Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Italian Government Slaps Apple with $1.2 Million Fine

AppleCareApple has been hit with quite a hefty fine from a somewhat surprising place today, Italy. That's right, on December 27, 2011 the country of Italy fined the tech giant 900,000 euros, or roughly $1.2 million, for allegedly encouraging its customers to sign up for AppleCare, the official tech support of the company, without informing them that they would receive two years of free support after purchasing the service.

Reuters reported that Italy requires every company that does business in the country to offer two full years of absolutely free technical support to any and all Italian customers. AppleCare is an important after-purchase revenue generator for the company. Apple offers this protection service on every single one of its products, from iPads and iPhones to MacBooks and Apple All-in-Ones, though prices vary depending on which device you get the service for. Naturally getting tech support on your iPhone should cost a little less than getting it on your MacBook Air.

Towards the beginning of this year, Apple updated its iPhone plan. The all new AppleCare+ gives customers extended warranties and technical support for as long as two years. In addition to this, the new AppleCare+ also includes repairs on two incidents of accidental damage as opposed to the previous single repair offered. The service itself will cost iPhone users $99.

In addition to AppleCare+ for the iPhone, another AppleCare package for the iMac will run customers $169 with the MacBook Pro option costing $349. The cheapest service is for the iPod Touch, costing only $59.

Apple has yet to release any official statement on the fine by the Italian Government and there is no way of knowing if it will ask employees in Italian Apple stores to make it clear to customers that their products are covered for two years. However, this fine will barely scrape the top of Apple's revenue pile as the company has tens of billions of dollars just lining the walls of their headquarter's bathrooms for decoration.

Source: CNET - Italy fines Apple $1.2 million over AppleCare practices

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Mozilla Launches Firefox 9.0.1 Right After Firefox 9 Due to Bugs

Firefox 9Just one day after it released Firefox 9, Mozilla quickly released an update after backing out of a bug fix that was causing users on Mac, Linux and Windows computers to experience browser crashes. Mozilla released Firefox 9.0.1 on Wednesday which made many people think that it was fake due to the fact that it released right behind version 9.

According to a post on the Mozilla support forum, "Seeing links for [Firefox 9.0.1], why is it being released? Or is it a hoax?" Other discussions on the support forum's threads included messages from users asking whether or not Mozilla actually updated the Firefox browser and if so, why?

Mozilla did not specify in the release notes of v9.0.1 why it needed to re-release the browser though developers did note that the update was prompted by crash reports, specifically for Mac users, though Windows and Linux users also experienced crashes. According to a statement from Alex Keybl, one of the engineering Project Managers on Mozilla's Release Team, "We built Firefox 9.0.1 with bug 708572 backed out. We've pushed Firefox 9.0.1 for all platforms. Although, we think Windows is mostly unaffected, we still decided to move forward with Windows-v9.0.1."

In order to rectify the problem, one that caused crashes whenever users ran certain add-on toolbars (like the one distributed by the Dallas Cowboys), the developers at Mozilla removed a patch that had been applied previously. The rush update that occurred on Wednesday was the second by Mozilla in the last 30 days. Mozilla shipped Firefox 8.0.1 back on November 21 to deal with a large number of crashes with Mac OS X. The crashes were eventually traced back to an Apple update of Java that occurred earlier in the month.

Anybody who upgraded to Firefox 9 in between the time of its release and the release of 9.0.1 can update to the new version by choosing "About Firefox" from the Firefox menu on the Mac or "About Firefox" from the Help menu under the Firefox button on Windows and then approving the new version's installation after it has completed downloading.

Source: Computer World - Mozilla re-releases Firefox 9, backs out fix causing crash

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Features for Google Chrome v16

Google Chrome v16Google Chrome was just updated and the newest version brings an option to print any webpage using Cloud Print and multiple profile support for users who are on one computer to maintain separate settings. These new additions will become available with version 16 for Windows, Mac and Linux users when it is released.

Launching back in January, Google Cloud Print allows you to print to your home or office printer from almost any web-enabled device, though it was restricted to webpages with special Cloud Print buttons and specific Google apps like Docs or desktop apps like Cloud Print for Mac. With the new update any user can use Google Chrome to print to a Cloud Print-ready printer or computer acting as a Cloud Print server.

Using Cloud Print is also very easy. All you have to do is select Print from Chrome's menu options under the wrench icon. This will take you to a print preview page where you can select "Print with Google Cloud Print" from the "Destination" dropdown menu on the left. Then select "Print" at the top of the print dialogue when you're good to go.

Another addition to the update is multiple profiles. Multiple profiles started appearing in Chrome's beta channel back in November as a way for multiple users to keep their bookmarks, Web apps and other settings separate. This can be particularly useful if you have more than one user trying to use the household computer but you can't be bothered to switch user profiles using the operating system of your computer.

In order to get started with Chrome's multiple profiles, click on Chrome's wrench icon and select "Preferences" to open the browser's settings page in a new tab. After that, click "Personal Stuff" on the left side of the screen. If that is too much work, you can always just type in "chrome://settings/personal" in an empty browser tab.

Once you do this, select "Users" and then "Add New User." A new browser tab will appear with a blank profile on it that has some generic name and one of Chrome's avatars. The active user's avatar will appear in the upper right corner of the Chrome browser for Mac users and the upper left corner for Windows users. In addition to that, you can edit each profile's username and avatar at "chrome://settings/personal".

Each user also has the ability to sign in separately to their Google account to sync Chrome settings stored online. This is useful if you want access to your Chrome settings on a PC that isn't yours. Just make sure you erase your profile on any computer that isn't yours because Chrome profiles are not secure and they don't have any password protection options so anyone using the same PC as you will have access to your browser settings.

Source: PC World - Google Chrome Adds Cloud Print Option, Multiple Profile Support

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Updated

Microsoft Exchange server 2010Microsoft has just updated its Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and posted a service pack with a plethora of new features and bug fixes according to a statement released by the company on Monday. The new features to Microsoft Exchange Service Pack 2 were designed based on feedback from customers, Microsoft said, and they reflect the expanding use of enterprise email, scheduling and associated functions across a wide range of devices and deployment scenarios.

One of the new features, known as Outlook Web Application (OWA) Mini, offers the user the ability to browse mailboxes and global address lists from low bandwidth and low resolution devices. This type of mini-internet browser can, in addition, be used as an alternative to synchronizing all Exchange data with the actual phone or mobile device, which can sometimes be prohibitive.

Another new feature allows administrators to segment enterprise global address lists (GAL) into smaller segments. By doing this, it allows administrators to create virtual groups. Previous versions of Microsoft Exchange also had this ability but this is the first time Exchange 2010 offers it in a way that doesn't require manual intervention from administrators.

In addition to these new features, the update includes the Hybrid Configuration Wizard designed for organizations wishing to deploy some mail accounts on Microsoft Office 365 and keep others on their internal systems. The wizard simplifies the process of archiving data and sharing things like calendar entries and secure mail across both the hosted and internal mail accounts.

The update also permits cross-site silent redirection for OWA, which could provide the basis for single sign-on across the entire enterprise platform. With a feature like this, an Outlook Web Application client request could be automatically transferred from one Active Directory implementation to another. In addition to that, the service pack includes multiple bug fixes and collects other features introduced in Service Pack 1 which was released back in August 2010.

Source: Computer World - Microsoft updates Exchange 2010

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Computer History Museum Opens New Online Exhibit Dedicated to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs Exhibit
In what is perhaps the biggest show of remembrance for him since his death, the Computer History Museum has just launched an online exhibit completely dedicated to former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs, as many of you know, passed away back in October, a great loss for Apple and the world.

The exhibit, known as "Steve Jobs: From Garage to World's Most Valuable Company", features a plethora of photos and descriptions of objects from the museum's permanent collection. In addition to that, visitors will find vintage footage of Jobs from his younger years and Apple's humble beginnings.

One thing of particular interest in the exhibit is a 22 minute video of Jobs from 1980. In the video Jobs talks about the early days of Apple and, at one point, after citing some examples of how Apple computers were being used in agriculture and schools, Jobs confesses that he and co-founder Steve Wozniak "had absolutely no idea what people were going to do with these things when we started out. As a matter of fact, the two people it was designed for was Woz and myself because we couldn't afford to buy a computer kit on the market."

In a statement from the Computer History Museum's Senior Curator Dag Spicer, "In Jobs' own words, we hear how luck as well as skill played big roles in Apple's founding. We also see how focused, articulate and convincing Jobs could be, even at this early stage."

The story also runs through Jobs' entire life via pictures and allows visitors to see historic documents like one of the newsletters of Jobs and Wozniak's famed Homebrew Computer Club. Visitors are also able to look through confidential memorandum outlining Apple's public offering plans, as well as its original business plan for the Macintosh.

There are quite of few gems in this little collection for you to look around at, especially if reading Steve Jobs' biography didn't fully satisfy you. I highly recommend checking it out if you are a fan of Apple, Jobs himself or simply the story of what two ambitious minds can accomplish.

Source: PC World - Computer History Museum Launches Online Steve Jobs Exhibit

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Inevitable Sadness of AMD

It would seem that the arms race between AMD and Intel has ended, and the victor is Intel. The most recent news to come out of AMD’s headquarters is that they are going to stop researching and producing high-end CPU’s. AMD will instead change the focus of their company.

The first rumors out were speculating that AMD was out of the desktop processor game completely and moving towards mobile devices, but the day after these rumors appeared AMD made a statement saying that they will not be stopping their entire line of processors, but not moving forward with new high-end equipment. These statements are coming off the fresh “failure” of the bulldozer chipsets which had so much potential. AMD has also announced that they laid off nearly twelve percent of their workforce. In AMD’s statement they stated that they will be focusing on their x86 processor models and mobile technology moving forward.

Consumers are now left with major questions: Who will step in the ring and try to contend with Intel? How long until the first anti-trust lawsuit against Intel appears? Who will drive Intel to continue on its track record of excellence and force them to be competitive in their pricing? It does not seem like a feasible option for any processor company at this time to do so.

Sources:Softpedia.com - AMD Not Competing with Intel Anymore, Goes Mobile Softpedia.com - AMD Still Committed to x86, Whatever That Means Mercurynews.com - AMD struggling to reinvent itself

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Western Digital's Deal to Acquire Hitachi's HDD Business Approved

Western DigitalWestern Digital has just secured conditional approval from the European Union's competition regulator to purchase Hitachi's hard disk drive business for a grand total of $4.3 billion. This was only made possible, however, after Western Digital agreed to sell several of its production operations.

Western Digital, which just so happens to be the world's second largest competitor in the hard disk drive (HDD) sector, and Hitachi, which just so happens to be the third largest, unveiled the deal back in March. The deal itself is aimed at giving the United States company a competitive edge in developing next-generation information storage technology.

This decision by the European Commission confirmed a story published last week by Reuters. According to European Union Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in a recent statement, "The proposed divestiture will ensure that competition in the industry is fully restored before the merger is implemented."

Western Digital did promise to sell essential production assets for the manufacturer of 3.5" disc drives, including a production plant, according to the Commission, which cited reduced competition in the sector after Seagate Technology bought Samsung Electronics' hard disk drive business recently. In addition to that the company agreed to transfer or license intellectual property rights to the business to be sold off. What's more is that Western Digital will also transfer staff and the supply of HDD components to the unit.

Western Digital is unable to complete the deal until it finds an appropriate buyer for the unit, which will then need to be approved by the regulator, according to the commission. If Western Digital is unable to find a suitable buyer, it stands to reason that this deal, although approved, will never actually come to fruition, which could be disappointing for both companies.

Source: Reuters - Western Digital cleared to buy Hitachi disk drive business

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Microsoft Kinect for PC Coming Soon

On Tuesday, November 22 Microsoft announced that it is working on getting its Kinect motion-sensing device ready to use on PCs that run Windows. The company currently sells Kinect for its Xbox 360 gaming console; however, it is hard at work and says that it will have the PC version ready by early 2012.

"Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for," wrote Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows, in a blog post.

"Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals," Eisler continued. "Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. 'Near Mode' will enable a whole new class of 'close up' applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we're pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch."

This announcement about the PC version of the Kinect comes on the exact same day that Microsoft officially acquired VideoSurf. Microsoft acquired the company, which was founded in 2006, for $70 million. It hopes to incorporate the California-based company’s online video search technology into the Xbox Live system.

According to a statement released by the companies on Tuesday, November 22, VideoSurf "offers a back-end computer vision technology that 'sees' frames inside videos to make discovering content fast, easy and accurate."

"VideoSurf's content analytics technology will enhance the search and discovery of entertainment content across our platform," said the director of Xbox Live for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business Alex Garden. "This holiday we will launch voice search across our entertainment partners on Xbox Live. Over time, as we integrate VideoSurf's technology into our system, we are excited about the potential to have content tagged in real time to increase the speed and relevance of the search results.”

According to Microsoft, the acquisition would "make it easier for world-class video partners to take full advantage of advanced features such as voice search enabled by Kinect for Xbox 360."

Microsoft also said that in the next few months it will bring "nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers to Xbox Live." These will include Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS, and Syfy in the U.S.; BBC in the U.K.; Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and Mediaset in Italy.

"Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division is at the leading edge of connected entertainment," said Lior Delgo, the CEO and co-founder of VideoSurf, in the statement that they released with Microsoft. "We are incredibly excited to be working together on our mutual passion for creating amazing consumer experiences and reinventing how consumers search, discover and enjoy content on their televisions."

Source: PCMag - Microsoft Preps Kinect for PCs Hardware, Firmware

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Japan's K Computer Remains as the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer

K ComputerThere is a recently released list of the Top 500 most powerful computers in the world, and once again Japan's K Computer takes the number one spot with an increase from 8.162 petaflops to 10.51 petaflops per second. This balances out to 10.51 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. The letter "K" is short for the Japanese word "kei", which symbolizes 10 quadrillion. Coincidence? I think not.

On the Top 500 list from June, the K Computer took the number one spot out of the hands of China's Tianhe-1A system. The Tianhe-1A remains in the number two spot at the moment at 2.57 petaflops. Following in the number three spot is the Oak Ridge National Lab's Jaguar supercomputer. After that, the rest of the list looks pretty much the same as the last, with many companies holding the same spots as they previously did. According to TOP500 editor Erich Strohmaier, "This is the first time since we began publishing the list back in 1993 that the top 10 systems showed no turnover."

The K Computer, which is installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan in partnership with Fujitsu, uses 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores. If you want to know just how many that is, it is more than the rest of the top five on the list combined. In addition to that, the K Computer uses 12.66 megawatts of power, four times more than its nearest competitor. This is also more than the 9.89 megawatts of power the computer recorded in June. However, despite these high numbers, the K Computer is still one of the most efficient supercomputers on the list, delivering 830 Mflops per watt.

The K Computer was installed in 672 racks back in June. An expansion of 800 cabinets allowed the 10 petaflop achievement to be accomplished. Just a week ago, Fujitsu announced the expansion possibilities of the K Computer as it could possibly grow to a theoretical 23 petaflops.

Aside from the rankings remaining unchanged, other characteristics evolved with the November 2011 list. The entry point for being on the Top 500 list is now at 50.9 teraflops with the combined performance across all 500 supercomputers being 74.2 petaflops, an increase from the 58.7 petaflops recorded in June. Gigabit Ethernet is still the most popular internal system interconnect, being used in 223 systems. However, InfinfBand use increased to 213 systems.

Average power consumption continued to rise with 29 systems on the list confirmed at using more than one megawatt of power. The most energy efficient supercomputers are BlueGene/Q with 2,029 Mflops per watt. IBM just filed a patent for a massive supercomputer that could potentially reach 107 petaflops. In total all of the systems that reported in on power consumption combined for more than 159 megawatts.

Source: Data Center Knowledge - K Computer Still the Most Powerful Supercomputer

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Friday, November 11, 2011

HDD Shortages to Spill Over into Q1 2012

HDDConsidering operations are disrupted at over a dozen hard disk drive (HDD) factories thanks to flooding in Thailand, PC manufacturers should begin preparing for significant supply shortages according to market research firm IDC. Worldwide HDD shipments could suffer almost a 20% decline starting in the middle of this month that could extend far into the first quarter of 2012 according to the firm.

Thailand accounts for somewhere between 40% and 45% of HDD production in the entire world. As of early November, almost half of Thailand's production was directly affected by flooding. Even though production at some factories was halted as a result of flooding, the industry also faces work stoppages due to poor access and power outages. The full extent of the damage to the industry will not be known until all the floodwaters recede, even though it is already clear that there will be supply shortages into the first quarter of 2012 according to IDC.

Research Vice President at IDC John Rydning stated earlier in the month that hard drive manufacturers will favor their high-margin products used in enterprise servers and storage systems. "But the HDD vendors can't neglect their smaller customers, whose business will continue to be important once capacity is fully restored." Prices for HDDs have already started to increase rapidly in some cases, some by more than 30%.

IDC noted that the industry should be able to restore drive production quickly once the waters recede, though today's shortages will continue to constrain supply for an extended period. Hard drive prices should stabilize by next June, according to IDC, and the industry should be back to normal by the second half of 2012. IDC also says that the decline in total shipments for the fourth quarter is expected to be "less than 10%" due to the fact that a large chunk of PC shipments have already taken place for this quarter.

Worst-case scenarios put the total loss for the first quarter of 2012 at around 20% though IDC said that there are opportunities for larger PC vendors to capture enterprise accounts from smaller competitors and accelerate industry consolidation, more specifically in faster growth markets.

According to Program Vice President for IDC's Worldwide Consumer Device Trackers Loren Loverade, "The HDD shortage will affect smaller PC vendors and lower-priced products most, including mini-notebooks, emerging markets and entry-level consumer PCs. However, even the largest vendors are expected to face HDD shortages, particularly for portable PCs where the market is more consolidated. Nevertheless, the shortage will relieve some pressure on pricing and margins and present some opportunities for strategic share gains among the larger players."

Source: Computer World - PC makers should 'brace' for drive shortages

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

School Computers to Be Replaced by School iPads in 2016

school iPadsWith the technological age in full force, computers have become a staple in schools. Every single grade it seems is using computers for learning and entertainment while teaching. But, could the age of classroom computers be over? Is there a new piece of technology that will undoubtedly dethrone the computer in the classroom? Maybe, as many think tablets will eventually replace desktop computers in classrooms.

A recent survey of district tech directors discovered that all of them were testing or deploying tablet devices. What's more is that the survey also discovered that these directors expect tablets to outnumber computers in the classroom by the year 2016.

Analyst for Piper Jaffray Gene Munster recently surveyed 25 educational IT directors at a conference about the integration of technology in classrooms. Munster's survey, which was titled "Tablets in the Classroom", revealed that all 25 directors were using Apple's iPad in their schools while none of the participants were testing or deploying Android-based tablets. Munster went on to explain that this trend in education may be due to a familiarity with Apple devices among students and school employees.

According to Munster, "Within the next five years, our respondents expect to have more tablets per student than they currently have computers." Considering iPads represent a majority of the tablets in schools, Munster believes that the word "tablet" is synonymous with "iPad". The school districts that were represented in the survey currently have about 10 students per every computer. However, in the next five years, IT directors expect that number to drop to about six students per iPad. Devices, like the iPad, are more desirable over computers in the classroom because they provide a more individualized learning experience than traditional computers.

Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, stated earlier this year that demand for the iPad is strong among education customers. Back in February Georgia Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams proposed a plan to replace conventional textbooks in middle schools with the iPad. Williams met with Apple to talk about a plan to make the iPad a central component in the state's education system.

The iPad is slowly creeping its way into schools. Many students can rent the devices from their campus library in college and some schools, like the ones surveyed by Munster, are actually using them in the classroom. If expectations are correct, students in 2016 are going to have some fun times in the classroom.

Source: School Library Journal - IPads to Outpace Computers in Schools by 2016, Poll Says

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Will March 2012 Give Us the iPad 3?

Apple iPad 3I wrote recently abut the iPad getting a possible discounted release and a new name (iPad Mini?) in the early part of 2012. While that was sure to spark the interests of iPad and tablet users a little bit, a new report should make that excitement grow exponentially.

According to a report from Macotakara, which cited "a reliable Asian source", the next generation iPad is being rushed into production thanks to Chinese New Year celebrations lasting from January 22nd through the 28th. Factories in China are all gearing up to produce the iPad 3 by the end of January 2012.

Assuming that the source is reliable (An unreliable source on the internet? I don't believe it...), the new iPad is said to include a redesigned dock connector that features the same number of pins but in a smaller shape than the one the current iPad uses. If this is true, the new connector could pose a serious problem with existing products that plug into the dock.

In addition to the new connector, the tablet's screen will also remain the same size, even though the source didn't mention if Apple would increase it to Retina Display levels or continue on with the current resolution.

This report isn't the first, however, it joins a small number of previous iPad 3 rumors that have already surfaced. Different sites and sources have been in constant debate as to whether or not the new iPad would offer a 2,048 x 1,536 display. A move like that would give the tablet the same resolution as the current iPhone 4 and 4S as well as the iPod Touch 4G.

As far as a launch windows goes, you are probably looking at a March 2012 release date, especially considering the fact that Apple unveiled the original iPad in April of 2010 and the iPad 2 in March of 2011. Nevertheless, the Linley Group, a chip consulting firm, believes that Apple will outfit the iPad 3 with an A6 processor. This could also potentially push the launch back until June 2012 or later.

Source: CNET - iPad 3 could launch in March, with connector issues, report says

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Samsung Introduces New Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 PlusSamsung has just confirmed that another variation of its Samsung Galaxy Tab will be hitting stores soon. This new device, known as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, will begin selling on November 13, 2011 at many U.S. retailers for a surprisingly reasonable $399.99 according to a statement released by Samsung.

The 16GB tablet, complete with 7" screen, is focused more on home entertainment than business usage, coming complete with a Peel Smart Remote TV app that allows you to tap on the screen in order to quickly find and watch television shows on any manufacturer's TV or home entertainment system.

In addition to that, built-in infrared in the tablet allows you to control a home theater or television setup. The best part is that you don't need any extra cables or hardware, just what you already have in your living room and the tablet, in order to control the TV functions. The Peel remote app allows you to have full control over your TV or entertainment system regardless if it is Samsung brand or not.

Aside from controlling your DVD player, Blu-Ray player, set-top box or TV, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will also connect to Facebook and Twitter allowing you to share information about what is being watched. According to Chief Experience Officer for Peel Greg Lindley, "Peel's vision is eliminating the barriers between you and your favorite shows."

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor as well as Android 3.2 Honeycomb for an operating system. The device is also only .39" thick and only weighs 12.1 ounces.

Samsung has a plethora of tablets that come with either WiFi only or WiFi and 3G/4G connectivity. According to the website, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus features both cellular and WiFi capabilities though Samsung has yet to announce which U.S. wireless carriers will support the tablet.

The original Galaxy Tab ran on Android 2.2 and upgraded to 2.3 back in May. It too had a 7" touch screen but was slightly larger and heavier and only came with a 1GHz processor. Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Plus will begin on November 13 nationwide at Best Buy, Amazon, tiger Direct, Fry's and other outlets with pre-orders becoming available on October 23.

Source: Computer World - Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus to ship Nov. 13 for $400

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Toshiba Introduces Tiny Enterprise Hard Drives

Toshiba MK01GRRBToshiba's Storage Products Business Unit has just announced a high-capacity 2.5" high-performance enterprise-class drive. Known as the Toshiba MK01GRRB/R series, this drive supports the exacting requirements for compute-intensive environments witha 15,000 RPM spin speed, a 6Gb/s SAS interface and a maximum capacity of 300GB1. In addition to that, this drive also offers drive-based encryption in order to help companies manage data security.

According to Vice President of Marketing at Toshiba's Storage Products Business Unit Joel Hagberg, "Enterprise customers are increasingly satisfying their performance and capacity needs with power efficient small form factor drives. Enterprise drives with the latest self-encryption features are helping data centers to more cost-effectively achieve compliance with information security mandates. Toshiba small form factor enterprise drives deliver the performance, capacity and security features IT administrators require for today's mission critical server storage and cloud appliance markets."

The third-generation 2.5-inch 15,000 RPM enterprise drives leverage an enhanced power condition state that reduces the spin of your hard drive in idle states. In addition to that, it also significantly lowers power consumption which also means lower heat dissipation, increasing system stability and less energy usage. As a part of Toshiba's commitment to improved security, this drive also features self-encryption technology that is designed for the Trusted Computing Group "Enterprise SSC" specification.

According to John Rydning, IDC's Research Vice President for Hard Disk Drives, "Increasing the capacity of the 2.5-inch enterprise class HDDs is expanding the market opportunity for this form factor given its inherent power and data density advantages as compared to 3.5-inch models. Toshiba's new MK01GRRB/R series drives give server and storage system customers the capacity they want with the performance they need, as well as the ability to secure data on the drive with Toshiba's SED technology option." Shipments of the Toshiba MK01GRRB/R Series are scheduled to begin in volume in Q1 2012.

Source: Engadget - Toshiba introduces tine enterprise hard drives with big speed and big storage

Monday, October 10, 2011

London 2012: Powered By Acer

We have known for some time that the London 2012 Olympics will be in part powered by Acer. What we are just now finding out is the details on how they are going to supply the athletes, in house functions and guard stations. It looks like Acer will be providing some 11,000 computers to be used next summer, as well as providing the scanners that the security gates are using. This should provide a big boost to the Acer name and the company as a whole.

A more recent report is showing that Acer will be providing around 10,000 desktop PC’s, another 1,000 laptops, and a little under a thousand servers. Acer will be sticking with their Veriton L670Gs, which is not exactly a powerhouse computer by any means. At the highest tier these PC’s only come with Windows Vista (which will be loaded for the games), Intel’s Core 2 Quad, 4 GB of DDR2, and a serial ATA. The laptops, on the other hand, are their TravelMate 6593Gs running Windows 7 but still stuck with the dual core chips. Sure Usain Bolt can run 100 meters in 9.58, but the technology he is using is from 2007.

It is also worth mentioning that Acer will be sporting anywhere from 300 to 400 employees on staff to help with all technical issues. Among those staff members only a small margin of them (3% or less) will be from outside of Britain, but most are extremely well trained, with a majority even working on the Vancouver 2010 games.

Good luck, fellow techies working the games, good luck.


Itpro.co.uk - Going for Gold - IT at the London Olympics

Theregister.co.uk - London 2012 Olympics: 17000 athletes, 11000 computers

Acer - TravelMate 6593 Series Quick Guide – PDF

Acer – Veriton L670 Series Quick Guide – PDF

Monday, October 3, 2011

Napster to be Acquired by Rhapsody

NapsterOne of the oldest internet subscription music services on the web, Rhapsody, has finally, and officially, acquired Napster subscribers as well as a host of other assets from Best Buy. However, Best Buy will retain a minority stake in Rhapsody according to a joint statement from both companies.

The acquisition is expected to close on November 30 according to the companies. Best Buy is unloading a music service that really struggled before being acquired by Rhapsody and seemingly disappeared afterwards. Financial terms of the deal have not officially been released though it does not appear that Best Buy's investment in Napster has paid off.

The electronics retailer acquired a revamped version of Napster back in 2008 which allowed the company to officially enter into the online music sector. Napster started off as the pioneer file-sharing service back in the day. The service allowed users to share songs with each other via the internet. However, lawsuits filed by multiple recording companies nearly destroyed the company, eventually leading to the selling of the trademark and brand.

Three years ago Best Buy launched an all-cash tender offer for outstanding Napster shares priced at $2.65 per share; the full acquisition was valued at $121 million. That number represented a $54 million net of approximately $67 million in cash and short-term investments. Napster recognized that it had 700,000 members when Best Buy acquired the service though it is unclear as to how many the company has now.

Despite Napster's failure, Rhapsody appears to be years ahead of its time. Over the past ten years Rhapsody worked on getting consumers interested in subscription music services. Now the entire music industry is attempting to make that business model work.

Rhapsody was owned, in part, by RealNetworks and Viacom, though those companies spun off the service back in April 2010. Since then, managers for Rhapsody have been trying to prevent upstart "all-you-can-eat" services from taking all the credit. Spotify, MOG and some other digital music services are just some of the many services that charge a monthly fee for premium services, just like Rhapsody.

Source: CNET - Rhapsody to acquire Napster (scoop)

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Microsoft's IE9 Strategy Fails to Produce Results

Internet Explorer 9As the rise of other browsers, like Google Chrome, begin to show, so does the demise of others, namely Internet Explorer. The web browser, designed by Microsoft, continued to lose members last month, losing the largest number of users since December 2010.

During September, Internet Explorer lost nine-tenths of a percentage point of share, dropping to 54.4%, a new record low for the browser. The drop experienced last month was the seventh straight decline and the largest decline since December of last year where Internet Explorer fell by 1.1 points. Causing the decrease was, of course, Google Chrome, which saw shares increase by seven-tenths of a point. Adding to the decline was Apple's Safari browser, which saw an increase of four-tenths of a percentage point.

Chrome ended the month with a 16.2% share with Safari accounting for 5% of all browsers used worldwide. Microsoft, on the other hand, focused on looking at the brighter side by plugging the success of Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7. Head of Internet Explorer's Marketing Roger Capriotti used data from Net Applications to highlight the gains of IE9 by pointing out that the browser version owned 21% global share of browsers running on Windows 7.

Internet Explorer 9 is the second-most popular internet browser on Windows 7 with a 21% compared to Internet Explorer 8's leading 31.6%. Firefox 6 and Chrome 13 came in third and fourth place, respectively, with 13.9% and 13.1%. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't outlined an alternate strategy for stopping IE defections. While the focus on Internet Explorer 9 may pay off in the long run, it has failed to slow down the number of defectors heading to Safari, Chrome or Firefox. Since its debut, Microsoft has lost 4 percentage points of share with Internet Explorer 9.

Source: Computer World - Microsoft's IE9-first strategy fails to stem browser slide

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Popular Industries for Computer Rentals

Popular Industries for Computer RentalsThere are several industries that take advantage of technology rentals like computers, laptops, projectors, temporary office equipment and audio visual rentals. Many business industries can benefit from them in a wide variety of ways.

For instance, Small to Medium Business Industry Computer Rentals occur on a regular basis. They are perfect for when a computer or laptop malfunctions or breaks down. A small to medium business usually needs a replacement rental so that business continues smoothly, even while their own equipment is damaged. It can give a business time to repair their equipment or get new equipment.

Small and medium businesses are not the only type of industry to commonly rent computers or audio visual equipment. Fortune 500 Industry Computer Rentals are also popular when one of these businesses needs to accommodate a growing staff or is expanding. Technology rentals are also convenient when gearing up for presentations, conferences, trade shows or an event for product launching.

Computer rentals are becoming more of a trend as more companies and businesses are seeing the many benefits they can provide for their specific industry. Find out more Computer Rental Industries

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mozilla Debating a 5-Week Release Schedule for Firefox

Mozilla FirefoxI think it is safe to say that the new six week rapid release cycle for Mozilla's Firefox internet browser has drawn a lot of controversy since it was announced and put into effect. However, it seems as if Mozilla likes the negative press because it seems as if there could be more to come from this rapid release cycle.

In a recent thread noticed on a developer mailing list, anybody and everybody involved in the effort has been debating the possibility of shortening the cycle even more. These developers are considering shortening the already short six week cycle to a five week cycle or even shorter than that.

According to Mozilla Software Engineer Josh Aas, "Our transition to releasing every six weeks went really well. We're getting fixes to users much more quickly than we used to, but can we get fixes to users even faster? Moving to a five week cycle would mean a fix going into mozilla-central would get to users three weeks faster."

So shortening the short cycle that people are already complaining about sounds like a good idea? To Aas it does. "That's a big deal," Aas added. "It's an upgrade in responsiveness that we can't afford not to pass on if we can pull it off. I suspect the only way to know if we can do it is to try - we can always back off if it doesn't work out."

However, not everybody is objecting to the idea of shortening the cycle. Firefox Release Manager Christian Legnitto stated, "Yes, I absolutely think in the future we will shorten the cycle--but it won't be soon. We have some work to do to make six weeks smooth from a process, tool and product side. When we get six weeks down to a science, we can shorten as needed."

Source: PC World - Mozilla Mulls a 5-Week Firefox Release Cycle

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Walk in the Clouds to Unlimited Storage

Do you get tired of constantly having to upgrade to a bigger hard drive? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have unlimited disk space? What if you could access your files from anywhere and any device? As a photographer I can’t tell you how invaluable this would be! Photos take up lots and lots of space. To get a good quality print just one photo can take 5mb of space and when you are dumping 150 photos onto your hard drive after every shoot, it doesn’t take long to fill it up.
A new beta software just might be the solution. It’s from a startup called Bitcasa; when you install it, the capacity of your computer's hard drive becomes, essentially, infinite! It is currently only available for Apple computers but a Windows version is in development; and plans of apps for mobile devices are in the works as well.

Bitcasa creates the illusion of unlimited hard drive space but the files are kept on a cloud server. Your computer will respond to opening any file as if it is local and there would be no wait for downloads, even videos!

Using a storage service is not a new concept. Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Docs, Amazon and countless others have been offering online storage for some time. But Bitcasa is not like any of those services. It doesn’t move files around or sync. Bitcasa doesn’t know what the file is, what the name is, what the contents are or anything about the file itself. It only deals in bits and bytes, the 1′s and 0′s of digital data. Data is encrypted on the client side. This is kind of like contemplating the universe for me because I am amazed that my photos can go from a picture to zeros and ones and back again.

Bitcasa is only $10.00 a month! Ten dollars for unlimited space? How can that be? Bitcasa CEO Tony Gauda says $10/month still gives the company large margins. The fact is, 60% of data is duplicate. For example, if I have an MP3 of the Foo Fighters new single and someone else has it too, those would be made up of the same zeros and ones. I think that’s amazing! Also times are hard so if $10.00 a month is hard to squeeze from your budget, a less than unlimited free version is on its way. Bitcasa will be free while in limited beta trials. You can sign up for access here.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Windows 8

Windows 8, the highly anticipated followup to the hugely successful Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft, was displayed, albeit briefly, way back at D9. However, Anaheim is where the new OS is really going to kick off. Microsoft is starting its Build conference with a full-on developer preview of the new OS, code-named Windows 8 at the moment.

According to Microsoft's President of Windows and Windows Live Division Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft has been completely re-imagining the Windows operating system. In doing so the company has brought a lot of new capabilities that coders will be able to dive into sooner rather than later.

The new "Metro-styled" user interface is right up front and brings new graphical elements of the Windows Phone 7 to your desktop, laptop or tablet. In addition to that, Windows 8 will also come with Internet Explorer 10 pre-installed as well as a more intense focus on apps that have the ability to communicate with each other.

If you have been using Windows 7 for a while now and you are used to it, you should have no problem making the switch to Windows 8. Windows 8 is built primarily on the same foundation as Windows 7 though the retooled Task Manager and Windows Explorer should tease your interests a little more.

The new Windows Store will allow developers to present their apps to any country that has availability to Windows 8, and support for ARM-based chipsets is also proudly included along with x86 compatibility. What this basically means is that every device from a small tablet to a large custom PC will be able to easily handle everything Windows 8 has to offer.

Microsoft has also confirmed backwards compatibility with "devices and programs" that support Windows 7. In addition to that it has also been said that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview from the new Windows Dev Center later on in this week, though no official date has been specified.

I don't know about you but I am thoroughly excited for Windows 8. I can't wait to get my hands on this new operating system and start exploring all the new features it has to offer!

Source: Engadget - Microsoft launches Windows 8 developer preview, downloads coming 'later this week'

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Microsoft Patch Tuesday Bringing 15 Patches

Microsoft PatchAccording to a recent report from Microsoft, the company is planning on releasing a total of five security updates next week in order to fix 15 vulnerabilities located in Windows, Excel, SharePoint Server and Groove. All five of the updates will be rated as "important" which is the second highest ranking in the four-step security system set up by Microsoft.

Typically, Microsoft ships a smaller number of updates in months labeled as an "odd number month" and is keeping to that plan. The volume of September is down compared to August when Microsoft patched 22 problems with 13 bulletins or individual security updates. According to Director of Security Operations at nCircle Security Andrew Storms, "Not a lot there, but we didn't expect much. It is the light month, the down month."

Microsoft laid out all the details about the coming patches in an advanced notice of next week's patch day which is Tuesday. Two of the updates affect Windows with one of them only impacting Server 2003, 2008 and 2008 R2. The second patch fixes a few more bugs found in all supported versions of the operating system which include XP and Windows 7.

"There are a number of server-only components that have been present through the whole lifecycle of Windows Server," Storms added about the server-only update. "SMB is an example. And they patched SMB often in the last several months."

SMB, or server message block, is a network and file-sharing protocol designed by Microsoft that has already been patched multiple times this year including an update that took place in April that stopped up a critical hole that some analysts believe could be used by criminals to construct a dangerous worm.

An additional two updates also coming out next week will patch up problems located in Excel 2010 and Excel 2011 for the Mac and in the Office software altogether. The fifth patch will fix a plethora of server-side software including SharePoint, Groove and Office Web Apps, which is the cloud-based version of Microsoft's suite.

Source: Computer World - Microsoft plans 15 patches for Windows, Office next week

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

HP Releases Seven All-in-One PCs

Even though Hewlett-Packard might stop selling WebOS devices and move its PSG (Personal Systems Group) into a separate company, they haven't been stopped from unveiling seven new PC's today. They updated their Omni, TouchSmart and HP Pro lineups. These PC's all have starting prices ranging from $400 to $900. So even though they might not be keeping their PSG division around (which is responsible for desktops and laptop PCs), they are making it clear they still plan to be a leader in the PC market. HP plans on all-in-one PCs becoming a huge seller next year and even cited that they expect interest to grow from 9.9 percent to 15.7 percent in the next 12 months.

The first two PCs they are rolling out are the Omni 120 and the Omni 220. The Omni 120 has a 20-inch screen and will offer up to 750 GB of hard drive space and your choice of an AMD or Intel processor. The 21.5-inch Omni 220 will have a unique cantilever design and will have Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' core processors. The Omni 220 will be available September 11 starting at $800 dollars, followed by the Omni 120 becoming available September 21 with a starting price tag of $400.

HP also plans to release four new TouchSmart PCs around the same time. The TouchSmart 320 has a 20-inch screen and won't be in stores until October 2 with a starting price of $600. The 21.5-inch Touchsmart 420 and 23-inch Touchsmart 520 will be available September 11 with starting prices of $700 and $900. All of the PCs come with touchscreen displays and include Beats Audio technology.

The fourth TouchSmart being launched is the Touchsmart Elite 7320 Business PC. This all-in-one computer comes with a 21.5-inch HD LED back-lite display. You will be able to choose a Core i3, i5, or i7 processor and HP plans to launch this model September 21, starting at only $850.

The last all-in-one PC, which has no confirmed launch date but should hit stores sometime in October, is the HP Pro 3420. This computer features a 20-inch display, Core i3 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive space. The starting price of this PC is set to be $600.

Source: PC World - HP Announces Seven New All-in-One PCs

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mozilla's Rapid Release Schedule for Firefox Comes Under Scrutiny

Mozilla FirefoxMozilla's new rapid release schedule for its Firefox internet browser, which was created as a positive thing for the company, has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past few weeks and even more fuel was added to the fire over the weekend to make things even worse.

The criticism this time came from a former volunteer for the project, Tyler Downer. Downer recently left the project after three years after becoming increasingly frustrated with what he describes as a "broken" triage process for finding and fixing bugs.

According to a blog post from Downer, "Triage as we know it today is NOT ready to handle the Rapid Release process." Under the old model, with which a new major version of the browser would be released once every year, "triage had a bit more time to go through a massive pile of bugs to find regressions and issues, and there was a pretty good chance that most bugs would get caught just because we had time on our side, and we could afford to miss a bug for six weeks, because we would most likely get around to it," Downer added.

However, Downer asserts that with the new, faster process, triage has been caught off guard. "We currently have 2,598 [unconfirmed] bugs in Firefox that haven't been touched in 150 days. That is almost 2,600 bugs that have not been touched since Firefox 4 was released. And how many more bugs have been touched but not really triaged or worked on? Every day this number grows."

Despite his comments, however, Downer did make a point to note that he wasn't criticizing the rapid release process itself. "I love the idea of rapid release. Rapid release is going to be awesome if done properly. I have always been so frustrated by the continual late releases that hold back awesome new features from the web."

In addition to that, Downer also added that he doesn't think the situation is hopeless. "I have been in talks over the past few days, and I see a good possibility that Mozilla means business in improving triage." However, when Downer decided to leave, it was due to a general lack of interest in doing anything substantial to improve the triage process.

Source: PC World - Firefox's Rapid Release Schedule Draws More Blame

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Monday, August 22, 2011

HP Launches New Compaq 8200 Elite All-In-One PC

HP Compaq 8200 EliteJust a few days after announcing that it was planning to shut down its PC business, HP has launched an all new all-in-one desktop aimed specifically at business customers.

Branded the HP Compaq 8200 Elite, this computer comes with a 23-inch HD LED display as well as your choice of either Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Home Premium as your operating system.

While all-in-one computers like this aren't really breaking stories, this one is a bit of a surprise given HP's previously reported stance on computers. HP announced last week that it would discontinue its TouchPad tablet and basically shutter its WebOS operation.

In addition to that, HP also stated that it is looking to find a new direction for its PC business, the Personal Systems Group (PSG), as it refocuses the attention of its business around software solutions instead.

According to a statement that was recently released by HP, "HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through spin-off or other transactions."

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite is the first device from the company to use Intel's second generation Core vPro technology in order to boost performance and hard drive access. Moreover, the device comes with a one year license to HP Virtual Rooms which allows you to set up online conference centers for meetings or presentations.

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite will also come with up to 8GB of memory, the option of solid state drives and hardware-based encryption. Employees will also find an integrated webcam as well as integrated speakers with SRS premium sound.

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite all-in-one computer is available now for a starting price of $999. This price nets you an Intel Pentium dual-core G850 processor as well as all the other standard features.

Source: CNET - Sweeping changes don't halt HP all-in-one PC launch

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Friday, August 19, 2011

IBM Develops Computer Chip That Acts Like a Brain

iRobot NS-5Artificial Intelligence is something that science fiction movie directors love to utilize. Many directors have envisioned a future with robots and things that can act and behave like humans. However, something like that has always been out of reach for us, until now.

IBM recently introduced a new experimental neurosynaptic computer chip that emulates brain function in areas like cognition, perception and action. According to statements from IBM, these new chips will use algorithms and silicon circuitry in order to recreate spiking neurons and synapses in the brain.

These new chips will be embedded into cognitive computers. These computers will not be programmed to do certain actions, like the computers you and I use everyday. Instead, these devices will learn through experiences., create hypotheses and remember outcomes.

According to Project Leader for IBM Research Dharmendra Modha, "These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government."

The chips are being designed and created by IBM, who is working alongside multiple university collaborators. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has already awarded $21 million in funding to IBM for the research as part of Phase 2 of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE (I hope they pay their anagram creators handsomely) project.

SyNAPSE is a project that was designed to create a computer system that will analyze complex information from multiple sensors and adapt itself automatically based on its interaction with the environment. Regardless, this technology is extremely impressive and, albeit, rather scary. If they are already making computer chips that can think, I wonder how long it will be before they make ones that will subsequently take over humanity? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Source: Government Technology - IBM Computer Chip Mimics Human Brain Function

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Firefox 6 Ready for August 16 Release

Mozilla Firefox 6Mozilla states that it is on track to release Firefox 6 next week according to notes posted on the company's website. Developers have signed off on Firefox 6 and also anticipate no problems that could delay the release date of August 16 for the most recent upgrade to Mozilla's web browser according to meeting notes.

According to the notes, "On track with a few bugs still remaining. No concerns for Tuesday." Mozilla has used a new rapid-release schedule ever since the spring of this year. This new schedule delivers a new version of Firefox every six weeks, a move that many analysts and critics are comparing to the same one Google uses to update its Chrome browser for the last year.

Firefox 5 was released back on June 21, six weeks ago next Tuesday. Mozilla is already working on Firefox 7 and plans on releasing it on September 27. In addition to that, if the rapid-release schedule works like it is supposed to, Firefox 8 will become available on November 8 with Firefox 9 becoming available on December 20.

Firefox 6 includes multiple, noticeable changes to the browser, including highlighting domain names in the address bar. Both Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 do a similar thing by making domain names boldfaced. In addition to that, Firefox 6 also reduces start-up time when users rely on Panorama, the multi-tab organizer for Firefox.

Some users, however, are upset by the change of pace for Mozilla and Firefox including corporations like IBM, which have installed the open-source browser on tens of thousands of Windows PCs. However, that has not frightened Mozilla, who has not backed off of the rapid-release schedule at all. Though, in response to enterprise complaints and concerns, Mozilla has established a committee in order to take feedback from users.

As well as releasing Firefox 6 next week, Mozilla also plans on releasing Firefox 3.6.20, an update that will include security patches and other fixes to the 2010 edition retained by nearly 1 in 3 users of Firefox. When Firefox 6 ships, users running Firefox 4 or Firefox 5 will be offered the newest edition via the browser's update mechanism that is triggered when the "About Firefox" dialog is opened.

As of the end of July, only 11% of Firefox users were still running Firefox 4 and 48% were running Firefox 5. What do you think? Are you excited about the release of Firefox 6? What are your thoughts on Mozilla's new rapid-release schedule? Let me know in the comments section below.

Source: Computer World - Mozilla on track to ship Firefox 6 next week

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