Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Microsoft Office and Word Sales to be Banned

Microsoft word 2007Practically everybody that uses a computer more than likely uses Microsoft Office. But what if one day you could no longer buy the popular Microsoft Office? Well that may be closer to a reality then many people might think. That's right, the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has just upheld a decision that would ban the sales of Microsoft Word and Office starting January 11, 2010.

Way back in May, a patent infringement suit was filed by XML specialists i4i against Microsoft under the circumstances that Word's handling of.xml, .docx and .docm files was an infringement on i4i's patented XML handling algorithms. Although Microsoft did lose this case, the case against further sale of Microsoft Word was put on hold pending results of another appeal.

Unfortunately for Microsoft they lost again and it is expected that the company will appeal once more as well as submit a request for the injunction to be put on hold and taken to the Supreme Court or for Microsoft and i4i to settle. i4i isn't patent greedy or trying to tear down Microsoft or anything like that however.

i4i is a 30 person database design company which shipped one of the first ever XML plugins for Office. i4i is also credited with being responsible for revamping the whole USPTO database around XML so that it would be compatible with the 2000 version of Microsoft Word. The patents that i4i is suing over, surprisingly enough, do not cover XML itself. Instead they cover the specific algorithms used to read and write custom XML. This means all you OpenOffice users can breathe a sigh of relief because i4i stated that the law suit does not infringe. This is also good news for current Microsoft Office users because they, more likely than not, won't be affected. The suit is only intended to affect future sales of Office and Word.

Some more good news from Microsoft is that the company is working quickly to create versions of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 that do not have the XML features, which Microsoft claims are "little-used", by the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Microsoft also stated that the beta version of Microsoft Office 2010, which is available for download, will not contain the technology covered in the suit. Microsoft is also considering another appeal so for now all we can do is wait and listen.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Intel Introduces Newest Processors

Pine Trail Atom ProcessorBe prepared for a new generation of netbooks and desktops because Intel has just officially announced its newest line of processors. Intel has a new processor for netbooks as well as 2 new processors for desktop PCs. The Pine Trail Atom N450 will be put into next generation netbooks along with a new low-power Intel NM10 Express Chipset. New Desktops will be integrated with the Pine Trail Atom D410 or the dual core D510 which also comes paired with the NM10 chipset.

Intel's Atom processor was designed entirely with small devices and low power in mind. Since it was made on Intel's 45nm high-k metal gate manufacturing process, size has always been small. However, the overall package just got smaller thanks to increased integration and 45nm manufacturing. This means that designs will be even smaller and more compact which means lower costs for OEMs as well as an improvement to performance.

The 1.66GHz chips integrate the memory controller and Intel graphics directly onto the CPU die which isn't too surprising. Atom processors have a done wonders with the netbook market since Intel announced the first Atom processors for netbooks and entry-level PCs back in June of 2008. Intel has well over 80 design wins for the new Atom platform from from leading OEMs like Lenovo, MSI, Fujitsu, ASUS, Toshiba, Dell, Samsung and Acer. Most of these systems will come with either Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic OS though some consumers will have other options like Moblin TM Linux v2 for more customization.

Intel hopes to have at least 80 machines with the 45nm chips at CES 2010. Each one of the chipsets should use about 20% less power than its predecessor. The ASUS Eee PC 1005 PC, which was N450-based, got 10 hours of battery life in regular use. However, there was no performance improvements over the N270 or N280 that were noticeable. However, no official word can be laid down just yet until we can see a few more machines.

Read the latest on:
x86 Server Market Directs Microsoft to End Itanium Development

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Reasons to Get New Hardware in 2010

The year may be wrapping up but computer sales are on the rise. People are looking for new, innovative technology for a number of reasons. If you have been thinking about buying a new computer or upgrading your old one, there is no better time than 2010! Whether you are looking to save money or for better quality, or anything in between, here are a few quick reasons why you should refresh your computer hardware in the new year:
  • Make Life Easier - The newly released Windows 7 Professional has a number of features such as Quicklook 3 and Quickweb which allow you to access your personal information online or on your PC without even having to boot up!
  • Save Time - Newer computers boasting Windows 7 and Intel Core 2 Duo processors run much faster than your old one. Some can run up to three times as fast! Even laptops have large increased power performances with new technology.
  • Save Money - In an age where everyone is working to be "green" and save energy, many new computers operate using less power than the old ones. Hewlett Packard says their new desktops consume up to 55% more energy than the older ones! That means lot of savings on your power bill.
  • Less Downtime - Everyone who owns an older computer knows they spend way too much time dealing with downtime. Whether you're having to call in a computer technician for repairs or rebooting or scanning files for problems, it seems like something goes wrong almost weekly. Newer computers have less problems and in turn, will allow you to be more productive.
  • Special Offers - So many computer companies offer special deals when you buy a computer, you really have nothing to lose and this will only add to your new computer's value. For example, at Hewlett Packard, you receive over $1,000 in free offers when your purchase a new PC and if you trade in an old computer, you can get up to $100 in cash from the company's Trade-In Program.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fresh Complaints for Windows 7

Windows 7Windows Vista was the "new big thing" for Microsoft and while people liked it, it still had its fair share of complaints. That is why Microsoft developed Windows 7, the newest OS for the company. Windows 7, which was released in late October, opened to much fanfare. However, like all other previous Windows upgrades, bug complaints have already started coming in.

Overall, a total of 31% of people using Windows 7 have reported problems with the upgrading process. This number comes from a recent survey of over 100,000 Windows 7 customers by consumer helpdesk firm iYogi. In a statement from iYogi co-founder Vishal Dhar, "Most of the problems that customers have with Windows 7 have to do with installation or application and data migration." Dhar goes on to say that "these are all fixable problems. but they're annoyances and they're time consuming."

A major problem with nearly 9% of users is that the installation process, which takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minuets, reaches the "62% completed" mark and then freezes. Microsoft is, however, aware of this problem and says that it can be fixed by rebooting your PC, going into advanced settings and typing in a code that instructs the computer to ignore plug-ins.

Issues do not stop with the upgrade process though. A lot of users still experience glitches even after Windows 7 is installed successfully. A common complaint is that the basic "applet" programs, programs like Mail, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery were missing. The reason for the missing programs is because Windows 7 deletes them and requires users to download them from the Windows Live essential web site. According to iYogi, nearly 26% of users were confused about the extra step.

8% of users complained that the DVD drives could not be found and another 2% said that they could not sync their iPhones with Windows 7. 1 out of every 7 people reported that the new "Aero" theme does not work but almost 14% of users who experienced problems with "Aero" do not have the graphics capabilities on their PCs to run it.

Among some other common complaints were that there are too many "mini-dumps", an inability to view file extensions, problems with the "Aero snap" feature, changes to custom icons and even problems with the new taskbar. Microsoft thus far has declined any request for comments.

Although there is a brighter side to all of this. Once users have worked out all the bugs, the experience has been relatively hassle-free and those who have bought a computer with Windows 7 preloaded onto it have seen the fewest problems. Dhar comments on this saying, "Customers who finally get it up and running love Windows 7. We haven't had a lot of people calling for usability issues because it's a much more intuitive interface than Windows XP."

But Windows 7 is far from perfect. According to an analyst with Yankee Group, one of the biggest annoyances people have with Windows 7 is that the ribbon menus located on the top of programs have been completely redesigned which means they have to be completely relearned.

Microsoft also got rid of a lot of applications that seemed to be favorites with customers, applications which included Windows Movie Maker. But despite all the complaints about Windows 7, they still do not seem as bad as the ones associated with Windows Vista. Vista was plagued with bugs, software incompatibilities and even sluggish and annoying security alerts. Principle analyst with ITIC Laura DiDio states that "While there are a few bugs, I haven't seen or heard any show-stoppers. In fact, just the opposite. Some Vista users can't wait to upgrade. So far this has been a home run for Microsoft."

The sooner the bugs can be fixed the better but regardless, Windows 7 seems to be a vast improvement over the near disaster that was Windows Vista.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Apple's Mac Mini is the "Greenest" Computer

An energy website that ranks energy usage and cost for thousands of home appliances, entertainment devices, and computers, Apple's Mac mini is the most energy efficient of all the computers on the market.

With its 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, the Mac mini uses .94W when powered off, just 1.71W when it's in sleep mode, and 12.6W when turned on but idle. According to the website, the energy cost per year (sans monitor) is $5.51 when calculated in accordance with the average United States electricity rates. While this particular model is no longer made by Apple, the new 2.26 GHz is and it's even more efficient. Apple's environmental report for the mini shows the revised model uses only .80W when powered off, 1.39W in sleep mode, and 13.4W when idle.

As far as other "green" computers on the list, Apple computers (both laptops and all-in-ones) were all ranked pretty high. The 1.86 GHz MacBook Air comes in at second place in the laptop category behind the HP Pavilion DM3. Both the laptops cost around $2.39 per year, but the HP had lower power consumption when powered off and in sleep mode.

As for the all-in-ones, eMachines, Acer, Asus, and MSI all came in the top five spots, followed by the iMac at number six.

If you're looking to make a smaller carbon footprint and buy a greener computer, the list at the sust-it website is a good place to do some comparison shopping. Though it's not apparent how often the list is updated, just make sure you know that the computer world is ever-changing and tomorrow, Apple or any other company could come out with an even greener PC.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smoke? Apple Won't Honor Your Warranty

If you're a Mac owner and you're thinking about taking your computer in to have some repair work done, you better think twice is you're a smoker. If recent incidents are any indications, smoking isn't just hazardous to your health, it's also hazardous to your Apple warranty.

Recently, a few Apple customers in different parts of the country were told the company wouldn't provide repair service on their Macs due to the fact that the computers had been exposed to cigarette smoke. Residue found inside the computer was called a biohazard and health risk. In both cases, both customers still had plenty of time left on their official warranties.

Though they didn't make a formal statement, Apple says its stands by the decision and they say their repair centers have the authority to make their own decisions. They even cited OSHA rules which include the dangers of being exposed to nicotine. However, points out that several computer materials are also on the hazardous materials list, including sucrose, calcium carbonate and talc.

While the policy is certainly understandable, Apple's warranty information says absolutely nothing about cigarette smoke and this seems slightly unfair to customers who assume they will be able to get service on their expensive computers. And as points out, how much smoke exposure is too much? "If a technician doesn't like cigarette smoke and your computer smells a bit smoky, it probably won't get serviced," the website's Tech department points out and they are probably right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IBM Computer is Like a Human Brain...Sort of

IBM Computer is Like a Human Brain. Sort of

At the Supercomputing Show in Portland, Oregon, IBM researchers announced that they are much closer to making a computer that can simulate the human brain. According to the researchers, they've reached a couple of major milestones in the project. One is performing the first real-time cortical simulation of the brain that goes beyond that of a cortex. The other is the development of an algorithm that maps the connections between cortical and subcortical areas in the brain, using IBM's Blue Gene super computing architecture.

The IBM researchers, working in collaboration with scientists from Stanford, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell, Columbia University Medical Center, and the University of California at Merced, would like to ultimately make a computer that can evaluate and act on data just like a human brain. The computer would also use similar amounts of space and energy as our brains do.

"Learning from the brain is an attractive way to overcome power and density challenges faced in computing today. As the digital and physical worlds continue to merge and computing becomes more embedded in the fabric of our daily lives, it's imperative that we create a more intelligent computing system that can help us make sense of the vast amount of information that's increasingly available to us, much the way our brains can quickly interpret and act on complex tasks," said Josephine Cheng, a Fellow and lab director of IBM Research-Almaden.

The research is part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Eletronics (SYNAPSE). DARPA recently awarded the researchers $16.1 million for Phase 1 of the project. The cortical simulator was run on the Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The supercomputer has 144TB of memory and 147,456 processors. The algorithm, which is called BlueMatter, allows scientists to experiment with mathematical hypotheses about how brain structure affects function when combined with the cortical simulator.

The researched say that as the amount of critical data and information continues to rapidly grow, businesses will have to find ways to adapt and make quick decisions. This "brain-like" computer will pull together information to help businesses come up with accurate, fast, and logical responses to data they receive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Smallest USB drive on the planet": Wink.

They claim its the worlds smallest USB drive. And it very well could be, Wink is only about an inch long and 0.1 inches thick. It may be small, but it holds a lot of memory, the tiny drive comes in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB sizes.

Its so small that it even has a loop at the top to attach it to a keychain or a chain around ones neck. Something that small is almost guaranteed to get lost if its not attached to something. Its also water-proof and shock resistant.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adobe Flash potentially puts most computers and users at risk

According to researchers there is a flaw within Flash that allows hackers to launch silent attacks on websites and users. Adobe hasn't tried to hide the fact that it is true and has suggested that its up to site designers to make sure they design their sites in such a way to prevent the attacks.

"The magnitude of this is huge," said Mike Murray, the chief information security officer at Orlando, Fla.-based Foreground Security. "Any site that allows user-uploadable content is vulnerable, and most are not configured to prevent this."

The problem lies in the Flash ActionScript same-origin policy which is designed to limit a Flash object's access to other content only from the domain it originated from, added Mike Bailey, a senior security researcher at Foreground. Unfortunately, said Bailey, if an attacker can deposit a malicious Flash object on a Web site -- through its user-generated content capabilities, which typically allow people to upload files to the site or service -- they can execute malicious scripts in the context of that domain.

"This is a frighteningly bad thing," Bailey said. "How many Web sites allow users to upload files of some sort? How many of those sites serve files back to users from the same domain as the rest of the application? Nearly every one of them is vulnerable."

The problem is that Adobe and security companies are trying to get the word out, but web application designers and programmers aren't listening. A few of the major sites that have actually locked down their servers to protect their users include Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail and Google's YouTube, but sites like Google's Gmail and even some Adobe sites, still remain vulnerable. The researchers say the likelihood of an attack on Gmail is still very small, its also a very real possibility.

The only current defense users can employ against such attacks is to stop using Flash, or failing that, restrict its use to sites known to be safe with tools such as the NoScript add-on for Mozilla's Firefox, or ToggleFlash for Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

"The best mitigation is to not use Flash," argued Murray, "but we know that that's impossible for most users, since Flash is so widely used on the Web."

"Almost everyone using the Internet is vulnerable to a Web site that allows content to be updated inappropriately," said Murray. "That's not hyperbole, it's just fact. This has the potential to affect any social media site, any career site, any dating site, many retail sites and many cloud applications. That's why this attack is so serious. End users would never know they got exploited."

The best suggestion would be to get the news out about the vulnerability and hope that Adobe gets a patch to fix the problem before the slight flaw turns into a major headache for everyone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dell's Inspiron Zino HD

dell Inspiron Zino HD mini PCIt seems that European countries always get things us Americans want before we do, especially in the technological market. That is certainly the case with Dell's new Inspiron Zino HD mini PC. This mini PC is available already over in Ireland and even in the UK, which is driving us Americans just a little bit crazy with envy.

Now when we say that this is a mini PC, we actually mean it is a mini PC. The thing is small coming in perfectly square at 7.8" by 7.8". But just because it looks small doesn't mean it doesn't come with some incredible hardware. You can customize the heck out of this little guy and there are a ton of options. You can choose from either an AMD Athlon Neo X2 6850e, AMD Athlon X2 3250e, AMD Athlon 2850e or AMD Athlon 2650e processor to start off with. Then choose an operating system from either Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Professional 64-bit, Windows Vista Home Basic 32-bit or Home Premium 64-bit or Ubuntu Linux 9.04. Upgrade your memory to as much as 8GB of 800MHz DDR2 SODIMM with either 160 GB, 250 GB, 320 GB, 500 GB, 750 GB or 1 TB of 7200 rpm SATA II hard disk space.

Among this is the optional 8x DVD +/- RW and DVDRW/BD-ROM disc drives and the choice of an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 or ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics card. All mini PCs come with the Conexant CX20561 2.1 Channel sound card and Broadcom BCM57780 10/100/1000 or Mini PCle WLAN card(802.11 b/g or 802.11 a/b/g/n). The Inspiron Zino HD comes with a plethora of ports as well. On the front of the PC are two USB 2.0 connectors, one headphone connector and one 4-in-1 memory card reader. On the back there is one microphone connector, one line-out connector, one VGA connector, one RJ45 connector(10/100/1000), two USB 2.0-compliant connectors, two eSATA connectors and one HDMI connector. In addition to all of these ports there is on Mini PCle WLAN Card(802.11 b/g or 802.11 a/b/g/n) expansion slot.

The Inspiron Zino HD as a USFF form factor with dimensions measuring 7.8 inches(197mm) tall, 7.8 inches(197mm) wide, 3.4 inches(89mm) deep and weighs 3.35 pounds(1.6kg). It has either a 65 watt with UMA or 75 watt with MXM Graphics card power source and Kensington Lock security. The Zino HD also has one 3.5" HDD drive bay, one 12.7 mm trayload ODD drive bay and two available Memory DIMM slots.

While this mini PC is completely customizable, Dell has already gone and created three different models for you already on their website. The first model has an AMD A64 2650E 1.6GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 2048MB dual Channel DDR2 800MHz [2x1024] memory and 320GB (7200rpm) SATA hard drive. This model will run you around $433. The next model has an AMD X2 3250E 1.5 GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 3072MB Dual Channel DDR2 800MHz [1x2048 + 1x1024] memory and 500GB (7200rpm) serial ATA hard drive with a $785 price tag. The final model comes with an AMD X2 6850E 1.8 GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 6144MB Dual channel DDR2 800MHz [1x2048 = 1x4096] memory and 1TB (7200rpm) SATA hard drive with a $1,124 price tag.

What is going to catch people's eyes first is the colorful customization options you have for the shell of the PC. The Inspiron Zino HD mini PC comes with 10 interchangeable color and design shells to further your customization desires allowing you to make a truly unique piece of equipment. Despite which way you decide to take your Inspiron Zino HD mini PC you are sure to have an amazing computer. It's small size allows you to easily store it anywhere you want and still have tremendous amounts of spare space on your desk and its specs are enough to make anybody happy. But you are going to have to wait a little bit until it actually comes out in America, unless you want to go to Ireland or the UK to get one that is.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Trends: Computers Give Up CD Drives for Touch-Screens

New Trends: Computers Give Up CD Drives for Touch-Screens
A recent Associated Press report points out that personal computers are changing rapidly. It has definitely been a year of "out with the old and in with the new" as far as computers go. Laptops and Desktops are missing familiar components, slimming down and gaining lots of cool, new, unique features. Despite the popularity of gadgets such as the iPhone, PCs are still at the heart of the digital world and will likely stay that way for a while to come...even if they look and act a little differently.

One noticable change in the world of new computers is the lack of drives. Optical drives that play CDs and DVDs have been an important part of computers for over a decade. Whether you're watching a movie, listening to music, or installing software, the drives have been part of almost everyone's daily computer usage. Apple started getting rid of drives about two years ago when it first introduced the MacBook Air. Even though that wasn't a mainstream computer, due to its $1,800 pricetag, it was the start of what looks to be a popular trend. Netbooks, which are used mostly for web-browsing, start at $250 and are growing in popularity.

People are using their little laptops to download software, music and movies, while enjoying the convenience and price. The availability of Wi-Fi and cellular internet service combined with services that let you store files online are making the need for drives almost obsolete. Of course, there are the die-hard DVD watchers and CD burners who are not yet ready to give up those drives, but the lack of drives in many computers, particularly laptops does often lead to a lighter price and a much lighter load.

These days, people are also tending to purchase less powerful computers and this is another reason netbooks are becoming more popular. Everyone's been inside a retail establishment and listened to a salesperson rattle off a list of processors, graphics cards, gigabytes of memory and sizes of hard drives, but unless you're a hard-core gmer or a professional video editor, all of that stuff isn't really necessary. People are looking for computers that let them browse the web, email and use word processing applications more than anything right now.

Computer manufacturers aren't just competing with each other these days, they're also having to stand up to smartphone manufacturers, as well. People want to be connected 24/7 it seems and it's easier for that to be possible via a cell phone. "Smarbooks" are being created - think a smartphone-like device that is closer to the size of your laptop than your cell phone, and computer companies are starting to focus on laptop appearanes. Colors, patterns, themes, designs, shapes, and materials are all considered to be an important part of computer manufacturing lately, allowing users to treat their computers more like fashion accessories than tools. People also want thin and light computers that are easier to carry.

And finally, touch-screens are becoming a popular computer trend. Ever since the iPhone was developed in 2007, multi-touch has become more prominent in today's technology. The recently released Windows 7 includes support for a number of multi-touch applications and companies such as Dell and HP are designing software that allow you to browse everything from the web to your music library with your fingers instead of a mouse. And while experts say the touch-screen won't replace the mouse and keyboard, it will most likely become just as important.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's a Great Time to Buy a Mac

People are generally pretty defensive when it comes to whether they prefer a Mac or PC, but still, there are some people on the fence, debating making the jump to a new Apple product. Well, according to some experts, there's no time like present to invest in a new Mac. Last week, Apple released several new products, as well as updating several of the old ones.

So, which Macs got updates? Well, the Mac Mini got a little refresher. Now you have a new option to choose two hard drives with no optical drive. And the MacBook is now built out of a durable unibody enclosure. It also now features a new non-removable, long-lasting battery (7 hours of estimated life). The bottom is also now made out of a non-slip material.

As far as new products go, the new Magic Mouse is hot. It's an average Apple desktop mouse combined with a trackpad like you would find in a laptop. It allows desktop users to perform the same finger gestures as laptop users can and for that reason, Apple calls it the "world's first Multi-Touch mouse."

The new iMacs have new, bigger screens (21.5" and 27" models) but they are also IPS panels, which are considered by many to be the top LCD panels. But it's little luxuries like this that have allowed Apple to become such a computer giant. And while the new monitor size, alone, is reason enough to get excited, it's got new upgrade options including including a Quad Core CPU, up to 16 GB of RAM and up to 2 TB of disk space.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TV Could Come to iTunes

itunes tvSo the big question here is…would you pay $30 a month to watch TV through iTunes?

This is Apple’s most recent endeavor to further expand their world-wide utilized program iTunes. They have been pitching this new idea to a variety of TV networks during the past few weeks. The company is trying to rally support for a service that would provide a monthly subscription that would bring users a variety of TV programs via the easy to use iTunes multimedia program that over a 100 million customers already use.

Apple has said that they would like to be able to offer this service sometime early next year, but as of right now, there is no news of any programmer that has made a definite commitment to the company. It is suspected that if anyone commits to Apple the first would most likely be Disney. In the past, Disney has been ready and willing to support Apple and iTunes in their endeavors. In 2005, Disney CEO Bob Iger was the first to sell their programming via a la carte downloads through iTunes. Also, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder in Disney stock.

Now there are several reasons as to why this may be difficult for Apple to work out. Different cable networks are not going to want to jeopardize their relationships and subscription fees with cable providers such as Comcast. Programmers are also afraid that the iTunes TV subscription could affect the advertising revenue. Even if iTunes didn’t offer TV programs until after their initial air date, there is still the risk that ratings would drop.

Past these factors, I’m sure that Apple is looking at how TV and movies over the Web is definitely on the rise. Netflix already offers a service with streaming movies and TV shows while also continuing disc-by-mail subscription service. iTunes and Amazon offer movie rental services, and YouTube is attempting to start up the same thing. Hulu is also trying to work out the details of a paid service that would offer rentals, downloads, or subscriptions.

So when considering all the facts, what Apple is trying to do is simply keep up with the times. TV and movies over the Web is a growing field that I would be shocked if Apple does not become involved with in the very near future. The question of the matter is…how quickly can they get the service set up and will it really take off like Apple believes? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, and for now we’ll have to depend on our other sources to watch our favorite shows.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lenovo Unveils Six New Windows 7-Friendly Computers

Lenovo Unveils Six New Windows 7-Friendly Computers
Lenovo's new computers aren't just Windows 7-friendly, they also include Enhanced Experience software that improves system boot and shutdown times. Three new laptops, the IdeaPad U150, U550 and Y550P, and three new desktops, the IdeaCentre B500, K300 and H230, were introduced by the company last week. Each one runs Intel processors ranging from the Core 2 Duo hips to the Core i7 PC processor.

The Enhanced Experience software comes from a Lenovo collaboration with Microsoft. It includes multimedia tools that produce quality graphics and maintenance tools that improve data recovery and back-up, as well as anti-virus protection. It boots Windows 7 up to 56% faster than Windows XP and Vista and shuts down in as little as five seconds.

The new laptops range from high performance to slim and light. The Y550P features the Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia discrete graphics. The 15.6 inch screen is Lenovo's most powerful laptop and it will set you back $1,149. The U150 is only half an inch thick and weighs under three pounds, with a 11.6 inch, high definition display. Its only $585, supports up to 8 GB of system memory and features an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The U550 is considered the most mainstream of the laptops. For $650, you get a 15.6 inch display that runs the Core 2 Duo chip, a built-in DVD drive, and an integrated fingerprint reader.

As for desktops, the IdeaCentre B500 is an all-in-one system that features an Inteo Core 2 quad-core processor, discrete graphics, up to 8 GB of system memory and and 1 terabyte of storage. For $649, the computer comes with a 23 inch screen, JBL-brand integrated speakers, and a remote. The K300 is a tower desktop. It features a Core 2 quad-core processor, RAID-configured hard drives, and Lenovos power control switch that makes it possible to adjust power level for energy efficiency for maximum power. This one starts at $499. The H230 starts at $449 and is meant to appeal to customers looking for customization.

Lenovo isn't the only company releasing new Windows 7-compatible computers just in time for the holiday season. Acer, Gateway, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard also have new PCs on the market.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Computers for Windows 7

Computers for Windows 7
The long awaited Windows 7 operating system is here and rumor has it, Microsoft will soon announce several new computers that are designed specifically to run the new OS. However, several computer manufacturers have beat Microsoft to the punch by releasing information about their own new models that will feature Windows 7. Several of them are specially designed to use the OS's touch-screen features.

Hewlett-Packard has four new computers, all with touch-screens. The cheapest of the bunch is the TouchSmart 300, a 20 inch screen desktop that will retail around $900. Next is the TouchSmart 600, also a desktop, sporting a 23-inch screen, and that will sell for about $1,100 (though for $500 more, you can get the version that is able to show video at 1080p resolution). For those not looking for a desktop, there is the TouchSmart tx2 - a tablet computer that will start around $800. And if you happen to be looking for 42-inch touch screen, the $2,800 LD4200tm is your computer.

If you're looking for super-cheap, Compaq (owned by Hewlett-Packard) will be releasing the CQ61z laptop, a 15-inch screen notebook. It doesn't have a touchscreen but it will sell for $399 until right around Christmastime when the price is expected to rise to $499.

Toshiba will release two new Satellite laptops, both with touch-screens. The M505 has a 14-inch screen and should sell for around $950, while the U505 13-inch screen with a "textured finish" will sell for about $1,050.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Microsoft opens first retail store.

If you've been to any mall in the United States you've probably seen the Apple Store. A store full of every Apple product you can imagine. Well imagine that store only filled with Microsoft Products and color and you'll know what its like inside the new Microsoft Store in Scottsdale, AZ.

Microsoft feels the new store is giving customers a chance to "experience the best of Microsoft and its partners, the store offers customers a select line of laptops, netbooks, all-in-one PCs, Xbox consoles, Windows Mobile phones and one of the largest selections of third-party software titles in any store." A second store will be opening October 29, in Mission Viejo, California.

Microsoft decided a store dedicated to its products is what its customers were looking for and needed. Each store will have various sections and departments focusing on various Microsoft products and needs. You will be able to play with the technology and see how its uses can be utilized for maximum benefit.

The Scottsdale Microsoft Store has tables full of laptops, large screen tv's on the walls, and a vast collection of software and the design has been planned to maximize interaction between the customer, technology and the highly trained staff.

It will also feature a place to customize your products,“If you want to have Disney characters on your laptop or an NFL team on your Xbox, we’ll build a nice library of licensed products that you can use, or you also can bring in a picture of your dog or your family and make it custom,” said store manager, Cheryl Hibbard.

More customization features include a table to create your own ringtone for your Microsoft phone. A place to compare cell phone rates. More than just outer customization the customers can also customize their products from the inside. "Once a PC is purchased, store employees will offer a 15-minute session to help customers set up their passwords and networks, and tailor their browser, e-mail and other applications to their personal preferences. Customers can launch their computer from hibernate the minute they take it home,” she says. “With this set-up session, we’re taking the typical ‘ready to assemble’ PC ownership experience to ‘ready to run’.”

While its still fairly new and only one store, Microsoft feels confident that the stores will help with sales and customer experience with the products Microsoft and its partners have to offer. If it will compete with Apple in this arena, we will just have to wait and see.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Windows 7 Security is Better than Ever

Windows 7 Security is Better than Ever

While many Microsoft users had several complaints about Windows Vista, security wasn't usually one of them. Compared to past versions of Windows, Vista was very secure and it sounds like Windows 7 will be even more of an improvement. Based on user-feedback, Microsoft took extra care to ensure Windows 7 has strong, yet user-friendly security. Let's take a look at some of those features.

Core System Security: Just like with Vista, Windows 7 was developed according to the Security Development Lifecycle. It was built from scratch while retaining key security features from Vista including Kernel Patch Protection, Data Execution Prevention (DEP), Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), and Mandatory Integrity Levels. These help protect against malicious software and other attacks.

Enhanced UAC : User Access Control (UAC) was introduced with Vista. It enforces least-privileged access and allows organizations to deploy the operating system without granting administrator access. The primary purpose of UAC was make software developers use better coding practices without being allowed access to sensitive areas of Windows but many people saw the feature as security. Many users associate UAC with access-consent prompts which had led to it becoming a source of negative feedback from Vista users.

However, in Windows 7, Microsoft reduced the number of applications and task that trigger the prompt. You can also adjust the the feature with a slider in the Control Panel under the heading "Change User Account Control Settings." The slider allows you to choose from four levels of protection ranging from "always notify" to "never notify." Obviously the decision is up to users and how much they are worried about security vs convenience. But either way, even when the slider is set to "Never Notify," UA is not completely disabled. Even though you no longer see the prompts, some of UAC's protections will remain, including Protected Mode Internet Explorer.

Integrated Fingerprint Scanner Support: Not activating the user name and password feature on your computer is basically like leaving your home with your doors unlocked. But even if you do take advantage, passwords can be figured out when an attacker is dedicated to its mission. As a matter of fact, experts have always suggested adding another layer of authentication to your computer for security purposes. This is why many computers, particularly laptops come with a built-in fingerprint scanner. Windows 7, however, takes fingerprint-scanning to a whole new level.

Windows 7 has better driver support which makes for more reliable fingerprint reading. To configure your fingerprint data reader with Windows 7, all you have to do is click on "Biometric Devices" inside your control panel and there you will have access to the console for enrolling and managing fingerprint data and customizing biometric-security settings. You can add scans of as many of your fingers as you'd like, but adding all ten is recommended. Simply choose the finger you want to scan and place your finger on your reader (or follow your hardware's guidelines for fingerprint scanning). Each finger will need to be scanned three times to be sure it is successful.

Protecting Data: If you aren't taking proper measures to protect or safeguard your computer, anyone who comes in contact with it can access any of your files or sensitive data. Considering thousands of computers are lost or stolen each year, this is definitely something computer users should be wary of. Vista made great waves in data-protection technology with Encrypting File System, and support for Active Directory Rights Management Services. Windows 7 not only updates some of the minor details of these features but it improves on Vista's Bitlocker drive encryption technology and adds BitLocker to Go for removable media such as USB flash drives.

Encrypting Drives with Bitlocker:
When BitLocker made its original debut with Vista, it could only encrypt the primary operating system but didn't allow encryption on removable or portable disks. Windows 7 has BitLocker to Go for that purpose - it allows you to protect data on portable drives while also sharing data with partners, customers, and other parties.

To use the BitLocker Drive Encryption, your disk volumes must be configured properly. When most people are setting up drive partitions, they don't realize that Windows requires a small, unencrypted partition for the core system files that begin the boot process. This is why Microsoft has created a tool that allows you to repartition the drive so that it's prepared for the BitLocker encryption. Once the drive is properly partitioned, you can encrypt it with BitLocker by finding it in the control panel. It will display the available drives and their current state. Next to any unencrypted drive, you will click on "Turn on BitLocker" to start the process of encryption. You will then need to assign a password or insert a smartcard. You will then have the opportunity to save the BitLocker Recovery Key as a file or a print-out (which is needed to unlock data ir your password or smartcard fails). Once the process is complete is you can click on "Manage BitLocker" to unlock encrypted drives automatically when you log into Windows.

Using BitLocker Without a TPM: Technically, BitLocker requires a TPM chip (Trusted Platform Module). Unfortunately, most computers don't have a TPM chip but Microsoft has included an option to use the BitLocker Drive Encryption without a compatible TPM. It's not an easy thing to do, but it is possible if you follow the following steps: click the start menu and type gpedit.msc in the "search programs and files' field. Under Computer Configuration, find "Administrative Templates, Windows Components, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Operating System Drives." Click on "Require additional authentication at startup." Choose the "Enabled" radio button and check the "Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM" box. Click OK.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Twitter - It's All About Me?

Twitter - It's All About Me?

Two Rutgers University Professors, Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase, set out to examines user behavior on social media websites such as Twitter and what they found is, well, probably not all that shocking. After looking at over 3,000 tweets from more than 350 Twitter users, it turns out, about 80 percent are what the professors now call "meformers," or people use who post updates on their everyday activities, feelings, thoughts, emotions and social lives. The other 20 percent, the "informers," are more about sharing information such as news articles and interacting with their followers. As a matter of fact, informers usually had more friends and followers than meformers. The median number for informers was 131 friends and 112 followers whereas meformers had a median of 61 friends and 43 followers.

While carefully documenting the details of their research, the professors determined that there are nine different types of Tweets: information sharing, self promotion, opinions and complaints, statements and random thoughts, me now, question to followers, presence maintenance, self-referential anecdotes, and anecdotes about others. A majority of tweets - about 41 percent - can be classified as "me now" tweets with random thoughts, and opinions and complaints coming in as the second most tweeted items.

The research doesn't portray Twitter users very positively, but most previous research done on the social medium has had the same findings, if not worse. Some studies have gone on to call Twitter users "narcissists" or claim that nearly half of all tweets are "pointless babble."

So what else did the study find? Informers usually mention other users more often by making @replies. About 25 percent of tweets come from users' mobile phones. Of those posted from phones, over half (51 percent) tend to be "me now" messages. Females were also more likely to post the "me now" messages; 45 percent of female users posted them whereas 37 percent of men did.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Facebook Complies to Settle Lawsuit

FacebookIn order to settle the class-action lawsuit filed against them, Facebook has agreed to shut off it's Beacon advertising system. Filed in August of 2008, the lawsuit stated that the beacon associates of Facebook, like and Blockbuster, along with Facebook violated multiple laws, which included the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Computer Crime Law.

As of Friday, the proposed settlement required Facebook to not only discontinue Beacon, but also to back the creation of an independent foundation which is entirely devoted to promoting online privacy, online safety and online security. The money is to come from a $9.5 million settlement fund.

According to Facebook's Director of Policy Communication Barry Schnitt, "We learned a great deal from the Beacon experience. For one, it was underscored how critical it is to provide extensive user control over how information is shared. We also learned how to effectively communicate changes that we make to the user experience. Facebook is looking forward to the creation of the foundation, which we expect will team up with existing safety and privacy organizations."

The lawsuit was filed in San Jose, California and thus the settlement agreement must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

The lawsuit over Beacon is ironic due to the fact that Beacon launched in November 2007 amidst much fanfare and yet has become Facebook's biggest nightmare. Beacon was intended as a key piece of Facebook's "social ads" strategy. Beacon was designed to broadcast the things members of Facebook did on participating websites to their friends. The goal was to make these notifications act as a new form of "social" advertising.

However, Beacon was complicated to use for most members and also seemed stealthy and intrusive. It came as a great shock that members of Facebook that their friends were being informed of things like purchases they had made on other websites. Advocates of privacy and security experts joined in with critics of Beacon. Facebook did modify beacon many times, although it never took off and has been pushed into obscurity.

Despite this debacle with Beacon, executives of Facebook continually say that the advertising business of the privacy-held company is solid and growing. In addition to offering traditional online ads, which include pay-to-click ads and banners, Facebook has continued to develop social ads and different vehicles for marketing like Facebook Pages that allow different organizations to promote things such as their bands or products.

Facebook probably won't suffer much from this lawsuit due to the fact it is being settled. However, the company dodged a bullet here and needs to be more careful in the future. With the extensive network of people all over the world which are members of Facebook and the problems the internet already has with security, no company can be too careful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What to Know Before You Upgrade From XP to Windows 7

What to Know Before You Move From XP to Windows 7
With Windows 7 coming out next month, there are, no doubt, a lot of Windows XP users who opted to skip over Windows Vista and are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to upgrade. Unfortunately, the switch may not be such an easy one. There is a lot of planning to do and a lot of learning to be done, but with the Windows 7's October 22 release date just around the corner, it's never too early to start.

One of the first things you will want to do is check your hardware. If your computer was made in the last few years, you more-than-likely won't have a problem. If you're not sure about your current hardware situation, Microsoft offers a Windows 7 Upgrade advisor at their website. The advisor will perform a scan of your system and display a report that lets you know if you meet the requirements. Should there be a problem, the report lets you know what your options are for the upgrade.

Another thing you must understand is that you will have to perform a custom installation. Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 will not allow you to keep all of your settings and applications. A custom installation gives you the option to install Windows on a specific drive or partition, or completely replace your old operating system. When you do the complete replacement, a folder called "Windows.old" will show up on your hard disk and while it will contain your Windows, Documents, Settings, and Program Files, your applications will no longer be in working order. This means backing up and transferring important data, reinstalling applications, and reconfiguring your settings.

It's always helpful to have an inventory of all of your applications. You'll also want to make sure they are compatible with Windows 7. Once you have your list in place, you can gather up the information for what you'll need once you've got Windows 7 installed including installation CDs and various websites from which you've downloaded applications.

One thing you may want to consider is a multiboot configuration. This means having both Windows XP and Windows 7 at your fingertips, which can help make the switch a little smoother. All you have to do is reboot into Windows XP at any given time to see exactly how something is installed or configured. To do this, you must install both XP and 7 on the same hard disk but on separate partitions. To make room for Windows 7, you will have to repartition your hard disk and there is software you can purchase to help you do this. Once you're finished, just set Windows 7 as your primary operating system and remove Windows XP all together.

As with any major change you make to your computer, you'll want to back up all of your data. You're more than likely going to use either a third-party back-up program or Windows XP's native Backup Utility. If you're using a third party program, make sure you check with your manufacturer to see if it will be compatible with Windows 7. If you're not sure or don't trust either backup system, you can, of course, make copies of all of your data and store it on CDs and external hard drives.

Now that you know you will need to transfer your data, how will you do it? You'll probably want to use a program that will scan your XP system to find all of your data and settings and that can transfer the information to Windows 7. Luckily, Windows 7 has an Easy Transfer feature that can do this for you, but. The transfer utility should come embedded within Windows 7, but also as a separate DVD.

Something else you can do to be prepared is become familiar with Window 7's new user interface (UI) as it is very different from that of Windows XP. To avoice what many call "UI Shock," you can visit Microsoft's Windows 7 webpage. That will give you an idea of what to expect once you've installed Windows 7. The webpage features a Windows 7 Features section and a Windows 7 Help & How-to section. Microsoft's website also features a Windows Training Portal which includes Windows 7 "Learning Snacks" (interactive presentations) and Microsoft Press Sample Chapters from upcoming Windows 7 books.

Finally, this seems simple enough but ask questions and share information. So many people will be switching from XP to Windows 7; you most certainly won't be alone. Visit technical forums and websites and connect with others who are in your shoes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Steve Jobs Back At Apple

Steve JobsAt the start of Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event today, a standing ovation was given to the pioneer and father of Apple, Steve Jobs. Back in 2004, Jobs announced to his staff at Apple that he had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Thankfully, Jobs was not seriously ill from it and continued working though signs if his illness were visible in his speeches and keynotes. In January 2009, Jobs alerted his staff that he had a physical ailment which didn't allow the his body to process hormones. Jobs learned that his problem was more complex than originally thought and decided to take a 5 month leave from Apple, feeling that his ailment was a distraction not only to him and his family but to the staff of Apple as well.

Jobs placed Tim Cook in charge of Apple in his absence as he had done in 2004. Although Jobs was not acting CEO, he still had involvement in major strategic decisions with Apple and it's products. In April 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tennessee. Jobs received the liver from a young man in his 20's who was killed in a car accident. The young man had been an organ donor and, according to Jobs, his liver is what saved Jobs' life.

At Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event, Jobs took a moment to thank everyone for their support and to thank the generosity of the young organ donor. Jobs then went on to encourage everybody there to be as generous as the young man and become organ donors. Jobs informed the crowd that he was "vertical" now and that he is happy to be back at Apple and loving every minuet of it. Jobs also discussed that he was already hard at work creating some "incredible new products" for the future. It is good to see that Steve Jobs is doing well and that he is already back on his feet and working hard at Apple. Watch the video of Steve Jobs' return below.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kingston 256GB DataTraveler

Kingston is back again with a new product that is breaking the barriers of portable memory. The Kingston DataTraveler 300 is a 256 GB thumb drive that can hold up to 51,000 images, or 54 DVDs, or 360 CDs! This drive has an amazing 20 mb/sec read. and a 10 mb/sec. write speed. It is a capless design, and the dimensions are 70.68 mm x 22.37 mm x 16.45 mm. This thumb drive also offers password protection software available for windows and windows vista users. This is only available for Europe and the UK. This will cost you a whopping $924 USD, but it also comes backed with a 5 year warranty. Which in my opinion is a pretty steep price for 256 GB of memory, considering you can buy external hard drives that have 5 times the memory but are a fourth of the cost.

This is a huge step into the future for portable memory. Not that long ago it was a huge deal putting 1GB into a thumb drive, and now they are cramming over 250GB into a tiny device. I find this very exciting because I am eager to see whats next from Kingston and their competitors. Even though this is a great new product, I don’t think I would be very willing to pay almost $1,000 for it. Hopefully their will be more companies producing mass storage thumb drives, so we can see some variety in choices and in price ranges.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

3D Best Buy Ads

Best BuyEver wanted to shop online for things in 3D? Well now you can thanks to an innovative little promotional stunt from Best Buy. If you looked through your Sunday paper and carelessly tossed your ads section then go and find it because the Best Buy ad has something other than a bargain in it.

Last Sunday's Best Buy ad can be viewed in 3D, if the good 'ol fashioned 2D just isn't doing it for you anymore. But the best thing about seeing the ad in 3D is that you don't need to buy any of those goofy and uncomfortable glasses. What you will need is a computer with an attached webcam. Turn on your webcam and allow Best Buy access to it and the hard part is done. Then all you need to do is slowly move the ad towards the camera until the camera recognizes it.When the product you are looking at is right next to your face you'll know it worked.

But wait, there's more! Try turning the ad in different directions and you will notice that the 3D image moves with it! How is this possible you might ask? Well, thanks to a helpful little thing called Augmented Reality. Now Augmented Reality is probably one of the coolest new gadgets out there. It has already been seen put to use in things like baseball cards and action figures and now even retail ads. With Best Buy taking the first step, we will no doubt see other businesses using AR to find new ways to empty your wallets.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Super Green IC's

zero-dissipation ICIt shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody when they here about tech companies trying to make the things we use more energy efficient. But recently the tech industry has taken a serious boost forward in pursuit of zero-day-dissipation IC technology. The Japanese Rohm Co Ltd is at the forefront of developments and they are designing custom chips for a number of equipment manufacturers. Rohm is the same company that created a prototype microprocessor back in 2008 and with the completion of its production line in Kyoto Rohm can now begin shipping custom IC's with equipment using the new IC's as early as the end of this year.

However, Rohm Co Ltd isn't the only company trying this same feat. NEC Corp out of Japan isn't far behind Rohm Co. The company has designed their very own chips the reportedly run faster than Rohm's and the company even completed verification of the chip in 2008. NEC plans to prototype a system-on-chip (SoC) in the next few years to prepare for commercialization. These zero-day-dissipation Integrated Circuits (IC's) are made with nonvolatile logic as well as merged memory. Now chips using nonvolatile merged memory aren't new. Many of them exist like micro-controllers with flash memory. However, these new chips use nonvolatile logic as well. Registers that temporarily store your computational results are made nonvolatile. This allows logic circuits to continue normal operations even after power is shut off and restored. Power supply circuits as well as analog circuits that are on the chip don't need data retention. This means power to the entire chip can be cut off in standby making a zero-standby-dissipation IC.

Companies like NEC and Rohm believe technology like this will give us significant savings in our power consumption without the sacrifice of equipment convenience. In a statement from a member of the Device Platform Research Laboratories at NEC, "We'll be able to cut dissipation for digital consumer electronics in the standby mode to just a few percent of what it is now." He also added, in terms of annual electricity costs, "That could add up to hundreds of millions of yen in savings in Japan alone." The equipment talked about could also return from standby to normal operating mode instantaneously.

A worker from Rohm also stated that, "Normally-off equipment will become possible, turning itself on only when power is needed." Rohm demonstrated in 2008 with its microprocessor in normally-off operation. When in this mode it cut dissipation by 70% from conventional designs. "This technology has enormous potential in applications such as games, where the system is usually sitting and waiting for player input." Rohm explains. With the way this technology is going, we could see a major piece of technology that is desperately needed, a device that can save people money. Cash is tight enough as it is and it is really good to see technology companies, like Rohm and NEC, doing all they can to make things more energy efficient and cheaper to use.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Windows 7

Windows 7 is almost here with the release date of October 22nd just right around the corner many people are still wondering if they should upgrade or not. Here are some key things you should know before thinking of upgrading to Windows 7. First is the system requirements in order to run Windows 7 smoothly. There is nothing really out of the ordinary here except the 16-20GB of storage space required.
System Requirements:
• 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• 1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
• 16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
• DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Also Windows 7 will be upgradable with all the former operating systems including Windows 2000, XP, & Vista. To upgrade on XP or Windows 2000 you will have to do a clean install of Windows 7 which means deleting all your files so make sure to backup your important documents using a storage device. On Windows Vista you will be able to do an in place upgrade which means you will not have to completely wipe your harddrive so Windows Vista users should be grateful for that.

The next big thing with Windows 7 is what editions are there and how much will the cost. As of now there is three editions Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. The differences between the 3 are very few. The only main difference that I could see be important is premium does not come with XP mode. For a full list of differences and to see which one is right for you here is a list from microsoft. Now as far as cost goes right now is the best time to pick up Windows 7. On the internet right now Microsoft has all the Upgrade Pre Orders on sale for just 1 more day, so you better hurry. The two on sale are the Wndows 7 Professional Upgrade for $100 and the Windows 7 Premium Upgrade for $50. After tommorow though here is what the new prices will look like.

  • Windows 7 Premium Upgrade - $120
  • Windows 7 Premium Full - $200
  • Windows 7 Professional Upgrade - $200
  • Windows 7 Proffessional Full - $300
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade - $219
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full - $320

Also here are some quick facts to answer some of your questions:
• All versions of Windows 7 will ship with both a 32 bit & 64 bit disk.
• Windows 7 will feature XP Virtualization which will allow your XP only apps to run on Windows 7
• To see if your processor can handle 64 bit mode or Hardware Virtualization download and run GRC's SecurAble
• You can only install windows 7 on one machine

Now the final debate why should I upgrade to Windows 7 when Windows XP or Vista works just fine for me now? Well to help you out Microsoft has made a list of new and improved features in Windows 7 to make your operating system better and run more smoothly.

• Improved GUI and desktop navigation
• Windows Search
• Internet Explorer 8
• Windows Media Center
• HomeGroup (Windows 7-specific networking)
• 32-bit and 64-bit editions provided in retail/upgrade versions
• Windows Aero desktop (with supported graphics cards and drivers)
• Improved wireless networking
• Improved network management for mixed Windows 7/Vista/XP networks
• Improved audio and video codec support
• Improved digital TV support
• Windows Backup for both files and system image
• Devices and Printers management interface
• Device Stage enhanced driver support for multifunction devices

Overall I really think people will be happy with Windows 7 when it comes out on October 22nd. Microsoft has been testing windows 7 with the beta last year and the RC1 since spring and they have really ironed out all the bugs so do not expect a giant disaster the first time using it like Windows Vista. Microsoft has really made a great operating system that I believe is worth upgrading to.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Trio from eMachines

eMachines ET1300It has only been a few weeks since we saw the unveiling of the eMachines EL1300 SFF PC'S and now eMachines is throwing not one, not two, but three new full-size desktop computers with the ET1300-02, ET1810-03, AND ET1810-01. Each computer has luminous white mini-towers with matching LCD monitors, speakers, and keyboard. Each one comes with decent specs at a reasonable price with the added bonus of compatibility and style.

The ET1300-02 comes with an AMD Anthlon X2 4850e Dual-Core Processor (2.5GHz, 512KB x2L2 Cache), NVIDIA GeForce G100 graphics with 512MB, 160GB SATA (7200 RPM) hard drive, multi-in-one digital media card reader, Windows Vista Home Premium, 3GB DDR2 memory, 18x DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive featuring Labelflash Technology, VGA, DVI, AND HDMI connectors 6 USB 2.0 ports. This is the most expensive one in the trio coming in at $449.99.

The ET1810-03 steps down a little bit with it's specs. It has an Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor E2210 (2.2GHz, 1MB L2 Cache), integrated NVIDIA GeForce 7050 graphics, 320GB SATA (7200 RPM) hard drive, multi-in-one digital media card reader, only 1 VGA port, Windows Vista Home Premium, 3GB DDR2 memory, 18x DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive featuring Labelflash Technology and 6 USB 2.0 ports. The ET1810-03 is cheaper and will only run you around $369.99.

The ET1810-01 takes even another step down. It has an Intel Celeron Processor 420 (1.6GHz, 512 KB L2 Cache), integrated NVIDIA GeForce 7050 graphics, 160GB SATA (7200 RPM) hard drive, multi-in-one digital media card reader, again only one VGA port, Windows Vista Home Basic, 2GB DDR2 memory, 18x DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive featuring Labelflash Technology, and 6 USB 2.0 ports. This one comes in at a very low $299.99.

Each machine is shipped with a matching whit luminous LCD monitor. The E182H wm display measures 18.5" widescreen with viewable TFT Active Matrix, 1366x768 (HD ready) resolution, one VGA and one PC audio inputs, 300 cd/m2 brightness, 170(H)/160(V) viewing angle, built-in stereo speakers, it is Vista Premium certified, has a 16:9 aspect ratio, CrystalBrite, 5 ms response time, 10000:1 (Dynamic) contrast ratio, 16.7M color depth and it is Energy Star certified. The monitor itself runs about $129.99.

These machines can tackle a wide array of tasks and are ideal for a wide range of uses and applications. The video card is satisfactory for those users who enjoy video, photography, or casual gaming. There is plenty of storage space which allows you to easily store music, movies and images. All in all these computers are pretty good for their price. They offer good quality and respectable specs with affordable prices.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Microsoft Surface

microsoft surfaceCan we make computers any more adaptable and everyday oriented than the Microsoft Surface? It is a computer that literally functions as a computer and a coffee table. The slick 30-inch tabletop turns into a completely interactive experience. It utilizes a camera-based vision system that allows multiple users to grab, move, or select things with a touch of their hand.

The vision systems that the Surface uses consists of five different cameras that allow for interaction between hands, objects, and devices. It can identify hands, fingers, paintbrushes, tagged objects, and a multitude of other items. The tagged item recognition feature is quite amazing. In order for the Microsoft Surface to uniquely identify objects, a tag is utilized. It can also be used to start a command or action. A certain tagged object could allow a cardholder to make a purchase and charge it to their card.

The Microsoft Surface’s use of hands-on interaction and mouse-less computing enables easy control, excellent viewing angles, and brilliant display for everyone surrounding the table. Another wonderful advantage Microsoft developed with the Surface is its ability to withstand almost anything. Sticky hands and spilled drinks aren’t even a concern for the rugged Surface.

As of now, the Microsoft Surface is only available for commercial purchase. It is being targeted in the business areas of financial services, retail, hospitality, health care, and automotive, but soon I believe that these dream computers will be available for everyone. Microsoft hopes to in the near future evolve the Surface to fit into a number of environments such as schools, businesses, and homes. This fantastic innovation is something to definitely watch for in future computer developments.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Napsters New Serivce Review

Napster has recently just come out with a new subscription offering that sounds almost too good to be true. Their website states, “Get 5 MP3 credits and unlimited access to on-demand music with a plan starting at $5 a month.” First time reading this I was optimistic thinking they were giving the user a Zune subscription service for only $5 a month and on top of that allowing you to keep 5 tracks DRM free each month.

Well they do offer the same service that Zune where you can put unlimited songs on your mp3 player while under the subscription, but that is a completely different service called Napster to go and it costs $15 a month which is the same price as Zunes service.

The $5 plan only allows you to stream their 7 million song collection on your desktop pc and only the 5 DRM free track each month are able to go on your ipod/mp3 player. Napster has also included more than 60 commcial-free radio stations, over a 1,000 pre-programmed playlists, and a feature similar to Pandora to create your own playlists.

Overall sounds like a good deal if you listen to music mainly at your computer, but for people who mainly listen to music on your iPod then this is not for you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just what is Dropbox?

Virtual Storage with Dropbox
For those of you who don't know, Dropbox is a simple online virtual storage utility that allows you to make your files accessible from almost anywhere. Designed for those who are tired of e-mailing files to themselves and carrying around flash drives, Dropbox looks to revolutionize the way you store and share files.

Here's how it works. After installation and connecting to the server, the Dropbox interface is just like any folder on your computer. You simply drag and drop to move files around and any files or folders that are uploaded to Dropbox will immediately be synchronized within your account. In addition Dropbox also keeps track of every single change made to the contents of your storage and any changes are instantly updated to all computers linked to the account.

What happens if I'm not on any of my computers? Absolutely no need to worry. Just get on the Dropbox web interface and you will be able to access your files from anywhere in the world. The Dropbox web interface also remembers all the changes you make to your files and allows you to restore to any previous versions of the file. You can even un-delete files that you may have accidentally erased.

Where Dropbox really shines is the way it allows you to share whatever you want with other people. Every individual folder can be shared with other people and every member of a shared folder will be able to add, edit, and delete the contents inside but will not be able to access anything outside of that specific folder. This file sharing system is perfect for team projects involving music or video editing, computer and system repairs, or for anything which needs collaboration among its members. There is also a public folder that allows you to share files with non-Dropbox users through the use of a hyperlink.

If you are looking for an easy and reliable way to share files amongst friends, family, and coworkers then take a look at what Dropbox has to offer. Dropbox is free for Windows, Mac, and Linux and you can have share 2 GB of your files for free or upgrade to Dropbox Pro for 50GB of storage.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dell Studio XPS Desktops

Dell Studeio XPS Desktop with Core i7

Dell’s latest in its XPS line is the Dell Studio XPS Core i7 Desktop. The new Core i7 processor from Intel is today’s fastest processor. Core i7 chips have mostly been only available to high end gamer enthusiasts willing to pay $1000+, but Dell has managed to add one in their latest XPS desktop making it one of the best deals to date with a price tag of only $800.

Price: $800
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66Ghz
Memory: 3GB DDR3 RAM at 1066Mhz – 3 DIMMs
Hard Drive: 500GB – 7200RPM
Operating System: Vista Home Premium
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 3450 256MB
Dimensions: 14.2”(H)x6.7”(W)x17.1(D)
Power Supply: 360 watts

Before going any further it should be apparent to point out the Studio XPS line is not meant for gaming. Dell even states this and recommends if you are looking for a gaming desktop then you should check out their gaming XPS desktop line. Studio Desktops are built for normal use in applications like Photoshop, video encoding, playing movies etc.

The Dell Studio is blazing fast though when it comes to any normal tasks on a computer. In almost all tests it has been able to cut similar system prices times in half for things such as crunching numbers, video compression, and video & audio ripping or conversions. The fast performance comes from Intel’s Core i7 Chip. The Core i7 is the first chip to be built from the ground up since the Pentium 4 processors. It is more powerful than any other chip to date.

The New Core i7 chip is also boosted with the triple channel DDR3 Memory and the new X58 Motherboards. To put it simple this Desktop is filled with all brand new top of the line hardware at a remarkable low price of $800.

This PC is one of a kind and as long as you stay away from the costly upgrades you will have the best Desktop for $800 guaranteed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IBM Memory Faster and Cheaper

IBM Racetrack MemoryMemory is one of the biggest things people have to deal with in their computers. It seems everytime you turn around you are needing to upgrade your memory because you ran out or your computer crashed. This is a particular problem due to the price of some memory.

But the new memory from IBM plans to change everything we know about memory. According to England's university of Leeds physicist Christopher Marrow, "Racetrack memory will be a vast improvement over today's leading computer memory technology - flash and hard disk - which each have serious limitations." IBM shows it's new Racetrack memory, as it has been named, has been more reliable in recent tests than hard disks which hopefully will make frequent computer crashes obsolete.

Racetrack is also said to be cheaper than the current prices for hard disk memory. According to Marrows, "This technology will have the best of both worlds - cheap nano-size with huge memory in 3G phones, MP3 players, camcorders, and other devices. But more importantly there will be more sites that will be able to give away storage for free like YouTube and Gmail."

The main point of racetrack is speed, hence the name, and reliability. In hard disks, a motor-operated head, like the ones seen in record players, has to move to the data to read it. Data stored on the Racetrack is moved around on a wire which is pushed by spiraling magnetics. The moving parts in the hard disk makes it very susceptible to crashing. "Hard disks are so good because they are so cheap. But they are bad because of the moving parts." says Marrows.

The other memory device, flash memory, was created in 1980 by Toshiba. But, like hard disks, flash memory has its own problems as well. On the good side, flash memory has no moving parts and is a solid-state storage device. This makes it more reliable and faster than disks. However, on the flip side flash memory has a limited number of erase-write cycles it can perform before the memory capacity begins to deteriorate.

The thing for Racetrack is to have the speed and durability of flash memory combined with the hard disk affordability. According to Stuart Parkin, IBM fellow and inventor of Racetrack, "Racetrack will have cheap memory with the possibility of being one million times faster than hard disks without the risk of wearing out." Unlike hard disks, there is no need to search for information. According to Parkin, this will allow computers to boot up almost instantly.

And, like everything else in the world, Racetrack memory will use less energy making it green. Parkin says, 'The tremendous amount of storage, faster performance, and reduced energy requirements make it a nice green and smart technology."

One of the biggest, and smartest, innovations of Racetrack is that it is designed vertically which allows it to take up less room than the current memory. This will make it extremely less expensive due to the fact that the price of a chip is based on the space it uses. This design makes Racetrack the first 3-D memory allowing it to obtain more bits per transistor. According to Parkin, "This will allow us to take a chip and increase the transistor size 10 to 100 times, breaking Moore's Law." Moore's Law was founded by Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel. In 1965, Moore observed that the number of transistors per square inch on a circuit board will double every 18 months.

Some experts believe that Moore's law will hold true for another couple of decades. However, Parkin is hoping that his Racetrack will quash that ide in about 5 to 7 years. It is at this point Parkin hopes the Racetrack memory will be fully operational and available. Zeljko Zilic, associate professor of the Department of Electrical Computer Engineering at Montreal's McGill University, says that, "As technology enabler, racetrack fits within the 'universal memory' concept, where one type of memory could be used across the full spectrum, replacing the need for multiple types of internal memory. Currently, flash memory comes closest to the ideal, but disadvantages of flash will become more and more apparent."

The goal of IBM is not, in any way, to improve current technology. Their goal is to absolutely replace it all together. Racetrack has the potential to replace both hard disk and flash," Parkin says. "Our goal is to replace all flash memory as it will get rid of the concept of trading performance for cost."

While there are still a few years before Racetrack comes out, people are already waiting with high anticipation. The thought of completely replacing the memory system we have used for the past 60 years is no small feat. But with the brains at IBM, we can bet that they will give it their all to give us the best quality tehy can.

Friday, April 17, 2009

HP Firebird with VoodooDNA 803

HP Firebird with VoodooDNA 803Voodoo was recently purchased by HP and this union has resulted in the Blackbird 002 and the Voodoo Envy 133 subnotebook, both of which are Editor's Choice-winning gaming computers. The newest computer to arrive from the company is the HP Firebird with VoodooDNA 803.

This high powered gaming desktop has some unique attributes to it. On interesting thing is that the guts of this desktop have many characteristics similar to those of a notebook. The rig has switchable graphics, the first ever seen on a desktop. It has a distinctive style about it which also incorporates a resemblance to the HP?Voodoo family. This computer comes with a Intel Core 2 Quad processor with 4GB of RAM and and 640GB of storage space. The Firebird runs the nVidia GeForce 9800S SLI graphics card which delivers powerful graphics quality. However, this computer does have a few things that might turn away a serious hard-core PC gamer.

First off, the performance of the device has been a little disappointing to some users. Also, the Firebird has limited upgrade ability which means you better be satisfied with what you get because you are not going to be able to do much to it. There are only two DIMM slots both of which are filled. This means you will need to swap the current 4GB of memory if you want to add more. The Firebird does have two innovative hard drive sleds. Considering they are compact and built well, you will be able to connect and disconnect multiple times. However, both of these slots are filled as well with 320GB drives. This system also lacks a set of PCI/PCIe connectors. This computer kind of resembles a gaming console. All the internal components are permanately attached, except for the memory and the hard drives.

One great thing about this system is that is completely free of anything annoying. For example, it does not come with any trialware programs or ads. The only things that occupy the the hard drives is HP total care for one year, a one year subscription to AVG Professional Anti-Virus Software, and a copy of Cyberlink DVD for the ability to play DVD's and Blu-ray. This computer also comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The graphics setup for the Firebird is really innovative. It has the NVidia nForce 760s motherboard chipset. Which allows you to switch between power saving intgrated graphics and the two nVidia GeForce 9800s graphics cards. It has a save power mode for video viewing but if you want all the features in Nvidia's PureVideo HD, the discrete graphics need to be turned on.

This computer isn't your average gaming computer. It is a top-of-the-line gaming computer for a reasonable price. It has a nice, sleek design to it and the energy saving capabilities will save you a few needed bucks, especially in today's economy. And the incredible graphics can be turned up whenever you need it to. This computer was going to set you back around $2,099 but is on sale now for $1,299. If you are in the market for a good gaming desktop, the HP FireBird with VoodooDNA 803 is definitely worth a look at, especially if you are looking to save a few bucks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

US Electricity Grid Compromised

US Electricity Grid Comppromised
How safe is the United States from an electricity grid take over? It all depends on who you ask. There are reports out now saying cyberspies have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid, leaving behind damaging software that could be used to disrupt the system.

The cyberspies are believed to be from China, Russia and other countries and were also believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. In the past China has tried to map our infrastructure, such as the grid said a senior intelligence official.The Russians have also atempted this.

There was no specific company or region targeted in the most recent attack. A former Department of Homeland Security official said, "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official also said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."

The U.S. intelligence agencies detected the majority of the breeches in the grids security. Intelligence officials worry about cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.

Software tools have been found left behind, authorities investigating the intrusions believe that they were left there so the hackers could come back and turn them on in a time of war.

Specialists at the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a nonprofit research institute, said attack programs search for openings in a network, much as a thief tests locks on doors. Once inside, these programs and their human controllers can acquire the same access and powers as a systems administrator.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Conficker Worm: Panic Passes

Conficker CI posted early about the intended Conficker C virus that was set to wreak havoc on computers across the world yesterday, April 1. Well I am pleased to announce that the doomsday affects that were reported to take place didn't happen, yet.

But even though it didn't happen like predicted, doesn't mean it won't happen at all. People should be aware that this nasty virus is still out there and could attack at any time. This worm was no small disruption. It was supposed to disrupt the internet, has already worked its way into 12 million computers, and was feared worldwide. The virus is no actively looking for instructions on the internet. Either its creator hasn't delivered harmful instructions yet or the attempts to raise awareness has scared of the creators. Whatever the cause, the full effects of Conficker C have yet to be experienced. Conficker has infected anywhere from 12 million to 15million computers since early 2009 which includes everything from Windows 2000 to the Windows 7 Beta and Windows Server 2000 and 2008.

Things even got so bad in Europe that the French Air Force, Royal Navy Warships and submarines, the Sheffield Hospital network, the UK Ministry of Defense, the German Bundeswehr, and Norwegian Police saw affects from the virus which shows the severity of the worm.

The worm is programmed to evolve into multiple versions and has a sophisticated way of avoiding eradication. However, Conficker is not likely to cause massive internet crashes for one specific reason: it would be counter productive to its programming and the creator, who more than likely is out for money. It is designed to infect multiple windows based computers and create a botnet. The botnet would then function in concert to work as a supercomputer. From here it could do anything like generate large amounts of spam emails.

Although Conficker hasn't unleashed its fury yet, people should still take precautions. The most at risk are small to medium sized businesses that rely heavily in their computers but may have poor disaster prevention strategies. People should take as many precautions as possible to prevent infection from the virus. They should update everything related to their operating system and do everything possible to update their anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.

Since we were all in a big worry about this hitting on April 1, it might be safe to say that most of us are prepared. But even though the events originally set to take place yesterday didn't happen, doesn't mean they won't. Conficker C is still at large and ready to attack, so do like the Boy Scouts do and "Always Be Prepared."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Conficker Worm Set to Hit April 1

No this is not an April Fool's Day joke, this is serious. Every few years, the internet is hit by a vicious malware that wreaks havoc on on computers. And it all seems to happen on one day, April 1st, and security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of this hazard. For some reason, malware creators like to target April Fool's Day and this latest attack, known as Conficker C, is rumored to be the most damaging attack seen in years.

The infamous Conficker had its debut in late 2008 and started getting buzz when its victims reached over 9 million in January. This third installment, known as Conficker C, has grown increasingly more virulent, complicated and powerful. However, no one really knows what exactly the damages will be come emergence day.

What is really impressive, is that Microsoft is offering a quarter-million dollar bounty on the head of the maker of the worm. Security researchers are desperately digging into the worm's code attempting to engineer a cure or find the writer before the deadline. What is known, is that as of April 1, all infected computers will come under the control of one master computer located somewhere in the vast reaches of the internet. At this point, anything and everything is possible. These controlled computers could do a number of things. They could steal personal information, completely wipe hard drives, deny service, or even generate more pop-ups and extortion-like services designed to sell you made up security software.

Conficker is no ordinary virus, it's smarter than the others. It is really really good at hiding it's tracks. It uses an incredible amount of URLs to communicate with its HQ computer. Conficker's first version only used about 250 different URLs daily, allowing researchers and ICANN buy and disable. Unfortunately, Conficker C has increased the dosage to an astonishing 50,000 different addresses each day! This incredible size makes ot impossible track and disable each one by hand.

Right now you should be extra careful about protecting your computer. Only patch Windows through Windows update and upgrade your anti-malware software as well. You should also make sure your antivirus software is running too, because Conficker just may have disabled it.

It makes me wonder, what with all this talk about master computers, computer HQ, controlled computers, nation-wide extremely violent computer viruses and such, if we are slowly approaching the D-Day foreseen in the Terminator movies? On a serious note though, what is the purpose of these computer viruses? Why do people sit around and create something that ruins people's lives? What joy do they get from it? I guess we may never know. All we can do is protect ourselves as best we can and pray to God that the amazing people trying to help us stop this virus before it infects us all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Falcon Northwest Mach V - Radeon HD 2900 XT

Falcon Northwest Mach VWhen it comes to gaming computers, you always want the larest and greatest model so you can have that extra step on the competition. Well now you can have it with the Falcon Norhwest Mach V(Radeon HD 2900 XT).

When you are in the market for a gaming computer, your best option is to go with a company that custom builds one to your needs. The boutique system builder like Falcon Northwest is one of the better companies out there. Falcon NW offers many more flexible configurations than most companies, like the ability of installing both Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista Premium on the same computer. Other companies will require you to choose one or the other or may not even offer XP Pro amd most new machienes only come with Vista.

But what is special about this particular computer? This computer comes with the new ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT cards which are the first single 1GB cardson the market. These new cards are set up in a CrossFire configuration and use internal connectors. This is good because ATI's CrossFire and nVidias's SLI require extra cables to have the cards connected for direct communications. The new version uses internal ribbon cabels which is way more attractive than the previous generation CrossFire's ugly external dongle. In addition to being better looking, you now do not have to worry about your external cabels getting caught on things when you move your PC around.

The Mach V has an overclocked quad core QX6800 processor which helps to boost the system's multimedia scores. Like the prvious model of the Mach V, the new version runs the Photoshop CS2 test in 27 seconds and smokes all competition at the Windows Media Encoder Test with an impressive 47 seconds. This fast speed lets you finish multi-media projects very quickly and allows you to get over a dozen different iterations of the project before most computers can pump out three or four.

With all this power, the Mach V has particular forte, gaming. But this Mach V is different from most gaming computers. Like always , the Mach V tops all 3D gaming tests but this version does it on Vista. The Mach V breaks the 16,000 barrier at 3DMark06(16,660 at 1,280-by-1,024 res.) Games have fluid and stutter free animations.

Compared to some other gaming PCs on the market, like the XPS 710 H2C from Dell and Gateway's FX530XT, the Mach V may seem overpriced and overpowered. However, the money you save on the other ones will result in a downsize of performance. The Falcon NW Mach V will run you around $7,930, a hefty price to pay but the performance you are getting is unparalled. This computer is definitley worth a look if you are in the market for a top notch gaming PC.

As an added bonus, Falcon Northwest comes with a beatuiful variety of custom designs you can outfit on your PC. Each design is custom sage brush painted for a truly unique look.

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