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Google is grabbing all the headlines in the tech-nerd world with its announcement of Chrome OS. Initially aimed at the netbook market, this lightweight operating system relies heavily on "cloud computing". Since a great deal of the processing will be executed on the server side, hardware manufacturers should be able to release inexpensive netbooks that are full featured, thanks to a variety of Google products. The announcement has all kinds of implications for consumers and large corporations. I'm going to take a look at how Chrome OS impacts some major players.

Microsoft: The Redmond giant is the most obvious target for Chrome OS. Windows XP is, by far, the most popular operating system for netbooks. Although there are several capable Linux variants available, consumers greatly prefer the familiarity and compatibility of Windows. Chrome OS (which runs on top of a Linux kernel) can succeed where other Linux builds failed. Netbooks using Chrome will presumably feature heavy Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Chrome (the browser) implementation. And since the OS will be free, consumers will be getting netbooks -- with built in office functionality -- that are cheaper than ones using Windows. Currently, the price difference between netbooks using Linux and those using Windows XP is around $50. The projected difference on future, more powerful models using Windows 7 is expected to be even more. Chrome OS gives netbook manufacturers a way to keep prices down as Microsoft continues to raise them.

Intel: Google stated that Chrome will be able to run on ARM processors as well as x86 processors (Intel/AMD/VIA). At this time, Windows 7 will only support the latter. A lot of netbook makers are interested in ARM chips, due to their low power consumption and the performance they delivers per watt, but the lack of a familiar OS is a deal breaker for many. Chrome OS coupled with an ARM chip looks like a winning proposition that should have Intel worried. Remember, Intel chips come at a premium price, next year's netbooks running Chrome with an ARM chip should be cheaper than those using an Intel chip with Windows 7.

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Tags: Apple, Tech

Apple iPhone

Security researching Charlie Miller has discovered a vulnerability on the iPhone that could let hackers run unsigned code using SMS messages to attack. Miller has been asked by Apple not to reveal the details of the issue so to give Apple's coders time to fix the security hole.

Miller did share some of the things that would be possible if a hacker was able to exploit the vulnerability:

"The SMS vulnerability allows an attacker to run software code on the phone that is sent by SMS over a mobile operator's network. The malicious code could include commands to monitor the location of the phone using GPS, turn on the phone's microphone to eavesdrop on conversations, or make the phone join a distributed denial of service attack or a botnet."

Apple is currently working on a solution, but it is unknown if it will require a firmware update. If you see a small 3.0.1 update soon with no real changelog, you'll know why!

In the meantime, I wouldn't worry about this as it would require the hacker to have your number and you don't give your number out to hackers, do you?

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Do you have an iPhone? Are you as obsessed with it as I am? Don't you think that the AI in the Peggle challenge mode cheats?!?!?!

Moving on, this week Adam takes a moment to discuss the gaming possibilities offered by Apple's iPhone. Do you buy fully-functional games for the iPhone? Or do you follow in Adam's footsteps and read the paper or do some crossword puzzles on your iPhone in your spare time? Either way, it's a subject begging for a debate, so check out this week's Soapbox and let us know what you think.

Sessler's Soapbox: Adam is Unsure About Games on the iPhone »



Subscribe to G4's Sessler's Soapbox Podcast by clicking your preferred service:

GiantBomb has the tech trees for Blizzard's StarCraft II on display. For those serious on winning the knock-down, drag-out matches for whenever this game gets released, be sure to study up on the high-res images (unlike the condensed one below).

What faction are you planning on rockin' and what will your first build order be?

StarCraft II Tech Trees Revealed

Doom Resurrection

In an interview with Shacknews, id Software's John Carmack and Tom Mustaine spoke on the iPhone and the company's plans for Apple's device.

On iPhone OS 3.0 allowing paid downloadable content, Mustaine confirms that the recently released Doom Resurrection will eventually snag DLC:

Yeah, we are absolutely. It won't be in the shipping version, we actually kind of got sideswiped by the 3.0 launch happening so quickly. But we actually have a version of the game that does cooperative multiplayer, so you can actually do peer-to-peer multiplayer, where you see two persons on the screen at the time, and maybe we'll actually have more than that, up to four players.

And it's a blast. You can play through the levels, they scale up, and you can compete for score and play cooperatively. And then also this game really fits well with downloadable content, so we're definitely looking at those with a future 3.0 update.

Have you downloaded rail-shooting Doom Resurrection? The $9.99 price is a bit daunting, but it is a new Doom story that you'll only get on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The user reviews are overwhelmingly positive, as well.

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StarCraft II

The StarCraft II drama continues: Over 5,000 people have signed an online petition aimed at getting Blizzard to re-think its decision to not support LAN play in the game. The petition reads, in part:

"We, your most loyal fans, implore you to reconsider adding LAN as a network feature to StarCraft II. This is a response to the announcement that the only multiplayer in StarCraft II will be via Battle.net. We understand you will be adding amazing new features to Battle.net that you can't talk about yet, but regardless of any features you might add online, we would still like to be able to play in a traditional network where no internet connection is needed. For an internet connection might not always be available."

As Brian Leahy reported earlier today, Blizzard seems pretty adamant about not including LAN play, mainly to prevent piracy. In a statement, a Blizzard spokesperson said:

"We felt that moving away from LAN play and directing players to our upgraded Battle.net service was the best option to ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy."

Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. Battle.net is free, and, according to Blizzard will remain free, even after it is upgraded. It's reliable, too. And seriously, when was the last time you found yourself unable to connect to the internet? 

As Leahy pointed out, Blizzard's plan may well be to allow users to verify their copies over Battle.net, and then play over LAN anyway. If that's the case, there is no downside, other than the mild pain of verifying your games before you play. Either way, it's Blizzard's game. Given Blizzard's amazing track record and reputation, you have to figure the company has thought this through pretty thoroughly, and has decided there won't be LAN support. so if they decide there won't be LAN support, gamers can decide not to buy the game. But I have a feeling few of the 5,000 or so petition signers will really boycott StarCraft II.

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Brian Leahy loves Starcraft II (2)

When StarCraft II (Hands-On Preview) launches, it will not support LAN play. How can this be?! Joystiq got the reasoning from Blizzard PR man Bob Colayco:

"We don't currently plan to support LAN play with StarCraft II, as we are building Battle.net to be the ideal destination for multiplayer gaming with StarCraft II and future Blizzard Entertainment games. While this was a difficult decision for us, we felt that moving away from LAN play and directing players to our upgraded Battle.net service was the best option to ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy.

Several Battle.net features like advanced communication options, achievements, stat-tracking, and more, require players to be connected to the service, so we're encouraging everyone to use Battle.net as much as possible to get the most out of StarCraft II. We're looking forward to sharing more details about Battle.net and online functionality for StarCraft II in the near future."

I'm going to go ahead and emphasize the part of the quote where Colayco says part of the reason is to "safeguard against piracy." If you look at the current state of StarCraft multiplayer, a lot of players use pirated copies to play over services like Hamachi or on emulated B.net servers running custom ladders like iCCup. Blizzard would obviously prefer for the community to be in the same place.

What does a lack of LAN support mean for the average user, though?

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John CarmackThe iPhone has a serious ally in id Software's John Carmack, the genius behind the company's graphics engines and technology. The first two titles, Wolfenstein 3D Classic and Doom Resurrection, are just the beginning. Up next? Doom, Quake, Quake II, Quake III, and some version of id's forthcoming Rage.

Also, expect an iPhone version of Wolfenstein RPG.

Personally, I'm very interested in how Quake III will run on the iPhone and if it will support a worthwhile multiplayer experience over peer-to-peer or infrastructure. ngmoco certainly proved that the device can run the engine with KillTest (previously known as LiveFire), but how will the gameplay hold up?

In fact, Carmack is heading up the company's iPhone venture himself and even hopes to port a functioning version of id Tech 5's content creation pipeline on the iPhone 3GS. I guess we'll see just how powerful the little machine is when Carmack digs into Apple's platform.

This also raises the question: do you want graphically intensive games on your iPhone? I'm split. It's nice to see what a platform can do, but I'd rather have quick, enjoyable games.

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Corporate Psychic Says That Steve Jobs Might Return In June, But Not For Long

The CEO voted "Most Likely To Affect Stock Prices"*, Steve Jobs, is back to work at Apple, coming into the office "a few days a week" and working the remaining days from his home.

Jobs returns from a five-and-a-half month medical absence after his health deteriorated. It is likely that his pancreatic cancer, which he announced had been cured in 2004, was the cause of the recent complications. During his leave of absence, Jobs received a liver transplant.

Apple's stock rose 43 cents today.

*No vote was actually taken.

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Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

As part of our StarCraft II preview coverage, we sit down with lead designer Dustin Browder to get an update on the game's pre-beta status as well as the future for Blizzard's long-awaited RTS sequel.

StarCraft II Pre-Beta Lead Designer Interview

StarCraft II Pre-Beta Lead Designer Interview »


In the interview, Browder discusses some of the new mechanics currently in the game: double Vespene Gas geysers, "macro" abilities for each of the three races, and some of the plans for eSports and casual players.

Worried about getting owned in multiplayer? Browder tells us that Blizzard is "looking at doing a casual league. This would be a league that you can play in, online, that runs at a normal game speed, not at a faster game speed. It also has maps that are designed to prevent rushing." The company is also exploring ways to prevent or limit people from recreating Battle.net accounts to game the matchmaking system to play inexperienced players.

Especially interesting are the new challenges that will task unskilled players with specific objectives designed to emulate competitive level strategies.

iPhone 3GS Overheating? Recall Possible?Reports are hitting the Internet about the iPhone 3GS and overheating issues. Some are even speculating that a recall could be necessary. Apple has not responded to these claims at this time.

An informal poll around the office reveals that none of the 3GS owners at G4 are experiencing any overheating problems. Have you experienced anything like this? What about with different iPhone models? Past experiences lead me to believe that most overheating issues are actually caused by software.

If you are experiencing any issues, try a software reset and wipe the phone. It just might solve your issue.

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Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech
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The world-famous literary series of witchcraft and wizardry might have ended long ago, yet the feature films and videogame franchises continue the magical adventures in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. To celebrate launch week for the game EA Bright Light releases this half-blood launch trailer with behind-the-scenes featurette in tow after the cut.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Launch Trailer

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Launch Trailer »


 
The feature film enters theaters July 15.

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StarCraft II

StarCraft II is one of the most anticipated sequels ever. Last week, I got to play the latest multiplayer build of the game at Blizzard's headquarters and have full hands-on impressions for you all.

Head on over and read the preview. Also, be sure to check out my interview with StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder. Then, I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the game.

Sadly, Blizzard didn't give us a date for the upcoming beta, but it should be kicking off in the next few weeks.


Sony might be looking to get into the app business sometime soon, but for now, Apple is king. And with the recent release of the speedier iPhone 3G S, Apple will continue to utterly dominate the app front (gaming and non-gaming alike) for the foreseeable future. But if you’re an iPhone user looking to privately shove your device’s awesomeness in Sony’s face even more, then you’ll want to check out what a few crafty hackers have been up to lately.

EngadgetMobile reports that hackers have already managed to get PlayStation 1 and Game Boy Advance emulators up and running (with seriously impressive graphical results) on their iPhone 3GS’s. The Game Boy Advance demo shows Pokemon: Emerald Version being played at a blistering 180 frames/second, while the PSOne demo shows a scene from Final Fantasy VII.


If these are the kinds of results that are possible at this point, I can’t imagine what we’ll be seeing once the final iPhone 3GS jailbreak is released.

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Organization XIII robe from Kingdom HeartsTo guard its most coveted secrets, Apple employees have to play dress-up when working on certain projects. Gathering information from a former Apple employee, The New York Times reported:

"Some Apple workers in the most critical product-testing rooms must cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful."

In my mind, the innermost recesses of Apple's headquarters look like they're being patrolled by Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts series. It's a bunch of creepy people in long, flowing black robes slinking around in a menacing way. And yes, I know that the ex-employee said that the devices are covered up, but in my head the employees working on them wear matching cloaks. I'm positive that the team working on the rumored Apple tablet uses a setup similar to the one I envision.

What do you think of Apple literally shrouding its prototype hardware? Is it excessive? Is it appropriate? Or is it just so ridiculous that you can't believe it actually happens?

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Tags: Apple, Style, Tech

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