Today, Microsoft released a trio of security bulletins covering all currently-supported Windows versions. Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 (as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008) need to install the update for the critical Windows kernel vulnerability noted in Security Bulletin MS-09-006. The other two bulletins (MS09-007 and MS09-008) solve important vulnerabilities in SChannel (007) and DNS/WINS Server (008); these bulletins apply to Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows XP and Server 2003 only.
Other updates to look for include the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool and the Windows Mail junk email filter. If you're on Automatic Updates, follow instructions to reboot if needed after installation. If you prefer to be in charge, don't forget to download and install these as soon as possible.
Amidst a jungle of ugly cases, iBuyPower has been managing to release some pretty impressive computers as of late. And, on top of offering all the latest processor that AMD and Intel have to offer, it looks like they’re pushing systems with Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision as well.
The Gamer Fire 640 will come with an AMD Phenom X3 720, 4GB DDR3, a 500GB HDD and a GeForce 9800GTX+, while it’s close brother, the Gamer Paladin F830 will come with an Intel Core i7 920, 6GB of memory, and a GTX 260 GPU. Both of these machines will come with Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and both will come with an Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision.
These machines run nearly $1,200 a piece, and are available for order right now. So, if you’re looking to check out the next step in 3D gaming, these guys are offering a pretty reasonable bundle to bring it to you.
Move over Western Digital and make room for Samsung with its new EcoGreen F2EG hard drive. At 1.5TB, Samsung's environmentally conscious hard drive offers high capacity while cutting back on power consumption by almost half over "competitive drives."
"Lower platter count means less power to start the motor, less power to continuously spin the motor and a lighter head-stack which takes less power to seek," said Andy Higginbotham, director of HDD sales and marketing for the Samsung Semiconductor Storage Division. “With fewer heads and disks, the F2EG hard drive has a lower probability of head-disk failures, enabling customers to build more reliable systems."
The EcoGreen F2EG hard drive serves up 500GB on each of its 3 platters. Combined with the company's EcoTriangle "low-power, low-heat, low-noise operating technology," Samsung says the F2EG reduces power consumption by 40 percent in idle mode and 45 percent in reading/writing mode.
In addition to 1.5TB, the EcoGreen series also comes in 500GB and 1TB capacities with both 16MB and 32MB cache.
The F2EG drives are shipping now to "major OEM businesses," with the 1.5TB version priced at $149 MSRP.
How hard is it to take on Google in the search business? Just ask Cuil, the little search engine that couldn't, which was developed by a handful of ex-Google employees. Or chat it up with Microsoft, who tried like Hades to acquire Yahoo for its search business, with or without Yahoo's consent. But whatever you do, don't tell Stephen Wolfram that it can't be done.
Wofram, who received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech in 1979 when he was only 20 years old, plans to unveil a project he calls Wolfram Alpha. Just as the name does not imply, Wolfram Alpha combines his work with Mathematica and NKS (A New Kind of Science) to the voodoo of online search.
"All one needs to be able to do is to take questions people ask in natural language, and represent them in a precise form that fits into the computations one can do," Wolfram said in a recent blog post. "I'm happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we're actually managing to make it work."
At least one other person is convinced Wolfram Alpha has a bright future. Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, says it could be as important to the web as Google, albeit for a different purpose. Spivack viewed a demo of Wolfram Alpha in action and says that the search engine doesn't just parse natural language to retrieve documents, but "actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions."
Whether or not Wolfram Alpha can live up to its billing as a "computational knowledge engine" remains to be seen, and as of right now, we'll get to see in May when the project goes live.
It looks like Dell is still looking to hit the tough-laptop market with a newer, slimmed down Latitude XFR D630 laptop, aptly renamed the E64 XFR.
This heavily armored work machine has an Intel Core 2 Duo underneath the hood, Intel’s X3100 graphics, 1GB DDR2 and an 80GB HDD standard. But, more importantly it comes hardened with a new type of exterior material that makes it more durable than its predecessor. The new material is being called Ballistic Armor, which replaced the magnesium alloy, and allows this notebook to meet military specifications for ruggedness.
Strangely, this machine comes with a starting price point of $4,299, even with the economy taken into consideration. But who knows, maybe there will be plenty of military contractors and police officers looking to get a new, slimmer, tougher laptop!
With the prevalence of software available for many distros, why would anyone want to compile software from source? Compiling allows you to custom-fit a program to your particular hardware configuration and CPU architecture, which is useful if a program has no binary that is compatible with your processor. However, this is seldom a problem these days, since most computers now use 32 or 64-bit x86 processors. In the past, Linux enthusiasts often compiled programs from source to wring the greatest possible performance out of their hardware. More recently, this has mostly become a non-issue due to the increases made in computing speed; while compiling may offer a slight performance increase, it is not enough to really make a difference.
Although the introduction of package management on most distros, less diversity in CPU architecture among the user base, and massive increases in hardware speed have largely reduced or eliminated the need to compile software yourself, there are still a few instances where you would have to do so. Although the various official and unofficial software repositories for Ubuntu and other distros include most of the tools that the average user would need for any given purpose, the repositories are not completely comprehensive.Old packages sometimes get dropped and updated versions are often slow to be added. It may also take a release cycle or more for brand-new programs to be included.
While Ubuntu and Debian have “backports” repositories that have fairly new packages in them, many other distros do not have such a resource. For large projects with large community support, the developer may offer nightly builds, but this is not the case for most projects. The only reliable way to get bleeding-edge software (stability issues aside) is to either find a repository that has it or download the source code from the developer and build it yourself.
It's been far too long since we've run a Parts and Price Guide on the website, but we're now ready to get back into the groove of monthly component recommendations for your next PC build. This month, we're starting off with a $1000 PC. You'll be surprised at how much power and storage you can get for a grand -- even we're hesitant to call it a mere budget rig. In the following weeks, we'll also be running guides for $1500, $2000 systems, and will even try assembling and benchmarking a $500 configuration for the really budget-conscious (the troubled economy pretty much mandates it!). But for now, take a dive into our choices for a respectable system, and sound off on how you would build your PC differently!
You have to admire when a company doesn't just talk the talk, but walks the walk. EVGA, one of three Nvidia add-in board (AIB) partners to offer lifetime warranties for its videocards, not only allows end-users to overclock their cards without voiding the warranty, but arguably encourages the behavior by serving up OCing tools. Registered owners can download the company's GPU Voltage Tuner utility, and anyone can download EVGA's Precision overclocking software whether they own an EVGA-brand videocard or not.
In the case of the latter, a new version is now available, v1.5.1. Several updates have been added to the 1.5.x refresh (the majority were included in v1.5.0 released last Friday), including multi-GPU support. The overclocking tool now gives users independent access to thermal monitoring, overclocking, and fan control settings of all installed GPUs whether configured to run in SLI or not.
Other changes and fixes include better support for GeForce 9 and older videocards, a pair of new skins, settings no longer reset at Windows startup on multi-GPU systems, fixed memory clock monitoring for G98 GPUs, and Precision now displays the graphics processor codename in the system info.
According to a new study by Nielsen-Online, social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. Collectively referred to as "Member Communities," Nielsen says these are visited by over two-thirds of the online population, putting them "ahead of personal email." It's also the fastest-growing sector out of the top four, which also includes search, portals, and PC software and email.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online (PDF). "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large."
Facebook, which ranks as the most popular social network, draws three out of every 10 people online each month across the nine markets tracked. And it's not limited to any single age group. According to Nielsen, the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 came from the 35-49 demographic.
The report, titled "Global Faces and Networked Places," attributes some of the growth to the prominence of mobile phones, noting a "big increase over last year" in the number of users visiting Member Communities through their handsets.
Surprised by any of this? Hit the jump and sound off.