporting a first-time six cores which with the featured Hyperthreading, has 12 processing threads churning away.

So, think about your current Core Duo PC on steroids…times three.

It’s built on Intel’s newest 32 nanometre technology, basically cramming more transistors than ever in the same space as before, with the immediate benefits of running on less power and heat. But when the afterburners kick in, look out!

Unlike past Intel new processor releases, the i7-980X offers the biggest performance jump I have seen. Compared to the previous king-of-the-hill i7-965 and 975 Extreme chips with the same DNA, the i7-980X 3.3 GHz with 12 MB Intel Smart Cache, totally smokes its own competition.

All this in a chip die size 248mm square, crowded with1.17 billion transistors with Turbo Boost to boot.

Moore’s Law lives on with this chip as does the same old Intel lot price of $999, worth every penny.

Check out my take on the new chip on

Moscow with Kaspersky Lab – In Pictures

February 6, 2010

MOSCOW – I was recently invited to the Kaspersky Lab International Press Tour in Moscow, headquarters for the well-known antivirus company. More than three dozen journalists from around the world attended the three-day event in which Kaspersky analysts shared their research on key Internet security threats. But it was not all work as our gracious hosts wined and dined us in Moscow hotspots like “The Old Tower” by Red Square and “The Most” restaurant. There was time for bus and walk tours in Moscow as well, including many colourful cathedrals and the Pushkin Fine Art Museum. Here are a few photo moments from the visit.

I chatted with co-founder Eugene Kaspersky about his push to unmask the Internet and take away its anonymity by getting passport-like ID for Internet users. Eugene’s discussion topics go all over the place and will be published soon. But his product foray in China got him into Chinese calligraphy as he quickly wrote the company brand name in Chinese. Eugene has many faces and likes to celebrate special company occasions, such as the tenth company anniversary in which Kaspersky management dressed up Native American. His co-founder and former wife and current chairman Natalya Kaspersky joined in the photo shoot.

Our workday started with reports from key Kaspersky Lab global analysts, like Stefan Tanase, top left and Dmitry Bestuzhev among others. After, we got our very own police escort through congested Moscow roads to Kaspersky Lab headquarters where research and a 24/7 global Internet security watch takes place, bottom right. On Christmas Eve, the night shift recalled a surprise festive visit by Eugene.

There was much to see and do in Moscow. A walk-about in the Kremlin grounds and cathedrals, top left, and your truly next to a huge Tsar Cannon, took us through Red Square, a double cloud exposure with the new Olympus EP-2. Romance was in the air in Moscow but our trusted guide, Mikhail Vasin, Kaspersky Senior Corp Manager, lower left, took us for a fascinating subway ride through spectacular stations (next montage). It was a full moon cold night at St. Peter Cathedral next to the Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky statue.

Moscow inside, showing architecturally diverse subway stations and the famous Moscow GUM shopping centre, all vertical panoramic photos were taken with taken with the Sony HX-1.

A memorable gala candle-lighted dinner at the popular “Old Tower” at Treatralnaya square had dozens of table pickings, honey baked duck and lamb shin stew. A dynamic singing group sang happy and sad love songs. Our Kaspersky Lab tour guide Yuliya Yudina, Kaspersky Corporate Communications and PR Manager, left and Maria Kokidou, of PC Magazine Greece.


January 6, 2010

Here are my two bits on Google’s new Nexus One mobile “super phone”.

Yes, it’s one cool piece of hardware running on Google’s newest Android version OS, just as powerful as a four-year old laptop and with cool features like large OLED screen, built-in compass, position sensor, voice commands for every app for hands free use and much more. You can read all that on

But here’s what this Nexus One is not. It’s not cheap, and will disappoint many shoppers used to actually seeing and touching a real phone in an old fashioned cellphone store…before buying one.

Why? Because according to Google, at a by-invitation-only Nexus One press conference announcement on Tuesday morning, this is a new and simple way to buy a cellphone…online. Welcome to the Brave New World…Google’s World. Don’t expect TV advertizing and other traditional marketing. That will save money and get the lower prices, Google claims.

Folks south of the boarder (Canadians have to wait) can go on the Google website, buy the phone, choose a growing number of American carriers to activate with for as low as $179, select the custom two-line engraving message and wait for their phone to be shipped at their door, and activate online. Or, they can pay the full retail price of $529 and get an unlocked phone they can use anywhere they want with their own SIM cards.

But this model only runs on the Edge network, now the second fastest network in Canadian GSM networks…so don’t expect the greatest online experience that today’s HSMA phones enjoy with all majour Canadian carriers. The iPhone does that, as do other models.

Don’t expect the coolness and plethora of apps Apple phones enjoy, having recently announced the three billionth application download mark. By the way, the Nexus doesn’t do dual touch, so no on-screen squeezing. It doesn’t tether yet either. Picky? No, just trying to water down the “super phone” part.

So, while we Canadians will have to wait a bit before jumping in the web to buy a Nexus One, we can see just how Google does with its online phone store. In a way, I feel sorry the carriers have been shut out from actually carrying the Nexus One, in-store. This is the second time a non-phone company, Apple being the first, has called the shots on cellcos.

Well, I am actually not really sorry…Canadian cellcos are doing well, thank you.

Should I wait for the “free” Google version, like all free things Google got us used to? According to them, that will be some time. The Nexus One is not an iPhone killer. But it is a media advertizing revenue killer, hoping to better Apple on the power of the Net and customers who know what they want.

I still want to buy my cellphone like I buy my shoes… in an analog store, one foot at a time.


I spent some time with the Nexus One during a brief three hour showing at the Digital Experience show in Las Vegas.

Needless to say, the phone is quality throughout, no surprise there, considering HTC built with Google’s input. I found the touch screen, not much different than an iPhone, although I did miss the lack of iPhone’s two-finger and pinch touch.

The touch keyboard was responsive as was the switching between horizontal and vertical modes. The five virtual desktops, and HTC specialty, that are a finger swipe away worked well.

But my ultimate Internet experience, watching YouTube movies online, was disappointing. Due to the slower network connection, the image quality was below average and adjusting it to the highest quality, froze the unit.

If you want Internet performance, the iPhone is still king. Time will tell if the Nexus will dent iPhone sales.  

Interestingly, in the third hour of the Digital Experience show, the Google booth was almost empty, as if the several hundred reporters who initially crowded the booth, lost interest halfway through. I think there is a message there.

Hey folks, check out my first stevoidstickcam ride in YouTube on Epson’s new eneloop hybrid electric battey-run bike at Showstoppers at the CES show in Las Vegas: