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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

AMD to Launch Dragon at CES 2009

RV740 is the first 40nm graphics card from the chip manufacturer

Advanced Micro Devices is known to plan on launching its 45nm Phenom II processors at CES 2009, which is set to take place between January 8th and January 11th in Las Vegas. At about the same time the chip manufacturer is reported to also launch its entire Dragon platform. According to news on the web, the Sunnyvale company will launch the AM3 platform with DDR3 support for Dragon at a later date.

As already reported, Dragon will include AMD's 790GX/FX chipset and Radeon HD 4800 series cards. It seems that this will not be the only platform AMD is planning to introduce next year. The company will also unveil its Leo platform by the end of 2009, which is also said to be based on the 45nm Deneb core. According to the news, the platform will get upgraded chipsets, namely RD890, RS880D with SB800, and will also feature a new graphics core.

There are not many details on the graphics solution the company will include with the platform, yet there are some voices that say it should be something more than a new 40nm card, one that would feature DirectX11 support. It seems that Leo (Lion) is the platform AMD will have on display throughout 2010, and also the one that would go with the upcoming Windows 7.

As for AMD's plans in the 40nm area with its next-generation graphics cards, we already learned that it managed to tape out the RV740, which would come as its first graphics solution under the new fabrication process. While this is a mainstream part, AMD's graphics division ATI is also rumored to plan a new RV770, which would come after RV740.

At this moment, ATI's Radeon HD 4870 has lost the performance crown in favor of NVIDIA, which re-launched the GTX 260 and also came up with a better driver release. Since the RV740 is reported to come as mainstream card, until the RV770, a performance board, makes its appearance, NVIDIA might remain on the leading position.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Download Now!!! IE8 Final Looking Like a March 2009 (or Post-March 2009) Release

According to new indications from Microsoft

If you are holding your breath while waiting for the successor of IE7, feel free to exhale at any time because Microsoft is by no means in any hurry to deliver the RTW (release to web) version of Internet Explorer 8. In fact, a recent move from the Redmond company reveals that the gold release of IE8 might come as late as over a year after the launch of the Beta 1 build, if not even later.
Of course, with no official confirmation, anticipating the final release of IE8 is nothing short of examining chicken entrails. However, the Redmond company does provide indications pointing to the availability of Internet Explorer 8 closer to, or even well into, the second quarter of 2009.

The giant is offering free and unlimited support for issues related to the deployment and usage of pre-released versions of IE8. Although the official help and support is currently focused on Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 (All Languages), Microsoft does emphasize that pre-released versions of the browser are in fact supported, and not just the second Beta. Up to this point in time the company has promised to support development milestones of IE8 until March 31, 2009.

“Free unlimited installation and usage support is available for Internet Explorer 8 pre-released versions, but only for North America English customers. This support for Internet Explorer 8 pre-released versions is valid until March 31st, 2009. Advanced issues are not supported. Advanced issues include, but are not limited to, problems that are associated with software and hardware development, domain connectivity, server-based technologies, Web site development, and business-critical systems,” the message on the page reads, as you can very well see from the adjacent image.

The initial deadline for the IE8 pre-RTW support cut-off date was November 1, 2008. In mid-November, Microsoft pushed the date forward to December 31, 2008. Furthermore, just ahead of the start of 2009, support for IE8 pre-RTW was extended until the end of March 2009.

Moving onward from IE8 Beta, the software giant delivered the IE8 pre-RCPartner Release and confirmed that it was gearing up for one more public development milestone build at the start of 2009. With IE8 Release Candidate planned for availability early next year, it is clear that the RTW launch is being pushed forward well into 2009. In accordance with the new March 31, 2009 end-of-support date for pre-released versions of the browser, the final version of Internet Explorer 8 is bound to hit by the end of March 2009 at the earliest, but it could slip even later into 2009.

However, one crucial aspect has to be taken into consideration. Between March 18 – 20, 2009, Microsoft will hold its MIX09 web-centric conference in Las Vegas. Last year, at MIX08 the Redmond company introduced Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1. This year, MIX09 could be synonymous with the RTW of Internet Explorer 8. Earlier this month I contacted Microsoft in relation to its plans for IE8.

“In regard to your questions, we will release one more public update of Internet Explorer 8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release. Our timeline is driven by the quality of the product. Microsoft is deliberate in our approach to releasing new products and we feel a strong obligation to our customers to do so in a responsible manner that ensures they are getting the safest, most reliable product possible,” a Microsoft spokesperson stated for Softpedia. (Jack - thanks for the heads up on this one)

For the time being, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 2 is available for download here.

Download Now!!! OnyX 2.0.1 Adds Support for 'New Web Browsers'

Maintenance, optimization, and personalization utility for Mac OS X

Titanium Software has updated its free multi-function utility that helps Mac users maintain an optimum operating efficiency of their systems. With the release of OnyX 2.0.1, the developer has included three changes.

Titanium Software hopes to have improved deleting the Cache, while new web browsers are now recognized, the company says, mentioning that deleting the Internet cache is now possible with the respective applications. Lastly, the folks behind OnyX were able to squash a bug that temporarily disabled the option to change the OnyX icon.

By using OnyX, users can tweak pretty much anything there is to tweak within Mac OS X. As long as there are some parameters to change, things like the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Expose, Safari, the Login window, and even the hidden settings of some of Apple's own applications become obstacles in the way of OnyX – the app practically begs you to make some changes. And here's how:

· The utility enables you not only to optimize the way OS X works, but also to manage some of the processes behind most applications.

· It allows you to delete caches and remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome, and there's also the option to see detailed info of your configuration, and to preview the different logs and CrashReporter reports.

· The app also lets you modify its appearance - window transparency, the icon, and the toolbar icons, and more.

· OnyX is able to save a Desktop before modifying and relaunching the Finder, while you can set Help Viewer window to “floating,” or “non-floating” mode, and choose the application to execute at launch of X11.

· OnyX automatically checks for updates on startup.

This free Mac app is available for Mac OSes ranging from Jaguar to Leopard. By using the link below, you can download the latest version of OnyX, as well as the uninstaller. If a beta is the latest version available, stable variants of the program are always up for grabs using the same link. There's a note there – read that too!

Download OnyX (Free)

Download Now!!! 2 Updates Resolve Occasional XP SP3 Stop Errors on Restart

Namely Stop 0x00000050 and Stop 0x0000008E

A couple of updates is all that it takes for occasional stop errors affecting Windows XP-based computers to not be a nuisance at all. According to Microsoft, all versions of Windows XP, including Service Pack 3, can return a stop error message that kills the restart process. However, the company emphasized that the issues were occasional at best, and that, in this context, end-users might not even come across the restart failures. Still, when it comes down to reboot cycling tests, the problems are more likely to occur.

“When you restart a Windows XP-based computer, you may receive one of the following Stop error messages: Stop 0x00000050 (parameter1, 00000000, parameter3, 0x00000000) - PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA and Stop 0x0000008E (0xc0000005, parameter2, parameter3, 0x00000000) – KERNEL_MODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED,” Microsoft explained. “The parameters in these Stop error messages may vary, depending on the actual configuration. The symptoms of a Stop error may vary, depending on your computer's system failure options.”

In order to resolve the issues generating the “Stop 0x00000050” and “Stop 0x0000008E” error messages, Microsoft advises users to deploy two updates. The first is Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-061, released in October 2008, with a severity rating of Important, and designed to patch vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel that could allow for elevation of privilege in the eventuality of a successful exploit. Those who have Automatic Updates turned on by default will have already deployed the security patch and need only concern themselves with the second update.

Fact is that KB959252 is meant to resolve the issues introduced by KB954211, namely take care of the “error message when you switch the operating system from a dual monitor setting to a single monitor setting on a Windows XP-based computer or on a Windows Server 2003-based computer that has the security update 954211 installed: 'Stop 0x0000008E,'” according to Microsoft.

KB959252 for 32-bit versions of Windows XP (including SP3) is available for download here.

KB959252 for 64-bit versions of Windows XP is available for download here.

Buy Now!!! Home Server for Macs and PCs Available from HP

Networked computers can back up, stream and publish media simultaneously

The folks at HP have introduced a great server solution for consumers, designed for use with both Windows PCs and Macs. The central repository can enable multiple users on a network to automatically back up and access digital music, videos, photos, and documents. Even gaming consoles can be hooked up to the system.

The HP MediaSmart Server ex485/ex487 is based on the Microsoft Windows Home Server platform, and automatically organizes files on PCs and Macs, streaming media across the network, as well as the Internet. Owners can also use the device to publish photos to popular social networking and photo sharing sites.

The HP Media Collector schedules the MediaSmart Server to copy and centralize digital files and libraries from networked PCs, and can centralize iTunes music libraries on the server for playback to any networked Mac or PC running iTunes.

"A growing number of digital-savvy households have both Windows and Mac computers, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of media files and documents scattered across these devices," Jason Zajac, vice president of strategy, Worldwide Attach Group, HP, said.

"The HP MediaSmart Server protects, stores, and organizes this content from anywhere on a network, so consumers can access and share it any place they are connected."

An Online Backup feature duplicates designated folders to Amazon's S3 online backup service, while users can fire up Smart Power Management to schedule times for the server to go to "sleep" and "wake up."

The device will ship with an Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz 64-bit processor, two gigabytes (GB) of 800-MHz DDR2 DRAM, and 750GB or 1.5TB storage for $599 and $749, respectively. The HP MediaSmart Server can go up to 9 terabytes (TB) of storage capacity.

The HP MediaSmart Server can be pre-ordered beginning on Jan. 5, 2009, from major online retailers like Amazon and BestBuy, and is slated for a February 2009 release. More information on the server can be found here.

Acer Launches Aspire 8930G Laptop with New Intel Quad-Core Processor

Designed for extreme gaming and multimedia performance

Acer, one of the leading portable computer system makers, has announced today the introduction of a new portable PC, part of the company’s range of Aspire notebooks. The new system leverages on the computing power of one of the newest quad-core processors on the market, Intel’s latest Core 2 Quad Mobile Q9000.
With the help of the new processor, Acer's new Aspire 8930G notebook is ready to provide its users with a performance level that could easily rival that of a high-end desktop PC.

“By incorporating the latest capabilities of Intel’s Core2 Quad mobile processors into the Aspire 8930G-7665, Acer is delivering a perfect combination of mobility, innovation and extreme gaming capabilities,” said Sumit Agnihotry, vice president of product marketing for Acer America. “Gamers and enthusiasts who enjoy HD multimedia entertainment will find the performance benefits of quad core mobile performance in the Aspire 8930G unrivaled to other multimedia notebooks on the market.”

Intel has announced the new Q9000 mobile processor earlier today as the Santa Clara, California-based leading chip maker has expanded its range of 45nm mobile CPUs. The processor has been designed to deliver a 2.53GHz core speed and comes with a reported FSB of 1066MHz and 12MB of L2 cache.

Additionally, the new Aspire 8930 notebook from Acer has been equipped with 4GB of DDR3, 1066MHz dual channel memory, a 500GB 7200RPM SATA hard drive, Blu-ray Disc, 6-in-1 Digital Media Card reader, wireless 802.11 a/g/n connectivity and Dolby Home Theater speakers. Designed to provide users with an alternative solution to a mobile media computer system, the new Aspire notebook packs NVIDIA's GeForce 9700M GT graphics processor, with 512MB dedicated video memory, ready to provide an excellent visual experience on the 18.4 inch WUXGA CrystalBrite TFT LCD.

Price-wise, the laptop is said to be available via Acer's authorized resellers and select major retailers, for a MSRP of $1799.99.

MSI Officially Intros the U115 Hybrid Netbook

World's first hybrid storage netbook

MSI officially introduced today the new U115 Hybrid netbook, coming to expand the manufacturer's range of small-sized, low-power computer systems. The new product comes to provide the company's customers with an alternative netbook system that brings to light new features, previously unavailable in any of the MSI netbook models. With the new system, MSI is basically offering its users an alternative storage solution in a netbook form factor. The “Hybrid” in the name stands for hybrid storage, a technology that enables the user to take advantage of both a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

The U115 hasn't been specifically branded as part of the company's Wind family, but, given the overall specifications of the system, it will certainly compete with all the other netbooks on the market. With a design very similar to that of the first MSI Wind netbook, the new U115 Hybrid portable PC does provide some interesting new features, compared to what most products in its range are bringing.

First of all, the new U115 comes built on Intel's Poulsbo US15W platform and is equipped with the Atom X530 processor, running at a similar 1.6GHz, core speed. The other significant change that has been enabled on the new MSI netbook is its capacity of providing two alternative storage solutions. The U115 can be equipped with both a 2.5-inch SATA HDD and an SSD. Users can choose between 120GB and 160GB HDDs and 8GB and 16GB SSDs.

The advantage of the hybrid storage solution of the netbook is that it can provide a longer battery life, but also a faster operating system experience. The technology enables users to temporarily disconnect the HDD of the system, by a simple press of a button, which will set the U115 in its “ECO on Mode.”

Additional details regarding the system include the 1GB of DDR2 memory, 4-in-1 card reader, 2.0MP webcam, wireless LAN and Bluetooth and 3-cell and 6-cell battery options. Unfortunately, MSI is yet to unveil the pricing details.

Netbooks Can Be Used for Gaming

Games with low-performance requirements

Despite the popularity of netbooks, there's at least one area where these small-sized portable computer systems aren't performing as well as some users might expect. As most netbook owners have already experienced, these devices aren't suitable for playing some of the latest computer games on the market. However, despite their limitations, playing games on a netbook system isn't really that farfetched, if you aren't looking for the most demanding PC games out there.
With a bit of patience, you can actually find a list of titles that you can benefit from on your very own Atom-powered netbook.

Gizmag compiled such a list, trying to provide all those netbook users out there with a choice for computer games, other than those available with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. The list has been put together with a bit of help from a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook system, which has been used to test the playability of the titles. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is based on the same Intel Atom and Intel GMA 950 graphics as most of the other netbooks currently available on the market.

The list includes titles you will find on Steam, the service created by Valve, and the place where you are likely to find a number of older game hits or newer independent ones that don't require high CPU or GPU clock speeds. According to them, games such as “Audiosurf,” “Peggle Extreme,” “Reaxxion,” “Ultimate Doom” and “World of Goo” can easily be played on a netbook platform. If you are looking for some freebies, you will be able to choose from titles such as "Beneath" a "Steel Sky," "Cave Story," "Maelstrom" or "Warning Forever."

More successful titles such as EVE Online or Fallout 2 are also included in the list of playable games on a netbook platform. On top of these, you can also add the free online Flash games, which can actually be fun to play.

DRAM Makers Reported to Announce Lower Capex for 2009

The industry players have announced reductions in spending capital for next year

The weak demand on the market coupled with an increased uncertainty drove DRAM makers, including Micron Technology, Hynix Semiconductor and Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC), into announcing capex reductions for the year to come. At the same time, other industry players including Samsung Electronics, Elpida Memory, Nanya Technology, Inotera Memories and ProMOS Technologies are also expected to take this step in 2009.

During 2007, DRAM bit growth rate expanded quite aggressively, due to the fact that many industry names were driven by ambitions to expand their support for Windows Vista. Last year, Hynix's capacity grew 159 percent on year, while Inotera followed with 112 percent. Japan's Elpida and Samsung also expanded by 103 and 86 percent, respectively. The Operating System was not as successful as expected, and DRAM makers saw oversupply. This situation made them become a little more cautious about their spending for the coming year.

According to the news site DigiTimes, Micron already announced capex for the fisca 2009 situated between $650 million and $700 million, lower than the previously estimated one, which was set around $1-1.3 billion.

Hynix is also reported to have announced lower capital spending for 2009, cutting it from the initially-announced $491 million to around $390 million. At the same time, PSC, which had a capex of around $606 million in 2008, announced a capital spending down by 50 percent for next year.

In addition to the negative outlook, the news site also reports that some sources at Taiwan's DRAM makers stated that individual capex budgets for 2009 would be mainly targeted for the development of advanced technologies. The same sources are reported to have said that there would be limited funding allocated to construction or capacity expansion during next year. Industry watchers have also said that in 2009 the number of DRAM makers is expected to shrink.

Download Windows Live Messenger 9.0 (2009) Freebies

Courtesy of Microsoft

The holiday spirit is strong with Microsoft this year. Not only did the Redmond company build Santa Claus' virtual village at the North Pole, allowing users to track his slate via Virtual Earth, but the season initiatives have spread to additional Windows Live components, namely Windows Live Messenger, for which Microsoft is delivering fresh freebies tailored to the 2008 holiday season. Granted 2009 is just a couple of days away, but there is still time to take advantage of the Theme Pack and the new emoticons offered by the software giant.

“Show it like you mean it with these exclusive download,” a message from Microsoft reads. “To show you our thanks for being part of Windows Live, we want you to show off your personality with these free downloads.”

The freebies download and integrate seamlessly in Windows Live Messenger, even in version 9.0 (2009) Beta Refresh, as you can see from the screenshots on the left. “Cozy up [with the] Messenger Theme Pack. Share the warmth this winter with this one-of-a-kind holiday theme pack. Celebrate your way [with] Messenger Emoticons. Spread holiday joy with our tradition-themed collection of holiday emoticons,” Microsoft adds.

The Redmond company has yet to finalize Windows Live Messenger 9.0 (2009), although the promise is that the instant messaging client is very close to going gold. Delivered under the new brand umbrella of Windows Live Essentials, Windows Live Messenger (9.0) 2009 is available for download as a Beta Refresh, and will continue to be offered as a part of Windows Live and no longer as a component of the Windows operating system.

When it delivered Windows Live Messenger 9.0 (2009) Beta Refresh in mid-December, the software giant promised that the final release was just around the corner, and that it was simply ironing out the last details before going gold.

Physicists Prefer Mac OS X

Brian Cox is one LHC physicist that has also grown into a star

Apple is featuring an article on one of the physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider, who just so happens to be a huge Mac fan. According to Brian Cox, any physicist will tell you that the Mac is the way to go, especially if you need to run both new apps and old UNIX programs.

According to the piece currently topping Apple's Science section, Brian Cox is one of the almost 10,000 physicists working at the LHC. He does his job in a laboratory at CERN, but also in Manchester. With all the news surrounding the LHC, Cox has become somewhat of a celebrity thanks to his talent for explaining “complex scientific subjects in understandable and entertaining terms.” In fact, he's so into what he does, that he manages to lecture both scientists and general audiences.

According to general belief, the feat was previously achieved only by renowned astronomer and writer Carl Sagan. Since 2003, Cox has been using the Mac for most of his computational needs, starting with research and ending with presentations and TV shows.

“When you look around a physics conference now, you see more Macs than anything else,” Cox says. “I think that's because they're essentially UNIX, and that makes it very easy for everybody who's used UNIX in particle physics for the past 20 or 30 years. There's a huge code base. We're still using programs written in Fortran quite a lot—programs that were written in the '70s and '80s—and they compile directly on the Mac. It's very easy to do, as opposed to Windows, where it's just a pain to compile all the old legacy programs.”

Cox adds that part of the appeal is the level of control available only with the Mac. “When you grow up as a physicist, certainly a particle physicist, you’ve grown up with terminals. And on a Mac, you can go in and type UNIX commands in a terminal window. It sounds really geeky, but physicists like that power. So, I can't overestimate or overemphasize the usefulness of the Mac being a UNIX-based system. [...] If you asked a physicist, 'What's the ideal laptop?' they would say a UNIX machine that runs things like PowerPoint or Adobe Photoshop,” Cox explains. “That's what everyone wants. And that's what the Mac is.”

Download Now!!! NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 6 Fixes Slide Show Issues

Update fixes video bug with QuickTime integration has released the sixth patch for its full-featured suite of office applications, NeoOffice. The update addresses an issue that prevented video from being displayed in Slide Show Movies, according to a forum post.

“Since we released NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 5 nearly two weeks ago, two users have reported that running QuickTime movies in their documents only play sound and do not show any video,” the team reports on “We have fixed this bug and we have released NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 6. If you experience problems playing QuickTime movies in NeoOffice, we recommend that you install NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 6,” the development team adds.

With the release of Patch 5 for NeoOffice 2.2.5, the development team behind the popular office suite could confirm that NeoOffice began respecting the “Jump to here” setting in the Appearance System Preferences, while the Print sheet would no longer attach to floating toolbar windows. The patch also fixed a bug on Mac OS X 10.5 where radio buttons and checkboxes retained the active appearance when their windows were not active, the changelog revealed. Developers were also able to address an issue where playing a sound in the Gallery could cause NeoOffice to crash. Lastly, Patch 5 added a hidden setting to disable all trackpad gestures in NeoOffice, for those using the suite on a MacBook.

NeoOffice includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database programs. It boasts the ability to import, edit and exchange files with other office programs. Most Microsoft Office 2007 Word, Excel and PowerPoint files are supported, as are Excel VBA Macros.

NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 6 requires a full installation of NeoOffice 2.2.5, and will not install on any version of NeoOffice (2.2.4 or lower). All fixes and additions of previous patches are included in this release. Use the link below to get the latest patch for your copy of NeoOffice.

Download NeoOffice 2.2.5 Patch 6 (Free)

Download Now!!! Linux Mint 6 (Felicia) Released

Based on Intrepid Ibex

Clement Lefebvre and the Linux Mint community proudly announced last night, on the official Linux Mint Blog, the final release of Linux Mint 6 (dubbed Felicia), a popular Linux distribution based on the Ubuntu operating system. Linux Mint 6 is a new and important step in the evolution of the Linux Mint OS, it is based on Intrepid Ibex (Ubuntu 8.10), and it includes all the latest technologies, such as Linux kernel 2.6.27, GNOME 2.24 or X.Org 7.4. Why is Linux Mint 6 so important? Because it now offers a new, in-house tool called mint4win, which will allow everyone to install the Linux Mint operating system directly from Microsoft Windows!

"The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 6 “Felicia”. Congratulations and thanks to all the people who contributed to this release, to all the translators, to the upstream developers and projects which made this possible and above all to the development team for their continuous support." - said Clement Lefebvre, developer of Linux Mint, in the official release announcement.

Highlights of Linux Mint 6:

· mint4win allows you to install Linux Mint from the Microsoft Windows operating system;
· mintInstall 5 with a new offline interface, software versions information and support for multiple portals;
· mintUpdate 3 with a revamped GUI, proxy support, updates history;
· mintUpload 2 with support for FTP transfers;
· mintNanny, a useful parental control tool;
· Giver, a LAN (Local Area Network) transfer tool;
· Gufw, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) frontend for the ufw firewall;
· Flegita, an utility for scanners.

On top of that, the Linux Mint team is proud to present the introduction of the Linux Mint Universal Edition, a customized version of Felicia, available as a Live DVD. The Universal Edition contains the following features:

· Installs all the missing audio and video codecs;
· Offers support for English, Italian, German, Spanish, Indonesian, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Urdu, Finnish, Chinese, Japanese, Danish, Filipino, Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Ukrainian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Catalan, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian and Farsi languages;
· Available as a Live DVD.

What are recommended system requirements? To install Linux Mint 6, you will need minimum 512 MB of RAM (however, the system will work very well with 256 MB of RAM after installation). Be aware that the installation may hang if you have less than 512 MB of RAM. As a solution, you can try to repeat the installation process several times. Also, you must have at least 3 or 4 GB of free hard drive space.

What is Linux Mint? Linux Mint is an elegant, easy to use, up-to-date, 100% free and comfortable Linux desktop distribution based on the very popular Ubuntu operating system. It offers paid commercial support to companies and individuals. Also, free community support is available from the forums and the IRC channel. If you want to give Linux Mint 6 (Felicia) a try, download it right now from Softpedia. The Linux Mint Universal Edition can also be downloaded from Softpedia.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Download Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 2.4 – Free

New Canon, Leica and Leaf cameras are now supported

Apple has added new raw camera support for Aperture and iPhoto users in the Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update version 2.4. If you use either of the two photo-focused applications, the free update extends RAW file compatibility to eight additional cameras, including the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon PowerShot G10, Pentax K2000K-m, Leica M8.2, and four camera systems from the folks at Leaf, including the AFi-II 6 and Aptus-II 7. Issues related to specific cameras have also been addressed in this release. Stability is, additionally, improved, Apple says.

From Apple's Support section, the Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 2.4 is described as follows:

About Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4

This update extends RAW file compatibility for Aperture 2 and iPhoto ’08 for the following cameras:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II;
Canon PowerShot G10;
Pentax K2000/K-m;
Leaf AFi-II 6;
Leaf AFi-II 7;
Leaf Aptus-II 6;
Leaf Aptus-II 7;
Leica M8.2.

Apple adds that the Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4 also fixes problems related to specific cameras and overall stability. System requirements include Mac OS X 10.4.11 and Mac OS X 10.5.3 or later. Supported languages include Deutsch, English, Français, and Chinese.

Weighing in at approximately 4MB, Apple's Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 2.4 is available as a free download for Mac owners using iPhoto '08 and Aperture 2. Users can either download and install the update automatically by firing up Software Update from their Macs' Apple Menu, or access the link below to grab the standalone installer. Should they resort to the second method, users must:

1- double click the RAWCameraUpdate.dmg disk image to unpack the installer;
2- double click the RAWCameraUpdate.pkg installer package to begin installation;
3- follow the on-screen instructions by hitting continue and accepting the software license agreement;
4- click Install to start the process where files are being copied to the hard drive;
5- choose Restart to reboot the system so the update takes effect.

Download Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4 (Free)

Google Friend Connect Integrated with Twitter

Users with a Twitter account can now use it on Friend Connect

Google has recently released the Beta version of Friend Connect, a service that enables non-technical site owners to enhance their websites with numerous social features, so that their visitors can easily login using their Google, AOL, OpenID, or Yahoo! credentials. Now, the service has been announced to receive support for the integration with the popular Twitter network.

In other words, one will be able to login to friend-connected sites using their Twitter details, then search if their buddies are already members of the Google service. If a user wants to invite some more friends, they simply need to create a tweet using the members gadget, and specify the address of the new site.

Once the invitation is sent, the Twitter followers only need to click a link and browse to the new page. Furthermore, those who want to accept this invite can, subsequently, replace their current Friend Connect profile with the Twitter one.

On the other hand, it is important to highlight the fact that Twitter has chosen not to take sides when it comes to the rivalry between Google and Facebook in terms of open identification standards. Keep in mind that a Facebook Twitter app has already been released, and, despite the fact that the Facebook buyout proposal has been rejected by the Twitter representatives, CEO Evan Williams states that the integration with Friend Connect is still in progress.

“For the record: Twitter did not 'choose Google, not Facebook.' We're working with both. We have more to do on the [Facebook] side before launch,” he recently stated in the “natural” tweet form. As most of you already know, Twitter is a highly popular microblogging service, which helps users get informed on a range of different events. News on this service covers a wide area, from tracking jailed journalists all the way to recording the movements of unborn babies.

Macworld 2009 – The Last for Apple

Apple announces its last year at the expo held at San Francisco's Moscone Center

Apple's press room is featuring a shocker saying “Apple Announces Its Last Year at Macworld.” The company has found that trade shows are not its thing anymore, while Steve Jobs will not be present at this last event. Instead, Phil Schiller will be the keynote holder.

An excerpt from Apple's official announcement goes,

Apple today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.

According to the report, Apple has achieved its goal in reaching customers, mostly thanks to the increasing popularity of its retail stores. The stores attract more than 3.5 million visitors every week, “So, like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers,” reads the piece.

The official website, which enables the Cupertino-based Mac maker to reach more than a hundred million customers around the world, is also playing a role in Apple's increasing popularity. “Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo, and Apple Expo in Paris,” the company admits.

Apple's CEO was already expected to miss this year's keynote presentation, before Apple's confirmation. According to Jim Goldman of CNBC, Steve Jobs is not ill, as some have speculated. Before Apple got a chance to announce the pulling away from Macworld, Goldman supported the company's explanation. “Jobs' decision was more about politics than his pancreas. If Jobs for some reason was unable to perform any of his responsibilities as CEO because of health reasons, which would include the Macworld keynote, I should 'rest assured that the board would let me know,” he said. “Steve Jobs is fine. It's Macworld the expo that's on its last legs,” he concluded.

Apple Ordered to End Exclusive iPhone Deal in France

Orange may soon see some competition from Bouygues Telecom SA

News that Apple must now allow operators other than France Telecom's Orange SA to sell its popular iPhone has just hit the wires. The French competition regulator is acting amidst complaints from Orange rival Bouygues Telecom SA, the No. 3 mobile operator in France.

Orange rival Bouygues Telecom SA reportedly filed a complaint with the regulator over the arrangement between Orange France and Apple, back in September 2007, when Orange became the iPhone's exclusive distributor in France since the phone was launched last year.

The regulator said that Wednesday's order was more of a protective measure and is currently still investigating Bouygues' complaint, according to an official report. A statement issued by the French competition regulator argued that “Apple's exclusive arrangement with Orange posed a 'serious and immediate threat' to competition in the mobile telecommunications sector, and increased costs for mobile phone users who sought to change operators,” the report notes.

Bouygues Telecom evidently welcomed the ruling, adding that it hoped to begin selling the iPhone shortly. Orange, for its part, wasn't available for comments. Nevertheless, the well-established mobile operator is expected to issue its stance soon enough.

Orange began selling Apple's iPhone in Nov. 2007. The carrier announced it had sold a whopping 216,000 units by September 30, 2008. Upon signing the deal with Apple last year, Orange France revealed it was quite happy with reaching the end of negotiations on the terms of the phone's release. At the time, Didier Lombard, CEO, France Telecom, stated.

“The iPhone is a marvelous product and will change how people think about mobile. I'm delighted that it is launching in France through Orange, and I'm sure that our customers share my excitement. Our partnership with Apple is a natural fit, because we are two global brands who share the same values of simplicity and innovation. It's going to be a very merry Christmas for Orange customers all over the country!” Lombard said.

Buy Now!!! Typinator 3.3 Defines Set-Specific Options

A typing automator that lets users type faster with fewer errors

Ergonis Software has released version 3.3 of its auto-typing and auto-correcting utility, Typinator. The new release adds predefined sets with subscript and superscript characters and separate auto-correction dictionaries for US and British English, among other enhancements. Several bug fixes are also listed in the changelog for Typinator 3.3.

Typinator is a very useful tool for auto-typing text and auto-correcting typos across all Mac OS X applications that use text and / or images. It helps users quickly insert phrases or pictures into any type of document, and eliminates errors by automating the process of inserting frequently used text and graphics and auto-correcting typing errors, thus boosting productivity.

Ergonis reveals that Typinator 3.3 now allows users to define set-specific options, where they can specify common prefix and suffix characters for all abbreviations within a set, define separate expansion sounds and add notes per set. Additionally, the new version includes increased compatibility with Adobe Acrobat. The rest of the changes can be found in the highlights list just below.

· Typinator now uses separate default sounds for expansions and corrections;
· Two new built-in sets with Unicode subscript and superscript characters;
· The whole word and case options can now be changed for multiple abbreviations in one step;
· Smarter handling of apostrophes covers most special cases in English and French;
· Option to count replacements as corrections or expansions;
· Typinator updates its preferences file less often under heavy use.

Issues that were in need of being resolved included a problem that caused the memory requirements of Typinator to grow after certain editing operations, an issue where Typinator refused to import sets from certain locations near the Application Support folder, and a fault with the conversion of large expansions from older set formats.

According to Ergonis, Typinator 3.3 also works around a problem in NetBeans that has been causing the application to insert the previous contents of the clipboard. Typinator requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later, but Leopard is recommended.

Download Typinator 3.3 (Update / Demo / Buy)

Adobe Releases Stable Version of AIR for Linux. Doanload Now!!!

Now in sync with the Windows and Mac OS versions

Adobe announced last evening the final release of Adobe AIR for Linux, a new technology that allows AIR applications to be deployed on computers and devices powered by the Linux operating system. This first stable version, Adobe AIR 1.5, gets injected with support for custom effects and filters, extensible rich text layout, native 3D animation and transformation. These features were previously introduced in Adobe Flash Player 10. Moreover, the powerful WebKit HTML engine will now power and accelerate the performance of AIR applications, and a new encrypted database will store customer's data more securely. This being said, developers can now deploy AIR applications on all three major platforms: Linux, Windows and Macintosh.

Highlights of Adobe AIR 1.5:

· Install/Uninstall/Update AIR applications;
· AIR applications can be launched at startup;
· HTML loader with JavaScript support was added, therefore HTML can be rendered within AIR applications;
· Local database Application Programming Interfaces;
· Filesystem that supports user folders such as Documents or Desktop;
· Transparency;
· Mouse events;
· Networking;
· Printing support;
· Support for IME;
· SWF and PDF can be within HTML code;
· Fullscreen support;
· Localization support;
· Local store can be encrypted;
· Store certification.
· Native Application Programming Interfaces;
· Capabilities (OS) Application Programming Interface;
· Drag & drop and clipboard support was added;
· Windowing support;
· Menu support with menu bar, context menu, menu events and pop-up menus;
· System idle detection support;
· Can detect network changes;
· Can detect running programs;
· Registration of file types;
· System tray area icon support;
· Hardware acceleration;
· Menu keyboard accelerators;
· Multi monitor support;
· Webcam (V4L2) support;
· and many more!

Wonder how to install Adobe AIR on your Linux machine? Take a look below at our step-by-step installation instructions:

1. Download Adobe AIR 1.5 from Softpedia .

2. Open a terminal (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal in Ubuntu) and paste the following commands, one by one:

cd Desktop
chmod +x adobeair_linux_b1_091508.bin

3. Click the “I Agree” button, enter your password, and Adobe AIR Beta will be installed...
4. When it's done, close the installer's window by clicking the “Finish” button...
You can find Adobe AIR Application Installer and Uninstaller entries in the menu, under Applications -> Accessories...

If you have Adobe AIR in your system and you want to update it, follow the first step above and you should see the following update notification window...

Click on the "Update" button and, in a few seconds, you will have the final and stable version of Adobe AIR!

Download and install Adobe AIR applications right now from Softpedia.

Poladroid Updated – Free Download

Cool freeware app that turns any picture into a Polaroid-style photograph

Developed by Dominik Fusina, Poladroid makes even the worst pictures you've got look like the work of a professional. A new version of the still-free application is available to be downloaded and installed on your Mac right now.

Using Poladroid couldn't be easier and more fun. After copying the app to your Applications folder, click on its icon in the dock to fire it up. Use the Finder to look up your photos and, once you've found some that you like, start dropping them onto Poladroid's way-too-cool user interface. Your pictures are now seconds away from getting "spit out" of the camera and scattered across your desktop in a random manner. But wait! Here's where the fun begins.

When you get 10 pictures done, Poladroid will refuse to make more. This is normal behavior for a Polaroid camera, so, naturally, Poladroid replicates that behavior. The developer wanted to make the experience as realistic as possible, so the camera runs out of paper after 10 snaps. You will have to close and restart the program to begin a new shooting session with a fresh cartridge.

Moreover, the wait-to-develop feature is added to the real deal experience. Best of all, you can grab the picture and shake it about to develop it faster. Using realistic Polaroid-like color variation, Poladroid can generate high-res pictures of up to 400 dpi – ready-to-print. Main features of Poladroid include:

• Easy to use: Drag & Drop;
• Generate High-resolution pictures (400 dpi), "ready-to-print" with a Polaroid design;
• Funny: only 10 treatments per session, like the content of a cartridge;
• Random and realistic Polaroid-like colors variation.

Poladroid is currently in beta, but you can download the current version of the application for free, and keep it for as long as you want. The software only requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), though it works a tad better on Leopard. It's a Universal Binary too, meaning both PPC and Intel processors are supported.

Download Poladroid Beta (Free)

Buy Now!!! The GPS Homing Device, the Perfect Backtracking Tool

Not for boozers, though

How about a small and super-cool GPS device that will help you find a certain location or your seemingly lost car in the vastness of the parking lot? If we've been able to make your eyes pop out, then read on and see how simple some things can be with the help of the GPS Homing Device.

We're talking about a key chain-sized gadget, which will most likely mean a lot of fun and a lot of saved time. The GPS Homing Device is one of the simplest GPS products around, and it has been designed for one basic goal, namely to help you get back to a preset location. This "preset location" can be your car, a place you liked in your trip through a forest, and, of course, any spot you've been to and wanted to revisit.

Now, a cool thing about the GPS Homing Device is that it will not only save one single location, but also two additional intermediate waypoints to expand the functionality. Unlike most other GPS gadgets that boast complex functions and a lot of commands, settings and options, the Homing Device is as simple as it gets. You only have two buttons, which already tell everything about how easy to use this product is: one of them powers the GPS Homing Device on and off, while the other one will help you set the three destinations/waypoints.

Once you've set all the above, all you have to do is follow the direction indicated by the arrow of the self-calibrating digital compass. The GPS Homing Device will also tell you the distance in miles and yards, or kilometers and meters. On the reliability side, we should mention that the GPS Homing Device is weather resistant, and comes with a lanyard. At the same time, its 5 yard-accuracy makes it a handy and fairly precise tool.

The GPS Homing Device will run for up to 20 hours on two AAA batteries, and will not be a burden to your traveling pack, as it just weighs in at 170 grams. If you like the idea, you can get it for $79.95 in this gadget/design store. We suppose that the product is "not for boozers" because it's most unlikely that a person so drunk that he/she can't find the way home would be able to read the LCD in the dark.

Firefox 2.0 Is Dead, but Here Comes Firefox Download Now!!!

Even though was supposed to be the last security and stability update

Just two days after the release of Firefox and the official cut-off date for all updates to Firefox 2.0, Mozilla announced its plans to make available Firefox as soon as possible. On December 17, Mozilla explained that it had managed to ship an incomplete Firefox build, and that, in this context, yet another update for Firefox 2.0 was required. In this manner, even though Mozilla had planned to kill off support for Firefox 2.0 with the launch of version, the successor of Firefox 3.0 has got a reprieve, albeit small in any real significance. It seems that only the Windows version of the open source browser will get an additional breath of fresh air.

“We missed a fix due to an innocent clerical error in the build process, and will now be including it. No big deal,” explained Mike Beltzner, Mozilla User Experience lead. “It was a Windows-only omission, and happened at the point where we packaged and signed builds.”

On December 16, 2008, Mozilla made available for download Firefox and Firefox 3.0.5. Samuel Sidler, Quality Assurance engineer at Mozilla, revealed that no additional security and stability updates were planned for Firefox 2.0 past In this context, December 16 marked the release of the last security and stability update for Firefox 2.0, with Sidler urging users to upgrade to Firefox 3.5 as soon as possible.

Users insisting on running Firefox will no longer benefit from security and stability updates for that version of the open source browser. Mozilla currently offers Firefox 3.0.5 for those willing to upgrade and is cooking Firefox 3.1 codenamed Shiretoko, with Beta 3 expected by the end of January 2009. Firefox 3.0.6 is also in development with Mozilla estimating a February 2009 release. At the same time, candidates of Firefox are already being offered for testing

Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox for Windows are available for download here.

Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox for Mac are available for download here.

Firefox 3.0.5 for Linux is available for download here.

Firefox for Linux is available for download here.

Notebook Graphics, Download Now!!! Drivers Now Available on

Unlock the visual potential of CUDA and PhysX-based applications

Santa Clara, California-based NVIDIA has just announced that notebook users will now be able to download upgradeable graphics drivers directly from the company's website. The new drivers are meant to enable notebooks that are powered by an NVIDIA mobile graphics processing unit to take advantage of new features and improved application compatibility, also further boosting the performance ratio of said systems. Also, with the new drivers, GeForce notebook GPUs will now be able to take advantage of a series of CUDA-based applications, ranging from games that boast GPU-accelerated physics, to video conversion.

“NVIDIA is committed to giving the rapidly growing number of customers using notebook GPUs the same performance optimizations and innovative graphics features that desktop customers have grown accustomed too,” Dwight Diercks, vice president of software engineering at NVIDIA, said.

For a while now, NVIDA has been promoting its GeForce brand by marketing on the performance potential of these graphics processing units, especially in non-gaming applications. Basically, the company wants to capitalize on the untapped performance potential of its cards' parallel processing power, which can be used to deliver a new level of performance for a series of visual computing applications.

According to the green company, the new drivers will be available in a WHQL-certified version supporting all GeForce 7, 8, and 9 series and Quadro NVS series notebook GPUs early next year. They will make it so that notebook users will enjoy the visual quality enabled by technologies such as PhysX, which will be more noticeable in upcoming game applications.

“To accomplish this, we have worked diligently over the past year to modularize our driver architecture and develop a unified driver install package that will not only work with notebooks from all manufacturers but also maintain all of their specific model customizations such as hotkeys and suspend and resume functionality.” Diercks further added.

GeForce GTX 295 Ready for January Launch

As soon as January 8 at CES

For a while now, details, pictures and even a full range of benchmarks have been leaking on the Internet, showing to the world what NVIDIA's upcoming dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 is really capable of. Still, the Santa Clara, California-based chip maker remains relatively quiet regarding the release of its new GeForce flagship.

However, after taking into account all the leaked details on the great “world wide web,” we can easily consider January 8 as the most likely release date of the new card. This is the exact date when the Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas Nevada, will debut, which could mean that attendees at the show will likely be among the first to see the card, up close and personal.

The GTX 295 is seen as NVIDIA's comeback on the market of high-performance graphics cards, where the company unfortunately lost the number one spot to its competitor AMD. At this time, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is the fastest graphics card available on the market, but that could change as soon as Q1 next year, when said GTX 295 is expected to make a stand.

Both cards are seriously impressive from a number of points, ranging from their technical specifications and ending with their remarkable measures. Due to their dual-GPU design, both NVIDIA and AMD's graphics cards are going to impact seriously a user's internal configuration, as they can take up a lot of space. We also have to take in consideration some of these cards' thermal specifications, power consumption and price tag, as all these will basically provide you with the necessary clues as to which market they have been designed for.

In some benchmarks, the GTX 295 is said to provide a performance boost of 100% over that achieved by HD 4870 X2. However, that may sound a bit strange, even for the most enthusiastic of NVIDIA fans, so it would be best to wait for official benchmarks following the introduction of the card.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Details on Corsair DOMINATOR GT DDR3 Memory Surface

The new kits feature high speed, low voltage and low latencies

Corsair, a worldwide leading provider of high performance computer and flash memory products, has been rumored for quite some time now to be working on new memory modules that would be added to the company's DOMINATOR series of DDR3 kits. Some pictures and specifications of its new low-voltage Core i7 targeted memory products have recently emerged to the web.

The fresh DOMINATOR GT DDR3 memory modules feature outstanding clock speeds of 2000MHz and are meant to deliver the ultimate performance experience to any Intel Core i7 / Intel X58-based motherboard owner. The latencies featured by the new modules are also impressive, 7-8-7-20, while the operating voltage is 1.65V.

In addition to the appealing working speed and timings, the blazing-fast tri-channel Corsair DOMINATOR GT memory modules are equipped with the updated Dual-path Heat Xchange (DHX) heatsinks. Word on the web has it that the new DDR3 kits will come in 2GB modules, and that they will be backed by a lifetime warranty.

As seen in the test images xtremesystems published, the fresh Corsair DOMINATOR GT DDR3 memory modules are fast enough to fulfill the needs of any computer enthusiast, gamer or professional that looks for high-performance, low power usage and increased stability. Moreover, given the fact that the kits feature low voltage, they are expected to allow users to overclock them a bit more, which would make them an even better option for any desktop system.

The performance area is not the only one Corsair paid attention to. As seen in the pictures, the new DOMINATOR GT DDR3 memory modules come with an appealing outlook as well. Blazing fast, the kits were supposed to come with distinctive marks, and they feature black and red heatspreaders, plus special red labels.

There is no official word from the company on the memory modules, yet rumors say they should be unveiled in the nearest future. As for pricing, the DOMINATOR GT should be over 400 Euros.

Kiwi Linux 8.12 Has 3.0

Based on Ubuntu 8.10

Based on Intrepid Ibex, here comes the final release of Kiwi Linux 8.12, a Linux distribution designed for workstations. The new version of Kiwi Linux brings many updated packages, new features, new languages and, on top of that, it includes the 3.0 open source office suite. Kiwi Linux 8.12 is also packed with support for restricted multimedia formats (MP3 and DVD playback),
the Speedtouch 330 USB ADSL modem and it is available in the following languages: English, Romanian, German, French and Hungarian. However, the
German and French languages are only partially supported on the Live CD.

Highlights of Kiwi Linux 8.12:

· 3.0.0 (with Romanian translation);
· Compiz Fusion Configuration Panel;
· Wubi, the Ubuntu installer for Microsoft Windows;
· Support for Speedtouch 330 USB ADSL modem (Romtelecom);
· PPPoE Configuration Panel;
· GRUB boot loader restore utility;
· Adobe Flash Player 10;
· Microsoft Fonts;
· Archiving utilities (7z, rar);
· Multimedia codecs (MP3 and DVD playback);
· Includes all updates released as of December 15th, 2008.
As we've mentioned at the beginning of the article, Kiwi Linux 8.12 has built-in support for multimedia playback, powered by the Medibuntu software repositories, which also offer access to popular applications, such as Google Earth and Skype.

Last but not least, the Kiwi Linux team removed the Evolution packages from the Live CD to gain extra space. However, they didn't include an e-mail client. Therefore, you have to install one, in order to send e-mails, via the Add/Remove application!

Kiwi is a Live CD Ubuntu-based Linux distribution for the x86 processor family. It features numerous tools such as Flash plugin for Firefox, audio/video codecs, support for encrypted DVDs, PPPoE GUI for an easier access to local ISPs, and Romanian and Hungarian localizations. Kiwi Linux 8.12 can be downloaded right now from Softpedia.

Slow HDTV Sales Affect the PlayStation 3

People aren't buying it as they used to

The console war is a series of pretty tough battles, with the three sides, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, fighting bitterly for every customer out there. This is especially true around the holiday season, because people are more and more inclined to buy consoles and games.

But, as recent sales figures show, the hierarchy of the three major consoles, the Wii, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, is quite clear. Nintendo dominates its opposition with figures that have been on the rise ever since it was launched in 2006 and the company, expecting a big boost come Christmas, already warned its customers to buy a Wii or a DS in advance, in order to be sure that they receive their gift. The Xbox 360 comes in second, as a result of subsequent price cuts and various bundles, which made the console very attractive to a lot of people.

When it comes to the PlayStation 3, despite the fact that it is the most powerful console hardware-wise, it is the loser of this war, as it is beaten by the Xbox 360 in territories such as Asia or Europe, where it was traditionally favored to Microsoft's product. But the high price isn't the only thing that is affecting the success of the PS3, because the recent slump in HDTV sales also had a great impact on the multimedia system, according to Wedbush Morgan analyst, Michael Pachter.

“There was likely some substitution of Xbox 360 for PS3 purchases, due to recent price reductions for the Xbox 360 and the bundling of the console with two free games,” said Pachter. “In addition, we believe that PS3 sales are being impacted by lower demand for HD televisions as a result of the recession. We believe that several PS3 exclusives, notably LittleBigPlanet, along with focus on the Blu-ray will drive hardware sales over the next six months.”

Pachter also went on to say that, although some people believed that the recession would have a big impact on the gaming industry, the latter would certainly get out of the crisis virtually unharmed. He motivated this by the fact that the three console manufacturers attracted a lot of users, with the Wii focusing on the casual market, the PS3 on the Blu-ray one and the Xbox 360 on the online market, with its New Xbox Experience.

It does seem that once people begin to realize all of the benefits that the PS3 has, they might make such an investment in it, but, until then, the lower priced Wii and Xbox 360 are still a very popular choice.

Office 2007 SP2 a Commitment to File Formats Interoperability

Service Pack 2 is coming in 2009

Having brought Open XML on par with ODF by ratifying the native file format of the Office 2007 System as an ISO standard, Microsoft is now embracing both OASIS Open Document Format (ODF) version 1.1 and Open XML (Ecma 376 Edition 1). The company claims that its commitment to file format interoperability is at the heart of the move to implement ODF 1.1 along with Open XML into Office 2007 Service Pack 2, due for release next year. The software giant has already published documentation offering insight into the Office 2007 SP2 implementation of ODF 1.1, and will do the same for Open XLM in the coming weeks.

“This is an extremely valuable contribution to the pursuit of grounded, practical interoperability among applications,” Dennis Hamilton, document-system interoperability architect, said. “This step raises the bar for transparent disclosure of how standard formats are supported at a detailed level.”

According to Microsoft, the notes detailing ODF support in Office 2007 SP2 are designed to deliver a complex perspective on the decisions the company has taken in the implementation process, but also on the data that the software giant has added to the files and on the variances resulted due to specific approaches. Still, making Office 2007 SP2 play nice with ODF is just the beginning for Microsoft.

The Redmond company indicated that it would not stop with the addition of ODF and PDF support to Office 2007, and with the publishing of the implementation notes. In this regard, the software giant aims to be intimately involved in the evolution of both its Open XML and ODF, XML Paper Specification and PDF.

Microsoft issued a call for transparency and collaboration to the members of the industry, when it came down to the evolution of open standards for the sake of file format interoperability among office productivity solutions.

“By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing detail that others can use as a reference point for their own applications,” Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability, explained. “We encourage other companies to take similar steps to help achieve greater interoperability across the industry.”

Intel Believes IGPs Can't Substitute GPUs

IGPs are cheaper and more power efficient, but they also deliver less performance

The graphics cards market is led by Intel Corp., which accounted for about 49.4 percent of the total shipments of graphics adapters in the third quarter of the year. The solutions provided by the chip maker are integrated graphics processors (IGPs), yet the company does not believe that these would be able to prove a future substitute to discrete graphics processing units (GPUs). The Santa Clara company seems rather interested in exotic graphics technologies that could fit performance-demanding markets, and not in pushing IGPs towards them.

“Graphics are being integrated into the processor in the a future Nehalem processor – but I can’t see the need for discrete graphics cards going away any time soon for those who demand the best 3D performance,” Nick Knupffer, an Intel spokesperson for all graphics technologies, is reported to have said in an interview with X-bit labs.

According to Knupffer, Intel would have little chances to see demand for an IGP that would be developed for the software and hardware level for professional applications, although NVIDIA has its Quadro FX 470 IGP in the field. The demand for IGPs on that market segment would rise only if the integrated solutions became more powerful, and Intel does not intend to make a move in the area until this happens.

“CAD users tend to need huge 3D capabilities in their hardware – they will likely use discrete cards. [The creation of IGPs targeting professional market segment] is not our primary design target, but we are always assessing opportunities in new market segments,” the Intel representative is stated to have said.

Integrated chipsets come with a range of advantages such as low price and lower power consumption compared to a traditional combination of core-logic and a GPU. On the other hand, a standalone solution delivers higher performance levels when it comes to graphics intensive applications. Given this state of facts, many users choose to opt for both ways, and they also rely on an external graphics solution to boost the capabilities of their machine when needed.

“Potentially, [external graphics card] is a terrific idea. Imagine being on the go using integrated graphics, benefiting from excellent battery life and small form factor – then coming home and plugging your high performance laptop into an external card and getting its full hardcore 3D gaming benefits. I think quite a lot of mobile power users would like this scenario – especially when coupled with a mobile Intel Core 2 Extreme processor,” said Knupffer in the interview.

THQ Also Licenses NVIDIA PhysX for Its Worldwide Studios

Joins EA and 2K Games

NVIDIA's PhysX technology is enjoying increasing popularity, as the company has announced today that THQ, a global leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software, has selected the aforementioned technology to be used by its studios worldwide.

With this development, THQ joins EA and 2K Games, which have recently announced that they have also licensed PhysX to be used in their studios throughout the world. The technology enables game developers to develop titles with more realistic features, which, of course, will offer gaming enthusiasts a comparatively more true to life video experience.

“The NVIDIA PhysX technology delivers astonishing physics effects and will help us develop the most competitive and innovative products in the marketplace,” said Roy Tessler, THQ’s senior vice president, Production and Worldwide Studios. “With support for both the CPU and the GPU, PhysX technology allows us the creative freedom to design compelling environments and deliver truly immersive gaming experiences.”

PhysX is a technology developed by Ageia, a company that was acquired by NVIDIA. It is meant to handle the physics in a gaming application, thus bringing a more realistic feel to titles developed for a variety of platforms, including PC, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Thanks to the architecture of NVIDIA's graphics processing units, physics can be handled by the GeForce GPU, for up to 10 to 20 times more visual complexity over what was possible on traditional platforms.

“Physical interactions are increasingly important to bringing realism to interactive game play and we are thrilled that THQ has selected PhysX as a development platform for their interactive entertainment titles,” said Ujesh Desai, vice president of GeForce Desktop Business at NVIDIA.

The fact that THQ has decided to license NVIDIA's PhysX for its worldwide studios to use literally translates into that, in the near future, releases from the gaming developer will make the most of said technology.

Windows 7 Beta Features Extensions to Services Location Protocol

Documentation available

Windows 7 comes to the table with extensions to the Windows services location protocol. In this regard, Microsoft is offering for download documentation designed to reveal to developers the WS-Discovery remote extensions it has introduced in the next iteration of the Windows client.
The WS-Dev Remote Extensions for Windows 7 Beta Documentation are set up to detail those for WSDAPI in the next development milestone for the successor of Windows Vista.

“Microsoft’s implementation of WS-Discovery and Devices Profile for Web Services (DPWS) in Windows, WSDAPI, will support an extension of the WS-Discovery protocol to allow discovery clients to search for devices and services spanning different physical subnets by sending requests to centralized proxies instead of to the services themselves. This support includes a mechanism for sending proxy locations to clients and services, extensions to WS-Discovery messages, and behavioral rules for clients and services,” Microsoft revealed.

The Redmond company emphasized that the traditional ad-hoc multicast WS-Discovery would not be scrapped from Windows. The WS-Discovery Remote Extensions are set up only to take the multicast discovery protocol for services location to the next level. Via WS-Discovery, Windows 7 is capable of searching and identifying specific services on a subnet, but also of announcing their availability.

“In managed networks (those with managed infrastructure) many subnets may be connected in a single administrative domain. One or more proxies may be centrally located, or one proxy may be deployed on each subnet. Clients and services may be located on any subnet. Clients on one subnet may use a proxy to locate a service on another subnet. Two provisioning mechanisms are defined that allow an administrator to advertise a proxy’s address to clients and services: ad-hoc WS-Discovery, and manual configuration,” Microsoft added

AMD Unveiled Its Athlon X2 7000-Series CPUs

The new dual core chips are meant to strengthen AMD's position on the market

Advanced Micro Devices is reported to have unveiled the first AMD Athlon X2 7000-series microprocessors built around the highly-discussed code-named Kuma core. The chips are meant to strengthen AMD's position on the dual-core market rather than bringing new performance heights.
The company needs to solidify its presence on the entry-level market segment and to offer system makers a solution to build higher-performance affordable PCs.

AMD’s new Athlon X2 7550 and Athlon 7750 Black Edition chips were expected to launch during the first quarter of the next year, but it seems that they will be here a little faster. The chips feature core clock speeds of 2.50GHz and 2.70GHz, respectively, come with 1MB of L2 cache (512KB per core), 2MB L3 cache and a dual-channel DDR2 memory controller. The thermal envelope of the parts is 95W, and they are expected to work with almost all AM2+ motherboards on the market.

The AMD Athlon X2 7550 CPU comes as a tray only part for original equipment manufacturers, yet the Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition chip has a price tag of $79 at system builders and is also expected to become available for end-users who are looking for a rather affordable microprocessor for overclocking.

“Given the current economic environment, consumers are seeking the best computing value without sacrificing the performance required to maintain their digital lifestyle. This is an optimal time for system builders and PC OEMs to offer dual-core powered desktop systems that are affordable, energy efficient and help consumers get the most computing performance for their money,” a statement by AMD reads.

The company's Kuma core is not present for the first time in one of the AMD's products. Before the Athlon X2 chips, the Sunnyvale manufacturer quietly launched the 2.30GHz Athlon X2 6500+ processor back in September, and this was also a Kuma-based CPU. The new chips do not bring much performance improvements over the 6500+ model, and there are some voices that question AMD's move with new model number sequence for its dual-core central processing units.

The AMD Athlon X2 7750 Kuma-based processor has already been tested, and it is reported to be able to provide 3 to 5 percent faster speeds than the top previous-gen Athlon X2 6000 Brisbane-based parts. Moreover, the new Athlon X2 7750 chip is said to be a worthy rival to Intel's Pentium DC E5300 CPU.

Download Office Outlook Connector 12.1

Bridging Outlook and Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft is applauding a new level of stability and reliability when it comes down to integrating Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Calendar in Microsoft Outlook via the Office Outlook Connector. In this regard, at the start of this week the Redmond company made available for download Office Outlook Connector 12.1 RTW. Released to web on December 15, 2008, the Connector permits users to access and manage emails, contacts, and calendars in Windows Live Hotmail and Calendar, or Microsoft Office Live Mail accounts for free, through Office 2003 or Office 2007.

“After 2 betas, I’m glad to announce the release of the Microsoft Outlook Connector 12.1 – the add-in that puts your Windows Live Hotmail data in Outlook. Outlook Connector 12.1 provides a great synchronization experience with e-mail, contacts, and the free Windows Live Calendar service,” Alessio Roic, Outlook program manager, revealed.

“As part of the 12.1 release, we have also made improvements to the e-mail and contacts synchronization that make this version of the connector faster and more robust.”

In the evolution from Outlook Connector 12.0 to Outlook Connector 12.1, Microsoft has changed the calendaring synchronization services. While version 12.0 relied on MSN Calendaring service (a service exclusive to MSN Premium), the 12.1 release has migrated to the free Windows Live Calendar service. According to Microsoft, upgrading to version 12.1 will also upload all the items on any existing calendars to the new Windows Live Calendar.

“In order to make sure that all of your calendar items on the MSN Calendar service are correctly migrated to the Windows Live Calendar, you should follow these steps: With Outlook Connector 12.0 installed, synchronize your calendar with the MSN Calendar service one last time. After synchronization is complete, do not create new items on the MSN Calendar site. Install Outlook Connector 12.1. Boot Outlook. At this point, the Outlook Connector 12.1 will upload all of your appointments and meetings to your new Windows Live Calendar,” Roic added.

Office Outlook Connector 12.1 is available for download here.

Bonjur 1. 0. 6

Bonjour, also known as zero-configuration networking, has been recently updated to version 1.0.6. Windows users looking to enable automatic discovery of computers, devices, and services on IP networks may download the free update today.

Apple notes that Bonjour uses industry standard IP protocols that makes it possible for devices to discover each other without the hassle of IP addresses or DNS server configuration. The latest version available, Apple says, is recommended for all users of Bonjour on Windows, as it contains “important stability improvements.” To install it, just download the package using the link below, double-click the Bonjour installer, and follow the on-screen instructions.

A summary of the package contents on Apple Support reveals that Bonjour for Windows includes a plugin to discover advertised HTTP servers using Internet Explorer. To enable Bonjour browsing, you must click the Bonjour icon in the Internet Explorer toolbar. Bonjour devices on your local network will appear in the list, should they have embedded HTTP (Web) servers.

The included Bonjour Printer Wizard allows Windows users to use Bonjour networked printers. These comprise USB shared printers connected to the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express Base Stations, Apple says.

“Since Apple first launched Bonjour in 2002, every major maker of network printers has adopted Bonjour,” a paragraph on the same support document reads. “With the Bonjour Printer Wizard, computers using Windows can also experience the benefits of effortlessly discovering and printing to these Bonjour printers.”

A few known issues are also listed. Apple reveals that a small number of Virtual Private Network (VPN) clients interfere with Bonjour. Users are advised to log out of VPN, should they find that they can no longer discover network services or print to Bonjour shared printers. Also note that, if Java is not present at the time of installation and you decide to install it at a later date, you will need to do a Repair install of Bonjour for Windows, in order to get the proper Java Bonjour libraries. More information can be found on Apple's Support section here.

Bonjour requires Windows 2000/2003, Windows XP, or Windows Vista, and the latest Service Pack installed for your computer using Windows Update.

Download Bonjour for Windows (Free)

NOTE: While Bonjour is freeware for clients, developers and software companies who want to include it in a software package may need a licensing agreement.

Download Now!!! Apple Releases Bonjour for Windows 1.0.6

Service discovery protocol

Bonjour, also known as zero-configuration networking, has been recently updated to version 1.0.6. Windows users looking to enable automatic discovery of computers, devices, and services on IP networks may download the free update today.

Apple notes that Bonjour uses industry standard IP protocols that makes it possible for devices to discover each other without the hassle of IP addresses or DNS server configuration. The latest version available, Apple says, is recommended for all users of Bonjour on Windows, as it contains “important stability improvements.” To install it, just download the package using the link below, double-click the Bonjour installer, and follow the on-screen instructions.

A summary of the package contents on Apple Support reveals that Bonjour for Windows includes a plugin to discover advertised HTTP servers using Internet Explorer. To enable Bonjour browsing, you must click the Bonjour icon in the Internet Explorer toolbar. Bonjour devices on your local network will appear in the list, should they have embedded HTTP (Web) servers.

The included Bonjour Printer Wizard allows Windows users to use Bonjour networked printers. These comprise USB shared printers connected to the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express Base Stations, Apple says.

“Since Apple first launched Bonjour in 2002, every major maker of network printers has adopted Bonjour,” a paragraph on the same support document reads. “With the Bonjour Printer Wizard, computers using Windows can also experience the benefits of effortlessly discovering and printing to these Bonjour printers.”

A few known issues are also listed. Apple reveals that a small number of Virtual Private Network (VPN) clients interfere with Bonjour. Users are advised to log out of VPN, should they find that they can no longer discover network services or print to Bonjour shared printers. Also note that, if Java is not present at the time of installation and you decide to install it at a later date, you will need to do a Repair install of Bonjour for Windows, in order to get the proper Java Bonjour libraries. More information can be found on Apple's Support section here.

Bonjour requires Windows 2000/2003, Windows XP, or Windows Vista, and the latest Service Pack installed for your computer using Windows Update.

Download Bonjour for Windows (Free)

NOTE: While Bonjour is freeware for clients, developers and software companies who want to include it in a software package may need a licensing agreement.

Firefox 2.0 Is Dead – Download Now!!! Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox

No more support for version 2.0

While working to produce the first Release Candidate of Firefox 3.1, Mozilla has made available for download two new releases of codename Shiretoko's precursors. Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox went live on December 16, 2008, and are now up for grabs along with Firefox 3.1 Beta 2. As it had warned as early as mid-2008 with the launch of Firefox 3.0, Mozilla discontinued supporting Firefox 2.0 as of December 16. In this regard, Firefox is the last release for version 2.0 of the open source browser.

“Mozilla is not planning any further security and stability updates for Firefox 2, and recommends that you upgrade to Firefox 3 as soon as possible. It’s free, and your settings and bookmarks will be preserved. Also, the Phishing Protection service will no longer be available for Firefox 2 users. Firefox 3 offers a free Phishing and Malware Protection service, which will continue to protect you from online scams and attacks,” Samuel Sidler, Quality Assurance engineer at Mozilla, revealed.

Firefox 2.x and Firefox 3.x versions of Mozilla's open source browser have recently been labeled as the most vulnerable pieces of software for the Windows operating system in 2008, in Bit9's Dirty Dozen. With the release of 3.0.5 and, Mozilla manages to decrease the potential attack surface of the two browser versions, by plugging a range of vulnerabilities. Three of the security holes resolved in Firefox 3.0.5 were considered Critical, with one rated as posing a High risk, and one Moderate. As far as Firefox was concerned, Mozilla resolved four Critical vulnerabilities, one High, and two Moderate.

“If you already have Firefox 3 or Firefox 2, you will receive an automated update notification within 24 to 48 hours. This update can also be applied manually by selecting 'Check for Updates…' from the Help menu,” Sidler added. “All Firefox 2.0.0.x users are strongly recommended to upgrade to Firefox 3.0.5.”

Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox for Windows are available for download here.

Firefox 3.0.5 and Firefox for Mac are available for download here.

Firefox 3.0.5 for Linux is available for download here.

Firefox for Linux is available for download here.

Squeezing Every Drop of Performance Out of Windows 7 (Download Now!!!)

In accordance with users' expectations

In the sense in which Microsoft is building Windows 7 as the evolution of Windows Vista, the next iteration of the Windows client will perform as if on steroids, compared to its precursor. Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, along with Michael Fortin, one of Microsoft’s Distinguished Engineers and head of the Windows Fundamentals feature team, revealed that the Redmond company had a strong focus on delivering a high level of performance for Windows 7, comparable with end users' expectations. And Microsoft should make no mistake about it, Windows 7 performance expectations are as high as they can be.

“We’ve been building out and maintaining a series of runs that measure thousands of little and big things,” revealed Sinofsky and Fortin. “We’ve been running these before developer check-ins and maintaining performance and responsiveness at a level above which all that self-host our builds will find acceptable. These gates have kept the performance and responsiveness of our daily builds at a high enough level that thousands have found it possible to run their main systems on Windows 7 for extended periods of time, doing their normal daily work.”

Microsoft underlined that the perception of performance was just as important as the actual performance delivered by the operating system. In fact, what managed to hurt Vista the most was this perception of poor performance compared to Windows XP, despite the fact that benchmarks from the software giant placed the two operating systems on par.

“We’ve been driving down footprint, reducing our service costs, improving the efficiency of key code paths, refactoring locks to improve scalability, reducing hangs, improving our I/O efficiency and much more. These are scenario driven based on real world execution paths we know from our telemetry to be common,” Sinofsky and Fortin added.

In addition to the actual efforts poured into building the Windows 7 bits, Microsoft is also collaborating closely with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and independent hardware vendors (IHVs) in order to ensure that Windows 7 will deliver a top performance in concordance with the hardware resources it is made available with. But at the same time the Windows developing team is keeping a close eye on the milestones of the operating system as they are deployed internally.

“Within the Windows dev team, we’ve placed a simple trace capturing tool on everyone’s desktop. This desktop tool allows each person to run 24x7 with performance tracing enabled. If anything seems slow or sluggish, they can immediately save the last minute-or-so of activity and send it for automated analysis. Additionally, a team of people visually inspect the traces for new issues or issues not yet decipherable by our automation. The traces are incredibly rich and allow us to get to the root of top issues most of the time,” Sinofsky and Fortin said.

In the end, Microsoft does not rely exclusively on monitoring tasks performed as an integral part of the dogfooding of Windows 7. The company is also centralizing telemetry from the testers participating in the Windows 7 pre-Beta program and will continue to do so throughout the Beta and Release Candidate stages. In addition, the software giant will take into account micro-benchmarks and specific performance scenarios for Windows 7, on top of the system tuning it is already introducing.

"For all Pre-Beta, Beta and RTM users, we’ve developed a new form of instrumentation and have used it to instrument over 500 locations in the operating system and inbox applications. This new instrumentation is simple in concept, but revolutionary in result. The tool is called PerfTrack, and it has helped confirm our belief that the client benchmarks aren’t too informative about real user responsiveness issues," Sinofsky and Fortin stated.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

EA Licenses NVIDIA PhysX Technology

To make it available as a development platform for its global studios

Santa Clara, California-based graphics chip maker, NVIDIA, has announced today that Electronics Arts, one of the leading worldwide game design companies, has licensed NVIDIA PhysX technology, which the gaming company will make available throughout its studios worldwide. Basically EA will now be able to take advantage of NVIDIA's PhsyX technology, which the game development company is likely to incorporate in some of its upcoming titles.

"PhysX is a great physics solution for the most popular platforms, and we're happy to make it available for EA’s development teams worldwide," said Tim Wilson, chief technology officer of EA’s Redwood Shores Studio. "Gameplay remains our number one goal, with character, vehicle and environmental interactivity a critical part of the gameplay experience for our titles, and we look forward to partnering with NVIDIA to reach this goal."

With the use of NVIDIA's technology, games that will be released by the company are expected to provide the user with a more realistic gaming experience, as in-game physics will enable different objects to react similarly to their correspondents in real life. Upcoming EA games, taking advantage of the PhysX technology, will provide a better quality when played on a GeForce-enabled desktop system, as GeForce GPUs can handle 10 to 20 times more visual complexity than what's possible on traditional platforms.

"PhysX offers tremendous benefits to developers and gamers and we are thrilled Electronic Arts has chosen PhysX to bring new levels of realism in their games," said Ujesh Desai, vice president of GeForce desktop business at NVIDIA.

In an attempt to demonstrate the difference in video quality enabled by NVIDIA's PhysX solution, the green company has uploaded a video demo from one of EA's most anticipated game titles for 2009, namely Mirror's Edge. In the video, the difference in quality is made obvious by the rendering of various parts of the game with PhysX disabled on one side, and enabled on the other. If you want a glimpse of the January 2009 Mirror's Edge, you can check out the video here.

Download Now!!! Access a Virtual Earth 3D Version of Santa’s Village at the North Pole

Courtesy of Microsoft

It's “snowing” AJAX over 3D virtual models and rasterized photographs in Santa's village this year, and Microsoft is the only one to thank for this gift. With Christmas just around the corner, the Redmond company has kicked the holiday spirit to a whole different level. The Virtual Earth Product Group, in partnership with MSNBC, has managed to produce a virtual Christmas experience, by unveiling a virtual version of Santa's village at the North Pole in Virtual Earth. According to Chris Pendleton, Virtual Earth tech evangelist, Microsoft Live Search, what Microsoft has built is nothing more than a small corner of Virtual Earth dedicated entirely to Santa Claus.

“Fly on up to The North Pole and check it out! Depending on your connection speed, you could see some latency, but on my pithy Linksys wireless connection using Comcast from Redmond I was able to get the whole application loaded in under 10 seconds (not cached!). Turn on Firebug and see how much data you get and you’ll see why 10 seconds is impressive. If you have an XBOX controller, plug it in the USB port as the flying experience is much better with that control,” Pendleton stated.

The initiative from the Virtual Earth Product Group involves the creation of Santa's village, but also what Microsoft referred to as an immersive tracking mechanism for the jolly old fellow. Users will need to install the Virtual Earth 3D plug-in in order to be able to visit Santa's village. In addition to pleasing geeks of all ages with Virtual Earth Santa's village, Microsoft also revealed that 3D artists could access a contest for creating 3D models via Caligari.

“We used a number of different technologies to create this winter wonderland. Virtual Earth AJAX Control – The Virtual Earth AJAX Control allows for developers to create immersive 2D and 3D map applications / experiences with a simple JavaScript programming model. trueSpace – trueSpace is a FREE 3D modeling kit for creating super high resolution models, like the ones you see at The North Pole, and placing them into Virtual Earth’s 3D. Map Cruncher – Map Cruncher allows you to take your own photography or maps and overlay them in raster form over the Virtual Earth AJAX Control tile set. We used Map Cruncher for the North Pole atop which our models are resting,” Pendleton added.