After several delays, we were beginning to wonder if Firefox 3.1 would ever see the light of day beyond a beta release, and as it turns it out, it's not going to. Instead, Mozilla has renamed the once 'fast-track' update to 3.5 with a fourth beta scheduled for April 14, 2009.
"The increase in scope represented by TraceMonkey and Private Browsing, plus the sheer volume of work that's gone into everything from video and layout to places and the plugin service make it a larger increment than we believe is reasonable to label ".1". 3.5 will help set expectations better about the amount of awesome that's packed into Shiretoko," said Mike Shaver, Mozilla's engineering VP.
Shaver went on to say that the version change to 3.5 is indicative of the current scope and not intended to represent a significant increase 3.5's current make-up.
Still no word on when the next version of Firefox will go Gold, though if we had to guess, we'd say either May or June of this year.
When worlds collide, things tend to end badly. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning tried to send its ragtag, wax-on, wax-off-trained team of novices against WoW’s dojo, and it lost more than a few teeth. And now, Warhammer’s taking one giant leap right into a different world: its own.
Mythic recently announced (and presumably carried out) mergers between 43 servers on the first ever MMO competitor on The Biggest Loser. Characters and items stored on closed servers were apparently transferred to pre-existing, less corpsified servers.
If your old server’s now hosting TF2 matches for angels, note that all of your character’s items, friend lists, guild info, and ignore lists should have transferred to your new server, while items listed for auction, guild alliances, and in-game mail and attachments, unfortunately, will forever languish in the Internet’s lost-and-found box.
(On the bright side, though, we just discovered that "server merger" is really fun to say. Try it. Hey, don't judge us; we're bloggers -- not grief counselors.)
So, for those among you whose entire world was destroyed, how are the new digs looking?
Today, Microsoft released a trio of security bulletins covering all currently-supported Windows versions. Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 (as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008) need to install the update for the critical Windows kernel vulnerability noted in Security Bulletin MS-09-006. The other two bulletins (MS09-007 and MS09-008) solve important vulnerabilities in SChannel (007) and DNS/WINS Server (008); these bulletins apply to Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows XP and Server 2003 only.
Other updates to look for include the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool and the Windows Mail junk email filter. If you're on Automatic Updates, follow instructions to reboot if needed after installation. If you prefer to be in charge, don't forget to download and install these as soon as possible.
Amidst a jungle of ugly cases, iBuyPower has been managing to release some pretty impressive computers as of late. And, on top of offering all the latest processor that AMD and Intel have to offer, it looks like they’re pushing systems with Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision as well.
The Gamer Fire 640 will come with an AMD Phenom X3 720, 4GB DDR3, a 500GB HDD and a GeForce 9800GTX+, while it’s close brother, the Gamer Paladin F830 will come with an Intel Core i7 920, 6GB of memory, and a GTX 260 GPU. Both of these machines will come with Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and both will come with an Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision.
These machines run nearly $1,200 a piece, and are available for order right now. So, if you’re looking to check out the next step in 3D gaming, these guys are offering a pretty reasonable bundle to bring it to you.
Move over Western Digital and make room for Samsung with its new EcoGreen F2EG hard drive. At 1.5TB, Samsung's environmentally conscious hard drive offers high capacity while cutting back on power consumption by almost half over "competitive drives."
"Lower platter count means less power to start the motor, less power to continuously spin the motor and a lighter head-stack which takes less power to seek," said Andy Higginbotham, director of HDD sales and marketing for the Samsung Semiconductor Storage Division. “With fewer heads and disks, the F2EG hard drive has a lower probability of head-disk failures, enabling customers to build more reliable systems."
The EcoGreen F2EG hard drive serves up 500GB on each of its 3 platters. Combined with the company's EcoTriangle "low-power, low-heat, low-noise operating technology," Samsung says the F2EG reduces power consumption by 40 percent in idle mode and 45 percent in reading/writing mode.
In addition to 1.5TB, the EcoGreen series also comes in 500GB and 1TB capacities with both 16MB and 32MB cache.
The F2EG drives are shipping now to "major OEM businesses," with the 1.5TB version priced at $149 MSRP.
How hard is it to take on Google in the search business? Just ask Cuil, the little search engine that couldn't, which was developed by a handful of ex-Google employees. Or chat it up with Microsoft, who tried like Hades to acquire Yahoo for its search business, with or without Yahoo's consent. But whatever you do, don't tell Stephen Wolfram that it can't be done.
Wofram, who received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech in 1979 when he was only 20 years old, plans to unveil a project he calls Wolfram Alpha. Just as the name does not imply, Wolfram Alpha combines his work with Mathematica and NKS (A New Kind of Science) to the voodoo of online search.
"All one needs to be able to do is to take questions people ask in natural language, and represent them in a precise form that fits into the computations one can do," Wolfram said in a recent blog post. "I'm happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we're actually managing to make it work."
At least one other person is convinced Wolfram Alpha has a bright future. Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, says it could be as important to the web as Google, albeit for a different purpose. Spivack viewed a demo of Wolfram Alpha in action and says that the search engine doesn't just parse natural language to retrieve documents, but "actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions."
Whether or not Wolfram Alpha can live up to its billing as a "computational knowledge engine" remains to be seen, and as of right now, we'll get to see in May when the project goes live.
It looks like Dell is still looking to hit the tough-laptop market with a newer, slimmed down Latitude XFR D630 laptop, aptly renamed the E64 XFR.
This heavily armored work machine has an Intel Core 2 Duo underneath the hood, Intel’s X3100 graphics, 1GB DDR2 and an 80GB HDD standard. But, more importantly it comes hardened with a new type of exterior material that makes it more durable than its predecessor. The new material is being called Ballistic Armor, which replaced the magnesium alloy, and allows this notebook to meet military specifications for ruggedness.
Strangely, this machine comes with a starting price point of $4,299, even with the economy taken into consideration. But who knows, maybe there will be plenty of military contractors and police officers looking to get a new, slimmer, tougher laptop!
You have to admire when a company doesn't just talk the talk, but walks the walk. EVGA, one of three Nvidia add-in board (AIB) partners to offer lifetime warranties for its videocards, not only allows end-users to overclock their cards without voiding the warranty, but arguably encourages the behavior by serving up OCing tools. Registered owners can download the company's GPU Voltage Tuner utility, and anyone can download EVGA's Precision overclocking software whether they own an EVGA-brand videocard or not.
In the case of the latter, a new version is now available, v1.5.1. Several updates have been added to the 1.5.x refresh (the majority were included in v1.5.0 released last Friday), including multi-GPU support. The overclocking tool now gives users independent access to thermal monitoring, overclocking, and fan control settings of all installed GPUs whether configured to run in SLI or not.
Other changes and fixes include better support for GeForce 9 and older videocards, a pair of new skins, settings no longer reset at Windows startup on multi-GPU systems, fixed memory clock monitoring for G98 GPUs, and Precision now displays the graphics processor codename in the system info.
According to a new study by Nielsen-Online, social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. Collectively referred to as "Member Communities," Nielsen says these are visited by over two-thirds of the online population, putting them "ahead of personal email." It's also the fastest-growing sector out of the top four, which also includes search, portals, and PC software and email.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online (PDF). "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large."
Facebook, which ranks as the most popular social network, draws three out of every 10 people online each month across the nine markets tracked. And it's not limited to any single age group. According to Nielsen, the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 came from the 35-49 demographic.
The report, titled "Global Faces and Networked Places," attributes some of the growth to the prominence of mobile phones, noting a "big increase over last year" in the number of users visiting Member Communities through their handsets.
Surprised by any of this? Hit the jump and sound off.