Clean start. OS reset. Nuke and pave. Whatever you call it, no matter how good a personal system administrator you are, there’s a time to take your OS install out behind the shed and put two in its head.
When would you need to take such extreme measures? If the networking stack is splayed out on the floor and no amount of patching, registry editing, or Winsock repair tools can fix it. If you can’t get hibernate or standby to work anymore. Or if you’ve had a horrible malware or rootkit breakout. Sure, you may have reclaimed control of your PC after an epic five-day battle with the beast, but can you really trust your OS anymore? You don’t want to reenact the final sequence from The Thing, you and your PC eyeing one another wondering if the other is not what he seems to be.
A clean start is the only way to relieve your paranoia. Read on to find out how to do it properly.
VoIP service Skype said it recently reached the 15 million concurrent user mark, claiming 405 million Skype users in all. But what's even more impressive is how quickly the service is growing. Skype estimates it adds 380,000 new users each day. To put that number into perspective, Ross Storey, Managing Editor at Fairfax Business Media, points out that over a 12 day period, the number of users Skype adds is equivalent to the population of Singapore.
Skype announced the figures in Signapore during the launch of the new Skype 4.0 software, which the company calls "the most exciting and fundamental change to Skype's software in the company's history." Even more exciting for the company is recording the eighth consecutive quarter of profit, in which Skype earned $45 million in Q4 2008. This is thanks in large part to a third of its registered subscribers using the service for business purposes.
"In this type of environment people are looking for cost savings wherever they can find them, they are looking to 'recession-proof' their businesses," said Dan Neary, Skype's new VP and GM. "hey don't want to fly from A to B, they want to do video-conferencing. More and more, this offering is becoming applicable for people in business."
Last month, a rumor surfaced suggested Ebay was shopping around its Skype service, showing particular interest in selling to Google. If Skype keeps up these kinds of numbers, it's hard to imagine Google, or anyone else, not being interested.
Microsoft received considerable buzz over its Silverlight web browser plugin during the Beijing Olympics, in which NBC opted to use Silverlight rather than Adobe's Flash to stream its Olympics coverage. But it didn't take long for NBC to run back to Flash once the Olympics were over, taking the spotlight off of the Silverlight platform.
Silverlight is back in the news, this time for a new contest Microsoft has launched at serverquestcontest.com. The contest is being aimed at Silverlight game developers age 16 or older and living in the U.S. To enter, eligible developers must create a user profile on the site, download the Software Development Kit, and then use it to create an online game.
Participants can submit up to three entries, each of which must follow a set of strict guidelines. These include a file download size not larger than 4MB and total file size of less than 10MB, resolution of 800x430 or less, the game cannot include any upload file aspects nor can it require or allow any external communication, it must be developed in Silverlight 2.0 and submitted in object/binary code format, and finally the game must clearly indicate to others that it is governed by the Creative Commons license. Phew!
The contest runs through April 30, 2009 (11:59 PM PST), with a voting period to take place between May 1 and May 14. Winners will be announced May 25, 2009.
Select Vista owners may be getting a free ride to Windows 7, according to a draft document TechArp claims to have obtained. The document, which TechArp says was handed out to OEM partners on December 10 with a one month deadline to provide feedback, outlines Microsoft's tentatively named "Windows 7 Upgrade Program."
The point of the program is to alleviate the concern from potential PC buyers who may be postponing a purchase in anticipation of Windows 7. As it's being reported, it's a consumer-oriented upgrade program aimed at both individual consumers and small businesses who purchase a Vista-based PC during the unspecified 'Program Eligibility Period.'
To qualify, end users must buy a new PC with Vista pre-installed, and the system must come with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached. The upgrade only apples to Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate flavors, which can then be upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate respectively. And finally, Microsoft says the program does not support multiple upgrades for medium, large, or enterprise customers, according to the document.
Keep in mind the above is based on a draft document, and should it become finalized, eligibility requirements and other details could very well change. Stay tuned!
Cool, right? Granted, Valve has never given us reason to fear that it’s into the whole nickel-and-diming thing, but it’s still nice to hear that our dwindling budgets can now go toward more important things like Starbucks coffee, impulse iPhone app purchases, and a replacement iPhone after an ill-advised literal interpretation of DanceDanceRevolution S Lite.
Oh hey, here are some details about the new rides the Survival DLC pack will bring to Valve’s carnal carnival. Apparently, the mode will see “up to four players set records for the longest time surviving hordes of zombies on over 12 maps.” That’s all anyone knows at this point, really.
Generally, the term “conference call” stirs up images of stuffy businessmen swapping stories about things like revenues, stocks, and how to be completely out of touch with today’s youth (“Call your online database ‘kgb’! Then fill your commercial with facetious douchebags!”). However, there ain’t no conference call like an Activision Blizzard conference call, and today’s game of telephone didn’t disappoint.
First up, Acti-Blizz finally took war back to the future with the announcement that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will launch during Q4 (real, not fiscal) of 2009. Is it us, or is the recession looking a little pale?
Continuing its elongated pop-the-question date with our PCs, Activision Blizzard also plans to launch StarCraft 2’s beta sometime in the “months ahead.” In addition, the much-anticipated beta will include an early version of Battle.net’s next iteration, which will probably just open a portal to heaven or something.
Did we mention that Activision won’t be laying-off anyone? Presumably at all? Draw your own conclusions.
In the original Far Cry, rigging a tree branch to clothesline a hapless foe was a deadlier alternative to, you know, shooting them. With guns. Unfortunately, Far Cry 2 de-fanged guns in a similar manner (minus the pro-deforestation propaganda) – something for which we nearly awarded it a seven out of ten. Good thing, then, that Ubisoft Montreal has announced a new “Hardcore” Far Cry 2 multiplayer patch that promises to make sure in-game guns’ bite outdoes trees’ bark (grooooan).
"The hardcore mode has been designed as an answer to a community request," Ubisoft community developer Atmon wrote on the game's official forums. "Some players were seeking and expecting a more realistic experience.”
A new damage model will be applied with increased damage for all weapons.
All weapons have been rebalanced on normal mode, and on hardcore mode.
Enemy names will disappear after the spawning invincibility period is over (A shield is displayed above a player’s head for a few second to show that he is invincible).
A new option will allow you to tweak spawning time (but not spawning rate).
A new search option will be available in multiplayer to allow you to find games that are playing on hardcore mode.
The patch hasn’t been given a drop date just yet, but we’ll be sure to give you a heads up when it does.
Microsoft seems to have finally taken a cue from its competitors in the cellphone market and is planning to roll out an online marketplace – similar to Apple’s App Store – for the distribution of Windows Mobile applications, according to The Wall Street Journal. The online marketplace will allow developers to directly distribute their applications to Windows Mobile users.
The company is also on the verge of offering a new service called My Phone. It will let users store backups of their Windows Mobile phone’s data on the internet. The company won’t be charging any subscription charges, although iPhone users have to shelve out $99 per year for a similar offering. Other companies are dictating terms to Microsoft in the cellphone market and the company will have to make some changes to turn the tide.
Microsoft has reached a major landmark after receiving its 10,000th U.S patent. The software bellwether has cemented its place among top patent recipients in the last five years; it is the fourth highest patent getter in the U.S. The 10,000th patent concerns a technology that allows a Microsoft Surface-like computer to discern real objects and link them with data or media. Microsoft can be expected to move up the ladder in the near future as it has a policy of incentivizing employees for patent filings.
The free tool, called PowerMeter, will allow users to view and thoroughly analyze their household energy consumption data. The platform, currently in closed beta, requires that the user possess a smart meter. It will let users compare the energy-appetite of different devices within their house, besides making it possible for users to compare each other’s energy consumption trends.
Google hopes that access to household energy data will help users conserve energy – something many studies and Lord Kelvin have previously suggested.