Microsoft has released its DirectX November 2008 update as part of the company's loosely followed bi-annual update schedule. The last DirectX update was served up in August.
A number of enhancements mostly of interest to developers come packaged in the November DirectX SDK, as well as a Direct3D 11 technical preview with associated components and tools. As far as gamers are concerned, we found little information as to what possible bugs and performance enhancements the new update addresses.
If you're experiencing unexplained wonkiness while gaming and have been unable to troubleshoot the problem, you may want to give the November update a spin. Otherwise, you'll likely receive the update as a pre-packaged install on a new game at some point.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
Some might argue that the mouse is currently a great tool for playing games of just about any genre, but Mgestyk Technologiespolitely disagrees. With the first (planned) public sale of a gesture control system, they seek to bring the Minority Report-like action straight to you.
Using only what’s been described as an “affordable 3D camera” and some proprietary software that will capture small hand gestures, they plan on challenging everyone’s favorite – the mouse. Understandably, some gamers might be reluctant to give up their Logitech or Razer in favor of holding their hands in front of a camera, there are undoubtedly some pretty notable foundations here.
In a video provided by Mgestyk there’s some pretty interesting footage demonstrating the technology that they've come up with. While yes, the reaction time between gesture and response may be a big higher than desired, there are plenty of people that have expressed interest. Mgestyk claims that they’ve got a waiting list for people looking to get their hands on the tech, and they aren’t willing to commit a release date or a price.
Long Zheng's I Started Something blog reports a welcome improvement in Windows 7's Complete PC Backup: in addition to backing up to local hard disks and DVDs, you can now back up to a network share. Complete PC Backup is the image (aka "bare metal restore") backup feature originally found in Vista's Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions (see our 2007 article to learn how it compares to other popular image backup/restore programs). This new feature brings Complete PC Backup's backup target options basically in line with those in the file/folder backup portion of the Backup and Restore Center, and makes it possible to use an NAS appliance as well as a folder share on another PC as a backup target.
It's important to realize that Complete PC Backup is a complementary technology to file and folder backup. Use it to back up your entire PC, and then use file and folder backup to backup data files that change after you create an image backup. Note that the NTBackup program (included in Windows XP and earlier versions) is not an image backup program, but a file and folder backup program only; it does not have a true 'bare metal' restore option.
I've used Complete PC Backup on a number of occasions to backup and restore Windows Vista systems, and I'm looking forward to this additional improvement in Windows 7's version (and I hope it will be available in all Windows 7 SKUs, by the way). What do you think? Join us after the jump and tell us.
With just five applications--five, free applications--you can do anything you ever wanted to do across a network connection. We're serious. Using these applications, you can bridge your computers together from anywhere in the world across a secure, hacker-proof connection. From there, you can dial into your desktop as if you were sitting right in front of it, looking at the exact screen you'd be seeing were your butt in the groove of your favorite office chair. If you're a hardcore network enthusiast, we'll even show you how to tab-browse through multiple, connected desktops as if you were pulling them up in Firefox or something.
And if you think that's crazy, these examples only reflect three of the five programs we're featuring in this week's roundup. So what are you waiting for? Click the link and let's get networked! Which, in itself, should be some kind of 80s super-dance mix: "Let's Get Networked." Eh? Ehhhh?
Microsoft last week released the fifth volume of its Security Intelligence Report (SIR) covering the period between January through June of 2008. The report, which purports to offer an "in-depth perspective on software vulnerabilities and exploits, malicious code threats, and potentially unwanted software," uses data derived from what Microsoft claims are hundreds of millions of Windows users, all of which is analyzed and laid out in a tidy 13MB PDF download.
According to the 150-page report, hackers are increasingly honing in on third party applications rather than attempting to attack Microsoft directly. Vulnerabilities in programs like RealPlayer, QuickTime, WinZip, and other non-operating system software provide hackers with a greater number of exploits requiring a low degree of complexity, the report claims.
"It is alarming to see that more than 90 percent of vulnerabilities disclosed in 1H08 affected applications, and nearly half of all industry vulnerabilities are rated as High Severity," Microsoft says in its report. "Additionally, 1H08 showed how threats are increasingly affecting a variety of vendors beyond Microsoft."
The report also notes several geographical trends in security threats. Among them, password stealers such are Win32/Bancos are most prominent in Brazil where the overall infection rate has risen an alarming 81.8 percent from 2H07 to 1H08. In the U.S., trojan downloaders, like Win32/Zlob, account for the largest single category of threat.
Ever heard the expression,” if you can’t beat them, join them”? It turns out this is an attitude shared by the executives over at Sensis, the advertising and directories arm of Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra. Starting in Q1 2009, all of the Sensis business listings will be incorporated into Google’s mapping service. Google will then be implemented to power the native search and mapping functionality on the site. Sensis’s decision has been widely criticized as an admission that could not compete with Google, but I would argue it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many larger and deeper pocketed rivals have attempted to duplicate Google’s success over the years with arguably little to no lasting success. Yahoo and Live search aside anyone else remember Cuil?
The announcement was made at Google’s headquarters and Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst said the deal would allow them to focus on their yellow pages business listings. Both parties have openly denied that any talks are taking place with regards to a merger, and according to Sensis the deal is only intended as a means to share revenue. Neither party is revealing any specifics as to the terms or financial agreements, but presumably Sensis determined it was the best way to save market share. According to Nielsen NetRatings, Google Maps serves just over 2.5 million Australian visitors, with a mere 1.2 million using the Sensis Wherels service. Even more dramatic are the search numbers with 9.3 million Australians using Google, and only 184,000 users choosing Sensis.
Another search engine bites the dust, can anyone take on Google? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Harvard believes that the settlement will lend a commercial shade to the Google Book Search service and that “the settlement contains too many potential limitations on access to and use of the books by members of the higher-education community and by patrons of public libraries.” However, Google can blithely continue to scan Harvard’s out-of-copyright material.
Although the $25 million settlement is yet to be ratified by a judge, the Author’s Guild delightfully labeled it the "the biggest book deal in U.S. publishing history." The deal has opened the floodgates for millions of extra titles to be part of Google Book Search. Users will have the option of purchasing a book – the revenue will be split between Google, the publisher and the author – after previewing it; the service will allow them to preview 20 percent of the pages.
Much to the dismay of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of Amercia (RIAA), BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay continues to grow at what might be a record pace. According to the file sharing site, its global user base now sits at 22 million peers strong, up from 8 million just one year ago.
"We would like to thank all the great and persistent uploaders that dedicate time to share," Pirate Bay writes in its blog. "But most of all, we would like to thank you, you and you! For it is all of you out there that makes this site what it is. Together; uploaders, seeders, leechers, mods and admins, we are The Pirate Bay."
Not stopping at a blog post, the file sharing site has applied to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for its supposed accomplishment. If the number of peers turn out to be real, it would mean that the other legal alternatives -- Hulu, Last.fm, Pandora, and others -- have had little effect on The Pirate Bay.
This year's edition of WinHEC, which has already demonstrated Windows 7's digital goodness with Device Stage, has more good news about Microsoft's next desktop operating system:
Longer battery life
Faster boot times
As Maximum PC.com readers know, better hardware support has been a major goal of Windows 7 right from the start, and it looks as if Windows 7, even in its pre-beta stage, is making impressive strides.
Engadget has posted a video from WinHEC that shows a Windows 7 machine providing energy savings equivalent to an extra hour of DVD playback: you won't have to worry about running out of power before the movie ends, and you'll even have enough juice for a special feature or two.
WinHEC also featured Microsoft exec Jon DeVaan, the Senior Vice President in charge of Core Operating System Division, performing a "boot drag race" pitting identical machines running Windows 7 and Windows Vista: Windows 7 won by several seconds. It's part of DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky's keynote address, which you can see at the WinHEC virtual pressroom.
To find out who else is seeing the improvements in Windows 7, join us after the jump.