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Welcome to the Tech News Countdown, hosted by Alison Haislip. Every Friday, Alison brings you the top 5 tech stories of the week so be sure to watch the show. Otherwise, she'll be sad and you don't want that, do you?

This week Alison brings you the latest in the world of technology.

Here is the Tech News Countdown.

Tech News Countdown - January 23rd, 2009 »

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Obama's Web 2.0 administration might be getting a downgrade as the new President's staff moved into the White House only to find outdated technology.

Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, said it was like going "from an Xbox to an Atari," which I guess means that the White House is rendered in 2D and only has one button... Also, the White House is totally an Xbot.

The President's staff, used to working on Macs, found six year-old Microsoft software waiting for them. That is at least after Windows Me, which would have explained so much about the Bush presidency. They also found laptops to be short in supply and are finding themselves less mobile than they'd like.

Part of the reason for the old technology is to ensure that everything done by the President and his staff is preserved under the Presidential Records Act.

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President Obama loves his Blackberry. But some security experts feared that a presidential Blackberry was an invitation to foreign governments to spy on important, hopeful, correspondence from the Prez, as well as a nightmare when it comes to compliance with presidential record-keeping laws. Still, Obama wouldn't budge.  “I’m still clinging to my Blackberry. They’re going to pry it out of my hands,” Obama said  earlier this month on CNBC.

It was a major presidential crisis, but it appears to be resolved. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said “The president has a Blackberry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited and the security is enhanced."

That security enhancement might include special, president-only encryption, "permitting the president to use it for routine and personal messages without fear of penetration by foreign governments."

Are you tired of hearing about every teeny detail in the life of Barack Obama yet? Me, I like the guy, and I'm not bored yet, but if this media scrutiny keeps up for another month or so, I'm going to start getting nostalgic for the famous secrecy of the Bush administration!


Tags: Tech

If you're getting tired of reading tech stories about layoffs, I apologize in advance, but I'm duty-bound to tell you, Microsoft is laying off 5,000 workers over the next 18 months, which is nearly five percent of its total workforce.  The tech giant's total profits for the fourth quarter of 2008 declined to $4.17 billion from $4.71 billion in the same period last year, so heads will roll.

It's apparently not the Xbox's fault, though: Profits in Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division rose 3% over last year's fourth quarter to $3.18 billion.  But the division had less revenue in the second half of 2008 than it did in the second half of 2007 -- $4.99 billion versus $5.02 billion. Why is this? Probably because no one is buying the Zune and there was no huge game release like Halo 3 in 2008.

The cuts are coming in the areas of R&D, marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, and IT. "The decision to eliminate jobs is a very difficult one," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a company-wide memo.  "Our people are the foundation of everything we have achieved and we place the highest value on the commitment and hard work that you have dedicated to building this company."

For their part, Sony said it's posting a $2.9 billion annual operating loss for the year to March. But hey, look on the bright side, things seem pretty solid over at Nintendo...


Russia: No More Space Tourists

Posted January 22, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

According to Russian Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov, Russia will not be flying any more paid customers to the International Space Station after 2009.  So if you've been saving up your money to pay the $20 million-plus ticket price, you're out of luck. U.S. software billionaire Charles Simonyi will be Russia's last private space passenger when he blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in March.

Russia has flown six private citizens into space since 2001, most recently video game designer Richard "Lord British" Garriott, who paid $35 million for the ticket to the space station. Russia is ending the practice because the crew of the International Space Station is expanding from three people to six. According to MSNBC: "The space station crew is expanding to six largely to accommodate Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts who have been waiting years to live aboard the station their countries have helped create."

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Staring at a computer monitor all day is tough on your eyes. If you're a heavy gamer or iPhone addict, that's even more strain on your ocular instruments. Since none of us are about to give up our eye-frying jobs, gaming systems, or BlackBerries, what do you do? Gunnar Optiks offers a solution with its line of eyeglasses and lenses designed to relieve eyestrain due to heavy computer use, gaming, and PDA use. The company claims that its goods help prevent digital eye fatigue (DEF) and computer vision syndrome (CVS). I haven't heard of either of those, but I know my eyes get tired after a long day of work coupled with a multi-hour gaming session.

I've picked up a pair of Gunnars and will be using them for the next month. Today I'll have some unboxing fun with you and give you my initial impressions. I'll hit you with an update in two weeks to see if Gunnar Optiks have mad a big difference (or not). In a month, I'll give you my conclusion and closing thoughts on the company's curious eye wear. On a side note, I think it's cool that the company is (obviously) named after the more talented Nelson brother.

Hit the jump for some unboxing love and first impressions!

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Before we kick this off, I want to give a shout out to Raymond Padilla for giving me yet another negative Sony story to write. He loves throwing me to the fanboys. Now, onto the story:

We already knew Sony was going to post its first operating loss in 14 years and the company expected losses of $1.1 billion. That figure has now been revised to a whopping $2.9 billion. At over 100% more than its original estimate, Sony cites the strong performance of the yen and lowered worldwide demand for its products as the culprits.

As previously mentioned, it looks like Sony will be fast-tracking its planned restructuring, which would cut 16,000 jobs by March 2010. The games division (PlayStation) was also cited for underperformance and is expected to lose $338 million.

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Way back in the pre-digital camera era, the only way to instantly see photographs that you just snapped was to use a Polaroid camera. Sadly, the times changed and Polaroid announced last year that they would no longer produce film for instant cameras. Enthusiasts of the format aren't ready to give up just yet. A group of fans love the quality of the Polaroid picture so much, that they're trying to create a new film compatible with Polaroid cameras.

The group raised private funds and were able to purchase a good deal of Polaroid's manufacturing equipment. With the help of former employees of Polaroid, they are working hard to create an instant film compatible with Polaroid cameras just for the comparatively few Polaroid junkies out there.

Although the problems with the project are vast -- chemicals used in the original film are no longer available and any film the group produces is likely to be crazy expensive -- the enthusiasts are committed to bringing their film to market by 2010. God speed, you living anachronisms, you!



Everyone knows that Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is a charismatic speaker, but did you know that he's also skilled with katanas, a karaoke mic, handguns, machine guns, and lightsabers? It's true! Well, at least that's the story with this awesome Barack Obama action figure. Armed with multiple hands, neckties, and other accessories, this action figure lets your imagination run wild as Obama negotiates peace in the Middle East, croon at a karaoke lounge, and take on vile Sith lords.

In your dreams, who is the ultimate action-figure rival for Obama? Personally, I'd love to see him face off with Godzilla. That would be cool.

Source via Gizmodo

Tags: Tech

AOTS Wednesday, January 21

Posted January 21, 2009 - By Eugene Morton
The battlefield is a tough place, which is why defense contractors are developing tomorrow's weapons before anyone else can. Check the Eye Drive unmanned ground vehicle and a new Boeing/Lockheed Martin collaborated jet fighter.
Blair Butler ran into Kevin Grevious at Golden Apple comics in Hollywood and just happen to have lights, camera, and action. They talked about the upcoming blood feud monster prequel 'Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,' which he wrote.
From his love of Crackberry to the first Nintendo Wii in the White House, there's evidence to support that Obama will be more tech friendly that past prezies. Evan Ratliff from Wired to gives us his professional opinion on the whole matter.
Alison Haislip is here to give you some stats on the Obama Inauguration, a huge credit card hackjob, the run of nominations for the Razzies, among other news that you care about.
Olivia hits the streets of Washington, D.C. to talk directly to the massive crowds of people about their feelings surrounding the madness and all-day party that was President Barack Obama's Inauguration.
In an effort to save a little money on expensive advertising in a faltering economy, we have developed a series of 1 second ads instead the traditional 30 second one.
We mostly feature dudes breaking their testicles and punching each other in drunken hazes, but today's Break Moments deals with the gentler persuasion. Watch as these girls fall off stages, fall off desks, and light firecrackers in their butts.
Surprise Eye Brow Waxing, Chicken vs. Tiger, Monkey Talk Show, Dad Can't Fix Toy.

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