News en AMD Revitalizes Never Settle Game Bundle, Save Codes for Future Use <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/amd_radeon_gaming.jpg" alt="AMD Gaming" title="AMD Gaming" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Score free games with the purchase of select AMD graphics cards from qualifying vendors</h3> <p>In an effort to help tip the scales in its favor, AMD's been enticing gamers in need of a new graphics card with free game offers if they purchase a select Radeon GPU. AMD's Never Settle bundle has proved popular and continues to evolve with better offers and more robust terms. With that in mind, <strong>AMD just expanded its Never Settle Forever program</strong> to include more titles, more graphics card options, and a delayed redemption option.</p> <p>For the first time as part of the Never Settle promotion, AMD is letting gamers save their codes in anticipation of upcoming titles. The codes issued now are good until August 31, 2014, which is a little more than four months away. AMD didn't say which upcoming games will quality for redemption, but it's a neat option for those who already own many of the games being offered or otherwise aren't intrigued by the current crop of games.</p> <p>Another change is the introduction of indie packs. Indie packs consist of two games from independent developers, but they're bundled as one and only count as one choice in your reward tier. These aren't necessarily crap titles, either -- AMD says they're among the top downloads on Steam.</p> <p>As for the reward tiers, those who purchase a Radeon R9 295X2, 290 series, or 280 series graphics card from a qualifying vendor are eligible for the Gold tier. This includes three selections from a bunch of title options made up of Thief, Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, Just Cause 2, and many more.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/neversettleforever.jpg" alt="AMD Never Settle Forever" title="AMD Never Settle Forever" width="620" height="364" /></p> <p>Those who purchase a Radeon R9 270 series or R7 260 series qualify for the Silver tier and can choose two free games, while purchasers of the R7 250 series or R7 240 fall into the Bronze category and can select a single title.</p> <p>For more details, along with where to purchase a qualifying graphics card, visit AMD's <a href="" target="_blank">Never Settle Forever</a> page.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> amd games Hardware never settle Software News Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:33:40 +0000 Paul Lilly 27667 at AMD's A-Series 64-bit ARM Server SoCs Begin Sampling; Launch Set for Fourth Quarter <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Opteron A1100" title="Opteron A1100" width="228" height="173" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Opteron A1100 chips support up to eight 28nm Cortex A57 cores</h3> <p><strong>AMD began sampling its Opteron A1100 64-bit ARM processors (codenamed “Seattle”) last month</strong>, the chipmaker announced during its first quarter financial results conference call Thursday. Hailing it as a key milestone “in our ambidextrous strategy,” AMD CEO Rory Read said that the company planned to <a href="" target="_blank">begin shipping the chips in the final quarter of 2014.</a></p> <p>"We have introduced Seattle, our first 64-bit ARM server processor and the industry's first at 28nm technology, positioning AMD as the only SoC provider to bridge the x86 and ARM ecosystems for server applications," Read said. "We're catching it just as the wave is forming. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five, 10 years."</p> <p>Meanwhile, Lisa Su, AMD's SVP and GM of global business units, talked of the immense interest Seattle has managed to inspire in customers. But even she isn’t sure how much of that interest will actually translate into revenue for the beleaguered company. "Relative to revenue, it's probably too early to tell what's going to happen in 2015,” she said, “but I'd say the interest in the platform is quite high.”</p> <p>“I think the important thing for us and what we're working with the customers on is platform development and software development and ensuring that we get some of the ecosystem there.”</p> <p>When asked about Seattle finding its way into SeaMicro systems, Su had this to say: “One of the advantages of having a systems business is that we can do co-development between our chip development and our systems development. So it will be quite important for us to have Seattle in SeaMicro systems, and that’s in development.” However, she refused to put a date on the launch of such SeaMicro Fabric servers, clarifying that the “Q4 statement was a chip statement.”</p> <p>The upcoming 64-bit ARM-based server SoCs (system-on-chip) from AMD will be available with four or eight ARMv8-based Cortex A57 cores, up to 4MB of shared Level 2 cache, 8MB of shared Level 3 cache, eight PCI-Express Gen 3 lanes, two 10 GB/s Ethernet, and eight SATA 3 ports. Further, the <a href="" target="_blank">A-series chips support up to 128GB of DDR3 or DDR4 ECC memory as unbuffered DIMMs, registered DIMMs or SODIMMs. </a></p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> amd ARM opteron a1100 seattle server soc News Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:39:28 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 27666 at Vast Majority of Top Sites No Longer Vulnerable to Heartbleed <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Heartbleed" title="Heartbleed" width="228" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Over 20,000 top sites still vulnerable</h3> <p>Many a heart skipped a beat when it emerged earlier this month that <strong>millions of web servers around the world were vulnerable to a yawning hole in the open-source OpenSSL cryptographic software library</strong>. The discovery <a href="" target="_blank">sent IT execs and web admins around the world scampering to plug the hole</a>. Ten days after coverage of Heartbleed first began, security research firm Sucuri decided to <a href="" target="_blank">scan the Internet’s top one million websites (as ranked by Alexa) to see how many of them were still vulnerable.</a></p> <p>“After 10 days of massive coverage, we expected to see every server out there patched against it. To confirm our expectations, we scanned every web site listed in the Alexa top 1 million rank,” Sucuri CTO Daniel Cid wrote in a blog post Thursday. “Yes, we scanned the top web sites in the world to see how many were still infected.”</p> <p>Here’s what the firm found: “We were glad to see that the top 1,000 sites in the world were all properly patched, and that just 0.53% of the top 10k still had issues. However, as we went to less popular (and smaller) sites, the number of unpatched servers grew to 2%. That is not surprising, but we expected better.”</p> <p>If you are a website owner, Sucuri suggests that you use this <a href="" target="_blank">website</a> to check whether or not your site is affected and, in case it is, to patch the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability post-haste.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> bug heartbeat heartbleed openssl protocol vulnerability News Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:07:00 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 27665 at Facebook Begins Rolling Out ‘Nearby Friends’, Plans to Sell Data to Advertisers <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Facebook Nearby Friends" title="Facebook Nearby Friends" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>New location-sharing feature is optional</h3> <p>Facebook recently announced the <strong>addition of a new feature called Nearby Friends to its Android and iOS apps</strong>. No prizes for guessing that the new feature, which is thankfully optional, lets Facebook users discover friends who are nearby.</p> <p>Currently being rolled out to Facebook for Android and iOS users in the States, it remains turned off by default. You will need a bit more than merely turning it on to make the most of Nearby Friends, though.</p> <p>“Sharing your location with Nearby Friends goes two ways — you and your friends both have to turn on Nearby Friends and choose to share with each other to see when you’re nearby,” Facebook said in a <a href="" target="_blank">news release</a> Thursday. “Your friends will only be able to see that you’re nearby if you share this info with them and vice versa.”</p> <p>Although many see this feature as facilitating greater offline interaction among Facebook friends, there is no dearth of those who are <a href="" target="_blank">not entirely comfortable with the idea of letting Facebook keep track of their every move.</a></p> <p>According to an in-app description of the Location History option — something that needs to be enabled in order for Nearby Friends to work — Facebook does this by “building a history of your precise location, even when you’re not using the app.” But why is it building this history in the first place?</p> <p>When TechCrunch’s Josh Constine questioned the social networking site on <a href="" target="_blank">the real purpose of preserving the user’s location history</a>, the company replied saying that although “at this time it’s not being used for advertising or marketing, but in the future it will be.”</p> <p>While it is possible for you to clear your Facebook location history, it does not appear to be something Facebook would like you to do: “Location History helps us know when it makes the most sense to notify you (for example, by making sure we don’t send you a notification every time a Facebook friend who works with you is also in the office).”</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> facebook location tracking nearby friends Privacy News Mon, 21 Apr 2014 04:46:45 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 27664 at Canonical Rolls Out Ubuntu 14.04 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Trusty Tahr Ubuntu 14.04 LTS" title="Trusty Tahr Ubuntu 14.04 LTS" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Move over Precise Pangolin and Windows XP, Trusty Tahr is here</h3> <p>The Ubuntu team recently announced the release of what is only the fifth long-term support (LTS) version of the popular Linux distro. In keeping with the current <a href="" target="_blank">Ubuntu release cycle</a>, this latest LTS release, dubbed Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr”, comes two years after the last one.</p> <p>One look at the accompanying <a href="" target="_blank">release notes</a> is all it takes for one to realize that Trusty Tahr is as much about burnishing existing functionality as it is about paving the way for, as Canonical put it in its <a href="" target="_blank">press release</a>, “true convergence across desktop, phone and tablet.” Although Ubuntu Touch 14.04, notable for being the first to support the tablet form-factor, is still not a supported release and only available as a separate download from the desktop flavor, Canonical’s ultimate aim is to combine the two.</p> <p>"Full convergence means that the same code for operating systems and applications will be running on all types of devices, from phones to tablets to desktops, and even both smaller and larger devices," Ubuntu’s engineering VP Rick Spencer told <a href="" target="_blank">ArsTechnica</a> in a statement. "Convergence is still a work in progress, and we will continue to move the code to the desktop as it is ready in each release."</p> <p>According to the company, the first commercially available Ubuntu tablets, whenever they become available, will be based on 14.04 LTS. As for those of you who just can’t wait any longer, you’ll be happy to note that you can <a href="" target="_blank">install the latest version of Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 4 right now. </a></p> <p>Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, which includes version 3.13 of the Linux kernel, also packs a number of improvements on the desktop front, including support for high-DPI screens, the option to choose the application menu position, a redesigned application spread, and some new window decorations.</p> <p>All in all, Canonical feels, 14.04 LTS has enough to be a good replacement for Windows XP. Here’s what Canonical CEO Jane Silber said in a press release: “The 14.04 LTS release offers a solid, intuitive experience which is easy to manage. It is a viable and affordable alternative for those organisations considering a switch from Microsoft, and specifically those <a href="" target="_blank">replacing XP</a> or Windows 7 as they come to the end of life.”</p> <p>“Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is the first long-term support release with support for the new 'arm64' architecture for 64-bit ARM systems, as well as the 'ppc64el' architecture for little-endian 64-bit POWER systems. This release also includes several subtle but welcome improvements to Unity, AppArmor, and a host of other great software,” the Ubuntu team wrote in a recent blog post.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> canonical linux open source operating system pc Software tablets trusty tahr ubuntu 14.04 windows xp News Sun, 20 Apr 2014 23:44:37 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 27663 at Nvidia Releases GeForce R337.61 Beta Hotfix to Address 4K Display Issues <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/dell_4k_monitor.jpg" alt="Dell 4K Monitor" title="Dell 4K Monitor" width="228" height="205" style="float: right;" />Nvidia's hotfix addresses issues users have been having with certain 4K panels</h3> <p>There are some growing pains associated with 4K displays, at least for PCs. Quirky issues tend to pop up due to the way the technology works. To run a 4K panel at 60Hz, you need to use a DisplayPort cable, which supports the refresh rate using Multi-Stream Transport (MST). However, this essentially treats a 4K panel as two displays, which introduces weird side effects. <strong>A new hotfix from Nvidia is intended to address these issues</strong>.</p> <p>The R337.61 hotfix is a beta download. It's intended to address issues where only half the display or no display at all is shown on Dell's UltraSharp UP3214Q and UP4414Q LCD monitors. It also fixes the Code 43 error message some users have seen after installing 337.50 beta driver on a PC with Hyper-V enabled.</p> <p>One way to avoid these issues is to use an HDMI cable, but when doing so, the refresh rate tops out at 30Hz. There's a noticeable difference in performance at 30Hz, even just on the desktop -- the mouse cursor is a bit laggy and takes some getting used to.</p> <p>You can download the hotfix <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 4k beta Drivers geforce r337.61 nvidia Software News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:43:38 +0000 Paul Lilly 27661 at Microsoft Reaches 5 Million Xbox One Console Shipments <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/xbox_one_titanfall.jpg" alt="Xbox One Titanfall" title="Xbox One Titanfall" width="228" height="195" style="float: right;" />Xbox One is selling well, though not as well as Sony's PlayStation 4</h3> <p><strong>Microsoft let the world know that it's sold 5 million Xbox One consoles</strong> since launching back in November of last year. That's a strong start, expecially compared to the Xbox 360, the latter of which saw 60 percent fewer sales during the same time period when it launched many moons ago. However, Xbox One console shipments haven't been keeping up with Sony's PlayStation 4, which has notched 7 million unit sales to date.</p> <p>The other thing worth noting is that Microsoft was careful with its wording, saying that 5 million Xbox One consoles have been "<a href="" target="_blank">sold-in to retailers</a>." In other words, that breaks down to 5 million shipments -- it's not clear how many units have actually been sold to consumers.</p> <p>Regardless, the Xbox One appears to be doing well, especially in the U.S. According to data from NPD Group, Microsoft sold 311,000 Xbox One consoles in the U.S. in the month of March. Software sales are averaging 2.9 games per console. And according to Microsoft, gamers are spending an average of five hours per day on the Xbox One, which collectively have added up to more than 1 billion hours spent in games and apps on the console.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> console games Hardware microsoft xbox one News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:22:23 +0000 Paul Lilly 27660 at AMD Rides Next Generation Console Launches, Posts 28 Percent Bump in Revenues <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/amd_1.jpg" alt="AMD building" title="AMD building" width="228" height="174" style="float: right;" />PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sales contributed to a 118 percent jump in semi-custom SoC revenue</h3> <p>Propped up by next-generation console launches by Microsoft (Xbox One) and Sony (PlayStation 4), <strong>AMD today announced first quarter revenue $1.4 billion</strong>, which is a decrease of 12 percent sequentially but up a whopping 28 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. Unfortunately for AMD, the jump in revenue still amounted to a $20 million loss, or $0.03 per share, though the Sunnyvale chip designer feels good about where it's at.</p> <p>"AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company," <a href="" target="_blank">said Rory Read</a>, AMD president and CEO. "Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win."</p> <p>It's been a rough run all around for traditional PC sales, which resonated with AMD. Its Computing Solutions segment saw an 8 percent sequential decrease in revenue and a 12 percent decline year-over-year, both of which AMD attributed to decreased client unit shipments.</p> <p>Revenue from AMD's Graphics and Visual Solutions segment decreased 15 percent sequentially, but ballooned 118 percent year-over-year. This growth was driven in large part by AMD's semi-custom SoCs, which are primarily used to power game consoles. AMD also notes strong demand for its Radeon R7 and R9 family of products.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> amd console graphics Hardware playstation 4 ps4 revenue xbox one News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:26:33 +0000 Paul Lilly 27659 at Toshiba Throws 4K Crowd a Bone, Launches World's Fastest microSD Memory Cards <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/toshiba_cards.jpg" alt="Toshiba UHS-II" title="Toshiba UHS-II" width="228" height="163" style="float: right;" />The first memory cards to comply with the UHS-II standard</h3> <p><strong>Toshiba is crowning its new microSD memory cards as being the fastest the world has ever seen</strong>. They're supposedly the first in the industry to comply with the UHS-II interface standard, which is an ultra high speed serial bus interface defined in the SD Memory Card Standard Version 4.20. Specifically, the new cards are UHS Speed Class 3 enabled, which allow for 4K video capture at constant minimum write speeds of 30MB/s.</p> <p>There are two capacities available -- 32GB and 64GB. The 64GB cards top out at 260MB/s read and 240MB/s write speeds, while the 32GB cards offer a maximum read speed of 145MB/s and a maximum write speed of 130MB/s. That represents an 8x write speed improvement and 2.7x read speed improvement when compared to Toshiba's current 32GB microSD UHS-1 cards.</p> <p>"This means that 4K2K video, live broadcast and content can be recorded on high-performance cameras," <a href="" target="_blank">Toshiba said</a>.</p> <p>Toshiba has begun sampling shipments to chipset vendors and manufacturers of smartphones and other mobile devices. It's not clear when the cards will be available to the general public or for how much.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 4k memory card microsd toshiba uhs-ii News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:53:33 +0000 Paul Lilly 27658 at Smartphone Theft in the U.S. Nearly Doubled Last Year <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/pickpocket.jpg" alt="Pickpocket Sign" title="Pickpocket Sign" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />A potential solution to rising smartphone theft is still a year away</h3> <p>It's easy to take for granted how much your smartphone is worth. You may have picked one up for free or not much more than that by agreeing to lock yourself into a two-year service agreement with a wireless carrier, but despite the subsidized price you paid, smartphones are worth several hundred dollars. It's no wonder that <strong>thieves stole around 3.1 million smartphones in U.S. last year</strong>.</p> <p>That figure comes from <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Consumer Reports</em></a>, which notes that it's nearly double the 1.6 million smartphones that were stolen in 2012. In addition to thievery, another 1.4 million smartphones were simply lost and never recovered last year, up from 1.2 million in 2012.</p> <p>It's not just the hardware itself that's valuable, but what's kept on the phone as well. Things like photos, videos, contacts, email accounts, and more. Despite all this, smartphone owners aren't doing enough to protect themselves, <em>Consumer Reports </em>says.</p> <p>In a survey of smartphone owners, 34 percent told <em>Consumer Reports</em> they don't take even simple security measures, such as using a PIN or some other form of unlocking mechanism. Those same users said they're not running AV software or backing up their data.</p> <p>Come July 2015, smartphones sold in the U.S. will include a so-called "lock switch," which allows users to remotely delete data from a lost or stolen smartphone. The lock switch will also render the phone useless, as wireless carriers won't activate a device that's been reported lost or stolen. Whether this will actually curb smartphone theft is something that remains to be seen.</p> <p>Image Credit: Flickr (<a href="" target="_blank">mkoolman</a>)</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> consumer reports Hardware mobile smartphone News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:51:42 +0000 Paul Lilly 27656 at Buggy Microsoft Security Essentials Update Kicks XP Machines While Down <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/mse_devil.jpg" alt="MSE Devil" title="MSE Devil" width="228" height="138" style="float: right;" />Here come the conspiracy theories</h3> <p>After more than 12 years of service, Microsoft finally pulled the plug on Windows XP by ceasing to support the operating system last week. However, Microsoft did promise to keep doling out updates for its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) software, including the version that runs on XP, but in doing so, the Redmond outfit only made things worse. That's because <strong>the latest MSE update is causing some XP machines to freeze up and run slow</strong>.</p> <p>Anyone with a tinfoil hat will tell you this is entirely intentional on Microsoft's part and nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to get users to upgrade. The real explanation is likely far less insidious, though equally annoying for XP users who had hopes of holding onto the legacy OS for at least a little while longer.</p> <p>"I am a professional computer engineer and maintain many desktops and laptops for my customers on a daily basis: as of today (April 16th) I have seen about 12 computers on which Windows XP - after every boot up - throws up an error message referring to MSE, stating: 'MsMpEng.exe application error. The instruction at 0x5a4d684d referenced memory at 0x00000000 The memory could not be read', leaving the computer in an unusable state," <a href="" target="_blank">a user wrote</a> on Microsoft's Windows forum.</p> <p>He goes on to say that "the only solution is to disable MSE or uninstall it completely." Doing so will restore performance, but it comes at the expense of security protection, which is now more important than ever for XP users.</p> <p>Microsoft has yet to acknowledge the situation or issue a fix. One is likely coming, but in the meantime, there are third-party AV vendors that still support XP.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft Microsoft Security Essentials mse operating system OS Security Software Windows XP News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:20:08 +0000 Paul Lilly 27655 at Reports Shows Over a Third of Purchased Steam Games Haven't Been Played <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/steam_3.jpg" alt="Steam" title="Steam" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Sales encourage gamers to stockpile more games than they have time to play</h3> <p>It seems like there's always a major Steam sale taking place. There isn't, but certainly Steam sales aren't exactly rare. These sales introduce big discounts to popular titles, both current and ones that are slightly older, and we often find ourselves stockpiling titles with plans to play them at a future date. Apparently that's a common practice, as a<strong> new report suggests that nearly 37 percent of registered Steam titles have never been loaded</strong>.</p> <p>Aurich Lawson at <a href="" target="_blank"><em>ArsTechnica</em></a> did some digging and uncovered some interesting numbers. He didn't pull any of these figures out of a hat, all the estimates are based on publicly available information, he says. So, what exactly did he find?</p> <p>As stated above, over a third of the roughly 781 million games registered to different Steam accounts have never been played a single time. Steam is far from a ghost town, however, as Dota 2 alone currently accounts for around 3.8 billion hours of play time. Lawson also discovered that Steam users have logged 600 percent more time into Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer mode than the single player campaign.</p> <p>Another thing we found interesting is that 17 percent of registered games on Steam have logged less than an hour of play time. If you add that to the games that have never been loaded, it means that 53.4 percent -- a little over half -- of Steam games have either never been loaded or played for less than an hour.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games pc Software Steam News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:36:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 27654 at Why You Must Upgrade From Windows XP <!--paging_filter--><h3>Make your Windows XP-using friends/family members read this important PSA</h3> <p>Microsoft has officially <a href="" target="_blank">pulled the plug on support for Windows XP</a>. &nbsp;That’s it. &nbsp;Finite. &nbsp;Done. &nbsp;No more. &nbsp;Don’t expect to see any future patches, services packs, fixes, hotfixes, critical updates, anything — if you’re one of the <a href="" target="_blank">one-fourth of desktop users</a> or so who are still running the antiquated operating system (yes, there’s that many of you), you’re about to enter the Wild Wild West of computing.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/windows_xp.jpg" alt="Windows XP broken" title="Windows XP broken" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows XP. Which means, "hello, hackers!"</strong></p> <p>So, what does that actually mean? &nbsp;Simple: You have to upgrade. &nbsp;There are no buts about it; staying on Windows XP is a bit like seeing a waterfall ahead on a river and opting to stay in the boat instead of safely paddling to shore. &nbsp;You might not know when you’re going to go over the precipice, but it’s likely that something quite bad is going to happen to you at some point in your future.</p> <p>We’re not just being overdramatic for the sake of it. &nbsp;Why do you think a number of businesses (<a href="" target="_blank">banks, especially</a>) are spending a small fortune to get their systems upgraded as quickly as can be? &nbsp;Why do you think that a number of them are likely going to be paying Microsoft a princely sum for XP support after the fact, as they’ve simply been unable to upgrade important devices like, say, ATMs before the big cutoff date?</p> <p>If you’re still not convinced — or know those that need a little bit of extra convincing — we’re going to run through <a href="" target="_blank">a few Windows XP scenarios</a> to show you that, yes, it’s time to kick this legacy OS to the curb for good.</p> <h4>Patch Tuesdays Could Break Windows XP</h4> <p>Patch Tuesday sounds like it’s a good thing, right? &nbsp;That tried-and-true time that comes around once a month, on the second Tuesday of each month, where Microsoft dishes out new security updates for its operating systems.&nbsp;</p> <p>Only, it’s not going to be doing that for Windows XP any more. &nbsp;And that doesn’t sound quite so bad until you realize just what this might mean for the legacy OS. &nbsp;Consider the following situation: Microsoft finds a security exploit in Windows Vista, 7, and 8 and decides to fix it up using a Patch Tuesday update. &nbsp;Since Windows XP isn’t being fixed anymore, an industrious hacker reverse-engineers Microsoft’s fix and heads on over to his or her Windows XP installation to see if the exploit exists there as well. If it does, he'll most likely exploit it, and then we could be in some serious trouble. &nbsp;</p> <p>In other words, Microsoft will now be feeding those interested in breaking Windows XP a constant stream of possible exploits to investigate. &nbsp;It’s like turning Patch Tuesday on its head.</p> <h4>Disbelief</h4> <p>A number of novice users might feel that they’re protected from the effects of the Internet underground by running a box-copy virus or malware scanner on their system and calling it a day. &nbsp;While that’s certainly true in some cases, even the best malware scanner on the market isn’t going to protect a person from any raw exploits that can be found or abused within the base level of the operating system itself. It's really apples and oranges.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="dangerous waterfall" title="dangerous waterfall" width="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Using Windows XP today is like dangling over a dangerous waterfall. You wouldn't do that now, would you?</strong></p> <p>Malware might take advantage of core areas within the operating system, but running Avast, or Norton Antivirus, or what-have-you is only going to help a user out by scanning what he or she downloads from the Web (or plugs into his or her PC). &nbsp;If a weakness is discovered that’s core to Windows XP’s operation, and doesn’t need a software vector in order to affect one’s system, then a scanning app isn’t going to be able to do anything about it.</p> <h4>What to do?</h4> <p>If we’ve finally managed to convince you that it’s time to switch – or you’ve successfully convinced a friend or loved one that it’s time to move away from Windows XP for good — there are a few routes you can go. &nbsp;The first and most obvious solution is to upgrade, and we recommend that you jump to Windows 7 or Windows 8 when you do. &nbsp;You’ll have an easier time finding copies of the latter and, while it’s a bit of a learning curve for those accustom to the no-frills Windows XP UI experience, more changes coming as a result of Windows 8.1’s official “Update 1” patch will hopefully ease the learning curve ever so slightly.</p> <p>Before you do, however, make sure that you download, install, and run Microsoft’s official upgrade “advisors” for either <a title="Windows 7" href="" target="_blank">Windows 7</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">Windows 8</a>. &nbsp;They’ll tell you whether your system will work well with the new OS from a hardware and software perspective, and they’re valuable tools for getting a general sense of just how well your PC stacks up before you splurge money on an OS upgrade that might not work out that well for you.</p> <p><em>Read our Windows 8.1 review <a href="">here</a>.</em></p> <p>If you’re stuck in that camp, those looking to use the death of Windows XP as an inspiration for a shopping trip can also benefit from some of the current promotions running as a result. &nbsp;Microsoft, for example, is offering <a href="" target="_blank">$100 off new PC purchases</a> for those who access its online store from a Windows XP machine — or, if you want to be truly awesome, for those who drag a Windows XP system into one of the company’s retail stores.</p> <p><em>Learn how to install Windows 7 from a USB key <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p>That said, some users will still face a bit of heartbreak when moving up to a new operating system. &nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Outlook Express</a>, for example, does not exist in Windows Vista or higher – if that’s your XP-using grandmother’s favorite email client, you might need to help her out in moving on up to something a bit more comprehensive… and supported.</p> <p>Learn how to install Windows 8 from a USB key <a title="windows 8 install usb" href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>For what it’s worth, you can go back to <a title="windows xp virtualized" href="" target="_blank">running Windows XP in a secure, virtualized environment</a>. &nbsp;While we don’t recommend that you do anything super-secure in your virtual machine (Amazon shopping might be out), you can at least have access to legacy applications and/or anything else you need from good ol’ Windows XP. &nbsp;And, should this virtualized copy of XP get infected with (or exploited by) something horrible, it won’t affect the contents of your primary operating system – and deleting it / restoring up a new version of Windows XP is super easy.</p> <p>The truly die-hard can also switch on up to a free Linux variant if they feel as if they’re done with Microsoft now that Windows XP has been put out to pasture. &nbsp;Newbies to Linux can give a <a title="live CD" href="" target="_blank">Live CD</a> a try, which packs an entire, working operating system onto removable media – an operating system whose contents cannot be affected beyond the point at which you power down your PC for the day. &nbsp;If your sole interest in having a Windows XP machine is to have a simple way to browse the web and check email, this might be a great way to do that — on a legacy PC — without having to spend a penny post-XP.</p> <h4>Stop reading; start upgrading</h4> <p>We’ve covered some of the more general concerns and issues related to the imminent loss of Windows XP. &nbsp;There are plenty more scenarios as to why upgrading is in your best interest, and there are surely quite a few more ways to do it. &nbsp;What’s clear is that Windows XP support is over. &nbsp;Any additional days you spend chained to the legacy OS, you do so at your own risk. &nbsp;Upgrading is easy. &nbsp;Buying a new computer is easy. &nbsp;Setting up your new apps and migrating your data over is… <a href="" target="_blank">less easy</a>, but it’s better you spend the time doing that than, say, calling up your credit card companies because some industrious hacker connived their way into your Windows XP-based Web shopping, to name one example.</p> <p>If you’re on Windows XP, stop reading right now. &nbsp;Start upgrading. &nbsp;Stay safe.</p> hack hacker important microsoft Patch Tuesday psa scam Should I upgrade upgrade virus Windows windows 7 windows 8 windows xp News Features Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:11:12 +0000 Dave Murphy 27633 at Eurocom's Thin and Light Electra 2 Laptop Boasts Maxwell Graphics, TPM 1.2 Security <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/eurocom_electra_2.jpg" alt="Eurocom Electra 2" title="Eurocom Electra 2" width="228" height="127" style="float: right;" />Eurocom's latest laptop is an ultraportable that starts at $825</h3> <p>Most of the time when we receive word of a new system offering from Eurocom, it's a desktop replacement-class laptop with all the bells and whistles, and price tag to match. This time around, <strong>Eurocom dropped us a line to let us know about its new Electra 2, a thin and light ultraportable</strong> that starts out at $825. It comes standard with a 15.6-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display and Intel Core i5 4200M (Haswell) processor clocked at 2.5GHz (3.10GHz Turbo).</p> <p>Other baseline parts and features include 8GB of DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM memory (single stick), Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M graphics based on Maxwell, 500GB hard drive (7200 RPM), 8X DVD burner, 1080p webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi, 9-in-1 card reader, GbE LAN, Bluetooth, two USB 3.0 ports plus an eSATA/USB 3.0 combo port, a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI and VGA output, and 6-cell battery. Windows 7 and 8 options are available at an additional cost.</p> <p>The Electra 2 also features Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 hardware data encryption, which indicates that Eurocom is targeting IT environments and business users. However, the Electra 2 is configurable and upgradeable, so you can configure a system that's custom tailored to your needs.</p> <p>Eurocom's Electra 2 is <a href="" target="_blank">available now</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> electra 2 Eurocom Hardware laptop maxwell notebook nvidia OEM rigs tpm 1.2 ultraportable News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:32:39 +0000 Paul Lilly 27653 at IBM Posts Revenue Decline for Eighth Consecutive Quarter <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/ibm_pc.jpg" alt="IBM PC" title="IBM PC" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Declining hardware sales and expensive layoffs hurt IBM's bottom line</h3> <p><strong>It was another rough quarter for IBM, which reported a drop in revenue</strong>. That marks eight quarters in a row of revenue declines. For the first quarter of 2014, IBM's total revenues reached $22.5 billion, down 4 percent from the first quarter of 2013. On the plus side, IBM is still making a profit -- $2.4 billion in Q1 2014, though even that figure is marred by the fact that it's down 21 percent year-over-year.</p> <p>Part of the reason why the numbers are down this time around is because of IBM's recent layoffs. The company took an $870 million "workforce rebalancing charge" as it makes changes and reductions to staff that it hopes will pay off in the long run.</p> <p>IBM's bottom line was also affected by a drop in hardware revenue. The company's Systems and Technology segment totaled $2.4 billion for the quarter, down 23 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. Total systems revenues decreased 24 percent, including a 40 percent reduction in revenues from its System z mainframe server products.</p> <p>"In the first quarter, we continued to take actions to transform parts of the business and to shift aggressively to our strategic growth areas including cloud, big data analytics, social, mobile and security," <a href="" target="_blank">said Ginni Rometty</a>, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. "As we move through 2014, we will begin to see the benefits from these actions. Over the long term, they will position us to drive growth and higher value for our clients."</p> <p>IBM benefited from a bump in software sales. The company's Software segment generated $5.7 billion in Q1, up 2 percent year-over-year. Revenues from IBM's middleware products jumped 4 percent to $3.7 billion. Included in that is a 12 percent year-over-year jump in WebSphere sales.</p> <p>Image Credit: Flickr (<a href="" target="_blank">br1dotcom</a>)</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> financial report Hardware ibm revenue Software News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:02:20 +0000 Paul Lilly 27652 at