Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
Remember this quote? "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." It was uttered by none other than Microsoft frontman Steve Ballmer himself, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001. It's no secret that Microsoft has put itself right in the center of the proprietary versus open-source war. But the software giant is now starting to dabble in the dark side of open-source projects itself. We're getting nothing but mixed-signals from Redmond. So what is it, Microsoft? Cancer, or cash-cow?
Read on to find out about Microsoft's newest open-source initiatives!
Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!
Need to keep your hard drive from being crapped up? Are you a power-downloader with no organizational skills? Do you want to see exactly where the space on your hard drive is going and have your computer automatically shuffle and sort new files around?
You're in luck. We've assembled a batch of freeware utilities that are, without a doubt, the most essential file management tools you'll want to have on your PC. We use them to automate mundane tasks like file moving and deletion, and better still, to determine exactly where all the wasted space on our drives are going. We would kill to have these feature integrated into Windows Explorer, but no dice thus far. But we can't complain much, because we've saved so much time with these small utilities that we can't ever think about going back to a life without them.
If you want a more ringing endorsement, there's only one way you're going to get it. Click the jump and come check out the most time-saving file management tools we've ever found.
It’s that time of year again, Max PC readers. It’s time for stuffing ourselves, watching football, and—if "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" has taught us anything— it’s time to give thanks. As tech fans, we take a lot for granted, so we felt like taking a step back and examining all the things that are making a nerd’s life better right now.
Read on to check out our list of 17 things techies should be thankful for, then hit the comments and let us know what we missed.
Left 4 What? If you're not one of the legions to be playing Valve's newest zombie shoot-em' up, fear not. Just because you aren't killing the undead with your friends doesn't mean that you can't partake in the best open-source and freeware zombie titles! Better yet, fire up some of these games while you're waiting for your big Steam download to finish. Because nothing gets one in the mood to kill zombies like, well, killing zombies.
Check out our favorite freeware zombie titles after the jump!
Want to kill some time, but tired of playing good games? We feel you. We recently decided it would be fun to try and come up with a list of the seven worst free games on the internet. However, we quickly discovered that trying to make a list of the worst anything on the internet is sort of like trying to make a list of the worlds largest numbers. That is to say, there’s an infinite amount of terribleness on the internet.
So, since we decided that coming up with a list of the worst games was too enormous a task for just us to handle, Maximum PC EIC Will Smith used his Twitter account to ask for help. Naturally, the MaxPC faithful delivered in spades. We received a whole bunch of seriously awful submissions, tried them out for ourselves, and had an office-wide vote to pick the most truly, hilariously bad games of the bunch. Now, we get to share them with you.
It’s hard to believe in the iTunes era of blink-and-you-miss-them CD rips, but in the mid-90s, ripping a CD was a time-consuming process, fraught with peril. Ripping a single disc to 128kbps MP3 could take 8 hours on a 200MHz Pentium! Fast forward a decade, with faster hardware and better software and CD ripping is so mainstream your mom does it.
Ripping DVDs and transcoding the video stored within into more efficient formats involves an order of magnitude more scary math than ripping audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of AVP to an iPod-friendly format. However, with the right software, a quad-core equipped PC, and a little know-how, you can cut your disc rip time from hours to 20 or 30 minutes. There are still plenty of tricks and traps for first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics, then walk you through the secrets of ripping power users everywhere.
However, the first thing you need to decide is simple: what player are you ripping your discs for? Are you ripping for a portable player, like the PSP or iPhone? Would you rather stream to device in your living room, like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Popcorn Hour? Are you simply interested in making an archival-quality DVD rips, in case you lose your collection? More likely, you’re probably looking for a combination of all three of these things. We’ll show you how to rip your DVD to a file suitable for streaming that consumes a fraction of the disk space of a DVD but maintains full video and audio quality. Then you can take that file, and convert it for whatever other devices you might have, like a PSP or an iPod. For the purposes of this story, we're going to focus on DVD rips. Getting ahold of unencrypted high-defintion video legally is still pretty tricky. We'll update with Blu-ray ripping info as ripping Blu-ray gets easier.
Open-source? Freeware? Which is it? Some people frequently interchange the terms as a generic way to say that a piece of software costs nothing to download or use. I mean, it's all free, right?
Open-source software has as much to do with freeware as an apple has to do with an orange. Both are fruits, but each offers a different enough of a texture and flavor to render it completely unique from the other. You cannot, and should not, confuse open-source software with freeware, as there can be grave consequences for such a fatal misstep. Ok, so maybe not grave. But you can get slapped with a lawsuit depending on how you're using the software, and that's certainly not fun. But we're not here to confuse you; we're here to help you. What exactly are the differences between open-source software and freeware? Find out after the jump!
Storage that uses flash memory is quite unlike the hard disk drives used to hold your computer’s data. The latter rely on speedy actuators to read and write information on spinning magnetic platters. SSDs use electrical charges to read and write the state of individual flash memory cells. An SSD’s flash memory is nonvolatile: Unlike your computer’s RAM, an SSD drive retains your data when you switch the power off. And since the handshake is electric, SSDs can access that data in a fraction of the time it takes a mechanical hard drive to do so.
Sounds ideal, right? Actually, the performance potential of SSDs needs to be weighed against some significant drawbacks. We’re going to outline the pros and cons of the technology and how it compares to traditional hard disk storage. We’re also going to put seven leading solid state drives to the test and let the benchmark numbers do the talking. At this stage in the storage race, an SSD is a big investment; we want to help you maximize your return.