As if college students didn't already have enough studying to do, it appears they made need to brush up on the fundamentals of PC security. For example, when presented with a popup, do you:
A: Click it, because what company would lie about promising to remove all your adware?
B: Click it, because in your hungover state you can't read what it says anyway
C: Click it, because that's how you assert your independence
D: Close it out
The answer's obvious for Maximum PC readers, but not so for those who reside on a college campus. The Psychology Department of North Carolina State University concocted a series of four fake popup dialogs, with one warning: "The instruction at '0x77f41d24 referenced memory at '0x595c2a4c.' The memory could not be 'read.' Click OK to terminate program." Only one of the warnings blended in with XP, and the others were designed to be easy to spot as adware.
Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), 25 students out of a panel of 42 clicked the button for two of the fake alerts, and 23 hit OK on the third. Only 9 of them closed the window.
So why'd they do it? Nearly half of the students said that their main concern was getting rid of the dialogs and the distraction they presented. Time to add Computers for Dummies for next semester's textbook shopping list.
Believe it or not, there are security options out there other than AVG. McAfee, being one of them (surely you've run across McAfee on an OEM rig or two), announced plans to acquire network security vendor Secure Computing for around $465 million. The move, according to McAfee, is intended to beef up the company's network security portfolio.
"Today's announcement of this pending acquisition is a natural extension of McAfee's security-only focus," Dave DeWalt, CEO and president of McAfee, said in a statement. "We expect the pending combination of McAfee and Secure Computing will create an annual projected combined revenue of just under $500 million in the network security segment of our SRM (security risk management) portfolio."
Before the acquisition can go through, it must first pass regulatory approvals and get the green light from Secure Computing's stockholders, all of which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
If you were raised on Far Cry, Athlon 64s, and Britney Spears, you probably never heard of Packard Bell. But for the slightly more ripened generation, we can remember PB as a prominent OEM up until it packed its bags and skipped out of the U.S. market nearly a decade ago.
But the company didn't disappear, and instead has maintained a presence in Europe. And like everyone else that manufacturers PCs, Packard Bell is prepping a jump onto the increasingly crowded netbook bandwagon. PB's calling its entry the "dot," which will be an 8.9-inch ultraportable with a full install of XP.
At its core, the dot comes built around an Intel Atom processor. Storage duties will be handled by a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of memory. Optional add-ons include a 6-cell battery, webcam, and a 3G module. After plugging in the exchange rate, the dot looks to sell for $584 USD in Europe this November.
Any guesses as to who will be next to offer up a netbook?
The timing couldn't be worse on this one for ATI, who has crawled its way back into contention with Nvidia's best silicon, and received a further consumer boost while enthusiasts remain weary over Nvidia's GPU problems. Now the rumor mill is spinning in ATI's direction, and citing "industry sources," TG Daily says that Diamond Multimedia have have shipped upwards of 20,000 defective HD 3800 series videocards. That's a lot of GPUS.
But it gets even worse. According to the rumor, Diamond Multimedia knew about the problem all along but decided not to pull the faulty cards from store shelves. Allegedly all HD 3850 512MB cards shipped between January and July suffer the manufacturing defect, while a "substantial number" of HD 3870 512MB and X2 videocards also show signs of poor soldering and integrated memory problems.
The issue supposedly came to light when Alienware returned its graphics cards it had purchased from Diamond Multimedia after finding failure rates to the tune of 10 percent, or so the sources say. Seemingly giving the rumor some merit, TG Daily claims Bruce Zaman, CEO of Diamond Multimedia, confirmed that there has been an isolated issue "with one vendor."
Perhaps the death knell for Blu-ray among sub 17-inch notebooks isn't yet ringing, even if Asus and Acer are reluctant to keep forging ahead. Or maybe Sony is intent on not letting Blu-ray drives fade from the mobile scene anytime soon. But whatever the state of the high-definition format, expect to see it in Sony's new wicked thin VAIO TT series of notebooks.
As is becoming trend of late, the VAIO TT sports a sleek looking carbon-fiber shell, underneath which sits a modest 11.1-inch XBRITE-DuraView screen capable of a 1366x768 resolution. The small stature and ultra thin frame helps the new notebook boast a manageable 2.87 pounds and a thickness of just 1 inch.
The new notebook will be based around Intel's Centrino 2 platform, with a Core 2 Duo SU9400 clocked at 1.4GHz and 4GB of DDR3-800 RAM providing the horsepower. For home theater buffs, the VAIO TT can be outfitted with an optional Blu-ray drive, and then beamed to an HDTV via an integrated HDMI port. Also erring on the higher end, Sony says users can stuff dual 128GB SSDs in RAID-0 array - oh my!
Pricing starts at $2,000, though the cost of entry jumps to $2,700 for the model touting a Blu-ray player.
WiMax has been heavily touted for its ability to provide last mile connectivity. As a result people have been keenly awaiting the advent of WiMax, the technology that is capable of sustaining wireless broadband networks spanning entire cities. But the wait for WiMax in the U.S has constantly been elongated for the past few years and the technology has never arrived.
However, Sprint is finally going to put an end to the wait. Baltimore will become the first U.S city to have a WiMax network in October. Sprint has scheduled a launch event on October 8, 2008 in Baltimore. Some other major cities including Chicago and Washington, D.C., are also expected to jump onto the WiMax bandwagon this year.
Leading internet research firm Net Applications has revealed that many early Chrome adopters are now reverting back to Internet Explorer and Firefox. User comfort is finally overcoming the curiosity that the browser initially educed.
Stop us if you've heard this story before: A semi-small dev team, formed in the mid-90's, lovingly crafts two 2D RTSes before upgrading right into the third dimension. The next RTS in their flagship series isn't quite as well-received as the previous two, but still flies off the shelves and perches itself on top of the sales charts. So what do they do next? Why, craft an MMO with the assistance of an extremely lucrative license! Got any guesses as to who we might be talking about?
That's right, Ensemble Studios.
Yes, Blizzard and Ensemble, after a quick make-up job, could probably star in The Parent Trap: Gamer's Edition (A Brett Ratner Film), but cribbed answers from each other's track records are only the beginning.
As early as 2006, Ensemble began work on a Halo MMO. Here, however, we're willing to wager that any similarities to Blizzard's MMO-opus are more than mere coincidence. Sadly, we'll never know what Ensemble had planned for this decidedly PC-oriented jaunt through Halo's universe, because it's been decomposing in Ensemble's recycle bin for nearly a year, according to a thorough analysis by Gamasutra.
This is freaking brilliant. Warhammer Online, as with any MMO, is home to a number of -- in this case, preternaturally quick -- gold spammers. But unlike those other MMOs, whose developers only emerge, spit a "Get off my lawn!" at the gold-amassing fiends, and then stomp back into their lairs, far too uncaring to actually latch the gate behind them, Mythic is taking a different approach.
"Since WAR launched we have been banning these jerks like crazy," Mythic co-founder Mark Jacobs wrote in his blog. "As of Saturday Night, we had banned about 400 of them. My CSRs have a zero tolerance policy. We don’t wait and let them stay in the game and ban them en-masse, my guys ban their useless, time-consuming butts right away. We have a strike team whose sole job it is to get these guys off our servers as quickly as possible."
But that's not even the best part. Jacobs continued:
"This weekend, we unveiled a new wrinkle in the fight against them, the public ban message. Players on our Phoenix Throne server have been treated to special messages when a gold seller/spammer is banned. I’ve given them a wide leash to come up with creative messages to tell the entire community who has been banned and we keep it within the Warhammer universe."
"Messages like 'Tchar’zanek has ordered the slaughter of [Spammer] and all others of his kind who weaken the Raven Host by providing wealth and power to the unworthy' have been seen all weekend. We will continue this policy and expand it to the other servers. We are in for a real fight against these bottom feeders and it will be a long and costly battle but it’s one we are going to take to them and this is only the first step."
We don't know about you, but we've never tossed our hard-earned dollars into a spammer's alchemic pot, and we sure as hell aren't starting now. Now if you'll excuse us, we must return to killing everythingthat moves and rooting through fresh remains. Ah, nothing like an honest day's work to set the mind at ease.
CNet's Ina Fried reports that Microsoft has decided to remove Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Mail from Windows 7. Given the fact that Microsoft continues to upgrade its Live replacements for Photo Gallery and Mail, and added Movie Maker to the Live family, as we reported last week, this move seems to make a lot of sense.
As someone who's been recommending that Windows Vista users replace Windows Photo Gallery with Windows Live Photo Gallery ever since Live Photo Gallery was launched, I think that stripping Windows of utilities that only some people will use makes plenty of sense. Here's why:
1. Faster development of operating system releases. As Windows Live general manager Brian Hall told Fried, "It [this decision]makes it [Windows 7] much cleaner."
2. Fewer worries about antitrust actions. Lawsuits by the EU forced Microsoft to distribute EU-specific versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista that are missing Windows Media Player. By dropping other multimedia features, Microsoft makes Windows 7 even less appealing as a lawsuit target.
3. New partnership opportunities. According to Hall,"We can do things with specific partners to enable really great experiences that might be hard in Windows." We might see Windows 7+Adobe, Windows 7+Corel, or Windows 7+open source bundles from various OEMs.
4. Fewer opportunities for compatibility problems. As anyone who has ever wrestled with Windows Vista multimedia tools being broken by installing third-party tools (I recommend the freeware Vista Codec Package, available at http://shark007.net, if you can't burn CDs or DVDs in Windows Vista anymore after installing a third-party DVD burner), the possibility of reducing the chances of a "codec war" or other compatibility problems is a welcome one.
So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of choosing your favorite free or commercial photo, video, and email clients right from the start, or do you prefer the current method? Are you more likely to buy a preinstalled version of Windows 7 if it had a well-integrated third-party media and email software bundle, or do you prefer to create your own "best of breed" combination? Do you have a horror story of third-party apps and Windows butting heads? Tell them now before Windows 7 does away with them. Hit the jump for your chance.