Linus Tovalds the proverbial godfather of Linux announced the official release of a new kernel on Friday bringing it up to version 2.6.27. The new version adds both ath9k wireless drivers from Atheros, and a new gspca driver which will drastically increase the number of webcams supported by the OS out of box. Some of the changes such as “function tracing framework” and “memory-mapped IO’s” are mostly for developers, but this isn’t all that was included. The performance improvements to the Ext4 file system are rumored to be substantial and a new file system called UBIFS was implemented for flash storage devices. Perhaps the most significant change however from 2.6.26 (only 3 months ago) was in the scalability of the OS. Support for up to 4096 processors now works out of box and I for one would like to try out the system they were testing this feature with. A full log of the changes has been released and you can read either the translated or developer editions for more information. Oh and did we mention that Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) received some pretty impressive looking new wallpapers?
It’s hard to read a music industry headline these days without finding the words “lawyer” and “lawsuit” somewhere in the body. This time however, the legal cannon of EMI was pointed not just at MP3tunes.com but also its founder Michael Robertson who is likely sleeping much easier this week. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit against Robertson, but is still allowing the case against his company to continue. Suing the CEO of a company is considered a fairly dirty tactic within the industry but is often an effective means to help intimidate leaders into a settlement. The lawsuit continuing through the courts goes right to the root of MP3tunes current business model which allows customers to upload their music to “digital lockers”. Customers are then able to access their collection on nearly any web enabled device. According to Robertson the case against MP3tunes is unique. Specifically, “it will determine if it is permissible for consumers to store their music in online commercial services for everywhere access, directly analogous to the way they currently store documents, photos, and other personal data in cloud services." The verdict on this case could set an interesting precedent when it comes to storing your copyrighted data in the cloud. Fair use is an evolving definition which is too important to be left to stakeholders to decide. The question here is will the legal system allow common sense and the greater public good to prevail?
Despite the strides that have been made with high-end air coolers, serious overclockers still turn to water to gain that extra cooling edge, and with it a few extra MHz as well. But diving into water can often be a costly venture, particularly in the prebuilt sector. Or at least it used to be.
The good news is you can now purchase a pre-assembled OEM rig with water running through its veins. The sub-$1000 watercooled PC - being called the Red Blizzard - comes courtesy of Visionman Computers and will be sold through WidowPC. Providing the watercooling is CoolIT's PURE CPU cooler, an all-in-one solution that combines a radiator, pump module, and CPU Fluid Heat Exchanger (FHE) into a single apparatus which, by itself, streets for around a C-note.
The bad news is that you won't find any voodoo magic taking place behind the budget price tag. At the heart of the system sits a modest Intel E5200 processor nestled in an Asus P5N73-AM motherboard based on the aging nForce 650i chipset. Other components include 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM, a 500GB Western Digital hard drive, a single LiteOn 20X DVD burner, and a 9600GT videocard with a 512MB frame buffer. To be fair, there isn't much of a markup on the individual parts, but we can't imagine this self-described "disturbingly powerful" system will live up to its promise of "blow[ing] the socks off all the latest titles."
October's Patch Tuesday's bigger than normal, with 11 security bulletins (four critical, six important, and one moderate) affecting the following desktop operating systems and applications:
Internet Explorer 5.01, 6, and 7 on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, and Windows Vista get patched to stop a remote code execution threat
Windows XP SP2 and SP3 and Windows XP Professional x64 and XP Professional x64 SP2 will be patched to stop elevation of privilege attacks
Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 will also be as updated needed to prevent remote code execution
Microsoft Excel 2000 SP3, Excel 2002, Excel 2003 SP2/SP3, and Excel 2007/2007 SP1 will be updated against a critical vulnerability, as will Excel Viewer 2003/2003 SP3, Excel Viewer, and MS Office Compatibility Pack and Compatibility Pack's SP1.
What else is coming down the chute starting Tuesday?
Windows Vista Media Center gets a pair of updates (one for the TV Pack, and one for everyone), as well as the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool, Windows Mail Junk Email Filter and Customer/Windows Vista Experience Improvement Program.
However, the biggest news is the premiere of the Microsoft Active Protections Program and Exploitability Index we told you about in August. Hopefully, these programs will aid the never-ending battle against the bad guys in cyberspace.
Intense customer backlash has forced the online music arm of Wal-Mart to reverse its position on its controversial plan to deactivate all DRM authentication servers on October 9th. The move would have left countless customers with music files that could never be re-authenticated should they wish to play them on a new PC. Deactivating DRM server’s isn’t a new trend, but the announcement differed from other vendors simply because of the sheer lack of notice customers were given to backup music. The first notice only went out on September 28th giving a mere two weeks warning. For those who aren’t sure if they are affected, the DRM servers are only necessary for authenticating tracks purchased prior to February 2008. In February the retailer made the popular shift from DRM-ed WMA’s to unprotected MP3’s.
Even though the servers are safe for now, the vaguely worded email from Wal-Mart continues to urge customers to make backups of their music by burning them on CD. Music burned to an audio CD can be copied back to your hard drive DRM free using many free applications such as iTunes, but unfortunately not without an unavoidable loss of quality. No new dates are given for the server deactivation but the email doesn’t suggest the retailer’s commitment to the DRM servers will be long term. With the industry shift to copy protection free music well underway, this and other similar announcements are a lesson to us all. No authentication server (Apple included) is likely to be around forever. Now is as good a time as any to backup your tunes.
The R600 features an Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage processor and up to 5GB memory. Certain models feature a 128GB SSD. The lightest laptop in the world has a 12.1-inch screen and an impressive 9-hour battery life.
Tosh also unveiled the Tecra R10 notebook to woo business users. The R10 Tecra chassis cocoons a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB DDR2 memory, an Nvidia Quadro NVS graphics controller with 128MB video memory and a 200 GB hard drive. The R10 is priced $1999.
Quality may not always happily skip hand-in-hand with sales (See: Psychonauts, and then go buy it, please), but when it does, we wear unnaturally large smiles, ecstatic that there's justice in this cold, depressing world. You can imagine, then, that our pearly whites are on the verge of breaking free from our unhinged jaws thanks to Mythic's announcement that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has lured 750,000 players into its overtly war-packed world.
"Thanks to our players, the war between the Realms continues to escalate at an incredible pace," said Mythic co-founder and general manager Mark Jacobs.
And he's not just spouting nonsense from his PR-approved book of hyperbole either; Warhammer's 750k sprint has topped those of both World of Warcraft and Age of Conan, who reached similar numbers within three months and two months, respectively.
But don't start ordering Waaaagh Kool-Aid as a refreshment for WoW's funeral just yet. It should be noted that boxed copies of Warhammer Online came with a free one month voucher, cancelling out the game's subscription fee for a limited time. With the game's money vacuum soon to be fully operational, will players stick around for another month?
We sure hope so. Warhammer seems genuinely different from other MMOs, and it'd be a shame to see it sink. Also, gaming just wouldn't be fun anymore if we couldn't constantly tell our friends "It's 'hammer time," before darting off for a play session.
StarCraft 2 will likely be so great, many players will want to buy it twice. Unfortunately, however, after today's BlizzCon announcement, they'll be doing Blizzard (and themselves) a huge disservice by only making two StarCraft treks. Simply put, they'll be missing 1/3 of the spacefaring RTS' universe-spanning plot, because Blizzard has announced that StarCraft 2's campaign will clear the launch pad on three separate occasions.
Predictably, each release will focus on one of StarCraft's trifecta of races. Terrans: Wings of Liberty will be first out the gate, presumably with the national sport that is the game's multiplayer mode. Zerg: Heart of the Swarm and Protoss: Legacy of the Void, then, will be pseudo-expansion packs.
Don't get the wrong idea, though. Blizzard executive VP of game design Rob Pardo explained that the Zerg and Protoss titles will "be like expansion packs," but that they'll bombard players with content. "We want them to feel like standalone products," he said.
In order to accomplish this, each campaign will break off from the rest of the pack with its own feature set. The Zerg's flesh-crawling installment will include RPG elements, while the Protoss are going the diplomatic route. Terrans, on the other hand, seem to be getting the short end of the stick with only a Protoss mini-campaign to their name, but we'll see.
Pardo also noted that Blizzard sliced and diced StarCraft 2's campaign not for fat stacks of cash (WoW would get jealous, after all), but in order to avoid delaying the game or cutting corners on quality.
As for how long in between installments we'll be hanging from cliffs, Blizzard wouldn't say. However, knowing Blizzard, we're guessing the games will be less of a Zerg-rush and more of a Zerg-Half-Life 2 Episode Three.
The small town of Monticello, Minnesota has emerged victorious in its legal battle against TDS Telecom. Unimpressed by the DSL and cable services being offered by TDS Telecom, the town with a population of 10,000 people decided to build a fiber network on its own.
But this riled up the telecom company’s feathers. TDS quickly adopted a browbeating approach and filed a suit against the town over the proposed fiber network. The company argued that revenue bonds can not be used for something – broadband internet – that isn’t actually a “utility”.
Facebook is the most visited social network globally and Britain is no exception to this fact. The website is the second most popular website in the UK after Google UK, according to Hitwise. Its popularity in recent times can be gauged from the fact that it registered a staggering growth rate of 2905% from September 2006 to 2007. Of course, the website is probably never going to replicate its performance during that period – its halcyon days. Its annual growth rate has come down to a more digestable level of 88%.
Its growth in the UK is certainly slowing down. There was only a 4% increase in its traffic between August and September, which is almost negligible compared to the 50% growth during the same period last year. Facebook’s average session time has also come down to 20 minutes.
Is there a message hidden in these numbers? Are social networking websites marching towards their popularity threshold? Will there be a corrective decline in their traffic?