In Windows 7, Windows Media Center is a more useful tool than ever before for working with audio and visual media. While at first glance, Windows 7's version of WMC doesn't look a whole lot different than its predecessor, it includes many improvements. In this article, we'll focus on improvements in WMC's TV setup process, support for digital broadcast TV, the program guide, Internet TV, WMC access from the desktop, RAW file support for photos, picture and music playback and sports.
What do Solid Oak Software's CyberSitter and China's Green Dam Youth Escort Internet filtering programs have in common? According to the BBC, the answer is CyberSitter code. The BBC reports that both Solid Oak's Brian Milburn and a report from the University of Michigan conclude that the developer of Green Dam Youth Escort, Computer System Engineering Inc, have incorporated code from CyberSitter into Green Dam - without a license.
According to the China Daily, Solid Oak is sending "cease and desist" letters to HP and Dell to stop shipping computers bundled with Green Dam, and may seek legal action against the developers. The legal-technical drama is being played out against the background of China's requirement that all new systems sold as of July 1 include Green Dam, as we reported last week.
What have the developers of Green Dam done that might help fend off legal action and improve their product's security? Join us after the jump.
This week, Adobe converted its Acrobat.com online service, introduced last year, from beta to production status, and rolled out two extra-cost upgrades while continuing to offer a free version. All versions of Acrobat.com include Adobe's Buzzword online word processing, but other features differ:
The free version can create up to five PDF files, allows up to 100 downloads per file, supports web conferences for up to three users, and provides tech support through moderated forums.
For $14.99/month or $149/year, you can upgrade to Premium Basic, which enables users to create up to 10 PDF files per month with unlimited downloads, web conferences for up to five users, and premium one-on-one phone chat tech support. Upgrade by July 16 to a one-year subscription, and save $15.
Upgrade to Premium Plus, the high-end service, for $39/month or $390/year, and get unlimited PDF creation and downloads, web conferences for up to 20 users, and premium one-on-one phone chat tech support. Upgrade by July 16 to a one-year subscription, and save $50.
There are also a couple of new goodies at Acrobat.com Labs for all Acrobat.com users. To learn more, join us after the jump.
The Chinese government is requiring all PC makers selling into the China market to bundle Green Dam Youth Escort web filtering software as of July 1, as we reported earlier this week. This software, already widely used in China's schools and elsewhere, has plenty of flaws, BBC News reports:
Unencrypted connections between client PCs and the company's servers, which could lead to information theft or the PCs being turned into botnet nodes for malware attacks
Filtering only Internet Explorer browsers, not Firefox
Support only for Microsoft Windows
Inaccurate web site blocking (pictures of pigs blocked, but not pictures of African women)
Potential privacy risks for users because the software logs all web pages the user attemps to access
Right now, it seems as if Green Dam Youth Escort is incapable of meeting its specified goals of "healthy development of the internet" and "effectively manag[ing] harmful material for the public and prevent it from being spread," while providing a terrific opportunity for malware providers. Have you encountered similar problems with web filtering software? Join us after the jump to sound off.
June 9th saw a rare 'double-header' in security updates: Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday was joined by Adobe's quarterly security updates for Acrobat and Adobe Reader. How big was this month's 10-update Patch Tuesday? According to a Microsoft spokesperson quoted by Cnet, the 31 vulnerabilities covered by updates are "the most since Microsoft started releasing updates on a regular schedule of the second Tuesday of every month in October 2003."
Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP2 (and holdouts still running Windows 7 Beta), Microsoft Office 2000, 2003, or 2007; Microsoft Office for MacOS 2004 and 2008, Microsoft Works 8.5 and 9, and IE5.01 through IE8 users have some work to do before heading off on vacation, as do users of Adobe Reader and Acrobat 7.x, 8.x and 9.x. To find out what's being changed - and why - join us after the break.
Could the design philosophy used by Airbus's fly-by-wire electronic flight control systems have been the final death blow to Air France Flight 447? That's the chilling possibility suggested by a recent posting by Information Week blogger Michael Hickins.
Air France Flight 447 used an Airbus A330, which uses a completely electronic fly-by-wire system without manual or hydraulic backups. The leading theory of the cause of the Air France Flight 447 crash is conflicting information from pitot tubes, which are used to transmit flight and wind speed information to onboard computers. While Airbus had begun to replace pitot tubes in May, the pitot tubes had not yet been replaced on the plane that crashed in the Atlantic.
According to a report cited by Hickins, Airbus and Boeing, the biggest rivals in the commercial jet field, have diametrically opposed views on pilot override capabilities. Airbus A320 and newer models include so-called "hard limits" that prevent maneuvers that would overstress the airframe, while Boeing's approach keeps the pilot in charge. While it's impossible to know if a Boeing-style system could have enabled the flight crew of Air France Flight 447 to successfully handle the severe weather existing in the air, some Boeing aircraft have survived stresses well in excess of recommended limits - limits that could not be exceeded if the flight computers are in ultimate charge of the aircraft. Commercial pilots' comments, like the industry itself, are divided over whether the differences in fly-by-wire design make one method ultimately safer than another.
Which approach is better? Join us after the jump for your comments.
The Chinese government takes the threat of unfettered Internet access seriously. China's "Great Firewall" blocked access to reports about the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tianamen Square massacre last week. Although some users bypassed the blocks by using proxy servers, China's upped the ante: The Australianreports that China is requiring that all new PCs sold in China starting July 1st must include website blocking software developed in China.
The software's Chinese name is "Green Dam-Youth Escort". The word "green" in Chinese is used to describe web-surfing free from pornography and other illicit content.
The software was developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering, with input from Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy. Both companies have ties to China's military and its security ministry. Jinhui says Green Dam operates similarly to software in other countries designed to let parents block access to web content inappropriate for children.
Foreign industry officials who have examined Green Dam say that personal information could be transmitted through the software and that it will be difficult for users to tell what exactly is being blocked.
Green Dam-Youth Escort can be preinstalled on systems sold in China, or be bundled with systems sold there. Although the developer states that the software contains a password-based parental bypass feature and can be uninstalled, one wonders if China will allow web access if the software is not active. Will the biggest PC vendors in the Chinese market (second only to the US market in sales last year) push back against this requirement, or will July 1st see the "Great Firewall" become even harder to crack? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Starting Tuesday, the Chinese government shut down access to virtually all search engines and social networking sites, including Twitter, Flickr, Bing (Microsoft's new search engine), Live.com, Hotmail.com, Blogger, and others. All YouTube videos are also being blocked, as are BBC World News reports on the anniversary.
Are these actions unexpected? How can you bypass these types of blocks? Join us after the jump for more.
As we told you about earlier today, Intel is taking the Pentium brand name for another go-round, this time for its CULV processors for ultra-thin notebooks. And Intel has wasted no time in rolling out the first CULV processor to get the Pentium name, the Pentium SU2700.
Typically, a new Intel processor is matched with a new chipset, and in this case, the Pentium SU2700's running mate is the Intel GS40 Express chipset. The Intel GS40 Express chipset includes integrated graphics that support MPEG4/H.264 video acceleration, integrated HDMI output, and acceleration for Windows Vista's Aero desktop. The GS40 also supports dual-channel DDR3 memory running at 667 or 800MHz and an 800MHz system bus. The GS40 is paired with the ICH9M I/O Controller hub to provide up to six PCI Express x1 I/O ports, up to four Serial ATA host adapters, Intel HD audio, and up to 12 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports. For a schematic diagram and much more technical information about the GS40 and ICH9M, download the Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family Graphics Memory Controller Hub (G)MCH Specification Update (PDF format).
The Wall Street Journalreports on the increasing numbers of homeless computer users. While some resort to familiar solutions such as using computers set up in shelters or at public libraries, others carry their own laptops and external hard disks, and some even generate their own electricity or connect their units to car batteries to keep their systems running. Cybercafes, sympathetic friends, and "hidden" locations in public places that offer AC power and wireless access are some of the methods used to stay online.
Except for where homeless users run their systems and make online connections, they're not much different than those of us using PCs at home or at the office: PCs are used for news, information, and entertainment, social networking, advocacy, and jobhunting. As one homeless user puts it: "You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper, but you need the Internet."
If you had to hit the streets, what would you give up before you gave up your PC? Join us after the jump and share your thoughts.